Der Resin Kavalier

Monday, December 23, 2019

Militia Reinforcements!

A Look at LOD Militia

In the last iteration of this blog, I discussed the figures produced by LOD (see link from previous post), focusing on the Continental Light Infantry. Today I would like to take a look at their Militia.
As far as I know, only two manufacturers produce figures specifically as militia: LOD (which we'll look at today) and IMEX, (which I will do if there is any interest).

Some of the IMEX militia can be seen in action in my posts from Huzzah! 2019 this past May. Both lines look sufficiently militia like, although their dress favors the Northern Colonies as they are for the most part too heavily clothed for the Deep South.

Like the Light Infantry, their animation is top notch. As I stated in the previous post, if you are one who wants a unit all looking the same, be prepared to buy several bags! If you are in to small unit actions, these are the figures you would want! Not only are the poses well-executed, but the facial expressions add to their quality. Several of these guys I would not want to meet in a dark alley! (Metaphorically speaking, of course).

The plastic used is a semi-hard material, more rigid that either IMEX or AIP (Armies in Plastic), and as such require very little prep prior to priming and painting. On occasion, I have found mold release lines that just have to be removed, but for the most part, these are cleanly molded figures. I would also add that it would be a good idea to anneal the plastic to reduce the inevitable curves found most plastic figures (bent musket anyone?). Heating them in very hot water and then allowing them to cool slowly should help. An electric hair dryer might also be useful instead. After priming with your favorite compatible primer, just paint them as you normally would. A protective coat of matte or gloss varnish, depending on your preference should be the last step.

Below are a few of the pictures (including a couple of Continentals which I get into next time)

 This one above shows 7 of the 8 poses included (a kneeling and firing militiaman is the eighth. The middle one is a closer view of my three favorite poses. Finally, the below photo shows two of the Continentals, not my best photo work, but you get the idea.

With Christmas and New Years just around the corner, this will be the last post for 2019. May you and yours have a wonderful holiday. Maybe, just maybe, 2020 will see the peace and hope this season promises!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

A New (for me) Source of Figures

Build an Army (Part 7)

Ah, November... it was a cruel and trying month! After a relatively "comfortable" start, which allowed a few more rounds of golf to be had, it reverted to its usual form here in New England: rain, clouds, more rain, cold, an odd flurry, and rain. Now we are close to the seasonal holidays and the beginning of a new year, along with the snow, sleet, and other meteorological manifestations of winter here in New England.

However, it is as good a reason as any to resume painting more figures, and searching for new sources. For those of you who have been polite enough to read my musings over the last year or so, you will know that the American War of Independence (AWI) is perhaps my favorite gaming period. For those who have known me a bit longer, you know my preference for "old school" rules, such as Charge!

I am happy to say I have discovered a new (at least to me) manufacturer of simply superb 54 mm figures: LOD Enterprises (link.)

The figures may be purchased directly from the manufacturer or from your local source of toy soldiers. They come sixteen figures to a bag, with eight different poses. The cost is about $25.00 a bag plus but I must also add, that the service by LOD is exceptional.

Currently the range has American Line, Light, and Militia infantry as well as British has Line, Light, and Grenadiers. They are made of a semi-hard plastic that takes paint very well. They are however somewhat less flexible that AIP, HaT, and IMEX. So be careful when straightening the inevitable curve gun barrels. Heating them in very hot water should help here.
American Light Infantry

Some of the more animated poses!

What struck me most about these figures is the animation they show. If you
are a stickler for all the same pose in your units, be prepared to buy several bags of each. On the other hand, if you like your figures to look like they're in a rugby scrum, they're perfect!

In the next posting, I'll cover the rest of the American/Continental forces, and then the Brits a bit later.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Winter Quarters...Almost

It is hard to believe it's been six months since I last posted anything. I must confess it has been a busy summer and early fall with several trips both here and abroad, the most notable a two-week cruise in the Mediterranean: Malta, Rhodes, Crete, Sicily, Greece, Italy, and several Greek islands. As interesting as they were, it was tiring: my fitness tracker indicated that we walked nearly forty miles (mostly uphill both ways, it seemed) over the course of the 12 days. 

I also have seen and learned more about Venetian and Maltese fortifications, as well as ancient ruins,  then I could possibly imagine (or care). Our guides were very knowledgeable, albeit a bit pedantic. Here's a picture taken in Malta:

Well, golf season is also winding down, Halloween is around the corner, closely followed by Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and perhaps one or two I have forgotten. So, we retreat to the hobby room; there are Saxons, Franconians, Swabians, and a host of others to paint, base, and organize.

As I mentioned in my last post, the old idea of a mythical campaign based on the equally mythical War of Franconian Succession (very loosely based on the actual, and mostly forgotten, War of Bavarian Succession), reappeared. The most daunting task was the rules. I've done a number of games using the classic Charge! rules, but the large numbers of figures per unit was a bit daunting.

Enter another set I've used, designed for 54's, called All the King's Men by Ken Cliffe. Unfortunately, he is no longer in business, but there is still a Facebook page, so perhaps copies can still be obtained. They are fast moving, with lots of dice, and a lot of fun. Since the units are usually 8 to 14 figures, the painting aspect is more manageable. Indeed, as the Franconians (and Hessians) wore a Prussian style uniform, a simple change in the unit standard will suffice. So, I can say with some assurance, the Franconian army is pretty much complete.

Aux drapeaux, mes brave soldats! La gloire sera la notre!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

New Projects from Old Ideas

The Wars of Franconian Succession

In an earlier post I mentioned in passing an "Imaginations" project I called the War of Franconian Succession. Originally inspired by Henry Hyde's War of Faltenian Succession, it began a chain of events that led me to this point. Several years ago, I found my interest revived of using 54 mm figures for war gaming with the discovery, quite by chance, of Ken Cliffe's All the King's Men website. This was around 2013/2014 when the bicentennial of the War of 1812 was being hardly remembered here in the US and probably celebrated by our good friends in Canada. This led to the build up and painting of  small (about half a dozen units each) armies to try out this new interest of mine. Later, the whole project was put on indefinite hold as our club started getting very much involved with the Chain of Command WW2 rules--armies needed to be raised!

Well, after purchasing a couple of ATKM's Hessian musketeers and a unit of grenadiers, the seed was planted, only to be diverted into the American War of Independence (AWI), the subject of several posts on this blog. So what about Franconia?

Perusing my copy of John Mollo's Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63 (ISBN 0-88254-444-6), now sadly out of print, I became increasing interested in the smaller states, and their Kreis regiments. Each uniform was unique but broadly defined as being in the Austrian or Prussian style. Further research using the Pengel books gave me more details, but what about standards? Easily taken care of! There is a firm in Barcelona, Spain, called Adolfo Ramos Flags, with whom I have done a great deal of business over the last few years (highly recommended both for their quality and fast service). In their listings of SYW standards, there was Franconia and flags for all three of its Kreis regiments. The uniforms were Prussian in cut, and flags were available. What's not to like? So, the War of Franconian Succession was conceived.

My first units will be Saxon (or in this case, Thuringian), along with some Franconian. I've attached a couple of pictures below showing my initial efforts (using BTW HaT's SYW Prussians). As the project moves along, I'll post more information and reports.

Perhaps next time I'll provide the imagined history of the War that Never Was, except in the wonderful world of imagination.

Saxon Fusilier Regiment Rochow

Saxon Regiment Sachsen-Gotha

Saxon Regiment Prinz Maximilian

Friday, May 24, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix: Lessons learned

Those who have been following along in this blog will know by now that I am a fan of simple rules such as Charge! In a way it has been a full circle for me. Years ago, my old friend Tom and I started out our "formal" war gaming (i.e. with rules) in high school with Jack Scruby's Fire and Charge, simple with lots of dice rolling. From there, I tried and discarded many sets of rules such as the many iterations of the WRG Ancients, Column, Line and Square (still played with a group of local gamers on a regular basis), Fire and Fury, WRG "whatever", and many more. Who knew back then that a revolution was beginning?

A wise gamer observed this past week-end (as we discussed the Charge! rules), that those who know the tactics of the era as opposed to all the rules, actually do better in the game. Think about that for a moment. Isn't that what really makes a good set of rules? The scenario was set up as a straight forward attacker/defender. With the exception of a stone wall and a artillery redoubt, the terrain was pretty much open, save for two woods, and a bridged river.

Now, like any war gamer who sets up a game, I had a pretty good idea of how I would have played it. Speed was essential for the Royalists in order for them to bring their slightly better firepower against the Federation. Perhaps more importantly a key advantage the RC had would be hand-to-hand combat. Under the rules, the Federation, about a third of whose troops were militia and/or lacking bayonets which put them at a -1 disadvantage in all melee die rolls. In the rules, such combats are relatively quick affairs with the results decided pretty much after the first (and usually only) round.

A piecemeal attack was not going to bring the Federation to defeat, but unfortunately, that's what occurred.
The highpoint of the Royalist advance
Another view of the battle

So, how do we make this a better game? The rules allow for two options regarding how the units move and deploy. For simplicity, I used the alternate move system (side a moves a brigade, then side b, and so on). The other, one with which I am well-acquainted, is written orders. Column, Line, and Square, the classic Napoleonic rule set beginning in the 1960's uses them and there are some of us left who play the game regularly. Next time, written orders, using simple graphics to show what the unit was to do.

The biggest errors on my side were making two assumptions. This was a convention game whose rules, though simple, were unfamiliar to most of the participants. A brief tutorial may not be enough. Secondly was the troop density. I had six players signed up, most of whom I did not know. How many units could they handle? Three per player was my baseline. That was now I think too many.

Ah well...everyone seemed to have a good time and enjoyed the rules. That I think is the main goal. I am happy to see it was accomplished.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix, Part 2

The Hessians were bogged down on the Royalist right, one of the British brigades was slogging through the woods on the left. Meanwhile in the center, the British advance was slow, even tentative one might say. Casualties had been remarkably light so far on the Federation side, in part because of the Hessian gun deciding to displace and found itself in the Hessian traffic jam.
Hessian troops continue a slow advance across the bridge. the lead unit has just decided to detach a company into the woods.

An overview of the British assault in the center. Although the Federation militia behind the wall has taken serious casualties, they have been ably supported on their flanks.

The Hessian gun has displaced, only to fall behind leading units.

At this point, the Royalists were stalled and beginning to take some serious casualties. The Jagers were first to fall back, followed by the Regiment Erbprinz. The British grenadiers were still trying to get through the woods, and the 4th Foot was taking more casualties than they were inflicting. As the evening was getting late, there was a silent though mutual agreement that the Royalists had shot their bolt and further attacks would be futile. 

So, darkness fell on St. Croix, both sides too exhausted to continue the least until next time.

In my next installment, I talk about the rules, and lessons learned.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Battle of St. Croix, Part 1

Following an increase in tensions between the Royalist Coalition (RC) and the newly formed Federation of United Provinces (FUP), both sides began preparations for a prolonged campaign to determine, once and for all, what nation/coalition would dominate the northeastern lands and islands of North America.

Skirmishes became more frequent as raid and counter-raid, escalated into small engagements between regular forces (see the 22 June 2018 posting on this blog). Now, having forced the British contingent of the RC to cede a critical crossing point to the Federation's advance guard, the Federation decided to push forward, and in doing so, breach the St. Croix River Line. The Coalition forces stole a march and caught the right wing of the invading Federation troops, who forewarned by superior intelligence (or more likely a few well-placed gold coins), formed their line and waited.

Meanwhile, the Royalist forces began their deployment, hampered by the need for the Hessian brigade on the RC's left to cross a small tributary of the St. Croix River. This would turn out to have more than a few consequences.  The right and most of the center was covered by a strong British division of two brigades. Speed and audacity would be needed for enough pressure to be brought on the Federation to give time for the Hessians to make themselves felt.

The contest was about to begin!
For reasons unknown to this observer, things began to go wrong for the RC almost at once.
The right hand brigade of the British advanced slowly, moving through the small woods on the right. In the center, a desultory skirmish fire by the British Lights and Hessian Jagers proved ineffective. An opportunity arose to bring a critical wall manned only by militia under fire, whether missed or squandered will forever be unknown. Likewise the advance in the center slowed, and indecision seemed the culprit. The lead Hessian elements sought the perceived safety of the small woods just across the river, but the irregular ground and tangled brush slowed them to a crawl. Units began to back up. A crisis loomed... and the Americans of the Federation just waited...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Back from Huzzah!

Well, Huzzah 2019 is over and, as in years past, it was both exhilarating and exhausting. I picked up Tom my good friend of many decades about 1030 Friday morning. Arriving in south Portland about two hours later, we enjoyed lunch at a local brew pub (a favorite), and later checked in to the hotel.
I was not scheduled for any games on Friday, so most of the remaining afternoon and evening was spent catching up with old friends, both in the main hall and the bar. I've often said this was the most enjoyable part of any convention. I've yet to be proven wrong.

Saturday was a busy day. I had volunteered to help at the registration table from 0900 to 1200 which took up the morning. Afterwards I helped Tom set up his Northwest Frontier game scheduled for the 1400 to 1800 time block. A couple of pictures are shown below:

The photos show the fort held by the British near Chitral. Although it was a near run thing, I think Lt. Hartley and the Brits held.
These photos are various views of the British cantonment at Chitral, and under siege by local tribesmen.

My afternoon was spent with Ross, my Canadian friend, and several others using Ross' Mac Duff rules as we tried to capture a strategic village and wagon train from the forces of Rosmark. We were not quite successful, but it was a lot of fun!

 The above picture shows the opening as we attempted to pull off a surprise attack on the camps of the Rosmark cavalry as they slept. Alas the alertness of the light infantry prevented us from pulling it off. Driving them back, we advanced, but they were quicker and got away!

Tomorrow, I'll finish up with my contribution: The Battle of St. Croix, using the Charge! rules. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Off to Huzzah!

Off to Huzzah!

The last few days have been a bit hectic. In my last post I mentioned how I had tested the scenario I'm running at Huzzah! this coming Saturday evening. The scenario was good, but the modifications I had tried threw the balance off considerably. Someday I will learn (once again) that tinkering with rules, especially those with a long history, will more likely than not, lead to unintended consequences and usually not for the better. So, it's back to pretty much the original Charge! rules, with only a couple of modifications, none of which should affect the overall game.

The Baron pondering still another instance of his realization that the obvious is all too often so obvious as to be overlooked.

I did mention hectic. One of my other changes had to do with the organization of forces and units. Originally when I started this 54 mm project back in 2015, I organized my troops in the manner outlined in Ken Cliffe's rules, All The King's Men. Those not familiar with these should know that line units were twelve rankers, and two others: a commander and an ensign (or drummer). Lights had six rankers, and two others. While this worked for Charge!, I wanted to get closer to the original organization, which was a command element, and three companies. Depending on the addition, companies were anywhere from 6 to 16 figures, plus command. Size was determined by the type of company. In my version, I've settled on 6-8 men, along with an officer and drummer. But, since most of the units in the American Revolution were comparatively smaller than most European armies of the day, I felt I was on solid ground. It also meant that I was painting up additional officers and drummers, along with a few rankers.

Well, come Saturday, "we'll see..." as my father used to say. My next post will be after Huzzah, along with some pictures. Will the Royalists or the United Province be victorious?

We'll see...

Monday, April 29, 2019

Getting Ready for Huzzah!

Getting Ready For Huzzah!

Here in New England, perhaps the premiere (at least in my opinion) regular convention is Huzzah!, put on by the Maine Historical Wargames Association (MHWA) in mid-May. It's coming up in about three weeks in South Portland, ME. From May 17-19, gamers from both the northeast and nearby Canadian provinces will get together, play games, and renew old friendships (and even make a few new ones!). There will be vendors, raffles, and even a flea market, so you might just pick up a bargain, or better still, find those figures you wanted, but waited too late to get.

This year my contribution is a slightly modified Charge! game, using most of the 54's you've seen in earlier posts. Recent experience, that being a scenario I set up on one of my group's (OCW) regular Thursday evening get together, showed a few things that needed to be changed. Likewise, one rule I hoped to use had to be discarded as it badly unbalanced the game. Others may yet be modified but overall, the concept was sound. 

So, if you go to Huzzah!, stop by and say hello. My game is Saturday evening, starting about 7:00, as the Federated and United Provinces defend against the aggressions of the Royalist Coalition. (Or, the Royalist Coalition, fights a defensive action against the land grabbing provincials who fancy themselves a nation).

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Old Guy's Scale!?

"Old Guy's Scale"?

Recently in a tongue-in-cheek response to a comment from an old friend who referred to 54's as an "old guy scale", I pointed out not only the advantages of being an old guy (Dave is probably 20 years younger than I am, and I'm heading for the big 70 in a less than acouple of years). Chief among them is to be fully comfortable in your own persona. It's not likely you'll have to impress others, and it's unlikely you would anyway. Better still is that if you are fortunate enough, and many of us are, you can indulge (somewhat anyway) in most of the things you wanted to do as a kid, but couldn't afford or were legally unable.

So, what's this got to do with 54's? How many of us played with plastic army guys in our childhood? I'm not talking about the GI Joe stuff, but rather the bags you could get at most every toy and Woolworth's in America (and even unlikely ones like some general pharmacies, and news agents). They were all pretty much 54's. The cool ones even had detachable equipment. A lot of stuff wasn't "scale" but our imaginations made up for most of that shortcoming.

(Yes, I know all about Britains, but on this side of the pond, they were expensive and found only in upscale toy stores. In the Boston suburb where I grew up, only the F. A. O. Schwartz in Boston and one or two of the major downtown department stores stocked them with regularity. For me, they were a rare Christmas gift.) 

Now, they're still made of plastic, but the detail is excellent, and they paint up nicely. For those of us whose arms are no longer long enough to read a printed page in normal type without a pair of glasses, this has been a great development

It's all come full circle: from Airfix and Roco Minitanks, to Scruby's, Minifigs, Hinchcliffe, and a slew of others; from 15's and 20's, 25's and 30's, and now finescale 28's.

So I say, let us rejoice in 54's and may their great deeds on the tabletop long continue.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

The British Are Coming!

In my last post, I showed some of the Hessians that I had painted up for the AWI. Today we have some British. The units are organized based on troop type and to a somewhat lesser degree, nationality. They have been used with rules such as a modified version of Charge!, All the Kings Men, and Honours of War.
 Of the three, Charge! is my favorite--it just seems right for use with 54's.
Organization is very generic. Regular line are generally 16 figures, consisting of 12 rank and file, an officer commanding, drummer, standard bearer, and the RSM (he's the gentleman "counseling" the fellows in the second rank)
Grenadiers are somewhat smaller, with fewer command figures, and usually no standard bearer. Lights and militia are 6-8 figures with an officer and one other (a musician/NCO).
Guns generally have 4-6 crew depending on the size of the gun, i. e. light, medium, or heavy.
4th Regiment of Foot
Grenadier Battalion

Troops in line, Lights out front.

Another shot of the line along with the artillery.

The Brigadier, and his aide, Bluebottle.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Random Musings and Bridge Building

Years ago, when I was young and foolish (some would say I still possess one of those traits, and at 68, it's not "young"), there was a commercial radio station in Boston, WCRB, that had a 24 hour classical music format. My tastes in music at that time were, and as they are now, somewhat eclectic. One of the announcers, actually the general manager, presented a program called "WCRB Saturday Night". Much of the material used was from BBC comedy programs. My favorite was a long-running program called "The Goon Show", presented by several master British comedians: Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, and Spike Milligan. This was, to me anyway, radio comedy at its best.

 So what does that have to do with war gaming or playing with toy soldiers? Nothing really.

But it did inspire me to give persona to several plastic generals, aides-de-camp, and faithful servants to those august albeit imaginary characters that haunt my games and in the future, this blog.

Since the last couple of entries have dealt with the Hessians, we'll begin here with their commander, "Graf Ernst von Bloodnoch". The Graf's character was inspired by Peter Sellers character on The Goon Show, Sir Denis Bloodnok, a dashing, somewhat bumbling, and perhaps prototypical Harry Flashman.

The Graf

Finally, I was asked about the bridge. It's made of wooden coffee stirrers, basswood strips, a few twigs from a white pine tree in my yard, and brass nails.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Hessians are Coming, or, Reinforcements Part 2

As one who has reached that point in life when the 7-Day Weekend becomes reality, I have been able to enjoy spending several hours on any given day pursuing one or more of my hobbies, at least in the winter (golf becomes far too important after that). So, when I am not gaming with my friends, I'm usually painting figures, or running my model railroad. In defense, if any be necessary, I will always quote Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek, who said: "...the more complex the mind, the greater the need for play."  One might try that response the next time one's spouse or significant other comments on one's hobbies. Mine just gently shakes her head or slightly rolls her eyes...but I suppose after 44 years, she's use to my idiosyncrasies.
So, here's a couple of photos of the Hessian Horde, currently occupying Neu Braunsweig. I will be publishing more as the month goes on. The above figures represent the Erbprinz Regiment, post 1780, when they lost their fusilier caps, darkened their facings, and became musketeers. The figures are from ATKM, although the drummer is a modification from the IMEX British Infantry Series, #3208.
This next one is also from ATKM and represents the Hessian Artillery. The gun is from another IMEX set, British Artillery set, #710. I would add here that the AIP artillery would work equally well and is somewhat more extensive.
Next time, we'll look at more Hessians, and the organization of the units.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Reinforcements, Part 1

Reinforcements (Part 1)

In my last post, I described ongoing and imaginary campaign in post-1783 North America. Over the next couple of entries, the armies involved will make their appearance, along with some solo as well as multiple player games.
In a series of earlier posts, I looked at several manufacturers. One I omitted was the figures provided by HaT Industries, mainly because at that time, they were hard to come by. Well, apparently their production has resumed and they are much more widely available. Of particular note are the Prussian Seven Years War sets (9400, 9401, and 9402). The heads for musketeers, fusiliers, and grenadiers are included with each set. They make great Hessians/Brunswickers for the AWI.

HaT Hessian Grenadiers
 The photo above shows  most of the Grenadier Regiment von Rall (or at least my interpretation of it). A couple of grenadier figures, and the Drummer are still on the painting table almost, but not quite, done. The one below shows another from the same set, but with a fusilier cap.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Well, as the new year begins, so too does the new campaign season! In earlier posts, I described two battles, both of which ended in a victory for the United Provinces against the Royalist Forces. Like any good campaign, there has to be some background as to the whys and wherefores of the whole exercise.

The whys, of course, are less important than the wherefores, as the whole thing is an exercise in imagination. But context is important so let me briefly explain how this war between two powers and their allies came to be. With that in mind, we begin with the historical Treaty of Paris in 1783 ending the American War of Independence (AWI), recognizing the United States as an independent nation,  and setting the boundaries between the new American nation and the remains of Britain's North American empire.

But what if...

In my alternate history, things are considerably different. Britain, France, Spain, and the American provinces were both financially ruined and in a state of exhaustion. Bankruptcy loomed, so everything previously agreed upon regarding North America (going back to 1740) was up for negotiation. Another "Great Game" was afoot!

The following terms were ultimately negotiated: the original thirteen colonies, along with the Republic of Vermont, were split into a northern federation which included New England and Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware.The southern colonies of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia became a united confederation.

The lands to the west became unincorporated territory, belonging to the indigenous peoples living there.

Spain was confirmed as sovereign over Florida and Louisiana, along with some previously owned Caribbean islands.

France received Quebec, a portion of the former Arcadia, and one or two Atlantic islands.

Britain retained its other Canadian provinces, including Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Labrador.

Nova Scotia remained a British territory and became a homeland for displaced Loyalists, albeit with some local autonomy.

The German Princes of Hesse, Anhalt, and Brunswick, having placed the King's treasury in serious debt, received as payment the territory northeast of the St. Croix River. This led almost immediately to a crisis as each prince felt it should be named for his lands. Some rolls of the dice (2 out of 3), the turn of a card, and it officially was named: Neu Braunschwieg.

Now, how could this possibly lead to more conflict?