Wednesday, September 21, 2016

New Russians released!

Two codes R7 and R8 combined to give a sense of battalion mass

These have been in production for a few weeks and some people have already ordered them by private enquiry but the delay is all due to me. I wanted to get some samples painted properly before uploading them into the shop.

R6 With kartuz Ready

I am delighted with the sculpts and the style of head wear we went for in the end. It is of course not the square shaped kartuz/pokalem that has been commonly illustrated over many years but rather a felt cap in a kind of montero style which now seems to be favoured by Russian re enactors of the Great Northern War. We are taking this as a good sign.

R7 in an attractive colour combination

Otherwise, the uniform is pretty conventional. Clib has crafted some lovely variants on the poses which are of course mirrored in the tricorned versions as codes R01 and R02.

R8 with excellent loading poses

To demonstrate that not all Russian troops wore green coats I decided to paint some in quite a bright red (probably too vivid for the period but it ended up looking pretty nice when contrasted with the equally vivid green I chose.

R11 Pikes at the charge

The other combination is an off-white and crimson mix. This also is a bit of a digression from the standard green coat but I did find evidence of the combo in sources both uniforms are illustrated in Tacitus's GNW site.

R1 has proved very popular

Finally, the pikemen are super additions to the range. The hands need drilled out with a pin drill but this was a conscious decision we took and for the 30 seconds it will take you to drill out each hand the perennial pike and shot problem of 'pike-pinging' is gone for ever!

R2 compare with the poses in R8

A more detailed expo of all the codes will come soon but suffice it to say, the Russians have just had reinforcements and I am pleased to say the attacking/defending pack with fixed bayonets is not far behind!

R3 Musketeers at the ready in tricorne

Monday, September 19, 2016

Donibruski - Donnybrook Cossacks

David O'Brien - When I first saw these Cossack figures produced by Wargames Foundry I fell in love with them and had always planned to paint some up but nothing happened until I helped with the play testing of Donnybrook. The idea of painting a whole army of Cossacks didn't appeal to me but the size of forces required for a Donnybrook faction meant that my plans could come to fruition.

Now that I had planned to go ahead and paint some figures I thought I had better do some research and see if my preconceived ideas were correct. As it transpired I was wrong. My notion of large mounted forces was wrong and that most Cossack armies were mostly composed of infantry supported by the more veteran troops who would be mounted and that all Cossacks loved muskets and artillery as well as admiring horsemanship. Another pleasant surprise was the number of opponents the Cossacks fought for and against which is always a plus for me when I start a new army. The Cossacks fought for and against the Russians, the Ottoman Empire, the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Tartars and finally the Swedes. Another plus for this force was the timescale it could cover from the Deluge in the 1640's, the Great Northern War, the Seven Years War and up to the Napoleonic Wars. Because the Cossacks tended to live around the river basins of many rivers emptying into the Black Sea they formed a maritime trading empire which they also used in their raids, especially against the Ottomans. At one point they even raided as far as Constantinople and burnt down some of the outlying areas. All of these points I have listed above lead to a very versatile force with a variety of opponents, fighting techniques and varied theatres of action, all perfect for fighting Donnybrook battles.

This photos show the force as it currently stands with two units of horse, one drilled and one veteran, three units of drilled musketeers, one unit of recruit peasants, a gun and crew and a variety of characters.

This is my leader in the middle supported by a priest and standard bearer.

This is my packmaster Boris, I wanted something different for my Cossacks so I have Doris the bear which fights exactly the same as a pack of dogs.

Deadeye Dimitri is my huntsman/sniper.

Cossacks like guns so I wanted to include a light artillery piece to support them...

Limbered up and ready to roll!

These are my three units of drilled musketeers. Although I have classed them as drilled they are not trained to shoot in close order so must always deploy in open order. I also ruled they have no sergeant character available to help them with their shooting - this makes them less effective against regular troops but that is what I was looking for.

Peasants defend their village led on by the priest who stays safely in the background. Most of these figures are from the Perry's retreat from Moscow range with a few additions from unknown manufacturers. I think there is even a Dixon dark age figure in there.

Here are my cavalry - the top photo is my drilled unit and the bottom are veterans. I have given all my Cossack cavalry the evade ability should they wish to avoid being charged by opposing troops or characters. Once I eventually get around to painting mounted characters they will also have an expert horseman ability which will allow them to do special tricks, just to make them different from regular cavalry.

Finally (so far), this supply wagon could be used as extra ammo supply during the game or could be an objective marker for the enemy to capture or destroy.

I have another unit of cavalry on the way and I would also like to add a pike unit to the infantry as the Cossacks seemed to use quite a lot of pikes in their armies, especially when facing strong cavalry armies. Most people always associate the Cossacks with masses of cavalry which they certainly used for fast raiding in land but when I was doing my research I discovered that a large percentage of their raids especially against the Turks were river and seaborne operations so some boats are another aspect I can add to this force.

Editor: Yes! This is EXACTLY how Donnybrook is meant to be played! While you can simply follow the lists provided, we encourage you to mix and match characters and units and add your own special rules to model the force that fits your narrative. You will notice Dave placed limits (forcing the foot to always deploy in open order for example) on his units as well as new advantages (the evading cavalry). Again, that's how you do it. Have your own custom Donnybrook force? Drop me a note at to get it featured here!

Now Dave's got me thinking - I have all of the Foundry Cossacks around here somewhere and I really do love all of the Warfare Miniature GNW Swedes that have coming out lately... maybe just a small project?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

GUEST POST: Mark is STILL marching.. into poverty?

For a variety of reasons (mostly my fault) a standard bearer for the 17th century - Mark Shearwood's piece on building a multi use force had been delayed... sorry Mark. Here, Mark continues with his tales of triumph and challenge building armies in the 17th century...
The Earl of Antrim's Regiment from Mark's collection
Now in my mind there are generally two schools of thought, the first that everything down to the last button has to be right and the second (and my own philosophy) is that if it looks rightthen it's ok by me, the boundary is softer for club games than for demonstration games.

There is no need to worry, I am not going anywhere near the questions of Pike or No Pike or soft or tricorne for head wear, I will only say that the bulk of my force is soft hats and most foot have some pike except my Danish and  Huguenot regiments who have tricornes and no pike.
That nice Alec of Front Rank released his late 17th century infantry figures especially for the Monmouth rebellion, and so my collection began with Monmouth’s Red and Blue Regiments and the smaller independent company of Lyme along with a Militia unit, and there I was, thinking I was all set on my journey until a Mr Barry Hilton, aka The League of Augsburg aka Warfare miniatures brought out his range and I fell for them hook, advertising line and white metal sinker.
Sjaellandske or Zealand Regiment
Know just a little diversion down a small West Country lane to talk about Monmouth’s standards, this seems to be a case of read your books and take your choice, for apart from 1 Blue flag in the National Army Museum that looks like any Civil War Flag, opinions differ apart from Monmouth’s personal standard of Green with “Fear Nothing but God” on it, otherwise there are references to plain colour standards, the St. George Cross on various background colours to standards with a Bible drawn onto them.

Know, I have nothing against Barry’s basing system for BLB, but I needed a system that would allow me to have units serving more than one master, so I still have 3 bases 60 by 60 for the unit (including any pike) and a half hexagonal command base in front with the commander and two standard. So know it only takes three figures to change a unit’s allegiance from say the Red Regiment of James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth to Creagh’s Regiment of King James in Ireland.
Patrick Sarsfield's Regiment of Horse again from Mark
At this point, I must admit that my focus has changes slightly from completing my Monmouth rebellion force to King William and King James in Ireland, but it will continue to grow, so at this point in time I have the following:

British Units:                                  Serving In
Kirke's Regiment of foot                 West Country, Ireland
Trelawney’s regiment of Foot      West Country, Ireland
Oxford’s Blue’s Horse                  West Country, Ireland
King James Life Guard                 West Country, Ireland where they changed sides
Enniskillen Dragoons                    Ireland, West Country as Militia
Monmouth’s Units
Red Regiment                                West Country, Ireland as Creagh’s Regiment for King James
Blue Regiment                               West Country, Ireland as Earl of Westmeath’s for King James
Company of Lyme                          West Country, Ireland as Militia for King William
Wiltshire Militia                             West Country, Ireland as Jacobite Militia

Danish Units
Zealand Regiment, Jutland Regiment and the 2nd Cavalry Regiment all serving in Ireland and in the WSS
Huguenot Unit: De La Meloniere Regiment serving in Ireland and in the WSS

Irish Units:
Sir Patrick Sarsfield Horse, Lord Clare’s Dragoons, Lord Clare’s Dragoons, Antrim’s Regiment of Foot and De Boisseleau’s regiment of Foot, all serving in Ireland and can serve in the West Country as militia.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

When are Guards not Guards?

Oh no! minus 3 on morale we are under attack from REAL Guards!

The dreaded 'G' word is the cause of many an animated disagreement amongst the wargaming fraternity. It is interesting to consider why it creates such polarization of opinion. It is most likely to be a shortened version of body guard and probably dates back to ancient times with units such as the Praetorian Guard who protected important Roman personages.

I will be hunted down like a dog for even thinking these MAYnot be real Guards!

Certainly elite units with excellent fighting capabilities have throughout the ages carried in their title the word Guard. Unfortunately wargamers appear to have developed a somewhat Pavlovian reaction to it and on its appearance automatically assume that troops bearing it should receive multitudinous bonuses for shooting, fighting and morale.

Garde Suisses? What plusses should we give 'em?

It is in my opinion a relative and not an absolute term. Within an army units carrying the title were probably better equipped, may have been better trained and better led but that assessment was in comparison to the other units in their own army. That Guards in different armies should be assumed to be of the same superior quality is a quantum leap assumption and does not stand up to any detailed scrutiny.

I have little doubt about this unit's classification!

As an example Napoleon's Garde Imperiale had Young, Middle and Old Guard units. Gamers seem to have minimal resistance to treating these differently. Try however to suggest that the 2nd Battalion of the 2nd Foot Guards (Coldstream) are not 'Guard' and you'll have a fight on your hands!

Karolinian Swedish Life Guard of Foot... is this a safe bet?

This piece is concerned only with the span 1680 - 1720. During this period many units with the title Guard existed - In France the Maison du Roi (six battalions of Gardes Francaises and four of Gardes Suisses) plus the mounted Grenadiers, Musketeers, Gensdarmes and Chevauleger. In England the King's Foot Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Foot Guards and mounted Life Guards. The Dutch had the Gard te Voet, Gard te Paard, Gard Dragonders and Friesland Guards, the Danes the Garden til Fods and Livgard til Hest, the Swedes the Livgard of both Horse and Foot plus the Drabant Corps, the Russians had the Preobranzhenskoi and Semenovskoi Guards - seven battalions in total, the Saxon-Polish Kingdom had both Saxon and Polish Foot Guards and so the list goes on.

Now then, is a Saxon less Guard like than a Swede? Saxon Gardes - same factors??

The question is - should all of these units be of equal status on the wargames table and without xenophobia becoming an unpalatable obstacle, how do we justify such an assessment or a differentiation?

1st Foot Guards - same quality as the Dutch and French? Who decides?

Many Guard units were kept as a reserve or performed ceremonial duties.  Many line units will have accrued far greater campaign experience. Unlike the Napoleonic period where Guards were often battlefield reserve troops the late 17th century saw Guard units assume hazardous frontline duties.

Guard is in their title so, does it follow they get the bonuses? Who decides?

My assertion is that with one or two exceptions the title Guard should not automatically confer the most superior modifiers for shooting, combat and morale. At most, it may provide a morale bonus based on self perception and conceit rather than proven battlefield performance.

Now then, shall we just call them Veteran as they are only dragoons?

In new material which we will publish over the coming months our recommendation is that only the Dutch Foot Guards on the Williamite/Grand Alliance side carry all the associated advantages relating to Guard. On the French side there is a strong case for many of the Maison du Roi units (but not necessarily all) to receive the upgrades. For some, our suggestion that all other units carrying the title in the western theatres should not receive the full panoply of upgrades may be difficult to accept and so the easy option is to ignore it and carry on.

What? you want these to be Guards too?

As a parting shot, I offer as calibration the two battalion regiment of Irish Foot Guards serving James II in Ireland between 1688 and 1691. This unit would first have deployed in anger before the walls of Derry in 1689. It had, up to that point never seen action in a major battle and possibly done nothing more than police Dublin. Admittedly it was lined up beside and was facing units who themselves had never been in action before either... is it worthy of lots of plusses for shooting, fighting and morale?

Oh! and these as well? Are they handing the label out to everyone then?

If your answer is.. of course not, then follow your own logic stream and apply it to.... (insert name of your pet Guard regiment).

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Warfare Miniatures Mounted Dragoons - detail view

WLOA58 Mounted dragoons in hats

Here is a detailed overview of Warfare Miniatures' new mounted dragoon code of three troopers. The models are sculpted with hats.
This relaxed and natural pose is a nice change

Horse size works very well

The new horses are really well proportioned

The horses are of a size representing the inferior mounts of dragoons. There are four horse variants and three of the four have dragoon equipment attached to the horse furniture.

This pose has a separate hand to glue into the right arm socket

This model clearly shows the field sign in the hat band

This pose is not typical of the way dragoons of the period are normally modelled.

The sculpts are very easy to paint and to cover all options the riders also fit on our large cavalry horses.

The traditional dragoon pose

The fire arm is angled in a natural position

This is another very nicely proportioned horse

Swords are separate items which are included in the pack. The dragoon trailing his long arm has an attachable hand holding the weapon.

The Grey Dragoons of Enniskillen

I have added field signs to their hats which are also available from Warfare. This marks the unit out as Williamites.

The unit has been painted as Colonel Albert Conyngham's Enniskillen Dragoons.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Is play testing fun? BLB Next Generation

The fact that I am asking that question (of myself) implies that play testing sends you slightly bonkers which is, on reflection, a possibility.

It all starts when you actually publish a set of rules! You think you have play tested them to death and then people begin to play them and a whole new raft of questions appear that you realize should have thought of yourself!

Having spent about 21 hours over 4 days playing 7 games of Beneath the Lily Banners with around 50 players, mostly newbies to the rules, provided an ideal opportunity to re appraise a rule set that has been on the whole extremely successful. Historicon is to wargames rules what Aberdeen Proving Grounds MD is to AFVs!

Beneath the Lily Banners 2nd Edition appeared in 2011 about three years after the 1st Edition had sold out. It was a significant advance on the original by way of improved mechanisms and enhanced descriptions of concepts.

I did an awful lot of this

I remember it not being universally well received and the usual level of trolling occurring on TMP (often this occurs before anyone has actually played a game and of course is not a phenomenon unique to BLB). Interestingly, that initial negative response has fermented over the five year period since release to an on the whole, loyal and affectionate following. BLB2 sold out in hard copy in 2014 and has been available only in pdf since then.

QRS mods lists go down when you broaden the dice scope - works well in Donnybrook

Apart from criticism of mechanics which is predictable even if in some cases illogical, other TMP critique was less fathomable. 'It looks too good' and  'Most games don't look like that' phased us both.

Aligning Artillery mechanics with other mechanics has proved a good innovation

Being punished for not adopting the black and white, printed on the company photocopier, sack cloth and ashes approach was typical of contrary, reverse snobbery which sometimes surfaces. The inference was - Please make something more shitty looking and stay in line with other home grown rules products. That seemed like part of the under achiever's charter  which neither of us signed up too.

Intuitive connections between the firing stands and number of dice

Raw versus Drilled - Quality defines dice type

Needless to say, we will not be dropping our standards anytime in the near future and that gets me round to the point of this piece.

The time has come to move the rules to the next iteration. Although that involves exciting and sexy stuff like photography, painting and artwork it also involves lots and lots of grunt work and rolling thousands of dice.

bonuses for weapon type - extra dice and improved die type for First Fire!

This we have been doing in darkened rooms both in VA and Lanarkshire. Now it's underway in various other locations including other parts of VA and even the East Midlands! The focus is on maintaining the existing game structure, simplicity and cleanliness whilst aligning several anomalous mechanisms and bringing the rules into line with other WordTwister publications which we have created or are due for release over the foreseeable future.

More dice for short range - this could hurt!

The mechanisms which have been getting most attention are Artillery, Shooting, Close Combat, Morale and FIBUA. There has been some pull through to other sections such as Movement and there has been more than a little refinement on certain troop types.

Combats are even cleaner than before and just as decisive

In addition we have created a heap of non core Supplementary rules for those who want to add a lot more flavour to the stew.

It is a balance between maths and feel. Intuition plays as important a role as probability

We are pretty far advanced in our activities as can be seen and wider play testing beyond the LoA core members is underway.

This post is really a heads up on the fact the BLB will be back soon and in a different guise.

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