Monday, September 25, 2006

Dark Ages Diversion

I feel terrible. Instead of painting light infantry or gunners, I've gone and painted a couple of Dark Ages Horsemen. I was guessing I could use them as couriers or Army Standard Bearers (in WAB-speak) for my Anglo-Saxons...

Feeling like I've let the side down...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Volontaires du Dauphnie

A bit of an update photo - we are now up to 10 figures out of a projected 16. Forgive the photo - I tried and tried last night to get a decent image and this was the best of them.

You'll notice that the bases are a bit larger than for my regular troops. The idea is to enforce the looser order I imagine the lights would have, and to ensure they cannot put the volume of fire onto a target that the regulars could with their closer order.

World Alzheimers Day

Today is of course World Alzheimers Day and marks the 100th Anniversary of the identification of the condition by Dr Alois Alzheim.

Please give where you can.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Border Troubles 4

Like a police patrol the little party roceeded up the pebbled shore where the twain were deposited along with their many goods by the patient soldiery.

"Very good, you fellows. Now, follow me, and boldly, now!"

"Eggskusink me meine Captain, beggink to report."

"Egad, you can speak! Yes, fusilieer? (and let not this sudden affability between me the master and you the man be taken as indicative of anything more than what it is) What is it? Speak up!"

"Ja, vell, meine Captain, vehn I vas in der service of the Erbprinz of Hesse-Hotpantz, ve vere inztrukted to make not der noise and to the creeping being."

"What? Theo, I can never understand the patois these chaps in the foreign regiments speak. Can you make anything of it?"

"Voleur, I think he is of the opinion that caution may be called for."

"Opinion? Ha! Bah! I have never heard such nonsense. They'll be wanting a representative assembly next. No - now see here fellow, Manstein, or whatever you call yourself, I have the blue blood, the utterly in-bred ability to lead men in battle, not just this picnic - now, boldly, on!"

So boldly they went on, stepping boldly out at a regulation 75 paces per minute as measured on the watch given him by Theophraste's mother. The silence was broken only by their noisy passage through the woods and Voleur's insistence on dressing the ranks at regular intervals. Every now and then a twig would crack with a loud report; violently disturbed woosdcocks would clatter into the air; a bayonet would impact with a branch with a musical "blink".

In the end though, it was all worth it, for at leangth they found themselves in a very large clearing and facing what was without a doubt a ruined Roman villa. If it was not, well, who was there to gainsay them, anyway? Although the insects bit and the sun scorched, Voleur and Theophraste were content to make amateur poetry and to sketch the tumbled masonry.

Manstein gathered an armful of fallen branches and soon had a merry blaze burning on the tiles remaining on the floor.

A branch snapped.

Theo looked around in some anxiety. "What was that?"

"Oh, just one of the lads. Probably gathering more firewood. It's for the best - I'm thinking of spending quite a while here. You know, I could do with a cup of good English tea, too." He was trying to render the stones of the wall. His charcoal was not co-operating.

Theo stood up and cracked his back. Equally abruptly he squatted down again.

Voleur asked in amazement:"Whatever are you doing? You've gone bright red. And you're hissing!"

"That was a Vulgarian fusilieer!"

Abruptly Manstein appeared - he was covered in field signs and had apparently fallen over in a puddle - his face was covered in streaks of mud. Theo was impressed with how well he blended into the background. "Meine Captain, you vahnt I should be making with the head-crackink?"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Border Troubles 3

Although the Sun had yet to shew his face, already a pearlescent light had begun to finger the sky. By this light a jolly little bum-boat was stealthily being rowed along with muffled oars toward the Vulgarian shore.

Captain Voleur des Coeurs struck a pose in the pointy bit of what he had taken to calling "the bows of the ship" and peered - not without melodrama - ahead. "You know Theo, I've often thought about taking up a Naval career."

Behind him sat a small, nervous figure. This figure shrugged it's shoulders with a regrettable lack of perceptibility (should the word exist), hampered as it was by a large greatcoat, scarf and ermine muff. "Have we a Navy? I'm sure my dancing master once told me that Alzheim is completely landlocked."

"Details. I'm sure that cousin Georgie over in chilly Britannica would lend me a Man 'o War should I feel like asking."

"But the inconvenience. The rats. The rum, the ..."

"Hist! We approach the shore!" Were it possible, the golden-tressed Captain's pose grew even more urgent. "Ship oars you men! Theo, get the sketch-books and foolscap together! We debark!"

With a bump and a scrape, the jolly little bum-boat slid up the shore. Two fusiliers leapt splashing into the shallows to draw the boat up and make it's painter fast to a convenient tree root. The remaining pair hopped over the side.

"Where do you two think you are going? Deserting? Hm? We'll have none of that nonsense in MY company, by G_d! Now, make a bench with your muskets. No, no, no! That will never do! Whith a cushion, with a cushion. One of the good ones d__n your eyes! That's right. Now. Ferry your officers ashore. Smartly, now! And no crafty dropping us in the drink either. I'm alive to all your soldier-games!"


Saturday, September 16, 2006

Volontaires du Dauphnie

The Volontaires du Dauphnie were, according to my Osprey, raised at the end of the War of the Austrian Succession to retain the body of light infantry skills developed during that conflict. A mixed force of fusiliers and dragoons - later a company of grenadiers was added. They served with distinction throughout the Seven Years War. The Infantry uniform was as illustrated here. That of the Dragoons was similar although the cap was a blue bag with a fur turn-up, later replaced with a brass helmet. They also had the white laces on both sides of the coat, not just on the buttonholes as was the case with the fusiliers.

The upcoming "Arcadian Skirmish" has moved me to get on with these troops!

Friday, September 15, 2006

1/72 Plastics

Some time ago I decided to put together a Napoleonic French Corps of two divisions of Infantry and a brigade of Cavalry along with supporting artillery, wagons, staff &c... This project was allowed to lapse.

Recently though as I have paid more and more attention to the Plastic Soldier Review website, I've had to put more and more effort into resisting the temptation to take the project up again.

Today i finally cracked and went and bought a box of HaT French infantry - the one that gives you 100 Grenadiers, Fusiliers and Voltigeurs. I also bought a box of the outstanding Zvezda Foot Artillery. The quality of this kit has to be seen to be believed. Really. You get three guns you can make up as 8 or 12 pdrs, in either the firing or travelling positions. There are three six figure strong gun crews - and an officer to command the battery. You get a limber with six horses and three riders and (wait for it...) a cassion, also with a six-horse team and three outriders. Did I mention that they are also of staggering quality? These were $AU17. The Infantry were $AU23. I want another 2-3 boxes of each.

I also very nearly bought the HaT Limber and Caisson sets, too. These would let me fully equip my artillery batteries and to hell with ground-scale! The price on these was also terribly reasonable. I note also that HaT are promising a wurst wagon and a Larrey ambulance - are HaT to become the Hinchcliffe of plastics?

I must go and dig out the other plastics I bought for my first go-around at this project.

Border Troubles 2

Donald and I have come up with a few bits and bobs specific to the scenario we'll be gaming out in the next week or so.

Initially, Vulgaria's forces will consist of one or two fusiliers (not the best of soldiers) on guard duty.

After that from the cave, about 9 to 12” away will arrive 2 more fusiliers, a fusilier NCO (Opalnitz) with spontoon, 4 musketeers , 1 Office (von Stahl) sword and 1 jaeger.

Arriving eventually depending upon where they set up will be a further 4 musketeers, 1 jaeger and an NCO (Steiger) with spontoon.

And finally if activated the 4 Irregular Cavalry will show.

Donald was not not sure how many men I really needed to start, or indeed how many the young Captain* Voleur would risk bringing into Vulgaria to look at some old ruins perched on a cliff. In the end I decided that along with him and Theophraste (themselves armed with a sword and a pistol apiece), they would take along four fusiliers to manage carrying the picnic basket, wine, camp chairs and so on. They will start the game in the ruins, consuming a flagon of rieseling and some camembert while their troopers gnaw hard tack, lucky fellows.

Still a work in progress at the moment. I think that the residue of the Alzheimer forces, 11 figures led by an NCO, should appear on the lake shore edge of the table from a point chosen by either my opponent or the dice four moves after the shooting begins.

I wanted to make the situation stickier for the Alzheim arts nobbling party. Per move we roll a d6. On a 6, Theophraste sprains his ankle and has his move rate halved.

I think that our two erring officers should have to make it back to the boats with half their troops to claim a victory. Either less than 50% troops or only one officer will constitute a drawn game. Both officers being lost will result in a loss.

Any part of this may change in the fullness of time!

* I have promoted Voleur des Coeurs to Captain in recognition of the fact that he is the proprieter of a Company.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Battlefield Map - 1st Draft

As you can see, this is the map I was just talking about in my last post. Each of the foot-square sections is further subdivided into three inch square sub-units. I imagine an order to move a figure might look like this: A1/15 to B1/3.

Border Troubles 1

Here at the Duchy (and also at another place) we have been rather busy.

In the next day or so I hope to publish the scenario specific rules, map and other materials which Donald Hauser and I hope to use in the first encounter between Alzheim and Vulgaria. The first draft of the map has been created by Donald and looks very fine.

We will be limiting this first game to a little skirmish of between 15-25 figures per side on a four foot square map that has been subdivided by a grid. At the moment we imagine that each will set up a table based on this map and communicate our orders to each other via an internet messaging service.

The rules will be Donald Featherstone's "Close Wars" from his book "The War Game".

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Saxon Pirate or East Anglian Brytenwealda and retinue

I'm rushing to publish this image of some Gripping Beast "Germanic Tribes" - they are not quite finished, needing things like their boots and flesh areas painted as well as having the odd weapon stuck on.

I decided to make a departure from my usual methods of painting and go from a black undercoat. Appropriate for these Dark Ages figures? I find that this method of painting encourages me to paint from the darkest shades up to the lightest highlights - ususally with a white undercoat I start with a mid-tone, do a dark wash then reset with the mid-tone and then highlight. I find also that the black undercoat means that I didn't have to paint every single inaccessible nook and cranny. I've really tried to mute these colours down, adding a bit of brown or flesh to the blues, greens and reds to dull them down.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Arcadian Folly

Lieutenant Voleur des Coeurs was an extraordinarily content fellow.

Sixteen years of age, a gilded youth, alone in the wilderness but for a company of his very own troops that papa had bought him and his best friend in all the world, he stretched luxuriously upon the camp bed his soldiers (rough fellows, but so obedient!) had popped together for him and admired the silken pavilion they’d erected for him.

“Here we are, Ensign Theophraste! Roughing it! It’s too, too delicious!” He poured them both a goblet of wine.

His dear friend, Theo chinked his goblet against his. “Only two carts for our necessaries! Mother would have a turn!”

“I’m sure! Ah what it is to be a Soldier in our dear Princes’ service!”

“How is Uncle August these days?”

“Not so bad. I do hear though that he still likes to get dressed in common people’s duds and pretend he’s incognito! As though he could with that lemon-sucking clerk of his shadowing his every movement!”

“Ha! And now I’m bored. Ah! The ennui. Whatever shall we do to relieve it?”

“Well, Theo, and don’t breathe a word of this to anyone, there was a reason I brought us here.”


“You’ve been my very dearest friend for quite some time now, is that not so?”

“Yes, two entire weeks.”

“And you trust me, don’t you?”

“More wine? I need more – cheers. Y-yes, where you follow, so shall I be there!”

“Excellent! Theo – I may call you Theo mayn’t I? – I’ve in mind a small adventure. Just you, me and a few of our stawart chaps. What do you say?”

“Can I have a drink of water Voleur? – it seems a little warm in here of a sudden.”

Of course – here. Now, what I propose is an excursion.”


“To the far side of the lake.”


“To explore those old ruins. I’m entirely sure they’re Roman or something. At the very least I’m sure they’ll inspire me to write some of my Arcadian poetry.”

”That would be the Vulgarian side of the lake, would it not Voleur?”

“Oh, yes, dear Theo, but we’ll be in and out before they know it. Whatever could possibly go wrong..?”

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The Army in Review.

An annual event here at the Duchy of Alzheim is a review of the royal army. Here it parades in full battle array, Infantry in two lines in the centre, cavalry on the flanks. One regiment of foot is absent, being the Royal Languedoc Regiment - away guarding the fortifications should a sneaky enemy try a surprise attack.