Sunday, December 31, 2006

15mm Problem --

As I end this year with a miserable head cold, I have a problem.

Oh, it isn't a terrible problem; but it has been occupying my mind the last few days. I have been (and continue to be) too watermelon-headed to be able to think straight enough to do any real work on Saxe-Bearstein or my "Tricorne Wars" rules for 25mm gaming.

Instead I've been toying with what I want to do with 15mm 9YW/WSS/GNW figures after I've got my Saxe-Bearstein troops painted.

I know that I want rules with a different feel for them. I long ago learned that from time-to-time we need to shift periods . . . or perhaps "styles of play" is an even more accurate way of putting it. It helps keep us fresh.

So I've been idling the time between naps and blowing my nose with some speculation as to what I might want with 15mm. I plan on using Editions Brokaw figures for it. I know that. Why? Because they are very economical, look very easy to paint and have a wide selection of army-specific troops.

They come with either 20 infantry (including command) or 10 cavalry (also including command) in a bag for $4.00 US. This prices them very very well on this side of "The Pond". Yes, I'd love to have Dixons . . . but I can't afford them in any quantity. The EB troops are affordable -- and while they may lack the detail of the newer lines, that means less that HAS to be painted.

Okay, so how many figures do I want in a Battalion? 18? 24? 30? 36? 48? 60? Arrrrgggghhh! I don't know.

But it's fun to think about . . . and helps while away the time while I'm ill. Once I've decided upon a unit size, I can begin to think about rules.

I know that I want simple, easy-to-teach rules. I'll gladly sacrifice detailed correctness for quick jolly fun. A couple of rule sets that are possibilities are "Under the Lily Banner" by Barry Hilton (version 5 due out soon) and "Victory without Quarter" by Clarence Harrison. The former is right on period; while the latter is an ECW set (but should convert easily). Both of these use 18-man Battalions and 6-horse Squadrons which are easily doable with the EB figures.

"But . . . " my inner devil whispers . . . "is that the scale I really want?"

I don't know the answer . . . all I know is that it has helped me fight the misery of this "bug".

May you all have a wonderful New Year!

-- Jeff

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Building Construction Answers --

Stokes asked about how I built my "wild west" buildings. They are somewhere in storage right now, so I can't get at them to get measurments, but I've got a few photos that give some clues as to how I built them.

First of all, as the first photo shows, the "framework" was made out of foamcore. This was then clad with sheet balsa.

This means that I tended to use "even inches" for either wall widths or heights. Primarily I used a lot of 2", 3" and 4" measurements (and occassionally 5" or 6" by using a pair of pieces) because that is the width of the balsa that I had access to.

The base (green floor) was made from the kind of cardstock that you get as "scraps" from "framing shops". It gives a base not only for the building, but also for the slatted "sidewalks" in front and behind the buildings.

If you "click" on the photos (to get a larger photo), you will see that the "planking" is simply scribed (using an old dull pencil) into the soft balsa.

I was surprised at how good this actually looks. Once again, as is so often the key in the look of the "tabletop", what can be seen from 3 feet away is what's important -- not what you see from 3 inches.

The doors were simply "framed" with scrap balsa; and the windows were clipped from craft sticks (like tongue depressors or popsickle sticks). These were simply glued onto the sheet balsa of the walls.

Moving on to the second photo, you will be able to see some other details.

The sidewalks were made from some "craft toothpicks" that I got at a local "craft store". I simply cliped the "fat" and "pointy" ends off (I used toenail clippers if you need to know). I then cut them to whatever length was needed.

The sidewalks are resting on some balsa strip "runners" to raise them up over the cardstock ground base (suitably painted as "dirt").

The "posts" that hold the roof up are made from those "gourmet" toothpicks that you can often find in stores -- the ones made from bamboo that have one pointy end and the other has a sort of filial carved flat end. (note -- these are also useful as flagstaffs for 28mm figures).

The roofs were made with from a "base" of the same sort of cardstock that I used for the ground base. On top of this, I made "shingles" from the light cardstock of cereal boxes.

I would cut strips of it, then cut into one side of it making a sort of "comb" (cutting most of the way through from one side). I would then clip the "teeth" of comb so that they were very irregular in length.

Again, if you "click" on the photo, you can see what I mean on the larger image. I found that about four strips glued onto the base, with a light cardstock cap-piece made a good looking roof . . . and it is very easy to make and costs nothing except some time (which can be while you are watching TV).

Anyway, Stokes, I hope that that helps you understand how these buildings were made.

-- Jeff
I Hate Colds --

I'm fighting a nasty head and chest cold . . . and I hate that stuffy head, achy bones feeling . . . and my cough is a nasty one that really wracks my body (and doesn't help my sore throat any either).

Nothing seems to work properly . . . my mind seems to be in neutral . . . I can't seem to make the gears mesh.

Anyway, since several of my fellow 18th century bloggers have recently been building some . . . er, buildings . . . I dug out a couple of photos of some that I'd made before our move.

True, they are not 18th century, but they do sort of fit the current theme . . . besides, I'm too groggy to think of something on my own.

Back on September 12th I posted some photos of my "wild west" buildings. Here are a couple of views that didn't get posted.

The first (of the two storey hotel) should give you a rough idea of the building's footprint. I always try to remember that everything that takes up room on the tabletop does so at the expense of "figure room". I try to make terrain pieces as small as practicable without destroying believability.

The second photo shows the "rear view" of two otherwise quite similar buildings. It doesn't take much of a variation in detail to make buildings look quite different.

One of the tricks I used here was to slightly vary the width and height of the walls. I also, as you can see, shifted the position of the rear doors (as well as making slight changes on the front . . . and with window positions).

The result is that I have two "different" buildings from the same basic design. Now, if they are placed at different angles, they're simply perceived as different buildings without the viewer even thinking about it.

Anyway, I hope that none of you have a miserable cold; and that your gaming goes well in the coming new year.

-- Jeff

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Bad Bear; Bad, Bad Bluebear --

I'm doing it again. I'm being bad. Santa must have added my name to the "wrong list".


Well, I'm suddenly getting quite interested in . . . another period.

Sure, I know that I've got a few hundred dollars of unpainted lead for Saxe-Bearstein (and they are next on the agenda . . . I promise); but I've started researching a new period.

And it is all Barry Hilton's fault. I was looking through his gallery of photos of the Wars of the League of Augsburg and I got enthused. Here is a "tinyized" link to that gallery:

I then Googled for information on the "League of Augsburg" (also known as the "Nine Years War" as well as several other names). It sounds like a fascinating period and Barry has a nice set of rules for it too . . . so I'm getting interested in it . . . and that makes me . . .

. . . a "bad bear", a very "bad, bad bluebear".

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

-- "Bluebear" Jeff

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Holiday Hiatus --

It seems that the "real life" of the Principality of Saxe Bearstein is in a sort of a hiatus during this Holiday period. However, Bruno V himself has issued assurances that more information will be forthcoming once these seasonal celebrations have ceased.

Of course, given the surplus of the justly-famous beverages for which Saxe-Bearstein is so noted for, there may need to be a slight period of . . . uh . . . "rest" necessary to recover from Holiday Over-indulgence.

Nevertheless, the entire population of Saxe-Bearstein wishes all of you a most joyous Yule Season and the very best of the New Year!

-- Jeff

Friday, December 15, 2006

Back after NO POWER for 100 Hours --

Well, just a quick note. We had a very nasty windstorm (115 km/hr winds) five days ago and just now got our power back.

We've got lots of stuff that we need to do . . . including dumping way too much spoiled food . . . but I hope to post again relatively soon.

-- Jeff

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A "Rival" Country --

Some while ago (November 17), I posted some flag patterns for an "opponent" (loosely based on Austria).

At that time, I indicated that I was considering calling them "Eaglestein". Grimsby Mariner pointed out that this was perhaps too similar a name to my own Saxe-Bearsteiners.

After some moments of thought, I agreed . . . but until this morning, I hadn't decided what to call them. Then it struck me. What do the following major powers in the Seven Years War have in common? Prussia, Russia and Austria?

Yes, their names all end in "ia" . . . and thus was "Eagallia" born.

Based on Austria, there would be two rough types of troops in her army -- corresponding to German and Hungarian troops. The former would be in "all white" uniforms (except for regimental color and equipment, of course); while the latter would be in white coats, but have pants in the regimental color.

I've posted a couple of infantry colors to demonstrate the differences I envision. The first flag shows a "Germanic" Eagallian unit with blue facings; the second, a "Hungarian" Egallian unit with gold facings.

The chief difference, of course, being the background of the central "oval". For the "all white" Germanic units; while the Hungarian-style units will have a red background to the "oval".

(Note to myself -- I need to come up with names other than "Germanic" and "Hungarian" for the two divisions of the Eagallian army.)

Finally, I've uploaded the pattern for the "Hungarian" cavalry. Again, it features the "red oval" for these troops to differentiate them for the flag pattern published previously (see my November 17 blog).

Dragoons for both divisions will have a "swallowtail" (two-lobed) flag and Hussars will have a triangular pennant-style flag.

Okay, so why am I going into such detail for my "opposing" country?

As I may or may not have mentioned before, I have an extensive collection of old "smaller" 25mm SYW figures. I don't like them nearly as well as the RSM95 figures that I'll be using for Saxe-Bearstein, but I've got a lot of them.

I'm figuring that I can use a white primer (I normally use black, then white damp-brush before painting). Then, leaving the bulk of these figures white, I'll add skin, facings and equipment to make serviceable opponents that someone else can field until they have their own army painted.

Now, I admit that I won't be giving these troops a very careful (or even good) paint job, but that will encourage others to finish painting their own guys. . . . And, if they don't do so, well at least there will be troops for them to play (even though my Saxe-Bearstein men will look so much better).

Anyhow, that's the plan.

Of course, until our weather gets a bit better, I can't even think of priming these old figures . . . and until their primed, I can't begin painting.


-- Jeff

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Think We Have Power Back --

We have been cursed with a very intermittant power supply over the past few weeks . . . but it looks like it is finally steady again.

We live on a small island and apparently salt water had invaded the undersea cables that bring power to the Island. So those cables needed to be replaced . . . and, of course, all power had to be shut down while this was going on . . . and on . . . and on . . . and on.

We were told that the power company had reached the final phase -- where they would be burying the cables. This would not be a problem for us because the power would only be interrupted for 4-hour blocks "in the middle of the night".


"The middle of the night" started at 7:45 pm! . . . . I wonder just what kind of schedule they keep that 7:45 is "the middle of the night"? (I know that, at our latitude, we only have about 8 hours of daylight this time of year, but this is ridiculous).

A further problem -- beside the power interruptions -- is that we remain under a "boil water" order. Every time that the power goes out, our water system (which comes from a lake) depressurizes, causing a 48-hour "boil water" order.

Well, we've had all of these repairs as well as a string of storms that have caused major damage so we've been on a "boil water" order faily consistantly for weeks! And this is a real pain when, without power, you only have a wood stove (and not one designed for cooking). My dear wife is very weary of this and so am I.

The good news is that last night the power did not go out . . . so maybe (just maybe) they've finished burying the cables and we will be able to think about getting back to a semi-normal schedule . . . well except for the holidays.

Needless to say, I've not been able to do much work on the computer ala Saxe-Bearstein lately.

-- Jeff

Friday, December 01, 2006

My Painting Philosophy --

Well, I've recently viewed some very nice paint work on a number of the blogs listed on the side of mine . . . and I'm impressed.

I'm also still waiting for our old condo to sell so that we can get our new home and move all of our stuff in storage (including all of my paints and figures) to somewhere where I CAN paint.

However, I'm becoming intimidated. I am not nearly as fine a painter as many of the gentlemen currently displaying their work on-line. Indeed, about all that can be said of my painting is that the units look like units and they are easily seen.

You see (well, you don't actually "see" because I don't have any recently painted figures to show you), my painting philosophy differs from that of some of my fellow bloggers.

I generally use a fairly bright palette and do not add much in the way of detail or shading. I want the unit to look like a unit at "wargaming distances". That means that if it isn't particularly notable from a yard away, I generally don't paint it.

Also, I try to limit the number of colors on a figure. I don't try for six different shades of brown on a figure. For my taste (and yours may well differ), I feel that too many colors on a figure can "muddy" it.

Remember, I'm not painting individual figures for a close-up competition (which I'd lose), but rather a number of parts of a whole (the unit). I like the way my units look. They don't win awards, but I generally get some comments to the effect that people like the look of my army.

Does this mean that everyone should paint this way? Of course not. Each of us has different aspects of our hobby that appeal most to them. Painting is one of those aspects and we all approach it somewhat differently. We're all right.

I don't know how often I'll be posting for a while. Our "electrical woes" continue (we had no power for 14 hours today). Furthermore, we have some pipes that froze and broke in the severe weather . . . and I don't know how long that will take to get fixed.

Anyway, as December looms, I'll try to keep up . . . but who knows?

-- Jeff

Monday, November 27, 2006

Power Back On . . . Really? --

Well, for those who don't know, we had a nasty bit of blizzard here on Vancouver Island. I know, it didn't measure up to the bad weather that hits more inland areas, but it was/is very heavy for here.

Anyway our power was out for a few minutes less than 36 hours . . . then on for about an hour . . . then off for five more hours.

All of this, after the power company told us (starting Saturday night -- because our power went out well BEFORE the storm hit) that our power would be back on at:

2:00 pm Sunday
4:00 pm Sunday
6:30 pm Sunday
12:00 noon Monday
6:00 pm Monday
4:00 pm Tuesday

Fortunately we got it back on Monday night . . . still, when you live in a 600 square foot cabin facing north, there's not much you can do except play cards by candlelight and go to bed . . . and, of course, worrying about food spoiling.

Obviously, there's no positive news vis-a-vis Saxe-Bearstein to report.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 23, 2006

No Electricity Again & Again --

My posts will probably be few and far between for the next week to ten days.


Because BC Hydro (our electric company) will be working on the underwater cables that supply our small island with power. We live on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island and they've discovered that one of the reasons that our power goes out so much is that there are problems with the underwater cables that supply us.

So they will be "pulling" these cables up and trying to find the problems and repair them. They've sent fliers around to let us know that we'll be without power during this proceedure. . . . and we don't have much daylight at this latitude this time of year.

Thus I might not have much (or any) time to post for a while.

-- Jeff

Friday, November 17, 2006

Some Alternate Flags --

After a hiatus of some time due to power problems, here is a return to something having to do with "toy soldiers" and the mid-eighteenth century.

Previous posts have displayed the flags of Saxe-Bearstein. Here are some of the "flag patterns" for my Austrian-style opponent (whose name is still up in the air -- but might be Eaglestein).

The first flag is for a typical infantry regiment. The corner sections are certainly open to the use of many different colors (similar to 18th century French flags).

The second flag would be for cavalry units. Again, the field color would be subject to change.

Also, the field of the central "oval" color (as well as corner decorations) can also have different colors.

Incidently, if anyone would like to copy and use these flags, they have my permission to do so . . . although I'd prefer that you do not copy my Saxe-Bearstein flags unless you delete the central "bear" and replace it with your own symbol.

-- Jeff

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Yet Power Woes, Down for 36 Hours --

Well, we got hammered with two big storms -- one a warm tropical low called a "pineapple express" and the other a cold Alaskan low. They collided over Vancouver Island. Winds reached 140 hm/hr (hurricane force) north of us, but we only got gusts to 90-something.

Lots of rain (90mm one day) . . . which resulted in our power going out again before 8 am on Wednesday morning and not returning until after 8 pm on Thursday night (over 36 hours). This is in addition to all of the other power outages which we've suffered since last Sunday.

At least we now have running once again . . . although there's a "boil water" order with it. We are, however fortunate in that we were not flooded and no trees came down around our cabin (although many others were not as lucky).

Thus, while it has been a strain, we are alright.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

More Power Woes --

Well, guess what? When we got up this morning, the power was out again. It just came back on about 15 minutes ago (4:45 pm our time) . . . and we just now got "browned down" so I'd better try posting this before it goes out completely again.


-- Jeff
Power Games --

For the past two days we've been involved in "power games". But, no, it doesn't have anything to do with gaming.

We live on a small island (you need to take a ferry to get to it). BC Hydro (our power company) told us that power to the island would be "off" from 8 am Sunday morning until 1 pm (later they said 4 pm). They said that this was to "test the lines".

Okay, the power was out for this "testing" and then it was back on. RIGHT . . . until after the last ferry sailed at 11 pm. Then the island lost power . . . and, since the ferry wasn't running, a crew couldn't come to fix it until Monday morning.

Which they did; and the power was back on about 10:30 . . . and the crew went back on the ferry. Then, it went out again . . . and they had to wait for the next ferry before they could come try to fix it again.

Are you beginning to get the theme of this yet? I've lost count of the total number of times the power has gone out. Sometimes for hours, sometimes for just a few minutes . . . but we've had over a dozen outages since they "checked the lines" . . . and they obviously needed checking since we haven't had any problems since a big storm last winter.

Anyway I've had the power go out several times when I was trying to do things on the computer . . . and fortunately it is still working. But the first thing I do when the power goes out is to hit the "off button" on the power bar all the computer electronics are plugged into.

*sigh* . . . it's been a long couple of days.

-- Jeff

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Exigencies of Life --

Isn't it amazing how some of the little crises of our daily lives can disrupt our "routines" so much? I can't claim any great events that kept me from keeping up with this blog.

Okay, there were the American elections which DID occupy my attention for several days (and still does, if the truth be told) . . . but that's really not an excuse. Nor are the trips I've had to make for my beloved wife this last week . . . they took up time; but I often thought of 18th century things while driving.

No, sadly, I think that I've just not been in the blogging mood much these past few days. I HAVE been doing some work on my "Tricorne Wars" rules, but nothing that really warranted discussion here.

Hopefully I will soon have more inspiration again.

-- Jeff

Monday, November 06, 2006

Some Thoughts on Artillery --

In my opinion, many rule sets assign far more credit to the effectiveness of artillery fire in the 18th century than is warranted.

To my mind, while an important factor, it was far less important than many rule sets would have us believe. This attitude is in part (I feel) due to the century's focus on science and engineering.

Therefor, in the rules I'm writing -- Bluebear's "Tricorne Wars" -- I probably assign artillery less importance than most other rule sets do.

The picture to the left depicts an early 18th century "medium" (6-9#) gun. Light guns (4# or less) start with two crew; medium guns, with three crew; and heavy guns (12# and up) with four crew.

"Tilt!" I said that the photo was of a medium gun and yet there appear to be four crew?

Remember, every unit has a "Colour stand" . . . and, while these are generally flags for most units, artillery seldom (if ever) had "flags" on the battlefield. If you will note the "officer" with sword and yellow hat lace, he is the "Colour stand" for this artillery piece.

His position (beside the unit) means that this artillery piece is "rattled". If it was in "good order", the colour stand would be in front of the gun; if disordered, behind the gun stand; if shaken, behind and facing backwards; and if broken, he'd be running to the rear!

In my "Tricorne Wars" rules, while infantry's "first fire" allows them to re-roll misses, this is very unlike artillery fire. Instead, an artillery unit's first shot at a target is, in reality (or at least, in my opinion), the least likely to score a hit (they haven't got the target's range zeroed in yet).

For the initial shot at a target (or location), any artillery piece gets to fire only one of its crewmen . . . and for each subsequent shot at the same target unit or location, will get to add a second, third or fourth crewman (up to the gun's current crew number). Thus, in the photo, this artillery piece would roll one die for its first shot; two dice for its second shot and three for subsequent shots at the same target.

Note that if a crewmember is a "casualty", it will slow the gun's firing rate by lowering the maximum number of dice that may be rolled in a turn.

In this period, guns frequently kept shooting at a tartget until told to shift to a different one. As a game mechanism, the drop back to starting with a single die becomes a deterrent to constantly shifting targets.

Any comments?

-- Jeff

Friday, November 03, 2006

Terrain Selection Concept --

One of the great challenges of tabletop gaming is to fight on interesting terrain. However, most "terrain selection rules" tend to either be completely random or allow far too much "gamesmanship".

Today I'm going to suggest a system that should allow for both interesting and varied terrains AND provide a way for players to have a choice in selecting where they'll fight.

Okay, some of you will recognize the germ of this idea coming from a science fiction novel by Piers Anthony. I admit it. You're right. I'm borrowing the concept . . . from "Split Infinity" (if memory serves) . . . of course he wasn't using it to select tabletop terrain, but the concept comes from his novel.

Let's take the simplest situation . . . there are only two of you. First, collect the various terrain pieces that you have available between you. You probably have various sizes of hills and woods. Generally you've got some buildings and strips of material that you use for roads and rivers. You might even have some bridges and some fencing.

The above step is so that you both know what you have available.

Discus between yourselves as to what you feel the minimum and maximum number of terrain selections you'd like for your battles. This will, of course, depend in part upon the size of your table and the size of terrain pieces which you have access to.

Where I am on Vancouver Island, we're gaming in 25mm on 4' x 8' tables. For the examples I'm presenting here, I've decided to use from three to eight pieces of terrain per table.

Okay, to start, get some blank index cards. Larger is better, so look for the 4" x 6" or 5" x 8" cards (which can usually be found for a very reasonable price at discount or office supply stores).

Now, since our tables are 4x8, I will cut down a couple dozen index cards so that they are the proper relationship (in this case, twice as wide as high). Each player will get a dozen cards. Each is to then diagram two different tabletops for each of the six "numbers" (i.e., three pieces, four pieces, . . . eight pieces). Note that roads (and there always must be at least one present) do NOT count for the number of terrain pieces (nor does "open space").

Now for any number of terrain pieces, one should be fairly even (not symetrical -- it just should give a relatively fair shot for each side) and one should definitely favor one side of the table but you should remember that you might end up playing the weaker tableside -- so keep that in mind.

Here is an example of a terrain diagram. It has six terrain pieces (remember, the road network doesn't count) -- 2 hills, 1 knoll, 2 light woods and a town. (Note -- my rules differentiate between light and heavy woods -- yours might not).

Anyway, each of the two gamers would create his dozen diagrams. These would then be shuffled together (be sure to "twist" some of them around so that there's no consisant "north" and "south" to the diagrams).

Now you should have 24 potential tabletop terrain diagrams (four each with three through eight pieces of terrain exclusive of roads). Note, if you have three players, you'll have 36 index cards; if four gamers, 48 cards.

After shuffling, deal four cards to the two opposing C-in-Cs. They will each get to discard one of them to the bottom of the deck. Then, the other three should be placed down in a 3x3 grid as you see from the diagram. (Note -- it doesn't matter who designed the card . . . it might be one of yours or it might be one of your opponent's designs).

Place them face down, remembering that the defender will be playing the "north" side; and the invader (attacker), the "south" side (which doesn't mean that that is the role they will play on the tabletop -- this is for selecting terrain).

The two C-in-Cs should carefully place their three cards face down . . . making sure that they have the "orientation" they want correctly set. Also be sure that cards are turned over from side to side so as not to change the "north" orientation.

Now, thee cards from the "master deck" should be placed in the other three places. At this point, all of the cards are turned over. This will result in something like the third diagram -- with nine potential tabletops.

(Remember, if you "click" on the diagram, you will get a better look at it).

The "invader" selects which of the three terrain columns (A, B or C) he chooses as his path. The 'defender" selects which terrain line (X, Y or Z) he'll choose to meet his opponent on. Where the two paths intersect is the tabletop which will be used. These will be recorded secretly.

Each column and each line includes one setup which YOU selected and one which your opponent selected and one randomly selected.

This is the fun part. Since line and column selections are "hidden" until both are selected, you have a chance to "outsmart" your opponent. Which path do you think your opponent will select? Does he like lots of terrain? or little terrain? Which path is most dangerous to you? Will your opponent figure out what you're going to avoid? Taking all of this into consideration, which path should you choose to get the best terrain possible?

Use whatever tabletop is cross-referenced. After the battle, the winner of the fight gets to name the battlefield . . . and that index card is removed from the pool of potential tabletlops. Once you get too low, just draw up more tabletops and mix them in with the remaining cards in the pool.

Sure, this is a "rock / paper / scissors" type of thing . . . but it's fun and just as in the child's game, a clever general might be able to outwit his opponent.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Interesting Website Added to Links --

If you have paid any attention to my "Links" section on the right side of my blog, you will have noticed another new link has been added.

I'm referring to the Kapiti Fusiliers website in New Zealand:

Now almost anyone who has an interest in 18th century gaming has probably spent time visiting Roly Hermans' website (link to right) to see his wonderfully painted SYW French troops. Well he's a member of the Kapiti Fusiliers . . . and a number of their members have lots of wonderfully painted troops as well.

Among the many interesting facets to the Kapiti Fusiliers website, be sure to investigate their "Articles" section. Personally, I was quite taken with Brian Smaller's "More Buildings for Wargamers" article found at:

There's a great "Links" section too. Give the Fusiliers website a look-through, I think that you'll be impressed. I was.

-- Jeff

Sunday, October 29, 2006

A Question of Imaginary Countries? --

What are your favorite "imaginary" countries from Literature?

I must confess that, for me, Ruritania (of "Prisoner of Zenda" and "Rupert of Hentzau" fame) has always been a favorite. And, of course, Leonard Wibberly's whimsical "Duchy of Grand Fenwick" is another.

What about you? What imaginary European countries do you like from Literature (as opposed to wargaming)?

Since this blog is primarily about my imaginary 18th century country of Saxe-Bearstein, I'd like to know what other imaginary countries have tickled people's fancies.

-- Jeff

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Simple Campaign Format --

Here is a simple format for a two-person campaign that requires little bookkeeping. It is particularly designed to encourage the building of new units.

Featured above is the "campaign map". The two armies (blue and red here) first meet in the white circular area.

This should be an even battle with similar forces . . . for the 18th century, this might be something like four battalions of Infantry, one regiment of Cuirassiers, one regiment of Dragoons and one Medium Artillery Piece each, with comparable (mainly mid-range) morale.

All troops "lost" in each battle are diced for at battle's end. Dice by "stands" (or even individual figures, if that's how they're based) rather than by whole units.

The winner has a 2/3rds chance of recovering each lost stand (anything but a 1 or 2 on each d6); while the loser of the battle only has a 50% chance of recovering each lost stand (he needs a 4, 5 or 6 on each d6). These losses need to be retained for the next battle.

Note that, even if a unit is completely destoryed, it still gets to dice for each stand to recover. If such a unit fails ALL of its rolls and is completely "wiped out", it is considered to be lost for the remainder of this campaign.

In addition, each winner of any battle selects one unit to improve a morale grade and the loser selects one unit to drop a morale grade. This allows you to "reward" good units and "punish" those that disappointed.

For subsequent battles, the loser will get reinforced by one new unit (although losses will remain from previous battle or battles). The exception to this is if you are forced back to your own "Area B", where you have your choice of either a new unit OR bringing all of your current units up to full strength instead.

Any winner of two consecutive battles may also be re-inforced with a new unit OR may choose instead to bring his current units up to full strength.

If you are pushed back to your "Area C", you get to both get a new unit AND to bring your current surviving units up to full strength.

If pushed back to your Capitol, you get to add one guard-class unit and a heavy gun -- however, you've exhausted your reserves so you don't get to bring any "wounded units" back to full strength.

So, there you have it . . . a simple campaign format that encourages unit building. (By the way, there should be a prior agreement as to the morale grade of new units -- I would suggest either veterans or green units depending upon your preferences).

-- Jeff

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Madness of It All --

Here I am -- in a situation where I am unable to paint for some time to come -- and I have lots of lead to paint. I have four 26-man Battalions, four 13-horse Regiments, four Artillery pieces, and a bunch of Generals . . . .

. . . So, what am I thinking of . . . right, ordering more lead for my Saxe-Bearstein army!

Does anyone else do this?

Does anyone else want to order more lead when they haven't yet painted what they already have (which will be more than sufficient for a fair while)? Am I alone in this madness? Or are there more of us "lead junkies"?

-- Jeff

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Old Campaign Map --

What you see (and you can see it better if you click on it) is a campaign map I made some years ago.

The names are all quasi-German and it is quite suitable for an imaginary campaign. The names, by the way, were mainly created simply by changing the first letter of some current German cities.

Gentlemen, if you look closely, you will see that each of the two "countries" has a capitol (Zienna and Werlin), five large cities and 13 smaller forts.

There are five passes through the mountains two of which are a sort of "doubled" pass.

If you look closely, you should be able to see faint green lines crossing the various roads. These are, in fact, the remains of a "hex grid"; but we used them as time markers for various troops using the roads.

You, of course, are welcome to appropriate this map for your own campaings, applying whatever rules seem appropriate to you. This is not the map we will be using for the "Wars for Arcadian Glory" because they will involve more countries.

Anyway, I plan to use a mapless system for the WAG conflicts.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More Auerstadt Photos --

Yes, I know. These are not connected to my mid-eighteenth century Saxe-Bearstein project . . . but Murdock presented such a wonderful re-creation of the Napoleonic "Battle of Auerstadt" that I thought I should post a few more photos.

The first photo gives a quick glimpse of the battlefield in the morning when the fog lifted and suddenly the French (bottom of photo) and Prussians (top of photo) discovered that they were facing each other.

Remember, you can "click" on any photos to get a close-up look at it.

The next photo is an "overhead" shot of the aftermath of some of the fighting on "the hill". Murdock uses tiny neodymium (sometimes called "rare earth") magnets on his bases, along with washers on the bottoms of his figures. This allows him to "leave the dead where they lie" as the battle progresses.

The puffs of cotton indicate fired artillery. One is added (to a maximum of three) each time a gun is fired. One is removed each turn the gun doesn't fire. When a gun has three smoke puffs in front of it, it is deemed to shoot at a -1 due to reduced visibility.

Please note that this is not in the normal SHAKO rules, but he uses it to force players to consider their choices. In my "Tricorne Wars" rules, I handle artillery very differently -- but that will be the subject of another post. (Note that I just made a Saxe-Bearstein connection!)

A further thing to note are the "pale green folders" under a pair of messengers at the bottom of the photo, as well as one under a figure on the hill and another under a Prussian at "one o'clock".

These are changes of orders. The magnetized bases allow them to be placed underneath the figure.

The next photo should please Stokes . . . yes, it is Murdock himself in his Hussar's uniform.

Please note that he not only wore it for us, but in public as well when we visited the local grocer mid-battle to get something to eat.

The observant among you might note that he's holding an "artillery stick" in his right hand.

The fourth photo is from the French right flank where Mike had to face several assaults. By the way, you can see some of the washers on the base of some "dead cavalry" if you look closely.

The final photo is near the end of the battle. It shows the opposite flank, looking down the table. Note that yet another wave of Prussians has just arrived . . . but too late, as the Prussians had failed a Division morale check that put them into retreat.

I've never been seduced by the reputed allure of this period . . . it just doesn't have the romance for me that it does for so man. Nevertheless, I will admit that this was quite a battle to participate in.

-- Jeff

Monday, October 16, 2006

Auerstadt 200th Anniversary Game

This past Saturday, Murdock (see blog address in my Links) put on a wonderful refight of the Napoleonic battle of Auerstadt on the 200th Anniversary of that battle.

I'm looking at the nice little trophy that he presented me for guiding the French to victory.

"Victory", all I was trying to do was to survive! I felt under incredible pressure all day as wave after wave of Prussians kept showing up. It was very stressful.

Of course, David Dinney (who commanded the Prussian side) felt equally stressed as he tried to co-ordinate his Prussian side.

He was also a tad handicapped in that he had three "part-time" players on his side; instead of Mike Pearce who was by my side the whole time . . . and whose final charge was the straw that finally triggered the Prussian withdrawal.

We used what Murdock calls his "Shako and Baton" rules. Essentially they are SHAKO with some battle-specific modifications that added greatly to the "fog of war" and the fun and uncertainty of the situation.

Kudos to everyone who participated; but especially to Murdock. Not only did he provide all of the troops and terrain used; but he also was attired in full Hussar uniform.

The photo above is from the flank where Mike's cavalry charge finally turned the tide. (Note: "click" on it for a better view).

A great game (and I'm not fond of Napoleonics)!

-- Jeff

Saturday, October 14, 2006

"Afristan" Colonial Campaign Map --

Unfortunately, our move to Canada stifled a 19th Century Colonial Campaign that I was set to run.

The players were to explore (and exploit) the newly-discovered mini-continent of "Afristan", set in the Indian Ocean.

Seen at left is the "basic" map of Afristan. It shows the terrain but does not indicate any native settlements.

Afristan has four major river systems -- the Wazu, Cango, Vile and Tyger rivers. And five major mountains -- Mt. Horn, Mt. Fang, Mt. Moonz, Mt. Khyber and the centrally located Mt. Killajaro.

There are at least a dozen different native tribes inhabiting this continent -- the Afcans, Bintu, Derfish, Fozzi, Ghuzi, Kunda, M'bele, N'zulu, Pashan, Raff, Tuwazi and Wapago . . . . however, there are rumors of other mysterious tribes in Afristan's mountains.

I had four players lined up and ready to go. The German was going to explore the Cango; France, the Wazu; Turkey, the Vile; and the British player was headed up the Tyger.

Perhaps, after we finally get settled down, I'll look into running this campaign again.

On another note, Murdock's bing Auerstadt refight is next on the agenda. Hopefully some pictures with tomorrow's post.

-- Jeff

Friday, October 13, 2006

"Tricorne Wars" Command & Control

While I am still "playing around" with the details of my "command and control" system for my "Tricorne Wars rules, I do not expect the basic concept to change.

As you can see from the picture at left, Brigadiers often have to tell the troops under their command were to go and what to do.

This does not always coincide with what the General in charge of the battle wanted.


Because the brigadier on the spot knows more about his immediate situation than some general overlooking the whole battlefield.

Besides, one of the touchstones of "Tricorne Wars" is a lack of certainty about what's going to happen. So, how do I accomplish this?

In "Tricorne Wars", all generals and brigadiers will have one of four "personalities":
  • Political -- they're related to the monarch (what can you do?)
  • Agressive -- typical cavalry commanders, they want to charge
  • Steady -- usually dependable, you wish there were more of 'em
  • Careful -- they seldom act precipitously, a bit cautious
Each type will have a "matrix" of how they will interpret their orders when they contact the enemy (depending upon a die roll). Now, while I'm still playing with just what each level of orders will require, permit, limit or prohibit, there will be a "ladder" of possible orders. It might look something like this:
Or it might look substantially different . . . but you get the rough idea.

Now, the "matrix" for brigadiers might look something like this:

die roll___careful___steady__aggressive__political


(Note -- there has to be a better way of making a chart in a blog)

So, you have some questions, right? "What does this chart mean?"

Well, the green numbers indicate how many "rungs" up the "Order Ladder" the orders are re-interpreted to. Likewise, the red numbers indicate how many rungs down the ladder the orders are re-interpreted to.

The purple "/h" only comes into play if the superior officer giving the orders is "political"; if he is, there is a 50/50 chance that instead of the orders moving up or down, they will default to "Hold" as the brigadier sends for clarification (just because they're related to the monarch doesn't mean they make sense).

"Okay, but what about the "0" and "7" lines?"

Even the Commanding General has a "personality". In order to "enforce" this, all commands by a "Careful" general will automatically have a +1 added to the d6 roll on the chart; and all commands by an "Aggressive" general will automatically have -1 added to the d6 roll on the chart for interpretation.

Now, since this roll is not made until contact is made with the enemy, the Careful C-in-C will be tempted to write more cautious orders for fear of their getting interpreted too aggressively . . . and, likewise, the Aggressive C-in-C will be tempted to give more aggressive orders for fear of their getting interpreted too cautiously.

You've already seen that the Political C-in-C has the danger of his orders needing clarification. So, of course, everyone wants a "Steady" C-in-C (even though his orders could be interpreted up or down).

Never fear, there's a mechanism to balance this as well.

Remember, "Tricorne Wars" is designed for "Imaginary Countries" and resulting fictional campaigns. Each country will come with a set of four Generals and six Brigadiers (although unique figures are not needed for each officer).

Here, for example, are the four generals and six brigadiers of the Saxe-Bearstein army:
  1. General Baron Helmut von Pilsner (Agr), init 3 -- 10"
  2. Lt. Gen. Hertz von Stout (Stdy), init 1 -- 14"
  3. Maj. Gen. Otto von Lager (Care), init 1 -- 9"
  4. Maj. Gen. Kronprinz Rudolf von Ursa (Pol), init 2 -- 12"
  1. Brig. Karl von Blatz (Agr), init 1 -- 11" / 7"
  2. Brig. Ernst von Bruin (Stdy), init 1 -- 11" / 6"
  3. Brig. Dieter von Maltz (Care), init 2 -- 10" / 5"
  4. Brig. Prinz Gunther von Ursa (Pol), init 1 -- 12" / 8"
  5. Brig. Fritz von Hoptz (Stdy), init 2 -- 10" / 6"
  6. Brig. Wolfgang "Bud" von Weiser (Agr), init 1 -- 13" / 8"
You will note that each of the four "personality types" is represented in the four true "generals". This is deliberate. Those four are then echoed (in the same order) for the four most senior brigadiers. The two most junior brigadiers (5 and 6) echo the top two generals in reverse.

This is to balance the fact that for smaller battles, the more senior generals are unlikely to be called out. In fact, the plan is that before each battle, the players will dice to see which general and which brigadiers the monarch has chosen to send.

(Note -- for small battles, roll 50/50 for the two Major Generals; for slightly larger fights, include the Lt. General; and for larger battles dice for all of them -- and for Wing Commanders if large enough. The senior general is always the C-in-C. If your monarch is one of your generals, he should be the senior.)

When generals and brigadiers are "rolled up" (in front of your fellows, please), besides picking or rolling for the order of your personalities, roll 2d3 and 3dAv.

(Note that "averaging dice" are numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5 -- if you need to use a d6, count the six as a 4 and the one as a three -- this is the easiest way to modify a d6).

The lower of the 2d3 is that officer's Initiative. The total of the 3dAv is his Command Radius if mounted. For brigadiers, please also note the total of the two lowest averaging dice -- this is their command radius if commanding an Infantry Brigade.

Hopefully this will have given you some idea of how I hope to instill some "fog of war" into the "command and control" aspect of "Tricorne Wars".

-- Jeff

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A Very Pleasant Surprise --

Today (Monday) was Thanksgiving Day here in Canada . . . and for me it has ended with a very pleasant surprise. Some British gamers tried out an early version of "Tricorne Wars" and sent me a report.

The very first sentence of their email gave me great pleasure --
"We gave these rules a try last night and had quite a lot of fun."

They then followed up with a number of questions . . . which pointed out to me a number of things I had failed to cover . . . (thank goodness for playtesting)!

They also asked if they had interpreted certain things correctly (they had); and criticized the (lack of) organization to the rules. I certainly had to plead guilty to that one. Currently they are in a sort of "stream-of-consciousness" state of disorganization -- more or less written down as I thought of things.

Finally, they commented on several things that they really liked about the rules . . . and these were, in fact, the key heart of "Tricorne Wars". This made me really happy; and very thankful for a group of gamers in the United Kingdom.

I'm hoping that someone took a few photos and/or will send me an account of the battle . . . but whether that happens or not, please allow me to say a hearty "Thanks, guys!" to them.

-- Jeff

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Cohesion" in Tricorne Wars --

I have already (September 27, 2006) somewhat discussed "Morale Grades" in my SYW rules, Bluebear's "Tricorne Wars".

Today I wish to discuss "cohesion". Essentially, a unit's "morale grade" is an abstraction of how well they adjust to adversity. "Cohesion" is a measure of some types of that adversity.

Perhaps the easiest cohesion state to understand is "Separation". If a unit is in skirmish order, its component elements (stands) are "separated". The unit is in a state of Separation. But a unit is also in Separation if they are in terrain that has temporarily disrupted their normal order.

In both of the above-mentioned examples of "Separation", that state ends when the factor causing it ceases to be. If a skirmishing unit returns to a solid line; or a unit in "separating terrain" leaves it, "Separation" ends.

However, Separation is a cohesion state that exists separately and along side the other cohesion states. These other states are:
  • Good Order -- your best cohesion; all set to follow orders and fight
  • Rattled -- minor loss of cohesion
  • Disordered -- more serious loss of cohesion; like Separation, but not cessation-cured
  • Shaken -- very serious loss of cohesion; unit is in bad shape; needs to rally
  • Broken -- all you can do is rout and hope that you can rally them
Please note that a unit could be (for example) both Separated and Shaken. When the cause for Separation ends, the unit will still be Shaken.

Colour stands

I hate little bits of colored pipe cleaner, cardboard chits, casualty caps, printed labels and various other ways which some games use to indicate a unit's status -- such as their current "cohesion".

Therefor, in "Tricorne Wars", I urge the use of "colour stands" to indicate the unit's current cohesion. It is a simple, yet effective way of showing it on the tabletop without destroying the visual impact of the battle.

In "Tricorne Wars", the unit's "command stand" will contain figures of an officer and musician -- but not any flags. The flags (or more appropriately, "colours") are mounted with their bearer by themselves on a full width (but often reduced depth) stand.

The position of this "colour stand" in relation to the rest of the unit determine's the unit's current cohesion:
  • Good Order -- Colour stand is in front of unit, leading it
  • Rattled -- Colour stand is in front line of unit -- often displacing command stand
  • Disordered -- Colour stand is behind unit, facing front of unit
  • Shaken -- Colour stand is also behind unit, but facing to the rear
  • Broken -- Colour stand is several inches behind unit, routing away
Because the Colour stand is really a "cohesion marker" rather than a part of the unit, I use it even for units, such as converged grenadiers or skirmishers that usually did not carry colours into battle.

Artillery is a bit of a different problem. Flags don't look right with artillery pieces . . . so I use a "Gun Captain". This is some sort of distinctive "artillery figure" mounted separately (rather than on the gun stand). His position (in front, beside, behind, etc.) can be used to show the current cohesion of the gun crew.

Note that those who object to flags with skirmishers may do a similar thing as long as it is clearly identified to your opponent.

Anyway, that's what I'm doing for Bluebear's "Tricorne Wars" . . . perhaps it will give you some ideas as well.

-- Jeff

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Saxe-Bearstein Uniforms --

As I have mentioned before, I am using SYW Hanover as my "guide" for my Saxe-Bearstein uniforms.

While I certainly do not expect to paint them all at once, I have posted a picture of what my infantry uniforms will eventually look like.

Note -- I've removed the picture since it turns out that the original line drawing apparently came from the website. Peter Berry of Baccus has asked me to direct people to his website's "How To" section where there are painting guides.

All of the uniforms pictured were actually used by Hanover except for two . . . well, one and a half. Since I've removed the graphic, you can no longer see it . . . but the coat color is RED with a variety of facing colors -- white, yellow, orange, light green, dark green, light blue, dark blue, lavender and black.

The "black" regiment actually had white turnbacks although the cuffs and lapels were black. The "lavender" regiment is fictional (but I didn't want to double-up on any colors).

As for cavalry, the "heavy cav" wore white uniforms with various "regimental colors" except for the grenadier guard cavalry, which wore red.

The Dragoons wore white as well . . . but I want them in something different . . . so I'm going to "cheat" and put my dragoons in yellow-brown coats.

As for the Hussars, well history gives me a very nice selection. The Luckner Hussars wore two completely different uniforms . . . and I shall use both, plus some frei corps Hussars if more are needed.

Anyway, that's the plan.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wars for Arcadian Glory --

As I have mentioned before, I'm located about halfway up Vancouver Island (off the west coast of Canada). The local gaming group is "The Arcadian Guild". (Check out the link to the right).

Myself and a few others are looking to start a campaign set in the mid-eighteenth century using imaginary European countries. My principality of Saxe-Bearstein is one of these countries. (See Archives for August 31 to check on Saxe-Bearstein's fictional history).

One of the purposes of this campaign will be to build-up armies. This means that we don't want to need too many painted troops too early. To begin with, each player will need one Brigade of Foot and one of Mounted, plus some generals and two pieces of artillery.

Using Bluebear's Tricorne Wars rules, this means a minimum of three battalions of foot (17 to 25 men each) and one unit of mounted (7 to 16 cavalry figures). There should be four more mounted figures (2 brigadiers, 1 major general and 1 aide-de-camp).

In addition, two artillery pieces (one Light, one Medium) are permitted, as are two more small mounted units (7 to 10 men each) and a unit of skirmishing foot (5 to 13 figures). These are suggested -- but not required.

Thus, if someone wanted to meet the bare minimums, that would mean 51 foot and 11 mounted; whereas, if they wanted the maximum, they would need 88 foot (including the skirmishers), 40 mounted and two artillery pieces plus 7 crew.

Campaign Concept

Since we hope to have a flexible number of participants in the "Wars for Arcadian Glory" (or WAG for short), I'm thinking of not tying us down to a fixed "map". Instead each unit will be tied to a "territory" (which could be an area or city).

When two players want to fight a battle, they would each roll a die to determine which "territory" of theirs was "at risk". In addition, they would roll up a random, unnamed territory (most of which will just supply another infantry unit -- but a few of which would allow more cavalry units to be built).

The winner of the battle keeps his territory and may select either the other player's "at risk" territory OR the new territory. In either case the loser gets the remaining territory (usually his own back; but
occasionally a new one).

Whoever gets the new "territory" gets to name it. Whatever territory a player gets, he can raise troops from it (although it takes some time before he can use them). This means that you never lose your overall units -- and that your army will slowly grow.

In addition, battle winners have a better chance of recouping battle losses than do the losers. What I'm currently thinking is that all "full" or partially full companies and/or squadrons are restored to full health. Any stands that had been eliminated must be individually diced for. Winner of battle recovers 2/3rds of his troops (rolls a 3+); while the loser only gets about half of them back (rolls a 4 or better).

Over the Winter season, all of your units recruit themselves back up to full strength -- except those that you've "lost" (i.e., are now owned by an opponent) -- they cannot be re-built unless you recapture their home "territory".

However, any unit that has its "home territory" at risk (no matter which side currently owns it) gets a temporary morale rating of "elite" for that battle only (otherwise reverting to it's normal morale rating).

What I'm currently thinking is allowing a maximum of three or four battles per "campaign year" per participant. However, all armies who either did not fight or failed to win any battles, may still build one new unit over the winter.

If someone wins an "infantry territory", they would roll 1d3 and add one (generating a number from 2 to 4) . . . this is how many seasons before a "Raw" unit can be raised from that territory. If they wish to use the troops before then, they will be rated as "Militia" until they are successfully raised to "Raw" by their battle actions.

If someone wins an "mounted territory", they would roll 1dAv and add one (generating a number from 3 to 6) . . . this is how many seasons before a "Raw" unit can be raised from that territory. If they wish to use the troops before then, they will be rated as "Militia" until they are successfully raised to "Raw" by their battle actions.

After each battle, every unit that has captured a "standard" will get a roll to improve their morale grade by one. In addition, the winner of a battle gets to select one unit to roll for morale improvement; while the loser must select a unit to roll for lowering it's morale grade (which is how a "Veteran" unit could fall to "Poor" -- which is the same as "Raw", but disgraced.)

Winner of a battle may award a "Battle Honor" to up to 33% of the unit's participating in the battle. This doesn't really mean anything except that it builds up unit histories.

The above description is, of course, only a sketch, but hopefully it will give you some idea of how the "Wars for Arcadian Glory" will operate.

-- Jeff

Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Game at Murdock's --

This Sunday I travelled up the coast to Murdock's game room to play a Napoleonic battle.

In preparation for an upcoming refight on the 200th anniversary of Auerstadt, we played the first part of the battle (until I had to head back in time to catch the ferry to get home).

The first photo shows the scene when the fog lifted (from behind my French lines). You can just make out General Blucher in the town ahead of my position. I took a chance and managed to capture the town (and the General!) before the Prussians could occupy it.

The next phot shows the game a few turns later when another French division faced far too many cavalry regiments (way, way too many). I held (and killed a lot of horses), but it wasn't a comfortable task.

We were playing a slight modification of the SHAKO rules . . . volatile and fun.

The final photo is again a couple of turns further into the game. This time looking down the Prussian lines as more and more troops flood onto the table.

I would like to show you more pictures . . . but my digital camera let me down. I can see some more photos "in the camera", but I couldn't get them to download onto my computer.

I'm sure that Murdock will have more (and better) photos since he has a much better camera. His blog can be seen at:

-- Jeff

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Troop Morale in BTW --

In the 18th Century rules I am writing for our local gaming (Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada), I have five or six morale grades (depending upon how you count them). However, for the most part there are effectively three grades.

This sounds strange, I know. Two of the morale grades (Raw and Poor) are effectively the same. The difference is that Raw units are essentially newly raised units; andPoor units were once Veteran (or better) and have since lost that status.

The very best troops, of course, are the Guards. But in the entire army, only one unit of foot and one unit of mounted are ever allowed to exist at any one time.

Militia are the very worst troops -- but only because they have not received enough training yet. They are the result of a ruler rashly rushing them into action too soon.

So, the three "common" troop types are: Raw/Poor, Veteran and Elite.

In "Bluebear's Tricorne Wars", all troops have "good days" and "bad days" (just as in real life). And no general knows before the battle how any unit will respond on "the day". They will know the general morale grade -- but not how they'll respond that day.

To determine their actual "morale number" for that particular battle, they will dice for it once it becomes necessary for them to know it (i.e., once they're in contact with the enemy). These numbers range from 1 to 5 (higher is better). Most are rolled for with Averaging Dice, which are numbered 2,3,3,4,4,5 although some use a d3:
  • Guard -- roll 2dAv, take higher die (range 2-5) -- but get better of 2d6 when testing
  • Elite -- roll 2dAv, take higher die (range 2-5)
  • Veteran -- roll 1dAv (range 2-5)
  • Raw or Poor -- roll 2dAv, take lower die (range 2-5)
  • Militia -- roll 1d3 (range 1-3)
Thus, even very good troops can have a very bad day or bad troops a good one -- although that's not the way to bet.

These "basic morale numbers", along with various tactical bonuses and/or penalties determine what number (or less) must be rolled on 1 d6 to succeed -- with a "1" always succeeding; and a "6" always failing.

More on "Bluebear's Tricorne Wars" in future posts.

-- Jeff

Monday, September 25, 2006

Painting Horses --

Stokes Schwartz hates painting horses (he sent a comment to my last post saying so). He asked how I paint mine.

Sorry to tell you this, Stokes, but I actually spend less than two minutes of "brush time" per horse.

What? How is that possible?

First, you need to accept the concept that the critical visual focus of a mounted figure should be the rider. As long as the horse looks "reasonable" (and not too flashy), what viewers focus on is the rider -- note the first photo.

(Note -- this in no way belittles or criticizes those who paint beautiful horses -- it just represents a different philosophy.)

So, for those who agree with my philosophy, this is how I paint horses:

  1. I "black prime" the figures -- generally this takes a number of light coats from various different directions -- including from below to get the horses' bellies.
  2. After the priming coat is completely dry, with a large brush I do a very quick white "damp brush". At this point, the figure should still have a lot of black on it, particularly in recessed areas.
  3. After the white damp brush has dried, again with a fairly large brush, I do another quick damp brush with a "horse color" -- yellows, tans, browns, red-browns, etc. -- after this step, the horse should have perhaps two thirds the horse color, and more or less even amounts of black and white showing through. Also, please note that each horse will look slightly different at this point, since each of the "damp brush" steps will have left paint in slightly different places.
  4. Again, after the last step is dry, the final step is to use a (somewhat diluted) ink. I use a fairly dark brown ink (not black), I dilute it (with water) so that it will allow more color through and flow easily. This tones down some of the "brighter" horse colors (such as yellows or red leathers, etc.) . Since I generally have about three horses on a craft stick, I start this step with the horses upside down (belly up). I apply the diluted ink with again with largish brush (but not the same one I use for the damp brushing). This is a pretty "wet" process, so I'm careful to be wearing clothes that my wife doesn't matter getting "spattered" (I use an old BarBQ apron). So I slosh this over the horse from below, then turn it over and do the same from above. This is somewhat scary because the figure now looks like it is all the ink color.
  5. Don't panic. You can use the "inking brush" to somewhat "wipe down" the excess diluted ink where it is particularly heavy . . . but gravity and evaporation will do your work for you. Just let them dry.
But what about reins and stockings and stars?

I ignore them. Again, my philosophy is that the focus should be on the RIDER, not the horse. I do paint the horse blanket, but that's about it.

Even although the flash has "washed out" the colors, if you look at the picture to the left, you can see how each horse has slightly different shading; and how the reins and halter are outlined by the ink -- it's enough that from a distance you don't notice that they aren't painted -- your focus is on the rider.

Now, if you look at the final photo (from a game), you will notice that the Cossacks on the left have different horse colors; while the Swedes entering on the right have a uniform horse color.

(You may want to "click" on the photo to bring up a larger version of it).

And, sure, the Cossaks have irregular "uniform colors" as well as horse colors; but notice how the slight variations make a difference.

Now, I do not suggest that this is the only way to paint horses, but it is effective for me. It is certainly quick (as I say, I've been timed doing a unit of horses and the brush time was not much over a minute per horse -- drying time took longer of course).

Stokes, give this a try with a few horses and see what you think . . . if you don't like it, it is certainly easy to strip or paint over them.

-- Jeff

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Few Thoughts on "Fog of War" --

I am a gamer who appreciates a lot of "Fog of War" in my games. I also like lots of "command and control" problems.

That is why my "Tricorne Wars" rules will have a number of mechanisms to encourage these.

In the coming weeks I hope to detail some of them . . . but not today (it was a bear of a day and I'm tired).

Instead, for your viewing enjoyment, here's another shot of some Swedish cavalry.

-- Jeff

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Few Colonial Photos --

Not much happening with my SYW project at the moment . . . so I browsed through a few old gaming photos.

I pulled a few "Colonial" game shots so you can see the "Arab houses" I mentioned in the article about the "Old West" buildings (September 12).

These are even easier to build than the Old West buildings. For a tutorial, go to this website:

The first pic is a typical desert village under attack by a British unit. Native allies leap from the oasis in the village's defense.

The tabletop is covered with crumpled up brown paper -- which makes a very reasonable "desert" surface.

The second photo shows a different battle. Please note the hills on the sides. Sadly, I had to leave them behind when we moved.

However, they are fairly easy to build and are very useful. Hopefully my old gaming buddy, Bill is putting them to good use.

Again, for a tutorial, visit the Major General's website at:

I built mine along his lines, but used balsa rather than cardboard for the strips between the hill sections (for strength).

The final two photos are from yet a third Colonial game. Picture #3 shows Arab reinforcements. While the horsemen engage a British unit just over the hills in the middle, the camel riders head for the village with the black powder that their canon needs.

The final picture is from the other end of the table. (You can barely make out the camel riders in the top right corner of picture #4).

Again you see a selection of the "Arab houses" . . . and, yes those are mah jong tiles forming the village walls (as well as the ruins to the left).

For my Colonial games, I use a set of rules that I've written called "Khyber Knife". Which are sort of an amalgm of TSATF, GASLIGHT and my own ideas.

And, to end on a literary note (for those who don't immediately recognize my game title, it is taken from Rudyard Kipling's "The Ballad of East and West":

They have taken the Oath of the Brother-in-Blood on fire and fresh-cut sod,
On the hilt and the haft of the Khyber knife, and the Wondrous Names of God.

Colonials have a very different flavor than Eighteenth Century warfare -- and it makes a nice change of pace.

-- Jeff

Monday, September 18, 2006

Unit Sizes in "BTW" --

Because I'm writing "Bluebear's Tricorne Wars" for our local group with a secondary purpose of encouraging them to paint lead, my unit sizes are perhaps smaller than I'd really like.

Each stand of 4 infantry (a company) or 3 cavalry (a squadron) nominally represents something between approximately 100 and 150 troops.

To be a valid "battalion", the unit must contain 4-6 companies. This means a 16-man unit up to a 24-man unit.
(Actually it means a 17-man unit up to a 26-man unit).


In addition to the 4-6 companies, each unit needs a "colour stand" with one or two flags. Please note that there should be no flags on the command company stand. This is because the position of the "colour stand" indicates the "cohesion"
(some might say "morale state") of the unit.
  • If positioned in front of unit -- steady (best cohesion)
  • If positioned "in the front line" -- rattled
  • If placed immediately behind the unit -- disordered
  • If placed behind the unit, facing backwards -- shaken
  • If moved well behind unit, facing backwards -- broken (routing)
I should note that even converged grenadiers (who normally did not have colours) and light infantry (ditto) will have a "colour stand". It is an easy, attractive way of indicating cohesion.

Mounted units also have a "colour stand"; although in their case it is a single figure with flag. Squadrons, as previously mentioned, have three figures each. For "Bluebear's Tricorne Wars", a regiment is comprised of 2-5 squadrons.

Thus a mounted unit could vary from 7
(six + colour) to 16 (fifteen + colour) mounted figures. (note -- see September 13 blog for basing conventions).

Artillery pieces do not use a flag; but rather an officer as their "colour stand". Again, his position (in front, beside, behind, etc.) indicates the current condition of the unit.

I am a great fan of the "look" of the tabletop. I do not like to see any sort of "label" or "casualty cap", etc. cluttering up the look of the battle. So I've tried to find ways to show things without using such items.

More about my rules as this blog progresses.

-- Jeff