Saturday, January 27, 2007

Real Life Stuff to Cause Delays --

Some of you may know that my wife and I have had our condo in California for sale for about a year. It has finally sold . . . not for nearly as much as we'd like . . . but it has sold. Unfortunately, since we are now in Canada, we have to go to the U.S. Consulate in Vancouver, BC in order to get our signatures on the deal notarized.

This is because the state of California (and perhaps others) requires that any sale of property by persons outside of the U.S. can only be notarized at a U.S. Consulate. This trip will cost us several hundred dollars (all of those ferry trips are not cheap) and will be very rough on my wife (she has several serious health problems).

So I am not likely to have any posts for several days. Nevertheless, this will mean that we can finally start looking for a permanent home to buy. We have been renting a small cabin (with most of our possessions in storage).

While my bride has lots of sensible requirements for selecting our new home, she will permit me to have a place for my tabletop gaming. Thus we are hoping to find a place with a nice-sized "workshop" where I can set up a gaming table.

So, while the trip will be stressful and expensive, it will eventually help us get me back to where I can paint figures and play games. This will be a good thing. A very good thing.

-- Jeff

Sunday, January 21, 2007

What's in a Name? --

Some months back I selected a bunch of names for my Saxe-Bearstein units. They were, in accordance with my theme, mainly using the names of beers with a few that referenced bears. Some examples are:
  • von Coors Kuirassiers
  • Edelbrau Dragoons
  • Infantry Regiment von Schlitz
  • von Grizzley Grenadier Guard
Now there's nothing wrong with names like these . . . and I still might use them. But for some reason I got to thinking about the naming of units during the 18th Century; and it seems to me that there are a number of different "systems" that were used by various countries to "designate" their military units. Among these are:
  • by TASK -- such as "Lifeguard", "Grenadier Guard", etc.
  • by OWNER -- such as "Prinz Karl's", "Queen's Own", etc.
  • by COLONEL -- such as "Luckner's", "von Bulow's", "O'Neill's", etc.
  • by LOCATION -- such as "Sodermanlands", "Normandy", "Kievski", etc.
  • by NUMBER -- such as "5th", "11A", "23rd", etc.
  • by COLOR -- "Yellow Dragoons", "Red Hussars", etc.
There may well be others, but certainly all of the above were commonly used by a number of countries.

So, having thought of this, I then began to question how I really wanted to name my units. And, for that matter, did I want to be consistent? Or would I prefer to "mix and match" naming styles?

I still like the "beers & bears" concept . . . but I also like the idea of naming units after "provinces" and "cities" in Saxe-Bearstein. Why? Because if we use the simple campaign that I outlined in my October 26th post, we will be fighting over provinces and each unit will need to be "assigned" to a province anyway.

Of course, this could be a "beer or bear" unit; but it could also be one named after a particular area. It could also include a mixture. So, no decisions right now. I'll just have to think up a number of names for units . . . then let them sit for a while until I get to needing them. Then I can look over the lists and see what still appeals to me.

What appeals to you?

-- Jeff

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Three Hours on the Phone --

I just got off the phone after a rambling three-hour conversation with Murdock. This weekend he's running a playtest of his upcoming Eylau Refight and we chatted about that and our thoughts on our upcoming "Wars for Arcadian Glory" (WAG for short).

His blog, MurdocK's MarauderS can be seen at this URL:

He's also just started a blog for his WAG country . . . the Duchy of Mieczyslaw (link on list at right). But so far his MarauderS blog has the most postings. I expect that we can see some photos of this weekend's playtest there in a few days.

We talked about some ideas we each had for basing troops . . . and you will probably see some of his ideas put into practice in some photos soon.

Speaking of photos, I've included one of me in Murdock's "game room" looking over some of my GNW troops (Saxons and Russians on my side; my Swedes on the other side).

I'm also now thinking of rebasing all of my GNW troops for my "Tricorne Wars" rules. The problem is that they were based for a different system . . . and I'll have to combine regiments . . . which will entail a fair amount of repainting.

Why? Two reasons, first I used Lance Runolfsson's "Blood Axe" 28mm figures -- which are no longer available. And his sculpting style for his GNW/WSS figures is not compatible with any other figures that I'm aware of. It is kind of rough and chunky compared to most . . . but I really like them.

The second reason is that I was very careful to make sure that I painted units very differently from each other. I used as many different facing colors as I could justify historically. Where these were often the same (such as with many Swedish units), I was careful to paint each one in differing shades.

Oh, well. At least the Cavalry wont require much repainting . . . it's pretty much right already.

-- Jeff

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Initiative in "Tricorne Wars" --

On October 13th (see Archives), I explained about the various "personalities" of Generals and Brigadiers in my "Tricorne Wars" rules. Today I plan on discussing the various uses of "initiative" in my rule set.

When a "general" or "brigadier" is generated, besides being given a personality, an "initiative" value is generated by rolling 2d3 and taking the lower die value. This means that on average, each officer will have the following chance for each value:

  • 56% will have initiative value of "1"
  • 33% will have initiative value of "2"
  • 11% will have initiative value of "3"

Okay, fine. But how is "initiative" used in "Tricorne Wars". Answer . . . in three ways.

First, if one C-inC has a higher initiative than his opponent, he gets the difference between the two added on to his d6 when they dice for the choice of going first or second at the start of each turn. Thus the C-in-C with more initiative will generally exercise more control over the battlefield.

Second, upon receiving a "change of orders", a wing commander or brigadier must die to overcome his "Inertia" before interpreting and acting upon his new orders. His initiative value is added to his "inertia value"; he then must roll this number or less before he may (interpret and) change his orders.

The "Inertia" value is dependant upon the officer's personality:

  • Political personalities have an Inertia value of . . . 2
  • Aggressive personalities have an Inertia value of . . . 3
  • Steady personalities have an Inertia value of . . . 3
  • Careful personalities have an Inertia value of . . . 1

Thus a Careful Brigadier with an initiative of 1 had better have been given orders that you don't want to change . . . because there is only a one-third chance of his responding to a change-of-orders each turn (inertia of 1 plus initiative of 1 = 2 or less on 1d6).

On the other hand, a Steady Brigadier (besides being the least likely to misinterpret a change-of-orders) with an initiative of 2 or 3 would be a good candidate for being given a command which might have to respond to changing conditions. (note that, since a "6" always fails, in this case there would be no difference between initiatives of 2 or 3).

The third way in which initiative is used is tied into the "command radius" of each officer (see October 13 for information on "command radius" value generation).

As with DBx, each subcommander must roll 1d6 to determine how many orders he can issue each turn (to units within his command radius). If he has an initiative value greater than one, he may choose to re-roll that d6 (once only if initiative is "2", twice if it is a "3").

However, if he chooses to re-roll, he doesn't get the higher of the two, he's stuck with the new roll. This includes the officer with an initiative of 3 . . . he has two chances (if he wants them) to re-roll, but if he decides to use them, any earlier roll is lost . . . thus he would be stuck with a "1" on his third roll if that's how it turned out.

All of these mechanisms are designed to further not only the "fog of war"; but to also force the C-in-C to consider how he will allocate his forces -- which officer will be given what orders. In short, it is intended to simulate some of the problems of command.

-- Jeff

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Update & Two New Blogs --

Allow me to apologize for my lack of posts of late. I have been ill. I am now recovering from bronchitis, although my dear wife still has some pneumonia. About all that we've been doing is coughing and sleeping.

My local gamers are beginning to build their forces for our upcoming "Wars for Arcadian Glory" (since we are all members of "The Arcadian Guild" -- a gaming group in British Columbia, Canada). So please welcome two new 18th Century fictional country blogs:

At the moment (well, as I write this), they each only have their initial posts . . . but, as time passes I expect to see some fine forces depicted and look forward to enjoyable battlefield engagements.

-- Jeff

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How to Paint an Army --

First of all, this is not an article about "painting techniques". Rather, it is about an approach to painting a tabletop army.

First -- Have a Plan.

Think before you start painting. How do you want your army to look?

Do you want the infantry all in the same coat color? If so, what color? Or (as with some armies) do you want your battalions to be coated in several different colors? again, if so, what colors?

Are your "Heavy Horse" going to be in the same coat color as the infantry? or something different? and, if so, what color? What about your Dragoons?

Do you want every rank-and-file figure in a unit to have the same pose? or all different poses? Both of these are valid choices . . . which one suits you best?

Are you going to copy historical units? or just use colors you like? The time to decide is before you acquire figures or you pick up a paintbrush.

For example, while I'm essentially basing my Saxe-Bearstein army on that of 18th century Hanover, I am making several deviations. My infantry will be red-coated; but one or two battalions will have non-historical facing colors . . . and, of course, my flags are different.

The "heavy horse" again will be more-or-less based on history, with white uniforms (except for the mounted grenadier guards in red-coats). However, historically the dragoons were also in white . . . and I wanted a different look for them. Thus they will be in yellow-brown coats (except for the dragoon guards in black).

So, before I've painted a figure, I already have my "concept" planned. What's yours?

Second -- Keep Records

Make up an "index card" for every unit you paint. Record the brand and name/number of every paint you use on the unit.

This means that, at a later date, if you need to replace a figure; or add more figures to the unit; or do some touch-ups to some figures; or just want to copy something . . . you will have the necessary records!

Another good thing to record on the index card are the dates you start painting the unit and the date you finish them. (This helps encourage more painting)

Third -- "Identify" your Figures

I always paint the "bottom-side" of my figures' bases a distinctive color (usually the facing color). This not only makes sorting things out easier, but also provides a base for my initials.

Yes, I suggest that you get a "Sharpie" or other "permanent marker" (these are easier to use than paintbrushes) and put your full initials on every figure. Besides making unit identification easier, this helps prevent someone from mistakenly scooping up one of your figures as their own.

Fourth -- Consistent Basing

One of the things that really helps "tie" an army together is consistency of basing. There are many differing ideas as to what good bases should look like. I have mine; you have yours . . . they may be the same or very different.

But whatever type of basing you prefer, use it consistently (and use the same color paints or flocking) throughout your army. We've all seen "armies" with mis-matched bases . . . and it just doesn't make a good impression.

Also, when selecting colors for your units, keep the flocking in mind. You usually do not want to paint your units in a color that blends into the base color.

Fifth -- Plan Your Palette

Some colors go well together. Some don't. Before you paint, remember Step One from above . . . Think!

Use some scrap cardstock and use splotches of the colors you're planning on using. Use big splotches for a bunch of coat colors, then when that's dry paint a small blotch of "facing colors" on the big "coat blotches". See what you like; and what you don't. Adjust.

Also, some cavalry units might have fairly similar facing colors . . . well, when I'm faced with that, I make sure that I give the two units very different colors of horses. You can also use belting or weapon color, etc.

Sixth -- K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple, sir!

Do NOT be tempted by painting contest winners. What we are painting are UNITS. We look at them on the tabletop from some feet away.

Most detail is lost from this distance. Too many colors "muddy" the look of units. Use as few colors as you feel comfortable on each unit (and remember to list them on the index card).

Sure, spend some extra time on "command figures" (i.e., generals); but most rank and file guys just need to be assembly-lined.

Perfection is over-rated . . . just get them done!

-- Jeff

Monday, January 01, 2007

Index of 2006 Posts --

In order to help people (mainly me) find specific Saxe-Bearstein posts from this past year, I've decided to list them by month.

A word of warning first . . . November and December do not have much relating to Saxe-Bearstein due to a very nasty series of storms and power outages pretty much kept me from paying much attention to Saxe-Bearstein matters. Thus, many of the posts from these two months are about other subjects.

I've listed posts in chronologically decending order (just as they are in the blog). Also, I've added the number of comments to each post in parentheses (as of 1 January) after each post title.

December 2006

31st -- 15mm Problem -- (1)

28th -- Building Construction Answers -- (4)

28th -- I Hate Colds -- (1)

24th -- Bad Bear; Bad, Bad Bluebear -- (3)

21st -- Holiday Hiatus -- (5)

15th -- Back after NO POWER for 100 Hours -- (2)

10th -- A "Rival" Country -- (6)

November 2006

27th -- Power Back On . . . Really? -- (4)

23rd -- No Electricity Again & Again -- (4)

17th -- Some Alternate Flags -- (4)

16th -- Yet Power Woes, Down for 36 Hours -- (5)

14th -- More Power Woes -- (2)

14th -- Power Games -- (1)

12th -- Exigencies of Life -- (3)

6th -- Some Thoughts on Artillery -- (2)

3rd -- Terrain Selection Concept -- (1)

1st -- Interesting Website Added to Links -- (0)

October 2006

29th -- A Question of Imaginary Countries -- (5)

26th -- A Simple Campaign Format -- (3)

23rd -- The Madness of It All -- (7)

19th -- An Old Campaign Map -- (2)

17th -- More Auerstadt Photos -- (2)

16th -- Auerstadt 200th Anniversary Game -- (3)

14th -- "Afristan" Colonial Campaign Map -- (2)

13th -- "Tricorne Wars" Command & Control -- (4)

10th -- A Very Pleasant Surprise -- (6)

7th -- "Cohesion" in Tricorne Wars -- (0)

5th -- Saxe-Bearstein Uniforms -- (6)

4th -- Wars for Arcadian Glory -- (2)

1st -- Game at Murdock's -- (3)

September 2006

27th -- Troop Morale in BTW -- (3)

25th -- Painting Horses -- (3)

21st -- A Few Thoughts on "Fog of War" -- (2)

19th -- A Few Colonial Photos -- (2)

18th -- Unit Sizes in "BTW" -- (3)

17th -- The Grand Scheme -- (1)

14th -- More Saxe-Bearstein Flags -- (3)

13th -- Basing for "Cavalry" Squadrons -- (0)

12th -- Buildings for the "Old West" -- (6)

11th -- Even More GNW Photos -- (2)

9th -- Some More GNW Pictures -- (2)

9th -- Basing for Infantry -- (0)

8th -- Basing Figures -- General Format -- (2)

7th -- Rules & "WAG" -- (0)

1st -- Unit Colours -- (4)

August 2006

31st -- Some Saxe-Bearstein History -- (0)

31st -- My First Photo -- (6)

25th -- RSM Figures Arrive -- (0)

June 2006

23rd -- Figures on Order -- (0)

23rd -- Getting Started -- (0)

Summary of 2006 Posts

Well, adding them up, I had a total of 53 posts and 132 comments (probably about a third of which are me answering questions).

I've enjoyed creating this blog and look forward to carrying it into 2007.

-- Jeff "Bluebear" Hudelson