Saturday, April 23, 2011

American Civil War

Here are just a few images of my latest project.

Over the next couple of weeks i plan to do a couple of battle field reports.

The figures are Battle Honours 15mm. I procured them from whose service I found excellent. I will be using them again.

Much of the terrain is created by me or bought from sources, such as the Australian Battlefield Accessories = snake rail fences.

I painted simply using base coat, Army Painter (good for the dirty look of most ACW soldiers) then a small highlight - esp. for the blue coats of the Union.

Hope you like the images.

Major C. Savage

18th C. Naval Wargaming

After a long time off I thought I would add a couple of updates to my recent (?) projects ... The first being Naval Wargaming.

I have played a bit of WWI naval wargaming using the "Age of Dreadnoughts" rules which I have found to be quite a mixed bag. They are simple and, at times, enjoyable, but due to the mass of dice you roll and the frequent gaps in the rules are overall disappointing. I have also found the lack of a real points system puts just about every other navy at a huge disadvantage against the British. I know this might be historical but not too much fun when you're after a pleasant evening of gaming.

My Russians relied on their torpedo boats to take down a ship then the had to minimise their losses for the rest of the game ... playing for time against MUCH superior ships until home time = not too much fun. Having said that my opponent did choose all his ships from the pride of the British fleet and my Russian ships were not the latest models ... to put it politely I could safely say I had a general disadvantage but the moral higher ground.

And now it comes to earlier ships ... where my heart lies with canvass, oak, jolly sailors, floggings and cannonades.

I looked and looked for good model ships. I found some fantastic looking vessels (eg: Langton) at equally fantastic prices. Maybe not too bad if you know someone who wants to play and you both go into it together ... BUT for me and the half-dozen games of this that I will ever play ... just not an option.

I saw, after much searching, some easy to assemble card ships for the "Pirates of the Spanish Main" game. I saw a couple of posts by some wargaming clubs which used the ships and the photo's showed to me the right levels of visual attractiveness and cost that I was looking for. I should also add I wasn't looking for a huge commitment to a new gaming system and type of miniatures.

In fact, I am still on the looking for a quick and easy set of rules for naval combat in the 18th C that does not involve a huge amount of record keeping or massive amount of dice rolling (a simple movement system would also be nice!)

So I found a collectable card group on ebay and purchased around 12 English ships and 12 French ships (and three merchant ships for scenario games.) I tried to keep to vessels which had three large masts, as this seemed to give the best appearance for the ships of the period I was looking at. I also ordered one of the larger ships to act as a command ships. I struggled to find many different ships so I ended up ordering multiples of several ships. Due to the fact these were "Common" cards the whole exercise cost me about $25 AU including postage. Now thats what I call good value for wargame miniatures.

Yes, they don't have the stunning appearance of some miniature ships but they do represent the ships well and it "looks" correct for the period. Having a game that "looks" like warfare of the period we are trying to replicate is more than half the battle won in wargaming terms ... I suppose I am struggling to say the miniatures and table top meet my preconceptions of what an 18th C naval battle would look like.

To actually assembling and basing the figures nothing could be easier.

First, ... I assembles the card models. This takes but a few minutes. The card appears quite strong and not gluing is required. (see above image)

Secondly, ... I cut out card bases and glued the ships into position.

Next, ... I added some plaster/filla/glue mixture to the bases to add the appearance of a rough ocean.

After that, ... I painted the bases then drybrushed white to add some foaming caps of waves.

Next, ... I painted the edges of the card ships brown and painted over the names (remember I bought several ships in duplicate.)

Finally, ... I added name tags, including number of guns, to each ship.

The names of the ships were taken from the scenarios on the ...
... website. These scenarios deal with the naval combat off the coast of India in the later stages of the 18th C. Numbers of ships were small and I can represent these actions with the number of ships I had ordered.

Lastly I am still searching for a rule set - and consequently have not yet played a game (but most of that is because I started an ACW project after finishing my ships.)

Thats all for now. I will post again when I have a battle.

Major Cecil Savage

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Seven Years Wargame

The traditional arrivals once again lined up for battle. It was late in the summer of 1759 and the Prussians had consolidated their earlier gains of the year and were just about to settle down and wait for the campaigning season to end. However, the Austrian commander, Colleredo, had other plans. Before significant Prussian re-enforcements could arrive he decided to hurl his forces against the blue walls and force them to march back to Silesia being harried by hussars as they retreated.

That was the plan anyway. The Austrian troops were marshaled in depth to press against the Prussians who, for once, did not advance to meet the Austrians. The Prussian commander, Winterfelt, seemed uncertain perhaps because of his small number of units. He also tried to rely on the Austrian commands being unable to fully co-ordinate an attack due to poor command dice. As things worked out, it was a good gamble.

The Prussian cannon reduced the strength of some of their foremost units and the Prussian musketry accounted for many others when the gaps between the lines closed. The Prussians shielded their wings by good use of the woods on the table. A small creek also prevented free movement of the Austrians around the Prussian flanks.

Without the use of their superior numbers, the Austrians were given a very tough time by the Prussians. Collerado's plan did not come to fruition and the Prussians not only made firm their hold on valuable supply depots and their winter quarters (including some excellent grazing land for their horses) but also gained many recruits from the Protestant elements of a well beaten Austrian force.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wargaming Problems

A rather pointless blog ... a couple of musings really on the trouble with wargames.
  • Why do we always fill our tables with figures? The more experienced a wargamer becomes they seem to be only satisfied with a table filled with a multitude of figures. It seems hundreds are need to make a game complete or table realistic. This is playing right into the hands of fig and games manufacturers and certainly reduces the amount of tactics used in any game. Reduces the game to walk forward, fight/roll a dice ... run away.
  • Why do we need to spend $100 + on rules? We do we need a massive rulebook filled with diagrams and explanations and the ever pointless descriptions about collecting an army, how to paint, model terrain or the dice and tape measures you will need. Added to this are the increasingly specific and detailed army list book which seem to weigh in around $20-$30 each and we only ever use one or two armies from each.
  • Why are we now measuring ourselves against the ultimate images of magazines and gung-ho internet sites? Perfectly sane gamers I once knew now seem absolutely driven to achieve a gaming table that the gods themselves would weep before. Only the ideal will now do and gamers are prepared to spend years painting an army while only gaming with it on the odd occasion. Surely the game is what matters? Seems I'm wrong these days.
  • Why can't a wargaming club of any size or regularity exist in Newcastle, Australia? This town seems to be made up of one eyed factions, insular groups and hermits. We're quite a large place that doesn't support any club over 4-8 regular members.
  • Why do we keep falling for 25 mm scale? Too much time painting, storage a problem, transport a frequent nightmare, cost, ... all for a "big print" version of gaming. Not to say anything about ratio's of figures to battlefield soldiers. An expensive skirmish game ... rarely capable of recreating any historical battle. (Oh and 5mm figs could really be anything ... esp when viewed from more than 1m away.)
  • Why do we keep playing rules that makes deployment positions the deciding factor of a game? It seems like playing with so many wind-up cars at times. Once in position off they go ... with a couple of formation changes these little beauts are locked on course from the beginning to the end of the battle. Stuff it up, through mistake or inexperience and just go home. Wargame armies are beginning at such close range that a player simply deploys straight into battle formation then closes to fight. All the maneuver is gone .... or never existed in games to my memory. Playing surface is an issue ... but also is the sort of game most rules are creating. A formation change or two and straight into it ... is this it??
  • And why am I typing this? I have no idea???
  • Should have spent my time on making the next battle report much more detailed!
Major Savage

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Might and Reason - Austria and Prussia

The Prussians were at it again, driving deep into the heart of Austrian territory in order to cement their grip on Silesia. But they were surprised this time by the speed of Austrian movement - perhaps due to their consistent under-estimation of the quality of their command. The King was not in command and after the battle many soldiers commented that today they did not meet the "same old Austrians."

The Austrians, under the command of rejuvenated Colloredo, drove at the flank of the Prussian army but their progress was effected the a river which blocked them from their target. Every possible bridge and ford was used to quickly bring the Austrians to the same side as their enemies. However, by the time sufficient troops had been marshalled on the opposite bank the Prussians, with their usual efficiency of Winterfelt, had turned their army to face their foe.

The orders could not be withdrawn and the Austrian army ploughed into the Prussian lines. Col. Piccolomini led with his command - Hungarian musketeers, German Grenadiers and the Salm-Salm infantry regiment ... with more following. See picture.

Fighting was soon heated across the entire line. Huge cavalry clashes were opened on both flanks with hussars leading the way followed by heavier types behind. This raged on for some time.

On the Austrian right the cavalry were helped by Grenzers sniping from the woods until they were driven off by a strong infantry thrust led by the valiant Manstein.

It was unfortunate that his infantry were so outnumbered by the infantry pouring across the bridge. However, in the centre the real damage was being done by the unstoppable Blue wall ... a mixture of Kalckstein, Prinz Henri and Knobloch regiments pushed forward strongly. On the left too the strong Prussian cavalry wing had gained the upper hand over Hadik and his command.

And it was here that night fell ... much of the Austrian army withdrew across the river having fought their Prussian foes to a stand-still. Many of their infantry and cavalry unit were severely depleted from the struggle but so were the Prussians. Unless reserves could be secured quickly by both sides a battle of that size may not be fought again during this summer.

But then again the high command was eager to prove their superiority after todays drawn encounter ....

Monday, March 8, 2010


I have started work on (really started some time ago) VSF ... initial plans were for 15mm but I'm not too sure now. I decided since I don't know anyone who is interested in VSF i would begin by scratch building some steam machines ... as this would involve little cost to myself.
I have struggled for some time, not being the best modeler, with what exactly to make. I settled for the following ... attempts at ships, submarines, flying vessels (mainly balloon-based machines) and war-walkers. I spent quite a while making the ships but I must say I wasn't too pleased with the results.
The war-walkers have come up the best and I've included a couple of pictures of some mostly finished war walkers. I have also made a couple of airships and I'm pretty pleased with one of the designs ... images to follow soon.
My only rules in making these machines were that they be very cheap and not take up half my entire life to make. I have seen some lovely VSF models on the net but am also aware these must have taken quite a bit more effort than I think i am ready to do just yet.

I have a large image of my best war-walker to date above and below is the rest of the force. I have made two war-walkers and a walker troop transport. I still need to add some trimmings before these are completed but i am quite happy with the force so far. I will have to go back to the drawing board with the boats ... balsa is out and am trying foam-core (or card) now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Seven Years War Armies

I have always been inspired by wargaming in the 18th C. Ever since I saw a picture, in an introductory wargaming book by Donald Featherstone (back in my teens), of long lines of musketeers clashing and brightly uniformed cavalry sweeping across the field have I been interested in Seven Years wargaming. It just took me a very long time to get around to completing the armies i have always wanted.

It is easy to get side-tracked when you are a wargamer by other periods (all have a fascination of their own) and by games that are popular in your area of the world.

When I started painting SYW units I thought i would only paint one or two for the pure enjoyment of creating really brightly coloured figures. A friend of mine, when I proudly showed him my first finished unit, told me that I would never get to use those figures and that I was wasting my time. This may have motivated me even more to indulge my love for the period.

In the beginning I set out only to complete an Austrian army and felt certain I could find an opponent somewhere to play against. But as the units rolled out, first infantry then cavalry, I didn't really care any more and ideas of the Prussians soon followed.

My first figures my Old Glory 15mm which I was (and still am) very pleased with. But these figures were not readily available to me. When I discovered Eureka miniatures were casting SYW figures I decided to flesh out my armies using these figures. Most of the cavalry, save my dragoons, and around half of my infantry units are Eureka products. I would recommend these figures to anyone wished to collect SYW armies.

Originally I set looked on the net and found that a major set of rules for the period was "Warfare in the Age of Reason." This seemed to be quite a good rules set to me but upon playing it the rules did seem a little cumbersome in some places. I then ordered Sam Mustafa's "Might and Reason" rules and never looked back. These rules are simple to understand and work very well. The focus of the rules is on movement and command which make for very interesting games.

I also love the idea of fighting a full size battle from the SYW period. So many games tend to allow you to refight a tiny corner of a battle often completely missing the main focus of the period. Wargamers are all inspired by the great commanders of history and their tactics but so many seem content to completely miss this level of play.

With an excellent set of rules that were really enjoyable to play (and yes I have had quite a few games with my armies despite what my friend initially said) I decided to fully flesh out the two armies. The Austrian army consists of 8 units of cavalry (3 cuirassiers, 3 dragoons and 2 hussars), two cannon and 16 units of infantry (12 musketeer, 2 grenadier and 2 grenzers.) The Prussian army consists of 7 units of cavalry (3 cuirassiers, 2 dragoons and 2 hussars), two cannon and 10 infantry (2 fusiliers, 6 musketeers and 2 grenadier.) These troops produce a very good game that lasts around 3-5 hours depending on the aggressiveness of the commander/s.

I do plan to flesh out my Austrian army with one or two more units of infantry, probably from the German states within the Empire, and an additional cannon or two for each army. I have found collecting these forces to be a real pleasure and very rewarding as each new unit is painted and deployed on the battlefield.

I summation I would recommend the SYW period for other wargamers for the following reasons:
  • Visual appeal - the uniforms of the period create a very appealing battlefield for wargaming and for spectators. With two banners fluttering from each infantry unit the effect is stunning.
  • Focus on movement and maneuver - the SYW period encourages bold maneuver especially the flanking attack. Battles are not limited to frontal assaults.
  • Command issues - good rules for the period should try to recreate the command difficulties SYW armies had in maneuvering their men. This adds challenge to the period. No general in any period of history has complete control of their men and rules need to reflect this aspect. Our divine position as wargamers towering over our troops gives the wrong impression of the power of generals.
  • Variety of Different national armies involved - its not a question of being one side or the other (eg: French or not in the Napoleonic period, or German or Allied in WWII.)
  • Depth and Colour in the Historical period - the SYW period includes several wars not just the SYW itself. Within this period national alliances were shifting and changing allowing a large number of possible combinations for players : for example, Russia can fight against and with Prussia during the SYW. Also a wide variety of heroic and incompetent characters provide interest to the historian. Individual unit histories provide great interest for the wargamer, for example the Botta Regiment of Kolin or the III Guard at Leuthen.
  • And I haven't even mentioned wars in India and North America to add additional spice ...
Major Cecil Savage