Tuesday, May 26, 2009

How '18th Century' are you?

Time to take a break from all the campaigning and planning, and consider something a bit more light-hearted. Ever wondered how you would actually fit in if you were in the world of the 18th Century? Find out now, with my highly scientific test below!

1 You have a noisy neighbour, and the sound from next door is disturbing your sleep. Do you:
a) Ignore it – you were young once, too.
b) Wait until the next day and perhaps have a quiet word, to smooth things out. If unsuccessful, consider him to be "slightly less than a gentleman".
c) Fire a pistol through his window to let the bounder know what you think of him!

2 You decide to run for office in a political campaign. Do you:
a) Join a party, begin networking, take part in debates.
b) Stick up some bunting in the local market, stand on a box and harangue the great unwashed about repealing the corn laws.
c) Get your massively rich uncle to buy you a seat in parliament, and evict anybody that dares to vote otherwise.

3 You’re going abroad to India. What’s the cause?
a) A lovely holiday – beach, sun, sand, plus a bit of a new culture.
b) Business – I’m constructing a new railway up to the polo club!
c) Killing Frenchmen.

4 What do you think of classical music by Mozart, Bach, etc?
a) All a bit high-brow – this elitist stuff is not really for you.
b) You mean there’s another kind? (Besides music-hall, obviously...)
c) All a bit low-brow – this populist stuff is not really for you.

5 You’re packing for a trip. This consists of:
a) A small rucksack or suitcase, spare shirts, toothbrush.
b) Big steamer trunk full of silverware, Madiera and moustache-wax.
c) Carriages, tents, tableware, a wine cellar, horses, two carriages, three footmen, 325 changes of wig and just a few armchairs – you’re travelling light, so just a few tons.

6 Your boss tells you that you’re not getting a hoped-for promotion. How do you react?
a) Disappointed, maybe ask your boss for some constructive feedback on your professional development.
b) Annoyed, start rumours against him at the gentleman’s club, and begin calling in favours from your network of friends.
c) Call him a rogue and a scoundrel, slap him in the face with your glove and demand satisfaction. Run him through with a sword next morning, on the decorative lawn in front of the office entrance. Explain to the police you had no choice.

7 You see a brand new piece of technology which impresses you. Is it:
a) A shiny new electronic gizmo, about the size of your hand.
b) A shiny steam-powered brass-and-iron contraption, about the size of your house.
c) A non-shiny wooden machine, about the size of a palace, which allows about a hundred serfs to weave fractionally faster than if you had to stand there beating them.

8 What do you think of America?
a) One of the top countries in existence – I even thought of moving there!
b) Full of buffalo and savages – perhaps some promise for them though if they rejoin the Empire, by jingo!
c) Not worth the bones of a single grenadier – those colonials will never amount to anything!

9 You’re decorating a room. The result:
a) Trip to a DIY store, paint samplers, and a weekend up a ladder with a paintbrush.
b) Dusted by the household staff, plus given the odd clean by sending some 8-year-old boy up the chimney.
c) Outrageously-decorated wallpaper, statues, busts, ornamental picture-frames, etc. No surface knowingly left uncluttered with ornamentation.

10 Describe your ideal romantic relationship.
a) Meet a girl, settle down, get married, perhaps raise a family.
b) Marry a frigid lady you’ve spoken to on at least two occasions, live in a different continent from her for several years on official business, have your children sent to boarding-school as soon as they turn 6.
c) Have about a dozen affairs, generally hoping you’re outpacing the wife. Father about 14 children, hoping at least one will survive into adulthood. Die of syphilis.

11 You decide to have a quiet night in. This is:
a) On the sofa, watching TV, maybe a DVD Boxed Set.
b) In your study, wearing a smoking jacket, taking the odd shot of opium.
c) About 15 friends, vast amounts of wine, plus gambling until about four in the morning or until everyone’s dead.

Check your answers!
a) Oh dear, not very 18th Century.
b) Nope – still not 18th Century. In fact, actually rather 19th Century. Do you do colonial gaming?
c) Outrageously 18th Century! Well done!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The New Aschenbach Army

Progress on Luftberg continues - all infantry are now painted up to their coat facings, plus I've now saved up enough to order the rest of my figures.  For a moment however, it's time to turn attention to their foes in Aschenbach and repeat the brigade organising process.

The Aschenbach army organisation proved to be a lot easier than I had thought.  After the massed hordes of Luftberg’s army, the relatively fragile Aschenbach machine proved a lot easier to break down.

The guiding philsosphy: hard hitting groups of specialists!  In Might & Reason (as in real life, historically speaking) the Prussian/Aschenbach army is good for striking hard and fast, and – well, that’s about it.  So, with this in mind, here’s the logic:

First up, the infantry – the Luftberg style of four regiments plus artillery won’t do.  The whole Aschenbach army contains six line regiments in total, so straight away we’re cutting the size of a brigade to three regiments.  In keeping with the logic of producing a hard spear-tip for the army in attack, I knew right from the start that my two regiments of grenadiers would get put into a single ‘Guards’ brigade.  At three regiments a brigade, that gives them a regular line regiment for backup to their mitre-hatted brilliance.

Three line regiments can go together straight away to produce a ‘standard’ infantry brigade; and the third infantry brigade can be the last two line infantry regiments, plus the fusilier infantry regiment.  Three brigades of infantry, each of three units, but with wide quality shifts between each.

Next: artillery.  In M&R, only gun-crazy armies like the Russians get a specific artillery brigade with it’s own commander, but the armies can keep artillery aside in a central ‘army reserve’ unde the direct whim of the general.  I decided to do this in the end, creating a little artillery park for Feldmarschall Von Krumper rather than disperse them piecemeal.  Now, in the style of later-years SYW Prussians, our bluecoats can use massed artillery to blast an opening in the enemy line as Frederick did in many of his fights, such as Kunersdorf.  True, that was where he took one of his heaviest defeats ever, but I’m sure the logic holds! 

Now, last of all come the cavalry.  I pondered how to share out the regiments (two cuirassiers, two dragoons, one hussars) and considered doing it in the style of Luftberg, producing one crack cavalry brigade and one ‘leftovers’ brigade, but I ultimately decided against it.  The Aschenbach cavalry is naturally superior to it’s rivals, and so it should be sensible to have two capable brigades of one cuirassier and one dragoon regiment each (plus the hussars added to one brigade, making it a little bit stronger.)

So, the Aschenbach army stands at a 'Guards' infantry brigade, two ‘regular’ infantry brigades; a ‘heavy’ and a ‘light’ cavalry brigade; plus an army artillery reserve.  By pure coincidence, six formations – just like Luftberg.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The New Luftberg Army

I’ve tried organising armies various times in the past, and not always successfully (usually down to the desire to cram as many miniatures into an army as I can.)  As a result, I thought I’d explain my thinking here and let people see what led me to the decision.

To summarize, Luftberg has a force of 11xRegular Infantry; 1xIrregular Infantry; 3xCuirassiers; 3xDragoons; 2xHussars and 3xArtillery batteries.  Most numerous is the infantey, so I considered them first.  The main aim for the brigades is for them to move independently on campaign, so they need to be plausible at putting up a decent fight individually.

The two accepted ‘rules’ that have evolved for Luftberg infantry commanders is that there should always be a reserve line behind the first to block breakthroughs; and second that close-range artillery support is a big advantage.  One to one, the Aschenbach infantry will outshoot them, but artillery is usually good for clipping a few Strength Points (SP’s) off each attacker once they’re in canister range, and victories aren’t cheap – Aschenbach may break through, but if reduced from a start of 7SP’s down to about 3 or 4SP’s, they’re usually not able to take on a second line of 6SP Luftberg infantry.

So, we want an infantry brigade to allow this.  After a bit of pondering, I decided I wanted four regiments per brigade so I could present a 2-regiment-wide double line (or if fighting alone the brigade could perhaps manage 3 regiments in front with one in reserve.)  Onto this force, I attached one of the artillery batteries so I would have some ‘5+ to hit’ canister dice getting rolled, as well as ‘6 to hit’ from the infantry. 

From numbers, I could get two full infantry brigades, plus a third of only three regiments.  One of these regiments was decided as the Pilsen combined grenadier unit, which I decided would give it a bit of extra ‘heft’ to make up for being short a regiment – also, it got the last artillery battery.

One brigade I wanted to form was an ‘Advance Guard’ unit, filled with wild irregulars who could be a fast-moving raiding group, pillaging it’s way through the enemy rear.  Croats were a guaranteed presence, as were some of the hussars.  I pondered having a unit of regular infantry included, to act as the nucleus (perhaps my jaunty Hungarian regiment,) but I decided against it in the end.  If the advance guard is going to be irregular, it needs to be all-out or not at all.  I assigned both hussar regiments at the end.  The force will be pretty poor on the tabletop in the open, but should prove a more tangly prospect in the rough, and a positive danger if it fights in combination with another regular brigade. 

Last comes the cavalry, three each of Cuirassiers and Dragoons.  I wanted two cavalry commands to put one on each wing in a major battle, where I typically split the difference between a heavier ‘attacking’ force (2 Cuir, 1 Dragoon) and a lighter ‘defending’ force (1 Cuir, 2 Dragoon.)  However, here I finally decided against it. 

Aschenbach cavalry units are typically 1SP stronger in combat than their Luftberg opposite numbers, and so consistently get outclassed.  Pairing off just plays this game, so I decided to organise the cavalry by type into a Cuirassier brigade and a Dragoon brigade.  The Dragoons will always be the underdogs (although far from a pushover) but now the Cuirassier brigade might just plausibly outpunch it’s opposite number and be able to swing a battle.

So, that’s my new Luftberg arrangement of six commands – two Infantry Brigades, a Guards Brigade, an Advance Guard, a Cuirassier Brigade and a Dragoon Brigade.  Hopefully my thinking stands up to analysis, but as ever – the thoughts of others are welcome!  

Monday, May 11, 2009


One of the bonuses of blogging if that your own efforts ever flag, you can always surf the numerous links through other blog pages to find some previously-overlooked site for new inspiration.  I was recently looking at the site ‘Les Reves de Mars’ – the title of the marquissangfroid.blogspot.com blog – when I saw something very impressive. 

The author, obviously with something of a flair for graphics and visuals, has done a great little diagram of his army, with each figure represented by a dot or oval.  It’s a great way to get a sense of his collection, and it’s further polished up with various portraits of commanders, titles, etc.  This also includes his higher organisation, where his army is split into various brigades.

The corps system is of course a bit of an anachronism in our period, since it really came into it’s own a few decades down the line thanks to some French upstarts.  Knowing this, I’d avoided doing anything of the sort myself.  Things probably went a bit too far the other way.  At present, the Aschenbach or Luftberg HQ is basically a scene of luxuriant indolence where generals sit around engaging in national pursuits (making troops run the gauntlet for Aschenbach; engaging in complex backbiting plots for Luftberg.)  They hang around until the night before a battle, when a bunch of regiments will be assigned to them, and they lead them the next day.  After the fight, they are detached back to the general mass of the army and the general goes back to kicking his heels. 

Clearly, this will not do.  Although corps are a bit too formal, the army regiments could at least be grouped into some formal brigades.  So, I’m looking over my armies and shaping them into some sub-commands.  Juggling the different combinations is proving to be good entertainment all on it’s own (surprising just how much of the wargaming hobby can be entirely paper-based) and I’ll shortly put details of my proposed army organisation system!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Painting - Dangerous for your mental state

I should update the blog on the progress towards the big and mad project to rebase all units with a massive expansion.  I bought a stack of Luftberg infantry back at the beginning in November, and now we’re into May.  Where does all the time go?

I’ve rebased a large amount of older units, plus painted and based a good wedge of the new-bought infantry, but there’s still enough to keep me very busy with painting.  I’ve got about 14 or so ice-lolly sticks

With miniatures glued to each, which I base-coated white with the old expedient of a spray-can.  Recently I moved them on yet further when I painted their bases green and the gaiters black for them all.

Now, I’ve a system up and running which runs as follows:

1) Paint facings on coat cuffs and tails (almost always blue, as I’ve painted a good number of red-facing regiments)

2) Paint collar, which usually means painting half the head as this’ll get redone later.  As long as I get a neat line at the bottom of the collar, things are okay.

3)  Repaint the head, hair & hat black, plus the sword handle & cartridge box.  Most Luftbergers and Aschenbachers have black hair these days, oddly.  There’s the odd brown-haired one, but that’s your lot.  Blondes are so rare that they’d probably be pointed at and laughed at in the street.  Primitive times…  Sorry, where was I?

4)  Skin-colours go on, completing the face and I also cover the hands – plus a good proportion of the still-white musket.

5)  Brown paint now, doing up the musket and their equipment pack.  A few steps later I’ll probably notice I’ve forgotten to paint the butt of the musket, and have to go back, swearing volubly.  The Musket, being round, held to the body, and gripped two-handed, is proving to be spectacularly easy to overlook bits on.  Still, as least the Aschenbachers hold theirs vertically, which is a bit better.

6)  The miniature should be mostly there now.  Some quick details follow, like silver for the bayonet & sword-handle, gold for the cartridge-box plate, etc.  The most fiddly bit is the headband, typically white or yellow.  Brushing it on can take a while, and I always seem to land the crown of the hat with an accidental brushing, so I need to redo the black here.

7)  No miniature of this last collection has reached stage 7.  I’ll do them en masse due to the awkwardness of it all, but this is where the miniatures get ‘dipped’ to add all the detailing and shading.  Then, after being sprayed down with a protective coat, they’re ready to be based!

So what of the remaining figures, the Luftberg Cavalry & the Aschenbach Infantry & Cavalry?  Well, it’s not cheap to get them all in one go, but I’ve hit on a good method to afford them.  For the last few months, at work, I’ve been avoiding the vending machine and bringing in my own lunch, putting aside the £1 or £2 I would otherwise be spending.  It’s such a small sum you never miss it, but by the end of the week that’s a fiver or so saved up.  This has been going on for a while, and I now calculate I’ve saved up 90% of the money – only a little while to go, so that by the time I’ve finished the infantry I’m on now, I should be able to buy the remaining ‘lead mountain’ and start on them! 

Normally such small-time personal accounting wouldn’t be worthwhile, but I’ve discovered something good from it.  You know how you constantly think of launching other projects, different periods, and collecting different armies because of some great discount or range you’ve found?  I’ve had that too, but by saving so gradually, you come to value the money reserve you’re fractionally gathering.  It makes you think, very very carefully, about how much you’re spending, and on what.  

In the time it’s taken me to save up for this purchase, I was convinced at various times I was going to spend it on plastic 25mm ACW armies; 6mm lead ACW armies; Medieval Hundred years’ war armies; Colonial Armies; WW1 armies of 1914-vintage; and possibly a 2mm epic-scale pair of armies for pretty much anything.  In other words, I am a little bit flighty!  I could’ve spent a fortune, but this blog and the project for remaking two damn good armies has kept me on course.  Hooray for the penny-pinchers!