Monday, 15 January 2018

Thirty Years War in 2mm: Nördlingen 1634

Following on from my last post, focusing on a regiment of Flemish Horse in 25mm, I thought I’d post some pictures of their 2mm counterparts. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s “spectacles on” time again here at Roundwood Towers as we delve again into the oddly compelling world of 2mm micro-miniatures.

For new followers to this Blog, it might help to let you know that in 2016 I started a project trying to replicate on the tabletop key battles of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). Rather than collecting an army in a larger scale (such as 28mm or 15mm), I went for the smallest generally used wargames scale – being 2mm.

This is not quite as insane as it sounds (and, yes dear readers, I am aware of just how insane it does sound). Key elements of the thinking behind choosing the 2mm scale were to create a wargame focused on re-creating iconic 17th Century battles in a manageable space, and in a compressed time period (so you could easily play a game in an evening). The 2mm scale enables whole armies to be recreated quickly, with one unit base equating to a whole formation (battalion, regiment, tercio or brigade of foot; squadron or regiment of horse; battery of artillery; and so on). The scale of the units then hopefully allows the chance to test out multiple Spanish tercios against Swedish brigades, allows to add commanded musketeers into the line, and lets the players deploy multiple lines of infantry and horse on each side (as at Lützen, Rocroi and many other battles). Hopefully, the recreation of the battle then focuses on tactical contrasts, and far less on individual unit formations.

I set out more of the thought process behind the scale choice in a couple of earlier posts on this Blog (HERE and HERE). Suffice to say its now 2018, and I’m still very much enamored of the potential afforded by 2mm, in addition to being captivated by the possibilities of modelling their micro-world.

After collecting armies for the battle of Lützen in 1632, the next additions are based around the Spanish army of the Cardinal-Infante which made the long march through Italy and Germany to be present at the battle of Nördlingen in 1634. Here I've painted some German horse, Spanish demi-lancers, a party of Croat scouts or vedettes, some Spanish commanded shot and (to balance things out) some Swedish and Finnish scouting horse. The command bases are the Cardinal-Infante, and the Count of Fuensaldaña, one of the Spanish-Imperial commanders of the later Thirty Years War.

The figure bases are colour coded for ease of recognition on a snowy tabletop - blue for Swedes, Black for Germans and deep (Hapsburg) red for the Spanish. This works really well in practice, and helps with a section in the rules we’re writing relating to allied contingents. One of the things which conceals the nationality of the troops from an opponent on the table is to ensure that the colour coding is limited to the rear of the figure bases. 

I've experimented with some 1mm snow 'flock', which is quite fun. It's really like a fine dusting of miniature cotton, but makes quite convincing show, which would be decent 'slush' in a larger scale. I added the labels for the commanders from a printed PowerPoint file, trimmed and glued on with PVA.

I thought the 1mm snow definitely added something, but was fiddly to apply.  An optional extra, but far from essential. 

I've also started painting up some larger terrain items, including this small town which I've tried to render in a Flemish or North German brick effect.  The town was very kindly sent to me by wargaming chum, and very good friend, Matt Moran.  Thanks again Matt for your great generosity!

I've really enjoyed making terrain in 2mm (not least because its so easy to finish whole towns in an evening).  The 'world-building' aspect of this scale is just as addictive as in larger scales. 

Next up will be some more larger scale terrain and figures from Laarden, 1688, along with a couple of book reviews.  Have a great start to the week, everyone!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Happy New Year: Flemish Horse 1688, and New Year Plans

I realise that a fair few days have passed since the New Year began, but I’d still like to start this new year of posts on Roundwood’s World by wishing all readers, commentators, bloggers and followers a very happy, healthy and great New Year, 2018!

With that greeting completed, I’ve posted a few pictures below of some painting I’ve been doing over the Christmas and New Year period as part of Curt Campbell's fine Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge VIII, which I am participating in.

This first post covers some Flemish Horse from 1688, being the regiment of Pfilips de Vichet. The figures are mainly 25/28mm figures from Wargames Foundry, with a couple of Dixon Miniatures added (the standard bearer, and the equerry to Count de Vichet). The fine standard is from Flags of War.

I swapped out a number of horses from the Foundry Marlburian range and used Foundry ECW horses, which fit perfectly. I did not undertake much in the way of conversions, although I added green-stuff feathers for the regiment, and gave Count de Vichet a new sword arm which produced a more martial and inspiring pose on his rearing horse.

Although the figures are painted for my fictional Laarden project, set in 1688, I’ve tried to replicate authentic colours for the uniforms where possible. In this regard, I’ve used the paintings of Philips Wouvermans and David Teniers the Younger to try and get the colours and “feel” of the cavalry uniforms correct. Other details can be found in the excellent book, “Spanish Armies in the War of the League of Augsberg, 1688 – 1697”, now published by the Pike & Shot Society, which covers both Spanish armies and the Flemish, German and Walloon forces raised in the Spanish Netherlands.

I normally try and paint my own flags for units, but I decided against that here. This is mainly because the standards produced by Flags of War are so wonderful and easy to use, and partly because I was short of time for the Challenge submission!

As regards what’s going to be here on the blog in 2018, long-term readers will be wary of any of my predictions. Life in the guise of family, work and friends inevitably gets in the way of everyone’s hobby aims, and I’m no different. I am hoping to post a few more figures, research, book reviews and ideas for wargaming the second half of the seventeenth century on this Blog in 2018. I think that the second half of the seventeenth century is a wonderful period for wargaming and, with luck, the material I'm hoping to place here on the blog and in the linked Google Drive folders will be of interest to someone out there. 

There will also be more 2mm Thirty Years War material.  Curt and myself are continuing to play-test the rules, and I'm starting to prepare the additional figures I need to recreate Nordlingen 1634.

There’ll be some more posts in a day or so with some additional 25/28mm Laarden-related figures, so I very much hope you can join me for that.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Sound of a Distant Drum: Citizens of Laarden, 1688

Over the past few weeks, I've been having fun painting up some 25mm civilian figures for my fictional Flemish town of Laarden from 1688.  Civilian figures for the seventeenth century are a bit of an after-thought in many ranges.  You have to cast the net fairly wide to find figures which are suitable but, with a little luck, I think I found some very useful figures.

The figures in the photograph above are from Midlam Miniatures, apart from the second on the left which is a rather ancient old-school Citadel Miniature which I've had lying around for just over thirty years.  I knew she would come in useful at some point!

The Midlam Miniatures' women carrying loads of laundry and milk-pails look perfect for a Dutch or Flemish town, even down to the headwear which can be seen in lots of period paintings.

I wanted a few beggars in the town to also add a grimly realistic tone.  I didn't realise when I started, but there is a pretty substantial literature online about beggars and the shifting social reaction to begging in the sixteenth and seventeenth century.  Many Flemish religious reformers and scholars wrote extensively on how to identify fake beggars, on how poor relief should correctly administered and how deceitful begging threatened the public order.  These tensions infused some of the art of the period.  Plenty of artists, including Bosch and Bruegel, seem to have been fascinated by beggars as subjects of their paintings and sketches. 

I converted the (very useful) Midlam Miniatures seated beggar with a head-swap, adding an ECW spare head from Redoubt Miniatures for the representation of an old soldier fallen on hard times. Surely he's one of the deserving poor of Laarden.  Or maybe, just perhaps, he might be a less deserving vagabond, or even a French spy...?

With the forthcoming Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge VIII about to start on the 20th December, I have been busy preparing some more citizens.  These are, mainly, from Midlam Miniatures and from Redoubt.  I've added a few geese from Magister Militum, and even an old Citadel townsfolk rat-catcher (again with a Redoubt head-swap).

Last, but hopefully not least, there's a Foundry nightwatchman, straight from the pages of Rembrandt, with his trusty halberd swapped for a Mordheim lantern.  Here's hoping he might form the last line of defence when the French arrive to besiege or storm the town!

Thursday, 30 November 2017

The TooFatLardies Oddcast: number three - Post-Antwerp chat and rule development

Rich, Nick and myself recorded another of our irregularly-timed "Oddcasts" last week after returning from Crisis in Antwerp.  In the course of chatting about what's on our respective work-benches and painting tables, we talk about wargaming rules development as well offering some more reading suggestions.

You can find episode three HERE

Here's just some of the books we talked about on the show:

I hope you enjoy the podcast, and look forward to posting the Christmas show next.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Thirty Years War in 2mm - An Update for Patient Readers

For anyone reading this Blog who has been patiently waiting since last year for an update on our 2mm scale Thirty Years War project, I have some good news (and an apology). 

As you might recall, last year I built a collection of 2mm scale armies to re-fight the battle of Lutzen in 1632. Full details of the ideas behind the project can be found on a couple of earlier Blog posts, HERE and HERE.

It’s probably helpful to mention that, during the last year, the thematic ideas which Curt (fellow rules author) and myself started with have not changed a great deal. We are still looking for our rules for the period to create a wargame focused on re-creating iconic 17th Century battles in a manageable space, and in a compressed time period (so you could easily play a game in an evening).

We're still focusing our efforts on the Thirty Years War, which provides a wealth of significant, reasonably well-documented battles to attempt to recreate.  It's also a fortunate co-incidence that next year will be the 400th anniversary of the commencement of the war, which might prompt an interest in looking at different ways of wargaming the conflict.

And we are still looking to try and recreate the unique visual elements of large scale “battle paintings”, and focus on the attributes of battle and warfare which contemporary commanders considered - in their diaries, letters, orders and commentaries – were important in determining victory in the field.

What has been evolving have been the rules themselves as we tinker with mechanisms, talk through variations, play-test scenarios and parts of the battle, read more (and more) and generally try and refine and finesse what we have on the printed rules pages.

As anyone who has written, or adapted wargame rules, this is quite a difficult process. Just when you think progress is being made in one area, something else slips out of place, perhaps as a consequence. The challenge for me has been to try and retain the themes which I consider make the warfare of the mid-Thirty Years War unique, while also making the game playable and fun. Some of the most difficult elements of rules writing and play-testing have involved the combat mechanisms at the heart of the battle.

Part of the challenge has been to both understand what happened in mid-seventeenth century battles and, in particular, how contemporaries believed those events affected the course of the fighting.

As Sir James Turner wrote in his commentary on the arts of warfare, “Pallas Armata”:

Of all Martial Arts, to fight a Battel well, and gain the Victory, is of the highest importance, and makes the Prince or his General most renown’d: It is this (and neither retreats nor taking Towns, though both these shew the qualifications of an excellent Captain) that crowns them with Laurels.”

This is all wonderful, stirring stuff. And there are endless exhortations of this type throughout "Pallas Armata". What Sir James’ commentary is rather short of is what actually happened at the sharp end of a melee or a firefight. Here’s the commentary in a key chapter of “Pallas Armata”, Chapter XXII (“Of things previous to a Battel, of a Battel itself, and of things after a Battel”) on melees:

Your advance on an Enemy, in what posture soever he be, should be with a constant, firm and steady pace; the Musketeers (whether they be on the Flanks, or interlin’d with either the Horse or the Pikes) firing all the while; but when you come within Pistol-shot, you should double your pace, till your Pikes closely serr’d together, charge these, whether Horse or Foot, whom they find before them. It is true, the business very oft comes not to push of Pike, but it hath and may come oft to it, and then Pike-men are very serviceable.  (Spelling all as in the 1671 edition)

There is an immediacy and great vitality through the whole of “Pallas Armata”. It’s evident Sir James Turner knew precisely what he was writing about. But to me, reading in 2017, the precision, granularity, and detail of the fighting you’re looking for as a (very) amateur rules-designer is absent in the text. And, in my view, the same is true of other commentators (Montecuccoli, the Earl of Orrery, Richard Elton) who were writing around the same time.

So, we’re working through the rules mechanics, and carrying on play-testing, and continuing to try and make sense of what happened in the battlefields of 1632 and 1634 - as well as re-reading Sir James Turner's writing and wondering what on earth he meant! 

When Curt was over last week, we played through a pared down game of the battle. This featured a couple of memorable events, principally the shattering of part of Count von Pappenheim’s impetuous cuirassiers by means of a well-deployed, enfilading Swedish artillery battery. And yes, that is one of the 2mm “shattered bases” being deployed into the ragged Imperial mounted line…

Also featuring in the game were some lovely scratch-built 2mm snow-bound villages made by good friend, Mark Backhouse.  And also, somewhat bitten by the 2mm scratch-building bug, it was the first game in which I fielded the Imperial Chancellery baggage trayne which I made a couple of months back but have only just got around to painting.

Although the rules are written, and fairly comprehensive, we’ve a fair way to go in play-testing a set of rules which I hope will be both accurate and fun. And fear not, you’ll be the first to know when that happens!

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