Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Pikeman's Lament - an Early Copy of the New Rules from Osprey

An Early Look at the New Pike and Shot Wargaming Rules from Osprey

Its here! Well almost.
Having played a few testgames as the rules were developed I was very happy to recieve an early copy of the soon to be released The Pikeman's Lament ruleset from Osprey, written by Daniel Mersey and Michael Leck. Daniel is well known for the successful medieval wargaming rules Lion Rampant and Michael is a very inspiring blogger over at his Dalauppror blog and - for anyone who had the luck to be invited for a gaming session - a great gaming host with alot of great scenarios and an excellent grasp of game mechanics and what works for a balanced and entertaining game. That, and a deep knowledge of the pike and shot period.

I'd though I'd give a glimpse and somewhat simplified view of what they are about. The Pikeman's Lament are intended for the pike and shot period The Thirty Year's War, the English Civil War and the Great Northern War and beyond. The rules are divided into four main sections: Raising your company, Battle rules, Missions and Sample companies.

Raising Your Company
In the first section you create your officer and chose his men. As a guideline each side can select a force of 24 points. This is no strict rule however and less or more points works fine. Units are normally composed of six or twelve miniatures. As six men of real quality (like six Elite Gallopers or a small Veteran Storming party of six men) costs 6 points you can get away with as few as two dozens of miniatures a side (or even less if you play a smaller game). On the other hand, close to useless clubmen will only cost you 1 point for twelve men... With the cost being 4 points for six standard cavalry or twelve standard infantry its easy to understand that you have great freedom in composing your force to what suits your collection, scenario and/or historical context.

And what about basing? The ever present question. :-) The rules are very flexible in that regard. Measuring is done between the closest model in each unit and facing isn't an issue so it doesn't matter really how you base your models or what scale you use. Single based, four or six men based together or Dalauppror's 1-2-3 basing all work fine. Its in my view mostly a matter of helping keep track of casualties and if the unit is below half strength or not.

Samples of basing. Anything goes really.
Battle Rules
The Pikeman's Lament takes its core mechanics from the Lion (and Dragon) Rampant rules. You roll for activating one unit after another, ordering it to Attack, Move or Shot - or for some troop types special activations like Caracole or Skirmish. Each troop type is differentiated so that its easier to get them to do what they are trained to do. If you fail an activation before all your units are activated its your opponent's turn to begin activating his troops. This causes some fog of war and demands tactical thinking and making priorities. One modification that I really enjoy is that activation is a touch easier to succeed with in The Pikeman's Lament than in the earlier Lion Rampant. A simple move activation is often passed on 5+ on two dice, with a further +1 on the roll if your Officer is close enough. Still, Attacking and Shooting are for most troops a bit more complex activations. In my view this somewhat easier activation over all gives a smoother game but still keeps the possibility of a failed activation at a very wrong moment. The mechanics for shooting and close combat is fast and simple but takes matters of troop quality, cover and other things into effect. And there are simple yet effective Morale rules in there as well.

The rules are primarily intended to portray small scale warfare. That is raids, ambushes and escort missions. The rules presents ten different such scenarios with victory conditions, special rules etc. One is a straightforward fight and others are more complex. All to give a varied game. 

Sample Companies
In order to give examples on how to compose historical selections of troops and what can be portrayed by using different troop types.  

An example of the many photographs and paintings in the rules.

And Beyond?
What I really like about the rules are the freedom it provides. It has a very solid game mechanic at its core that provides great games. And naturally it works very well for say a Thirty Year's War foraging raid or an escort mission during the Great Northern Wars. But it also works fine for other scenes. Like conquistadors in the Americas in the 16th century with the rules for "Clansmen" to represent Inca warriors for example. It could also be used to represent warfare in late feudal Japan. Also it is possible to "scale up" to larger engagements with say a four man base "counting as" one man in the rules, i e that a 12 man unit by the rules is represented by 48 miniatures on the table. Maybe then with the addition of a rule on facing and flanks/rear.

I'd happily recommend them as I think they are a great set of rules.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

AAR: Bolt Action Point Defence - the Baltics 1944

An After Action Report


Time for a short report from a recent Bolt Action game. It was played using the second edition of the Bolt Action rule set, with the Point Defence scenario and 1 600 points per side.

Reinforced Platoon, Veterans
2 man Command, 1st Lieutenant
Sturmpionere w LMG and flamer
2 x 8 man Squads, 2 SMG, 2 LMG, 2 PzF
2 x 6 man Squads, 2 SMG, 3 AR, 2 PzF

Panther Ausf D
Leig18 Team
Medium Machine Gun Team
Panzerschreck Team
Sniper Team
Medium Mortar Team

Armoured platoon, Regulars
3 x T34/76
2 x 6 man Tankrider Squads, 1 LMG

Reinforced platoon, Regulars
2 man Command, 1st Lieutenant
3 x 9 man Squads, 1 SMG, 1 LMG
1 x 9 man Squad, 1 SMG
1 x Free Rifle Squad
Medium Mortar Team

AT-rifle Team


A short recap
The Soviets were trying to crush the Germans in the Baltics in autum 1944. The Soviet attack got off to a rather slow start due to bad weather conditions - and maybe that vodka delivery had something to do with it too...
In the third round the Soviets got up to speed. But their luck didn't last and the German counter was devastating. Despite lacking any serious panzer support the Germans knocked out three T34:s with
panzerschreck och panzerfausts, and the fourth and final T34 was handled by an old Panther Ausf D. True to form the Soviets still carried on with their attack. In the end though the Soviets had to abort their attempt, leaving the Germans in control of the field. For now.  
What follows is not a blow by blow acount at all but rather some pictures from the game to give you a feel of the action. Enjoy! :-)


Monday, January 9, 2017

Napoleonic Saxons in 28mm - a Line Battalion

A Saxon battalion from the Prinz Maximilian regiment

Time for some more painted miniatures. This time a break from the World War 2 theme with a Saxon battalion from the Prinz Maximilian regiment. They are truly excellent sculpts of Paul Hicks from Westphalia Miniatures, painted by Andreas. 

Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy 2017 - with a few tanks!

2017 - A New Hope

The blog has been awfully quiet the last six months or so. We intend to make a comeback to blogging now with the new year.

The silence of the blog depends on the usual real world issues: work and family. Not in an alarming sence but in that other matters than the blog have been a priority. But eventhough the blog has been quiet we have had some hobby time, some of us more than others. Especially Andreas has been working on his many WW2 painting projects with great results.

Looking back 2016 was a quiet year on the blog but still a nice hobby year for us with some great games being played and us working on many different (too many maybe?) projects. It will be interesting to see what 2017 will bring for us. To our surprice some non-historical wargaming made a return in late 2016. In part that was a result of Games Workshop re-releasing Blood Bowl, a fantasy football game, which is simply such a great game that it demands our attention. Not to worry though as historical wargaming will continue to be the main focus of this blog.

And as nothing says happy new year as a few tanks, here you go. :-) These are plastic T34/76s from Warlord Games recently painted by Andreas.

And the last picture is from the last game of the year, a few days before new years eve - wishing for many good games in 2017.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 28mm (Part III) - Uniform Colours and a Painted Sample

Part III

The uniform colours of the Swedish Napoleonic line infantry - a painted sample

A Soldier of the Uppland regiment

Part I Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 28mm - an Overview
Part II Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 28mm - a Modeling Tutorial

Rather than a tutorial on what specific colours to use this, Part III, is a guide on what colour that goes where including some information on the regimental facing colours on the Swedish Napoleonic line infantry soldier uniform.

Uniform colours varied between regiments, jackets often being blue (at least for the regiments from mainland Sweden and with the grey unity uniform of 1807 as a given exeption to the rule) and different regiments used different facing colours. Some good guidance on the colours for different regiments can be found here (its for the Early Uniform of 1802 but gives a good idea of regimental facing colurs for the later uniforms aswell). Trousers were often grey wool or, in particular during the warmer months, white linnen. It should be noted that in particular during the Finland War 1808-1809 supplies were scarce and the Swedish-Finish army were at times quite a rugged band of soldiers in worn clothing or with soldiers missing pieces of uniform.

In this example we will focus on a soldier of the Uppland regiment wearing a Mid Uniform of 1806 (a modified and re-sewn version of the Early Uniform that is).

A side view - showing the white pompom indicating the first
company and the white collar of the Uppland regiment
The Hat
The close to corsican style hat with its upturned brim was black with a brass metal band. The decorations of the hat is maybe the most unclear subject of the Swedish Napoleonic uniform.
The regular line infantry used yellow plumes. The pompom located at the base of the plume varied in colour according to company. We have yet to find the pompom colours used by the Uppland regiment at this time but know for certain that the first company used white. Other company pompom colour examples - used by the Dalregiment in 1805 - was red, blue, yellow, red/white, blue/yellow, red/yellow, red/blue. As mentioned in Part I some regiments might have worn a patch with a coloured cross on the front of the hat. As far as we know the Uppland regiment did not implement that in the field however.

The Jacket
The Uppland regiment jacket was blue, a blue not as dark as the French blue but still not a light blue. We painted it using a mid blue, washed with black and drybrushed with the mid blue again. The Uppland cuffs were yellow piped white (note that we haven't bothered to paint the piping on our miniatures *gasp!*). The turnbacks on the jackets tail was also yellow. The high collar, however, was white for the Uppland regiment.

The Uppland soldier again
- showing the striped cloth belt and whitened leather belts

The Cloth Waist Belt
The cloth waist belt was striped in a deep blue and yellow as for all line infantry. 

Trousers, gaiters and shoes
For our purposes we have chosen to paint grey wool trousers. White linnen trousers were used by the Uppland regiment however, for instance in Pomerania during the summer of 1807. Gaiters were black with brass buttons. Shoes were black.

Leather Belts
The buff leather strap for the catridge box was whitened for regular line infantry. Some other leather belts and straps were whitened aswell but that might have varied in the field due to shortages in field equipment. The musket sling was not whitened, instead it was in red leather.

A rear view - showing the yellow turnbacks of the Uppland
regiment, the woolen grey trousers and black gaiters.
Also visible is the rolled up greatcoat or kapott.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 28mm (Part II) - a Modeling Tutorial for Line Infantry

A Swedish 1806 Line Infantry Uniform in 28mm

Green stuff additions!


Part I - An Uniform Overview - can be found here.

Today is the National Day of Sweden. Lets celebrate with some more Swedish Napoleonic information.

This Part II - A Modeling Tutorial - will give some clues on how to model Swedish line infantry in the 1806 model uniform, what could be described as a Mid Uniform, a transition between the Early and Late Swedish Uniforms.

Sweden's involvement in the Napoleonic Wars included fighting the French in Swedish Pomerania 1806-1807, again during the Leipzig campaign of 1813 and Swedish forces were also involved in the 1814 campaign against Napoleon. Also, Sweden fought Denmark-Norway several times during the Napoleonic Wars. Probably the most significant war during this period from a Swedish perspective however was the war against Russia 1808-1809. It lost Sweden its eastern half: Finland, that had been a part of Sweden for over 600 years.

Here we have chosen to do a Mid Uniform for line infantry. Depending on the paintjob that wouldn't be out of place in the campaigns of Swedish Pomerania 1806-1807, Norway 1808-1809 or Finland 1808-1809.

When trying to find suitable 28mm miniatures for making Swedish Napoleonic soldiers you run into several problems. The hat is one. The Swedish hat is quite unique. But we have found that the round top hat used by the British marines and in the Egypt campaign provides a good starting point. The other problem is the single strap satchel. Almost every single country (and therefor miniature) had adopted real backpacks. As the Swedes didn't until 1811 it is difficult to find suitable models to use as a basis - without alot of work removing straps and the backpack itself. Another issue is the Swedish lack of crossbelts. The Swedes have a catridge box of course but no shoulder belt for short sword or bayonet (the bayonet sheath was worn on the backside of the catridge box). The Swedes do however have a thinner strap attached to their satchel, crossing the belt of the catridge box. Also, the copper bowl or bulkruka is carried in a strap over the shoulder.

With Perry Miniatures releasing their British for the Egypt campaign - with round top hats AND without backpacks! - we finally had some really good stuff to work with. Also, which is very much preferable for us as we intend to use them in skirmish wargaming, they were not in a marsch attack pose but instead in firing line poses. We have yet to find out if the Swedes - like these Perry sculpts - carried their greatcoats in a roll on their backs or across the torso as the Russians and Prussians - but this is good enough for us. Preferably they would have been without the greatcoats all together but you can't have it all.

The Tutorial 

First off: buy some Perry Miniature BH 96 Centre companies firing line, round hats, 1801-1807.
Excellent miniatures in themselves but now to be transformed into Swedes.

Perry Miniatures BH 96. The answer to our dreams.
(Next to great sculpts of actual Swedes in 28mm that is).
Trim away quite alot: the water bottle, the "wings" on the shoulders, the crossbelt buckle and the lace on cuffs and torso. A wire cutter with a flat back is perfect for this. Often you don't even need to use the file. Also, you might also want to cut away the queue (the long hair) and the bayonet sheath (on the left leg). It should be stressed that you could of course do a less involved conversion.

Use plyers to bend the hat's brim upwards on the side of the plume. Be careful to protect the hat from getting damaged on the opposite side.

Bending the brim of the hat.
Cover the satchel in a thin layer of greenstuff. Don't use too much. Then use a knife or sharp object to create a "fur" texture. You might also want to attach a tiny roll of greenstuff and press it flat to create the strap for the satchel's lid.

Creating fur on the satchel.

To make the copper bowl, roll a small ball of greenstuff. Again, don't use too much. We make ours round, its much easier than trying to try and create the somewhat pearshaped real bowl. Attach it to the knapsack. When the ball is in place, take a tiny flat piece of greenstuff and press it down to create a lid.

A green stuff ball to create the copper bowl.
A tiny round flat piece of green stuff is
pressed down on the bowl to make the lid.
Press some greenstuff to the side of the hat and then cut away excess to make the upturned brim.

Adding greenstuff before cutting away
the excess - making the upturned brim
Put a small ball of greenstuff to where the plume meets the hat and use a tiny amount of greenstuff to make the front metal plate on the hat.

If needed (depending on the result removing the lace and your prefered level of detail), add some thin greenstuff to make the cuffs smooth and to form the wide cloth belt. Also, you might want to add some greenstuff to the top of the plume (it is cut off on the model so it lacks texture at the very top).

Making the belt smooth.
Done! Now make some more and paint them all! :-)

Listing the different stages like this makes it look like a lot of job. It is reasonably fast though as you can make many things at once.

Done - Back
(I see now that I have yet to remove the bayonet sheath on this one...)
Done - Front
Another one - Back
(Another one that still has its bayonet sheath...)
Another one - Front

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers in 28mm (Part I) - an Overview

A Guide to the Swedish Napoleonic Uniform

With Sharpe Practice 2 now released its time to get our Napoleonic skirmish wargaming going again. Together with Dalauppror (please have a look here) there will, of course, be a Swedish theme. Our main focus will be on the Siege of Stralsund in 1807 and the Finnish War 1808-1809 where Sweden fought the French and the Russians respectively.

As our gaming will feature Swedish soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars we thought we should post some information on the look and colours of the Swedish soldiers of that era, as that information isn't as widely known.

Before posting for instance a tutorial on how to convert a miniature into wearing a Swedish Mid Uniform of 1806 - for use in the campaigns of Germany (Pommerania), Norway and Finland - it might be useful to provide some uniform context. So here is Part I on Swedish Napoleonic Soldiers that focus on the cut of the uniform and the other equipment worn by the soldiers.

The Swedish line infantry uniform of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815) went through quite a few changes in the field - and even more on paper. It is complicated to establish what specific uniform that was worn in the field by a certain regiment at a certain time. Also, we are no true experts but this is our best effort (that we would happily adjust if needed). That said, to simplify, the Swedish Napoleonic line infantry uniform can be divided into three main categories. These categories don't cover all aspects, neither all regiments, but you can sometime benefit from doing 28mm miniatures instead of a re-enactment full size uniform...
- the Early Uniform - with plastron ("front panels")
- the Mid Uniform - single row of buttons, including both the modified 1806-version and the new grey enhetsuniform ("unity uniform") of 1807
- the Late Uniform - double row of buttons

Despite that new uniform regulations were being issued uniforms were sometimes to be worn out before being replaced and also logistics troubles and scarce resources in general made older uniforms being used in later stages of the war.

It should therefor be stressed that although for instance the Finland War of 1808-1809 could be described as a Mid War conflict where you might expect to see the then latest uniform (i e the unity uniform of 1807) it was instead more common to see the modified version of 1806 or the Early Uniform of 1802.

The Early Uniform

The Swedish uniform of the 18th century preserved the look of the Caroleans of Sweden's time as a major European power. After a change of style during the rule of Gustav III (1771-1792) the Early War uniform - first introduced in 1792 - presented a new cut for the Napoleonic Age.

It should again be stressed that although here described as an Early Uniform it lived on with many regiments through out the war in Finland.

The Early Uniform is recogniced by its plastron, a "breastplate" of front panels on the uniform's chest. Gaiters went above the knee. The round tall hat that - more or less unchanged - would stay on for many years, was close to corsican style with its brim turned up on one side. Another item that would stay on was the black neck-cloth that was worn around the neck, under the jacket's collar.

The short sword were in use and hung from a leather waist belt. Instead of a backback a single strap satchel of cowhide was worn together with a bulkruka, a copper bowl for water.

An Early m/1792 uniform, of the Uppland regiment.

An Early Uniform. A m/1802 of Hälsinge regiment
(from the Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum web page)

A side view of an Early Uniform jacket
(again from the Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum web page)

The Mid Uniform

The Mid Uniform is a case of two in one: the 1806 modified version of the Early Uniform jacket and the new so called unity uniform of 1807. The former was simply the older (often blue) jacket re-sewn into a new style. The latter was a concept of trying to replace all the variedly coloured uniforms with a single uniform of the same colour - grey with blue facings - for all line regiments. In both cases the plastron of the Early Uniform was no more and the Mid Uniform instead had a single row of buttons. The grey unity uniform failed to be properly implemented, atleast during the Finish War 1808-1809, and the modified 1806-version (together with the still used Early Uniform) seem to have been the norm.

Gaiters were, at least for many regiments, shortened to below the knee. The black neck-cloth was still used. A yellow and blue striped, wide belt of cloth was introduced and the short sword droped, leaving the soldiers to rely on the bayonett. With the unity uniform, the leather belts for the cartidge box etc were regulated to be black instead of the normal white for regular line infantry. The Early Uniform hat was still in use. It is uncertain to what extent the regulated round patch or cockade on the front of the hat with a coloured cross was actually worn in the field. It was supposed to be differently coloured depending on the regiment. The single strap satchel and copper bowl were both still in use (the satchel was single straped until 1811 when it was ordered to be modified into a knapsack with two straps).

The Mid Uniforms - the unity uniform in grey and the modified version of 1806
in blue, the latter probably of the Södermanland regiment. The officers in the
picture wear long tailed surtouts and white scarfs around their left arm
- a sign of loyalty to the king since Gustav III's coup of 1772.
The Early Uniform compared to the Mid Uniform
A Mid Uniform jacket, from the Jönköping regiment worn at the
battle of Ratan in 1809 (from the Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum website)
A rear view of a Mid Uniform
(The Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum website)

A single strap satchel m/1757 made of calfskin.
(The Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum website)
A bulkruka, a copper bowl. This example might be from a later date.
(from the Bohusläns museum - the Digitalt Museum website)

The Late Uniform

A soldier in the the Late Uniform - introduced in 1810 and as seen during the campaigns of 1813-1814 - has a somewhat different look compared to the Early and Mid Uniforms. The jacket had double rows of buttons. The cuffs got cuff-flaps with three buttons. Also, trousers were worn over the gaiters and decorated with "knots" and sometimes also a stripe along the outseams. The single strap satchel had finally been replaced by (or made into) a real backpack with the great coat straped on top. The copper bowl was still there though, and carried on the outside of the backpack. The hat of the Early Uniform was also still there. Some units might have taken initiative to upgrade the hat to a more modern shako. However, looking at Ljunggren's contemporary illustrations the old style of hat still seem to have been the norm and the shako was not implemented for real until 1815. The distinctive blue and yellow belt was in use.

A Ljunggren contemporary illustration of a Late Uniform.
Note the bulkruka - the copper bowl (pictured somewhat big).
A Late Uniform as pictured by Knötel.
A rear view of another Late Uniform.
This might not be a line infantry uniform because of the epaulettes
but still gives a good example of the cut of the Late uniform.
(The Army Museum - the Digitalt Museum website)
Uniforms of Västgöta-Dals regiment, of particular interest here is the
1815 uniform - a "later than late uniform" using our classification.
Very similar to what we call the Late Uniform though, but it has the 1815 shako.