Sunday, December 4, 2011

Some Sample 2mm Irregular Horse and Musket Figures

 December 5 is Leuthen-Tag, ever since 1757

It is Leuthen-Tag again Monday the 5th of December.The old video from last year with the dramatization of the speech of Frederick to his generals, the Parchwitz Address, given in German, is no longer available.

  The battle on 5 Dec 1757 has been traditionally remembered by the Seven Years' War Association with a game. The Alte Fritz traditionally ran a wargame at the weekend for the occasion, and he is talking about one over on his blog now (see blogroll).

 Smaller Scale Figures Convention in the Slick Wargames Press

For my part,  the 2mm Blog (see also Blogroll) has a link to an article about smaller figures, in the slick UK media, not sure if that would count as Fleet Street or not, but it is our equivalent for hobby purposes. I am going to talk about that, although it has nothing to do with Leuthen. It's quite unusual, even newsworthy in itself.

This article is on the occasion of the Angel Barracks man's convention for the scales 10mm and less, so including 5/6mm, 3mm and 2mm and others even less frequently seen than those. There are some good pics of well-done setups in the short article, a few pages, from Wargames Illustrated. You'd have to click to the 2mm blog, then on his link, then that opens a 1.25 meg PDF with the article and the colour pics.

I especially liked the ancient city of Alexandria on the sea with both land and naval elements for a 2mm game with Julius Caesar and Cleopatra and the rest, a creative terrain setup. There are some terrain pieces made for the scale, but there is plenty of room for the creative work of inspired individuals too, and off the beaten path.

A Rant

I disliked the journalist spending his whole lede pretending that the magazine covers smaller scales evenly and that there is no need for enthusiasts to go and hold their own convention.

The reason is that it made me see that now we have crossed a line, which upon the realization of it, is deplorable. I didn't know the slick press for the hobby really counted as Fleet Street. I was used to photocopied and amateurish publications before these slick ones came along, with higher prices too.And I liked the simpler ones.

Previously I have understood that you can tell when a politician is lying, by seeing if his or her lips are moving. It is sad but true, I don't like cynicism but in a number of instances it is the only way to be accurate.

And I've learned that professionals are generally spinning things a certain way in every situation, favorably to their points of view, as well as salesmen, and the mainstream media--in fact about everyone you meet in everyday life including half the amateurs too, are at least spinning if not twisting the truth, with misdirection, misinformation, and misleading spins, for whatever reason, and after a long time of doing that, they themselves may lose sight of the reason for it and just do it out of bad habit. Because it becomes normal.

But now I am to believe that all those issues of WI have full, even coverage of 2mm? That must be the spin habit talking, not to call it hogwash. I think they have none whatsoever, and am annoyed that I have spent hundreds of dollars on their magazines for decades hoping just once they would.

But they didn't. It's 99 percent 28mm, with an emphasis on gorilla arms, banana bunch hands, and goggle-eyes, on heads like large pumpkins. And these distortions are justified for practical reasons understood by the insiders, but they look garish to outsiders, not at all like humans. Around 1986 one could at least see a tiny picture in the classified area, way back when the Knight Designs existed, of 2mm but there was no way to make out any detail from that.

The Bright Side

On the bright side it did give me something to put in the blog, plus stirred me just enough to do it. Here are a couple pics I took of some of Irregular Miniatures 2mm figures. These are from their Horse and Musket Range. They also have Ancient, which might be visible in the aforementioned PDF of the WI article.

Irregular also has a Renaissance range for the pike and shot period, and by all accounts those have the better sculpting, and then there are WW2 with vehicles smaller than the familiar GHQ or Scotia microscale. They also have some nice terrain pieces, railroad trains, guns, and wagons.

The board I am holding up as a base is about the size of a clipboard, and I have put in a Bic pen and some half inch (12.7 mm) cardboard boardgame counters on the side to help show the scale. The traditional coins used are actually unfamiliar across international borders, but that pen should be ubiquitous. I usually use that board under a netbook size computer, 10.1 inch, clipboard size.

These figs are not completed, they are just a couple 2mm photos I have here to show what they look like in the process. There are some horse,  foot and guns from the Horse and Musket range, on the one pic, and then the other shows a Logistics Pack, which includes various sizes of tents, and wagons. A few are pontoon wagons, a few covered and most uncovered. The sort of rules I favor think supplies, wagons and lines of communication matter a lot. So in this scale you can have 72 wagons pretty easily, and still not have that vast an array serve as the centerpiece, which it would have to do in any larger scale.

You can see how the infantry and to a lesser extent the cavalry are cast in blocks of various lengths. They are usually either two or three actual ranks deep, giving an appearance of mass. The smallest pieces would fit on those half inch boardgame counters, although a number of larger unit blocks are too long for that, and the limbers are too big with teams.

The artillery are 8mm square, those are three guns up front right. The taller ones further back near the pen cap are cavalry, those are apart so individuals or pairs or threes could be trimmed off easily to vary the unit sizes. The infantry blocks can be cut but would leave an ugly(er) side if you did, if you wanted different sized units.

Even with the jewelers' loupe I cannot tell the split trail from the single trail guns, and in the Horse and Musket period that is the only choice. It is OK because you could not distinguish types anyway. These same figures are Civil War, Napoleonic or Seven Years' War as needed. I mean you can repaint them during the game, if using the quickly drying acrylics. It's just a few dabs.

None of these shown here are the Renaissance, which do show more detail and several pieces are suitable for working into the Horse and Musket period.

I'll probably pick up a copy of the Wargames Illustrated at my newsagent's today, anyway, now they finally put what I wanted in it.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Armistice Day later called Veterans' Day

In the USA we started to commemorate this day as Armistice Day in 1918 when the guns fell silent to end the Great War, which we now call either the First World War or else World War One. The reason was that the guns were scheduled to stop all across the fronts at 11:11 that day, the 11th day of the eleventh month.

Now today we even have an eleventh year to add to the numerology of it.

Meanwhile the ten million dead of that war, which they rightly thought was bad, have been outnumbered by the dead of many more wars since then. That one was hyped over here as the War to End All Wars, but it hardly worked out that way after all.

Here in the USA, the name of the day eventually was changed to Veterans' Day, but the date will always hearken us back to the Armistice of World War I.

World War One Scenes Today, in Pics

So I have here a set of about twenty-two pictures, on another site, that show the landscapes in France and Belgium, Gallipoli on the European Turkish coast, and places like that from significant events of World War I and showing them as they look now.

You can still see the earth churned badly at places like Verdun. A whole village disappeared. A wall of a chapel where the British Guards fought in 1914. Take a look, it only takes a few minutes and it's well worth remembering these things. Just scroll down a couple inches from the ad on there.

We have so many war dead that we were compelled to have two days in the year for them, so at the end of May we also have Memorial Day, more specifically aimed to commemorate the dead, whereas this day also encompasses honoring the veterans still living, so I have seen several restaurants, a furniture store and the like, offering free meals or just deals for veterans alive but hungry.  In some cases it can be really crass commercialism, but not always entirely.

Ordinary People Stop Reading Here, the Hard-Core Read a Little More

The November 9 Washington Post had an article about mistreatment of the bodies of the returning veterans from 2003 to 2008, but unfortunately I cannot link to the article itself because they are already returning an error message, that it has been hidden away in the past two days apparently. They have hauled parts to landfills, this is specifically at Dover AFB in Delaware, and came out as the result of aa federal investigation. Sorry the link I intended comes up short only two days after the story appeared.

Because of that, the best I can do is show you a blog talking about it, with quotes from the article, but the article itself at the Washington Post is not coming up. You can try it yourself and search for further information if interested. Disgusting though it is, it is better to know than to cover up and pretend it isn't there.

No, go ahead and try that, this link above did work for me, the story is by Whitlock and Jaffe. The one that says 'article itself at the Washington Post.

Then here's the blog, he was talking about the Marine Corps Birthday Nov 9 and reacting to the story referenced.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christmas in September

The Package Arrived

Some months ago I sent some rare figures over to Peter from Peter's Cave (see Blogroll) and now he has sent a bunch of figures back my way. The package arrived today, and I have been sorting these figures out like a happy wargamer's jigsaw puzzle.

There are about a hundred of them, infantry, cavalry, Nassau Grenadiers, men with Baker Rifles and sword-bayonets, Old Guard Grenadiers, the Dutch or Belgian Jaeger bugler, cuirassiers and carabiniers--it is a bunch of them. It is very enjoyable just sorting them out by their colors and characteristics to try to figure out (pun intended) what they all are.

Well that pic emphasizes the bottoms of the bases, where they were cut from the sprues.

So here's a view flipped around.

There must be elements of between seven and ten sets here at least, and it feels like a kid at Christmas. These are figures I have never seen before in person, only in pictures, and I did not pick them out myself as I usually do, so there's a feeling of surprise and wonder that is beyond what usually happens when you open your new figs.I can recognize them, but at first glance I can only see--they are Napoleonic.

There are Zvezda, Italeri, Hat, who knows what, all mixed to be sorted.

To save on postage, they are cut apart, and so the sorting is based on colors, and then off clues in the uniforms, like the Baker rifles, or the shape of the shakos or other headgear, and even from counting the buttons.

More Bloggers Should Try This

This is great, and other wargamers should try this. Send some other blogger a mystery pack of figures and let them figure out what they are.

The rare figures are from the American Revolution, where Imex took over a line from Accurate, and changed several figures so there would be Cavalry and a few others, and sold them for several years...but then they changed their minds and changed the figures back to the first design with no Cavalry.  So now you cannot get them any more.

Even if you follow Plastic Soldier Review's advice and try to know what you're getting, that won't work They forgot to change the boxes, which still say there are cavalry, but there are not. You just can't get them any more.

"Es Suyo!"

When Peter commented about them saying he hoped one day he would find them, I went into the Es Suyo mode. That is Spanish for 'It's Yours!"

In some of the Latin American countries, if you pick up and/or admire an object, even in another Caballero's home, he may stun you by announcing Es Suyo, and now it is yours. The only way out is to immediately and insistently refuse in an increasingly firm voice three times at least, and even that may not work. To get out of what?

Dramatization of Chivalry

I will slightly exaggerate to explain the interplay of Honour that the Host has launched here, and remember that this occurs silently, inside the recipient's conscience. He realizes all this, and then has the feeling that he must get back to an even keel. That he must now do something in return, every bit as equally dramatic, every last bit or it is still not enough to equal the original grand gesture. Unless, of course, he is a Pirate. But for the Chivalrous it is not so easy.

Women never understand this, either.

This gesture demonstrates silently that the object itself, regardless of its value or how precious, even one's grandfather's watch or anything, is not nearly so important as your pleasure right now. Also the tremendous magnanimity of the host, in seeing that what you said you would like, you will have and you will have it right now. Because the Host has it in his power to see to it that you shall have it, as fast as you can clap your hands twice, it is done.

Of course this doesn't usually happen in my country because it would be seen as an exaggeration, even a caricature of Honour, to a degree that regular guys do not carry it. Just get the beer next time, they would say, or else Don't worry about it.

That was why I said at the time, along with the Es Suyo, that all I need back is that Peter paint the figures that I sent him, and let me use the picture as a Header picture for this blog, since I don't have one. Most of the good pictures out there are copyrighted to someone else, unless you make your own, so I thought that was good enough compensation. Anyway he would paint them better than I would.

That would be completely satisfactory.

But I recognize the interplay of the Es Suyo thing, since it has happened to me many times in other situations, and that Conscience and Honour demand something dramatic, so I have added some imitation Belgian Lace to the backdrop.

When I let my brother stay in my place, I refused to charge him rent, and he almost went crazy from it. But what's even worse is that when it happens to me, I almost can go crazy from it too, so I have had to eliminate most of my social life except with confirmed and known cheapskates, just to be able to keep up. It's a crazy thing, the Es Suyo thing. Be careful with it; it can cause madness when carried to extremes.

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There used to be another Imex figure considered rare, that is no longer rare. This was the General George Armstrong Custer figure. He was added to the ACW  Union Cavalry but sold only in a large boxed set of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. There was no other way to get it, and regular US Cavalry sets did not have the special figure. But then when people were scrambling around   trying to get the rare figure, they changed it so now all the
US Cavalry sets have one, so now every eleventh figure is a Custer. I have a bunch of them.

We never know when the American Revolution Dragoons may reappear like that.

Many thanks to Peter, and do go check out his 'Happy  Wargamer' post.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Saxon Artillery in the 18th Century

 Link Over to Scheck's Blog (or See Blogroll)

Anyone interested in the Saxon artillery of the 18th Century should probably go have a look at the post on Scheck's blog. He has repainted his Saxon artillery on the basis of what he found in the book, published in the old DDR about the Army of Augustus the Strong, he of the 365 children including Marshal Saxe.It is in German and the pictures are multilingual.

Too bad they do not sell it here, since this is where their customer is, but maybe there is a way after all.

He found the book at the fair in Kulmbach that I was trying to find some months ago when I was posting about the tremendous battle at Kesselsdorf just before Christmas of 1745, which was also just before Frederick, about to be called 'the Great,' went to the Opera in Dresden to see the performance by the incomparable Faustina Bordoni.

If I remember correctly in my articles on that subject mostly December 2010 I also link out to some other Saxon uniform pictures, and other information such as OB and narratives, for infantry and cavalry also.

The Saxon artillery was responsible for blasting apart the pre-planned combined arms divisional attack that started the winter battle, and Frederick was not present. The remarkable attack, which was blasted by this artillery,  was set up by the Alte Dessauer, and the king showed up after it was over.

We do not know exactly how much he ate his impatient words from the week before, trying to rush the AD, nor how jealous he was, when he saw what happened before he could get there in person.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pounding a Pirate

I Win More as Black Than as White

Actually I lose more than I win by about seven percent but those are left over from several crazy-risky Danish Gambits I had the nerve to try against the Nemesis, and I am still trying to make up the difference against the good players of the world. He put me below .500 as mentioned in February or March, and since he is hiding, I am having a hard time making up for it.

It's not easy, because I give myself a disadvantage almost every time by using one Gambit or another.
The reason for that is because most players use the e4 move to start, that is to advance the King's Pawn two steps, the classic way. I think the late great Bobby Fischer did it all but one game famously. Some go first with the Queen's Pawn, and  some hate when they do as it slows the game and makes it more intricate generally.

I do that usually if I have White, leading off with a Queen's Gambit most times, unless they show fianchetto immediately. It's as much from familiarity as anything else.

 And  Here is Why--the Icelandic Gambit--it throws them off

But the reason I win more with Black, bucking the statistical trend of maybe 5 to 8 percent better results for White from that first-move advantage, is because when I have Black, and they do the King Pawn first, which is most of the time, I go into an Icelandic Gambit and many opponents are surprised and cannot cope with it.

It doesn't always work. There are ways to screw it up from both sides, and for it to really be an Icelandic Gambit, the other side would have to follow a natural script for four whole moves, and they often don't, so it doesn't always even occur because they can do whatever they want. All openings end up that way eventually, some fall off script quickly and others  follow one a long time. If you don't want or like that, then you avoid it.

You can't always get an Icelandic Gambit, since only so many guys will follow the steps laid out for as many as four moves, so it may just be a Scandinavian Gambit if they only follow the script part way. But if they take all four steps as desired, it is the Icelandic Gambit.

A Gambit is a Gamble, a Gambiteer is a Gambler

All Gambits are risky, what it is is you let the guy take a piece or two hoping you can turn that to your advantage somehow, either off the little time it gives while he's busy cutting off your leg, or else the space opening behind his sword arm while he's whacking at you elsewhere.

But it is a way even a nerd can demonstrate King Kong Cojones.

Figuratively it is a little bit like when Beowulf was fighting the Monster's Mother, and the little opening let him get at her heart, but he took a lot of damage in order to get there.   I mean in the Neil Gaiman version of Beowulf.

  You give him your pawn or piece or even two pawns like here and try to beat him anyway. It only appeals to a certain kind of player, and the majority frown on it and think you're crazy, and so it is taught that if you find yourself playing a gambiteer, just take it, and chances are he cannot pull it off anyway.

That Danish Gambit I mentioned is really crazy because you give up three and maybe even four pawns, it is the Gambiteer's craziest gambit of all and often doesn't work.

I haven't got time to figure out how to put up chessboard diagrams although there is bound to be some way to do it that I haven't seen.

If I just nicked the one off the site, that'd probably be copyrighted to them, but the moves are mine. There must be someone who could read the algebraic notation, this is almost international language but not quite, because the letters are based on English piece names. There are ways to do this notation understood in all countries, but this is easier for me and pretty well-known anyway.

So I'll put the moves of my 41st win here, as it is an almost perfect result and has really ticked off a pirate type player more than 250 rating points above me and utterly crushed his ego, humiliating him tremendously and I will bet he even considered breaking his computer or quitting--it happened five hours ago. This guy beat me in the previous game just when I thought I had him.

Ego Destruction Worse Than Regular Sports

Chess is uniquely able to affect the person's ego more than other games, because it is seen as intellectual, so to lose is to be proven a stupid dolt, unless they have better emotional preparation than most actually do. This can result in temper tantrums, and I remember I mentioned how I quit for four years after the Nemesis beat me four and a half years ago.

Excuses Always Are Great to Hear Because of the Ego Thing and the Cover-Ups

By the way, the Nemesis quit in July and says it was 'distracting him from his work too much.'

Tuerckenkriege on Two Fronts
I've been in a tournament that started in August with ten games, and then another one started on schedule the first of September with as many more, plus I already had a few private ones going, and I have been pretty busy fighting it out.

There are three days per move allowed, but you can move immediately if the other guy is online, wherever he or she may be in the world, so I have been fighting two simultaneous Tuerckenkriege at all hours of the day and night, among others, as there is one Turkish guy in each of my two tournaments. One of them is a fast mover, so we are almost done already with that set.

Normally in the tournament there are a certain number of players in a group, it could be four, six, ten, or whatever, who play each other one game as White, one game as Black, as statistics show whoever has White has a first-move advantage. So you do one each as Black and White.

But this September tournament has both games at the same time, instead of back-to-back, so it is a lot of games.

Luckily a week into it I see there are a bunch of fast guys here, so it'll be over probably before the first one is.

In that August one I have moved up to fourth place out of ten for the time being, above several guys better rated.

Break Out Your Chess Sets and Follow Along

This shows a bloody pirate getting humiliated in a bare fourteen moves. He falls from 1705 to 1658 rating, and I move up from 1443 to 1473. He is furious about this, believe me.  The first four moves define the Icelandic Gambit because each one he did what I hoped for, and then in just ten more moves he resigned this afternoon while I was sleeping.

Pirate 1705-1658   v. mekelnborg 1443-1473

1. e4          d5
2. exd5      Nf6
3.c4           e6
4.dxe6       Bxe6              there is the Icelandic Gambit, the rest will vary
5.Nc3        Nc6
6.d3           Bb4
7. Nf3        Qe7
8. d4          0-0-0
9. Bd2        Nxd4
10. Be2      Bxc4
11. Be3      Nxf3+
12. Bxf3     Rxd1+
13. Rxd1    Rxd8+       ouch that was the Queen!
14. b3        Bxe3+
White (pirate) resigned. Kicks dog repeatedly, falls 50 rating points.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

"You're a Good Shooter"

"With Practice, You Could Be Great"

That is quite a compliment coming from Chuck.   He does not give them out that easily.

In the very small world of legal Chicago pistol shooting and training the name Chuck is well enough known not to need any other introduction.

And likewise Chuck knows the name Haggerty who was my instructor, and can go on at length as to his style and the problems under which  he operated.

I just had to requalify because one of my shooting cards is coming up for renewal, on a worknight after a worknight, coming off the midnight shift, and the range where Chuck operates is at 142nd and Western, over forty miles from where I live. Through heavy traffic from the Northwest suburbs to the South Side.

At five pm on a Friday evening. That's commonly called "Rush Hour," which is kind of a quaint phrase from some time back in the twenties when some of the other hours must not have also been  rush hour, but it is still the worst hour for traffic, that and the other one right after it, which I was just in.

So I did 81 miles of that plus fired on the range, and absorbed useful pointers about trigger pull, sight picture, when to not shoot, two-handed grip, up to the butt--yes there is one--and talked intelligently about how pistol training was done back in the day, and got back in time to get ready for work in two hours and 45 minutes, and still haven't calculated as to whether that could be mathematically legal or not.  I think it is mathematically possible.

Unless you take out nine minutes for the Mickey Dees at the Hinsdale Oasis on the Tri-State. These roads are famously shown in the movie The Blues Brothers, and I think they even stopped at that Oasis.

With all these millions of people driving around, I still can't get over that I found the one guy who can still talk knowledgably about the legendary Haggerty. That class  must have been twenty years ago, as I look back now on what must have happened which year and because of what.

I still remember Haggerty had a reloading station set up in his living room so he could watch TV while he did reloads.

I got a 95, and my glasses are several years past their prescription date. One round went two inches to the right of the target's chest, and would have probably got his arm anyway.

That's nothing, one time in the army I had broken glasses, so broken that there was no lens on my usual right-handed shooting eye side, and I had to make do with only a left lens, while the right side swung free in the open air. But unfortunately for me, the left side had no crossbar from the frame to the left ear, so I had to attach a suitable twig off the ground with a piece of duct tape. That is Double Broke.

That was using an M-16A1 which would drop hot brass down your shirt front left-handed, without a left-handed brass deflector, and being right-handed most of the time I didn't think to get one, so that did happen a couple times. Still, I am proud that I shot Expert under those conditions, left-handed. They really should lower the price of glasses for us poor folks so we can get them more often.

Anyway I have noticed I seem to shoot at billiards better left-handed too. It's a useful skill sometimes.

What I shot tonight was a Smith and Wesson Model 67 .38 Special, which is a six-shot double-action revolver, I think a J-frame, and a four -inch barrel, which might have been a bull barrel but I didn't really look that closely.  Don't even ask what was in the rounds, it was whatever Chuck provided.

If I get new glasses too then look out. I gone tink abou getting some.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

More on Scale-Changing for Leipzig: Empire, Napoleon's Battles, DBA

Empire, the Grand Tactical game
Empire by Scott Bowden was the Grand Tactical Napoleonic game popular in the 80's with 1 figure = 60 men, and 1 gun = 2 guns.

So battalions could be 6, 8, 10, 12, maybe up to 18 at most figures, and batteries each needed 3, 4, or 6 models.

So to do Leipzig with that you'd need almost 1,100 cannon and howitzer models on the table, and about 8,300 figures, not counting thousands of gunners necessarily in that total.

There have been several iterations of Empire, besides derivatives, and the current version is called Revolution and Empire. There are still people playing it, including more or less as written.

Please click here and look at this guys photos, they show us what 12,000 painted Napoleonic figures looks like all in rows. It's pretty awesome but a lot of painting. This has been in my blogroll for several months but I don't think I ever called attention to it. Amazing work.

Reaction Against Empire
Then the community reacted against Empire, after maybe ten years of its ascendancy in the eighties, on the grounds it's too fiddly, time-consuming, trying too hard to be a simulation versus a game, and gives too many +2 to the French even though it's +1 to the British, etc.

Plus people didn't like being stuck with the generals named and shamed as incompetent as they were many times. And also, Empire had the nerve to have the figures in a line stand only one rank of figures deep, instead of two, even though there were still deeper formations for the column anyway. There are still people overreacting against that.

Me, I just didn't like the percentile dice, that's all, even though they probably are better. It could have been a little simpler and been all right. Actually it isn't really that difficult anyway, to me. But it still needs too many guns, at the 1:2 ratio.Who has 1,000 limbers painted up?

The Vocal Community's Solutions

So the solution of the community, and it may really only be a very vocal minority, is to reject all that and go to big battalions of at least 48 figs, which would point to 1:10 men, or 12, even though they often use one gun, with or without limber, as a battery.

The trend is to much simpler and quicker games, which may be further back towards game from simulation on the continuum.

But not only can they not do Leipzig, but they can't even do one tenth of Leipzig either, with rules like that. They could do Bunker Hill, but not Leipzig.

The result is Leipzig would require only 300 model guns, if at 8, but also 41,666 or some odd figures, if at 12. Distance who knows but few have that many tables nor could reach across it, yet this battle is only two or three times the size of Waterloo really.

The Obvious Solution
The obvious solution is to change the scale.

Even with all this having been said, there always have been a minority who saw these problems ahead of time and so we find in Charles Grant the Elder's The War Game, around 1972 or '73, a mention of a figure:troop ratio of 1:100 as a possibility, that some were using.

And in Ned Zuparko's Vive l'Empereur, again 1:100. That was 1982.

When Avalon Hill joined the trend set by GDW System 7 for board wargame companies to have a Napoleonic cardboard/miniatures hybrid system, their Napoleon's Battles went with 1:120 men, but still compromised to the two figure ranks deep line, saying that it was for a satisfactory appearance of depth, just for the visual aspect, while acknowledging it is a great distortion of depth at least for a line.

Napoleon's Battles had a far superior graphic presentation over any miniatures rules and most boardgames too for that matter, as they were in a position to produce top-end components. These are the same company who did Squad Leader.

Then there is DBA, De Bellis Antiquitatis, which divided an army into 12 parts, and called them elements, and covered many thousands of years' history with one coherent system, Barkerese notwithstanding.

If the French army of let's say 180,000 at Leipzig were in 12 roughly comparable parts they'd need to be around 15,000 men each, and if so then each element would need to be a corps d'armee.

And if 360,000 Allies had to only be in 12 elements, theirs would have to be around 30,000 men each.

So the one silliness is to force every army of all history into a 12-part mold, no matter what, and count the commander as one of them--but then they define one element as being what, 300 paces across? That means all of them in one line would be 9000 feet, 3000 yards, no matter what, and thus would make a French Napoleonic army no more than 13500 men, and that's all you get. Then ranges and moves and time and all else scaled accordingly.

So it's double silly, yet popular and fulfills a need in the community.

To me it is a challenge to make something sort of like that, but more like the idea of the dream of what the potential of DBA seems like the first time you look at page one and start to realize what they are doing, but before you completely figure out what they are doing, which pretty much spoils it.

The obvious solution is to change the scale.

Boardgamers Don't Ever Deal With This they don't need to
Boardgame companies think nothing of adjusting the scale drastically from each publication to the next, they have gladiator fights and they have all of World War One, and Two, and Three, all on the same physical size of maps, plus many with more than one map to adjust the scale as needed. They have one ship on one ship duels and they have all of outer space in the future Galacticas and all that.

So the miniatures community seems kind of hidebound and overly conservative and even to the point of being "reactionary," the way it looks to me. Except in World War Two miniatures, so there I see a glimpse of light.

In the period of World War Two, even though there are many skirmish-level games and small-unit games, there are also a healthy range of games at what they call the Operational level, which is the one above Grand Tactical, but below Strategic.

Thee are games where  one stand is a squad, or a platoon, or a company--and there are several games out where 1 stand is a whole battalion or in one case a Regiment/Brigade.

Horse and Musket Does Think About It Sometimes
There are also Snappy Nappy, and One Brain Cell games, and that is for both Napoleonic and Seven Years' War, that do put some thought into this level. I know what people say about the names, but these are closer to what I am looking for.

Attention Deficit Disorder?
So headed in this direction, now I am busy thinking about how to convert some of the WW2 operational miniature games to the Korean War, so again the ADD strikes again, but I think there is a connecting thread.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Maybe I Won't Do Leipzig First After All

Leipzig Needs 500,000 Men and  Well Over 2,000 Cannon
Having second thoughts about the advisability of actually trying to do the great Battle of Nations as the first Napoleonic battle for the budding 1/72 plastic Napoleonic collection, but it still may be the best way to have started thinking anyway. Having the British Horse Artillery, British Infantry, and British Light Cavalry at the outset could easily have sent me down the path to the Peninsula so commonly seen in English, and diverted me away from the big continental campaigns. Still might anyway, but there is some balance.

Everything else must needs be smaller and easier, than Leipzig. I have small armies shaping up for the British, Austrians, Russians, Prussians, French, and ready to add some of their friends once the great powers are all represented. As it stands so far I would have to have something like a ratio of 1250 men per figure or some such ratio to make a small collection serve for Leipzig. That part is okay, but what about all that artillery? That's what makes it crazy to do this one first. It's like someone planning their first job out of school to be winning the big lottery. Not really an entirely bad idea.

Not really opposed to that ratio on the face of it,  but in this scale and actually even in 2mm or any other scale, the proportions of the figures' bases greatly exaggerate the frontage and depth most especially for artillery and cavalry. This same issue continues even at much lower ratios.

Most wargames I have seen vastly exaggerate the actual size of a square and always have done so. These squares are not as big as your kitchen inside many times;  it is necessary to do some mathematics to figure it out. It has often been depicted with the same figures from the line arranged in a square, but that makes the square way too big. It should be very tight and compact, only a small number of horses even could make contact if they would, notwithstanding the fact that they wouldn't anyway except by accident.

There are some maps in the Adkin book, The Waterloo Companion, which is a large coffee-table size of book, and in these maps the ground scale is only one millimeter different from the tabletop ground scale I had arrived at for doing Leipzig on my table, at least if it was the dining room table. Placing actual 1/72 figures on the map right in the open book itself then gives an approximation of what should fit, because it did fit in reality. But the depth  of the bases of the figures makes them not fit the actual formations.  The worst is the reserve formation of the Imperial Guard standing in the French rear in a very tight formation in closed columns close together.

They would be quite vulnerable to artillery, but luckily for the French they were using the reverse slope.

Of course Waterloo is a very small field for having 200,000 men jammed in, only 5500 meters side to side, so the British for example used mostly column or square with few lines formed, and even then not so much their famous two-rank line, but the four rank line. That means most of the well-worn stereotypes are in fact false impressions.

Wellington thought when he arrived that he would use the same reverse slope (in reverse) as the French ended up using on the 18th, but no, his assistant had selected the next one north.

So we have the French using that reverse slope. The British deployed in column. If in line it is a four rank line, while the French still have the thinner three rank line, should they deign to use it. And we even have the French attacking in square, not even allowed in many rules but there it is in reality.

Many of the most influential pioneers in English-language miniature gaming and indeed in figure-making too were oriented towards the most popular aspects in their own country of these wars, so thus the Waterloo figures were mainly for the painting of the Scots Highland square receiving the French Cuirassiers, plus Mercer's horse artillery on the side, but there was a lot more to the 25-year period of constant warfare than just that scene.

For example Mercer was really next to the Brunswickers wasn't he? I remember that I did paint some of my French in black to make Brunswickers, but today there are more than one dedicated set for that purpose, so you don't need to use the French any more just because they have shakos.

The Prices are Too High
So back then when I was in my formative years we had no choice but to raise vast armies of the same few sets and use paint and what not to differentiate and make anything else. Today there are a vast number of different sets available and the price is much higher, even taking account of inflation they cost a lot more than they used to cost, in the seventies.

It was 69 cents, and then due to inflation even then they raised it to 89 cents a box, when I was starting my collection. Now they range around 10-14-even 20 dollars a box and that is far in excess of inflation.

It is more than just that. Certainly I wish my income had increased by that proportion. Do the math and it is shocking, these plastic figures are now a dollar and more each depending on how you do it, at least if the man sits on a horse. And there has been no improvement at all in those Airfix Cuirassiers who still can't hold together at all, as bad as they ever were in that regard.

Here is What is Good About It
On the other hand, even if it is money-grubbing on their part four or five times and more above  inflation, all that money in their hands does give them the motivation to vastly increase the ranges from the choices there were in the past. So now there are a couple hundred different Napoleonic sets, instead of five or six.

But this means one has to be selective and not try to get one or more of each type all the way down the line, as that would now require thousands of dollars as well as take many months to catch up with the painting.

Underground Music Award
Teri aka Lyric thanks anyone who helped with the voting for her Underground Music Award nomination for Song of the Year 2011. The voting has now closed; it had to be before midnight last night of the 11th. Now they will use the next ten days to figure out what they are going to do, and then on the 21st of August in the Bronx they will have their awards ceremonies and announce who won.

The Bronx is one of the boroughs of New York City. So in about ten days we will see the results.

Banquet Tables
I have two matching folding banquet tables with wheels, quite convenient for a temporary and mobile wargame setup. They are each five feet by 28 inches, so side by side they give a few inches short of five feet square. There is also a roughly comparable wooden table that could be next to those, without even diverting the dining table. If I were to use all four at once, it would allow the Leipzig rules to be like the Waterloo rules as far as scales are concerned, but would certainly dominate my wargame room for as long as it stayed set up. It would perhaps allow ten inch miles instead of three or four inches, for the scale.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Underground Music Awards UMAs Song of the Year Vote

 LYRIC, Can't Back Down ft Anna

...and now for something completely different...

 You Can Help--BIG time

You can help this lady 'Lyric' win the 2011 Underground Music Award on August 21 by voting for her song for the Song of the Year. Her handle on youtube is LyricsJourney and on the song she is going by 'Lyric.'

Probably some shmoe already took her name before she got there, on the youtube site. That has happened to me too, look at what I ended up with.

The song is up against two other songs for Song of the Year at the 9th Annual UMAs in the Bronx on August 21.

What it needs is not just to listen to it and look at it but go to the site and vote, like yeah, this is the winner.

That way you are a winner too.

Vote Early and Often

I had pizza with her last night (from Sarpino's) about six hours ago, so I said I would try to help by enlisting some voters. You are already registered, you just need to know how to do it and remember to keep on doing it again.

In Chicago we are used to the concept that if you vote early and often, you can help your candidate win better. And it's legal. You can vote every day.

It doesn't matter if urban music is to your taste or not. You still get a vote, not only today right now but every day from now until August 11, then the winner comes out on August 21. And your votes count!

Here's What You Get:

That means you don't just get a vote, you get all the rest of July plus August up to the 11th, which is like --
26 votes per computer. 

Plus you get the quick gratification of seeing you, me and her which is  us WIN on August 21, which is not that far in the future to have a chance to forget.

In fact it would be BETTER if you don't like it generally because then you won't mind voting against those other two guys, the one attacking the pope among other things and the other one, I forget what he was supposed to be talking about.

You can vote even if you're in Siberia or Russia or Norway or Senegal or even somewhere where they don't even HAVE votes, because this is different. You can vote again every day, and the more you do, the more likely it is that you, me, and her all win this UMA together.

I know her from the Salt Mines where we work together. That was how that happened. We consult on blog work all the time. Besides music she can also be kind of computer geeky too, that's her other passion, that and writing poetry which she is then turning into music. With the computer stuff she might show me how to do simple stuff sometimes. Like how to vote for her for the UMA.


 So here's How To Do It

 You can go to the UMA site here, scroll down All The Way To The Bottom Of The Page until you find 'Click Here To Vote For The UMA Song Of The Year'  and there's a place where it says Vote. Then click to vote, a window opens and you pick Lyric, Can't Back Down.

Just ignore those two other choices, those are the Wrong Answer. Forget a and b.
You want answer c. Lyric, Can't Back Down

It's that simple. But if you try it again right away, it'll say sorry we already counted your vote--by your IP, (which means they just think you are that computer at that time).

It's OK to vote again tomorrow, and the next day, right on up to August 11.Winner announced on the 21st.

Lyric's Web Site

This link will take you to her website:

Since that site changes all the time I can't say if at any moment it has her poetry books on it or what, but right now there's a kind Anita Baker-sounding song on it when it first opens up. She keeps changing it because she is heavily into computers and likes to mess around with the code. It has been three or four different ways in the past year or so.

I can't do all that fancy CSS and what not, I can only guess at HTML if I think I see it. I do usually guess okay, though.

But this I figured out: You're looking at a trash can in an alley in the picture as it opens, so take your scrollbar and scroll over to the right to open up to the street in that alley, and then you see some ways to Enter the site.

Ninety-Nine Cent Downloads

Check with her there about trying to get downloads, it would be legal and good to do it right, and it would be illegal and bad to do it wrong.

BUT Where's The Song?

I said it doesn't matter, the main point was vote anyway.

But it's on youtube, or else you could probably dig around her site for the better versions. What's up on youtube right now is two songs, and two sets of audition vids. That's four vids, but it could grow, like I say she's changing stuff all the time, you never know.

The Can't Back Down ft Anna one that is up for the award shows a pic that looks like it could be an album cover, and then this other song has a fully developed video. The other one is called 'Death of a Poet,' and in fact I was thinking I liked that one better from last week, but the one that is up for the award is growing on me too since then.

I didn't understand it is about women being abused, that's the point behind the lyrics of this one. She usually has meaning in her lyrics, seeing as how she's a poet on that end first.

I voted for it anyway, like I say it doesn't matter if you like the other one better, because this is the one that's up for the song of the year.

Thanks, everybody, keep going! Let's win this.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Getting Started in Imex 1/72 Napoleonics

Imex Does Not Have Napoleonics

They have about five sets planned, between Waterloo and the War of 1812, but I am not going to sit around and wait for them. 

I'm going to use what they do have.
Webmasters get a report of the varous search terms people have used to find their blog, to help with planning.

Someone was searching for information about how to paint Imex figures, and wound up looking at my posts earlier in June about the Revell Prussians and the Imex British redcoats that I had converted to serve as Austrians for the Seven Years War.

So, I don't know, I do think that people should be encouraged in getting started out whether in wargaming itself, a new period, or in a new line of figures. But the person did not make a Comment, so I don't know how to really answer that.

 It is common enough to be getting started with something though, it happens all the time.

It could be a new scale, or a new material such as plastic versus metal or vice versa, for someone who already has some other kind such as World War Two models and wants to try something else.

Earlier this spring I was bit by a plastic 1/72 bug so I have been painting and collecting them since about February. I already had some, a few hundred, left over from what must have been thousands I used to have but that were victims of the vicissitudes of my life.

So in that sense, I am also getting started again, and relearning several familiar old lessons in the process as I go.

From the 1970's I had a large collection of most of the output of a company called Airfix, from the UK. They had figures from the Romans against the Ancient Britons, on up through Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, to more familiar periods such as the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. They even had a set of spacemen based on the Americans going to the moon, with lunar rovers, if I remember correctly.

 Most of them are lost, but some are still in my possession. I also had from the 1980's a few more boxes but they were harder to find then, and I was focusing on other things, so there were not so many. I had ancient Egyptians that were from Atlantic, and I still have a Soviet heavy machinegun by itself in the bitz bag. And those Revell Prussians I finally just painted a few weeks ago.

Nowadays there are hundreds more sets more or less available from many manufacturers.

It used to be we had seven or eight that were supposed to be Napoleonic, and some others from other periods that could be somewhat plausibly substituted in for various purposes. Everyone did it that way, including the big and famous names in wargaming from that era.

When the French Imperial Guard set finally came out I did not get them, because for me it was too late, and I had been using British 1776 Grenadiers for that purpose for years already. They had bearskin hats and muskets and the coats were close enough.

I am now still operating from that same mindset, although I am not sure everyone else is, these days.It is a built-in part of my mentality when it comes to these plastic figures, to use them in the Old School way.

It would take four or five pages to print out just a list of all the Napoleonic sets that have now been put out on the market. It didn't used to be that way. People are spoiled nowadays.

So as I have been buying up the sets available around my town before resorting to mail order, I have a mix of different periods. It's not just the 18th century. But there are only a limited choice around town, and that is what I have been stocking up on and painting furiously day after day. Eventually I will exhaust their stock, and then see what's out there from outside companies, but right now I'll support the local guys at least until they have nothing else I can use.

Part of it is Napoleonic. I have got one good box of British Infantry for Waterloo in 1815 from A Call To Arms, with 32 men. One box was all they had at the store.

Then five boxes of both Esci and Italeri British Light Dragoons (Hussars). There are three boxes each of French Cuirassiers and French Artillery, and a British Royal Horse Artillery.

The French artillery and Cuirassiers are Accurate, but they are actually the same old figures from Airfix in a newer box under a different label. That means that besides the three guns each, they also include eight marching infantrymen, so I have 24 French infantry to face those 32 British infantry from  A Call To Arms.

I've also got two or three more sets of these left over from earlier phases of life.

Well that is not very much and it is kind of heavy on the supporting arms, especially cavalry. Not even five dozen infantry. They must not be glamorous enough, or else somebody else already bought all of them up.

But I also have those Mexicans for the Alamo. They are rather disappointing, to others, in their review at PSR
they explain the reasons well enough. But they do carry the Brown Bess musket and wear a shako. And as you look through there at the hundred-plus sets now available, from many companies, set after set have certain flaws anyway. That means the 'right' ones aren't always quite right either.

I am going to convert the Mexicans with paint to serve as generic Napoleonic infantry to hold me over until I can collect more from all these other guys. There are lots of these available in my town, whenever I am ready, and at half or less the price they charge by mail order.

The reason I turn to this expedient is that one box of  A Call To Arms British already completely exhausted the supply of Napoleonic infantry on sale in my town. That was the only box there was. From here I cannot expand in Napoleonics locally unless I want a bunch of the British Royal Horse Artillery, because there are still a few of those left in the store.

The Alamo sets are still plentiful though, and by using the Mexicans to represent almost any army with shakos, for the time being, I can form up some better-balanced forces quickly and locally before I gradually replace them later with the more correct counterparts as and when I can. So far then I have over a hundred French, some Swedes and some Prussians.

Also I can use some of the Alamo defenders set and the US Infantry for the Mexican War for the Prussian Landwehr, even though they don't wear the litewka coats. Some of the real Landwehr didn't get those either, and the hats are close enough until I can get some of the right ones to replace them.

In this way I have my sights set on using Imex 'Napoleonics,' which don't actually exist yet except in their planning stage, to do the great battle of Leipzig in 1813. I've done it before, but not in this scale.

I'll apply the same sort of thinking to other periods as I expand my range.

How To Paint Them

As to how to paint them, I would recommend you put them in hot water with dishwashing soap at least to soak, and if you can be careful use a toothbrush to scrub a little. This is to remove oils or greases from the factory to hopefully take the paint better.

Next a primer. I have been using either an acrylic gesso from an art supply shop, or just ordinary acrylic paint. It does not seem to make much difference either way. The plastics are not the same from one set to another, but most will reject the paint at first. I just go over it again and assume it will need a few coats. The first one will not be complete usually, but even if it only halfway sticks, it gives you something to stick the paint to later on a second and third coat. The artists call this aspect having some 'tooth,' something for the paint to catch on and stick to, and that is what gesso is meant to do for their canvas or paper too.

Then there are several types of paint, and for that I would use acrylic. The enamels I originally used in the 70's worked, but had usually been sitting in the store way too long and were often dried out, which did not help. Some of the acrylics are that way too, but I have had better luck and better results with them.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Declaration of Independence

Images: PD US Wikipedia: Jean Leon Jerome Ferris, Writing the Declaration of Independence

Thomas Jefferson wrote the document. Here we see Benjamin Franklin and John Adams helping with the initial and relatively minor editing. They were the committee to draft it. There were also two others who did not make any changes, at all, to what Jefferson wrote.

 This is at Jefferson's house in Philadelphia. As you can see he was a naval wargame collector and used large ship models. (see top)

These men fully expected to be hanged for treason and that is exactly what the British were trying to do. Of the 56 Signers, many did suffer, and so did some of their wives and much of their property. Several were caught and mistreated in prison including the prison hulk ship out in the harbor at New York. That's another story of its own.

When they were satisfied they put the document before the rest of the Congress Assembled and there were major changes made before they agreed on it. The document as signed and published, after the changes, has 1337 words and as such it is not that difficult to read it. I recommend that you do read the text itself, rather than only what someone tells you about it or what it means.

I will continue to tell you just that a little bit though, for the sake of completeness. And I have another link to make it a lot easier for the visually-oriented.

The major changes largely had to do with slavery--and around 500 words were cut out before they all agreed on what's left of it. It would be very interesting to see those words too, but I have to hurry to the Salt Mines through the holiday crowds.

By the way, fireworks are illegal in this state, and they are exploding all over the place every few seconds. D---the King.

The important point for this article is that these words were in there from the start, but had to be cut out to get agreement. For them the main point at hand was to set out reasons to dissolve all ties to Great Britain.


Also some northern seaport states found anti-slavery language objectionable on grounds that it would be bad for their business, not so much their need of having slaves themselves. They had Irish and other indentured servants and cheap labor available generally in those parts, then as now. I fall in the last category myself.

So those parts were objectionable to southern states generally, and in particular South Carolina and Georgia objected to those parts. Jefferson himself was the number two man from Virginia, behind Richard Henry Lee. It is interesting to note he not only had slaves, but is widely believed to have a very large family of descendants through them. That is why it would be interesting to see those other 500 words, and important to know they were originally there.

Speaking of Richard Henry Lee ( as in the later Robert E. Lee) Adams thought July 2nd would be remembered by posterity, because that was the day Lee proposed the resolution, and this document only put it into a writing. But the date on the document is what caught on, because of the proclivity people have to appearances and style over substance generally, then as now.

So then at 1337 words it was signed and published. When published in the newspapers it was typeset instead of handwritten.

There were 56 Signers. John Hancock put his extra big, front and center because he wanted to make sure King George could see it without his spectacles. We still refer to signing a document as 'put your John Hancock on there.'

Here is how it looked in the newspapers.

would a click embiggen?

At the time these men were meeting to sort out legal details and documents, the British army and navy had pulled out of Boston in March, leaving lots of good stuff behind, and sailed up to Halifax, Nova Scotia to do some regrouping, training and wait for fresh reinforcements from Europe. The trip across the Atlantic could take more or less six or eight weeks and depended on weather, tides and currents.

There were Hessian and other German troops in the contingent that came to join up, and this whole vast combined fleet was already anchored off New York even as these scenes were happening. The next military steps would be the Long Island and New York campaigns.

Inside New York, where the British had not yet landed for their main invasion, people heard about the Declaration and here is what they did:

Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, Pulling Down the Statue of King George

You can read about it more here.

And as promised for those who are visually-oriented or also audio, here is Morgan Freeman and his friends performing it, which he will explain is how it ought to be done. This is a vid for 14:26 and is in solid Hollywood style, with many famous faces and voices at the Congress Room in Philadelphia.

And remember the British fleet with 30,000 men is already riding at anchor not too far away, looking for their heads.

Another interesting assignment for your next vacation to Washington, DC is to make a careful note exactly which key phrases do NOT appear in the granite and marble edifice the Jefferson Memorial, even though it appears to have these ringing phrases. Some are not there.


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Monday, June 27, 2011

Imex 1/72 Austrians Paint Conversion

In this picture,  the Revell Prussians have surprised the new Imex Austrians (converted British Redcoats) while they were in the middle of a fashion show to see their facings, while General Lacy (top right of center) looks on. Meanwhile General Loudon tries to thrust his sword into a Prussian Grenadier-Garde, Alt  6 man's head.

He would turn around to see what's holding up Lacy's reinforcements if he had time. Just like that time at Liegnitz in 1760. (Legnica)

Imex does not have Austrians for the SYW, Revell does, or at least they did. It's hard to keep up with the changes in the plastic 1/72 producers. Plastic Soldier Review can help sort most of it out. Some are out of production, some are not yet available but in the pipeline, and others have changed names two or three times.

So the ones on Peter's Cave the other day (see blogroll) are the exact same figures, and rather better painted than mine, but instead of calling them Imex he is calling them Revell, and before both of them the same figures were Accurate. Since I have a supply of both Accurate and Imex, and they are almost identical,  I'd have to think but this particular set was sold as Imex when I got them in late 2003.

I don't have the patience to track down the proper Austrians to go with those Prussians I found last week, but I had a set of what are supposed to be Imex British Redcoats for the American Revolution. I'll try to get the right ones later if I can, but I need Austrians now. I have already waited too long.

Back in 2003 I picked up some of these Imex for the Revolution but had not finished painting them. This set was going to be the French regulars and were halfway done in white uniforms. Another one actually are British redcoats, and there are blue ones and other types too.

I probably still will use these for French of the Revolution come to think about it, until I add some proper ones later. Even then, these could probably be used for the pre-79 uniform ones well enough. 

There is a French set out there by somebody else, but they are in the post-1779 issue uniforms. The French who came to fight in North America are believed to have worn both the older and the newer uniforms depending which force they are. So those too, I'll keep an eye out for them for later.

I kind of don't care about the differences that much. This whole plastic project started with a nostalgia for the days when we only had a few troops types to use, two for the Revolution and I can think of about seven types to cover the whole Napoleonic Wars. So we'd use the 1815 Highlanders to storm Fort Ticonderoga in 1758 if that's what we wanted to do that day. The muskets were basically the same, but their hats were different.

It was considered cool then to do conversions, lopping off heads of one kind to make another, but I had two problems with that. I never thought I had enough troops to waste like that, and once you did you couldn't use the other ones any more, unless by some miracle the hats were appropriate for the donors.

I finally did make some English Civil War figures from Napoleonics and American Civil War types, but it really made me ill to have to do that out of desperation. It ruined the original figures for the periods they came from, and within a couple weeks I would regret it.

I did not feel so badly about the simpler 'paint conversion,' since it is theoretically reversible when you change your mind back. These coats could go back to red, or blue, pretty quickly, if I ever wanted that.

So I have a long history fortified by nostalgia for the dilemmas caused by too limited a line in plastics. There are a lot more choices nowadays, but still not enough.

There are dragoons available nowadays, and there were always hussars if you will rob the Waterloo collection, plus now there are proper hussars with mirliton hats. But cuirassiers with tricorne (robbing Waterloo again) would call for conversions. I could get tricornes from certain American militia types.

And then the Worst Thing Happened

While I was thinking about all that, I started looking at my Napoleonic British and French, a rebudding little collection, and started to think about not wanting to rob them, because I will want to use them and regret it later. Why not leave their hats alone and just use French 1815 Cuirassiers as SYW cuirassiers, nobody has to know...then they can still go back to Napoleon later, no commitment, no strings...I can ignore the hats, and maybe the colors, just till I get the right ones...

The bane of the wargamer is to be distracted to a different project, before getting the other one done.

And then my thoughts started to drift to the vast half million man Voelkerschlacht, the biggest bloodiest battle of the 19th Century before World War I broke all records:

Leipzig, 1813!  The Battle of Nations.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tornado Hit Us, Not Too Badly

We got hit by some tornadoes last night. It broke up one of those runs of days that are too hot, like I had mentioned a while back.

Suddenly a storm blows in and once the rain and winds are gone, it brings fresher cooler air from aloft leading in a cold front.

But although the relief from the heat is very nice, there may be violent storms at the edge of this sort of change, and that is what happened.

Since I was languishing in the 88 degree heat, I was standing at the window trying to enjoy as much cooler air from the wind as I could while not getting too wet from the rain that is in the wind. At some point it becomes too violent, and then you lock down the hatches.

So the rotation in the wind formed a tornado, as it went over me, and bore down right on the Salt Mines to where I was working for our War Correspondent RJK last week, where it was close to the ground and violently ripped a crab apple tree near the front door right up out of the ground by the roots.

I found it a few hours later. There were lots of other branches on the ground from other trees, but that one completely torn out looked pretty dramatic.

Then it slammed into the ground a mile away at the next town's fire department, flipping all the firemen's cars upside down in their parking lot. This is close to the main airport of Chicago, which had to close down for a couple hours when the tower people had to evacuate.

They were reporting winds at 81 mph, but only later figured out it was officially a tornado. They determined two touched down, meaning hit the ground, and maybe three others up in the air around the area, without touching down necessarily.

If I had known it was officially a tornado I would have probably taken cover, but instead I was standing there enjoying the cool breeze.

There was another one heading towards the Alte Fritz's neck of the woods too, a few minutes later.

Both of them have officially qualified as tornadoes now, but of the kind that only just qualify, so it wasn't really bad, except for the firemen, and the place whose roof was torn off...and the crab apple tree.

I must say, on my way to the Salt Mines a half hour later, I benefitted from the lighter than usual traffic on the roads and did not have to drive at tornado speed to get to work on time for once.

This Helped the Blog in its Own Way

 Due to the disaster recovery I had to work an extra half day, but that helped the blog as I was able to meet with the Correspondent RJK to coordinate the story he has from Virginia, some aspects of which will be exclusive to the headquartersinthesaddle blog, but too busy with this to have it up just yet. It will be soon.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Revell 1/72 Preussische Infanterie

(need a shave, I guess)Prussian Infantry Set from the 90's-
I have been Working on the Plastic, and Taking Inventory

These rather poor images are from holding a netbook computer at a certain  angle, so they are not very good as pics, but they are better than nothing, like I usually have.

 Too bad you can't see the silver and gold braid on these.

I have several different wargame figure collections, and the best old one but most neglected for some years are the plastic 1/72 that I started out with years back.

I am up to around 672 Imex plus 100 or 200 Airfix figures in 1/72 plastic now, mainly for the American Revolution portion of the 18th Century.

The Imex came in a box set of 284 back in 2003, then about 300 that I picked up since about February, under the influence of Charlie Wesencraft and some blogging influences, and since then as we approach summer I have another 100 militia types and 72 artillery with 12 guns.

This is not counting cavalry, because only four mounted figures ar e officially from this period, plus five George Washingtons (two or three missing or amputated by the vacuum/cats)and four British Grenadier officers.

It's debatable whether the hussars and cuirassiers from the Napoleonic period can be used. It depends on whether it is really the American Revolution, or if we are doing the European wars of the 18C and anything goes because almost nothing is exactly right.

If I do count them, I seem to have about 10 Airfix British Hussars left, another 36 Esci and 24 Italeri. The Italeri are the crispest ones. They are the same as the Esci, but came out better. So, seventy of them. There are about twenty usable old Airfix French Cuirassiers, plus another set of 11 I picked up under the Accurate labels, but they are the same figures. So, 31 of those.

That's how I always used the old plastic anyway, and it never was quite right, but I did not care, because the right figures did not exist and were not available. Nowadays there are more out there, but the lines are far from complete, so in plastic it has always been about conversions and overlooking imperfections.

I like that. Let the 28mm people try to be accurate all they please. Their figures usually look like mutant Gnome-Frogs, to be honest, with bugged out eyes and bunches of bananas for hands.

So some of the horde is from this year when I suddenly started to want to collect the plastic armies again, and about half or more were already in various Bitz Bags around the place, being ignored.

For a few months I was looking at one gray Revell figure from an old box of Prussian Infantry for the Seven Years War, which was also called the French and Indian War in its American theater.

I had found it somewhere and just had it sitting around, while I wondered what ever happened to the rest of them.

So now:

 I always get my grapes at V. Sattui's Winery, whenever I'm in the Napa Valley. They are the juiciest.

 This shows the box; this brand was made in Germany when I bought these, some time in the 90's. Still probably are. The brush points at the Frederick the Great figure.

 This is the magnifying glass attached to a Chicago Cubs road hat. They are a very unlucky baseball team from around here. The hat holds the glass in place  so you can see fine detail better.

So let's see if it works:

Then here's an example of trying to get the glass to focus through the camera, for this pic.

Then I Found Most of Them

And then I found a cache of them; they were in a plastic divider box in a pile next to the 10mm Civil War troops, from another neglected and largely forgotten collection. I am also wondering what brand these 10mm ACW figures are, by the way. They may be GHQ, they may be something else, and they may be a mix of a couple types. I can't remember any more, and have lost any markings from the bags. I do have some small bags, so I know some came that way.

So this weekend I painted up the Revell 1/72 Preussische Infanterie, and even painted the mounted officer to resemble Frederick the Great himself. The only trouble with that is that he always thought it was too cold, and buttoned his coat up. This guy has it open.

Despite all these hundreds of other tricorne-wearing figures, these 3 plus 33 men are the only official ones from the Seven Years' War. I must have got them at The Emperor's Headquarters, an erstwhile wargame emporium in Chicago, which closed before I could get the Austrians or anything to go with these.

That's why you have to get them while you can, since pretty soon, you can't.

One Figure Per Battalion
Since there are only 33. I was painting just one figure per battalion, and in this period they can't just be generic because the colors depend on which regiment they are. So to paint you have to decide--how many of which regiment. I decided, one for each regiment, and let's get it done. Plus this officer will be the King himself.

So regiments will be usually two men, brigades usually four or so, etc. Near Frederick there are the Grenadier-Garde-Battalion 6, and another Grenadier for the III-Bat of Regiment Garde 15. Their comrades are among the marching figs in tricorne, along with Regt 13 Itzenplitz, the Donner-und-Blitzen regiment.

Now that these painted up nicely, I need some opponents for them.

In the pics attached to the Cubs hat is a 2xmagnifier that I picked up at a railroad shop, but I forgot what they are called. I couldn't have done the details without them, really close up. In one pic I tried to have the camera blow up the Frederick image, since otherwise you can't see the details clearly. Still can't, actually, but worth a shot. I like how this thing attaches to a Chicago Cubs hat.

Richard Prior wore one in Brewster's Millions, so maybe it's good luck

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Dispatches From Our Correspondent

John Trumbull's Surrender of Lord Cornwallis from the English wikipedia, with this description:
This painting depicts the forces of British Major General Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis (1738-1805) (who was not himself present at the surrender), surrendering to French and American forces after the Siege of Yorktown (September 28 – October 19, 1781) during the American Revolutionary War. The United States government commissioned Trumbull to paint patriotic paintings, including this piece, for them in 1817, paying for the piece in 1820.
Français : Ce tableau dépeint le général britannique Charles Cornwallis, 1er marquis Cornwallis (1738-1805), se rendant aux forces françaises et américaines après le siège de Yorktown (28 septembre - 10 octobre 1781) durant la guerre d'indépendance américaine. Cette peinture à l'huile sur toile fut executée par l'artiste américain John Trumbull en 1817. Il fut acheté par le gouvernement américain en 1820.

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Our New War Correspondent Is Back In Town

Vacation is over for him and me both. I got away from my regular gig to cover for him, and now the time is up. He is back in town, driving the car that I suggested would be a good one back in '07, and he brought a stack of dispatches nearly two inches thick. Also we'll be working on a plug-in zip drive.

British Surrender at Yorktown

He has been in the area of Virginia where the British Army surrendered in October 1781, at Yorktown.

As the story goes, they tried to surrender to the French General Rochambeau, but the French general refused it on the grounds of etiquette, and then they tried to surrender to General Washington.  But, however, since General Cornwallis had directed his assistant O'Hara to do the surrendering, General Washington had O'Hara hand the sword over to General Lincoln--who had himself been compelled to surrender at Charleston previously, when the Southern Campaign was in its early stages.

Other highlights of the trip, from the point of view of the Civil War Sesquicentennial, will be further explored on the headquartersinthesaddle blog  in due course (see also Blogroll).

They include the Battle of Big Bethel 150th Anniversary, on Friday, June 10, 2011. This battle was a federal disaster and although it was quite a big deal 150 years ago at this point in the late spring of 1861, it would be eclipsed and forgotten six weeks later when the famous Bull Run catastrophe happened, at the First Battle of Manassas.

In the well-known Civil War movies, they like to start the war off with the Bull Run disaster, and it's a good drama, but there were some fights before that, and Big Bethel is one of them. The basic idea of the drama is that in the early stages they were expecting the war to be over in three months or so, and did not realize how serious it was going to be later on.

In 1861, the armies were organizing, and there were clashes in several places that are eclipsed by the bigger events, not only in Virginia but all the border states and the coasts.

Our Correspondent was there for the Anniversary of the Battle of Big Bethel

Also being a Navy man, he paid some attention to the fight of the Monitor and the Merrimack, and was using his hands to describe how they did it when I interrupted to ask, "you mean the C.S.S. Virginia?" and he said "Exactly."

The Confederates had taken possession of the USS Merrimack, in the navy yards in their state of Virginia, when they seceded from the Union, and used its hull for a secret weapon, the ironclad C.S.S. Virginia, hoping to break the US naval blockade by using warships with armor, like the French and then the British navies were doing since the Crimean War.

But unfortunately with so many things to talk about, a 53-foot semi barrelling out of the dock, behind me and a low-flying airliner landing nearby, that's as far as that story got. Next we were talking about how someone at Big Bethel showed him a grave of a cook right near where he was standing.

There are some places in the world where every time you turn around it seems there was some historical event right where you're standing. Rome, Cairo, Athens, and Jerusalem come to mind, among others. Virginia is like that too.

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I Had Some 'Splainin To Do

If it weren't for the Correspondent, I would not even know how to access the Internet.

I would say that he taught me everything I know, about computers, but that would be a slight exaggeration since I already knew about the on-off switch, installing an operating system, defragmenting the disk, watching movies and playing music. All that came from a South Indian Desi, so my music was in his language and Hindi, and I also knew that the Indian films from Bollywood would be easier to watch on the laptop, due to the format.

And from a Russian guy who had sold him the computer, I knew that he had ripped off the leather bag, for his profit.

From that point the Correspondent stepped in and showed me how to do plenty more, opening up the vast world of the Internet to me, also Copy-Paste, e-mail, Word and Excel and that sort of thing, and even wikipedia.

He's already a great instructor, a great American patriot, and now he will be a great Photojournalist. Now if you'll excuse me, I will tell him the name of the site.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

War Correspondent

Cameras Cost Too Much
I went through the store and looked at the cameras yesterday. They all look expensive, especially the good ones. And really especially the really good ones. Just any old cell phone won't cut it for 2mm especially; that cries out for a macro lens.

What About Using Somebody Else's Then
But I also started to call in IOUs, especially from my new Correspondent in the field, who was heading down the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the time, and heading east. He'll be going south after that to Virginia, and specifically to the Peninsula area around Jamestown and Yorktown, Williamsburg and the like, where the Virginia colony had its start from 1607 onwards. Meanwhile I am stuck at the Salt Mines, and even worse than usual.

This gentleman tried to steal my days off in 2007, and now here he is again robbing me of my rest because I have to cover for him while he is on vacation. But his shift is the opposite hours of the day from mine, so it requires loss of sleep for two days at each end. That doubles the misery above having the wrong days too, which costs me at least two days off, and maybe more I haven't realized yet for next week.

This is because he decided to start his vacation on Thursday, unlike normal people, and furthermore he will continue to be gone while he goes to the Sexual Harassment class even when he gets back. Real men take the 6-hour class between shifts, and don't take a special day off for it. So when he does finally come back, that bumps me into further suffering to readjust and make up the hours.

About a year and a half ago I kicked his -- well I beat him up, during the Riot Baton and Chemical Weapons class, when the teacher was focusing on other things, and there is still a big streak from his shoe on the door there, but that was not enough compensation.  It was part of the training.

So in Short

He owes me big for all these infractions.

But instead I am going to advance his career and try my best to make him famous. As a publisher I am in a unique position to make him not just an ordinary photographer, but a Photojournalist.

So I have negotiated a verbal agreement to give me written permission to use his images, free of copyright entanglements for me,  on the blogs respectively, depending on whether the pics are closer to the 18th Century or 19th Century.

He already has thousands of good images, and every six months or so he goes and gets more like this, now that he has grandchildren there. It's always me who replaces him, because really it should have been my job in the first place back in 2009 when he grabbed it out from under me while I was sleeping. That's all the more reason. I didn't even mention that car he sold me and all the repairs.