Friday 17 April 2009

The Spirit of '76

Martin T visited this week and arrived carrying a box full of his beautiful medieval figures. They are all painted for the princelings and nobles of The Holy Roman Empire. His research into heraldry is astonishing. Even more enjoyable the figures are all Lamming, Minifig and a few Hinchliffe. Straight away we set up and were into one of those wonderful 'story games' that used to be played on club nights using the Lamming rules or David Cliff's Retinue set.

The lovely Princess Elizabeth is travelling to meet her prospective bridegroom, Prince Paladin*. They are entering into a political marriage, arranged by her father King Frederick which will strengthen the respective families. Aged 18, she is as beautiful as she is kind and wise. The column consists of her household, dowry wagons, a local guide and escort of archers and knights.

*Apologies to Martin who has elaborate genealogies and correct German titles for all models, but they just went in one ear...

At an elaborately decorated camp the Prince waits to begin the wedding feasts. The Bishop of Krautburgh is on hand to perform the ceremonies.

However wicked Count Otto has other plans. In a village he lurks, ready to spring his evil trap and abduct the princess, steal the dowry and slaughter the escort . (yes, 'tis me)

As the train crosses the bridge the trap is sprung. Men at Arms and Archers with 3 mercenary knights attack the rear of the train, disguising themselves as bandits. Count Otto ostensibly rides to the rescue and in the confusion attacks the head of the column . The escort prepare to sell their lives dearly( apart from the guide who hides in the wood.)

Time to leggit, the princess gamely sets off for the ford,with the rest of her household and wicked Otto in pursuit.

Incredibly, two unarmoured archers hold the bridge for three turns seeing off no less than eight assailants. However they are forced to one side and Otto's, equally wicked, knights ride over the bridge. On the far side of the bridge the foot knight in yellow and red bravely intercepts Otto's horsemen allowing the princess time to gallop for her life.

But to no avail, two good dice throws and the leading horseman grabs her bridle just as she reaches the ford.
"Your highness need fear no more, you are under my personal protection now! Heh, Heh, Heh." twirls mustaches; boo! boo ! Boo!

The incredibly dim, Paladin finally realises something is up and sets off to the bridge at the head of a rescue column. The Bishop well to the fore, he is not about to lose a marriage ceremony fee.

Too late - Otto has anticipated this, and the bridge is held by a defending force, who slow the knights down by throwing a peasant under their hooves. They will never be able to fight their way across in time to catch wily Otto.

So time to go home, a dowry, the princess and a nice bargaining chip at the next sit down of the big cheeses in Nuremberg. Not a bad days work.

"Honey I'm home! "possibly the biggest winner of the day. The Guide who not only survived but also captured the loose cow and calve and takes them back to his hovel.
So much more that there is no space to detail, the heroic intervention of the captain of the escort which nearly foiled the plot, the peasant scythe man who ripped two men at arms to pieces, the archer with two leg wounds and an arm wound who wouldn't give up. All the fun of this style of game and a refreshing change from the big battalions.
The first time we had played with these rules, which Martin had adapted from a free Internet download. It took a while to learn the subtleties and work out tactics eg. using a figure close to the enemy to slow down movement or in order to kill someone you need to pile in mob handed and really beat the bejaysus out of them. but overall I liked them and certainly proved their is no need to spend £20 to get a good rule set.
And yes I did get my translating done. I refused to give Martin food or drink until the full 123 pages were finished.

Monday 6 April 2009

Do you remember when-

A new Uniform book was a source of excitement and joy? Blandford or Funcken or possibly W A Thorburn, page after page revealed new treasures; Zouaves or is it Zooves? never mind, could those trousers be for real? Papal Guards, Fuzileers, Prince Ruperts Regiment. Bavaria, Wurtenburg and Hesse. Sadly that kind of innocence soon goes. Time takes the wide eyed joy of a small boy and turns it into the crabby nit picking of middle age.

We know what a Sassanid is, we are familiar with the cuff styles and turnback lacing of every kind of Napoleonic artilleryman. We treat our Cavaliers severely, no feather bedecked hats and lace trimmings, they can wear knitted night caps and brown jerkins like everyone else and like it.

Are we better for such hard won knowledge. Yes, certainly, but happier?

And then - in the post last week came a parcel of totally unexpected books. In a conversation with a friend I had wondered what kind of Army could use the Holger Eriksson figures I liked so much. It should really be after the War of the Spanish Succession but before the War of the Austrian Succession. Apart from thinking that I should definitely get out more, I then forgot all about it. Until a parcel of obscure German Uniform books arrived about the Saxon Army!!

No less than four beautiful volumes to study with awe, but the Gem is a book published in the GDR in 1984.
'Die Armee Augustus des Starken' Colour plate after colour plate of every unit of the Saxon Army in 1730. Even the Janissary unit - cant wait to paint that one, but every single unit is just a joy. Exactly what I was looking for and perfect for the figures I want to use.

Absolutely astounding kindness, even in a hobby where most people are generous by nature. As a result I have a magical project to cherish over the next twenty years or so. I am twelve again!!

Thursday 2 April 2009

Highways and byways 1 (Revisited)

I got a email from a friend of mine who I shall call Martin T since he is careful about his privacy. In addition to being an eminent expert on the German armies of the 18 and 19c he is a very experienced and well read wargamer.

I can do no better than reproduce what he says below:

"I see there is a museum at Lille with some of the Vauban models (your blog). There is a museum in Paris with a large collection of these model;s ("maquettes"), the "Musee des Plans-Reliefs"- the website is at

In French, but a full listing of the models. They have models of fortresses, maps "in relief", models of siege operations etc. I first came across this through a reference in one of the early wargaming books (I think it was Featherstone), apparently at that time you would go up a side street in Paris, and there was a small sign above a doorway, you went up some stairs and there was this wonderful museum- ever since then I have intended to go there, to my shame after all these years I have yet to do so. The author of the book about the models at Lille, Isabelle Warmoes, works in the museum at Paris and has written at least one other book about the models. Other models can be found at various places in France- for example the model of the Vauban fortress of Belfort is at Belfort itself."

I have said that the best part of this blog are the comments and once more that is true. Also it is a splendid excuse to reproduce three more images of the models themselves. Thank you Martin.