Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Report of Colonel Godfrey to Cavenderia

Your Grace,

Pray forgive my tardiness in delivering my first report of this Principality, but my time since departing from Cavenderia has been a chaotic whirl that is only now showing some signs of settling. The trip here was interrupted by brigands near the borders of the Principality, but we experienced a fortuitous assistance in the form of a squad of Hesse-Engelberg's Fuchshöhle Hussars who had apparently crossed the border to locate us. They provided us with safe escort as far as the slightly famous SiebenZiegen Inn, located near the bank of the river here known as the Schlafwasser.

Apparently, almost everyone who passes through the eastern half of the Principality finds their way to the Inn, yet it retains a charmingly local nature and is well attended by the farmers and huntsmen of the region around it. Perhaps the most intriguing feature...it would be impolite to say entertaining...is Alte Ludwig, a man of indeterminate age, considerable weight, and gregarious disposition. Indeed, I soon learned that Alte Ludwig has an opinion on every matter, from philosophy to politics to the proper conduct of warfare. It is my considered opinion that the variety of travelers who find their way to the inn accounts for his breadth of subject matter, as I can find no one who can recall having seen him anywhere save traveling to or from the inn and his house. His wife, I am told, has no objection to this state of affairs and is regarded as a woman of good disposition. I gather the general opinion of the populace is that she is more than content to allow him to bend the ears of strangers all day rather than her own. While at the Inn, I heard several tales of other traveler waylaid by bandits when traveling through the northern end of Ober-Schweinsberg. The mountains and woods near the border provide ample hiding places for such men. Interestingly, the tales involved rescue by not only Hesse-Engelburg troops but also troops from both Prince Arnold and Prince Asgar. Indeed, one merchant was jointly aided by a patrol from each, who worked together to defeat an unusually large group of brigands before going their separate ways each with a portion of the brigands to show to their commanders.

The following day, we crossed the river and passed northwards, through the town of Karlsdorf, ancestral home of the princely line, and onwards into the capital itself. I had the honor to audience with the Fürst and Fürstin and present my credentials after being given an opportunity to refresh myself from the journey. I found them both to be gracious hosts, and afterwards was treated to a fine dinner and ball in my honor. Indeed, the courtiers of the Principality seemed most eager to fete me and learn such news of our own homeland and the world at large as I might be able to tell them, though I found several whose knowledge suggests that the outside world does not escape the attention of the Principality.

After the feasting was brought to an end, I took my leave of Their Graces and was given an escort of Hussars of the Garde du Corps Prinzessin Gertrude, led by no lesser personage than the Garde du Corps commander Oberstleutnant Milheiser. I found the gentleman to be excellent company, and we discoursed at length on horses for much of the journey. The Engelburgers breed an excellent light horse, whose speed and endurance perhaps accounts for the seeming ever-present nature of their Hussars. If it is Your Grace's wish, I shall purchase a couple of specimens to send to you that our army may evaluate them against our own current mounts. We proceeded northeast from the capital to the village of Hinterwasser, where I was shown to a modest house that is to serve as my dwelling and our embassy here. I found the dwelling in good repair and adequate to support a small staff should such become needed. It is my understanding that it is the intention of the Principality to house all the ambassadors each in a house of their own in this village.

The courier will need this missive soon if he is to make good speed before darkness makes the path untravelable, so I shall close here.

Your Humble Servant,

Colonel Hermann Godfrey

Revell Reinforcements

Thanks to some good online gaming friends, I acquired some reinforcements for my Revell SYW collection at an exceedingly reasonable price. Last week over the course of a couple of days I clipped and sorted most of them, pairing them up with my existing battalions to fill in gaps. Besides filling in gaps, I've actually put together another independent company, which will hopefully become the core of a new battalion down the line, and some cavalry units.

Figures received were 1 box each of Prussian Infantry, Austrian Infantry, Prussian Hussars, Austrian Dragoons, and Austrian Artillery. I've not yet touched the artillery as I need to wait till I have time for painting and assembling it, I think, rather than having loose parts rattling around. But all the rest have been sorted.

After processing, I currently have the following Revell units for my armies:

1 Grenadier Battalion - 42 figures
1 Grenadier Company - 9 figures
1 Musketeer Battalion - 51 figures
2 Pioneer Companies - 6 figureseach
1 Dragoon Squadron - 12 figures
1 Dragoon detachment - 3 figures, usable for pickets or HQ guards

1 Grenadier Battalion - 42 figures
2 Musketeer Battalions - 51 figures
2 Musketeer Battalions - 42 figures? (incomplete)
1 independent Musketeer Company - 12 figures
1 independent Grenadier Company - 12 figures
1 Hussar Squadron - 12 figures
1 Hussar detachment - 5 figures, usable for pickets or HQ guards

Figures I still need/want for the infantry:
2 Austrian officers
1 Austrian drummer
3 Prussian officers
3 Prussian drummers
32 Prussian musketeer stand and fire
10 Prussian Charging Grenadier

I can, of course, still use some other infantry figures and definitely some more cavalry. But the above are the ideal to complete what infantry units I've already sorted out.

My Kingdom for a Horse...

I've mentioned previously that I had six RSM95 mounted figures in need of horses, a mixture of French Generals and English Aides. Well, a few days ago I had a sudden epiphany, while trying to decide whether to get rid of a large number of 28mm Napoleonic figures that I acquired from a fellow gamer clearing out his collection. Included in the set were a number of Hinchliffe Napoleonic Austrian Hussars with an inadequate number of horses. So I had the idea to try mounting my horseless RSMs on some of the Hinchliffe horses.

They're not perfect, as there's as much as an eighth of an inch or so gap between saddle and horse back one some of them. But I think this is a gap that I can live with to save the $6.60 it would take to buy the RSM horses when my budget for buying anything non-essential for living stands at about $20 right now. ;) Maybe later, when I've filled out my units to satisfaction, I may come back and buy new mounts for them IF the Hinchliffe don't look right once painted up.

Also, if anyone desperately needs to buy Hinchliffe Napoleonic Austrian figures, let me know. I've got a number of Landwehr plus some Uhlans and the aforementioned Hussars in need of mounts. There's also a set of Cuirassiers I'm debating whether to keep or not.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Sunday's Painting and Cavenderian Ambassador

As promised, we have a series of photos from Sunday's output, as well as pictures of the Blue Moon civilians and the Ambassador figure sent to represent Cavenderia. Captions and photos below, and click on the pictures for a closer view. All paints are acrylics.

First up, we have the six-figure pioneer unit in its present state.The details, such as cross-belts and facings, are yet to be done, but I'm pleased with how they've turned out so far. Colors used are Liquitex Black Colored Gesso for the basecoat, Vallejo Model Color 70815 Basic Skintone for the face and hands, Delta Ceramcoat 02054 Golden Brown for the pants and axe handles, Vallejo Model Color 70960 Violet for the coat, and folkArt 420 Linen for the apron.

Next up, notice the beautifully painted Cavenderian ambassador to the right of the photo. This is a gorgeous figure, and finally pushed me over the edge to hunt down some civilians of my own. To the left (from the viewer's perspective) is my chosen figure for Furst Guntram Blauerwolf, wearing the same basecoat, Violet, and Linen (on pants and neck ruffle) as the figures above. I know it's bad form to not paint the skin first, but I needed to see how the colors looked on him. I still can't decide what color to paint his cuffs and the feathers on his hat. Continuing to the left is my chosen figure for the Furstin. Furst and Furstin and the unpainted civilians on the back row are all Blue Moon castings from the Duel box set. Continuing to the left again, we see an RSM95 Prussian Musketeer testing out the black basecoat with the Violet coat. I used, I think, Delta Ceramcoat 02126 Medium Flesh on him. Not necessarily fond of the medium shade. I may have to paint over it with a lighter one. I love the violet though.

And lastly, you can see a series of basecoated figures, from left to right... a night watchman from the Blue Moon set, a Revell 1/72 WW2 British Infantry officer, a Minden Miniatures SYW Prussian musketeer, an RSM95 SYW Prussian Grenadier, a Spencer Smith metal SYW officer, a Spencer Smith metal SYW grenadier, and a vintage Spencer Smith plastic SYW grenadier (the latter with linen pants painted experimentally). Oh, and on the far left, one of the old white gesso RSMs with a little excess purple painted onto one sleeve to test how it colors over white. I'm strongly considering stripping all my old white gesso-coated RSMs and redoing them in the black, not so much for coloration as because I made the white gesso too gloopy and covered detail on several.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Photos coming...

I've had a sudden burst of painting and basecoating today. No photos yet, as I may get more done before the day is out. But photos are planned.

At present, among other things, my 6-man pioneer company has acquired leather breaches and purple coat. A sample RSM95 Prussian Musketeer has been given a purple coat to test its appearance, as well, for my idea of going with purple coats instead of gray. I wiped a little excess purple on one of the older white basecoated RSM95s as well, just on a sleeve to see what I thought of it. I'm seriously considering stripping the white-coated ones and redoing the basecoat in black. This is partly because I made the white too thick, and it obscures lines on some of the RSM95s in unpleasant ways for finding what to paint which color.

Also acquiring a purple coat is my Blue Moon figure that I've chosen to represent Furst Gunter Blauerwolf. And I also intend to include a picture of the Cavenderian diplomat whose arrival I mentioned earlier.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Changes and Updates...

....some of which I blame on Beerstein.

The Reich Duchy of Beerstein just put out a new selection of gorgeous uniforms and flags, and these have only served to increase my pondering regarding changing both my uniforms and my flags.

Originally, the gray color was chosen for two reasons. One was to be different than the usual historical red, blues, and whites. The other was because I had a limited set of Vallejo paints from which to work. But since then, some of the Vallejo paints appear to have broken down (I suspect due to freezing and then thawing during delivery in a cold snap) and I've added a large number of craft paints which have been mentioned on this blog previously.

So, having seen the snazzy new uniforms, it's once again prompted me to consider changing colors while I still have only a few painted gray. I'm strongly considering a nice purple/violet for the uniform coat. I might keep the gray trousers even. Not sure about that. I might do a some gray, some buff sort of a thing. I've not been quite satisfied with my flags for a while now, so I'm seriously thinking I might redo them as well. I'd love to tinker around and come up with a coat of arms that I liked better than just the simple blue wolf, but maintaining the wolf as a strong element.

Yesterday's mail also brought the civilian figures I alluded to in the previous post, and it turned out they are indeed as I suspected the Blue Moon "Duelists" box. There is one figure with a couple of what appear to be casting flaws: a pinhole in his eye only visible from a certain direction, and a missing barrel on his pistol. The end of the missing barrel is smooth, which is why I conclude it may be a casting error rather than something broken off? Other than that slight issue, these are absolutely gorgeous figures. I've picked out my Furst and Furstin, and possibles for their son and daughter. Since I have only two females, I haven't decided if I want to use the second as daughter Gertrude or set her aside for some other family. The idea of using her as Gertrude and painting her up in a pink dress to match her regiment is extremely tempting.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

So now it's February

Time just flies lately, it seems. I woke up yesterday morning to two inches of snow on the ground and a temperature of 18 degrees. This morning, the snow had melted off yesterday except a few isolated patches, and the temperature was down to 14 degrees. Must be that global warming, you know.

Speaking of which, on a non-gaming related note, I recently read that NASA's center responsible for reporting on climate trends, which is one of a handful on which the UN and others base climate decisions, had to admit to both reusing old data and falsifying records. More than once. Apparently, the record high temperatures they reported didn't actually exist; it was actually a cold snap. The arctic ice they reported melting is actually 30% larger this year than the same time last year. And the 1990s that they said were the hottest decade actually weren't. The hottest was the 1930s. It is a serious problem when world governments are making policy decisions that affect the freedom and economies of all of us based on falsified data from people trying to guide those decisions to suit their own agenda.

OK, rant over, back to wargaming. Let's talk books.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Wargames Tactics was on its way, and it did indeed arrive. I've not read every page, but it's an excellent little book by the great Charles Grant. He writes with an engaging style that adds interest to the information within the book. He starts out with a general overview, and then begins a series of sections each describing tactics of one particular period and followed by an account of a game set up to illustrate those tactics. The action reports not only help illustrate the information in the text, but also are entertaining in their own right.

Not previously mentioned is an acquisition in trade from a good friend who was reoganizing his own library, Stuart Asquith's "Military Modeling Guide to Solo Wargaming". Again, I've not read every page, but I've skimmed through most of them. It's a remarkably small book for the amount of information you feel like you've gained from it. There's a good bit of information on how and why we go about solo gaming, what things you need to think about when doing it, how you pick what you want to do, etc. Then there are a series of solo scenarios, with suggested scenario-specific rules, information on what problems they pose for the gamer, and various options as to how much or little of the game you want to control. Most have both an Ancients and a Horse and Musket troop roster of suggested forces. The book also includes one Programmed scenario from Charles S. Grant. This was an unexpected bonus, and it makes me all the more eager for book number three to arrive, which is hopefully wandering its way through the post from the UK.

Book number three, also not previously mentioned, will be Programmed Wargames Scenarios by Charles S. Grant. I managed to find a copy of this for about half the price it normally runs, and it timed conveniently to a small influx of funds, so I ordered it. More on that one once it gets here, but I'm expecting a very good review based on the one scenario in Mr. Asquith's book.

The Ambassador figure from Cavenderia has also arrived since my last post. I hope to take a photo of him soon and provide a little fiction to go with it. He's a lovely little figure, and survived the mail with only minimal paint chipping on a couple of raised spots.

I imagine all of you have already seen Stokes' blog with the ending of our game, but if not, you need to go see it! He's promised some further end of game photos as well, and is already setting up for a new game with Jeff Hudelson of the Saxe-Bearstein blog. It was an excellent time, and I highly recommend something similar to anyone who has the opportunity. I know of at least three games in progress inspired by it.

Stokes has alluded on his blog to the fact that we have a joint project underway. I shall do nought but confirm that we do indeed, and I'm looking forward to it. It may be a while before we get it all put together. Wish us well and godspeed!

Hopefully, the near future postal service shall also deliver some additional figures acquired at discounts I couldn't quite resist from fellow gamers culling their own collections. The sad part is that in at least one of those cases, it's economic hardships that are prompting the cutting. One of my online groups has a fellow having to sell off a 60-year collection due to having lost his job, and needing the funds to keep his family going. He's not the only one in similar straits. I don't have a lot of spending cash except in little spurts, but I'm blessed to have a business with my father that's been growing the past two years instead of shrinking, and is paying all the necessary bills including some repairs and replacements needed for equipment that's been soldiering on far longer than it really ought to in order to get to this point.

Tip of the day: If at all possible, get out of debt. Even if you can only pay a few dollars off the principal each payment, try to be sure you're doing more than just covering the interest on any debts you owe. We've become used to buying what we want now on credit and paying it back later. This is dangerous at any time, but *very* dangerous in tough economic times when your job could vanish overnight. We use credit cards for convenience, but we have a rule in our house. Nothing goes on the credit card unless the money for it is in the bank. When it does go on the credit card, the price of it is deducted from our checkbooks *then*, so that it doesn't get spent on anything else, and can be paid in full when the bill comes. Sit down and calculate up how much you pay in interest in a single year on balances you carry and debts you owe, and figure up how many miniatures that is you could be buying if you weren't paying interest; that's a good motivator. ;) Cutting out interest is a remarkable way of adding fresh cash into your economic situation without actually gaining more income. Check out www.crown.org for a great resource for good financial practices. Our family have learned a great deal from them over the past several years.

Public service announcement over. :>