Monday, 28 January 2008

Artillery (And A Horseman Complete)




My cavalry test piece is complete and he's about as good a figure as I've managed so far. He's painted as a member of KR10, the two sources used for his uniform being Bleckwenn and Dorn&Engelmann. I enjoyed this figure so much that I committed the sin of painting more detail than I'd ever manage on a full regiment: the saddle blanket has 2 and 3 stripes of red and yellow respectively, whereas for mass production 1 and 2 stripes would be all I'd manage.

So, the infantry needed for Blasthof is done, the first two squadrons of cavalry are on order. The final part of the armies to consider is their artillery.

I hate artillery. There's probably not much out there thats hated more (at least when on the receiving end) by the PBI, but I've never been shelled, that's not my excuse, wars are something I see on TV. But I've fought too many wargames where artillery has dominated the battlefield. By the time of the SYW this is not too inaccurate - there are enough descriptions of Frederick's grenadier battalions being blown away by Austrian guns to give it credibility. However, I don't think it gives a good game. Either the side with the most pieces wins a tedious shooting match, or else the side with less artillery is slaughtered when it marches forward into the area swept by the guns

So in my battles I will not allow much artillery to be present, and what there is will be relatively ineffective. If any justification is needed for this then I confess my artillery has been unaffected by the reforms of the mid 18th Century (Valliere, Lichtenstein etc.) that had such a great impact on the size and effectiveness of the of other nations' arsenals.

The action of Blasthof Heath immediately brings the problem of artillery to the fore. The original order of battle had a full battery of two cannons per side, which in my view makes these armies horribly overgunned. It's worth noting that the second battle on my list (Charles Grant's Action!) has only one artillery piece per side despite having more than doubled the numbers of infantry and cavalry present.

My first reaction was to dispense with artillery altogether for Blasthof. However, I've decided to keep one cannon per side. Should both armies prefer to sit down outside of musketry range of each other then the artillery will act as a goad to encourage whoever loses the artillery duel to close. Without this there is the potential for a stalemate to occur. I will however replace the original Charge! artillery effect rules with the following table (NB: ranges would be halved for use in the elementary game)



The choice of which figure range to use for artillery is difficult: manufacturers seem to have the same aversion to artillery as I have, I'd imagine because the volume of figures sold is never going to match the scale of the other arms. Looking at Charge! isn't much help here, it uses Stadden figures that are frankly ahistorical: British Napoleonic horse artillery figures. I love these figures (the brass light dragoon helmet they wear is really elegant), but they represent too great a period shift for my conscience. The Stadden range offers a British SYW officer and a gunner with linstock. There's also a generic artillery piece available under the listings for Napoleonic French, and this looks like the piece used in Charge!.

Willie Figures does offer boxed sets of gunners and cannon, but only for French and British. I think the Willie French will be my choice: the uniforms of all artillery in this period are nearly identical, and the pigtails of Prussian gunners can be added using milliput.

9 comments:

Stokes Schwartz said...

Andy,

Your standard bearer looks impressive! Very good work.

Best Regards,

Stokes

DC said...

You are right about a lack of decent 30mm artillery crew. One problem with using the French crew is that the coat has lapels - whereas Prussian artillery did not. I guess you could shave them off. You could wait til Minden produce artillery - a bit smaller than staddens, but a similar build.

Der Alte Fritz said...

I resigned myself to using Foundry Prussian artillery crew until I could find something better. They have the size to "look right" with the Willies and Staddens. You might explore the Stadden AWI range for artilleriss or simply go with the Willie French and British. Perhaps one day my sculptor will get interested in sculpting again and add the 6 poses to my Potsdam range (but I have little hope that he will pick up his tools anytime soon).

I'm enjoying your blog - it really makes you think about things. And that's a good thing.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Andy,

It's just occured to me. . . You might find that the reasonably priced RSM95 figures produced by the Dayton Painting Consortium in the USA are a close enough fit where 30mm artillery figures are concerned. The late Steve Hezzlewood designed/marketed the SYW Prussians et al as true 1:60 (30mm) figures back in the early 1980s, sold under the Pax Britannica name. They are realistically propotioned, slender, and, dare I say, even elegant figures. American gamer Jim Purky (Der Alte Fritz) uses them next to his Suren and Stadden figures, and they all work well together. Visit his blog at: http://altefritz.blogspot.com. You might want to order and examine a few samples.

Best Regards,

Stokes

Bluebear Jeff said...

I'm glad that someone else agrees with me that Artillery is overly effective in most rule sets.

For your chart, I'd consider making the 2' shot require a 2+ hit (i.e., miss on a '1') instead of making the hit automatic.

Also I'd consider just giving each side a single 'battalion gun'.

I do wish that your photo of the standard-bearer were a bit clearer . . . he looks like a grand fellow.


-- Jeff

Andy Mitchell said...

The poor standard of my photos is a bit of a headache: the camera's an old one so it may well not be up to it. But as I've never used it for such close up work before it might alternatively be down to my technique, or lack of it. So I'll persevere with the old camera for a while, but buy a new one if things don't improve.

abdul666 said...

Your standard-bearer looks really good!
A really impressive -and successful- work.

Sincerely,
Jean-Louis

Jim Wannop said...

Andy, are you using a camera tripod? I took fuzzy photos of miniatures until I started using a small tripod & a delay timer to avoid camera shake.

Andy Mitchell said...

I am holding by hand: so you may well have identified the problem.