I have dissembled. I have held back dark secrets. But it is time, at last, to make admission of the hideous facts that lie behind this civilised facade.
In Castle Rheinfels the elderly Landgrave Wilhelm, sits precariously on his throne gazing out over the Rhine. When the fit takes him he sinks into dreams of when he held the stirrup of the great Marlborough, so that General would mount and lead his army on, south and east, to the glorious field of Blenheim. He looks into the deep waters and imagines himself still the immovable western bulwark of the Empire, still blocking passage to the forces of Louis, forgetting that the old alliances are undone and the Hapsburg Eagle and the Lilies Of France now march together.
He should look, instead, to the north-east where the jackals of the House of Marburg watch the his decline into senility with undisguised satisfaction. They wait impatiently for that sublime moment when they will reunite the two houses of Hesse at the point of the bayonet. The foolish Prince of Marburg is held in thrall by the sinister Graf von Arlitz, late of the Prussian Service. The Graf, connoiseur of the birch twig, has disgusted even Frederick with displays of sadism that went far beyond the excesses of even that most ferocious of monarchs. Now he terrorises the farmboys of Northern Hesse, making them into fodder for the ambitions of their Prince.
Ahem, well. Two of these gentlemen, and in one case at least I use the term loosely, are my avatars. On my bad days I am the Landgrave. On my very bad days I am the Graf von Arlitz. On my good days, I am neither and hope to recover some degree of sanity, after sinking into the heady waters in which my two alter egos swim.
Having established the people at the centre of affairs, I have now to decide what to do with them. It seems to me that my two sources provide a convenient progression with scenarios that engage increasing numbers of troops.. Considered in order of complexity we have:
- Blasthof Heath (Charge). Less than a battalion of infantry and half a regiment of cavalry on each side.
- Action! (The Wargame). Two line and one light infantry battalion and a full regiment of cavalry per side.
- Sittangbad (Charge). Two to four line, one light and one pioneer battalion, and two to three cavalry regiments per side.
- Mollwitz(The Wargame). Seven to ten line infantry battalions, and three to six cavalry regiments per side.
These are, for me, a series of landmark battles that provide me with milestones to aim at. I cannot see me ever getting as far as Mollwitz, but Sittangbad remains a plausible target even if it's one that, with my rate of painting, is far in the distance. The first landmark, Blasthof is within vision: if all goes well I shall be visiting that sometime before the middle of the year.