Sunday, 10 May 2009

'The Emperor thought the moment propitious to settle accounts with the arrogant and overbearing Petrus, and despatched an Army under the Archduke Guitar to seize and sack the Electoral captital'.

It is in small pieces of narrative such as this that I find a great deal of the charm in Charge! that has kept me interested in wargaming the past forty years. The image of a crumbling empire with its well-connected generals of doubtful talent leading their long-suffering troops to war somehow has great appeal. It is difficult to know exactly why - perhaps it resonates with real life experience and can be fun when the only lives at risk are little metal ones.

Oddly enough, I have never in the past attempted to build an Imperial Army. Perhaps I have been deterred by the reputation of an Army remembered for its routs rather than for its victories. So it is the blue-coated opponents of the Emperor to whom I have been drawn in the past. It is time to make amends for this shameful adherence to what, from my newly adopted viewpoint, can be considered as a rebel cause.

Figure manufacturers seem to view the ReichsArmee with the same amount of enthusiasm as the average wargamer. We can't really blame them for this: a manufacturer who devoted much of their time to such an army would starve due to lack of demand for their figures. So it is especially important to check that all the troop types I want are available.

The infantry of the line will use the Stadden Prussian musketeer figure: so long as I choose regiments whose uniform had a 'Prussian cut' this should not be too inaccurate. Casting my own figures would be very economical, but would be too time consuming given the number required. Light infantry will be provided by an Austrian contingent in the form of home-sculpted and cast Croats. No Imperial general left home without some of these gentlemen.

Uhlan - From Remarks on Cavalry, by Warnery

For heavy cavalry it was an easy decision to raise two regiments of cuirassiers, again using my own castings. Light cavalry are a more vexing problem. The armies in Charge! had a regiment of lancers on each side. This does not appeal to me as lancers are an unusual troop type in the Seven Years war, receiving little more notice in the histories than a few unkind remarks about Frederick's Bosniaks. Also, the dress of these lancers tends to be far too exotic for my taste. Hussars and Chevaulegers are more representative of the army and the period, but I have decided to evade the issue entirely by not raising any light cavalry regiments at all. My excuse for the omission is that, while light cavalry are unmatched for utility on campaign, they appear on the battlefield as inferior to their heavier brethren in what is only their secondary role. As I only intend to fight battles and not campaigns I feel it is best to field additional heavy cavalry in their place.

The gunners will almost certainly be Stadden AWI British manning an Elite Miniatures 6pdr as suggested by Der Alte Fritz. This option combines elegant figures with an elegant gun.

One disappointment in basing an army on the Reichsarmee is the lack of references for it. Project SYW does have some uniform information, and the detail it gives on its recruitment are fascinating. The thought of the single cavalryman owed by the Abbess of Gutenzell turning up for duty conjures up quite a picture.