Sunday, 29 August 2010

Officers And Tables

The Gendarmerie officer is complete and sits proudly at the head of his squadron as the accompanying photo shows. I liked the photo so much I didn't reduce it in size as I usually do. Painting single figures like this is terrible for productivity, but scores highly for pure enjoyment. So the remaining officers for this regiment will be allowed to join at their leisure: the CO has been absent on his country estate for years now and the regiment has not missed him.

I suspect the availability of a decent sized wargames table is a problem that vexes many a wargamer. In my case I have had a solution mapped out for this for some time: but it has been placed 'on hold' as it has depended on the necessary materials appearing in some nearby skip.

The ideal wargames table needs to be reasonably light (stories of ceilings bowing under the weight of a sandtable come to mind here) while possessing dimensions normally associated with the banquet tables of reigning monarchs. Even if such an article was entirely homemade, the materials, if shop bought, would represent a considerable sum. However, it occurs to me that there is an unappreciated item of domestic architecture that is admirably suited to the purpose.

This is the cheap wooden domestic door. Round my neck of the woods these are often discarded in skips due to the belief of local womenfolk that a fancier article is necessary to their peace of mind. It is relatively robust and yet light, being constructed of thin wood stretched over a wooden frame, and is generally 28" wide and 80" in length. As a neighbour has just thrown three of these out, I at last have the materials to make a 7' x 6'8" table: not quite up to the size of Charles Grant's table as shown in 'The Wargame', but as large as I can fit in my house.

Making the thing will have to wait until Winter: the garden is taking up most of my energy for now.

Friday, 6 August 2010

A Company, An Old Acquaintance, and a New Artillery Table

Progress has been slow: this is the time of year when warfare is mostly being carried out in the garden, against invading hordes of slugs, aphids and caterpillars. However, the first company of the Imperial Army's Furstenberg regiment is, at last, complete. The second company is already started and I ought to be knocking companies out at a fair old rate. But there is a monotony here that prevents me doing this at a faster pace. I find myself distracted by other, more fiddly but fun projects.

Lentulus Wonders Where the Rest Are.

In my pile of unpainted figures (more a metal molehill than a mountain) I have a couple of Suren cuirassier officers waiting their turn to be introduced to their squadrons. This figure has always been a problem for me: it's nicely proportioned, but the right arm is waving about in mid air, in a manner that leaves me baffled as to what to do with it. I am led to believe that it is intended to hold its sword aloft, in which case its not going to be holding a sword at all after a few wargames.

The one officer painted up until now had his hand dropped to the pistol holders, resting there in a rather unmilitary fashion that might have prompted Old Fritz to make a few unkind remarks. I decided this time I'd try for a better pose, drawing the sword from its scabbard. This should place the sword in a safe position where other parts of the figure protect it from damage.

Suren Cuirassier Officers on Stadden Horses.

There is one small detail that has me concerned. As usual I have replaced the saddlecloth with one made of paper: this makes it easier to fit the Suren figure to a Stadden horse as well as having a better scaled thickness. But the cuirassier troopers all use a saddlecloth that has a rounded shape whereas some - but perhaps not all - officers seem to use squared off ones. At least, this is how I interpret the illustrations in Dorn and Engelmann, but as I can't read the accompanying German text I haven't a clue what the proper distinctions are here. I think I shall mount the Colonel on a squared saddlecloth and the squadron commanders on rounded ones, administering the necessary quantity of lame excuses - as is every wargamer's prerogative - should I be in error.

Prussian Infantry Under Fire From The Old Artillery Table

This refers to the artillery rules here.

My new artillery table is another attempt to recast the powerful artillery of the Charge! rules into something a little more game-friendly. Using a two dice roll to hit gives a Gaussian probability distribution, so the decrease in accuracy at extreme range becomes much more realistically pronounced, while at closer ranges where artillery can be expected to become destructive, there is little change from the original rules. I added an 'mischance' table consulted when a double one is thrown: this adds a little colour but should rarely need consulting as it has only a 1 in 36 chance of occurring. There is a 1 in 6 chance on this table (1 in 216 when the odds are combined with the 'to hit' roll) of killing one of your own gunners. I based this on an incident from Captain Mercer's Waterloo diary:

"He had just finished ramming down the shot, and was stepping back outside the wheel, when his foot stuck in the miry soil, pulling him forward at the moment when the gun was fired. As a man naturally does when falling, he threw out both his arms before him, and they were blown off at the elbows."