Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Tricorn HAT Is Thrown Into The Ring

Excellent news from the boys from HAT Industrie - they're going to start a Seven Years Wars Range of figures soon! No word yet as to what will be released first, but if they follow what they did for their Napoleonic line, we shall soon have a wide assortment to choose from.

"Big deal.", says the wargamer of mature years with tons of lead and pewter. "Well....Yes!" says I. At $8.00 on average per box of 48 infantry or 12 cavalry, we can afford to furnish any nephews (and nieces) , cousins, brothers, friends, or total strangers who show an interest with some forces to oppose our own, in addition to swelling the ranks of our armies. Hopefully they will take the bait and add to them as the years roll on. If they REALLY take the bait, then they can discover the joys of RSM's, Front Rank, Old Glory, etc.

I must admit that some of HAT's first offerings were pretty ropy, but they've come a long way since then. Their 1805 Russian Infantry, 1806 Saxon Infantry, and their 1806 Prussian Hussars are excellent figures. Particularly when they have a decent paint job and fielded in large (ish) formations. All in all it is an outstanding time to be a wargamer!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Campfire Of The Vanities

It had been a long ride back from "The Crooked Kobold" and with every step the horses took, the money in the men's sabertaches jingled with an accusatory tone in Von Mack's imagination, "Gone, gone, gone. She's gone, gone, gone." He was relieved to call a halt that evening and set up camp for the night.

He left the details of the camp set up to Lieutenant Ziegler and the Sergeants, and instructed them that he wanted to be left alone as much as possible tonight. Soon the camp was filled with the muffled sounds and smells of horses being picketed and groomed, firewood being gathered, sentries being set, rations being cooked, and the hum of quiet conversations among the men. Von Mack knew that they were content; and why not? No casualties to man or beast. Ten Thalers for every man jack of them. That was a lot of money to these troopers, and yet ....Von Mack had hoped for so much more.

He took the time to draw the old charges, clean, oil, and reload his weapons before the sun set. It was an old habit that had served him well. For in Von Mack's business, anyone who did not take care of his tools did not live long. He found the routine strangely comforting, as his hands seemed to require no conscious direction. He then set tooth to the first hot food that had passed his throat in days. After he had finished eating, he pulled his pipe and tobacco pouch out and lit his pipe with a burning twig from the fire. Due to the covert nature of this mission, Von Mack had forbidden any fires. It was like welcoming back an old friend.

As he puffed away, he settled back against his saddle. He stared into the bed of coals, as the fire burned down. He had always enjoyed watching the blue flames dance and cavort among the ashes as night settled in. "No plan survives contact with the enemy.", had been one of the platitudes nagging at him all day. For a bit of fluff that was supposed to be tottering around all on her own, Her Grace sure had a lot of people around her that were familiar with firearms and cutlery....and not afraid to use them. Von Mack, always a suspicious cuss by nature, suspected more than just a little duplicity from his informant. He looked forward to having a frank exchange with his source as to the defination of the word, "unescorted".

With the benefit of hindsight, his decision not to charge into the village had been the correct one. Let the other unexpected contenders bleed each other, and hope that fortune will reward the patient hunter. That Sachen-Window Captain was a worthy opponent, and to come so close to the prize and watch her slip over the border was a bitter pill to swallow. Worse was the fact that the Stagonian Border Guards had gotten a good look at his face. That would make further operations along the Stagonian border more of a challenge, because Von Mack had always made it a rule that his face was the last thing his opponents saw in this world, if then. Garrottes and daggers to the kidney were much easier from behind. Much to his surprise his pipe had gone out, and he reloaded it with his favorite Virginia Leaf.

Von Mack had been very surprised to discover Milady De Winter among the competion for the Duchess. Now there was an operation that he could only dream about. A good information network, generally reliable Horse and Foot at her disposal, and the talents of "Her Nibs" herself. He wondered if the Lady would be having a few words with her own sources. This was not the first time Von Mack had crossed swords with her, but he was sure that this was the first time she was aware of his active participation. There were greater forces pulling the strings around here, and Von Mack resented being used for someone else's agenda.

After his third pipe, Von Mack slowly drew out from his cloak, a packet of carefully phrased letters. Each of them had different addresses and were variations of the same theme, "Her Grace is in my power. How much are you willing to pay for her return/continued captivity/disappearance?" One by one he committed them to the flames and watched them curl and burn among the dancing blue flames. By the flickering light, he scrawled a new letter.

"Your Grace,

I regret to inform you that despite my best efforts, she has crossed over the Stagonian border with an unexpected heavy escort, and is no doubt well on her way to King Ludwig. If you desire another attempt, deposit 250 Thalers with Messrs. Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe......"

Thursday, March 19, 2009

While I'm Waiting, and Waiting, and Waiting....

Tomorrow my oldest son William turns 28! A part of me still sees him with the eyes of a father. "What do you mean you've graduated from college?! You're what? Six years old, at the most!", but he is well and truly launched, and on his way, and I'm a happy man. He's coming home from Boston tomorrow and I'll be picking him up at the airport in Indy. Then we'll spend the rest of the weekend celebrating.

Well....that's one of the reasons why the SYW gathering at South Bend (so close and yet so far) will have to be put off for another year. Dang it! The other reason is that pesky job that pays the bills and all those other annoying necessities like food, etc. (A pox upon you Reality!)

So while I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting to find out how "The Affair Of The Runaway Duchess" plays out, I thought I'd pass at least some of the seeming eternity by blogging about what I've been doing in this neck of the woods - wargaming wise.

Books and Such: I've been devouring my copy of "The Wargame Companion". Everytime I go through it, something else jumps out at me. This is an excellent read and it deserves a place by his Dad's book "The Wargame". Brigadier Grant is a prolific writer, and I hope to be a proud owner of his "Raid On St. Michel" before the month is out; then the Battlegames compendium of Table Top Teasers goes right to the top of the list. If I ever win a lottery, the guys at On Military Matters would have a considerable part of the winnings, because there is all the stuff from Featherstone, Asquith, Weisencraft, and others that call to me like a Rhinemaiden.

I've also been enjoying the Ancient Greek rules "Hoplomachia", from The Perfect Captain. When combined with the excellent Zvezda figures for that time period, it's a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. The Perfect Captain also has a great campaign system called "Battlefinder" that is generic enough to be used in a number of ways. Their English Civil War campaign, "Tinker Fox", is a hoot and half to run. Check them out at You won't regret it.

Miniature Painting: Some time ago I sent off for a packet of 6 SYW Prussian Generals from the boys at DPC, and I've painted up four of them so far this week. Thats what? Eight Olley Points? You get four officers with their right hand on their hip - solidly plodding along, and two officers leaning back in the saddle, looking off to their right, waving their hat! (Either to encourage the troops or saying adieu.) There were three horses in a standing pose, and three more standing with one foreleg pawing the ground. I tried out a number uniform coat colors on them and I am pleased with the results. The details were easy to pick out, and with eyes like mine anymore that's a good trick!

Back in February, the boys from Squadron Mail Order out of Texas had a sale on the Swedish Dragoons from Zvezda's Great Northern War series, and I latched onto three boxes of them! ( Ha, ha, ha! The World Is My Oyster!) These are some truly great figures, and if you're looking to recruit some tricorn cavalry; look no further, these are your lads. Plastic Soldier Review gives a detailed description of these troopers. They mix in well with my Scruby 25's and Airfix, but they look a little slender when placed right next to the RSM's. I'm hoping that when seen from a three to four foot distance, they should do the trick when on the table and in formation. So the Hayburningnag Dragoons have taken their place in the painting line. Can the Roadapplegangers be far behind?! Their Swedish Artillery set from the same range is due out sometime soon. (Yeah Baby! If it's anything close to their Napoleonics, it will be worth every thaler.) By the by, Zvezda has announced that a Prussian SYW Grenadier set will be released sometime this year. If they run true to form, there will be other SYW sets in the pipeline as well. Yah Hoo!

The Renovation Of The Mancave (Basement): Well this project is taking me far too long. I never in my wildest dreams thought that it would take this long. We've had some electric wiring issues in the living room, so all the interior side walls have been taken off so the rewiring can be done. Since all the interior window frames were exposed, SWMBO decided that it would be a good time for replacement windows. Heartfelt Sigh! Goodbye Tax Refund! We hardly knew ye.

Once the finances recover, I hope to rent a ten yard dumpster, and then I can get serious about gutting the rest of the basement and having the War Game Room of my dreams. A place where Victory will always be mine. Where bad Random Events always happen to my opponent and never to me. Where my dice always roll the required number, and my brilliant strategies and tactics never fail. "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies and drive them before you like dust upon the wind, and to hear the lamentation of their women!" Woof! Well....It's getting late and I guess I'll call it a night. Perchance I'll dream of Von Mack's sucess at the Crooked Kobold and the Duchess' journey to Durance Vile! Cue the Creepy Organ Music as the picture fades to black.