Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Von Kerns Are Coming!

Erwin von Mack was grateful that the trip from Raubenstadt to Frankzonia had been without incident. The Markgrafin of Raubenstadt, Sharon von Meltzer was traveling to Frankzonia to visit the ruling family, the von Fhartz, and help them celebrate the completed renovation of one of their many estates. Of course, the presence of a platoon of the Markgrafin's Own Guard Musketeers, with their glittering bayonets, and a squadron of the Markgrafin's Own Lancers, with their twinkling lance heads, probably had something to do with the uneventfulness of the journey. It would have indeed been a bold band of highwaymen to even consider hindering the carriage and it's escort.

"If I keep showing up here, they're going to name the road after me.", he thought sourly to himself.

He was not surprised to see his counterpart, von Badmann waiting by the entry portal, as he rode up to the gate. Von Badmann raised his right hand and spurred his horse forward.

"What?! No wandering yodelling instructor cover this time?", referring to their first encounter years ago. "You know, old friend, that we'll have to name the road after you, if you keep popping up!", he said after shaking hands.

" least I could yodel, unlike those God awful clocks you were trying to foist off as your own work. Besides, I had no choice in the matter this time.", he grunted, and jerked his thumb over his right shoulder towards the carriage. "The Markgrafin and her brothers have come to call."

"Her brothers?!", Badmann's tone and right eyebrow rose.

"Only two of them.", von Mack dryly replied, enjoying his friend's discomfort.

"THREE von Kerns?!!" His left eyebrow joined the right in a mighty effort to reach the hairline.

"Technically only two. The Margrafin herself, her brother David, the commander of her personal Guard Musketeers, and her other brother Paul, the commander of her Guard Lancers. You see, Paul has given up the family name. So...he'll thank you to call him what he goes by these days: Colonel Somerussian Guyovich."

"And he thinks that that is enough of a fig leaf to hide behind?", Badmann inquired.

"He has great faith in the new name, the cossack scalplock, the moustache, his troopers, that he has spent enough time in the Cossack Stiech for everyone to have forgotten why he left, and if all else fails, that weighted Hungarian saber he favors."

Von Mack laughed as he turned his horse around and started to canter back to the carriage.

"I've seen him hack through a fencepost, in one stroke, at a full gallop with that cleaver!"

"We'll talk later!", Badmann called after him, then slumped back in his saddle.

As von Mack neared the carriage, he heard the clink of tumblers and a flask, as the Markgrafin said, "To old scores."

"And their settling!", David replied.

"In a painful manner!!", Somerussian Guyovich chimed in.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's Quiet In Raubenstadt...Maybe Too Quiet!

WOW! Where does the time get off to? Five weeks since the last posting? Heartfelt sigh.

So what have I been up to wargaming-wise? I've been finishing up some of those excellent Zvezda GNW Swedish Dragoons as my "Hayburningnag Dragoons". Three boxes will give you enough figures for a "Grant - Wargame" sized regiment of 1 Colonel, 2 Officers, 1 Standard, 1Bugler, and 24 other ranks, with some figures left over for Brigade Staff, Couriers, or Escorts. The boys at Squadron Mail Order were having a sale, so I went ahead and got enough for the "Roadapplegang Dragoons" and the "Knackerbound Karabiniers" as well. (As the names might suggest the Markgraaf does not have a lot of confidence in his cavalry.) They are reasonably priced and easy on the ol' Warchest, so even the most cost concious Monarch can recruit with confidence. Don't be put off by the timeframe. They are tricorne wearing Heavy Cavalry. If some eagle-eyed opponent spots a uniform detail in this scale, just say that your Imagi-Nation is very conservative, militarily speaking, and that "The Socket Bayonet is just a passing fad. Real Men Use Plug Bayonets". If he keeps it up, field a unit of pikes in the next game. Good stuff all around.

With their release of the Russian Artillery of Peter the Great and the Prussian Grenadiers of Fred the Great (I wonder why they avoided some of the more accurate nicknames of the past like Aethreld the Unready or John Lackland? I can see the troops really getting fired up to campaign with Wilhelm Augustus the Barely Adequate! Ha, ha, ha!), it looks like I'll be a regular customer of the Michigan Toy Soldier And Figure Company for the forseeable future. Check out their website at for an excellent source for figures, paints, brushes, books, etc.

I've also got an order in with Mr. Mike Tabor's HistoriFig Company for some of those classic 25mm Scruby SYW Le Noble Jagers that I will paint up as my "Ulster Jagers". (As an added benefit, they make great "stand ins" for AWI Butler's Rangers!) Included in the order are some 25mm AWI figures that I'm anxious to get my grubby little cotton pickers on too: Morgan's Riflemen, Hunting Shirt Infantry, Indians, Tarlton's Dragoons, Mounted Infantry, and some command! WOOF! They mix in well with the figures from Zvezda, Airfix, Revell, Italeri, and Hat Industrie, so a wide variety of units can be fielded.

More years ago than I like to recall, I took Bruce Quarrie's advice from his excellent book, "Napoleonic Campaigning In Miniature" to heart, when it comes to painting a couple of armies. Like most great ideas it is so simple that you shake your head and say in a sotto voice to yourself, "Why didn't I think of that?!"

Start with painting a Line Infantry Unit. Once that is COMPLETELY finished and ready for the tabletop, paint up an opposing Line Infantry Unit. Paint up a Cavalry Unit for each side, then a couple of Artillery Batteries. Add a Supply Wagon Train Unit, then paint up a couple more Infantry Units. The jist of the idea is to vary the type and nationality of the units, so that you have two balanced forces (Not necessarily identical!) to set upon the tabletop. I have found that among the main advantages is that you avoid "Painter's Burnout" (NOOOooo! Not another Highlander Unit! The plaid! The plaid!), and if it's an era that you're not sure you want to commit major bucks to, you can still have some cracklin' little actions without having to 'prentise out the firstborn, or take out a third morgage on the ol' family estate. By the time you're ready to field Guard Units, your experience with the lowly Line types, will make your elite troopies martial display something to marvel at.

Last, but not least, I've been kicking around the idea of combining Graf Bogy's (of Hesse-Fedora fame) canvas cloth General Purpose battlefield with the Perfect Captain's Battlefinder tabletop terrain layouts. Seven foot by five foot canvas dropcloths would be ideal to represent their 6 by 4 area. When painted with all the detail of rivers, roads, fords, forests, fields, etc., then draped over the table and the edges clamped to the table's edge, the only things left to be added would be any hills, ridges, and buildings. Each battlefield could be unique and easily rolled up until the next conflict. BWAHAHAHA! The World Is My Oyster!