February 22, 2022

Von Tripdenfel Musketeer Regiment


The Gran Duchy of Sazir is a mysterious land of dark forests. The majority of the population are serfs, little more than slaves of the lords who rule from brooding castles. Duke Mortis (His High and Terrible Grace, Herzog of Sazir, etc.) demands universal service in the armies of the state and supplements his ranks with foreign mercenaries. 

That's it. While I could certainly write more, I decided to leave things sketchy to start. I'll fill in details as I need them. The games will be focused on the remote region of the Tower Hills so I won't need information on the intrigues that play out in the capitol or the many mistresses of Duke Mortis unless they have some sort of impact on my games.

As I mentioned in my last post, the first thing I did after settling on a map and writing the briefest of notes on each area was design the flags and uniforms. Green or red coats are the standard for infantry regiments of Sazir. These are based heavily on Seven Year War Russians, but may mix troops types from other nations. I knew I wanted to use models primarily from Wargames Foundry. To ease myself into the task of painting massive units, I decided to start with models in waistcoats. Not only are these fantastic sculpts, there is less fiddly work painting the coats. I'm calling this fashion the "Summer" uniform. As the army grows, I'll add some properly attired infantry, but I felt like this would be a good start!

It was exciting to finish the first unit in this collection—Von Tripdenfel's Musketeer Regiment!

The organization isn't yet set in stone, but tentatively 48 models, three officers, an ensign, drummer, and mounted colonel make up a regiment. This is divided into three "companies" of 16 (including an NCO). As this is primarily a solo endeavor I'm planning to write my own rules. I haven't decided if a "standard" unit is 48 models or if it's actually 16 and the larger formation will act as a "brigade" (all units must stay with a structured formation to form line, column of companies, etc). I'm planning on using the d6, d8, d10 convention found in the rest of our games (Beneath the Lily Banners, Donnybrook, and Mad for War). Combat will probably based on groups of 4 models. Morale is going to be tied in part to the number of officers in a unit (similar to The War Game, though I haven't specifically worked out the details as I also want the d6, d8, d10 mechanic involved). The rest will wait until I get more units painted! 

I won't be tying these rules to any specific period of the horse and musket age, so there may be some anachronistic features of tactics or organization. I really just want a game that "feels" like my impression of the genre rather than trying to ensure complete historical accuracy.

That will be a turn off for some, but this isn't intended as a commercial project. It's just for me and it's suppose to be fun! 

Oh, yes... they are individually based. Just lining up the little buggers for photographs was a reminder that it will be slow to set up and march them around the table, but I wanted the flexibility this allows. It was one of the "oldschool" elements I wanted to include. I'm not planning on hurrying games when I actually get the chance to play anyway. I am blessed to have a dedicated room for my hobby and can leave a game set up as long as necessary.

Again, it's very exciting to see this first unit finished. I've already started assembling my second unit—the Grimjawsopol Musketeers. They are also in summer dress, but are smartly attired in black gaiters and sporting yellow lace on their hats.

February 19, 2022

The Realm of Quindia: 1768

I've decided that 2022 will be the year to finally launch a project that's been simmering in my mind for... well... forever. The first actual wargame book I ever owned was Charge! by Peter Young and James Lawford. It was a chance purchase in 1986 at a bring 'n' buy stand at the first wargame show I ever attended in Raleigh, NC. I was fascinated by the photographs that portrayed massed units of infantry and cavalry. The Battle of Blasthof Heath provided a ready made scenario, complete with orders of battle. What intrigued me even more was a brief introduction:

The Emperor and Elector were at odds. As this situation was fairly normal it calls for no explanation. Some particularly outrageous act by the Elector had provoked the Emperor to exclaim, 'This insolent and pretentious prince must be chastised.' and to order the instant invasion of the Electorate.

I was well aware of fantasy wargaming at this point, but it was the first time I'd encountered what has become know as "imagi-nations" with historical miniatures. I later discovered Charles Grant's The War Game and an article in Miniature Wargames by Henry Hyde describing his own project, the War of Faltenian Succession. I REALLY wanted to do something similar. I filled a notebook with sketches, maps, unit organizations, personalities, and plans to muster grand armies.

But it never happened. In the dark days before the internet, it much harder to get historical miniatures than today. The only historical models I could find in any quantity were 15mm Napoleonics and that became my focus for a while. I found other rules (Shako and later Piquet) and based my collection for those. They were really more practical for the size tables I had access to anyway. My plans for big battalions were pushed into the background.

Some time around 2015, I was flirting with the imagi-nation thing again. There had been a renaissance in the idea and there were dozens of blogs drawing inspiration from the same sources that laid the foundation for my journey into the hobby. I felt like the best path forward was to come up with a small map and go from there. While searching for ideas, I realized I had a map already. I've been running D&D games in my homebrew world, The Realm of Quindia, since the 80's. The geography and nations of my fantasy world would make a perfectly usable basis for my Horse & Musket project. I drew up the map above and sketched out a paragraph on each nation. It quickly became evident that I wanted my project to revolve around the Kingdom of Goland and Gran Duchy of Sazir. The Tower Hills are rich in silver and emerald mines and claimed by both nations. Goland is obviously much larger than Sazir, but recently out of a war with the Kingdom of Bronet, with whom it now retains an uncertain peace. To Goland's south lies the Skorhean Wastes which are home to savage nomadic horsemen. The Kingdom requires an inordinate number of its troops to protect its pastoral fields from these raiders. Finally, the Prelacy of Beelzia always seems ready to expand its territory and both Goland and Sazir keep a wary eye on them.

With the greater stage set, I turned my eye toward detailing the armies. The first thing I did was design flags uniforms. As an example, here's the Northern Corps of the Gran Duchy of Sazir, based mostly on the Russian army of the Seven Year War and headquartered at Navorish.

I still hesitated to dive into 48-model infantry battalions and instead decided to build the project in 15mm. I didn't paint them, because I find painting 15mm models a chore, but rather built them up over time from eBay.

I have twelve battalions of infantry (24 models each), seven regiments of cavalry (12 models each), and eight guns for the Gran Duchy of Sazir. The army of the Kingdom of Goland currently stands near a similar number of units. It's not really a huge army as some 15mm collections go, but there are enough units to fill out several brigades per side and provide enough maneuver elements for interesting games. I'll probably continue to add to these armies in the future...

Anyway, the point of all of this rambling had really just been background for my current project. That's right! Big battalions in 28mm! I have the models to build two "starter" armies at this scale. My initial goal for each side is two regiments of infantry (each 48 models plus officers), a company of light infantry (16 models plus officers), a regiment of cavalry (24 models plus officers), and a battery of artillery (2 guns, eight crew plus officers, limbers, and an ammo wagon).

Next time I'll dive deeper into the details and show off my first finished unit!