Friday, July 31, 2015

State of the Painting Desk

With work taking me out of town for the week, I snapped a couple of photos to remind myself what was in work when I departed.  What was on the painting desk when I left?

Nearing completion are two units.  The first, is a twelve figure regiment of four squadrons of Sardinian light cavalry for the 15mm Risorgimento project.  The cavalry are Mirliton.  The second is a sixteen figure battalion of combined light infantry for the 28mm AWI project.  Figures are from Perry Miniatures' excellent AWI metal range. 
Perry AWI and Mirliton Risorgimento
As noted, both units are nearing completion having undergone the Minwax treatment and a spray of Dullcote before heading out for the week.  Once I return to the painting desk, it will be time to base the figures.

In a less completed state is a French line infantry regiment of 36 figures.  These 36 figures will comprise 3 x 12 figure battalions.  Figures are primarily Lancashire Games with a few Old Glory command added.
Lancashire and Old Glory Risorgimento
Completing these works will get August painting off to a good start.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Napoleon's Cavalry

I stumbled upon this eBay offering a few weeks ago.  While I have many of the Osprey MAA Napoleonic paperback editions, I had not seen this one.

What is it?  Napoleon's Cavalry is a 248 page, hardback edition published by Presidio Press, 1979 by Bukhari and McBride.  It contains an amalgamation of five of the Osprey MAA's booklets.  Included are chapters on,
  • (1) Cuirassiers and Carabiniers
  • (2) Dragoons and Lancers
  • (3) Line Chasseurs
  • (4) Hussars
  • (5) Guard Cavalry

Napoleon's Cavalry contains the same artwork that illustrates the paperback MAA series only in a larger format.  Great to have this collection in one, hardback edition.
With the equivalent of five Ospreys in one hardback edition, I thought I was getting a great bargain via eBay.  As my father used to say when we were hunting in the mountains, "never take a drink from a creek and then walk upstream."  Well, after I made the purchase, a quick internet search surfaced a number of copies in very good condition. Some were about half the price I paid.  The upside with my eBay purchase was that I received plenty of photos so I knew exactly what I was getting.  That detail is something most of the smaller online booksellers do not provide.

Next time a book catches my eye, search first, bid second.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Italian Wars Arquebusiers

Having four blocks of pikemen recruited from an outside supplier, the Italian Wars project shifts into a new phase with the mustering of four stands of arquebusier.  These sixteen hand gunners muster out in a multitude of colors and combinations.  No two are exactly the same.  
With non-uniform uniforms, Landsknechts will take a long time to paint as I wrestle with the indecision on how to tackle them with the brush.  I have received many helpful suggestions on painting Landsknechts, Swiss, and Italians as well as a number of blogs displaying expertly painted figures.  
Figures are from Wargames Foundry and are the first of many figures to paint for this small project.  Ready for fielding now are four pike blocks each with one skirmisher stand of two-handed swordsmen and one of arquebusier.  Needed to complete this first tranche of four columns are a few stands of cavalry.  Enough horsemen are in The Lead Pile to field at least two heavy cavalry stands of five figures each.
This is a start but already I believe enough formations can be called up to take on my buddy Jake in a small Impetvs encounter.  Jake, sounds like a challenge, does it not?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Peruvian Highlands - Pisac

Having maintained a trip to the Peruvian highlands on my Travel List for a long time, I finally made the journey at the end of May with a planned duration of just over two weeks.  The destination for the trip was the Sacred Valley with the high point focused on Machu Picchu.  Of course, Machu Picchu is not literally the high point of the journey with respect to elevation. That honor falls to Cusco at 11,200 ft.  With a very long flight and a desire to minimize potential effects of altitude sickness, the plan was to arrive in Cusco and then immediately head down to the small town of Pisac.  Pisac is situated at 9,800 ft and that lower elevation may make the difference while bodies adjust to operating at high elevation.

Upon arrival at Cusco airport, our Bed & Breakfast in Pisac had arranged for a taxi to pick up our group and baggage up and take us to Pisac about 20 miles away.  What we did not know was that the road from Cusco to Pisac was narrow, windy, and that our driver had aspirations for driving F1! 

White knuckled, we arrived in the center of Pisac to be transferred to a moto-taxi.  The last bit of distance from Pisac to the B&B was to be covered on a dirt trail.  Too far to walk with baggage.  With four people and luggage crammed into a small moto-taxi, we jostled our way to the B&B.
Pisac viewed from the B&B along the unpaved trail.
Arriving at the B&B, we unpacked and settled in for a two night's stay.  The B&B is surrounded by a wall, somewhat of a compound, situated about a 10 minute walk to town.
Bed & Breakfast main house
B&B cabins
Besides a place of respite to acclimate to high elevation, Pisac offers two other benefits for the traveler.  One, is a public market which is one of the largest craft markets in Peru.  The other, is an outstanding collection of Incan ruins situated in the mountain above the village.

After a good night's rest, the plan was to attack the ruins in the morning and then leisurely explore the marketplace in the afternoon.  To reach the main entrance to the ruins, we opted for a short five mile taxi ride up the mountain.  The terracing and panoramic views were stunning.  The terraces are enormous engineering wonders clinging to the sides of the mountain.
Pisac ruins main entrance
More terraces
and more terraces
Rather than taking a taxi back down the mountain into Pisac, we challenged ourselves to hike back down the mountain through a narrow canyon.  The descent took about an hour in the heat of the afternoon before reaching the terraces at the base of the mountain and Pisac, proper.
View of Pisac from the canyon
Following a clean up and brief rest, we headed out into the center of town and the market.  The market spills out from the main plaza with stalls packed in selling all manner of crafts.
Pisac main plaza
Tucked in and hidden within the market complex are a few ancient ovens baking some tasty empanadas.  Also produced in these ovens is what may be the national dish of Peru, guy.  Of course, guy, is guinea pig.  Despite their temptingly glistening skin, I chose a local restaurant for my dinner.  My choice was a well presented and delicious alpaca lomo saltado.  The dish was a combination of stir fried alpaca and vegetables served with thick slabs of french fried potatoes and rice.
Ancient ovens
Peruvian delicacy, guy
Alpaca lomo saltado
One last look at the B&B
The next stage in the journey sees us heading toward the town of Ollantaytambo along the Urubamba River and the start for many of the Incan Trail.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Foundry Loyal Sikhs

No matter whose collection is brought out for a game, I find it difficult to fight the urge to paint "just a few" units to field on the day of battle.  Kevin's mid-19th Century colonial project is no exception.  Unable to fight this gravitational pull of fielding more lead, a battalion of Sikhs rolls off from the painting desk.
Outfitted in khaki, these fellows will likely see action throughout Kevin's NWF campaigns and will see service in both major combatants' expeditions.  Figures are Wargames Foundry from the Indian Mutiny range.   The Lead Pile contains a handful of similar figures capable of building at least two more such native infantry.  Excellent sculpts! 
Kevin has suggested a Russian force would be a useful addition to NWF campaigning.   Well, I took the bait.  Enough Foundry Crimean era Russians have been added to The Lead Pile to field two or three battalions of infantry, several squadrons of cavalry, and a couple of guns.  I have about a dozen Russian hussars painted long ago that I plan to rebase from single bases to pairs.  With most of the figures garbed in greatcoats, once begun, it should be possible to field the infantry in relatively quickly.  

Next off the painting desk will be my first attempts at Landsknechts and an AWI British combined light infantry battalion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Battle of Raab 13:30-14:00

When last we left the battle (Raab 13:00-13:30), French cavalry were making some progress in establishing a bridgehead around the Upper Bridge on the French right.  Austrian cavalry saw Andrasy panic and both Hadik and Grosztony lost to injury.  Andrasy's command had fallen back and Hadik and Grosztony remained on defense of the bridge and ford.  In the center neither combatant had yet to grasp the upper hand.

At 13:30, Pully's dragoon division is seen approaching the Upper Bridge to lend support to the French cavalry whom have been battling there all morning.  Much of the French cavalry rally with the exception of half of the 1/Italian Dragoons who continue routing back across the Pancza.
Pully's dragoons approach Pancza
Once more, French cavalry strike out from their tenuously held bridgehead in an attempt to overpower their foe in three cavalry charges.
French cavalry attack
Although already down to about 50% effectives, the 1/9 Hussars attack from the banks of the brook into the disordered and heavily damaged 2/Bacser Insurrectio cavalry.  Being disordered, the Hungarians cannot muster the organization to counter charge.  They are caught flat footed.  The hussars scatter the Hungarians and continue on into the 2/5 Ott Hussars.  Not able to gain advantage on the Austrian hussars, the 1/9th breaks off and retreats back to the safety of the Pancza, demoralized.
Austrians counter charge!
Likewise, Grouchy and the 1/7 Dragoons target the 2/Pesther Insurrection cavalry.  In good order, the Hungarians are able to counter charge.  Still, with Grouchy's presence and the heavier mounts, the French heavy cavalry cut their way through the Hungarians, scattering them to all points of the compass.  As the French pursue, the 1/Pesther Insurrectio horse stand in the path.  Already at half strength, the 1/Pesther suffers the same fate as its sister formation.  Shaken, Grouchy and the 1/7 Dragoons retire back to the bridge.
In the final clash, the 2/Italian Dragoons meet another counter charging body of Insurrection cavalry. In this exchange, the Hungarians are overrun as they fall back in search of safety.  As the Italians continue on their rampage, the 2/Zemplin Insurrectio are hit and destroyed.  Shaken, the Italian dragoons recall to  the Pancza.

Three attacks and four Hungarian Insurrectio cavalry formations have disappeared.  With the seeming destruction of Mescery's cavalry wing, both Hadik and Grozstony must check for panic.  With heavy losses, both formations panic and break towards the east leaving a number of troopers in the hands of the French.
Mescery's command disintegrates
Turning to the center, artillery fire continues to escalate.  The Austrian Reserve guns on the Heights pound Seras and the 2/53rd Line at the church.  Enduring near constant bombardment, the 2/53rd suffers heavy casualties becoming disordered.  For now, they hold their good defense ground at the church hillock.

Without support from Seras or Durutte, Severoli's Division of d'Hilliers' Corps advances across the Pancza to engage the Austrians alone.  To help shelter Severoli's Italians from artillery fire as they make their way across the treacherous brook, Durutte's 1/62 Line advances so as to shield the Italians.  This maneuver is not without cost as the French become disordered by the gun fire.
Severoli steps across the Pancza Brook
Nevertheless, Severoli makes contact with the Austrians across his entire front.  Many of the formations become disordered as the brook is negotiated.  All attacks hit the Austrian line in concert.    
Severoli's attack
With Severoli, himself, leading the attack, the 2nd Italian Line and 2/3rd Italian line arise out from the steeply banked Pancza to face the Salzburg Landwehr covering the stream bank.  Unable to find their footing, the Italians become shaken as they fight at a disadvantage against the heavily supported landwehr.  In a tough struggle, Severoli and his Italians are pushed back into the Pancza.  The retreat turns to rout.  As his demoralized Italians scatter back across the brook, Severoli finds himself nearly alone on the east bank.  Before he can recross the brook, the Austrian landwehr capture the commander!  Oh no! 

Next to contact the Austrians is 1st Italian Line Regiment.  The Italians climb out of the brook to face 1/IR27 on Severoli's right.  In the struggle for supremacy, first the Italians become shaken and then are overpowered by the Austrians.  Having suffered heavy casualties, the 1st Italian Regiment retreats back across the brook, demoralized.  Going in against Sebottendorf's guns on Severoli's left, the 1/3 Italian Line Regiment attacks.  Threatened, the Austrian guns limber and scamper away.

In the final attack on the Austrian line,  the 112th French Line finds Eckhart's IR32.  In a desperate struggle with the 10 Grenz lending support on IR32's right, the Austrians begin to waver and then break for the rear.  IR32 takes heavy casualties as it retreats to safety.
IR32 demoralized
Severoli wins some and losses some
Having his guns and IR32 in retreat as a result of the French attack near the Middle Bridge, Eckhart's green formation panics and routs back away from the brook.  Despite localized victories on the left against Eckhart, the repulse with heavy casualties and the capture of Severoli on the right cause the Italians to panic.  A number of Italians from 2/3 Italian Line lay down their arms as the bulk of the division retreats back across the Pancza and well beyond the stream.
Severoli panics!

Situation from French positions
On the Austrian side of the stream, few Austrian cavalry on the right halt their retreat.  With the entire left in flight, Mescery must personally intervene.  This may prove a futile task.
Gajoli arrives at HQ
At Johan's HQ, Gajoli arrives to accept command of the Reserve after having delegated his old command and ridden up the Heights in search of the Archduke.  Out of breath, Gajoli says,
Your excellency, thank you for elevating me to the command of Frimont's Reserve. My former division is on the way to block Seras' advance upon the southern approaches to Kis-Megyer.
One of my talented ADCs has joined me with my recommendation that he take over Kienmeyer's vacant command. In tandem, we can throw the French back from Kis-Megyer.
When I left my positions near Kis-Megyer, the Italians were preparing an attack on the northern approaches to the farm. I am confident my old division along with the support of the Reserve batteries, can stall any French attempt to take Kis-Megyer from the south.
The grenadiers of the Reserve may be useful in counterattacking Severoli's Italians if they make a passage of the Pancza. After being thrown back from Kis-Megyer, Durutte appears to not have the stomach for another such frontal attack.
What are your orders?
Before Johan can respond to Gajoli's recommendations, a chorus of "Huzzahs" are heard above the gunfire coming from north of Kis-Megyer.  Both commanders turn their glasses towards the Kis-Megyer complex.
The Italians have been turned back and are in flight, your Excellency!" exclaims Gajoli.
Lowering his eye glass, the Archduke, says,
Indeed! No need for the grenadiers to support Sebottendorf.  Prepare to send the grenadiers and the 19th against the church.  Let's see if we can push Seras back across the brook too!
As Gajoli's old division attacks between the church and Kis-Megyer, the Austrian reserve batteries continue to pound the French hunkered down behind the walls of the church.  The 1/53rd takes more casualties and becomes shaken.
Austrian Reserve batteries in action
Newly led, Gajoli's old formation of IR62 strikes the disordered and weakened 2/53 Line in the hollow between the church and high ground of Kis-Megyer.  
IR62 attacks!
With heavy artillery fire to their right and being attacked frontally by fresh troops, the 2/53rd buckles and retreats back across the Pancza , demoralized.  As they retreat, the 53rd passes through the 1st Legere forcing them back across the brook as well.
IR62 victorious!
Dispositions at 14:00
Whew!  The Austrian left appears to be in disarray but the Austrian strongpoints in the center continue to hold and hold well.  The repulse of Severoli's large division of Italians is a tough pill to swallow for Eugene.

As for Johan, where should his next move concentrate?
With his left flank now in the air, quick decisions must be made.  What should they be? 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Wargamer Profiling and The Holy Trinity?

13JUL2015: Graph update note:
Having received a handful of profiles, I updated the earlier graphic to reflect these actual data points.  Refinements to the graph also included.  Thus far, participants are all above average with respect to Historian v. Craftsman.  More data please!
Below is the original posting.

In a recent posting on his excellent blog, Blunders on the Danube, Peter highlighted an article from a 1971 issue of Courier Magazine (see Peter's Wargamer Profile write-up).  The article featured a Wargamer's Profile by Ted Haskell and attempted to bucket wargamers into five broad classifications.  The purpose of this exercise was to produce an individual gamer's profile based on Haskell's five attributes.  The classifications (or attributes) as Haskell saw them were:
  • Historian
  • Craftsman
  • Collector
  • Rulesmith
  • Gamesman
Now, given that this analysis was conducted more than 40 years ago may have something to do with the classifications used and the components within each.  Times change.  How many today cast their own figures?  I know some who do but I suspect these fellows are in the minority.  I found many of the attributes associated within each classification to be overlapping and confounding.  Overlap existed even between classifications making it difficult to divine exactly how to classify myself.  Part of an attribute was in one classification; the remainder surfaced in a different attribute.  Others may find themselves easier to classify.  

For example, under the classification of GAMESMAN, Rank 4 "Plays Often," Haskell correlates playing one game per week to being a Rules Lawyer, playing for fun in a competitive setting, and using complicated Combat Resolution methods.  Does playing frequently necessarily lead to the other attributes?

I follow what Haskell attempted but each of these attributes could be independent in my mind.  Does a Rules Lawyer necessarily game more frequently than others?  Does a RULESMITH Rank 5 necessarily prefer day-long games as opposed to those of lesser ranks?  I think not!

In the interest of dimension reduction and my inability to visualize five dimensional data in two-dimensional space (I do manage visualization in four, though) as Haskell's classifications present, my focus will be on classifying what I consider the Holy Trinity of the wargaming hobby.  That is, gaming, history, and modeling. To use Haskell's convention, that trio translates to Gamesman, Historian, and Craftsman.  To me, these are the essential components of our hobby.  Each wargamer likely brings a different mix of each of these components into their make-up but most touch all three.

The Craftsman aspect of the trio encompasses the artistic efforts.  For me, these activities center primarily on painting model soldiers, constructing vehicles and weaponry, and building landscapes over which our soldiers will march and fight.  Some may add figure conversion or sculpting and molding their own armies.  For this exercise, I rate Craft on a scale of 1 to 10 with a '1' being "I cannot be bothered with such labors" to '10' "I must do it all and perfectly!"  Of course, most may fall somewhere in between.

Gamesman classification could carry many attributes.  After consideration, I have narrowed Gamesman down to the frequency of game participation.  Also under consideration was a game complexity continuum but was shelved.  Does the wargamer prefer simple or complex games?  This attribute would help define the wargamer's preference on the Playability vs Simulation continuum.  I may add this attribute in later.

For now, gaming frequency is allocated in discrete counts with the value in games played annually.  These counts will be aggregated into 'Weekly', 'Bi-weekly', 'Monthly', 'Bi-Monthly', 'Quarterly', 'Infrequent ' buckets. 

The Historian component wraps up all of the reading, research, and project planning necessary for forming a well-read wargamer and successful period immersion.  Battle and uniform research, and period readings would be included.  Rules writing and scenario design could fall under this broad classification too.

Like Craftsman, Historian is qualified on 1-10 point scale. '1' is associated with the "Who, me read?" while '10' could represent the professional historian at the top of the scale.   

Finally, I will sneak in one more dimension into the profile.  That dimension will identify the Collector attribute by counting the number of painted figures one possesses.  This Collector Rating is qualified on a '1' to '10' scale. Distribution of the Collector ranking is:
  1. Less than 100 painted figures
  2. 101-500 painted figures
  3. 501-1,000 painted figures
  4. 1,001-2,500 painted figures
  5. 2,501-5,000 painted figures
  6. 5,001-10,000 painted figures
  7. 10,001-15,000 painted figures
  8. 15,001-20,000 painted figures
  9. 20,001-25,000 painted figures
  10. 25,000+ painted figures
Of course, collection size is positively correlated to length of time in the hobby or age but those potentially confounding factors will be overlooked for now.

Number of distinct projects might be another useful metric as a measure of a wargamer's collecting status.  The problem with using number of distinct projects is that a wargamer specializing in one or two periods may feel under-represented.  This could introduce bias.  For now, I stick to number of painted figures.  Since the Collector attribute is an augmentation to the Big Three, I will keep Collector as a secondary metric. 

For demonstration purposes, I put in my own data (JRF) and then added five random wargamer profiles to populate the graph.  Raw data below:

 User   History  Craft  Game_Freq   Size 
 JRF         7         6             6            9 
 WG01     5          8           12            3 
 WG02     3          4           26            6 
 WG03     4          1           52            8 
 WG04     2          9             4            1
 WG05     6          5             2            4  

For JRF, I plugged in the following values: History=7, Craft=6, Game_Freq= 6, Size=9.  My rationale for each rating is,
  • History (7) - consider myself an above average history buff with a large library, curious mind, and good research skills.  Would not consider diving into a new gaming period without hitting the books first.
  • Craft (6) - I enjoy painting and modeling and prefer doing it myself but results are not to the level of museum quality that many of my colleagues produce.  Quantity has an edge over Quality.
  • Game_Freq (6) - while I would enjoy gaming on a monthly basis and often average 12 games per year, six games per year is more realistic.
  • Size (9) - with a collection of about 22,000 figures, I fall within the '9' category.  
With the preliminaries in-hand, how would this analysis appear in graphic form?  My initial thoughts prompted the diagram shown below in Figure 1.
From the diagram, JRF-9 ('-9' suffix denotes collection size and corresponds to the size of the bubble) is the large pink circle, centered at Historian=7 and Craftsman=6, signifying a large collection and bi-monthly gaming attendance.

I think an interesting exercise would be to have readers submit their Wargamer Attributes as specified above in the dimension-reduction exercise.  Then, this collection of gamer attributes could be appended into the graphic.  I, for one, would be curious to see where others place themselves within the broadly defined spectrum.  

If you want your profile data anonymous, submit your attribute ratings to me directly via the Contact Form.  I will anonymize your data before presentation.

Like so much, this exercise will remain a work in progress as refinements are considered.

Friday, July 10, 2015

500/5,000 Drawing RESULTS!

The results are in!

First, I want to thank everyone who participated in the contest and for those taking the time to visit.  Not everyone can win but many did and those winners ended with one of their top picks too.  An armload of books will be hitting the post office shortly.

Second, as the random sampling results show, making it into the Top 10 Commenters paid dividends.  Frequent commenting was rewarded in the manner in which the ballot system was constructed.  Also good to see a few infrequent commenters make it into the prize list.  Notice rather than the eight books offered up as prizes originally, I pulled ten names from the sampling bin.  Two of the more requested titles got tapped twice.

Anyway, on to the prize distribution.
Winner: El Grego 
Winner: Michael Peterson
Winners: AHunt &
Christopher (aka Axebreaker) 
Winner: Bluebear Jeff
Winner: Gonsalvo
Winners: Samuli S &
Phil (aka Ms. DBA) 
Winner: Phil (Associaton les Riflemen)
Winner: Black Powder 
Congratulations to the 10 winners.  To collect, simply send an email via the Contact Form (shown below) containing your preferred mailing address:

Several books were in many contestants' Top 3 list.  Hyde's Wargaming Compendium was one of the most requested.  With such demand, I will consider offering up another copy in a future Give-away.

What?  Ray did not have his name drawn?  How could that be?  Well, Ray, to maintain your unbroken string of uncanny prize wins, send me your mailing address details.  I have a Consolation Prize for you.

For the winners, enjoy the books and please let me know when they arrive.