Friday, August 28, 2015

WIP Rospoleon Buffonaparte: The Korsucan Ogre and Emperor of the Elves

This is a project I've had in mind for years whose time finally arrived.

Master of Vendetta in his island home of Korsuca, Rospoleon's ambition led him to seek adventure in the Kingdom of the Elves.

Riding the winds of change, Rospoleon joined the Revolution and ended up an Emperor.

Now all of Urop fears his attentions.

For some reason in the Flintloque/Slaughterloo world of Valon, the Neopolitans are Toads, known as the Todoroni. It is said that the Korsucan's are wild elves.

However I wanted an Emperor figure that would highlight His foreign origin rather than a standard Elf figure.

As the historical Bounaparte was raised speaking Italian I set my sites on the toads.

The search for an imperious looking officer was none too difficult.

The Emperor and his brother Jeremiah, King of Nepolise
The lucky chap being the officer of 56505 Todoroni Militia.

But what of a body? 

I knew from the start that he must be an Ogre. After all, those Albion mother's couldn't frighten their children with tales of "the Korsucan Toad" now could they?

And so I reached out to Alternative Armie's own Gavin Syme for help.

Gavin in turn pointed me towards this fine fellow:

56109 KGL General on Rhino

By God! That will do!

I was given a choice of mount, horse, hippo, or rhino. I decided that Buffonaparte would ride the rhino as a mark of his larger than Toad stature and power.

The plan was to do a simple head swap...however seeing them both together in the bare metal, I saw another possibility.

I was able to cut them diagonally at the shoulder. Head and right shoulder went all vice versa and here they are!

Just a matter of painting and inking with as much ostentatious gold as possible and...

Et Voila

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Second Zweifelder: A Game of Muskets and Shakos

Following on from the meeting engagement played out with "Charge!", I decided to use my "Muskets & Shakos" campaign and battle rules to see what would happen next.

Der Kleine Fritz is old but spry. Still he may be a bit past it and Buffonaparte made the next move.

The Wutende Zwergkoenighreich army completed assembling and was not forced to defend the crossroads from a determined assault.

"Muskets & Shakos" presumes the player is fighting part of a larger battle. The player(s) division is set up on a three to four foot frontage. Lager games may be played by assigning a player to each chunk of front, say three players a side on an 8 to 9 foot long table.

The game also has rules covering the generation and actions of enemy forces so it is possible to play the game solitaire, as in this report, co-op with each player commanding a division of the same army against the game system, or in a more traditional head to head format.

In this case my division consisted of:

Baron von Einsamenbert Rep 4, General Officer Commanding
Divisional assets:
A battery of 6 field guns and 2 howitzers (2 guns and 8 gunners)
The converged grenadiers of the line battlaions equating to 16 O.R.s, an Officer, and a Sergeant

First Brigade; Markgraf Kniebissen Rep 4
1st Battalion Rote Bart Jaegers
1st Battalion  IR # 11 von Unten
2nd Battalion IR # 11 von Unten

Second Brigade; Markgraf Boldfieber Rep 3
2nd Battalion Rote Bart Jaegers
1st Battalion IR # 18 Prinz von Wutende Zwergkonigreich
2nd Battalion IR # 18, Prinz von Wutende Zwergkonigreich

Hussar Brigade, General Rote Bart
Hussars von Rote Bart
Hussars von Blooka

The line and jaeger battalions each numbered 18 O. R.'s an Officer and a Sergeant. All are Rep 4 or average.

The Hussars total six squadrons of three with two additional officers as well as their brigadier.

The Hussars and Grenadiers are Rep 5 or veteran.

The gunners are Rep 4 or average.

In a game of "Musket and Shakos" the defender deploys two lines of troops on the table at start, One two thirds of the way or so towards the enemy, and the second one third or so.

Additional troops can be held off table in reserve. These reserves can be called forward at any time by the G. o. C. subject to a roll against Rep which may see them respond with alacrity or some delay.

The initial set up

I deployed the two jaeger battalions in the first line. One behind a wood with skirmishers pushed forward and the other split between the two fields.

My second line consisted of my four line infantry battalions in column ready to move as needed and my battery of guns. The guns were sited behind the wood, ready to enfilade any attempt on the fields while hopefully being shielded from overmuch counter battery fire.

I held the hussars and grenadiers back in reserve.

After the player deploys, the attacker deploys three possible forces on the table edge. These are resolved immediately and translated into figures on the tabletop.

The enemy first line consisted of three infantry battalions and two batteries (12 guns and 4 howitzers).

After deploying a dice is thrown to see how long a cannonade will proceed the attack. 

In this case it was four. The enemy opened up concentrating his guns on the two fields. My battery fired by section, half of the guns concentrating on an enemy battery while the other two sections fired on one of the infantry battalion.

The enemy line

My troops had the benefit of cover from the field but still suffered some casualties. As the fire intensified some men just drifted away...

Jaegers skulking in the rear

For my part, one enemy infantry battalion was badly mauled and one enemy battery was briefly silenced. 

In "Muskets & Shakos" firing takes a toll on guns and gunners. Sometimes its better to keep a section or even battery off line to be sure of their services when needed.

Both sides lost a few guns to fatigue and supply problems.

Then the firing stopped, the drums sounded, and the attack commenced.

Skirmishers precede the enemy advance
Through out the game, each side has a chance of occasionally receiving reinforcements. The non-player side also deploys additional possible forces as his first line advances. After this second line of possible forces, the  non-player may call for his reserve.

Guns, guns, guns...

As the enemy first line advanced I could make out other units behind the first. Another section of guns were brought up, which neatly replaced those already out of action.

More infantry appeared. One of regular line but...

As the one of the leading battalions falter, the Garde appear

two battalions of the Garde also advanced. Buffonaparte must really want this crossroad.

There is also one possible  force that I do know have eyes on. Who knows what it will be but the odds are turning against me.

As the enemy approached the wood many of my skirmishers thought of better places to be and melted away.

I was slow to reinforce them and have now taken positon in the heart of wood. Come and get my boys!

I have am deploying two line battalions to support the weakened jaegers in the field.

Just a few turns into it and one enemy battalion has about had it, my jaegars are fading fast, the field is littered with stragglers and did I mention the Garde?

More as it happens.

As always thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Night Falls on Zweifelder: Photographing Sham Battles

As evening falls, Der Kleine Fritz tours the field, having asked Hauptman Muller to show him the site of his heroic melee.

In the background camp followers tend to loved ones, looters loot, and howls announce the first scvangers appearing in the distant woods

A while ago I was asked to write a post about how I photograph my posts. My first answer was that truthfully I don't really know.

However, having now paid attention to what was being done, I think some readers may find some tips or at least interest in the following.

This will by its nature be a photo heavy post.

Equipment and Technical Details (as if!)

I make no claim to knowledge of cameras and equipment.

I first started photographing miniatures with my daughter's Barbie Digital Camera. The photos were of woeful resolution but the ability to tell a story through images was addictive.

Over the years I have purchased a few digital cameras for my dear lady wife to use while on vacation...always making sure they had something called a "macro" what would allow for close up photographs of small objects!

Well technology is always improving and now I have found that the camera on my phone, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3, is more than sufficient for my gaming needs.

So the first and most obvious tool is a digital camera!

Second and nearly as important is a good tripod. Modern cameras have an amazing ability to dampen the effects of user motion when taking pictures but it is still not the same as a truly stable platform.

For very close up photos, it's easy enough to hook one's little fingers underneath the camera and so, resting them on the table make a stable platform, but for those sweeping shots of the table, only a tripod will do.

Real photographers and enthusiasts will know all about lighting and what implements are best for such and such a setting. I do not.

I try and play during the day. My game room has a northern exposure and I often augment the lighting with two floor lamps turned up high. Depending on the qualities of your camera just the two lights might well be enough for night time shooting.

Do NOT enable the flash. Sounds good in theory but almost always washes out the subject and gives a very artificial effect.

Finally a word on editing software. Very useful indeed as the following photos will show. In the past I have used programs such as Photoshop. In the end though I have settled on Windows Photo Gallery of all things. Very simple to use. Allows simple touch ups, cropping, sharpening, etc. Not as nice results as the more advanced programs but, as they say round here "helluva" easy to use.

Shooting (Sham) War

Be prepared to take a lot of pictures. Fifty or more per blog  post is not unusual in my experience, although the number you will actually upload will be much smaller.

In order to tell the story of a game, it is essential to present some sort of overview. To be honest these are usually neither the most absorbing, nor gripping shots but they do give your reader a general idea of what is going on down on the table.

Above you can see an untouched photo of the table. The terrain tiles cover and area 4 foot by 6 foot to give an idea of scale. In the background one can see my various storage systems, piles of rules, and frankly the detritus - like impedimenta of the hobby. Not very attractive is it?

Here then is the cropped and cleaned up photo. Still a bit of background above the clouds upper left but not so much that it detracts from what is going on the table, or so I hope. We can clearly see the officer group in the center, and some sort of activity to the left, upper middle, and perhaps upper right. Casualties are evident in the foreground right, and lower right.

Which brings up the next point: depth.

Somewhere in the dark days of my education I was told that pictures have a foreground, a middle ground, and a background.

If you are standing outside looking over a field for example, and divide your view into three evenly spaced horizontal lines you will see what I mean. The foreground is close you you, the background out much further to the horizon, and the middle ground, well, in the middle.

It is said that pictures are more interesting and look more natural with objects in all three bands. They do for this author in any event!

Here we see His Highness mid ground framed by casualties and rocks foreground, and hedges, officers background.

Getting back on track, having established the setting with an overview shot or two, we can now look at some vignettes to tell our story.

Here we see intrepid looters facing off against hungry scavengers.

This shot has obviously been taken at some distance and while it could be used as is, here is how I would choose to present it:

This view focuses the viewers attention on the drama being played out on the table. I suppose the empty space center photo is a bit of an issue but for me, that space speaks of room for impending action, thereby helping to develop tension.

Our next vignette shows a series of photos taken, all to be discarded but the last. Or course they are  all shown here for example's sake.

This, could be tightened to show...

...this. Yet that is not the distant effect I am after.

Perhaps a peek through the wood?

No, I shouldn't think so.

 Around the back then?


Even better?

There it is. Camp followers among the fallen. 

Poignant scene of familial distress or disturbing scene of callous looting?

That is for the viewer to decide barring descriptive text.

Again notice there is a foreground, mid ground, and background to give a sense of depth to the whole.

Much less action oriented than the looter vs. scavenger photo but intriguing none the less to my view.

 Finally what about showcasing a particular figure?

This can be quite frustrating as sometimes your camera may seem to have a mind of its own, preferring to focus on a busy background rather than the figure right in front of it.

The answer here is a bit counter intuitive. If your figure seems blurry in the photo, move your camera back until the figure IS the focal point.

You can always crop it afterwards. This is the After Action Report version of  the film maker's fall back..."We'll fix it in post".

Who the devil is THAT fellah?

Ready for his close up, Mister DeMille.

Solutions to Common Problems (or How to Make the Best of a Bad Situation)

The observant will have noticed the sky background edging the table. I like this one because its a.) better than nothing, and b.) universal.

Used to have my game table in a much larger room and at that time I had painted the walls sky blue with some clouds. Thought that was pretty effective.

I have seen others with much more talent than I paint superb backgrounds with rolling hills, villages, and roads stretching off to the horizon.

Also model railroad hobby suppliers offer such backgrounds although most have the odd telegraph pole or some such other modern inconvenience printed on them.

Worse comes to worst you can't go far wrong suspending a bed sheet of a reasonable shade beyond your table.

For ease of access I keep my backdrop low, and only on two of the table's four sides.

So what is one to do when the right shot at the right angle just doesn't line up with your backdrop?


it down

 of course!

Look closely upper right and you can see the edge of the sky.

Still it gives a nice view of the command group.

And zooms in nicely on Hauptman Muller and his colour.

Simply moving the back drop is another option naturally. Personally I find that a bit cumbersome and and would rather work my shots around it than vice versa.

With the advent of the "wide screen" 16x9 format cameras we can now include panoramic views that in the past required stitching multiple images together.

This is really handy for giving a sense of sweep and scope.

It can also be used to  take rectangular up and down shots thus:

My advice, as Tow Mater so aptly put it in the big screen epic "Cars" is "to not to".

They are a bit disorienting.

Still on occasion, one may be pressed by a table's edge.

In that case...

Fix it in post!

Or look for another angle!

Some Final Thoughts

Well that's about it really.

Mid ground

Close ups.

Take a lot of photos. 
Fix the best.
Discard the rest.

Most importantly,
And have fun with it.

So that is a look at the process of photographing sham battles.

Hope some of you found something useful to take away, 
and if you have read this far,
as always,
Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Decision at Zweifelder!

As nightfall descends on the crossroads, the guns are silent.
Stragglers look for their units.
Comrades and camp followers look for their loved ones.
And the inevitable scavengers and looters look for an easy mark.

So, how did it end?

\We left with the Anthill and Bayrums engaged with the 2nd Cuirassiers. While their eventually drawn struggle was going on both the Freikrorps Rote Bart Hussars and...

...their opposite number, the Hussars de Juene, were positioning to take advantage of the outcome.

On my right the Zwergteufel were slowly gaining the upper hand...

Against the light infantry sniping from the wood.

Meanwhile on my left the first elven infantry regiment paused to form line...

... and advance on my guns.

For their part the guns fired with midling success... the range closed. 

My skirmishers also fell back, firing as they did so and elven casualties slowly mounted.

The heavy cavalry melee having ended with a draw, the A&B's retired in order to reform.

While the Freikorps Rote Bart Hussars charged!

Two squadrons made straight for the rallying cuirassiers.

The third made a heroic charge...

...against twice their number of enemy Hussars supported by light infantry.

Caught while rallying, the cuirassiers were at a disadvantage.

Still Hussar vs. Cuirassier, would it be disadvantage enough?

Rally be demned! The 2nd Cuirassiers counter charged!

The elven line had now gotten within musket shot of my guns. Their first volley dropped three of my gunners!

Worse still they had brought up a gun of their own.

Still musket range means cannister range and the line was sorely tested.

The battle was nearing its climax.

A swirling cavalry melee.

Sabre and long sword clashed.

Dashing Hussars dueled for supremacy (and knowing Hussars, bragging rights as well)!

Cannon boomed and musket cracked.

Against the cuirassiers the hussars brought down twice their losses. But the clash would last another turn.

The brave cavaliers who tackled the Hussars de Juene also fought to a draw. No mean feat outnumbered two to one as they were.

Both sides would need to regroup and rally before further action.

The Hussar vs. Cuirassier combat continued!

The second dwarven infantry regiment formed line behind the guns and skirmishers.

Having driven the light infantry from the wood, Zwergteufel formed column to support the line.

The enemy line continued advancing on the guns. It looked like I had left it too late and the battery would be overrun.

A disappointing volley by the elves and a devastating  volley of cannister sent the elven regiment packing.

Straggling light infantry and hussars crossed the field only too happy each to ignore the other.

The Freikorps Hussars were victorious over the 2nd Cuirassiers!

The remaining light infantry covered the withdrawal of the Hussars de Juene

With the cuirassiers routed, and both dwarven cavalry regiments still  on the field, 

with one line infantry regiment under strength and withdrawing with two full dwarven line regiments on the field,

and with their light infantry sorely depleted,

the elven forces conceded the field.

It was the proverbial near run thing with only the dice really having decided the winner.

Would the elves have faired better assaulting the fields from the start rather than trying a double envelopment?  Possibly. 

Or would they simply have been so worn down by the effort they could not hold their gains?

In any event my decision to charge the heavies before the trap was sprung paid off.

However had the dice been less kind, had the dwarves been less fierce, the result would have been disastrous.

With the cavalry right won, I think I could have withstood the loss of the battery and perhaps an infantry regiment while my cavalry rallied and my lights redeployed.

After that only luck could have saved the elves.

As it was luck had deserted them, as the guns were not overrun and the infantry nearly destroyed in the attempt.

Final losses:


Freikorps Rote Bart Hussars  - 4
Anthill and Baryrum Dragoons - 7
Freikorps Rote Bart Jaegers - 3
IR #1 Zwergteufel - 3
IR #2 Prinz von Wuetende-Zwergkoeingreich - 1
Gunners - 4

Total - 22

Hussars de Juene - 10 + 2 PoW
2nd Cuirassiers - 18
Legere - 18
First Regiment de Ligne - 24
Second Reginent de Ligne - 0
Gunners - 1

Total - 71 + 2 PoW

Finally King Frederick der Fleine is pleased to present Hauptman Muller of the Anthill and Bayrum Dragoons the Order of Merit for fighting off two Cuirassiers, killing one of them, in defense of the Regimental Colours.

Hope you enjoyed the tale and thanks for stopping by!