Thursday, August 28, 2008

Happy First Anniversary

Brunswick regiment Von Zastrow on parade. Foundry figures from the collection of Dennis Smail. This collection is merely passing through Hesse Seewald and on its way to a new home.

One year ago today I started Der Alte Fritz Journal as a place where I could talk about the wargaming hobby, post a few pictures from time to time, and keep a few friends up to date on my on going feud with Gallia. I must admit that I had a little bit of fear and trepedation. Afterall, how would I find enough things to blog about every week of the year?

I guess that my fears were unfounded, for I have posted 112 entries over the past year, or approximately one new posting every three days. Topics have ranged from the current SYW units on my painting table, pictures of my various wargame collections, new products that I had discovered, after action wargame and convention reports, and last but not least, the ever popular Teddy Bear Wars.

A Few Statistics
Just off the top of my head, I would imagine that the most popular postings have been the Teddy Bear Wars, the Jacobite Rebellion, anything having to do with Napoleonics, and my latest additions to my Seven Years War armies. Case in point, the average number of visits per day is around 175, but whenever I have posted Teddy Bear Wars reports, this zooms up to nearly 500 visits. Some of the Jacobite Rebellion and the In The Grand Manner Napoleonics reports have also logged nearly 500 visitors. Typically, a new pictorial posting will attract somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 visits.

As of this evening, there had been 63,900 hits on this blog over the past twelve months, which is far more than I ever would have imagined when I began this endeavor. So a big "thank you" to everyone who has paid me a visit. Your feedback and comments are very much appreciated and make this endeavor a lot of fun for me.

The Brunswick Brigade
I have graced the top of this page with a picture of one of the units that my friend Dennis Smail painted for Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (or "BAR", as it is popularly known). Dennis had been out of wargaming for a number of years, but the Alte Fritz Journal stirred up his interest in the Seven Years War and games played with the BAR rules. He didn't want paint Prussians, exactly, but was looking for something similar. So he settled on the army of the Duchy of Brunswick.

I rather like the way that Dennis organized his battalions. Note that each grand division (or stand) has an extra officer, NCO or other file closer that he places in front of the grand division as it marches across the table top. Then, as the unit prepares to engage in musketry, he places the file closers behind the battalion, just as they would have done in real life. I think that this is a rather nifty way of organizing a BAR battalion, and it kind of harks back to the organization used in Peter Young's Charge book.

Converged grenadier battalion von Redeken in the front, composed of the grenadier companies from the von Zastrow and von Behr regiments, and the von Zastrow musketeer regiment in the second line, advance into battle.

The Brunswickers are currently passing through the Duchy of Hesse Seewald, where they paused to have their pictures taken. They are soon to pass into service of another imagi-nation in the vacinity and I look forward to seeing them in some of our future battles in Brown Deer, WI. The brigade consists of two musketeer battalions and two grenadier battalions. The whole Brunswick army had eight battalions, as I recall, and Dennis had painted four of them. They consist largely of Foundry and Crusader castings and look rather splendid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

IR18 Prinz von Preussen

Potsdam Miniatures form up in three ranks as IR18, the Prinz von Preussen regiment.

The regiment designated Infantry Regiment 18 ("IR18") was actually known as the Prinz von Preussen regiment, after its inhaber August Wilhelm, who was one of Frederick's brothers. After he died in 1758, the King's nephew, Friedrich Wilhelm became the next inhaber of the regiment. This appears to follow a House of Hohenzollern tradition that the royal sons were all given their own regiment to command. Prince Henry was the inhaber of IR35 and Prince Ferdinand was that of IR34. So these three regiments probably had a little more prestige than some of the other run of the mill regiments in the Prussian establishment.

IR18 always seemed to be a part of "the King's Army", i.e. the core contingent that always accompanied King Frederick in his various battles during the Seven Years War. This undoubtedly speaks to the quality of the regiment, and indeed, Frederick rated it as one of his "good" regiments. It was one of the core Brandenburg regiments, stationed at Spandau and Nauen during peace time. Its recruiting area was the Altmark.

According to Christopher Duffy, Frederick commented on this regiment and that of Forcade after the battle of Zorndorf: "I owe my salvation to these regiments and General Seydlitz. I could do anything with commanders and troops such as these."

A closer view of the command stand. Flags are from GMB Designs.

IR18 sports the traditional Prussian blue coat and white waistcoat and breeches. Its facing colors are an unusual rose (cuffs, lapels, collars) in common with that of IR7 Alt Bevern. The turnbacks are also rose, which is unusual as Prussian linings, hence their turnbacks, were usually red.

The grenadier companies were paired with those of the IR15 Garde and thus have the designation of "15/18" on various battle maps in the Prussian General Staff Histories and in the Duffy books. The combined grenadier battalions inhabers were Bulow (1756), Kliest (1757), Graf von Anhalt (1759). It had a rough time at Soor and was captured at Hochkirch in 1758.

IR18 was one of the very first Prussian regiments that I had in my wargaming army, going all the way back to 1988 when Bill Biles painted 20 RSM figures for me, along with 20 more depicting IR8. I did not know how to paint back in those early days of wargaming (for me) so I farmed out the painting of the Prussians to Bill and painted the Austrians myself. Eventually, I learned how to paint and developed my own style, an example of which you can see in these pictures. With the completion of this unit, I now have another IR18 in my larger 1:10 ratio army for the Batailles de l''Ancien Regime ("BAR") rules.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baden Jagers 1806

Baden Jagers, circa 1806, from Pontonnier Miniatures patrol the woods. Trees from K&M.

Last week I reported on the progress that I was making on the Baden Jagers that I purchased from Pontoonier Miniatures at this year's Historicon convention and promised to post some pictures. So here they are. The picture above depicts the contents of three boxes of 4 figures. The command box is "NBD16" Jager Battalion Command and includes four figures (officer in great coat, a musician with a horn, and two NCOs waving and pointing their arms). The other box is "NBD18" Jagers Skirmishing and also contains four figures (one each of standing loading, standing firing, kneeling loading and kneeling firing). So it appears that you can "pair up" your jagers so that one is firing and one is loading, both in kneeling and standing poses.

I don't recall the prices per box, but the figure of $10.00 per box of four seems to stick in my memory, but don't quote me on that as I can't accurately state the price. The figures appear to be compatible with Elite Miniatures in terms of size and sculpting style. They have a thin appearance which gives them a look of realism, so I really like the Baden Jagers. The line infantry are even nicer, but I have not had the opportunity to paint any of them yet.

The contact information is :

Pontoonier Miniatures LLC
PO Box 11936
Shorewood, Wisconsin 53211 USA (web site is still under construction the last time that I checked).

Here are some close up shots:

NCO - from Baden Jager Command box NBD16

Baden Jager Standing Firing

Baden Jager Standing Loading

Baden Jager Kneeling and Loading

My overall impression of this new range of figures is highly favorable. The detail is very good and it is easy to pick out things such as buttons, cartouche emblems and the detail on the helmets. As stated earlier, their proportions are such that they look like real people in miniature and they are designed to use with Elite Miniature. The faces are nicely rendered, so in this they differ from the Elite (which go for a more "impressionist" look to them).

I am looking forward to having some time to tackle the battalion of line infantry that I also bought at Historicon. When I spoke to the proprietors of the company at Historicon, they indicated that they would focus on the various German Confederation nations that were allied to the French during the Napoleonic Wars. I look forward to seeing more products from this company, especially the Baden light cavalry and artillery.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On A Roll Again

Ye Olde Painting Brushe has gotten more of a work out lately as I switched back to painting SYW figures last week. I was in a bit of a painting slump lately, but figured that the men in tricorns would get me going again. That proved to be the case as I finished off a 60 figure battalion of IR18 Prinz von Preussen regiment over the weekend. The battalion is comprised of my own Potsdam Miniatures and they turned out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. And I do.

No pictures yet - I want to get them based and flagged before putting them in front of the camera. I am trying to get into the habit of terraining and basing new units immediately after finishing the paint job so that I do not end up having to base several hundred figures of backlog the night before the next wargame.

I also whipped out a 12 figure set of Baden Jagers for the Napoleonic wars, circa 1806-1807. These are the new Pontoonier Miniatures that I discovered at Historicon this year. All green and black with no other colors makes them a little bit dull in appearance, but the figures have nice animation and were fun to work with. I put the first layer of terraining on the bases last night (spackle compound and fine gravel). Tonight I will ink and dry brush the bases and then apply static grass the following evening. I am trying out this new method of basing, and while it looks good, it just isn't practicle for large 60 plus figure regiments on 20mm square bases. So when I get around to basing the 1806 French and Prussians, I will revert to my usual one-stop terraining process.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Teddy Bear Wars: The Battle of Bear Hollow

Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe models a grenadier mitre of one of her regiments.

My daughter asked me to break out the Eureka Teddy Bear armies from storage and set up a little wargame after dinner this evening. As before (see entry dated December 27, 2007), she assumed the role of Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe and commanded the pink army, while Der Alte Daddy assumed the guise of Lord Paddington Bear of the blue army.

This time, the battle was set in colonial Virginia, atop the kitchen table. The terrain was built by Herb Gundt (not of the Gundt Bear family) and the table top was provided by some unknown craftsman in 19th Century Normandy. The fine patina of the table seems to be perfect for hosting our Bear Wars. Today's battle was known as The Battle of Bear Hollow. Lord Paddington Bear's Blue Army was defending the local Bear Hollow Candy Shop. His objective was to keep all of the store candy out of the hands of the pink army.

The game layout showing the Bear Hollow Candy Store at the bottom of the picture and the town of Bear Hollow at the top of the table. Der Alte Daddy's Blue Army is shown in battle array defending the candy store, while Lady Emma gleefully contemplates capturing all of the honey pots (M&M's).

Lady Emma commanded the Pink Army and her objective was to capture the Bear Hollow Candy Store and to pick up as many honey pots (Almond M&M's) as she could find. The honey pots were hidden (not very well) all over the table top and one of the victory objectives was to capture more honey pots than the opposing army. As before, the rules were made up on the spur of the moment. Movement rates were walking (2 x D6) and running (3 x D6) with the proviso that a running unit may not fire. A walking unit may move and fire.

No bears were hurt in the filming of this battle. All bear casualties were simply conked on the noggin with cork guns and sent to the hospital where they recovered nicely.

The Pink Army advances down Candy Cane Way in impeccible order.

We rolled D6 dice to determine the initiative and Lady Emma's army earned the first advance, picking up a couple of honey pots by the side of the road as well as in the woods. She sent one regiment of bears along the road to her right, while sending the second regiment off to the left flank and into the woods, where there appeared to be an abundance of riches (honey pots).

The 2nd Pink Bear Regiment enters the woods on the left in open order.

Lady Emma Cuddleston-Smythe quickly figured out the value of collecting the honey pots. Afterall, the victor gets to eat all of the spoils at the end of the game. I also taught her some of the rudiments of warfare, such as the value of turning the opponent's flank. Her advance through the woods quickly outflanked my righthand regiment, which had to fall back towards the Candy Store.

A view of Der Alte Daddy's Blue Army defenses around the Candy Store.

My plan was to advance forward and try to capture the honey pots that were inside the little hen house shown above.

The 2nd Pink Regiment captures the Hen House and outflanks the Blue Army, which has to fall back.

The dice gods were kind to Lady Emma, and she started mowing down my Blue Bears in short order. I had some good saving throughs on the left side of the table, but my luck was not very good in the tense battle for the Hen House, which Lady Emma captured.

Lady Emma talks some smack with Der Alte Daddy after her 1st Pink Regiment mows down my unfortunate 1st Blue Regiment. Ouch! Off to the hospital they go!

Things were not going much better on the other side of the table. In one volley, I lost 5 of my Blue Bears to only one of the Pink Bears. I decided to bug out and run back towards the Candy Store and scoop up some honey pots along the way.

The last stand of the Blue Army in front of the Candy Shop.

The above picture shows Lady Emma's Pink Army closing in on the Candy Shop from both sides. On the final turn, she decided to have part of the 1st Pink Regiment (shown at the bottom of the picture above) run for the honey pots while the other half remained in the firing line to shoot at my blue bears. Nice move Lady Emma!

Those clever Pink Bears go for the honey pots on the last turn.

The winner! "Daddy, this is toooo easy!" said Lady Emma

The game ended with the Pink Army knocking out 11 Blue Bears to only 5 Pink Bears and capturing the Bear Hollow Candy Store. In addition, Lady Emma also captured 12 honey pots to a mere 2 captured by the Blue Army. It was a complete and utter rout of Lord Paddington Bear's Blue Army and I am sure that the history books will have many words about the famous Battle of Bear Hollow and Lady Emma's great victory.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Painting Update

Examples of some recent painting projects (L-R) Imperialist 1806 Prussian dragoons, Stadden SYW Prussian hussars, and Crusader SYW Austrian Horse Grenadiers. The Crusader figure indicates the style of basing that I use on my figures. The other 2 figures have not been based yet.

July Painting Production Is Down
July was not a very productive month for me on the painting table. My production fell to a mere 27 Olley Painting Points for the month. This included 20 French 1806 artillery crew, 4 French guns, and SYW Prussian 12 pounder plus limber plus ammunition wagon. This is far short of my monthly goal of 60 to 72 points, but given that I was tallying over 100 points per month in recent months, the slow down was rather inevitable.

I attribute the painting malaise to a couple of factors including the playing of a couple of games during the month (always a good thing to do), getting ready for Historicon, and focusing too much on the 1806 Napoleonic project. I have noticed that when I get away from my Seven Years War touchstone, that my interest begins to wane. Don't get me wrong, I like the Napoleonic era of history, but painting Napoleonics eventually grinds me down.

I gave myself some time off from painting after returning from Historicon last week. But on Friday, I picked up the brushes again and started working on a batch of 36 SYW Prussian infantry. These are some of my own Potsdam Miniatures and the unit that I chose to paint was IR18 Prinz von Pruessen regiment. They have the typical Prussian infantry uniform, but have rose or pink turnbacks and facings. It was a slow grind at first, but by Saturday I felt as if my painting mojo was coming back. I finished the 36 figures this morning and set to work on the final 24 figures that I will need to complete the battalion.

I do not really need any more Prussian infantry though. This unit will give me 16 battalions once completed. I rather think that 15 battalions is optimal because I can fit 5 battalions into each of my plastic storage cases and 3 or 4 cases is about the maximum number that I can transport in my car trunk (or the boot for those of you in the UK). Afterall, one must save some room for the cavalry, n'est-ce pas?

Painting Service Announcement
Der Alte Fritz occasionally rents out his brush to those who would like to commission some horse and musket wargame units. While my preference is to paint figures in the 18th Century, my expertise spans the Roman Empire through the Sudan Campaign. I am not fond of anything in khaki or post 1900. Feel free to browse through the archives on my blog for examples of my work. I currenlty have openings in my schedule to take on some new painting commissions. If you are interested in some high quality painting work, then drop me a line and we can discuss your project. You can reach me at: for more information.

Optimal Convention Game Size for BAR rules
After running three games of BAR at Historicon on a 20 foot long table, I have had some time to contemplate on what the optimal size convention game should look like. Time is of the essence in a convention setting, so fewer troops on the table top results in a faster game resolution and more action in the game. Our first game featured 15 battalions, the second game had 12 battalions, and the third game had only 9 battalions. Obviously, the last game was over sooner. As a result, I've concluded that 9 battalions per side is the best number of infantry units to game with in a convention game. This breaks down into three brigades of three battalions plus one artillery piece.

Using the convention that cavalry should represent no more than 25% to 33% of the infantry force, then the correct number of cavalry figures would be three full regiments of 60 figures, or 180 cavalry at the most. For a faster game, I would downsize cavalry regiments to 36 figures and give each side 4 regiments of 36 figures, divided equally on each flank of the army. A lesser number of cavalry figures means that the number of melees is reduced - and melees are the bane of fast moving wargames.

For our homegroup in Milwaukee, we are all familiar with the rules and thus we can handle larger brigades while concluding the game in the same amount of time that we would have for a convention game. The difference, I suppose, is that the home group doesn't have to be taught the rules whereas the convention gamers need a couple of turns to get up to speed.

Getting Ready For the Big OSW Game in October
Last evening I started to jot down some ideas for the terrain and scenario for my annual Old School Wargamers big battalion game, which I will be hosting at the Marriot Lincolnshire Resort, in early October (in the Chicago area). The game date is Saturday October 11, 2008 - although we usually set up the game table the Friday night before and convene at the bar for some socializing and strategery.

Needless to say, thoughts about the forces required for this year's game is focusing my mind on adding a few more units here and there. This also helps to renew my interest in painting again. So it looks like I am breaking out of the malaise and hope to report back with more progress by the end of August.

May your dice always roll high.