Thursday, 25 October 2007
I'm back in the working world from the weekend after next when I'll be able to get going on the RSM95 Hanovarian figures and transform them into the loyal troops of The Grand Duchy. I do like these figures; the style and sculpting are excellent. The command figures include drummers and ensigns, both obviously eager youths pressing forward to get into action. Hopefully it won't be too long before they see it!
Friday, 19 October 2007
Monday, 15 October 2007
Thursday, 11 October 2007
And so to the first of the nuts and bolts, plain vanilla units of the Dunkeldorf-Pfühl army: The 1st Line Brigade. Following the Austrian style uniform pattern, the line units are marked by the broad yellow band on their tricorns.
At the moment I'm still undecided about unit figure strengths for the Dunkeldorf-Pfühl line regiments. I'd like to follow Austrian practise (again) and have large units of perhaps 48 figures. In which case I'll cut the number of line brigades to just two.
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Tuesday, 9 October 2007
Monday, 8 October 2007
General Count von Raupen-Schlepper put the document down on his desk, picked up his pen and signed it. He refrained from writing with his usual flourish; if anything he had difficulty signing the document at all, such was his annoyance.
He looked at the assembled officers over the tops of his pince-nez, and considered how he should handle the situation. Oberst-Inhaber Count Sleibnitz stood at attention, his cocked hat tucked at a precise angle beneath his left arm. Of middling height, thirty, blond, with chiselled features and piercing blue eyes, the man reminded Raupen-Schlepper of a coiled spring, all blue steel and suppressed energy. His sky-blue uniform was new and immaculate, his bearing soldierly. A trace of a smile hovered around Sleibnitz's lips. Had it been any other man standing before the General Intendant's desk, he would have punched the air and crowed with delight at winning such a prize. As it was, the suppressed energy radiating from the man was all the more unnerving.
It was a marked contrast to Sleibnitz's rival, Oberst-Inhaber Wöhl. A plump, dark little man of fifty or so years old, he bore an air of perpetual worry that had deepened in the time the meeting had progressed. Raupen-Schlepper eyed him with genuine concern. Wöhl's face had turned a distinct puce and his eyes were mere slits in his face.
I'm getting too old for this scheisse! He thought. "Gentlemen," he said aloud, directing his attention to all but Sleibnitz and Wöhl, "I thank you for attending this meeting. May it prove an auspicious one for Hetzenberg arms."
The officers clicked their heels and withdrew, some with obvious reluctance until they were shepherded out by his ADC, Captain Scharf. Raupen-Schlepper knew he wasn't the only one to sense the atmosphere in the room. Rivalries between officers and regiments were nothing new, but that between the Oberst-Inhabers of the new First and Second regiments of the Line promised to be a classic.
Raupen-Schlepper looked at the men. "Colonels, while I have you here in my office, the Großartiger Armeerat has directed me to inquire into the methods of recruiting your regiments."
"I have a number of complaints, General!" Wöhl said, stiffening on cue. "The methods used by my colleague here were devious and underhand!"
"My regiment followed the army guidelines with strict probity," Sleibnitz protested, his expression one of hurt surprise. "Is my colleague implying that I had something to do with his regiment's tardy muster? Not one of my recruiting bands ventured outside their designated areas."
"I'm sure you did have something to do with it all!" Wöhl turned to Raupen-Schlepper. "General, my recruiting sergeants were doing well. I received messages that they had gathered dozens of men ready to march to my depot. They kept within the boundaries of my recruiting area, yet they vanished for weeks before returning empty-handed! They claimed to have been arrested for violating the conscription code by straying into Count Sleibnitz's territory! Each spoke of confusing directions given by local guides, of signposts that had been tampered with. The recruits they'd gathered were marched away to Sleibnitz's depot to swell the ranks of his regiment. I'm certain sabotage lies at the bottom of it all, and that this man is responsible!"
Wöhl's finger quivered with rage as he stabbed it in the air at Sleibnitz. His face had turned from puce to deep purple, and to Raupen-Schelepper's jaundiced eye he looked like a plump outraged Burgermeister who'd discovered his wife was having an affair.
Sleibnitz's reply was calm, even icy. "My recruiting bands did not venture outside their areas…"
"No, but your agents bloody well did!" Wöhl roared.
"What agents?" Sleibnitz glanced from Wöhl to Raupen-Schlepper. "I appeal to you, General! Can my colleague provide any scrap of proof to back his wild allegations?"
"Can you, Oberst Wöhl?" Raupen-Schlepper asked quietly, forestalling another burst of temper.
Wöhl quivered for a few seconds them turned aside to stare out of the window at the parade ground below, his arms folded across his chest almost as if he were trying to prevent himself from exploding. "Bah! Of course I can't," he growled. "Sleibnitz was careful to cover his tracks!"
"Then this matter will go no further. No further, Colonel Wöhl! Colonel Sleibnitz!" Raupen-Schlepper said. He tapped his desk. "We stand at the beginning of a long and dangerous time for our Duchy. The Duke will be most displeased to hear that rancour is already breaking out between the officers of his army. There will be no duels, no slanders; no reprisals for slights imagined or otherwise. Do I make myself clear?"
Sometimes I'm nothing more than a bloody schoolmaster disciplining unruly schoolboys! He thought.
"I'm sure my cousin will have no grounds for worry on my part," Sleibnitz said, his tone smooth.
"I'm certain His Grace will not. Oberst Wöhl?"
"As you wish, General," the man replied between gritted teeth.
"Very well." Raupen-Schlepper tried for a note of conciliation. "Gentlemen, you have your regiments. Both of you have made excellent progress in filling their ranks on time, in spite of any… difficulties. Return to your men! Train them as well as you can, and I'm sure your methods will prove exemplary. Put aside your differences, for the sake of our nation and the service of our Duke!"
Sleibnitz clicked his heels and bowed. Wöhl followed suit after a moment. But when Sleibnitz turned and offered his hand, Wöhl turned on his heel and departed the room without a backward glance. Raupen-Schlepper glanced at Captain Scharf, who took the hint and followed Wöhl out the door. The General could hear his aide's courteous tones as he began the lengthy process of calming the outraged officer.
"Well," Sleibnitz said ruefully, looking at his extended hand. He lowered it and smiled. "I shall depart also, General. If I may have my commission?"
Raupen-Schlepper picked up the document and held it out. He twitched it away just before Sleibnitz took it. "Is there any truth in Oberst-Inhaber Wöhl's accusations?"
Sleibnitz's eyes glittered. "Oh, there may have been some small infractions on the part of my staff. They're so very keen to enhance the prestige of their regiment and enter the war. I shall make inquiries when I return to the depot."
Raupen-Schlepper handed him the commission. "I shall be watching your career with close attention, Herr Oberst."
"I'm flattered, General."
"Oh, it's not a compliment." Raupen-Schlepper leaned on the desk and glared at the younger man. "Behave yourself and serve your country, and all will be well. But give me any excuse, any shred of impropriety in your conduct, and I shall bring you crashing down, Ducal cousin or not!"
Sleibnitz's smile slipped. For a moment their eyes locked, and at that moment he looked like a blue-eyed Bengal tiger Raupen-Schlepper's father had brought back from his travels many years before. It was caged and restrained, but still had that aura of latent power. It was perfectly capable of killing a man in an instant if a mistake were made. He had seen some dangerous men in his time but the one standing before him now was the worst.
But he himself was not lacking in courage or a willingness to make heads roll. "Any excuse, Herr Oberst. Any excuse."
"Just so, General." Sleibitz clicked his heels and bowed.
He left, and Raupen-Schlepper sat down heavily in his chair feeling drained.
Captain Scharf entered, looking thoughtful. "Oberst Reignitz of the Bishop's Horse is here to see you, sir," he said.
"Oh, God!" Raupen-Schlepper sighed. "Very well, Ludwig, show him in then have some coffee and cake sent up, if you please."
The ADC departed and Raupen-Schlepper stared out at the parade ground. The late autumn sun flooded the expanse of ground and lit the trees at the far end by the river with glories of gold and auburn. He wished he was out there, walking by the river with his wife and grandchildren. Instead, he was faced with a potentially long and difficult war, made all the more difficult by contrary and fractious officers. Once, it would've been a challenge and he'd have relished it. Now? Now I'm getting too old for this scheisse! He thought.
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Saturday, 6 October 2007
Show above are the standards of the Leib Brigade. Unusually, the Leib regiments are assigned as the elite component to the three Line brigades, and are only combined into a Leib brigade when a special effort is needed on the field of battle.
Friday, 5 October 2007
Wolfram sighed, as only an older brother can. "I know you too well, Karl. The bonhomie doesn't fool me."
"No; I can see that." Karl swirled the wine in his glass. "Forgive me for trying so lame an appearance of normality. Circumstances have been anything but lately." He met his brother's gaze. "I want your regiment."
Karl cocked his head. "You don't sound too surprised."
"I'm not." Wolfram leaned back in his chair. "The Duchy needs an army and my men are both trained and experienced. It's only natural that the Großartiger Armeerat should cast longing glances at my bodyguard."
"General Küster thinks highly of them."
"And so he should. He trained most of my officers. Under their command the regiment has performed sterling service for me and my predecessor."
"Indeed. Theirs is an envious record. So, will you give me your regiment?"
Wolfram fished his meerschaum pipe from his pocket and began to tamp it with tobacco. Karl smiled. "You know me, brother, and I know you." He gestured at the pipe. "You're playing for time."
"Indeed!" The valet lit a taper from the sealing-wax lamp burning on the bureau and offered it to him. Wolfram thanked the man and lit his pipe, puffing it into life with a few short intakes of breath. Satisfied it would stay lit he turned his attention to Karl. "I want something in return."
"Ah!" Karl rubbed his hands. "And so we begin. What do you wish?"
Wolfram took a deep lungful of tobacco smoke and released it in a long stream. Out of politeness he aimed it away from his brother. "I want official support for my refutation of the Convocation of Waldorf-Salle-Adse."
Karl winced. Wolfram knew his brother had admirable composure at the negotiating table but here in private he could let his feelings show – while still being a tough bargainer. "Difficult," Karl said. Wolfram shrugged. Karl pursed his lips. "You know since that wretched librarian found that equally wretched treatise by Archbishop Wölnutz the whole continent has been in uproar."
"Wölnutz on Waldorf-Salle-Adse." Wolfram nodded his face grim. "Oh yes, I know it well!"
"And you find it difficult to digest," Karl said sympathetically. "Unfortunately the Duchy cannot countenance anything as… ecumenical as support for your stance at this juncture." Wolfram opened his mouth to speak but Karl beat him to the punch. "I can offer the Abbey of St. Sinnlos."
Wolfram blinked, closed his mouth with a snap. "Hmm!"
"Don't say it isn't a tempting offer!" Karl signalled to the valet, who brought him a box of cigars and a lit taper. "Come, Wolfram! You've been hankering after that wretched place for years."
"It's not so wretched, Karl. St. Sinnlos is a valuable Abbey."
Karl's eyes twinkled. "And it has important voting rights in the Ducal Council!"
"There is that, of course." Wolfram furrowed his brow in thought. "With those votes added to my own, it would give me a great deal of power in the Council's deliberations."
"I'm aware of that." Karl waved his hand. The cigar left a thin trail of smoke in the air. "Wolfram, had you not declined your right to inherit father's title, you would be sitting here in my place with all that implies."
Wolfram looked at Karl. Karl gazed back as he lit his cigar. "You would seriously give me the one thing that could possibly trump a refutation?"
"You must need my bodyguard very badly."
"Brother, I can honestly say they could make the difference between survival of the Duchy or defeat at the hands of Dunkeldorf-Pfühl."
Wolfram puffed on his pipe. "Hmm. I'm the last man to display disloyalty to my nation."
"But if you want my men, I want the Abbey and two more things in return."
"The Bishop of Guggenheim's Regiment of Horse must be included in the Guard Cavalry Brigade."
"Agreed! They're elite troopers. It's only fair."
"And the Duchy shall pay their wages!"
Karl winced. "Agreed," he said after a pause and held out his hand. Wolfram took it and they shook. "I'll tell General Küster to set matters in hand. You'll inform your Oberst?"
"Yes. It's only fair." Wolfram took another deep lungful of smoke and exhaled it in a long sigh. "It's not something I'm looking forward to!"
Thursday, 4 October 2007
"It was a most electrifying speech, Your Grace," the Chancellor, Heinrich, Count Ostenburg replied. "No doubt there will be volunteers by the thousands queuing at the recruiting centers." He smiled. "The records will show that here is where Hetzenberg began to fight back against the unjust claims Dunkeldorf-Pfühl has on our lands!"
"You have doubts, Your Grace?" Heinrich asked, cocking his head.
"We are not prepared, Heinrich."
A new voice spoke up. "Neither is Dunkeldorf, Your Grace."
Karl turned to favour his cavalry brigade commander with a penetrating stare. "You are sure of that, General?"
General Küster clicked his heels and nodded. "I am, Your Grace. Word reached the Großartiger Armeerat late yesterday."
"Why wasn't I told? No word from our agents was expected before next week at the earliest."
"My apologies, Your Grace, but the hour was very late. We did not wish to disturb you. Our men learned all there was to know sooner than expected. They report none of the Dunkeldorfer regiments are up to strength. Their recruiting drive is lacklustre. Some attempt has been made to recruit mercenaries to make up the strength but the Margrave's pay offer is miserly. Few men are taking his coin, and those only the most desperate."
"Hmm!" Karl rubbed his hands. "Good. Then the winter remains for us to recruit, form new regiments and train them into fighting shape. How is your cavalry, General?"
"The Rumtopft are fighting fit as always, Your Grace. Count Nikolai's hussars need work, but there's no denying their spirit." He stroked his bristling blond moustache. "Something may be made of them yet."
Karl smiled and wagged a finger. "Please, General! Do not let Count Noamchomski hear you make such comments."
The General smiled back and bowed with another click of his heels. "The Count's predilection for duelling is well known to me, Your Grace. I shall take care."
"Just so." Karl glanced at the ormolu clock on the wall and addressed his Chancellor. "My brother is expected shortly. Make sure he's shown into the private wing as soon as he arrives."
"As you wish, Your Grace."
* * * * *
Wolfram von Hetzenberg, Bishop of Guggenheim walked unannounced into the private quarters of the Ducal Palace. As family, it was his right to do so. Had his will been different, the Palace itself would be his. But his life had taken a different path.
His younger brother emerged from the bedchamber with his valet still fussing at the exact drape of his cravat. Karl gestured for the man to be still and advanced, arms outstretched. "Wolfram!"
They embraced, Karl slapping his ecclesiastical brother heartily on the back before they separated. "Some claret, brother?"
Wolfram nodded and smiled acceptance. Taking the glass proffered by his brother he sat in one of the overstuffed chairs, sipped, and nodded approval. "A Doppeldorf, '28 vintage unless I miss my guess."
"Just so, Wolfram." Karl sat opposite, his legs outstretched, and drank deep of his own wine. With a smack of his lips he tilted the glass in salute. "You always did have a fine palate for wine.
"It has its uses." Fixing the Duke with a stern gaze Wolfram leaned forward and tapped his knee. "Now, brother! We meet in private; you greet me with hearty backslapping, and draw out your best vintage. What is it you want of me?"
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
To some extent this method is similar to that found in Tony Bath's seminal "Setting up a wargames campaign." Each hexagon on the map returns a population figure depending on the prevailing terrain, and thus a given value of taxable income. From this comes the national military budget. As others on the Old School Wargames loop have noted, only a small proportion of the population can be called to arms before the economy begins to fall apart. The armies of Hetzenberg and Dunkeldorf are hardly going to be military leviathans in any case, and using this reasoning suits me just fine!
At the moment I'm equivocal about what level of depth and detail to use in my campaign world. The 2nd Edition of "Warfare in the Age of Reason" rules by Tod Kershner and Dale Wood (Emperor's Press of Chicago) has a nice-looking campaign system called The Sport of Kings. It includes a neat set of seige-craft rules too, an essential in 18th century wargaming.
So, a question (and a poll). What depth of campaign rules do you prefer? Deep, moderate, or superficial - or even "What rules?"