Friday 22 March 2019

Last Roar of the Lion

This post gives the background to my Gustav II Adolf command base for the Lutzen game.

Gustav II Adolf, the 'Lion of the North' is one of the iconic figures of the Thirty Years War, and is famous amongst wargamers for many military innovations.  Lutzen, 1632, was the second and last of Gustav's major battles in the Thirty Years War.  His death in the battle cemented Gustav's position as a hero of the Protestant cause at the time, and as a national icon for Sweden to this day.

In some ways you could say that Gustav was a risk taker.  He was not the sort of general who commanded from the rear.   He took decisions based on being in the thick of the action.  There appear to be numerous occasions in his earlier Polish campaigns where he narrowly missed serious injury, death or capture.  It was one such narrow escape which saw him wounded and this wound which continued to make it too painful for him to wear armour.  So, at Lutzen the scene was set.  Being at the front of the action led to Gustav receiving another wound.  While trying to retire to the rear, poor visibility seems to have led to Gustav and his entourage blundering in to the path of Imperial cavalry who recognised a senior enemy commander, even if they were not sure of who exactly it was.  His entourage were either killed or dispersed, and Gustav was killed trying to escape.
As I said in my previous post, I really like the Warlord Games Gustav figure (here).  He is in a really dynamic pose, charging in to the thick of the action.  Very in character for him, especially at the battle where this boldness probably led to his untimely demise.  His horse appears to be just landing after jumping some obstacle.  I used an old cannon model I had in my bits box to provide the obstacle that Streiff, Gustav's mount, had just leapt over.  Interestingly Streiff, who died after the battle, was stuffed and is still to be seen at the Royal Armoury museum in Stockholm (link).
The model was a joy to paint.  A nicely detailed metal casting that fitted together (man and horse) very easily.  I undercoated in Humbrol enamel matt black (seems to be a growing trend!) and then painted in Vallejo acrylics.  Finished off with a coat of Daler-Rowney matt acrylic varnish, which I find to be the mattest finish out there.  I have tried to give an impression of Gustav in the same clothing looted from his body in the battle, riding Streiff.
Gustav is accompanied by two equally excitable companions, also leaping their horses over the broken cannon debris.  These are two further Warlord figures, Fairfax and Rupert.  Rupert went together very nicely, while Fairfax needed a tiny smidge of green stuff to make the join between his body and legs work.  I also decided to change Fairfax's helmet.  He has a very nice three barred English pot helmet, with the three barred visor raised.  This type of helmet is more typical of the English Civil Wars rather than the conflicts on the continent.  I snipped off the raised visor, and then cut this down to be just a peak that I glued back on to his helmet.  I then added small pieces above and below the peak to represent the adjustable nasal bar of a Dutch pot helmet.  A bit fiddly but I think it looks ok.

I still need to add some flock and tufts, but I am pretty pleased with the command stand.  I hope Gustav will be luckier at the Lutzen refight on the 6th April and manage to survive!

Until next time.

Tuesday 19 March 2019

Salute 2019

Excitement mounts as we get closer to the 6th April, the day of Salute 2019.  The wrist bands and set up instructions are through from the organisers, and our own travel plans are all in place.  I think we have planes, trains and automobiles covered in terms of how all of us are getting there.  I have tried to persuade someone to come by canal barge, but everyone else thought just three modes of transport was fine!

Check out the South London Warlords site for details, including a map of order stands and games, here.

The FOGH game will be at GK13.  I hope you will stop by to look at the game and chat.

You should also be able to find us as we will have the following banner next to the table.
The dress rehearsal game did highlight a couple of things to address.  One was themed dice.  Probably a bit frivolous, but who doesn't need new dice occasionally?!  We have gone for Blue with yellow dots for the Swedes + Allies, and Red with White dots for the Imperials.

We had already planned to have lots of cotton wool for the smoke from burning Lützen town, but one of the team suggested we use those LED fake 'tea-lights' to add to the effect.  Thanks to Andy Mk II for these, which I think will look great!

It was also noted at the dress rehearsal game that no one had yet painted a Gustav figure.  Well, you can't really do Lützen without the Lion of the North, himself.  I have the Warlord Games figure (here) but had been wondering where to get some other suitably animated figures to accompany him on his command base.  I allow my commanders in chief a fairy generous round base and normally expect at least two other figures to represent the great man's entourage.  The solution was actually quite simple as two other of Warlord's general figures were ideal.   The Warlord Fairfax (here) and Rupert (here) figures are in equally dynamic poses.   My plan is to have Gustav leading the charge, his horse having just cleared some obstacle, with the following figures having their horse just about to jump the obstacle.  I think I have an old unwanted artillery piece in the bits box which might be a suitable obstacle.  The additional figures have been purchased and the lot undercoated.

 (Fairfax has had a slight conversion; he comes with a fine English triple barred pot, and so I have converted this in to a more Thirty Years War-ish (to me!) single barred Dutch pot.)

The latest personal painting challenge!

Until next time.

Friday 15 March 2019

Dress Rehearsal

With the miniature battlefield complete (see previous post on Fun With Fur) we had the opportunity to get the toy soldiers out and check if and how the troops etc. fitted with the terrain.  A wargame ‘dress rehearsal’ was therefore arranged.

We gathered at one of our regular club Saturday meets and started the set up. The foundations of the battlefield are a set of 600mm x 600mm foam modules, 5 modules by 3. Over the top of the modules the teddy bear fur surface was unrolled. All good so far!

First of all we added the 3 windmills. One still to be painted!  Now, this is where figure / terrain scale and ground scale clash badly. The model windmills will take up far more room that the actual windmills did. I think we can live with this, and we may need to shuffle them around during the game as they shouldn’t interrupt troop movement unduly.  With the windmills down we could now add the windmill artillery battery, and also the miller’s house.

We then got down to discussing the town of Lutzen. Only the gardens surrounding the town walls were part of the battlefield as the Imperial forces set fire to the town itself so they didn’t need to defend all of it. We therefore planned to only represent a small part of the town and the surrounding garden. Bruce, who was building the town and garden bits, was keen try out his measurements on the final battle-rug.   After detailed pictures and measurements we’re taken we used some of my fields to stand in for gardens during the dress rehearsal.

Next we needed the smaller Imperial battery, on the Imperial left flank.   We used some resin fortifications to represent this. (I have subsequently built something custom for this!). Finally there is a pond and small wood on the Imperial extreme left flank. I have built a Charlie Foxtrot pond and already have some suitable winter trees (ie no foliage).

With the basic terrain down we could start deploying the troops. All three of us who are providing the figures still have units to complete (paint faster, Bruce!) and so we had brought stand-ins for some units to ensure we could see a full picture. (Not sure my Covenant cavalry would have been entirely happy about playing the part of the Imperial Croat light horse!).  We had a detailed order of battle to use (see future post) but there was plenty of shuffling around required.  We have used the Osprey Lutzen campaign book, cross referenced with the Schürger thesis to develop our initial deployment.

With the troops on the table we could then focus on the ‘fluff’; the camp, camp followers, vignettes, and scatter terrain.  There is not much room behind the Swedish deployment, but not a huge issue as the Swedish army has marched some way from its camp to confront the Imperial army so most camp stuff will be on the Imperial side.

We then spent some minutes just taking it all in.  Our new table full of toy soldiers, many of them taking the field for the first time.   “Do you think you’ll get it all finished in time?” was a common remark from our fellow club members. Oh yea of little faith!

I’d have been happy at this point to just sit and look at it all, but a concerned discussion had started. “The Swedes will never make it forward; look at all of the Imperial Guns!”  I thought that, despite looking scary, the Pike Shotte rules have a good balance on big guns, and it’s not like trying to charge in to the teeth of Napoleonic Guard 12 pounder batteries. We decided to play through a few moves of the Swedish and Allied Infantry marching to contact to test my theory.

We split into to two teams, and got out the dice and rulers. Exciting!  Just the Infantry to fight.  We quickly learnt our first important lesson. You can’t roll dice on teddy bear fur!  Dice rolling trays were going to be required. Various notes were scribbled and play continued rolling dice on box lids.  We played 4 or 5 turns. Although a niggling annoyance at long range, the Imperial guns didn’t stop the Protestant tide. The small Imperial battery was smartly taken by the Yellow brigade (point to note, Imperial left wing cavalry commander!). The old Blue and Green brigades came on and fierce fire fights developed around the miller’s house and Windmill battery.

We called time (had to put the toys away again) but were heartened that the first few turns had felt just right for us.  Back to the paint brushes everyone!

Until next time.

Saturday 2 March 2019

Fun With Fur - Materials & Tools

I have had some people ask which particular fur, or paint etc. I used in making the cloth.  I thought I would add this to the blog so that I could also remember what I used in the future.

I chose these products from google / amazon searches and reading online reviews.  I don't get anything for the free advertising; I'm just sharing what I used.


Material for joining the fur pieces. This is a really wide piece. You can get narrower as well. 
96" wide Extra Wide Medium Weight Calico Fabric - per metre


The replacement brush I had to buy after borrowing my daughter’s brush.
Denman D90 Tangle Tamer Hairbrush


The fabric glue used to join the faux fur to the calico. I used 4 tubes in the end. 
2pk Fabric Glue by Craft Central | Extra Strong & Large 50ml Fabric Glue for Clothes, Fabrics & Textiles | No More Needle and Thread as Now You Can Sew in Seconds


The main deal!
Plain Fun Faux Fur Fabric Material ANTELOPE BROWN


You can use these wired or unwired. They’re the only clippers I’ve ever bought so difficult to recommend over others. They did the job!
Pet Grooming Clippers TOPOP...


Err. It’s a comb. Probably the most important tool. Get two. 
Gents Pocket Hair Plastic Comb 6" Pack of 2


I used what I could find in the house, including raiding my wife and daughters’ stashes.  A big mixture!
From Acrylic Essentials craft paint I used green, brown and yellow!
I had quite a lot of Dulux tester pots left over from another project. Forest Lake, Rum Caramel, Woodland Fern. 
Daler Rowney Graduate Acrylics: Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Buff Titanium. A Chrome green from some other make as well. 

I think the Yellow Ochre and the Chrome Green were my favourites.  It was very liberating to use a 2” brush and to mix colours with such abandon. 

Friday 1 March 2019

Fun With Fur

After the initial excitement of planning the figure purchases for the battle it began to dawn on us that we’d need a battlefield to fight on.  In some ways Lutzen has some advantages when it comes to the battlefield.  It is fairly flat and made up of fields.  We planned to have the town at one end, and we didn’t think we’d need to model the streams.  So, no complicated topography.  We could have just gone for a set of plain terrain modules, or a generic cloth.  However, that would have been too easy, we decided to set ourselves a challenge.

The type of terrain that was tempting us was teddy bear fur, or faux fur if you prefer.   It seems to be the new terrain wonder material.  After watching a few YouTube videos, and reading a few blogs I decided to have a crack at it.  The first thing was the raw material.  The battlefield was planned to be 10’ by 6’.  If there was some faux fur material available 6’ wide, then we’d be laughing.  It would just be a matter of ordering a suitable length.  However, the widest I could find was 5’ wide.  This meant that two pieces would need to be joined.  I suppose it would have been possible to just place them on the table next to one another, but we wanted a permanent join.

I investigated a joining solution involving sewing; too complicated.  It was my wife who suggested fabric glue. I didn’t realise such a substance existed.  I bought a small amount of faux fur for experimental purposes and found a spare piece of calico.  I glued one piece of faux fur on to the calico, and then fitted the second piece next to it.  Following some combing the join was pretty well disguised.  It was time to go full size!

Two 5’ wide pieces joined would make a 10’ wide cloth.  Some advanced mathematics suggested 12’ of 5’ wide cloth, cut in to two and joined would provide the requisite battlefield.  I also needed a piece of calico for the join around 6’ long, and a foot wide.

I pinned one length of fur over half of the calico strip.  Once I was happy it was pinned straight I glued the fur on to the calico with liberal amounts of fabric glue.  This was quite messy and fiddley.  I let this dry overnight.

I then pinned the second piece of fur to the calico/fur piece, being careful to ensure the two pieces of fur butted up to one another.  I then glued the second piece down.  I used a comb (the faux fur tool of choice!) to keep the fur out of the way and tried to get glue only on the fur backing material and the calico.  Once again quite fiddley.

I was very pleased with the end result.  A giant piece of teddy bear fur.  Now the process could continue as per the guides I had already researched.  All of the guidance I read said to have a plan before you start doing anything to the fur.  I had worked out a road plan for the Lutzen battlefield, and using a sharpie, drew this out on the material.  Then I could start shaving!

At this point I would suggest you read one of the many expert descriptions of the process.  My favourite was Barry Hilton’s on his League of Augsburg blog here.  Barry in turn refers to the Red Baron’s YouTube video here.  I had bought a cheap dog trimmer, and plastic combs.  Based on Barry and the Red Baron’s experiences I had bought a fur with a shorter length of fur.  I still needed to do a lot of shaving.  I shaved the roadways all the way down to the backing material.  I then shaved different lengths over the cloth representing the autumn/winter fields and rough ground surrounding Lutzen.  This was a lot of fun, and amazingly messy.  Definitely an outdoor job!  

Next day the painting started.  I collected together every yellow, green and brown acrylic paint I could find in the house.  I had children’s craft paint, artist colours and emulsion interior paint.  The painting was also a lot of fun and I enjoyed mixing the colours and imagining the landscape I was creating.  Stubble fields, grass road verges, and areas of scrubby grassland.  I made one mistake at this point, and this was not combing in the paint enough.  I learnt to keep combing the newly painted area until the paint was as spread out as possible.  I had to go back over some areas the next day with water and a tangle tamer brush to break up clogs of paint where I hadn’t combed enough to to start with.  Be warned.  The painting, and then sorting out problems I caused, took a couple of days. I was lucky with fabulous February weather that allowed outside drying.

Next, I used Barry’s approach to the roads.  Paint, PVA and sand, with some water to taste.

Next, a dry brushing over the dark brown using buff.  Done!

The resulting battle rug rolls up very nicely.  I need to investigate some storage options, perhaps something to roll the monster on to.  I am very pleased with the result.  Having the basic battlefield structure set out meant that it was now possible to get the toy soldiers out and start working out if they would all fit together, and how the buildings etc. would fit on the layout.  Dress rehearsal results next time!