Thursday, January 31, 2019

Newest Old Distraction

Once again I have lost focus. Instead of finishing a project that is really close, I have jumped over to something completely different. I am back looking at the Seven Years War again.

Researching this particular rabbit hole has been really interesting. First, I have to give a huge thanks to the fine folks at Kronoskaf. Their site on the Seven Years War has been so much fun to go through. I have previously noted that I wanted to model a force based off of Frei-Infantrie Von Mayr. The campaign I am most interested in is the Prussian push into Bohemia. During this campaign, Von Mayr is given a larger command of close to 2000 men including 400 cavalry to destroy some Austrian magazines in Bohemia and then raid into the German Austrian Allies and prevent them from raising forces to aid the Austrian War effort.

The first item that I needed was a period map to understand the places that were listed in the sketchy reports that I could find. What I found was the Muller Map of Bohemia that predates the Seven Years War and was printed in 1723. What is attractive about this map is that it looks like it belongs in a Sharp Practice Campaign. It was one of the first systematic mapping efforts taken of the area. Thus it has potential for use of earlier wars as well. There is a nice PDF that gives information about the history of the map and other background info that might be useful. Another good source would be the 1st Military Mapping by the Austro-Hungarians that occured between 1764 to 1767. This was done after the war but still is close enough to get a good lay of the land.

With this map in hand, I set out to map out where the campaign happened. I am still attempting to gather resources and have pulled down several nice histories on line. One account has Von Mayr leading his Frie-Infantrie with another battalion of similar troops (Frei-Infanterie von Kalben) plus about 200 Hussars (2 sqns of Szekely Hussars). These were supported by five artillery pieces, four of which were light one pound weapons and the fifth was twelve pounder. They moved with a minimum of baggage. In a history of Fredrick the Great, von Mayr's force was described as "swift wild fellows, sharp of stroke."

What they largely faced were garrison troops and training groups being gathered to supply troops to the Austrian field army. They begin the campaign in late April 1757 in Charwatetz. Just days prior to this, von Mayr, had gotten some good press by seizing a castle from the Austrians. He covered himself in glory and became visible enough to be given this independent command.

Now Johann von Mayr was a bit of a character. He reads as if he was a generated character from Sharp Practice. He was an illegitimate son of Count Stella. In a biography of Baron von Steuben, it describes his early life, "His boyhood was passed amid scenes of debauchery and profligacy." By eighteen he was expelled from Vienna and was destitute. He entered the military as a band boy in Hungary and fought in a war with Turkey to climb the ranks to become a sergeant. Eventually he became an officer then moved to Bavaria as a soldier of fortune. Then on to Saxony where he ended up leaving service due to a duel fought with a brother officer. This brings him to the attention of Frederick the Great. He hires him to for a Frei-Infantry Regiment to operate as an independent unit to fight the Austrian pandoors and grenzers.

Yet, he really didn't get a chance to shine until teh capture of the Castle of Tetschen. In this operation he was under the command of General Zastrow. On April 25th, the general was shot through the head by an Austrian Pandoor and killed instantly. Within days, von Mayr was given his chance to lead and assigned to destroy one or more Austrain magazines in Bohemia including the one in Pilsen. He makes it to Pilsen by May 2nd and destroyed the magazine beforw turning west towards Nurnberg. Other sources say that Pilsen was reached on May 8th.

Map from the same place as link above.

I have the figures for my von Mayr force. I haven't figured out my Austrians yet.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Chain of Command and What a Tanker - Russian Front 1941, scenarios and buildings


When I try to set deadlines for myself in completing projects, I find myself trying to do anything else but what I need to do. For my Second Battle of Kharkov supplement, I have no need of a large urban church. So I worked on a large urban church yesterday. Actually, that was quite fun. I am using the Church of the Dormition in Kharkov as the inspiration for the church. What this church has is a number of Greek/Roman accents. There are false pillars along the walls and that triangular thing at the roof. This presented a problem as the angle of the roof was much steeper than what I want to model. I am solving this by creating a false front that will have the columns and the triangular top piece that will overlay the existing structure and cover the existing roof angle. This will provide enough additional height to allow the doors and the stained glass windows to be visible with the false front attached.

That is the plan for the bottom floor. Next will be the tower. I haven't figured out what I want to do. The church of the Dormition is a two story structure while my TTCombat building is a single story structure in a cruciform shape. The Dormition church is in more of a 'T' Shape. This does not bother me that much. The goal is to resemble and not duplicate.

The steeple structures are radically different. The base level of the steeple of the Dormition was a square shape which is good as that is the shape that I have for the TTCombat church. But again, the angle of the roof is wrong. This will have to be corrected with a false front again and a new roof structure. This will be from thick card or cardboard. The biggest change will be the top of the steeple. I have a small onion dome from a paper terrain church. It is a nifty wooden one. The only thing it lacks is a coptic cross to put on the top. It came silver but I will probably repaint it gold. The junction between the steeple roof and the onion dome is something I have not figured out yet.

To help with the project, I am photocopying the parts. Then drawing the facade over the top of the photo copies. I can then photocopy that as much as I need to and use it as a template to cut out the parts I need from the cardboard sheeting. Well, that is the thought at this stage of things.


And instead of writing new scenarios, I started to look at old ones. One thing that I intend to include in the SBoK Supplement is a guide for What a Tanker themed games for the battle. The 3rd Panzer Divisions counter attack on the Soviet columns had a number of encounters that would work in either Chain of Command or in What a Tanker. In some places, the rolling advance of the 3rd Panzer almost lends itself to What a Tanker even better than Chain of Command as there were a number of pure armor encounters.

The problem is that the Soviets were in trouble by this point. Short of fuel, ammo and food, the Soviet tanks could not be as aggressive as they had been just a few days earlier at the start of the campaign where they encountered no German tanks. That reminded me of a scenario that I had written for one of the first encounters by the Germans with Soviet T-34 tanks on June 23rd, 1941. Soviet T-34s of the 10th Tank Division ran into a patrol of five tanks from the 15th Panzer Regiment.

Anyway, I don't want to give up the story here. If anyone is interested in a copy of this scenario, please give me an email and I will mail it to you. Even better, if you want the scenario and one of my Chain of Command books (Campaign for Kharkov or In the Name of Roma), I will knock 50% off of the scenario book if you email me that you found this here. This will not work with the buy it now buttons here nor on Wargame Vault or Amazon. (Just too lazy to integrate them.) Just directly through me. You can reach out to me through the contact me on the "talk to Me" form on the left of this post.

Also, I would love to hear play tests of this scenario. I am planning to run a couple myself in the near future. I'd love to hear back from you on how they worked. The terrain is tricky since it is just one big hill with lots of undulations to hide tanks in.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Happy New Year

As 2019 starts to rumble forward, I have started to look at what it is I want to accomplish hobby wise. My Number 1 project by far is the Second Battle of Kharkov. I have the first of two pint sized campaigns ironed out. I am working on terrain for it and want to get it published by the end of first quarter of this year.

But implementation of this great plan is foundering. I managed to sit for a whole 5 minutes at my painting table yesterday. Didn't even pick up a brush. But I did have some ideas on how to improve the next building that I am going to work on. So that is something.

I really want to get my 3d printer back on-line. I have managed to break it and am not sure what to do. Finding anyone who can repair it in the wilds of Georgia is a challenge. I backed another kickstarter by 3d-Print-Terrain that has some really useful pieces. 1st and foremost is the east front train and engine shed. Each of his kickstarters is 40 euro to get the full deal. This one had over 24 line items in it. In some cases that is multiple models per line item. It is well worth the price. He also takes requests during the course of the kickstarter and adds similarly themed items in as you go. A great deal (if you can get your 3d printer working).

My Christmas present to myself was a book purchase on Amazon, the Kindle Edition of Dave Grossman's On Killing. This is very interesting and it covers the psychology of killing in combat. What intrigues me is his interviews with veterans and the tendency of the average soldier to not want to kill a fellow human. That the tendency is to fire high as aggressive posturing rather than eliminating the threat. The book has really captured my interest with the historical examples and application going back as far as the early 1700s. I'm most interested in how this plays out on the table top using Sharp Practice and Chain of Command. The weapons employed can easily do the job at the distances used in the games. It is the application of those weapons by soldiers that leads to the variability of hits. So far, I think both rule sets are handling this well. Some of the statistics he quotes on the number of rounds fired to hits on the enemy seem crazy high but are well documented. Anyway, it is a fascinating read so far.

Anyway, I wish you all a Happy New year full of cheer. Take care everyone.