Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mountain Dew (the plot thickens)

A get - together Scramble: part two

A few people came out of the house, but they did not come to greet the hikers. Instead, the girl placed her and on Emil’s sleeve, gave him a serious look and said, formally, “Welcome, von Reisling, to one of Frankszonia’s most sacred secrets, The Bock Spring.”
The people from the cottage doffed their hats, and as Emil followed suit, he saw that Hans had grounded his rifle in a veteran’s stance of attention. “Honored, I’m sure,” Emil said, “but why is it so sacred?”
“From here, Frankszonia arose,” the girl responded.
“Ja,” Hans continued. “Once, long ago, when the Electors came to crown a new Emperor, the best beer in the world was brewed from this water. The brewmaster Fhartz sent an entire wagon to them.”
“From that time,” one of the men from the cottage noted, “we Fhartzen have been enobled.”
“We Fhartzen?!?” Emil and one of the strangers exclaimed together. Even as they snatched for their pistols, however, the others reassured them.
“Do not fear, mein Herren,” the first speaker chuckled. “We are truly of the Resistance.”
“The dream of truly free Freistadt derived from the Imperial Receipt is not confined to just .my uncle,” the girl assured them.
“Your uncle?”
“The Hurtshog Stanken Fhartz zu Frankfurter,” she replied impishly.
“Ja,” chuckled Hans, “Our Rausen Marie, the Rose of the Resistance, is a Granddaughter of der Alte Hurtshog.”
“But,” Emil protested, “I know that his agents communicate regularly with the Gallians, and in spite of the hassles he’s caused other Gallian allies, he has provided troops and fought himself to protect Gallian supply routes.”
“The Hurtshog favors the Merry Teaser,” the speaker responded. “As long as there’s no hope of a Germanian nor an Imperial rescue, there’s no point in sacrificing Frankszonians.”
“Besides,” a lady smirked, “the Gallian depot is the best source of Gallian wines.”
“So, the Hurtshog pretends alliance to plunder the Frogs?” Emil asked.
“No, no,” the speaker grinned. “We replace the Gallian kegs with good Rhine wines, locally grown and legally paid for!”
“Of course,” Rose Marie laughs, “we’re careful that the gentlemen who drink their own estates vintages will get their own stuff.”
“Then the Resistance is a sham!” the other stranger shouted angrily.
“Hardly,” the speaker responded soberly, “and that’s why this meeting is necessary.”
“Most of our people hate an alliance with the Catholics,” the other woman said. “And most of the nobles resent the Gallian presence visciously. Now that the imbecile Bastille has removed the Hurtshog, they’re getting ready to act.”
“Without Stanken, we doubt that Broderick Woad will commit his men to the field,” the speaker continued, “and without Hottatrot, a lot of the Frankfurters will drag their heels in fighting their own cousins. We won’t be able to take Frankfurter, nor would we have nearly enough people to actually capture the depot.”
“But we can probably burn a lot of it,” Rose Marie eagerly suggested, “and we can drive the Gallian lapdogs back into their master’s boudior!”
“Then the Gallians would be forced to pull back from Hesse Seewald,” the other stranger realized.
“And then,” Hans contributed, “the Resistance will need a clear path to run!”
“And that,” the speaker continued, “is where you two come in. The Mayor of Ausfhart needs to know that you can clear a quick route out of the valley into Hesse Fedora or even further north.”
“And what,” the other stranger asked, “is the Mayor’s role in this?”
“My Lord Bleah,” the speaker replied, “Stanken may be Hurtshog, but the real head of the family is always the Lord Mayor. Surely you Cheezers knew that!”
“I doubt,” Emil responded, “that our Britischerwurst can get any real strength this far behind enemy lines. Why even involve us?”
“Because Stagonia and the Kerns are about to relaunch their feud on our turf,” the other woman responded. “Neither the Alte Vater nor the Hurtshog care to risk the fall out taking out too many of our cousins. This is a rather pretty dance we’re trying to make here.”
“This stinks worse than Frog Cheese,” Lord Bleah complained. “The Frankszonians would still put nearly 15,000 men into the field if you tried to concentrate for a real strike.”
“Hardly, they’ve got nearly 4000 already committed to the Altenburg affair,” the speaker commented.
“And our agents don’t report to General Mayer,” the other woman continued. “They won’t have time to get their full strength into the field, even if they knew what was going to happen by tonight! Stagonia has some usefulness, it seems.”
“So,” Emil asks, “what is going to happen?”
“These are mountains, Captain,” the speaker responded. “They hide a lot, and city troops won’t be trying to patrol them when a hard freeze hits.”
“And the morning after,” Rose Marie exulted, “my beautiful bronze guns and their friends will be skating across the fields!”
“There is a big risk in that,” Emil cautioned, “Your heat, my lady, just might melt those fields and freeze the guns!”
She laughs as the men turn back to the cottage to begin more detailed planning.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Get-together: A scramble in the woods

A get - together Scramble

The pearl grey mist swirls about vague, pre-dawn shadows like rope curtains. On the tree dark slopes, two indistinct lumps slip across wet, black stones and stumble, muttering, over gnarled roots.
“Ha! Poachers!” storms out above them, and they jerk to an awkward halt.
“Not poachers,” protests one figure, “but protectors!”
“Ja, ja,” their captor sneers, “und you vill the little birdies from der Hurtshog’s kitchen protect, eh? Nein, Nein!”
“Nein, Feldwebel,” the other captive answers with a girl’s musical voice. “We keep therm from turning into Frogs!”
“Ach, meine kleine Blumen,” the large figure of a jaeger sergeant steps down among the black pillars and dripping branches. “We did not if you for sure were coming know. Welcome to our Ausfhart Wald und valley.”
“Hans, Hans,” the girl chides him and gives him a quick hug. “I have your hunts always enjoyed.”
“Ja, und we have your style of hunting always loved,” the big man chuckles. “Wo ist?”
He gestures to the other figure whose shoes were slipping off the rocks.
“Emil,” the girl responds gaily, “stop slipping away and come meet Hans Baher.”
Hans catches Emil a second from disaster and leans the smaller man into a tree.
“These boots,” Emil complains, “are too stiff for this work. Our little plotter here won’t let me just ride in!”
The sergeant grunts cheerfully, “only a dwarf on his mine pony could where we’re going ride anyway.”
“Where are we going then?” Emil asks.
“Come!” Hans moves across the slope, leaving a billowing wake in the fog. Emil and the girl stumble along behind him onto a narrow path which cuts across a cliff hidden by tall firs.
“Careful, meine Herr,” Hans cautions, as he leads them on a narrow goat path across the face of a cliff. “It can get slippery.”
Emil clutched the cliff face on his right as he wobbled through the fog. “Where will we meet the others,’ he asks after one slip sends a small rock bounding down among the firs.
Hans and Rausen Marie steadied him. “Already there, Mein Herr,” Hans reassured him. “Achtung! Be careful,” Hans continued and then seemed to vanish into the cliff!
Emil came to a startled stop, and the girl blundered into him. For a moment they tottered and swayed together, clutching each other, tree branches, and random loose rocks. The little tussle ended with a loud slap and a muttered apology. Their little stumble, however, had moved them far enough for Emil to see into the mall gorge which cut into the cliff. Of course the path turned suddenly into the gorge a few yards above the boulders over which a mountain stream splashed.
“First,” Emil mockingly grumbled, “you try to break my legs. Now you want me to break my neck and to ruin my boots?”
He was rewarded with a brief giggle.
Though the rocks were wet and mossy, they weren’t slimy. Emil was quietly grateful for that. Then after a few yards, the gorge twisted, and the crack climbed swiftly. The three stepped out onto a clear terrace. A few goats nibbled at bunches of grasses on the glade. The stream flowed from beneath a dilapidated cottage leaning against the upper cliff face. Emil’s companions removed their hats and nodded respectfully towards the cottage. “We’re here,” the girl said.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

At last, the camera is found!

My has a beloved Pentax which was rigged for close ups with special mounts and tripod ... it disappeared last spring, which removed a lot of the oomph for my postings.
I've played several interesting games, but with no photos didn't feel like posting them.
Today, after a major excavation (not kidding, it took her hours of heavy effort; and I was unable to help); she reports she has finally found it.
Looking forward to a much more active time next year!
Perhaps I can persuade her to shoot some of the figures I'd painted this fall ...
which would make me feel more like a participant in our grand enterprise.

Friday, November 13, 2009


My confuser was down for a couple of days, so I missed posting my own salutes to the honored folks who had served before, with, and after me.
My grandfathers, of course, both served in W.W.I.
Grandad Carnes came back so committed to pacifism that he would not defend himself when a bully attacked him.
Grandad Pigg was much more enamored of his adventures as a Navy man ... even though he spent three days swimming the North Sea when his ship was torpedoed.
My step-Grandad Clifton Talbert was in the trenches ... and he would talk about it on occasion and kept his VFW magazines all his life.

For myself, however, I was recently extended an honor which I don't really deserve. The American Legion (for whom I hold good feelings because they didn't discriminate against my Viet Nam friends like the VFW did back then) informed me that I was now defined as a combat era vet. Unfortunately, I don't feel like I deserve it all. It's a long story, but I never served a single day under fire or even out of the country.

Now that I am legally part of the gang whom I always honored, however, I feel ever more keenly the struggle for them to be treated properly by we stay-at-homes who never made the horrendous sacrifices still being demanded of all troops of free countries. I've been under fire during some violent strike settings, and it always amazed me that these men functioned, survived, and came home after enduring endless days of a thousand times more intense struggles. Yes, a few of them came back quite damaged in their spirit, but most came back to be folks who existed at what I felt was a higher level than mine. Who had day after day put all their dreams and all their selves on the line, often for things they didn't really understand.
Great history, to me, is actually the art, the music, the food, the discoveries, and so forth of a time; but I am cognizant of the overwhelming fact that none of that would survive or even be possible without the good soldier and the stained knight.
Which, in part, is why I wargame.

My games are often funny, always trivial, and the worst wounds occur when I'm trimming the flash off of a new figure. But in the background, it's a way to honor the real heroes. Not the great conquerors, most of whom could rightly be seen as monsters even when as benign as the Persians; but the young officer bravely holding the flag staff in a square at Waterloo thinking that he'd never heard of a battle where everybody died ... as it seemed was happening all around him then.

Nor do I forget the fellows who fought on the other side. It is popular today to hate the German soldier, but ninety percent of them had real reason given their limited knowledge (deliberately limited by their rulers, just as occurs today in dictatorial or fanatical regimes)to believe their cause was just. Even if they did not, they still felt the need to stand for their country against war's destruction.
So the guys who marched so far barefoot under Jackson or struggled across the sand for Rommel I honor too.

We may never be free of the horrors of war until the Parousia, but until then, I honor the good folks, now boys and girls, who willingly march into hell for me or for their own families.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alarms and Excursions

First, PLEASE, PLEASE, go to Bill's excellent post:
In which Bastille manages to snag the Hurtshog, L'Comte d'Beauphaup, and the Marquis d'Hottatrot into the advance of the Gallian Army under General Cheveret ...

Then ,,, rumors abound ...

Amidst the roar and infernal smoke and total confusion of a great battle, The Frankszonian "guests" of Baron Bastille notice a slathered horse being led to the party.
A young Gallian dragoon hands an attache case to the Baron, who looks at a couple of the papers inside, and then quickly wheels his horse towards the rear shouting for an aide.
The messenger remonstrates, pointing to the Hurtshog animatedly, but Bastille brusquely orders the lad away!
L'Comte d'Beauphaup quickly overtakes the rider and inquires, "What news from Frankfurter, M'seur?"
"There seems to be a mutiny among the Frankszonian forces in their southern Stadt Wald, m'Lord," the lad replies, excitedly. "A supply train from Wittenberg was taken, and one of St. Maurice's patrols were ambushed! Several regiments seem involved, and they've got the support of the peasants in the forest!"
After sharing the shock and excitement (and a draft of cordial) with the lad, the count hurries back to the Hurtshog. To their pressing inquiries, he replies, "that foolish Gallian will be buying more of our seltzer and bizmuth, my lords." Then he adds, grimly, "It seems that the inevitable consequences of removing the Hurtshog from such an unstable stew as Frankfurter are already boiling over."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

And updates

First of all, the big news is that the Hesse Seewald which was in position to liber ... ah, besiege Frankfurter has fallen back through the Fulda Gap in response to the Allied victory at Minden ... as I write, news of a great collision near the capital of Hesse Seewald, Gotha, is just beginning to arrive (see "Campaigns in Germania).

Of course, the Resistance continues its forlorn struggle (I've fourteen pages of rough draft to bang into the confuser), and the search for the wife's good close up camera also continues ... Amazing what two cats can accomplish in a single night in one room ...


Thn Von Kerns Are Coming!!!

Once again, the creator of Erwin v. Mack is participating in the story line, I happily copied this post from HIS blog ...

The Von Kerns Are Coming!

Erwin von Mack was grateful that the trip from Raubenstadt to Frankzonia had been without incident. The Markgrafin of Raubenstadt, Sharon von Meltzer was traveling to Frankzonia to visit the ruling family, the von Fhartz, and help them celebrate the completed renovation of one of their many estates. Of course, the presence of a platoon of the Markgrafin's Own Guard Musketeers, with their glittering bayonets, and a squadron of the Markgrafin's Own Lancers, with their twinkling lance heads, probably had something to do with the uneventfulness of the journey. It would have indeed been a bold band of highwaymen to even consider hindering the carriage and it's escort.

"If I keep showing up here, they're going to name the road after me.", he thought sourly to himself.

He was not surprised to see his counterpart, von Badmann waiting by the entry portal, as he rode up to the gate. Von Badmann raised his right hand and spurred his horse forward.

"What?! No wandering yodelling instructor cover this time?", referring to their first encounter years ago. "You know, old friend, that we'll have to name the road after you, if you keep popping up!", he said after shaking hands.

" least I could yodel, unlike those God awful clocks you were trying to foist off as your own work. Besides, I had no choice in the matter this time.", he grunted, and jerked his thumb over his right shoulder towards the carriage. "The Markgrafin and her brothers have come to call."

"Her brothers?!", Badmann's tone and right eyebrow rose.

"Only two of them.", von Mack dryly replied, enjoying his friend's discomfort.

"THREE von Kerns?!!" His left eyebrow joined the right in a mighty effort to reach the hairline.

"Technically only two. The Margrafin herself, her brother David, the commander of her personal Guard Musketeers, and her other brother Paul, the commander of her Guard Lancers. You see, Paul has given up the family name. So...he'll thank you to call him what he goes by these days: Colonel Somerussian Guyovich."

"And he thinks that that is enough of a fig leaf to hide behind?", Badmann inquired.

"He has great faith in the new name, the cossack scalplock, the moustache, his troopers, that he has spent enough time in the Cossack Stiech for everyone to have forgotten why he left, and if all else fails, that weighted Hungarian saber he favors."

Von Mack laughed as he turned his horse around and started to canter back to the carriage.

"I've seen him hack through a fencepost, in one stroke, at a full gallop with that cleaver!"

"We'll talk later!", Badmann called after him, then slumped back in his saddle.

As von Mack neared the carriage, he heard the clink of tumblers and a flask, as the Markgrafin said, "To old scores."

"And their settling!", David replied.

"In a painful manner!!", Somerussian Guyovich chimed in.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Battle of Nichtschlaftenstein

While the plotting and excitement continues to rise over the forthcoming family reunion, news arrives of a battle along the Nidda River in Frankszonia's northern reaches ....

The Battle of Nichtschlaftenstein

(Theoretically, this occurs somewhere in the Tannes Berg on the communications route between Hesse Fedora and the Hesse Seewald army threatening Frankfurter)

The first thing one needs to note about this battle and its long after the action report is that the whole thing was done when I was supposed to be asleep. Being an adult, I didn’t need to burn a flashlight under covers (which always resulted in too many figures being knocked over or out of place when I was a kid), but I did need to use reduced lighting so I wouldn’t wake up the wife. Similar considerations will show up elsewhere in this report, I’m sure (grin).
Anyway, I’d decided that my leg pains and toothache between them were going to prevent me from getting any sleep, so why not a little wargame? I grabbed a bit of green foam core (it had gotten bent, so the wife didn’t want it for an art project .... measured 18" by 28" or something ... and yes I measured, but remember I was very sleepy). Quick testing showed that I could prop this up as a level board on my beside table and a nearby clothes tub with the aid of a few books (around here, there’s ALWAYS a few books in reach :)). Obviously, then the game would have to be a small one. I considered using the Two Hour Wargames stuff, but the bag with the all important die roll charts was too far away (I would have to actually get up to get it). On the other hand, having spent a lot of time with the Koenig King rules lately (and no, I don’t have them memorized, I’m just a slow learner), I felt I could fudge something off of that system.
Now this presented me with a new problem. K.K is written for games using 15 or more units per side. Even in 15mm this would be too much. Moreover, my usual K.K. collection resided in the front room where our houseguest was supposedly also sleeping. Now I happen to have a stack of various little plastic armies in the bedroom ... but as they are based as if 25mm figures, they also would require a much larger playing field. So I decided to fudge it.
After washing down the last of the candy with my bedside water mug, I decided to do what I’ve often done before. Shift the focus from the brigade to the battalion. Koenig Krieg has an interesting initiative system in which the initiative swings back and forth throughout each turn. It has always generated a bit of surprise and excitement and even tension for me as a solo gamer. Normally, one rolls initiative to control the sequencing of brigades. Since I didn’t want to have that big an army, I would roll for the battalions instead. (Works fine if each side has less than 10 battalions to fool with).
Now the problem was how to fudge up the battalions ....
As many of you know, my wife and I are invalids. As a result, I’ve often been at the receiving end of the surprising generosity of wargamers. Very often, when I’d buy a batch of figures, they’d throw in a few bits of odds and ends ... one of this, two of that ... so forth. So I wound up with wound up with two, 8 figure battalions of green coated Freikorps (actually, they were supposed to be indians ... from arguably the worst every cast commercially figures – the old Giant of Hong Kong set, — indeed, most of the figures actually wearing tricorns on the board that night came from that set ... even though I’ve long, long ago lost 90% of them ... including all the Hessian grenadiers ). An “Allied composite battalion” (mish mash of Napoleonics, I think ... I gave them to the redcoats) of ten figures. A British Grenediers (very old Airfix, I think) of ten figures. Two British line battalions of 10 figures (actually Colonials, red coats, blue pants, white pith helmets). To command them, I pulled out the V. Ballpark figure (a British officer type for Nappys but mounted on a rocking horse).
Now I did have enough of those Giant tricorns to make three battalions of twelve figures each ... and some bicorn figures that made a nice 10 figure battalion. ... Also, enough loose, unassigned single figures to give the blues 4 officers (I decided to give the Freikorps to the Blues too, but to make their commander “unreliable” ... which meant he had to roll every turn to see if he did anything).. With all this I had a hundred figures on the little bit of foam core. I also dug out some “cannons” I’d made long ago from pipe cleaners (blues got one, red got two, of which I designated one as an howitzer). When I plopped two paper houses and an hedge line (which I was using to mark the edge of a “woods” ... I expected the board to chock full.
Not only did the board not fill up, I actually had space to consider some maneuvering.

So, emerges the Battle of NichtSchlaftenstein. In the west of the little flat space in the hills lies the tiny village. In the northeast lies the wooded rise of NichtSchlaftenberg ( I did mention that the foam core board was a little rumpled). A small and insignificant creek trickled down the middle (caught the mug before it fully spilled when one of the cats decided to jump onto the bed).
Our loyal Frankszonian forces (the blues under Brig. Nathan) march in from the northwest corner. The Britischerwurst (reds under Lord Ficksnore) from the southeast. Ficknsore is an experienced, creative, but rash leader who has a force of fairly elite men following him (good shots, close order drill, and a battalion of Grenadiers). Nathan, on the other hand, though an experienced officer, as are his subordinates, tends to be rather methodical in his approach. Surprisingly, however, the first initiative falls to Nathan who throws the Militia into the village. After this first bit of luck, however, Ficksnore’s brilliance seems to dominate as he moves his forces in a coordinated manner on board.
Ficksnore wants to draw the Frankszonians into the cross fire of his artillery, so he holds back the Red Line and starts the Grenadiers confidently to drive the militia out of the village and his allies to secure the wooded flank. Since Nathan has a battalion of lights (I held back the two figures lying down, as I intended to remake them into casualty markers anyway), he sends the light infantry into the woods to challenge the composites. Meanwhile he marches his two line battalions, one behind the other, to support the militia. The small battery covers the left of this movement, while the Freikorps is also ordered towards the woods.
In the next turn, Ficksnore manages to get both of his batteries firing into the village, and though the militia takes light casualties, it holds its position and the village does not burn. The forces in the woods engage in a firefight (the new rules gave the Frankszonian lights only three dice against their foes five ... this would have repercussions later, but given the disruption factor or whatever, this round the honors were about even). Seeing the grenadiers pressing forward, Nathan orders his artillery to focus on them. The Frankszonian artillery will perform quite well, ultimately weakening the grenadiers enough that their attack on the village will fail). Unfortunately, the Freikorps leader refuses to enter the woods to support the lights this turn.
In the next turn, the grenadiers open musketry on the village, but the first battalion of the Frankszonian line is able to come up on their flank and deliver a resounding volley! (Out of ten total dice in this firefight, btw, not one single solitary hit! .... and then a cat knocks over the dice box, so I have to move the whole battle onto the bed, get down on hands and knees with a flashlight and pick up the dice, and then get reset again .... all without disturbing the wife! (Woosh)). The Frankszonian lights do get driven out of the woods in this turn, but the Freikorps leader posts one battalion to confront the woods while marching the other to capture the Britischerwurst howitzers. Those howitzers had damaged the Frankszonian first battalion enough that it fails to charge the exposed flank of the grenadiers.
So, on the next turn, The Grenadiers storm into the village (where the militia amazingly stands fast). Nathan anxiously brings up his second battalion hoping to drive the redcoats back before they can consolidate. The Britischerwurst line advances to support the howitzers and to stop the Freikorps charge. Amazingly, the militia holds on in the village and much bedraggled Grenadiers are driven back in disorder (carrying Lord Ficksnore with them). The British line does score a few casualties against the Freikorps, but the Friekorps does manage to overrun the howitzers! The advance of the Frankszonian 2nd battalion also manages to take the recoiling Grenadiers in the flank, driven them back through the Red line ... and then to drive in a battalion of the Red line!
Covered by the composite battalion and the 2nd line battalion, the Reds retreat into the hills, barely avoiding a cat astrophe named Tweetie who was looking for any leftovers from an earlier feeding ...

It may have been the light, it may have been my tiredness, but these dice never rolled so many low numbers before ... which created a lot of surprising situations for me to enjoy.
I figure Nathan is still reaming the 1st Battalion for not charging when it should have, and I expect the Red coat troops would like to ream Ficksnore too ... but that will take another day.
The Red infantry wasn’t too worried about losing the Howitzers ... in three turns of firing, they only managed to inflict two casualties!
And how can I effectively give battle honors to a militia unit which will evaporate before my next game!!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Photos of Vauban Fortifications

I truly wish I'd had this site available 30 years ago when writing my Senior Thesis!
A major comment, when you view the photos, look at the green stuff! Most of Vauban's works were earth works on which he deliberately planted trees and bushes to make them very difficult for the enemy to figure out the best sites for siege batteries ... much of the stone work in these photos are obviously from pre-Vauban eras!

BTW, if you don't know ... the "portrait" used for me in Blogspot is actually one of Vauban ... one of my heroes. Not only a great engineer, a brave soldier, but also a daring proponent of the idea that one should tax folks who HAVE money rather than the peasants (this last idea forced Louis XIV to retire him).


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Hunting we will go ....

The time approaches for the annual visit to Ausfhart by the Hurtshog, Stanken Fhartz.
The old castle of Einfhart has been renovated, and there's a family reunion scheduled for the annual late grape harvest (okay, it's probably later than that in real Germany, but I always liked Reisling Spatlaze Rhine wines).

Since the family is as politically united as Frankfurter itself, this is going to take some ticklish diplomacy ....

Intendent Bastille pours himself a solid cup of Benedictine (Chevert Wine is for more delicate occasions) as he sees L'Comte Beauphaup sashaying towards his office.
I'll have to paraphrase their conversation as I don't speak a word of French ...

Bastille gulps it down and turns toward the door to greet his visitor:
Bastille: Good afternoon, m'Lord. What is the occasion of the honor of your visit?
Beauphaup (taking a sniff from his pomander): Nothing especial, your Excellency ... we just require a few notes of safe passage through the lines.
Bastille: Through the lines?
Beauphaup: Well, there's the Hurtshog cousin, who's declared himself the true Hurtshog and attached himself to Hesse Cassel and his entourage;
Bastille: Permit hostile officers through the lines?!?
Beauphaup (ignoring Bastille's irritation and shock): and the Ritter Frazlewitz, the Hurtshog's illigitimate half brother ...
Bastille: Ah, the old Duke did have a reputation!
Beauphaup: NO, no. That crowd would be too dangerous, somebody might decide to attempt a radical form of legitimization, if you follow my meaning ...
Bastille (even more shocked): So, this "half brother" is not his father's child?
Beauphaup: Of course not, and there is also Bombastus Fhartz, though he'll be a special problem ...
Bastille (a little rocky): a (his voice rises an octave)"special" problem?
Beauphaup: Oh yes, he's a renegade. Casts cannons for the Turk, you know. The Papal agents will be trying to catch him, and Stagonia will be trying to buy him ...
Bastille (with heavy sarcasm): and what is the purpose of these "little requests"?
Beauphaup: Well, the old family castle has been renovated, you know: Nice French style gardens with clear fields of fire and so forth. The Hurtshog feels that a grand family reunion amid the wine fest would help him with the people outside of the city where the Resistance hides out.
Bastille: So he's throwing ANOTHER ball?
Beauphaup: Oh yes. It'll be all local girls except for whomever you and the other foreign notables bring.
Bastille: You expect ME to attend another of the Hurtshog's balls? (His voice rising and trembling)
Beauphaup: Of course! How could we hold a state ball without bringing such powers as yourself? The official invitations probably won't go out for a few weeks yet ...
Bastille: Excuse me, m'lord Count, but I feel some indigestion ...
Beauphaup: So sorry. I'll leave these documents with you ... perhaps some Fraumilch might help?

Bastille lurches abruptly for the closet, waving Beauphaup away.
Beauphaup shrugs, does an about face, and hands a portfolio to Bastille's aide as he minces out ....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Centurions Wargaming

Centurions Wargaming club is up by Minneapolis and St. Paul ... and they do a nice Koenig Krieg game periodically.
Their latest after action report is nicely detailed ... an awful lot happens in a single turn of K.K., and they went 5 turns ...

There are nice pictures at:

They use "historical units" and aren't really an imagination, but they call their games the wars of scrambled alliances, as each guy brings his own figures. Then they set up "balanced" armies by ignoring who was historically allied with whom.
Looks like they had fun though

Friday, July 10, 2009

An Evening Ball OOM!

As usual, the Frankszonian cooks perform prodigies, and the salivating scents slide on the smoke throughout the gathering party. As the luminaries begin to drift back, the ladies in fine, voluminous gowns and jewels, the men in silken sashes and golden piping and epaulettes around their frothy lace, the party is enlivened by the gaiety arising between the young foreign cavalry troopers and the Frankfurter girls.
There is a brief pause for the proper welcoming speeches, introductions, and of course (this is Frankszonia after all) rounds of spontaneous toasts. As Moosart gets his little orchestra set up in a pavilion (there had been a delay while a troop of pioneers checked the structure for soundness least that’s what the musicians were told), the Hurtshog clambers up on a table (not actually an act of spirit induced spontaneity, the table had been carefully chosen to bear his weight and known clumsiness) to hail the crowd.
“We aren’t going to have the normal fireworks show,” he begins, and the crowd boos. The Hurtshog persists however,” we WILL have fireworks.”
“The normal fireworks show is a prolonged concert of explosions and colors,” Stanken explains. “Tonight, with Moosart’s guidance, we will be firing off our displays in small batches at times chosen to enhance the orchestra’s performance.
“Tonight,” he concludes, weaving alarmingly above the edge of the china, “we will dance to light and thunder!” He then clambers down to the cheers of the crowd with the aid of several soldiers.
Indeed, there are quite a few soldiers on the parade grounds tonight. In their parade uniforms and brightly polished bayonets, they are formed into squares which mark out distinct activity areas ... the refreshments, the tables, the dancing floor, the side lines, and so forth have distinct groups of troops who pace back and forth but otherwise seem to ignore the party altogether. This of course, is a challenge to some of the younger maidens, but their attempts to distract these men is usually met by a polite but firm unteroffizer who guides them away to some other attraction, like a foreign and tipsy trooper.
The young gentlemen of the party sigh in despair as a few of them have the chance to dance with the grand ladies. The Princess Alisonia, of course, has a nice coterie of local noblemen, while Lady Masquerade seems surrounded by people whose acquaintance she’d made on her last trip. Lady Pettygree quite entrances the grounds when the orchestra plays a Scottish air and some officers of the Black Skirts dance an Highland jig with her. The visitors are treated to a local folk dance ... a sort of reel in which the chain of dancing couples have to pass through the arched arms of the leading couples ... who deliberately place themselves at an angle to the former arch so that instead a straight troop through and around, the dance weaves through the grounds (Okay, made that up, but my “German” relatives were sober, Protestant Hoosiers from the time of the American Revolution: folks who didn’t dance at all ... sigh).
Every time that a dance called for jump, or sudden stop, or other movement, there would be a swoosh of scintillating rockets. When the dances ended, bright, silvery green fountains would spray up around the crowd. When the orchestra was set for the next piece, mortars would lob great, loud, brilliant silver bombs into the sky.
“More wine kegs?” Ritter Andrew asks v.Mack, after one extremely loud shot They kept close to Duchess Lynda ... who was being entertained by a Frankszonian general who had met her previously.
“Yes,” v. Mack answered. “The fountains as well. They’re quite bright aren’t they?”
Even as Andrew is responding, there is another loud explosion beyond the grounds, and a bright flash through the trees. The orchestra is thrown a little off as the explosion seems badly timed, but continues playing and the laughing crowd continues to dance and to imbibe. V.Mack and Ritter Andrew, however, join the sudden rush of officers towards that explosion while a company or two of soldiers quickly drop to a ready stance facing in other directions.
Alarm begins to spread through the crowd as an alarm bell sounds and cavalry bugles sound. A smattering of musket shots and shouts breaks out and dies down. Gallian and Frankszonian officers circulate through the crowd assuring them that all is okay and to resume the party. The nervous crowd, unfortunately, is not calmed when people realize that the notable visitors and the Hurtshog and his Princess have suddenly vanished. Indeed, they are all going quickly to the Bastille, surrounded by Col. Enigma’s personal squadron of troopers and the Frankszonian jaegers.
Arriving at the Bastille, they find a large hole blasted in the side of the building, exposing several cells. There bodies in and around the building, and Gallian soldiers with still smoking muskets carefully checking each one. One body suddenly rises and attacks! A Gallian officer and his sergeant dash upon it and chop it to pieces with their swords.
“Hold!” cries Reich Duke Wilhelm. “Try to take them alive!”
“Too late, sire,” the officer responds. “Some of these guys were dead before they got here.”

** (Note to my readers: I never watch zombie movies, so I am unfamiliar with the concepts larded onto the zombie from Hollywood ... for that and other good plot reasons, I’m sticking to the poor unfortunates produced by Voo Doo, etc.) **

“What do you mean?” Major DeBauchery demands.
“We’ve got a couple of the better specimens bound over there, sir,” the captain replies.
He leads them to a group of soldiers who are restraining several men who lurch about awkwardly.
“A little too much spiritual reinforcement, eh?” the Hurtshog laughs.
“No, my lord,” the captain responds. “I saw this sort of thing in the West Indies, sir. The poor person is poisoned and falls into a coma. The locals bury him, but the villain digs him up and revives him with the antidote. How much damage is done depends how much poison the victim has received and how soon the antidote is administered.”
“What horrible poison do they use?” Princess Alisonia inquires.
“Some sort of fish oil, your Highness ...”
The rest of the answer is lost as the entire party gasps. All have ingested considerable portions of fish: fried, grilled, battered, spiced, and marienated. The Anglericans having risen to the challenge of the moment.
“How quickly does the poison act?” the Hurtshog asks urgently.
“Fairly quickly, sir.” the captain responds.
“I’d say that if you walked over here from the dance grounds, you’re safe.” Princess Stuftliana adds. “My own people are aware of this poison.”
“We also took precautions,” Baddmann assures the group. “We made sure no chef even considered anything suspicious. No eels boiled in brew!” he directs to Lady Pettygree. “We did intercept a shipment of dried fish from upriver which were supposedly from Weiner.”
“Upriver? As Stagonia is upriver?” Stanken Fhartz presses. “I think that you ought to reconsider your connection with Stagonia, My Lords.” He urges the Gallians.
“Actually,” Gen. Broglie answers, “this poison might more closely implicate Roquefort. We all know he’d like to replace Prince de Charade and l'Duc de Formidable with his own creatures. Seems like he thinks you’re vulnerable, Bstille. Be on your guard.”
“On my guard?” Bastille responds angrily. “Around here, I hardly dare to sleep!”
“Ja,” Baddmann whispers to v. Mack, “but our Mariah says he snores like a dragon.”
“She keeps notes, I presume,” v. Mack quietly responds.
“Hardly, the poor strumpet is totally illiterate,” Baddmann assures him, though v. Mack blatantly disregards the comment.

“Gentlemen,” Gen. Broglie, “we need to focus on other matters now. Capitan, whom did they rescue?”
“They tried to get out all of today’s prisoners, sir,” the officer responds, “but only one got away alive. I think it was that Hans Rottenbrat.”
“You still have the others in custody then,” Bastille said, feeling momentarily relieved.
“Sorry, m’Lord,” the captain answered. “We had to transfer custody to lower authorities if you know what I mean.”
“You killed them?”
“I don’t think so, sir. They seem to have either been killed in the explosion or by these rather inept rescuers.”
“Right,” the Hurtshog speaks loudly. “King Basil, your Majesty? Your Highness, Duke Wilhelm? “ He pauses, “Princess and Lady Pettygree, it would probably save time if you would join us and the Gallian generals in a private conference.”
The rest of the party draws back at the implicit command. L’Comte Bastille and Gen. Broglie seem inclined to argue, but the Hurtshog politely gestures for them to wait a moment.
“It’s as we feared,” he continues. “There’s been a collusion among our enemies. This is a plot much more ingenious and deeply developed than Roquefort has ever managed. Further, it is beyond the skill of the new Stagonian vileness.”
“It also, fortunately,” Bastille interrupts, “lacks the precision and professionalism of M’Lady.”
“That’s one relief!” Cherish Masquerade laughs. The Hurtshog grimaces at her uninvited presence but decides to ignore the issue as pointless. “I had wondered why the old Lady didn’t warn us about tonight.”
“Especially,” Lady Pettygree adds, “when Col. Enigma tells me we were saved by her this afternoon!”
“It’s an oblique attack,” Gen. Broglie decides. He explains to the younger people, “Germania has this tactic of marching off to one wing or another and sending the whole army after the lead battalions. That way they hope to overwhelm their foes at the point of contact, and even though the lead battalions may be totally wasted, the rest of the force will be in a position to attack.”
“Baddmann,” the Hurtshog calls, “I want a report from the officers in the city immediately. Any thing out of place, ANYTHING you understand?”
“Yes, Sire!” Baddmann calls and dashes off into the dark.
“Where are your reaction battalions?” the Hurtshog demands of Gen. Broglie.
“Between here and Bischoff, your Highness,” the Gen. responds. The Gallians are irritated at the bumbling Hurtshog suddenly assuming command, but in the presence of all these minor German royals, they have to act respectful. “We can have them here in half an hour or less.”
“Start them marching,” the Hurtshog responded, “but we won’t be here.”
“Pardon?” Bastille asks.
“Enigma!” the Hurtshog shouts, “Now!”
Col. Enigma whistles and one of his men begins to blow “Assemble” on a horn.
Stuftliana displays her pistol and calls out, “Ladies, present arms!”
Her example is quickly mimicked by rest of the party, but the Hurtshog advises the men to rely on swords in case more of the zombies appear. Indeed, a few do, but are ridden down by the thunderous appearance of the rest of Enigma’s regiment and the Hurtshog’s Sage Guard Cuirassiers. The party’s cavalry escort also comes tumbling through the dark to find their horses ready on leads by the other cavalry men.
“Your Majesties, Lords, and Ladies,” the Hurtshog laughs as he helps Stuftliana mount, “I think it’s time we dodged out of Hell. Lead on, Enigma!”
The force crashes into the night. Occasionally, someone takes a hopeless shot in the dark before being ridden down. Some small bands of shambling zombies are quickly butchered. Riding like a storm, they soon arrive at a small palace which was a refurbished castle. The Black Kilts are already in full possession of the place, as the horses crowd into the grounds.
“Your majesties, and all,” Stuftliana says as they gather, “this may not be as fancy nor as convenient as the palaces and embassies, but it is nice. We apologize for the necessary crowding, but until Gen. Broglie knows that the enemy is fully cleared away, we felt it better to not be where they expected.” She turns to Broglie, “What happens to your oblique attack, if, after the assault is made, you find your enemy is not where you thought it was, but was entrenched against you.?”
Gen. Broglie laughs loudly. “Observe, Comte,” he tells Bastille, “turbulent Frankszonia lets us live again.” Bastille, smiles wanly in response.
As the party moves inside, l’ Comte d’Beauphaup greets them. “I have taken the liberty, your majesties and gentles, of obtaining some BOTTLES of Chevert to settle your nerves.”
The party applauds him, and he begins to unseal the bottles. Suddenly, v. Mack grabs Beauphaup’s hands and snatches the bottle away. In the shocked silence that follows, he grimly displays that a tiny hole had pierced the seal! After careful examination, they find two more bottles similarly marked.
“Tonight,” the Hurtshog sighs, “I’m afraid we’ll need to employ the old stand by of tasters. Alas, Comte,” he turns to Beauphaup, “that clearly is your station as well tonight.”
The ever urbane diplomat nods and, opening an untampered bottle, pours himself a glass.

In spite of the terrors of the night, no further alarms excite them. The tampered bottles are removed to be tested on condemnd prisoners. I am sorry to not have written a tense night of worrying and lovemaking, but my real Princess needs me tonight and so this adventure draws to a close.
Some loose ends ...
It is decided to publicly blame “fugitive brigands from St. Maurice” and offer a joint operation with the Kingdom of St. Maurice to restore law and order in the FrankWald.
I had thought of sending the party back by river boat, but unfortunately my time is burnt up for writing this (sigh) ... plenty of gambling and necking to be done ...
And the tiny prick of fear at the end ... was m’Lady involved after all?
While rumors swirl around Frankfurter, the official word is that the visit was exciting and new bonds of friendship (and commercial opportunity) have been formed.

Hope you enjoyed this, the chair at my confuser is most uncomfortable!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Quiet Fry Up, just a little fishy?

(Apologies for any misspellings of character names here ... a little discomfort healthwise, nothing serious, but I don’t feel like making all the corrections for my bad typing tonight) :_(

After some heated discussions, mostly involving who would be safest where, the whole party removes to the Redan Bastille (a reinforcement of the Frankfurter defenses obtained as a sop to local feelings during the construction of the nearby Gallian prison, both outside the main walls). Not only did all concede that it would be easier to intercept any attacks there, but also there were several crack units already deployed there in preparation for a grand review.
Gen. Broglie was puzzled, however, that the Sage Guard from Frankszonia would not be in the review. Not only was it a Guard unit, and thus usually a part of any formal visit, but also it contained some of the best drilled professionals in the area. Gen. Oscar Meyer grinned wryly and responded, “this week, a lot of the men in the Sage Guard Uniform are better drilled for hunting than for a parade.” The comment confirmed the suspicions that the military members of the party had already entertained about their local honor guard. The presence of squadrons of their own escort was comforting.
In spite of the terror of the previous hour, the Frankfurters cheerfully lined the streets and cheered from their decorated houses as the party paraded through the town under the brightly dyed fabric arches. Cuirassiers following the party scattered silver pennies among the crowd, and a large beer wagon stopped at each corner to hand out a keg. In the side streets, outdoor grills filled the air with enticing smells, promising a flavorful evening to partying throng.
“They seem awful cheerful,” young King Basil commented.
“I’ll drink to that!” The Hurtshog, who was riding with the other sovereigns, responded. “We take celebration as a serious commitment here.”
“So we’ve heard,” laughs Duke Wilhelm. “I wonder how the vivandiers are making out?”
“Fairly often, I hope,” Princes Stuftliana giggles.
“I’m sure,” Princess Alisona said with mock primness, “that their contributions to the general festivities are widely appreciated!”

When the party arrives at the redan and takes its place in a pavilion placed on the works, the Hurtshog convenes a quick council. “We have things to consider together,” he comments to his guests, and carefully chooses a spot downwind.
“Your security,” Col. Enigma complained, “seems rather like a sieve. I’d hoped for better after last time!”
“We don’t have the resources of Gallia,” Gen. Meyer snapped. “But we have more than our share of enemies who specialize in secret agents.”
“Gentlemen,” Gen. Broglie intervenes, “there is too much here to indulge ourselves. What information do we have?”
“First of all,” Gen. Meyer responds, “those guns at the Cathedral were northern made.”
“Northern?” Ritter Andrew asks. “I thought they would be Stagonian and from the southern forests!”
“We must consider,” Herr Kunnegunde (Frankszonian Chief Watchman), “that the guns were left behind. They may be a deliberate decoy.”
“But,” the Hurtshog continues, “there is also strong evidence of collusion among our many enemies. We’ve been on alert ever since we found out that Lady Pettygree was coming.”
“I’m hardly an enemy,” Diana protests.
“Indeed not, my Lady,” the Hurtshog responds. “Indeed, we have one regiment that would rather be here to defend you than our southern woods! However, is it not true that when you come this far into Germania, there is a Germanian agent of incredible skill who seems drawn to oppose you? After all, Comte Bastille, we have still received no word on what that little affair near here a couple of days ago was all about!”
Bastille and Broglie look at each other but say nothing.
“Right,” the Hurtshog continues, “and what information did your mother send you, Ritter Andrew?”
“She warns of ambushes, possible sabotage of the powder supplies, and the usual Stagonian poisonous wine.” The young man answered.
“Aha!” Kunegunde exclaimed, “We thought that was Roquefort again!”
“You knew about sabotaged powder and poison?” Bastille demanded indignantly.
“No, M’sr l’Intendant,” Kunegunde answered, “but you must ask the Hurtshog.”
As the group’s attention returns to the portly notable, he calls, “Baddmann! Bring in a keg.”
“So we can drink to it?” Gen. Broglie asked sardonically.
A well suited, middle aged man whom they had seen dancing with each of the ladies on the previous evening enters with another gentleman carrying a small wine barrel. A quick glance passes between Ritter Andrew and the second gentleman as the pair very carefully set the keg on a table.
“I’ve heard of your reverence for wines, your Highness,” King Basil comments, “but this is a tad extreme isn’t it?”
“Gen. v. Pilsner?” Gen. Meyer bows slightly, “if you would be so good as to step to the table to witness, please? Meanwhile, could the rest of you please step into the embrasures to enjoy the bands and the drills out in the drill field for a moment?”
The ladies and their men exchange worried glances ... what new fright is Frankfurter going to reveal? Lady Pettygree, however, pulls loose from Catherine’s worried grasp and steps forward with Cherish Masquerade. “We should probably also observe, General,” Diana insists.
Col, Enigma quickly offers to take her place, but she firmly places her hand on his chest and steps forward. Meanwhile, a double file of large grenadiers forms a solid wall between King Basil and Duke Wilhelm and the military clustered around the table. Baddmann and v. Mack are carefully and slowly working the top off of the keg.
“You will observe,” the Hurtshog begins, “that the keg bears the markings of the Chevert Estate and Vinyards.”
“But! ...” both Broglie and Bastille begin.
The Hurtshog stops them with a sharply upraised hand. “We know,” he nods his head. “Chevert is never shipped in barrels, the estate is very and properly proud of its glass works and its bottling process. An alert shipper brought this to our attention.”
“So that’s why you’ve been burgling the wine stores!” Bastille exclaims. “What is the poison?”
“You’ll be pleased to know, m’lord Comte,” Hzg. Fahrtz replied, “there’s not one drop of poison in the barrel.” He grimaces, “indeed, there’s not one drop of anything in the barrel.”
The collective puzzlement of the party is caught as Baddmann carefully lifts out a small spoonful of black and silvery powder. He flicks the powder onto the floor where it snaps, sparks, and smokes brightly!
“Mon Dieu!” Broglie exclaims. “We could all have small kegs in our quarters!”
“Which is why,” the Hurtshog answered grimly, “why we’ve planned for the fireworks and ball to be an affair in the park. I trust my Grenz and my Jaegers to catch assassins before they get too close out there.”
“May our own light infantry join yours, your Highness?” Gen. Broglie is polite enough to ask.
“We’d appreciate it, but be sure that the sergeants and officers know each and every face.”
“Of course!”
“And, your Majesty and your Highness,” the Duke turns to his guests, “if your escorts could also attend, with swords and whatever, I believe that my Chamberlain, l’Comte Beauphaup has managed to locate enough young ladies to partner them ... it will be a wonderful ball, hosted by the Guilds in your honor, Duchess Lynda. Unfortunately, there will be no masques or costumed waiters.”
“We must be honest with you,” Gen Meyer interjects. “We do expect some more ... ah ... interesting intrusions. But we are quite confident that they will be resolved as thoroughly as the affair Pettygree recently, no?”
The party smile rather nervously, and the ladies press their gentlemen with worried looks. At this, Princess Stuftliana, who had been acting as if a star struck girl to this point, stepped forward. “Dears, your presence would be very, very helpful,” she pleaded. “Besides, the Frankszonian people really have looked forward to seeing you at the ball. We have a wonderful seamstress here, and her girls can create and equip wonderful gowns with interesting features ... like this!” She suddenly displays an expensive pistol, seemingly from thin air. As the group’s collective shock settles, Stuftliana continues, “Alisonia, Diana, no whimpering. I’ve seen the reports on how well you handle pistols. I suspect that the vivandiers are no less qualified also. They are from Monte Cristo after all.” She grinned mischievously, “come, come, girls. Isn’t it time we demonstrated why we demand so much from our guys?” She looked out at the field where a Frankszonian militia unit and some Gallian musketeers were performing an “X” march through drill to the music of drums, trumpets, bugles, and a lot of tubas. “Let’s see if we can bore them as much as they do us!” Stuftliana concludes, laughing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Morning's Entertainment

Imagine Johannes surprise when Erwin says in response to his question, "I brought four of my 'fancy' pistols. Would you care for a pair? And when did you ever know me to have an unloaded one about?!" Baddmann gave an approving grunt as the two double barreled pistols disappeared under his cloak.
Mack continued, "I learned this trick when I was in Canada. Buck and ball with a large charge of powder is the key. Makes a hell of a loud noise, you can hit almost everyone in a small room with at least a pellet or two, the cloud of smoke comes in handy if you have to retreat, and by the third shot most crowds have found better places to be, leaving one shot in reserve. Tonight, my friend, I am loaded for bear. Although I'll settle for stag!"
“More like a filthy old goat, I’m afraid,” Johannes responded. “We suspect that Roquefort and M’Lady are involved too.”
“No wonder every time I look around, I see an alert soldier of some type!” Erwin responded. “Looks like you’re going to try to swat flies with cannon balls!”
“That’s the general idea,” Johannes responded. “Hesse Cassel armies are too close to overlook the chance that either the guilds or the Resistance will make a serious effort ... and with all these agents in town, it’s likely that some of them are suggesting it.”
Even though, Johannes sounded like he was just grousing, v.Mack’s watchfulness had been suddenly amplified by what he’d heard. His eyes were moving from one deep shadow in the night bound street when he chanced on a face moving through a light, “Rottenbrat!” he hissed to Baddmann and quickly gestured at an otherwise nondescript laborer still putting up bunting.
In moments, their two horses were at the foot of the man’s ladder and four pistols were held close to some very sensitive areas. “Okay, Hans,” Baddmann growled, “come down very slowly and lean on the wall.
“Private!” he gestured to a nearby soldier, “call for the sergeant of the guard.”
As the soldiers clustered around him and thoroughly searched him, Hans Rottenbrat protested his innocence and productivity. V. Mack had already climbed the ladder for himself, however, and found a smelly, black rag in the folds of the bunting lying under a glass ball.
“So, Stagonia plans on Frankszonia having a hot time tomorrow?” he challenges the now silent and surly agent.
“Ver*%&#!!” Baddmann exclaims. “We’ve got miles of very expensive and brightly died cloth hanging on every house! It will all have to be checked tonight!”
“No need,” Rottenbrat asserts, “I just had time to put up one.”

After the prisoner is removed and handed over to the Gallians for deposit in the Bastille, Johannes and v. Mack hasten to the palace to spread the alarm. As. V. Mack delivers the letter to Andrew, Herr Kunegunde orders the town criers out while the tour party is still happily entertained inside the palace grounds. Several more incendiary devices are found in a couple of hours, and the city returns to its uneasy slumber.

In spite of Frankfurter’s fears, the night passed peacefully. The gathering at the palace, aided by the glittering presence of Princess Alisonia, Lady Pettygree, and Lady Masquerade is a social triumph. Princess Stuftliana choose the auspicious moment to make her reentry into the social whirl, looking exotically lovely in a simple gown from Frau Ewewarp. In recognition of the exhaustion of the day’s travel, the party breaks up at midnight.
In the hazy morning, Duchess Lynda and her ladies are awakened by sweet flute music being played by a quartet in the courtyard of the Beerstein embassy. After a breakfast featuring a selection of Frankszonia’s sausages, the ladies are especially delighted by the tour of the porcelain industry. Excellent Delft ware and brightly painted ceramics are displayed for their pleasure. They each get to select a set of some design that they personally find pleasing. After a short coffee with the other high level guests of the Duchy, they get a brief tour of the sausage factory. L’Comte Beauphaup apologizes for the shortness of the tour, but the factory in full production is hot, smelly, and very noisy.
To compensate for the chaotic racket of the sausage factory, the party is led to view the Frankfurter cathedral and the materials used in the coronation and annointing of the Holy Roman Emperor. While they tour the building, choirs take turns singing various hymns and historic songs from the choir stalls.
As they wander through the dusky corners of the Gothic edifice, a gentleman passes Lady Pettygree and whispers, “God save King Charles. Watch the wine.” Before she or Cherish can respond, the man is lost in the shadows. They step behind a pillar to discuss the incident with Catherine when an old woman brushes by who says, “Why do you tempt fate? Germania, though it gives you admirers also gives you deadly greetings. Look high and low!” Then, as a puff of incense causes the ladies to blink and sneeze, the old woman also is gone from sight.
Now thoroughly alarmed, the ladies seek out Col. Enigma who has so often protected them in the past. The whole party, however, is led out to the square, where in one corner a luncheon pavilion has been erected. There, brass bands of school children serenade them, one group presenting “The Tuba Sonnata”. The luncheon is lively ... exquistely grilled fish, bratwurst, and other items blend with the best beverages, laughter and chatter as the ladies and lords flirt and the children from the bands march by, red faced with pride.
Suddenly, the happy noise is shattered by the loud staccato of musket fire! As bullets smash into the crystal and china on the tables by Pettygree and Duke Wilhelm, the ever present guards spot the smoke from the roof of the Cathedral. Gallian and Frankszonian troops return fire, though the professional ear of the officers in the party notice that some of the Frankszonian “Guards” are equipped with rifles. Other soldiers dash into the building to try to catch these dastardly assasins.
The party members begin to scatter as the ladies scream and the men curse, but Col. Enigma catches a glimpse of an old lady beckoning by the Rectory. With loud commands he manages to herd the notables into the house and to get soldiers stationed at some of the windows. Ritter von Meltzer and Ambassador Sgnori Vittorio Moretti demand why they’ve been brought into this building with its large windows when the already garrisoned inn on the square had been closer. Even as the normally imperturbable colonel hunts for a good excuse, a loud, bright explosion tears out of the inn’s basement.
“I knew it!” Enigma exclaims and dashes off to find Lady Pettygree.
For about an half hour, the square is filled with competing troops ... cavalrymen from the Grand Tour, Frankszonian guards, and Gallian Grenadiers. As the confusion and furor die down, and as the smoke from the badly damaged inn settles, the Archbishop reports that the assassins seem to have escaped! “There are just too many hidden passages and acloves in the cathedral,” he explains. “Given the all the confusion outside, if the evil men had the foresight to dress in uniforms, they probably had an easy time making their withdrawal. We did, at least, find the three weapons they were using.”

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grand Tour cont. : The Night Before

“Oh, Wilhelm,” Lady Louise sighed as they step out together onto the terrace from the noisy ballroom, “these Frankfurters are fun, but their food seems all charred!”
“It’s their obsession with grilling and frying, I suppose,” he answered. “Still, you need that kind of fortification for what they call an evening’s light dancing!”
Lady Louise laughs, as there is a moment’s pause in the music and some polite applause. “They do take their drinking seriously though,” she giggles, “don’t they?”
“I understand it’s something to do with local religious traditions,” Prinz Wilhem grins. “I’d never heard an argument as whether beer or wine was more sacred before either.”
The couple falls silent as they notice a sudden mass movement on the grounds below them. The guard, in his parade uniform is joined by about a dozen others and a sergeant. From the glances the men cast up, the couple perceives that the soldiers are obviously concerned about them. “Excuse us, sir,” Lady Louise calls down, “but did we cause you trouble?”
“Of course not,” a gruff but educated voice answered from behind them. Turning quickly, they find Major Ricewits of the Ducal Staff smiling at them. “It’s just that we don’t want a repeat of the last time,” he chuckles.
“Last time?” Prinz Wilhem asks.
“Shootings, though that’s already happened, duels, poison, and God knows what.”
“In the Palace?” Lady Louise gasps.
“No, it was a mansion out in the suburbs,” the Major responds genially. “It got badly shot up in last year’s battles, I’m afraid or we’d be there again ... better perimeter and all.”
“And .... what WAS this ‘last time’?” the Prinz insists.
“Well, a big ball for the Ladies Pettygree and Masquerade who’d come to celebrate the official Christening of the Urpprinz.’ Ricewits pauses a moment before continuing, “When you’re beautiful, talented, and have the ears of some of the major potentates, it seems that trouble can’t be far behind. We’ve got quite a load of royalty and nobility here, and frankly our local politics aren ‘t as healthy as anyone of us would like.”
“What’s up?”
“Well, it’s a little confusing. First of all, we’re occupied by major force we can’t hope to challenge directly, but which the people really don’t like. Our rulers are supposedly Catholic and the people devoutly Lutheran. Meanwhile the Syndics and Jews flourish under this Hurtshog and every outlying little town thinks we’re out to gobble them up. Added to that we do have some serious and perverted enemies. All that can be predicted about them is that they will try to make trouble too.” The major sighs, “Tonight, all is still calm. We hope to provide you a day or two more fun than ... ah .... interesting and exciting,” The major laughs a little and strolls away into the shadows.
Louise turns to Wilhelm with a worried, perhaps a little frightened gasp. “Andrew noticed some things on the way into town as well, darling,” he responds seriously. “We’ve got our own guard up too. It’s a byword that l’Comte Bastille is driven paranoid by the Frankfurters, but he’s still healthy and prosperous, so will we be.”

In the darkness, at the Saxenhausen Gate (Saxenhausen is Frankfurt’s fortified bridgehead across the Main), the guards challenge a tired rider on an exhausted horse. The rider notices that the guards are all Frankszonian and makes a professional note of the fact. “I’ve an urgent, personal message for the Ritter von Meltzer,” the rider declares. “He’s with the Grand Tour party of Reich Duke Wilhelm and King Basil.”
“Very well,” the young Lieutenant answers. “Dismount and lead your horse in through the sally port. We’ll water you both while we check your story.”
“My documents from the Margrafin von Raubenstadt,” Erwin von Mack proffers some papers to the men as he passes through the gate.
Inside the gatehouse, some men see to his horse and a private brings v. Mack a large stein of quality larger. Mack drinks the beer slowly as his professional eyes note the positions of the guards ... and a preloaded battery of small guns inside the gate. “What’s the threat?” he asks an off duty sergeant who is smoking a rather long pipe inside the room.
“Officially,” the sergeant grins, “we’re at war with the Kingdom of St. Maurice. Unofficially, the Gallian Gen. Broglie has threatened to impress every man who stand up, see lighting, and hear thunder if we fire another musket at each other.”
Mack laughs, but notices how one squad keeps behind and covers the forward squad and that there were gunners standing alert near the guns. *Nice excuse,* he thinks, *I wonder if the Hurtshog has heard the same rumors that we have?*
“Irwin! Good God!” a loud voice breaks into his reverie. “It’s been ages! I haven’t you since that affair at Weisbaden seen!”
“That can only be Baddmann!” v. Mack laughs in response. “What game are you playing today? Not another woodcarver, I hope?”
“Ah no. You see before you the dissipated gentleman who enjoys nothing more than a nice dance, and a nice dance afterwards too,” Johannes grins. He gives a card to the lieutenant, who quickly salutes and brings v. Mack’s horse to the door. “Come,” Johannes continues. “Your young Margraf is the lights fantastic with some northern fraulein dancing. I will you straight to him take.”
The pair ride through the normally dark streets, but which tonight are lit for party goerers enjoying the festivities. “All right, Mack,” Baddmann says as they cross the bridge, “what’s up?”
“In a word, Stagonia.”
“Any details? We’d spotted some of their stooges nearby.”
“My Lady’s letter is sealed, I’m afraid, and probably coded for the young man alone.”
“Naturally ... and what does she say?”
“More than one plot is afoot. There’s been signs of things concerning wine, fireworks, and sharpshooters.”
“No kidnapping? Stagonia always loved to kidnap children at loose in the world.”
“She didn’t mention that, but I’d rather suppose it’s possible.”
“No known connection then ...” Baddmann falls silent, leaving v. Mack puzzled as to the meaning of his comment. Then Baddmann asks after they pass the guards on the Frankfurter side of the Main, “You’ve that fancy pistol with you? If it’s not ready, we’d better stop while you load.”

The King is Coming, The King is Coming!

The ladies gather chattering in Capitaine Malecki's residence. After their adventure and the excitement, the conversation is perhaps a little louder than usual. Even the fine vintages, including some fine old bottles of Chevert don’t seem to calm them. Some of the local battalion’s musicians gather outside to play a few pieces ... and to practice their regimental music. In all the noise, the clatter of hooves from a hard ridden horse and the challenges of the sentries are almost missed. Col. Enigma, who had been inside the house with the Princess Allisonia, however, has learned to always be on his guard when the Lady Pettygree is in the area.
Quickly pulling a pistol from his waistcoat, he steps beside a window and looks out past the drapes.
“Something’s happening,” Diana warns her friends, and in a moment, the cheerful party falls silent and alert ... a surprising number of other pistols appear from the voluminous folds of the ladies’ riding gear. The sound of the guards snapping to attention, and the command “Present ... Harms!” from outside, however, reassure them. Thus, when the door is opened, the young rider is not shocked by the sight of an unseemly number of gun barrels pointed at him. Rather, he minces inside in his silken brocade uniform, fluttering more lace than a rose bush has blooms. He pouts in attempt to appear serious, and bows to the assembled party.
“M’Lords and M’Ladies” (except it should be in stilted school French) the youngster proclaims, “I have the honor a message for Her Highness, the Princess Alisonia, and the Ladies Pettygree and Masquerade to be carrying.”
Even as the Princess begins a gracious reply, Lady Pettygree asks, “From whom does this missive come?”
“It is an urgent note from my Lord, L’Comte de Beauphaup, m’Lady.”
“The old fart’s private diplomat,” the captain declares. “What’s up, lad?”
“If my Ladies will read this missive,” the youngster responds, “I’m sure all will be made clear.”
Lady Cherish Masquerade quickly accepts the proffered envelope, breaks the seal and unfolds the stiff parchment. “Diana,” she exclaims, “King Basil could be here any moment!”

In Frankfurter, adjutants and notables are scurrying about in haste. L’Comte Bastille is interrupted in his interrogation of the new prisoners by an harried looking aide. The would be assassins are hurriedly stripped and locked away while the Gallians send their own swarms of messengers into the countryside and to the nearby encampment. Cloth merchants are raided for bolts of cloth to be used as bunting which swarms of apprentices and mechanics quickly nail over the main intersections.
At the palace, Moosart scrambles to get his little orchestra together while the Hurtshog consults with his diplomatic advisors and the StadtRadt leaders. “Can we put together a quick agenda?” is the question on everybody’s mind.
The consensus is that the presence of the lovely and widely admired foreigner noblewomen is a real boon, even if their presence was part of another nefarious plot by the occupying forces of Gallia. If they will participate, a reception and informal fete would give the city a night to spruce up. In the morning, a quick formal inspection of some show troops followed by the mandatory tours of the excellent ceramic works (and a good source of exquisite gifts for all the visitors) and the famous sausage works, followed by a tuba concert. Then a real ball to the music of Moosart’s musicians.
The guild syndics, of course, hope to corral the various diplomats with the party and obtain good contracts for the long lasting Frankfurter field sausages, artillery from the foundry shared with Offenbach, and similar condiments. Their primary anxiety is that the Hurtshog is going to try to intervene to make these contracts very favorable for the young King Basil, as his opposition to the Turkish hordes may open up new products for pork based products.

As the afternoon wears on, the convoy of the Grand Tour is delayed by numerous check points. The closeness of major armies for Gallia and Hesse Seewald involves numerous little challenges for the diplomats riding with the party. Finally, a couple of chivalrous generals from the opposing sides generate special passes and each contributes a ceremonial escort ... a fact grimly noted by some nondescript shepherds as the party passes through one of the many woods near Frankfurt.
As the now enlarged party exits the hills overlooking the fortress town and its surrounding encampments, two squadrons of cavalry approach. The first to arrive is a somewhat dusty but otherwise impecable Col. Enigma and a troop of hussars. With a lovely caracole, he brings his troop into the double file reception lines along the road. Riding up to the royal coach, he makes is bow and politely welcomes King Basil and Reich Duke William on behalf of l’Comte Bastille, Intendant of Frankfurter, and General Broglie of the nearby Gallian army.
While the hussars, whose escorting troops seem to gravitate towards the vivandiers from Monte Cristo, squeeze in beside the considerable force already present, a glittering troop of Frankfurter Guard Cuirassiers arrives at a more sedate pace. General Hottatrot rides forward to deliver a somewhat florid greeting, but winks at the ladies as he delivers it. Ritter von Meltzer, in command of the convoy’s escorting cavalry, however, notes that a considerable number of dragoons had peeled away from the Cuirassiers during their approach march and seemed to be carefully searching the fields and copses off the road.
“Is there some problem?” he inquires of General Hottatrot ... indicating one of these hunting parties.
“Rumors, my man, rumors only,” the genial general responds. “Just taking precautions against any eventuality ... we are rather close to some angry folks here!” he laughs.
*Ja,* King Basil thinks, *rumors, Das is richtig ... und rumors in Morea wenn Ich comt also*

Saturday, July 4, 2009

the Tour gets busy!

From the Margraf von Raubenstadt (one of Nebulous Neighbors) comes this lovely bit!

Von Mack Rides Again
Erwin Von Mack, Chief (and Only) Intelligence Agent for the Markgraaf of Raubenstadt, found himself late at night on the road to nearby Frankfort Am Main, with a message from the Margrafin to her second son, the Ritter Andrew Von Meltzer, who was currently accompanying the Grand Tour of the Reich Duke Wilhelm Von Beerstein. She had received vague warnings from her sources in Stagonia, that there was a foul plot underway in Frankzonia involving the Grand Tour and the Frankfurter Herzog, but no further specific details as to who, how, and when were forthcoming.

Von Mack thought that if the Stagonians had grown so bold as to antagonize the Frankfurters, they were due for a rude awakening. Could this new agressive stance be the influence of the Duchess of Sachen-Vindow? If so, she did not know the Frankfurters as well as she thought. Bitterly gained personal experience had taught Von Mack that underneath the bland and somewhat bumbling facade Stanken showed the world, there lurked a mind that could have taught Machavelli a thing or two about ruling. He mentally winced at the memories, and wondered what it would be like to be on the same side for a change.

Sachen-Vindow. Sachen-Vindow. His failure at that damnable Inn, "The Crooked Kobold", had haunted Von Mack for months now, and if events had just gone a little different, he probably wouldn't have found himself on the road to Frankfort Am Main at such an ungodly hour, with a full moon lighting his way along the well known track. The grim setting did nothing to improve his mood. Von Mack was determined that this time there would be no failures.

Justice and Death, personally delivered in the form of Erwin Von Mack, were coming closer to Frankfort with every plodding hoofbeat of his horse....

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A Spiritual Mess ... uh ... Messenger

(An Announcement after a Meeting With Spirits in the Frankfurter Cathedral)

Most Reverend Addled von Gutgulp, Patriarch of the Later-In-The-Day Saints (an unique rye, uh, Rite in the Catholic Shursh), has ashsigned Rt. Rev. Mousewitz as a plenty ... uh ... plainly ... uh ... represhentative of Frankshzonia to the Bishopric of Uber Gruntshuffen on behash uf der Hurtshog Fhartz von Frankfurter to dishcush problemsh of mushial (Hic!) intrestsh.


Vee'll trink zu zhat ....
Deo Grashiash

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Royal Visits Expected ....

Great excitement arises in Frankszonia, as word of a forthcoming visit by a young prince and a gallant sovereign from the Mediterranian struggles with the Muslim heretics!
The several Greek and Slavic exiles whose recipes have enhanced the quality of the frankfurter locally are in fervor.

Officials are sent to the Gallian commands locally to be sure that they do not slight the expected guests and that their security patrols will be especially vigilant, given the suspected presence of M'Lady. Furthermore, it is suggested that some of their premier Gallian vintages be made available for the palettes of these Southern lords.

Lady Pettygree and her marvelous company are, of course, given a special invite to attend the festival occasions. Mistress Ewewarp is ordered to create special gowns for the occasion, and Moosart composes a special fiddle faddle.
A special battalion of Invalides Guards is formed to provide appropriate pageantry.

The reception at the Ducal palace itself, alas, will be restrained, as both the Hurtshog and Princess Stuftliana are rumored to have been recently run through some ordeal by these blundering physicians .... still, it is rumored that some special fireworks will be fired from the fortress mortars for the occasion ...

On the really beautiful version 3 Koenig's Krieg

A much more detailed commentary will be written up in a week or two. This is not a review, but more an initial reaction ... and I've promised them a review. So far, I’ve got two pages of notes on things which were either new or troublesome to me.

Let it be understood, none of them (except for the missing cheat sheet) would put the kabosh on me really liking and supporting these rules. Furthermore, the incredible and perhaps overly ambitious use of many, many color photos of figures in formation, etc. undoubtedly ran up the price of the book massively. Having seen it, I’m no longer surprised at the price.

* One: they really got fancy: wonderful eye candy, lots of figure photos, very sharp graphics which more clearly illustrate rules, and detailed summary charts. Moreover, they were at pains to repeat stuff whenever it was pertinent ... which was irritating to me, but understandably very helpful to folks who would be perusing the rules to determine what to do next. Also, they deliberately introduced double spacing in between the various points, which also made the rules structure easier to understand. Some of the many charts to summarize the rules were perhaps too detailed (the flow chart for turn sequence, for instance, which is done in such a way to enable a computer programmer to work it, {Laughing}), but will invariably speed up finding and applying a given rule (but the important ones simply will HAVE to be put on a cheat sheet).

* Two: by and large they did some excellent things to make the rules understandable and put the kibosh on rules lawyers. For instance, I found the write up on defensive fire to be most understandable (by the way, I’ve flipped on this a bit ... looking at the game logic, no defensive fire is more appropriate than what I originally fought for).

* Three: Since the game is based on Brigades and independent units, they redid the cost analysis from individual figures to Brigades and such units. While they do provide for a lot of flexibility, it is just rigid enough not to appeal to an ad hoc gamer who plays undersized games (like myself). On the other hand, the approach does make building armies much more rapid and enables the creation of "victory point" systems as well as nicely analyzed cost comparisons. Also, this method let’s them include many considerations which would otherwise require more figuring on the part of the player (such as the much more expensive staff for larger armies .... put into the cost of the general).

* Four: They also included rules to make the game much more effective for battles outside of the European theater. The effort to do this introduced a new level of complexity, which I deplore, but do vastly expand the utility of the game within the era ... Once again, one can fight for India or face the American Indian swarms ...

Of course, I have my own quibbles .... I've got to maintain my standing in the elderly, obese, curmudgeon club!

* First: Most of the rules changes seem to have obviously been done to produce a greater focus on the period of 1730 = 1780. I'll be doing a more complete write up later, but IMHO, quite a few of these new rules introduced an unnecessary level of complexity. I was particularly bothered by the new way in which the artillery rules were written ... which did not really change things that much as make the system more flexible, especially for battles outside of Europe. On the other hand, the new complexity is not too bad, easy to follow their reasoning, and not only widen the scope of play but also definitely increase the period flavor in tangible ways. The 2nd edition was quite easily used to play a basically Napoleonic army ... which is now patently improbable.

* Second: There are some amusing typos ... only two of which could cause any confusion in play that I saw so far. I understand that the proofreading was rushed and done under confusing circumstance to begin with. Should all be easy to fix in the next printing (which I also suspect, will include less of the wonderful photos of figures and so forth, as those are sure to be running up the price).

* Third: (both a very good thing and a quibble together) They include the basic major armies of the 7YW; some very nice scenario designs, and an historical battle (Mollwitz). On the other hand, the wonderful army features of the 2nd edition and its list and classification of historical period generals is missing. Nor do they have the supplements for WSS, Festung Krieg, etc. I suspect that this is because their very elaborate method of providing army lists was also a huge expense ... though it does make the lists rather easy to understand.

* Fourth: This is a lethal error, I think. They did not include cheat sheets!! They have already realized their mistake and are putting them and some supplementary material together as a freebie supplement already ... we who already have the rules can get them as a free download.

By and large, this is a very good job. The things I didn't like (almost always because I felt that they weren’t really necessary) would not impede the play and would definitely add clear period flavor. Just leafing through the book and looking at the pictures and skimming the side bars was quite fun. Really, this IS one of the games in which I'd like to participate ... if ever I can get to a convention myself! So, back to the painting board.

28 June 2009
Arthur Pigg

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Very Dry Vintage

A Very Dry Vintage

It was a dark and very quiet night (okay, I couldn’t resist). With no moon, the stars over Frankfurter sprinkled back from the wavelets on the Main. Along the unloading piers for the Gallian depot, the sentry marches tiredly on. Quietly, after the sentry has passed, two figures suddenly appear on one of the barges and step quickly across to the pier to one of the ramshackle sheds thrown up by the Gallian suppliers. The smaller fiddles with the door for a second, steps through and then back out and nods to the larger. The large man, who even in this dim light looks like an old copper statue, ducks under the lintel and a moment later steps back out carrying a barrel. The two step back onto the barge and disappear. The whole action taking less than a few seconds.
In the dark, sentries exchange the sign and countersign, and the local private wearily plods back the wier to the other end of his beat. As he passes, a strange, long boat with both ends curved up and together slips silently out into the river. The two passengers steadily and stealthily dip their paddles into the water and cross over towards Saxenhousen.
“That was quick, Moose Hunter,” the short man in the front of the canoe whispered. “Are you sure you got one?”
“Third one I picked up, Johannes,” Moose Hunter replied. “It’s full, but there’s no liquid in it.”
They quietly finish their voayage and get pulled through the muck on the south shore by a couple of soldiers. The barrel is lifted onto a small cart, and the soldiers led by a young Fahenjunker and an Hauptman hurry through the dark streets followed by Johannes and Moose Hunter. They stop at what appears to be a run down boarding house and carry the barrel inside. The soldiers step outside again and march away except for the two officers who move slowly towards a darkened inn.
“So! Our little Gallian lap dog is stealing from his master again!” the Fahenjunker cheerfully commented.
“Hush!” the Hauptman answered quickly. Then he looked carefully around and lowered his voice. “It’s time you started to pay attention to things that a nobleman should notice. And it’s time you learned to keep your mouth shut too, now that Kunegunde has Bastille’s little house to take the blame for his actions.”
“I’m sorry, Father,” the youngster apologized. “What is it that you want me to notice?”
“Frankszonia has fought four wars with other Gallian allies ....”
“And the Hurtshog has carefully held back the best troops at the last moment to ensure that they win!”
“... But under the cover of those little squabbles, the Hurtshog has eliminated the pockets of territory cutting up out Stadtholdings and more than doubled our territory and resources.”
“So he’s a good little Hurtshog who is nicely improving his claim,” the youngster snorted.
“Wake up, Son! The Hurtshog and his councilors are quite serious about Deutschland vor Deutsche Volk. They’ve got this impossible dream of some sort of confederation of little states that can keep the big boys from tearing up our towns for their playground.”
“Isn’t that what the Wieners and their Reich are supposed to be doing?”
“Ja, and you can see for yourself how wonderfully well THAT is working.”
“So what? If our tiny army sneezes, Bastille and Broglie will impress whoever is unlucky enough to survive “
”If Germania and Hesse Seewald win another big one nearby, where will all those Gallian troops be? With the Resistance fighters who always seem to get away, the supposed deserters under Pepperoni and Braunsweiger, and few other friends like Hesse Fedora, I suspect that the Hurtshog will have enough to hold Frankfurter until relieved.”
“So we’re going to double cross the frogs?”
“Only if we have to. We are quite aware that neither Germania nor Hesse Seewald are really all that interested in having a lot of little autonomous duchies to deal with. Now hush. Not a word of this even to Mother or you sister and especially not to Fraulein Busch!” At this point, they open a dark door from which light and laughter spilled.

Back at the rooming house, two nobles carry lamps into the dark sitting room. They are accompanied by a scholar. One of them reveals a prybar and starts to open the barrel.
“Careful, Your Highness!” Johannes urges.
“Somebody has to, and too many have to be hurt for me these days,” the stout man answered.
As the lid rises, a dark powder is revealed. All turn to the scholar who comes forward, lifts a small pinch out and carries it to a lamp where he studies it with a magnifying glass.
“Well, Rabbi?” the other nobleman demands.
“You were right, General,” the scholar answers. “It’s not gunpowder. This looks more like the flash powder they put into fireworks to make the loud noises. Frankly, it could dangerous if somebody charged his piece with a normal measure.”
“Are you positive, Badmann, that the Gallians don’t know about this yet?” the Hurtshog asked.
“I’m not sure,” Badmann responded. “This barrel is marked the same as that spoiled juice that Bastille and all the Gallian peers drink.”
“Then there should barrels like this in the private quarters of almost every Gallian notable around here,” Moose Hunter grunted.
“Do we tell them?” the general asked.
“I’m not sure yet,” the Hurtshog mused. “We do brief our cleaning ladies and so forth right away ... let’s see if we can get this stuff before it goes off. This could be M’Lady’s or Stagonia’s handiwork, but Roquefort has his own nefarious agenda, and we’ve put a monkey wrench in it. He may be looking for some sudden job opportunities for his own agents.”
There was a moment’s silence, and the Hurtshog turned to the scholar. “I’m a bit thin right now, Rabbi,” he said, “but I think that boatman friend of yours and his family ought to spend the next Passover in Jerusalem on a small stipend. Otherwise, let’s get this to a more useful spot. Moose Hunter, Lady Pettygree is nearby. That means M’Lady is too. Hunt her and see if any threads come loose. Guten Nacht!”
The noblemen both walk quickly out of the room and disappear down the hall towards the back of the house.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Frankszonia Driven From Neu Isenberg!



The defenders of Neu Isenberg, Frankzonians under the command of Francios l'Marquise de Hottatrot had some advance notice of the coming forces from the Kingdom of Saint Maurice. They made use of the time to erect some improvised defenses along the Frankfurter Strasse before the town of Neu Isenberg. Constructing these defenses on one side of the high road were the militia of Neu Isenberg, never before tested in any battle regimen.

These defences were still under some construction when the troops of St. Maurice came out into the open from the light woods in the area.

Arranged in front of the St. Maurice lines were two battalions of militia forces.

Hidden in a thicker part of the eastern woods were the elite Jay's Jagers, waiting totally concealed.

The battle opened with a cannonade from the St. Maurice battery, which tore a great swath through the exposed ranks of the Hottatrot regiment 1st battalion.

Meanwhile in the woods the Jagers now had the flank company of one of St Maurice's militia regiments totally exposed and in some disorder directly in front of their concealed position. Rising almost as one these marksmen then cut their own deadly swath through the officer and senior NCO's leading these new soldiers. The general response was panic and they turned to flee...only to find the fixed bayonets of the regular line troops directly behind them. They turned to flee away from the continued Jager enfilade fire towards the other battalion of militia.

The response from the other militia force was also to start to panic and flee...only to be cut down almost instantly from the rear by the leveled muskets in volley fire at point blank into their backs! (it was a critical success for the fire shot!)

These totally frightened men then threw down their arms and fled in all directions! (including towards the Frankzonian lines!)

So ended turn 1.

The St. Maurice force was not slowed at all by the chaos in the woods, the main line was advancing on the improvised defenses that still appeared to have men working on them. Upon firing at the troops the Frankfurter Buns took off in all directions away from the battle area, their 'leaders' vainly showing attempts at rally, while running at full speed along the high road after passing into the town. A company of regulars that were completing the works on the other side of the road also ran off in the confusion started by the Buns militia loosing their composure so quickly (it was a critical failure of morale on the militia and a normal fail on the line troops).

Meanwhile in the woods the St. Maurice militia that was running in mobs came close to the edge of the woods and surrendered en-masse to the Frankzonian IR Black Kilts. A detachment of a dozen men was made to form a 'guard' for these surrendering troops and they were mustered to the eastern outskirts of Neu Isenberg.

so ended turn 2

With the advancing line at the high road and the defenses only half-manned there was little opposition to the St. Maurice line troops scrambling over the wooden barricades.

Confusion in the woods had died down and now the St. Maurice lines started to move forward to press on the Jagers.

so ended turn 3

The next action started from the artillery which had been firing all along but only had good effect on the first volley, now this cannonade again struck home, with the Hottatrot 1st again taking more casulaties, this time enough to halt their tentative advance in the woods, as they readied themselves to face St. Maurice foot coming at them through the woods.

The first cavalry clash comes now on the west edge of the defenses. The Gendarmes of St. Maurice clashed with the Frangipani Hussars, who were driven off by the heavier and more skilled Gendarmes.

so ended turn 4

A small rain shower came across the battlefield at this point (I have a 'wonky' light ballast in my gamespace and it went out at this point...also the radio station started playing "Raindrops"), the St. Maurice commander, having decided that the battle was all going in his favor, ordered his two ADC's to return to camp and prepare his tent for the rain. Then when the rain got worse, left his command post, with an orderly remaining behind to simply report back the final effect of the battle. (this was decided after a critical failure in the initiative rolls for the turn).

Overall the battle did not move much at this stage, the Gendarmes drove off Arthur's Hussars and got into good supporting position for the western defenses. The other troops traded musket fire, with one force of the St. Maurice line troops expending their powder (presumably the rain caused more powder problems leaving that battalion without fire capability until they moved to the rear of the battle area ~ for resupply) [they rolled a critical failure on firing, then a normal failure for 'no powder' effect].

so ended turn 5

The tipping point was upon the battle, for the wiley St. Maurice commander had managed to convince a small force of independent dragoons to simply 'make a show' in the woods to the east of Neu Isenberg. It was at this point that their crashing mounts, whistles and shouts could be heard by the Jagers. Frankzonian commander l'Marquise de Hottatrot was also informed and decided that it was time for his "Devil my care" reputation to not be outdone! He ordered an immediate cavalry attack followed by having his personal entourage of Highlander garbed sycophants sweep into the melee.

The first cavalry attacks are badly co-ordinated and the St. Maurice commander on the spot drove his lancers into the flank of the returning Frangipani Hussars, shattering them utterly and sending all of them into a running battle to the west of the town, the Lancers took off in pursuit of prizes.

The Sultan of Swat with the Delft Blues then struck at the ready Gendarmes, the encounter did not go off well. The Blues were obliged to let the St. Maurice line troops fire onto their flank as they advanced, taking down many, then they trotted into contact with the Gendarmes in some disorder. The Sultan was not killed, but dismounted during the engagement and managed to catch on with one of his retreating troopers following the hot engagement.

thus ended turn 6

Now the Highlanders were going in without any support.

First the Gendarmes laughed at their small numbers approach, after a few troopers dropped from the accurate small-arms fire and they saw the claymores come out...all of them drew pistols and sent the kilt clad brave men off into the buildings for cover.

With the unknown dragoon force pressing in from the west and the St. Maurice Kings troops holding the edge of the town, running out of any troops to actually take action with, Francios l'Marquise de Hottatrot ordered the general retreat and left the area to the north. Leaving Neu Isenberg in the hands of St. Maurice, yet not without cost as the prisoners were also herded along with the main body.

End result:

Neu Isenberg now in the hands of St. Maurice.
St. Maurice: 2bn militia
Some cavalry in the Gendarmes and Lancers (who will be at least a day before they can even form up again [with lots of loot!])
Some line infantry, perhaps a company KIA, with 2 companies wounded. No forces are fresh and no pursuit is possible.
Frankzonia: 1bn Line troops KIA
1bn Militia scattered over the area to the north
Frangipani Hussars were really badly mauled by both the Gendarmes and Lancers (they were broken morale and hit in the back!) ~ I suspect they did not get away at all.
Arthur's Hussars were wounded, but not mauled.
The Blues were decimated by musket and sabre, 50% casualties and wounds to nearly everyone else.
No troops came away without casualty, they were not in good order as a body of men on retreat, only two battalions of Line were in any sort of order.

No effective defensive line would be available for 2 days from these troops.


The commands were split between two players on each side and I did "Kreigspeil" using a rough set of notes and my own 'hybrid' system based on Envoy and GURPS ~ so as to allow some of the very colorful character elements that Frankzonian commanders have to perhaps shine through, sorry if not much made it to the tabletop = there is just soooo much to work with!

Interesting note regarding the players, twin sisters took opposing sides during the battle and I am interested in hearing from them about their game-play experience.

so ends this AAR.

Comments are encouraged!
Posted by MurdocK at 8:47 PM