Thursday, February 23, 2012

Serendipities and felicitations

O frabjous day! I quite unexpectedly came across a treasure trove of Piedmontese-Savoyard regimental flags that I thought I would never find. I was minding my own business when I started following a link to a defunct web site that had a cache of archived pages. In French. Spelunking down into the sub-pages, I found a listing of these flags. This is meaningful to me because back when we started our aborted pseudo-historical ate 17th c. project, we modeled our armies on historical ones. Feeling an Italianate urge, I picked Piedmont-Savoy. The one fly in the ointment was that I had no source for flags. I made up my own (very fanciful) using Adobe Illustrator.

These flags are not ready to roll, I have to fiddle with them in Photoshop and Illustrator to make them useful. Also, the flags are stated to be for the War of the Spanish Succession (WSS) and later. I can deal with that degree of anachronism (if, indeed, there is one. French flags devised circa 1630s remained unchanged in many cases until the end of l'Ancien Régime). I have to do some surgery to my completed ensign figures to remove the old flags and add the new, but it's nice to know that I'll have something arguably more accurate than my home-brewed flags.

I found Nec Pluribus Impar!
I assumed that the WSS rules I started writing 22 years ago (Nec Plubius Impar) were lost or buried too deeply in the clutter to be found in this lifetime. I was wrong. After burrowing through some boxes in the garage and not finding them (although I did find other buried treasures), I looked in my closet and there they were: a thick ream of papers wrapped in a folding file holder.

After browsing through the pages, I was pretty pleased to see how much my thinking then is similar to my thinking now as I develop my Pike & Periwig rules. I wrote NPI for 15mm and I had some unique ideas for modeling firing systems, battalion organizations, morale, and combat. I regret that I left off developing them. I started them when I lived in Chicago and continued writing after I moved to Seattle. My first development tool was a 1988-vintage Mac Plus using MS Word for Mac and Super Paint. It was a dot matrix world back then and the earliest printed sheets I have are crude glyphs and images on the old-style computer paper.

Cutting edge pixel art circa 1990
Now that I have my old NPI notes, I'll try to adapt some of the ideas to the system I'm using for P&P.

In addition to this happy find, I discovered a copy of my friend Rick's Seven Years' War rules Battlefire. These were one of the inspirations for NPI and I was recently asking Rick if he still had a copy, which he didn't. It turns out that now I'm supply a copy to him.

I also found some initial notes on a system that I was writing for the American Revolution in the early '90s. I was experimenting with the idea of a "cadence" for turns where the number of "beats" required to perform a certain action, such as moving X inches, shooting/reloading, changing formation, varied between troops of different qualities. I like the idea (again), but I have another command/control idea for P&P.

I've been acquiring sources for my P&P rules—re-acquiring in several cases. I have a bad habit of clearing my library from time to time. In the last 20 years, I've probably cycled through several hundred volumes that came and went. Shelf space is limited chez Dave, so to avoid boxing up books for storage (storage space is even more limited) or stacking up books on the floor (I've done it, it's not pretty), I take them to Half Price Books and sell them for pennies on the dollar. Many books I don't miss, several I miss only slightly (the faint nostalgia of saying, "I had that book once..."), others I find myself wanting again and I ask myself, "What were you thinking when you got rid of that?" Among the latter are:

  • Brent Nosworthy, The Anatomy of Victory: Battle Tactics 1689-1763
  • B. P. Hughes, Firepower: Weapons Effectiveness On The Battlefield, 1630- 1850
  • B.P. Hughes, Open Fire: Artillery Tactics from Marlborough to Wellington
These were all invaluable sources when I wrote NPI, but I sold them after that project languished and died. I have re-acquired them all (or will have as soon as the postman brings them to me). I have also acquired a copy of James Turner's Pallas armata, Military essayes of the ancient Grecian, Roman, and modern art of war written in the years 1670 and 1671 and Carl Ekberg's The Failure of Louis Xiv's Dutch War, which is really background analysis of the political aspect of the era, there is little of actual military history in it (this, too, is a re-acquisition).

I make a bit of progress every day on both my rules Pike & Periwig and my first unit, Régiment Vivarais. I have learned that I was too trusting of Susane's uniform plates. The uniform is clearly a shade of blue in my source, but probably a mid-gray since that or brown were the common colors for French uniforms in this period. I'm unfazed. I like the blue (Vallejo 902 Azure, actually) and as one of my friends used to say when someone pointed out a uniform inconsistency, "Well, today they wore that."

I see that North Star Figures has released flintlock musketeers for the North Star 1672 range. They don't really fit in my period, being integrated more in the 1680s through 1700 or so. However, the French Régiment des Fusiliers du Roi was the first European unit equipped entirely with flintlocks in 1671. I see some fusiliers in my near future.

I have primed up two sakers from The Assault Group to use as my first guns for l'Armée Français. These are very nice models and I've ordered some of their falconets as well to use as battalion guns. North Star has artillerymen in the works, but I don't know when we'll see them. Hopefully soon, lest my guns remain unmanned.

Meanwhile, I have a French cavalry squadron ready to paint. The recently-added figures were the command group, which are among the new figures for the range done by Steve Saleh. They are beautifully done and I'm a little intimidated in painting them. I'll start slapping on paint soon. 

Vivarais has only details (weapons, buttons, etc.) to go until they're finished, but I find that details are the slowest going.

1 comment:

  1. This is a site when I was building a Piedmonte / Savoy army I had it on my old lap top , ( which was stolen ) and I have never been able to find it again, If you have the link I would be grateful.If I remember correctly it had all the regiments listed and their standards colours of uniforms even a part about the artillery