Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bits and pieces

I have longer blogs to write, but I'm too lazy, so just some dashed off tripe will have to do.

Research, research, research

Writing the rules Pike & Periwig for my 1672 project is enjoyable torment. One of the nicer torments is all the books I've bought recently to research the warfare of the period. Among the nicer finds are the  photo reproductions of 17th c. drill manuals. I was very surprised not only to find them available, but cheap.

Early English Books Online (EEBO) is a scholarly service that gives suitably credentialed types access to a digital wonderland of old books. Being suitably credentialed is the rub. You have to be associated with a member academic institution. Individuals cannot become subscribers. However, EEBO Editions are a number of printed copies of the digital material. I haven't found a complete list of what EEBO Editions offers, but one-by-one I've come across the volumes I was looking for and feared I would never find. Among the treasures I've acquired so far are:

Sir James Turner. Pallas Armata, Military Essayes of the Ancient Grecian, Roman, and Modern art of War, Written in the Years 1670 and 1671. (1683)

John Cruso. The Arte of Warre, or Militarie Discourses of Levying, Marching, Encamping, and Embattling an Armie. (1639)

John Cruso. Militarie Instructions for the Cavalrie, Or, Rules and Directions for the Service of Horse Collected Out of Divers Forrein Authours, Ancient and Modern, and Rectified and Supplied According to the Present Practice of the Low Countrey Warres. (1644)

William Bariffe. Military Discipline: Or, The Young Artillery Man Wherein is Discoursed and Showne the Postures Both of Musket and Pike: The Exactest Way. Together with the Motions which are to be Used. (1635)

These are a bit much to plod through at times, but perseverance has its rewards and the books provide answers to the crucial questions about what, exactly, a unit could do. For writing rules about facings, formations changes, wheeling, etc. these are invaluable. Even though most of them date to the Thirty Years War period, they are based on the tactical reforms of Maurice of Nassau, which remained dominant into the 1690s.

Another great find was the two volumes of William Guthrie's Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen 1618-1635 and The Later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia. These are a terrific resource for the period and are the only source for detailed information about these battles. For each battle, Guthrie includes full orders of battle with unit strengths and clear maps of the deployments. There is nothing else like this in English. Guthrie also includes a lot of explanation of the tactics used. As with the drill manuals, it's a little anachronistic, but not much. From Maurice's reforms in the late 16th c. to the 1690s, the change was gradual. The biggest changes affected the way that Imperial armies fought. The giant tercios of Tilly and Wallenstein gave way to the smaller battalions of Maurice and the and tactical finesse introduced by Gustavus Adolphus. English military drill, which is reflected in the manuals, was based on the Dutch and Swedish models throughout the 17th c. Maurice had his battalions in eight ranks; Gustavus reduced infantry battalions to six ranks, which were widely adopted before the end of the Thirty Years War and remained the standard depth until the end of the century.

I have a few more books on the way about tactical aspects of the Dutch Wars (1568 to 1648) and am contemplating yet another I saw on Amazon. It's not cheap. These books never are.

Rules writing

I had a great brainstorm this weekend and got a lot of work done on the close combat rules for Pike & Periwig. I'm just polishing them now and creating the illustrations for them in Adobe Illustrator. I hope to get them in complete draft form soon so I can get some feedback (ridicule, scorn, contumely) from reviewers.

I have no intention of going commercial with these, so I feel free to indulge my own instincts rather than try to make a popular set—as if rules for the period 1660 to 1680 were going to set the wargaming hobby on fire anyway.

I'm hearing about some local interest in the rules, so I hope that getting them in a draft form will inspire a few people to paint units for the period. If I have to paint everything, I'll be 70 before I'm ready to play my first game.


I've got the horseflesh painted for my first cavalry unit in the 1672 project. I'm working on the horse furniture and uniforms of the riders now.

I've also got several guns painted or nearly so. Old Glory makes a nice falconet model. I recently got two of The Assault Group falconets which are a different style. I've painted the Old Glory falconets with red carriages for the French. I'll paint The Assault Group falconets for the Austrians, although I'm not sure what color their carriages were in this period. Yellow ochre,—or did that come later? I know that English carriages were light gray since the New Model Army and remained so. It's not unlikely that Austria would stick with one color from the start.

Even though the guns are ready, the gunners are yet to appear from North Star. I've heard since January that the gunners for the North Star 1672 range are just about ready, I fear I have longer to wait than I hoped. North Star did recently release two packs of flintlock musketeers for the range. I'm intrigued, of course, but the matchlock was still near-universal in my period.


There must be a conspiracy in the Pacific Northwest to deprive us of dullcote. It can't be found! Hobby stores that would sell it are getting rarer. Galaxy Hobby near me carries a lot of model paint. I've been able to get the Testor's Dullcote I crave from them before, but they've been out the last several times I've checked. I've also gone to craft stores that have a small model kit section with a smattering of Testor's paint. They would have some, but they've been out, too. I finally just ordered three cans direct from Testor's.  I can't believe that I couldn't just find it to buy off the shelf. It gave me cold shudders to think that this may be a portent of a dying world of hobby stores.


  1. David:

    Sorry I missed this earlier - I love tripe - especially in stew. That said, I am anxious to see your rules in all their glory; sounds like they should be quite impressive with all of your scholarly reseach. BTW, I've been able to find Dullcote at most Michael's - even when out of stock they order more. I always print out the online 40% discount coupon for these too. Best, Dean

  2. EEBO is really great, you can get access to it through a university library or like me through the dutch Royal Library. Nice to see the interest in 1672!

  3. That great website "Anno Domini 1672" (http://rampjaar.blogspot.com/) is a great inspiration for my project.

  4. What an excellent blog! Stumbled upon it and thoroughly enjoyed reading. Unfortunately for me, this has come about six weeks too late as I was torn between Late C17th and War of the Spanish Succession. Looks like I know what my next job will be now though.

    Anyway,varnish. I find Testors very hard to get hold of here in the UK, but I've settled on Revell's brush on matt varnish. Dead flat when dry and very easy to bet hold of (here anyway) so it might be a handy fall back for you.