Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meanwhile, in the wilds of North America ...

A hunting expedition of frontier settlers has run afoul of a war party of hostile savages who outnumber them two to one. The settlers make a run for a nearby outpost of the 60th Foot. Half of the indians pursue the hunters while the other half loops around to cut them off from the fort. Hearing scattered musket shots and war whoops the Captain commanding the fort forms up part of the garrison and leads them to the rescue. When he comes in view of the hunters and their pursuers he can tell it is too late to effect a rescue, so he positions his men on a wooded hill to cover the escape of as many of the settlers as can elude the hostiles. In the end a few of the settlers are cut down, but most of them make it to the clearing below the redcoat position. The indians fade back into the forest rather than engage their reinforced opponent in such a stron position.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Peace breaks out

Ardoberg Enquirer

Your source for news. No, really...

The King of San Maurice has set a new standard of swift and decisive Gallic military action by sueing for peace with Ardoberg-Holstein after a brief and almost bloodless battle at the town of Cezanne. The garrison of that town, consisting of the first battalion of the Navarre Regiment and a gang of banditti who style themselves the Arquebusiers de Bergerac, found themselves confronted by the main Electoral army in the third week of the war. The garrison commander was preparing to withdraw when a courier arrived from the King ordering him to drive out the invaders (who outnumbered him 5 to 1). Reports that the King owed the Colonel a substantial sum of money due to an unlucky evening of gaming remain unsubstantiated at this time.

The Colonel dutifully took up a position in the town and endured the preparatory bombardment of the Electoral army. When honor had been satisfied (and before the Electoral infantry were sent in with the bayonet) a drummer emerged from the town and beat the Parley. After a brief interview the Elector and the Colonel agreed to avoid the unnecessary effusion of blood that would certainly attend the storming of the town, and the garrison was allowed to withdraw with the honors of war. As soon as news of the loss of Cezanne reached the King he sued for peace, setting a new land speed record for surrender. Reached for comment, the King said "When we went to war I didn't think he was going to invade me!"

While a lasting peace is to be hoped for, long time observers of affairs in this region of Europe are pretty sure it won't be long before San Maurice and Ardoberg-Holstein are back at daggers drawn.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The cult of the blade

The best little game I never played is a 1970s vintage role playing effort titled En Garde. It was originally a simple simulation of fencing in the time of the 3 Musketeers, but the rulesmiths at Game Designers Workshop recreated the world of the 3 Musketeers as background to the fencing. Basically, the players each represent a young man trying to make his fortune in the 17th Century world of social status and influence. A very clever design but, sadly, there were never enough people around here interested enough to follow through with a multi evening game like this. It occurs to me that the world of En Garde fits pretty well into 18th Century Europe and so, one thread in the historical tapestry of Ardoberg-Holstein will be the careers of four young men who arrive in the big city determined to make their fame and fortune or die trying. Here, then, are the four young men conjured up by rolling dice on multiple character generation tables.

"Hector". First born son of a very wealthy Markgraf. His initial social status is 9 out of a possible 16. He arrives in the capital city with 825 Thalers in his purse, a monthly allowance from dear old dad of 137 Thalers, and he can expect to inherit a further 5000 Thalers when his father dies. He begins his career by purchasing a Captaincy in the Leib Curraissers, the highest status regiment in the Electoral Army. He also joins the exclusive club Hunters. His deep pockets and high social status have allowed him to make these expensive investments in his future career.

"Nestor". First born son of a recently deceased wealthy gentleman, he arrives in the capital with 4550 Thalers (his inheritance), but will, of course, receive no allowance as he is now the head of his family. He has an initial social level of 5, which, together with his substantial fortune, allows him to purchase a commission in the Saarbrucken Regiment, a respectable unit, although not the height of fashion. He enrolls in a club, The Frog & Peach, which is also respectable if not the cutting edge.

"Phoenix". The second son of an impoverished gentleman, he arrives in the capital with a mere 40 Thalers in his pocket and no monthly allowance. His beginning social status is 3. Some day when his father goes to his reward Phoenix will inherit the family fortune, a paltry 100 Thalers. Upon arrival he enrolls as a Gentleman Ranker (AKA Private) in the Diefenbach Regiment which will, at least, provide him with three hots and a cot plus a modest sum on pay day. Oh why did father risk all on that San Maurician albino rooster farm investment? His path to better things will indeed be a rocky one.

"Hector". The bastard son of a peasant, he arrives in the capital with 9 Thalers in his pocket and no hope of an allowance or inheritance. His social status at the start of his career is a miserable 2. He joins the rather unstylish Isselbach regiment as a private soldier. His only hope of advancement under the circumstances is to win glory on the battlefield or the duelling field by taking risks shunned by most men.

These four young men were travelling companions on the road to the capital of Ardoberg, and formed a friendship which will lead them to assist each other in their careers and adventures in Europe's most contradictory capital. Stodgy and straight laced on the surface, Ardoberg is a seething cauldron of barely suppressed Lutheran naughtiness beneath. Their adventures will occasionally be recorded in these pages as a diversion from the great affairs of state that are the usual stuff of our record.

The reader may be curious about the un teutonic names of our young heroes. It is an inconvenient fact of life in Ardoberg-Holstein that all young men of gentle birth are named either Frederich Wilhelm or Wilhelm Frederich. In fact, several military setbacks in our history are directly attributable to this awkward custom as orders go astray in the heat of battle. Be that as it may, it is a common practice among our young men to adopt nicknames. Some, as with our young bravos described above, are drawn from classical literature. Others are based on perceived physical or social eccentricities and are inflicted on a lad by his fellows. Many a duel has been fought in an attempt to reverse such branding.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

King of San Maurice comments on the invasion

Ardoberg Enquirer

We report, you deride

Our crack reporting team in the San Maurician capital was able to reach the King of that unhappy land, Louis Phillipe, for a comment regarding the recent invasion by Ardoberg-Holstein. The invading army is reported to be three regiments of Horse, five regiments of Foot and two batteries of artillery. The King felt confident that the invaders are adequately contained by his forces in the area, a single battalion of the Navarre Regiment and the Aquibusiers de Bergerac (if they are sober).

Asked about his plan to drive out the invaders the King replied "Drive them out? No, no monsieur. My economic Minister advises me to make every effort to keep them within our borders at least until the end of the current campaign season. Their presence is benefiting the local economy and we expect our Gross Domestic Product to increase by approximately 2% this year as a result. "

Through sources who must remain anonymous we were also able to discover His Majesty's plan to neutralize Ardoberg-Holsteins British allies. Louis Phillipe recently sent a large sum of money, arms and military stores to the recalcitrant Scottish Jacobite Red Dougie MacArdo to stir up trouble for Britain close to home. According to those same sources, the King raised the money by posing for a series of drawings in various stages of undress, which were then sold to Elisabeth, Emperess of Russia. Our sources go on to report that the Elector of Ardoberg-Holstein offered to provide a similar service to Elisabeth for substantially less money, and was rejected out of hand.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The conqueror undone

The war between the Elector of Ardoberg-Holstein and his unruly neighbor King Louis Phillipe of San Maurice is well underway. The Electoral Army has crossed the border and captured the town of Cezanne. The Elector's bluecoats are stalwart in battle but untutored in the ways of the pleasure loving San Mauricians. After setting up camp, the rural bumpkins that make up the rank and file of the Electors army fanned out across Cezanne like so many tourists. Before midnight they had been shorn of their wages by the wily citizens of the town. Here we see an innocent soldier beguiled by a mysterious lady in one of the towns many taverns, while her accomplice waits in the background to play the role of enraged boyfriend.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Size does matter

The debut of the Ardozollern Curriasser regiment is the first step in an extensive reworking of the Electoral mounted arm. When I started building my army in the mid 1970s the infantry were Spencer Smith American War of Independence figures and the cavalry were the older Spencer Smith figures familiar to all from the Charles Grant book. The infantry in terms of size and design have held up reasonably well but the cavalry, while charming, are undersized, especially compared to the mighty Stadden horses fielded by my bellicose neighbor, San Maurice. My army includes 8 regiments of Spencer Smith horse, and I've decided to phase them into semi retirement over the next year or so. They will be replaced by the excellent plastic 1/56" scale cavalry that are coming on to the market. Each of the existing Spencer Smith regiments will become the 3rd and 4th squadrons (reserve) of that regiment and the active 1st and 2nd squadrons will be the newer, more appropriately sized figures. Most of these replacements will be the Wargames Factory figures that are still a few months away from availability. The curriasser regiment shown here is a Perry Miniatures Napoleonic French heavy cavalry set with the helmets replaced by Wargames Factory tricornes.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ardoberg Enquirer interviews King of San Maurice

Ardoberg Enquirer Reporter: Good afternoon, Your Majesty. Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview.

Louis-Phillipe, King of San Maurice: You may rise. We are always interested in promoting peace and understanding through dialogue. Ummm, We understood there was to be …something…a token?

AE: What? Oh, the bananas, of course. I have them right here, Sire.

L-P: You have our gratitude. Please place them over there with the others.

AE: Your Majesty, can you share with our readers the cause of the recent outbreak of war between San Maurice and Ardoberg Holstein?

L-P: In short, We could say the Elector of Ardoberg Holstein is an idiot, but that wouldn’t make for much of an article for your newspaper, would it? And so, we must delve into the painful details.

There is a professor in Konigsberg, one Immanuel Kant. Perhaps you have heard of his work? No? Well, Professor Kant, in his lectures at the University there has proposed a theory of Transcendental Idealism, which seeks to provide a non-empiricist critique of rationalist philosophy.

AE: t-r-a-n… say, how do you spell that.

L-P: You can fix it later. My time is valuable. The poor fellow, Kant, I mean, sent a copy of his lecture notes to the Bishop of Ardoberg, a committed Empiricist, hoping, I suppose, for some sort of patronage. The Bishop invited the professor to visit Ardoberg so he could be hanged by his neck, thereby saving his soul. Poor Kant, who has never been more than 10 miles from Konigsberg, was quite nonplussed. My ambassador at the court of the Elector is an ardent Rationalist, and he saw fit on his own account to protest most vigorously to the Elector himself. That dullard has no interest in anything that doesn’t march around in a tacky blue suit, but he knows a plausible excuse to make war when he hears one. In short order I had received his declaration of war, full of the usual misspellings and grammatical errors.

AE: Can’t you do something? This must be stopped! Terrible battles will be fought!

L-P: I blame you, monsieur.

AE: Me?!!! How is this war my fault?

L-P: We didn’t say it was your fault, We said We were blaming you. We are bored now. Get out of Our sight or We shall throw Our poop at you.