Monday, April 12, 2010

Welcome to 17th Century Britain!

I am glad you are here. The purpose of this blog is to be a place members can share ideas and information about the series of wars that took place in mid-17th century Britain, better known here in America as the English Civil War. My interest in this period includes, but is not limited to the military, religious and political forces at work; the uniforms, equipment and leaders of the armies involved, and the re-creation of the Wars' battles with miniature soldiers. Any material that you might wish to share here will be most welcome.

My interest in this period began in 1970, when I was fourteen years old. My favorite hobby shop began to stock the British magazine "Military Modeler". The classic miniature soldier firms Hinchliffe and Miniature Figurines were regularly showing off beautiful new sculpts from the period. I knew almost nothing about the English Civil War, but the picture of Prince Rupert, his dog Boye, and a dozen pike and musket soldiers fired my imagination. I read every pertinent entry in my dad's copy of "Dictionary of Battles", everything I could find on armor and equipment (not much available here at the time), and tried to get some wargame figures, without success. Monetary fluctuations and Rates of Exchange were a bit beyond me during those days of Nixon's financial crisis.

In the meantime, I purchased a boardgame from SPI: "Musket and Pike". It offered numerous scenarios and troop types from the Dutch Wars, the Thirty Years War, and the English Civil Wars. A great variety of troop types were included, such as pikemen(three quality levels), musketeers, several varieties of cavalry, and artillery. It was a great bargain at $8.00, and I had many happy hours playing it in college. I still own it in the original box.

Finally in 1979, I got my hands on some metal miniatures from the period. I ordered through the mail about fifty infantry, and a dozen cavalrymen made by Grenadier. At the same time, I ordered a copy of Bill Protz' "Wargames's Guide to the English Civil War" for $3.00. The firm from which I ordered had run out of Bill's rulebook, and substituted a copy of TSR's "Cavaliers and Roundheads", which sold for a half dollar more. Several weeks later, I was painting my two regiments of foot and one of cavalry. Reading the rules, I knew I needed more figures, and my recent source was gone...
Jack Scruby came to the rescue.

My first copy of the "Courier" had a nice ad for Jack Scruby's Soldier Shop. My next day off from work, with Christmas bonus in hand, I called and spoke with the father of US wargaming. In about a week, I had no bonus, but about seven hundred 9mm pike and musket soldiers from Jack.

Individually, they were not much to look at, but grouped by the dozen they got your attention. I soon was playing Powick Bridge and the Storming of Brentford, right out of "Battle" magazines' "Battles of the ECW" series. not long afterwards, I made my first Rule Change. My friend Eric, in Birmingham, Alabama, convinced me to try out George Gush's Wargame Research Group 1420-1700 rules. I likes the wide variety of soldiers available, and the army lists did a lot to help the paucity of reference material avaible on this side of the pond. I also got the first osprey book on the period, by Brigadier Peter Young.

Years passed, and I tried a good set of skirmish rules for the period, "Sword and Pistol" by Richard Stevens. WRG was still by main set of rules for large battles. In the late 90's, I made the jump to "De Bellis Renationis" also by WRG. I played a few games using these rules, after remounting most of my figures to reflect the latest rulings, but just did not enjoy the games as much as I had anticipated. Other periods took over an increasing amount of my gaming and painting time.

About 2007, I had a Gaming Epiphany: The simpler rules of my early days were more fun than the more complex rules printed since then. I sought out and found my dust-covered copy of Jeff Perrin's "Cavaliers and Roundheads", and printed and assembled several hundred of Fabrizio Davi's paper soldiers for Lutzen. I had a tremendous amount of fun playing those rules. Shortly thereafter, I found "Old Regime" rules on the web. This is the site for three sets of rules by Bill Protz, including the second edition of "Wargamers Guide to the English Civil War", although no longer at the $3.00 price(In fairness, 25mm metal figures are no longer 3/$1.00 either).I ordered a set and was stunned at the level of information in this seemingly humble booklet. Bill backs his rules with a LOT of material explaining how the formations worked, movement and fire, artillery of the period, background information, and a large section of sieges and storming of places. There was almost no rebasing of figures needed to use my Lutzen Paper Warriors with Bill's rules, and began to use them quickly, eventually playing a campaign over the course of several months. They are some of the most enjoyable rules I have ever played.
Reading material has become far more available, thanks to Osprey Publications, and Amazon. I would like to run at least one book review per month, and welcome any submitted.
New miniatures have inspired me to start this blog. I am referring to the "Pike and Shotte" line from Warlord Games. These 28mm metal and hard plastic figures are small works of art, and must be seen to be believed. I'll be reviewing the current mix in my next column, and posting some pictures of figures painted by my friend Dan and I.
Now to go paint some Aberdeen Militia......

No comments:

Post a Comment