02 November 2006

"What is OSW for?"

“What is OSW for?” asked Henry Hyde yesterday, exasperated that so few had asked about or commented on the battle reports about and wonderful photos of the recent Bailen game between him and John Preece.

I don’t know about any of you, but my conscience hurt a bit after reading Henry’s comments, and I'm a bit sheepish for not replying at OSW sooner. Suffice to say, since the game along with subsequent reports and photos involved a Napoleonic battle and BIG units, I was definitely intrigued. Still, I decided to wait before posting any questions or remarks at OSW.

As for my reservation about posting more copious comments, well, I suppose I put in my two cents (desired or not) at OSW fairly often. Sometimes a few members are nice enough to reply to my queries and/or observations. Most often though, there’s not a word. That’s ok, I don’t have self-esteem issues. But now and then, I have the distinct feeling that I'm not quite on the same page with some of the regular contributors to the OSW discussions. Maybe that's just me?

But, it does seem at times like it’s the same 10 or 15 guys posting there, and, given the lack of response to many of my own and others’ messages, that it’s a fairly closed circle. No, that’s not intended as my gauntlet thrown down on the ground at the collective feet of other OSW members, it’s simply an observation. And I enjoy regular visits to that group anyway, seeing what new photos and files have been added along with new/continuing discussion topics.

In any case, I've become apprehensive in recent weeks about posting my thoughts and questions at OSW too frequently because I worry that others might feel that I'm somehow dominating the exchanges, or, worse, that my postings are somehow irrelevant, and my queries or remarks are simply being tolerated -- albeit politely. As I noted yesterday at OSW, sometimes too it's nice to sit back and see what others have to say without hogging the floor. That's part of what the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog is for after all!

The other reason that I now try to keep fairly silent involves a less pleasant bit of information I learned, through Henry, during September or October, when I posed a question on the OSW board about the rule set Playable Napoleonic Wargames. It seems the author is in all kinds of trouble for engaging in rather nasty and illegal activities with minors in SE Asia and elsewhere.

Needless to say, you could have heard a pin drop at OSW, figuratively speaking, in the wake of my query and Henry’s bombshell reply. I was terribly embarrassed for even asking the question in the first place, once I learned about the situation. So, it just seemed like a good idea to keep a lower profile most of the time at OSW. Maybe my embarrassment is needless, but it’s how I felt at the time – and, to some extent, still do. But on to more pleasant things.

What's the purpose of the OSW group? Well, to me it's a place to share enthusiasm for our respective and related interests first and foremost: painting and collecting military miniatures, especially, but not exclusively, 18th century and Napoleonic. Second, the OSW discussion board is a place to look at and learn more about all of those great old figure lines plus information on the various and sundry old school wargamers/authors. Finally, it's somewhere to enjoy the painting and gaming efforts of others. And let's not forget that the imaginary countries some of us develop and discuss at OSW are equally stimulating -- along with the engaging narratives that still others share occasionally. Off the top of my head, these are the things that keep me going back to OSW again and again.

So here's a related “old school” figure question for those of you who drop by the Grand Duchy of Stollen fairly regularly. Steep prices notwithstanding, I‘ve become fascinated by the Holger Ericsson 30mm wargame figures, and I think they might conceivably work well to plug a few holes in the limited Revell 1/72 SYW range that I use. So, I'd like to know much more about Holger Ericsson and his work than the little I’ve been able to dig up on the web.

Who among you can share their knowledge about these wonderful little miniatures, or suggest where I might turn to learn more myself? And how in the world did Mr. Ericsson carve his masters from wood? By the way, my thanks to the Duke of Alzheim, Greg Horne, for informing me that the H.E. master figures were not carved from wax as I previously beleived! Don't know where I got that idea. . .

On that same note, any ideas on whatever became of these wooden master figures? What were the original molds themselves made from? H.E. also created the masters for at least some of the original 18th century Spencer Smith figures, right? So, what are the measurements of the H.E. 30mm wargame figures from base to eye? More generally, how does one end up in a profession like Mr. Ericsson's, designing figures for a living?

So far, no one at OSW has responded to these same questions. So any knowledge you regular visitors here might be able to impart would be greatly appreciated. Since my undergraduate and graduate studies centered on Scandinavian languages and literature, I guess I'm just naturally drawn to these Swedish figures. It’s inevitable. I might even just have to order a 30 figure regiment of charging heavy cavalry eventually!


Bluebear Jeff said...


Sorry, I have no information on Mr. Ericsson or his figures.

As for OSW . . . I too enjoy reading the posts; but I am like you, more of a lurker.

I've also had posts with no responses and seen the same "regulars" that you comment upon.

And, while I DID get my inspiration for the 18th century from Grant, et. al., their rules are not what I choose to play.

Still, I find the discussions at OSW of far more interest to me than those of the LaceWars or SYW groups. These latter two are good, but tend to be overly concerned with historical minutia than I care about.

Both the OSW and SocDaisy groups have a "geniality" about them that I enjoy. Both have at least a partial focus on "imaginary countries" -- which appeals to me as well.

My personal preference probably lies somewhere between these latter two groups. I think I prefer something a bit "lighter" than OSW; and a tad more "serious" than SocDaisy . . . but I enjoy reading both groups.

I gain delight and inspiration from all of the above groups . . . and, perhaps that is the true "purpose" of OSW (as well as the others).

-- Jeff


Grand Duchy of Stollen 1768 said...

Well said Jeff!

Like you, I think that I fall somewhere in between the two discussion boards. That, and I continue to do my own thing -- something that I have always done in most areas of my life, whether others felt it was interesting and worthwhile or not.

I also agree with you that the discussion threads at OSW are considerably more interesting that at Lace Wars. That said, it does sometimes seem like the OSW board is a bit on the cliquish side.

I'm of the opinion that there is only so much discussion of Charles Grant, Peter Young, and Spencer Smith figures possible -- much as I love researching and reading about these topics myself.

If the current and future OSW members do not open things up a little though, the group will eventually whither and implode for lack of interesting new ground to cover. It just occasionally seems a little insular. But once again, that's just me. Ok, I'm off my soapbox.

Anonymous said...


Go to the Prince august website for more information on HE. Theyhave lots of drawings of his rangesand moulds - admittedly 40mm in the main but interesting (and mouth wateringly good) all the same.

As for OSW....

Well I think that this has become a monster of their making. it has evolved a life of its own beyond the original concepts of the founders. It tends to veer off in directions that were not forseen and has been difficult to control for the most part.

the original posters have found that the hobby evolves from its roots. Now they've found that discussion groups do the same. but then that is the idea of discussion groups - to allow debate and the dissemination of information without recourse to other forms of communixcation.

Of course some topics should be on other discussion grouips. But not all members of one group are members of another. Nor would they want to be. I alreadyget in excess of 200 emails a day from just three groups - I don't want anymore and so don't go to other groups (even if I had an interestin that discussion). I don't always get a chance to visit every bookmarked website every day and so miss out on some topics.

The Baylen game looked impressive but didn't really turn me on. I did post a comment but that was as far as it went. I don't generally like battle reports unless they have something new to impart (this didn't) and so didn't read it in depth.

That's life. Nothing remains the same and nostalgia isn't what it used to be.

Grand Duchy of Stollen 1768 said...

Again, well stated. "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be!"

When I stumbled onto Phil Olley's website a year ago and then clcked on his link to OSW, I was enthralled. The idea of returning to Grant/Young-style rules, figures, and campaigns was something I had been mulling over myself since at least the mid-1990s. "A-ha!" thought I.

So, here we are almost a year later. I'm working to slowly build my own small, but imaginary, 18th century armies. Plus, I regularly visit OSW (often several times a day), read the new posts, and/or mine the board for older discussion threads on Grant, Young, Stadden figures, etc. It's great to really learn more than I ever thought possible about the minature wargaming hobby and how other like-minded people go about it!

That said, I agree that there many threads/photos/files that don't grab me, and so I refrain from commenting on these. Where I have a question or feel I can add something -- or just want to thank or congratulate another OSW member on a painting project well done, for example, I send in a few lines.

I like the idea of the monthly painting challenges at OSW. I also think the questions about each others' painting/modelling plans for the weekend are fun too. These spur me on to pick up my own brushes and do a bit more work on my hobby than might otherwise be the case. There are numerous other things I appreciate about the discussions at OSW too.

I think that most (most, but definitely NOT all) topics under discussion at OSW are interesting and worthy even if they are not strictly "old school" in content. And let's not forget that the ideals of what is and is not "old school" are on the etheral side anyway.

However, were the OSW group to continue limiting itself soley to discussions of the various literary interpretations of Charles Grant's The Wargame or a Kristevan reading of how Chas. Stadden miniatures became Tradition miniatures, the group would run out of steam -- quickly.

Don't let the OSW discussion board become like so many academic departments at universities, where only a single approach or point of view on a given field of knowledge is permissable. This is exlusive (in the negative sense)and painfully dull. And, much like my old department at a certain large university in Minnesota, the danger is that the OSW group would become moribund and begin devouring itself. I've seen it happen.

So, I say open things up a bit (just a wee bit) at OSW. Keep the "old school" ideals in focus, but let's also broaden that focus somewhat, so that other related topics become appropriate (and related) to what is introduced for discussion and examination at OSW. It would be a healthy approach I think.

Poruchik said...

I really think that old school is in the eye of the beholder. Sure I want to paint a few regiments of SSM's; but I'll probably put them in the display case. Yes I do like to read the Wargame and Charge; however for my 19th Century RTW project I'm using Chris Peers Ever Victorious Armies a new set of rules-albeit simple and OS in feel. I like the look of toy soldiers; although for my GNW project I've decided upon Musketeer Miniatures as the figures are exquisite and when I apply myself I do have some painting skills.

For me OSW is really an attitude towards the game. A group of friends getting together to share an afternoon or evening where the social event is every bit if not more important then the game itself. No one would get terribly upset over a 1/4" more or less on the table. No one would do something as dastardly as preset a number on the die and then try to flip the number in the roll. If a morale modifier is missed the other team gladly points it out to keep the game on the up and up. It's a bunch of chums getting together and having fun. I don't golf; I collect and play with toy soldiers. I'm confident the experience is similar if you've got a good foursome of buddies. To me that's OSW.


MurdocK said...


Well, I know little of OSW, I have found much of the 'old guard' groups to be ... less flexible in their acceptance of any 'new' ideas; making the use of internet tech by a group calling itself 'old-school wargamers' a strange mix from my perspective.

Regarding the minis' I have not followed every link on this very comprehensive historical database and there may be something in there about him for you!


Grand Duchy of Stollen 1768 said...

Thank you Murdock! I'll certainly have a detailed look into that database this weekend.

Best Regards,

Stokes Schwartz


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