19 July 2007

Just add a pinch of this, a dash of that, and puree!

Frank Hammond reports over at the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group that he has also been bitten by the apocryphal 18th century warfare bug! He also asked how one might go about setting things up. Frank mentioned that he already his a small order of RSM95 figures on the way from the United States -- Good man!

Off the top of my head, there are several things one should consider when taking the plunge. So, here's a quick and dirty guide to designing one's own imaginary dukedoms, principalities, and kingdoms.

First, I'd suggest diving right in with a writing pad and several sharp pencils. Pick names for your countries and their respective rulers first. Play around with different combinations on paper. Look for inspiration from the history books and so on. You probably know already that Henry Hyde has written several good articles on this kind of thing in his Battlegames articles. He also recently posted a twenty year old article he wrote for Miniature Wargames at OSW. It's available in the files section. Good stuff! Phil Olley's two articles on project management (also in early issues of Battlegames) are extremely helpful too.

Be on the lookout for interesting words and phrases that you might use as the names of countries, cities, towns, and people. The name of my primary country occurred to me as my wife prepared a Dresdener Stollen prior to Christmas in mid-December 2005. Voila! The Grand Duchy of Stollen was born. I happened upon the name for Stollen’s arch enemy, the Electorate of Zichenau, while looking at some old online maps of former German areas in the northeast of Poland, the Kaliningrad region, and Lithuania – the former East Prussia. Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II takes his names from the Desert Fox -- General Irwin Rommel and the renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for example.

On that note, a map of your combatant territories might also be helpful. A blog to document and discuss your the progress of your project is nice, but of course entirely optional.

As for uniforms, you can either stick fairly close to history (dark blue, white, or dark green). . . or go for the totally outlandish (for example, pink coats with lime green facings). It's really up to you how you do things and the order in which you do them. The main thing is to use your imagination and have fun with it as you paint your figures and develop your campaign.

Same thing with flags. While I like to borrow from Warflag and Napflags (two free online sources) and then alter the colors, many of you, no doubt, have seen the totally original flags designed by some of the imaginary 18th century men out there in blog land.

One thing -- have a look at any book by Christopher Duffy on the Austrian and Prussian armies of the 18th century. Not only are these fascinating in their own right and inspirational, but they'll also help you to flesh out your own campaign as it grows and takes shape. So too will any number of more general history books on Prussia, Austria-Hungary, or any of the smaller Central European players of the era.

Have a look at the Society of Daisy Yahoo group, where tongue-in-cheek, make-believe military campaigns are quite normal. I personally find that group a bit "out there" for my tastes, but many others love it. And don't be afraid to leave questions or comments at any of the imaginary 18th century blogs you might view. All of these guys are very friendly, helpful, and full of encouragement.

Finally, track down and have a look at Tony Bath's Setting up a Wargames Campaign and Donald Featherstone's War Game Campaigns. Again, very useful books and full of neat ideas.

The really cool thing about all of this is that, while various territories like the Principality of Saxe-Bearstein, the Grand Duchy of Davidsberg, and the Kingdom of Wittenburg are made-up, one can still learn a great deal about the real Europe of the 18th century, its resources, politics, and armies -- plus why and how those armies fought -- as he creates his own forces and territories. It's a win-win situation when you combine a healthy dose of history with a fertile imagination and take the plunge into Apocryphal Europe of the mid-1700s!


Bluebear Jeff said...

All good advice.

-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

Yep. I started out by carrying around a small spiralbound notebook to jot down ideas, names and other inspiration when I'm reading history (or other stuff), watching tv, etc.
Another thing that can help is to come up with a theme (such as sausages or beer). Let your imagination go, have fun and be playful! In the end the only right way is whatever way makes it fun for you (so that means there are certainly more right ways than there are people indulging in this madness). :-D

tradgardmastare said...

I took my family swimming last week and ended up spending an hour writing the political and judical background to my Duchy. It is infectious and great,great fun! I like to mix real historical events and figures in too.
Have fun,use your knowledge and interests too. My blog has increased my desire to further research the period in greater depth and may lead to books being added to my already groaning shelves!

meadows boy said...

All great advice!
I have the copy of Miniature Wargames with that article in 'Fictitious Wars' was it really 20 years ago!! Got rid of all my copies of MW ages ago but kepy that one because of that article.




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