A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Monday, 22 November 2010

Hooptedoodle #8 - Hither Pommerania, anyone?


This follows pretty much from yesterday’s posting about the near-completion of my Peninsular War armies. I used to wargame the ACW (at a very basic level) and had some decent Ancient armies, but I got rid of them to concentrate on the Napoleonic stuff. I have no regrets about this, but I have reached a point (rather to my own amazement) where I need to take stock of what, if anything, I do next.

It’s easy when there is no question of doing anything about it. The most fruitful periods for my imagination are invariably those times when I am too busy, too impecunious or otherwise too distracted to develop the ideas beyond the eye-twinkle stage. And yet there have been times...

Let’s have some realism here – I feel I am too old now to start another new period, or convert everything to 15mm, or do anything which might be regarded as in some way understandable or sensible. I don’t have the free time or the patience, and, apart from anything else, my eyesight is no longer up to mass-production of painted battalions. Equally, there is no question of my giving up my hobby, or quietly folding my hands and waiting for the Grim Umpire to come and roll a double 1 – I shall be more than happy to pursue my version of the Unpleasantness in Spain indefinitely. As I have probably mentioned before, I am aware that my own private Peninsular War has now been going on for about 5 times the duration of the original, so it is not without some historical significance. If I do feel a sudden urge to fight the ACW, I can probably arrange to get myself invited to have a go at someone else's house.

So – what to do? No urgent requirement to do anything at all, of course, but I have always had a soft spot for the Imagi-nation approach – right back to my earliest readings of Charles Grant and Peter Young. To an extent, the Napoleonic period is already a bit like that – I’ve recently been building up a couple of brigades of Rheinbund units, and those quaint little duchies and principalities do get quite close to fantasy.

It’s all Pjotr’s fault, really. He casually suggested recently that I could invent a Napoleonic nation – almost certainly a French ally, obviously. What a crazy idea! However, as it happens, I do have a bit of a stock of unpainted Scruby French Napoleonic figures, and I have nothing to do with them. Hmmm. I have thought of selling them. Nah – no-one will want them. I’ve offered them as a freebie to a couple of people. No takers. I have enough for a battalion of grenadiers (using Old Guard figures), probably 3 battalions of foot chasseurs (Light Inf and Young Guard figures), plus probably 2 regiments of chasseurs-a-cheval-type cavalry. If I scratch round in the spares box, I’m sure I could come up with a foot battery and some staff.

Hmmm.

You see, until recently I would just have got them painted up as yet more French Line, but I’ve already got several times more French troops than I can get on the same battlefield. I also have a strong interest in the 1813-14 campaign in Northern Italy, so maybe I should make them into Neapolitans? Snag, of course, is that this campaign would require me to come up with a large Austrian army, which I don’t really want to get started on.

Hmmm.

Last night I started looking idly at the map. For some reason, I think I would be more comfortable coming up with a slightly distorted version of history for a real place, rather than inventing a complete new place. Don’t ask me to explain why.

Anyway, I got very interested for a while yesterday in Vorpommern, or “Hither Pommerania” as I believe we are supposed to call it in English now (much to the imagined fury of the Hither Pommeranians). It is right next to Mecklenburg, near the Polish border on a modern map. In Napoleonic times it appears to have been divided up between the Margrave of Brandenburg (which I suppose was Prussia) and Sweden, so maybe it is spoken for. I’m still only scratching the surface of this, but it is interesting. There must be a whole bunch of candidate places.

Anyone got any ideas? If I’m going to have a fantasy nation, I’d rather not copy someone else’s, I think. Maybe what I really want here is for someone to send me a slap, and tell me not to be silly!

4 comments:

  1. I like it, I like it! Very curious to see how this idea might develop.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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  2. Maybe Napoleon had an illegitimate son who he wanted to make prince of something, just as an insurance or as a loyal buffer state...which would explain the French cut uniforms...
    Go on, you can do it, take that first step...make it happen...

    Pjotr

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  3. Alright SLAP Don't be silly, do a real Imagi-nation. (?)

    Ok well I kinda like the Hither Pomeranian idea, but I present 2 possible diversions to consider, neither requiring the assembly of large forces or even leaving theater of operations let alone period. In fact they could even all be worked into a campaign.

    1. Sieges. An important part of the Peninsula but rarely gamed. It should be possible to while away several years researching the sieges, developing rules and building some form of stylized fortress to fit on the hex table along with a way to represent batteries, saps and parallels as they are built. The only new troops needed might be sappers, seige guns and perhaps Spanish civilians if you tackle Saragossa.

    2. The guerilla war. Important but a far cry from the big battles and requiring far fewer figures. Despite current trends there is no reason why ambushes of supply trains and similar actions can't be played with multi-figure basing so existing French can be co-opted with regiments becoming battalions or even companies. Better yet, I seem to recall that 2nd line troops were often used for LOC duties so the perfect place to find a battalion of Poodles, oh sorry, Pomeranians.

    -Ross

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  4. Looks like the jury's kind of out on this, then? Thanks for your thoughts.

    Ross - the counter-insurrection theme is really very interesting - I'm not sure how to do this on a tabletop. I have some ideas on running it as a campaign game - I own Omega Games' "War to the Death" boardgame, which was designed by Don Alexander, author of the brilliant "Rod of Iron" book about Suchet's gig in Spain. It is an astounding game - far too complicated to be played (imho), but an excellent source of ideas and a real education.

    Sieges - you are right. I have a not-quite-formed siege game now - I put an aerial picture of my fort on a recent post

    http://prometheusinaspic.blogspot.com/2010/09/playing-at-war-part-4-hexes-heresies.html

    and Clive the Old Metal Detector kindly did some documentation of some playtesting he helped me with - good pics at

    http://vintagewargaming.blogspot.com/search/label/Siege%20warfare

    I hope, once I've got my Grand Tactical Game rules pretty firm (in a week or two?), to look at the siege game rules as a future project. I very much hope you'll find that interesting!

    Pjotr - I'm still thinking through the Pomeranian thing - it looks feasible. Working on the amended history! My only concern is that the area in question (what was Swedish Pomerania in 1807) had a total population of about 112,000, which might be a bit small for the kind of Rheinbund contribution I have in mind - probably OK. I can always add in the date!

    Thanks again

    Tony

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