lauantai 17. kesäkuuta 2017
torstai 29. syyskuuta 2016
They were a type of light cavalryman in the service of Gustavus Adolphus during the Thirty Years' War. It is commonly accepted that the name comes from the Finnish battle cry of "Hakkaa päälle!", although there has been some dispute about the issue - especially as the troops tended to be known for their comparatively silent way of fighting. They didn't wear a 3/4 armor like their imperial cuirassier counterparts, and didn't tend to caracole, but the lack of armor was mainly a financial issue and their aggressive charging tactics didn't as such differ from Swedish light cavalry tactics of the period.
Warlord Games provides rules for Hakkapeliittas in their The Devil's Playground -supplement, but unfortunately they don't provide miniatures that are suitable as such. The pictures I've usually come across as depictions of the armor is a morion helmet and a simple breastplate (especially in the re-enactment photos, but the armours are not blackened and the breastplates tend to be very simple sheet metal affairs - I'm not sure about the historical accuracy here), whereas Warlord's miniatures have different variations of the lobster helmet due to it being partly molded to the plastics.
Then again, Richard Brzezinski states in Osprey's "The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (2)" -booklet that the Hakkapeliittas probably used Polish style helmets, ie the lobster-tail helmets if available, but usually wore little or no armor.
What all of this means, who cares?
Basically, I interpret this so that either the zischagge, a felt hat or a morion helmet are all acceptable options. I wanted my hakkapeliittas to stand out from the rest of my cavalry, so I decided to go with the morion helmet. I used the basic WG plastic infantry morions and modeled the hair for the cavalry using Magic Sculp.
I also thought that I wanted to follow Aulis J. Alanen's (a late finnish professor of history at the University of Tampere) description of the hakkapeliittas:
"Our [Finnish] Hakkapelites cannot have been any sort of fine representatives. I should mention a parade of the Gustaf Adolf troops in the Thirty Years' War, while the king still lived. At first went the blue, yellow, green etc. mercenaries of the regiment in their flashy gear. Then came, clothed so-so, bridles and baldricks repaired with birch bark and cord, legs hanging from the backs of their small, shaggy horses, cutlasses dragging on the ground, a troop of hollow-cheeked but stern-eyed men. When the Dutch ambassador inquired who they were, the last rider, a fat German Quartermaster [kuormastovääpeli] in charge of the cargo proudly replied 'The royal Life Guards: Finnish, pärkkele!'"
I decided that their coats would be gray (as this is usually the color associated with Finnish troops). Most likely they wore whatever they had available, but I like to paint my 30 years war miniatures in uniform mostly due to convenience. This would represent also undyed woolen clothes. The horses are painted to resemble the Finnhorse, but given that the horses the Hakkapeliittas used were more in the size range of modern ponies, the WG horses are a bit too large. Still... can't have everything.
For the flag I chose the "came with the box" flag of Karberg's regiment, that deriving from the flag belonged to Åke Tott's regiment. The main reason for this is that I'm planning on making Torsten Stålhandske as one of my cavalry generals, although I haven't yet decided which mini I'll be using. Åke Tott was the Finnish-born cousin of Gustavus Adolphus and Torsten Stålhandske (born in my home town of Porvoo) was one of his commanders. Given that Stålhandske was a famous Hakkapeliitta commander I thought that making my troops belong to Tott's regiment was a safe bet.
The problem here is that Stålhandske served in Tott's regiment until 1629 when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was leading then the Hakkapeliittas from Åbo [Turku], Nyland [Uusimaa] and Karelen's [Karjala/Karelia] regiments in Breitenfeld in 1631 - I just have no idea what their flags would have been like. The Karelian coat of arms dates from 1562, so that's one possibility, the Uusimaa historical province's coat of arms also dates from the 16th century, and the coat of arms from the historical province of Finland Proper [with Turku as the capital] dates from 1560. Perhaps I'll just make a new one of my own with the Uusimaa coat of arms later on when I get inspired.
edit: I found one source that could provide a good clue to find the "real flag" - Finnish only I'm afraid.
As a quick professional note, the cause of death for Åke Tott has been depicted as "blood surge" (verensyöksy) and it's an umbrella term for various medical reasons. Given that he died rather quickly on road from church to home, the amount of blood lost must have been massive. "Blood surge" usually is understood to be either blood coughing or vomiting from late tuberculosis, intestinal cancer, severe stomach atrophy or intestinal blockage (from Finnish wikipedia), but given his quick death, I propose the actual cause of death to be rupture of esophageal varices, which is both dramatic and can cause death extremely quickly.
keskiviikko 31. elokuuta 2016
There are a wealth of resources online describing the battle and even a re-enactment video available!
The forces of the English will comprise of 1500 cavalry and 3000 infantry and the English deployed 400 musketeers and 4 guns to each fort. Extrapolating this to the battlefield can be a bit tricky, but if I give 2 units of muskets and 1 light gun to each fort that hopefully will be accurate enough. I'll give them the "Freshly Raised" -rule to reflect green troops.
This leaves 2200 infantry and 1500 cavalry. The cavalry regiment would comprise of around 600 horse, see examples here, each being split to two functional units. Perhaps 4 units of cavalry could be a nice compromise. The cavalry were staunch and didn't much react to the flight of the green infantrymen, so I feel they would benefit from the "Steady" -rule.
And to distribute the rest of the infantry would be probably easiest to make 2 sets of 1 pike unit and 2 muskets for the English, all "Freshly Raised". The English would have 3 generals, 2 commanding one fort and 2 sets of pike&shotte and the remaining the 4 units of cavalry.
Thus the English force would comprise of:
Commander in Chief Edward, Lord Conway, Ld 8
Infantry General, Ld 8
2 pike (Freshly Raised)
4 musket (Freshly Raised)
2 musket (in fort, Freshly raised)
1 light cannon (in fort)
Cavalry General, Ld 8
4 units of cavalry
Infantry General, Ld 8
2 pike (Freshly Raised)
4 musket (Freshly Raised)
2 musket (in fort, Freshly raised)
1 light cannon (in fort)
Total: 4 pike, 10 musket, 4 cavalry, 2 ordnance.
The Scots themselves are a different matter then. To make the game interesting, they should have around twice the amount of troops. Leslie will be the C-in-C. I vaguely remember reading somewhere that the Scots had around 3000 horse, so let's give them twice the amount of cavalry to be on the safe side, so 8 units of cavalry. No special rules apart from what is in the Covenanters list to begin with. Let's command them with 2 generals.
That leaves around 17000 infantry and a heck of a lot of cannon. A lot certainly, but if we divide the forces so, that the Church has 2 light cannon positioned inside, 2 heavier artillery outside the church (medium, heavy or mortar, I have a medium piece and a mortar, so I'll probably go with them) and 2 sets of pike+shotte guarding the church, commanded by an artillery general, we have 15000-ish infantry left. The rest would possibly be represented by two forces, each led by an infantry general commanding 4 sets of pike& shotte.
This would mean that the Scots forces would be:
Commander in Chief Alexander Leslie, Ld 8
Infantry general, ld 8
Artillery general, Ld 8
2 light cannon (in church)
1 medium cannon
Cavalry general, Ld 8
Cavalry general, Ld 8
Infantry general, ld 8
Total: 10 pike, 20 musket, 8 cavalry, 4 ordnance.
So there. Opinions?
lauantai 20. elokuuta 2016
Here's the simple mock-up fort with all the different types of pieces with their planks glued in place and the slopes sanded.
Adding the abattis.
Now that the walls are sloped and the abattis added, I could get a clearer picture what the fort will look like when it's complete. I hope this will qualify as "sufficiently large" for a decent siege scenario.
Gluing the plaster cast pieces in place. Especially the gabion walls needed fitting, but luckily they clipped rather nicely just by applying some force, when the cut was vertical. For horizontal cuts I used a small hacksaw. The problem with my pieces is that I made the originals slightly too low (or the walls too high), so I need to fill out the holes with filler and sand later.
So here were today's accomplishments. I will probably post part number three when I start painting the bugger.
maanantai 15. elokuuta 2016
My Thirty Years War campaign has progressed to a finale and what better way to end a nice 3-game campaign than a siege? Of course, a proper siege game would require something for the troops to hide behind. A castle would have been one option, but I don't have one ready (although there are couple of nice cardboard plans available) and wasn't interested in building one at this stage. I wanted to try field fortifications and decided on a gabion structure that was in use during the TYW period.
perjantai 12. elokuuta 2016
My list design had few philosophies behind it. Firstly I was more or less limited to the miniatures I owned. Secondly I wanted to make the lists point-balanced and thirdly I wanted to work with the structure of infantry in the center supplied with two cavalry wings. In retrospect I didn't have enough cavalry, but hey... this gives me a good excuse to buy some more cuirassiers and harquebusiers later. The result is a 850 pts pitched battle. I also seem to suffer from a lack of generals and had to substitute a couple of my old Warhammer figures. 4 of my cavalry units were also unpainted, but MOST of the miniatures here were painted, so that has to count for something right? :D
The armies meet on a 8' by 6' table. I played the Swedish, put the terrain and let my opponent choose which side of the table he would deploy from. The deployment was set to 12" from the edge. The beginner is decided by a roll of d6 and General Thiessen chooses to take the lead. He orders both cavalry wings forwards and Obersts Hellriegel and Faust successfully lead their men forwards.
After a few rounds the Veteran Regiments under Vesemayr have advanced, with Schwoeppe's Mercenary Regiments (yes, they have the Swedish Blue Regiment flags - my collection is mostly Swedish) having trouble with getting his orders understood. Faust's Light Cavalry did a brave assault on the Finnish Hakkapeliittas, but were quickly turned back. Here I apparently forgot the Hakkapeliittas' Gallopers rule, where the cuirassiers assaulted and I did an evasion response and drew the cuirassiers within shooting distance of my two light cannons and my Scottish Regiment. The unruly Finns should have countercharged and I probably forgot a sweeping advance here as well. I did remember the rule better on my left flank.
My defence is that I wielded the Hakkapeliitta troops the first time and didn't quite grasp their mechanics yet. I can only suppose that Johannes Hedlund was born on the Finland side of Sweden and had learned enough Finnish to let them of his plans and keep their thirst for blood in check. I would also suppose that a mission of "keep the enemy cuirassiers in check and avoid direct confrontation until otherwise ordered" should be something that a Finnish cavalryman should understand.
There were other faults here as well. The HRE attacked with their skirmishing cavalry, which should have not been possible as skirmishers can only charge other skirmishers, but the end result quite well demonstrates why as the HRE skirmishers were rather quickly smashed to a shaken state by a countercharge by the Hakkapeliittas and forced to retreat behind the cuirassiers. Live and learn I guess.
Thiessen seems to have gotten his ball rolling and both Vesemayr's Veterans and Scwhoeppe's Mercenaries have advanced and start raining heavy fire on my Elite Yellow Regiment troopers. There is again a charge of Light Cavalry by Hellriegel, again in skirmish formation, but I would suppose that to be able to charge regular troops the skirmishers can take up a line formation as well. Again HRE Cavalry Regiments face Finnish Hakkapeliittas with predictable results.
Lagerfelt's cavalry manage to break Hellriegel's cavalry brigade and they retreat to the small farm for shelter. Lagerfelt's remaining cavalry then takes position to protect the Elite Yellow Regiment from Schwoeppe's mercenaries whilst Bruun engages Vesemayr's HRE Veterans with his own Elite troops. Vesemayr tries to minimise damages by drawing one of his regiments to a hedgehog formation, but that offers only a temporary reprieve, as the formation doesn't really offer much when assaulted with two well-supported pike blocks.
In the end Vesemayr's brigade crushed, Hellriegel's brigade is broken and Faust's cuirassiers are shot to pieces as well when getting grapeshot to their side for several turns. Basically this leaves Scwhoeppe's mercenaries the only ones still functional and with the Swedes closing in, Thiessen makes the call to retreat.
TL;DR: The Swedes won! Some rules played wrong, but it's a learning process and it was certainly fun to play with proper-sized forces on a proper-sized table. I look forwards to our next full-sized game. This is what Pike & Shotte should be like!
lauantai 6. elokuuta 2016
Ropecon is an annual role-playing convention held in Helsinki and it's the biggest non-commercial event of its kind in Europe. I have been organising events there for 11 years now from demoes of various miniature wargames to tournaments. Various games that I've been presenting over the years have been Confrontation by Rackham (now defunct, but miniatures still being cast by CMON), Hell Dorado by Asmodée (subsequently bought by Cipher Studios, now a subsidiary of Soda Pop Miniatures), Warhammer Historical: Great War (out of print), Malifaux by Wyrd Games (actually still alive and kicking rather well), All Quiet on the Martian Front by Alien Dungeon (defunct, range subsequently bought by Ironclad Games) and Carnevale by Vesper-On games (defunct, range bought by Troll Trader).
From above, you might have noticed a slight unfortunate trend with the games I've been involved with. I think it's my karma or something, although it seems to be true that many upcoming scifi/fantasy games suffer from the same fate if they don't have enough financial backing to keep the ball rolling before it takes up enough speed. I started to grow tired of once again getting inspired with a new game with an uncertain future. Add to that my interest in the renaissance, the transition to Pike & Shotte was logical, and even if Warlord games (the publisher of P&S) goes belly-up, there are still dozens of manufacturers that offer miniatures to this period (see Madaxeman's listing). Most of my miniatures are from Warlord Games, but this is mostly due their plastics being very cheap and even their metal ranges have a good price vs. value rating.
Pike & Shotte isn't that popular yet in Finland, although the Finnish took part in the war. There is interest though and I wanted to find out how much of an interest it could gather. I chose the Swedish Phase of the Thirty Years War, as this would be the period most likely to be of interest to the participants (also my forces are conveniently built to this period as well). I did a couple of demo games at home with my regular opponents and the following images are from one of these pre-demo games. They are taken with my cell phone instead of my DSRL camera, so the image quality is worse than usual (granted, I don't much concentrate on photography when gaming usually even with a better camera).
In the demo setup the Swedish are facing the Catholic League (yes, the flags are Imperial, I know already). I tried to make balanced lists that were different enough to show how different troops varied from each other. The Catholic side had two generals of Command Rating 8, with one of them commanding the cavalry (one unit of cuirassiers and one unit of harquebusiers) and the other a tercio of catholic elite troops (represented by a large unit created by two adjacent pike blocks) and a medium cannon. The Swedish had the veteran Blue Regiment (here they had one musket unit too little), a light cannon and a Scottish mercenary regiment. The Swedes were commanded by a single Command Rating 9 general.
In the above image the Swedish have already taken their first turn and advanced rather quickly amongst the fields. During the demos I always played the Swedish side and both won and lost. After working out how to counter the League Cavalry, I decided to keep playing with fragile tactics that left my veterans vulnerable in order to demonstrate cavalry tactics to the demoee.
The fields are by Holz Artworks. I bought 2 sets of them and I've been satisfied thus far. Granted, I could have bought a 10 € doormat from IKEA and cut it to suitable pieces, but I wanted to try pre-made terrain. The cardboard buildings and terrain tend to come either from Dave Graffam Models or Fat Dragon Games.
The tactics of the typical demo are reflected here. The Swedish advance forwards (I learned to be more cautious later on), the League cavalry advance to the road to firing distance. The Scots come from the right and threaten the flank of the League troops, but that flank is already protected by the town. The Swedish light cannon concentrates its fire on the tercio (with varying success), which advances forwards with the aim of crushing the Scots.
Here the League Cavalry have attacked the Blue Regiment musketeers, with the musketeers responding by retreating to a hedgehog formation, basically tying down the Blue Regiment. I later on realised (with the here-missing musketeer unit mind you) that the Swedish veteran musketeers can take a head-on charge against low numbers of cuirassiers with their Swedish Feathers rule, especially when they are well supported by their comrades. Of course, if they can be flanked... that's a whole different story.
The League tercio usually was more than a match for the Scots, but on several occasions the Scottish did manage to repel the League forces, but that was much due to their higher morale and very lucky dice rolls. Still, on many occasions they also proved unable to understand clear orders stated in plain Swedish. In this pre-demo game after the Scots routed, it was easy for the League infantry to clear the remaining musketeers and break the battalion morale of the Swedish forces and win the game.
As for the demos themselves... my target audience was divided into three distinct groups: 1) gamers with scifi/fantasy background that had grown old and wanted something more to their games than dragons and space elves, 2) history enthusiasts and 3) people not familiar with miniature wargaming. I think I "caught them all" and I can thank the "Experience Area" staff for their recruiting skills that meant that I didn't really have much time when I wasn't running a demo game. I was also pleasantly surprised that the demos also gathered spectators of whom many followed the game for half-an-hour or more. I told the demoees that basic mechanics of the game could be shown within about 30 minutes, but each and every game I ran was so intense that people wanted to play it all the way to the bitter end... and this was on a 4'x4' table with full ranges and tiny forces. Heck... I later on heard that one guy liked the game so much he decided to buy the TYW Imperialist Starter Army from the Warlord Games store! That's probably the best response I could have received!
TL;DR: I had loads of fun! Thanks to everybody that took part either as a commander or as a spectator!