Article by Steve Spence, Club Secretary
At the 2004 Partizan MMIV show, Durham Wargames Group put on a demonstration game, depicting the climax of Gustavus Adolphus’ career, the battle of Lutzen. The game was the culmination of four years’ preparation and involved over 1100 28mm figures painted to the highest standards (he says, modestly!), as well as scratch-built scenery, all laid out on an 18 foot by 6 foot table. The figures involved came from my collection and those of Dave Jarvis, Nigel Brough, Shaun Lowery, Stuart Hitchinson, Steve Holden and Conrad Cairns.
The figures come from a variety of manufacturers: the Swedes include Foundry, Old Glory, Perry Miniatures and a new range from 1st Corps, commissioned especially for this game by yours truly! The Imperialists are mainly Foundry and Perry, with some Glory Croats.
The game portrayed the morning Swedish attack on the Imperialist prepared defences. We endeavoured to recreate the scene as closely as possible, within the limitations of the space available. Thus, we fielded (at an approximate figure scale of 1:20) the whole Imperialist front line as detailed in Richard Brzezinski’s Osprey Campaign opus, Lutzen 1632. Unfortunately, the Swedish front line frontage extended to 21 feet (!) and – as we were restricted to 18 feet – we decided to cut the number of cavalry squadrons on each wing from six to five.
As the battle took place on a very flat, almost featureless plain we needed to make sure that what scenery there was was both authentic and of high quality. Working most evenings for several weeks prior to the game, Dave Jarvis, Barry Arnold and Stuart Hitchinson scratch-built the famous windmills, created new terrain boards with entrenched roads and fashioned two superb artillery emplacements. At the same time, Mr Jarvis and myself were frantically painting the last of the troops, who were based by practically the whole club membership during the last, panic-strewn week.
Our original intention was to actually play the game, using Warhammer ECW rules with my ongoing Thirty Years War supplemental rules. As it turned out, this didn’t happen, due in no small part to the boys spending the previous evening in Lincoln getting absolutely sh1t-faced. Should I have been surprised? Remembering other outings to Kirriemuir; Waterloo; Arnhem; Stockholm; Bastogne….no, no surprise ; Actually, I think the game might just have been pushing the envelope of Warhammer: Turn 1 – general Swedish advance. Turn 2 – any charges? Er, yes, twenty-two. Responses?
As it was, we just moved things around occasionally, held our heads in our hands and staggered around the show. I spent thirty-five pounds – a new record low by at least an order of magnitude. Dave Thomas was seen wringing his hands all the way to the beer festival.
We’re hoping to take the game to Crisis in Antwerp in November. If we’re accepted and we can wangle a bigger table (!) then I think we’ll up the figure count a bit more and try playing the game, probably using Piquet. Not Anchor of Faith, though, as we’ve tried it and – sorry Mark – hated it. Andy Copestake of Old Glory keeps telling me to play Forlorn Hope but I’m afraid to: what if we catch the ague of Pete Berry and convert to 6mm? My God.
Next steps are causing a bit of dissension. Conrad wants to do Nordlingen, in order that he can field his burgeoning Spanish horde, but that means me painting an entire new ‘Swedish’ army, as none of my Lutzen units fought at Nordlingen, except perhaps the remnants of the Old Blue and Yellow brigades. Breitenfeldt is an obvious candidate, other than it being twice the size of Lutzen, meaning yet more painting. I also have a ton of naked Polish lead to address. Hussars. I must be mad.
All in all, it’s been a bit of an odyssey, with plenty of downs as well as ups, but at least I’ve achieved the initial aim: I’ve painted my Swedes!.