Saturday, 24 July 2021

"With Flashing Blades" - Crossing Swords in Paris


Since May this year, I’ve been working on a discrete project which is a lot smaller than my current Laarden 1688 obsession. It’s far from being a complete project - in fact its barely started - but I thought it was a good time to mention it here on the Blog.


Paris, 1622 - City of Glitter and Treachery

Back in 2019, I talked with my good friend, Nick Skinner, about developing a skirmish game based on the adventures of the “Three Musketeers” from the pages of Alexandre Dumas. We thought that the exploits of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, d’Artagnan, Milady, Rochefort and Cardinal Richelieu were perfect material to be transformed with the treatment of Lard. 

By one of those unexpected coincidences, another good friend of ours, Martin at Warbases, also mentioned about that time he was hoping to find some rules which were suitable for the period to accompany Warbases' fine range of miniatures (which were inspired by one of the excellent, recent TV dramatisations of Alexandre Dumas’ books).

We've barely started on the rules and play-testing, but it’s an exciting time - stepping out into Paris of the early-seventeenth century to cross swords with a multitude of rivals, enemies, factions and adversaries. We’re hoping for a game which is very portable - with our first play-testing being on a board 18 inches (about 48cm) square - and with a low figure count, possibly only a dozen figures a side.


Hopefully, history will not be forgotten as we travel the dusty roads of Champagne and the Île-de-France. I've been reading through manuals and treatises on the different schools of fencing from the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Hopefully, we can introduce rules for various schools of swordsmanship into our games - whether they are the Italian Schools of Bologna or Venice, the evolving styles of fencing with rapiers, or the styles of fencing practiced in the Salle d’Armes of Paris established by notorious gentlemen of the blade following the examples of François Dancie or Girolamo Cavalcabo.

And, with luck, the single-based figures can also be recruited for use into larger-skirmish games of "In the Buff" or "The Pikeman's Lament".



As for the figures, I thought 28mm worked best, using a mixture of Les Mousquetaires du Roi and the Garde de Richelieu from Warbases and Brigade Games, with some extra figures from Dixon Miniatures, Wargames Foundry, 1st. Corps and the lovely 1898 Miniatures range. As there'll be fewer figures on the table, it should also allow us the scope to create some fun conversions, vignettes and green-stuff lunacies.  Here's two converted figures from a favourite miniature in Dixon Miniatures' wonderful "Grand Alliance" range.


I've experimented in basing the main characters on circular MDF bases of 30mm or 35mm. I think they look good on the slightly larger sized base and it makes them easier to handle.  The larger bases can accommodate small blood markers depicting when a character is wounded - something useful to track in a small scale skirmish game.  To try and make these characters distinctive, I've swapped the right arms, added green-stuff lace, and created some special casualties for the characters (including silly things like a green-stuff dropped key to the Royal Chambers of the Louvre Palace).


As we're dealing with a small skirmish, I thought it was worth adding plenty of casualty figures for not only characters, but also the henchmen and ruffians on the tabletop.


In the fighting and duelling, we've been trying out rules for stumbling swordsmen and dropped weapons.  No one makes figures or bases for these, so I felt like making my own, together with some figures for prone swordsmen.  The two prone swordsmen below were converted form 1st. Corps casualties, with swapped-out Redoubt Miniatures' heads with green-stuff ruffs and cloaks.





Storing the stumble and dropped weapons bases on a magnetic board makes them easy to bring out for each game.



I've added common soldiers, ruffians, henchmen and civilians to the project.  I've experimented with adding these to 20mm or 30mm square bases (with rounded corners). These store really nicely in foam trays.  The Dumas novels are packed full of intrigue, disguises, spies and agents - so there's plenty of opportunity to assemble a cast of citizens which can fit into any Parisian location.



The threatening figure of the jailer in the front rank is a lovely Heresy Miniatures figure, which sadly now seems to be unavailable.  Somewhere, I have his partner-in-crime wielding a poker ... but I'm not sure in which box it's in....!  The other figures, below from left to right, are a Citadel Miniatures ratcatcher (with a Redoubt Miniatures head-swap), a lovely Warbases plague-doctor and a dagger-throwing Midlam Miniatures assassin.


Finally, and with a nod to future games, I could not resist painting up Louis XIII and Anne d'Autriche.  These Warbases miniatures painted up beautifully.  Any resemblance to Alexandra Dowling and Ryan Gage is ... well, I may have to paint up another pair of figures to get it just right!



I'm not at all sure what the final rules will look like, so all this might change...  So far we've been experimenting with a few, core characteristics.  And, of course, that's a chance for some more very self-indulgent cards to place at the players' disposals.




That's all for now, but hopefully in future posts I can post a few pictures of the games we've been playing, and explore our Paris of 1622 in a little more detail.  Hope you can join me for that next time.

******* 

45 comments:

  1. Sid, these look absolutely fantastic and I'm looking forward to giving them a go. Vive la reine!

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  2. Just found your blog via Palouse Warging Journal Sidney. I will follow this project with great interest as I have had a similar hankering after skirmish gaming in the same period for quite some time and recently bought some Brigade Games figures that could possibly be used. The paint work on the figures is outstanding by the way but unfortunately your friend at Warbases version of the Queen doesn't quite match up with the actress who portrayed her in the TV series! (It's not your painting to blame!)

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    1. Thank you very much! The Brigade Games figures are super. One of the things I have planned is a figure comparison (in-scale photos), so you might find that interesting.

      The King and Queen from Warbases are very nice figures, I felt. I don't think I replicated Queen Anne very well at all - I found the blond hair difficult to do. But the detail on the figures was well done. And, besides, how could a paintbrush really capture the most excellent Mr Gage and Ms Dowling? Well, not mine, anyway!

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  3. A wonderfully indulgent project and one I'm certain will generate a significant following. There's a lot of work you've done already. I enjoyed reading through your post very much - as always. Thanks for sharing your plans.

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    1. I'm really pleased you liked the post. It all seems a natural fit alongside the "Laarden 1688" project - and it's a nice change of scale and pace from painting battalions and squadrons!

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  4. An exciting development/project! I love the concept, and have been thinking about this sort of game system/setting for some time, but the rules I have found (thus far) have not been to my liking. Very much looking forward to further news of your progress!

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    1. Thanks Ed! Glad to have you aboard for the ride! One of the plans I have here for a blog post is comparing the various rules already available ('En Garde' (both sets!), 'Flashing Steel', 'Crossed Swords', 'Gloire', 'Flashning Blades', 'Savvy & Steel', and so on). They offer a huge amount already, and none of them is a dud (far from it!!).

      But they're all interesting to look at and try in the context of thinking - "What do we want to create, and what (if anything) is missing...?"

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    2. I'm really encouraged to discover that Three Musketeers-style duelling and intrigue is now getting the Lardy treatment!
      For several years, I've been looking for a good set of rules for 16th / 17th century small scale skirmishes (as opposed to Sharp Practice style 'large skirmishes').
      Flashing Steel from Ganesha Games seems to me like the best currently available, so I am really looking forward to your planned blog post comparing the different rules you mention with your own rule-development objectives.
      P.S.
      You don't mention 'And One for All' the free rules from Eureka for use with their wonderful 40mm figures. These are very postmodern 'pulp' rules that seek to recreate cinematic action and actually reward the use of deliberately implausible stunts! They have also ahd the cheek to 'borrow' the core initiative mechanism from Flashing Steel!

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  5. Looks really great Sidney. I’ll be watching to see how this develops.

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    1. Thanks Peter...I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Who knows, there might even be a galleon, or galleass, in sight at some distant future point...

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  6. Inspiration in miniature form, terrific.

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  7. Absolutely stunning work and of a period that always looks good on screen:)

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    1. Thanks very much, Steve - looks good on screen, and I really hope it'll look good on the table too!

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  8. Ooh this looks *very* interesting!
    Cheers
    Matt

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  9. A splendid, not so little, project!

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    1. haha..... it's only a "small" distraction! Honest!

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  10. I've seen hints of this on the TFL Twitter feed and it has piqued my interest. It certainly gives me a reason to buy those nice Warbases minis that I've coveted for ages.

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    1. Very pleased that we can all encourage you (and others, hopefully) to buy more stuff!

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  11. Wonderfully imagined and executed Sidney.

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  12. Lovely stuff there. Yep, I now have the theme tune of The Flashing Blade running through my mind...

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    1. Yes, that theme tune is addictive. We promise not to use it (much) if we make videos of the game ;)

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  13. Really beautiful work Sidney!

    Christopher

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  14. These are fantastic. Can't wait to see the rules you cook up. These should be great fun. Been enjoying Rich's tweets on them

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  15. Splendid looking diversion, sounds like a ton of fun!
    Best Iain

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  16. Wonderful figures Sir Sidney. I too dabbled in the Three Musketeers figures, mostly from Redoubt with a few from Old Glory thrown in for good measure. I'll have to dig them out again!

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    1. Sounds great, Ray! The fun of a project like this is that so many people have a few Musketeers lying around, just waiting for the chance to flash some steel and raise a rapier in the service of The King & Queen!

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    2. Yes, this is just the sort of thing that many wargamers have got some figures ready for, but have struggled to settle on satisfactory rules.
      In my case, I picked up the splendid 28mm Eureka Renaissance Italian gang range in the half-price clearance sale at Fighting 15s last year!
      The figures are now available from Eureka UK with a discount for buying the whole range: https://www.eurekaminuk.com/collections/civilians-abd-vignettes/products/italian-renaissance-famiglia-special-offer-28mm

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  17. Great stuff Sidney, when you finish playtesting I think I will pick them up as a nice side game for French Wargame Holidays. We had a famous duel here in Mayenne when the Cardinal become the duke of Mayenne after purchasing it, the square has not really changed much since then.

    cheers
    Matt
    French Wargame Holidays

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    1. That sounds just the sort of thing for the rules, Matt - just perfect!

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  18. Oh dear My Lord Roundwood, you truly seem to be on a roll here, grand stuff!

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