Category Archives: GMB Design flags

Revisiting a spectacular Battle of Saratoga game


Some of the games I’ve played over the years really stand out in my memory. From time to time I’ll feature these old games here on my blog.  

This particular game stood out because of the amazing terrain and figures.  To my eye, this was a convention-grade game, but played in a garage! I never recorded the date this game as played, but it would be a good decade or two ago now.

This game impressed me so much at the time that I even put together a website about it, from which I’ve copied the following text and pictures.  Much to my surprise, the site still exists – thought my amateur hand-coded HTML doesn’t seem to have preserved the formatting too well.

Before the storm.

The year is 1777 – General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne’s expedition to cut off New England from the rest of the rebellious American states has reached the clearing of Freeman’s Farm. The lines of redcoats form up around the farmstead, whilst a redoubt has been rapidly thrown up on their right. They steadfastly await the Americans advancing from out of the woods in front of them.

Myself and two other New Zealand wargamers, Paul Crouch and Steve Sands, had recently bought a copy of the British Grenadier rules, and we were determined to try them out. One Sunday afternoon the three of us finally managed to get some time off together, and this is the game that ensued.

British lines around Freeman’s Farm.

This closer view of British redcoats from General James Inglis Hamilton’s brigade around the farmstead shows some of the amazingly detailed 28mm miniature soldiers and terrain owned by Paul.

British redoubt.

The scenario rules for this battle state that the troops of Brigadier-General Simon Fraser’s brigade can only leave the confines of their redoubt on the British right after a throw of double sixes. “I never get double sixes,” says Steve, throwing the very first dice of the game – you guessed it, double six!

So Fraser’s light infantry and an artillery piece emerge from the redoubt in the first move of the game, throwing the American plan into disarray before they even start moving.

Poor’s columns advance down the road towards the waiting British.

On the American side, Roly commands General Enoch Poor’s brigade of infantry and artillery. The scenario calls for them to enter by a road on the left of the American position. But instead of heading diagonally towards the British (visible in the distance in this photo), the threat of Fraser’s troops making their sortie out of the redoubt means that the Americans have to change their orders to make a right turn and form their lines more to the centre.

The American advance in the centre.

Poor’s brigade has now been joined by that of General Ebenezer Learned, played by Paul. Meanwhile, General Benedict Arnold and his aide can be seen in this photo, directing the commencement of the assault on the British line. Unfortunately, another double six means that Arnold is lightly wounded, and so has to temporarily leave the table.

You can also see the amazingly realistic ground-cloth that Paul inherited from the late Jim Shaw. Thrown over a piece of carpet underlay, which in turn is draped over strategically placed objects, it gives a realistic rolling ground effect.

advance the colors
The British line awaits the onslaught.

After moving their line back slightly to form a better defensive position around the farm, the British lines stolidly await the American attack, with some loyalists skirmishing to their front. The redcoats’ objective in this scenario is to hold the farm position.

All the figures used in this game belonged to Paul. They included castings from Front Rank, Foundry and Perry Miniatures. The exquisite flags were mainly by GMB Design.

The lines close.

Slowly, inexorably, the American lines advance towards the British. Because of the extended maneuvering that Poor’s brigade has had to do to avoid Fraser’s light infantry and artillery, it takes quite a while to reach this stage of the game, so we “fast-forward” at this point by doubling a few moves to bring the troops into action.

Movement distances in British Grenadier are randomised, and generally must be taken the full amount. This makes coordinating an attack quite difficult, but true to the period.


Finally the first regiments of the assault charge forward.

The mounted officer in the background is not just for show. These rules have an innovative system where units earn ‘disruption points’ from movement, firing and melee. The more such points, the harder it is to do anything. Generals can help units shake off these points, but only one unit per move, so they have to pick and choose. Thus mounted officers realistically gallop to and fro all over the battlefield.

The second American line in support.

American troops in hunting shirts form the second line.

Under these rules, an attack needs to be well supported, as the disruption points can cause havoc to the first line. On the other hand, you don’t want the second line too close, as they have to move their full distance, so can actually collide with the rear of the first line, causing even more disruption!

The British line holds.

The American regiment on the far left has defeated a British battalion and forced it back. But the British battalion on the right holds out valiantly, whilst General Burgoyne dashes up to bolster its defence. Here yet another double six is thrown, but Burgoyne survives and it is his ADC who is killed.

In the foreground are Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen and light infantry, who have been in front needling the British lines all during the big American assault. Now they can pull back out of the way to let the line infantry do their job.

The Hessians arrive.

The Americans have only succeeded in pushing back one British unit, when to their right they hear the beating of drums as Baron von Riedesel’s Hessians arrive on the battlefield, thus extinguishing any hope of the Americans forcing the British out of the Freeman’s Farm position.

So in our game the British win. This would possibly have had a major effect had this happened in the real battle. It was the British surrender at Saratoga that finally induced the French to take part in the American War of Independence. In our game, this might not have happened ….!


Map of the battlefield.

This overview of the battle shows how the game progressed. You can see where Fraser’s men issued out of the redoubt at the very start of the game, and how they forced Poor’s brigade to make some complicated manouevres instead of directly attacking Hamilton’s position. Meanwhile, the British backstepped to form a better defensive line closer to the farm, and then the subsequent huge American assault on the centre took place. Right at the end of the battle, the Hessians arrived on the British left to cement their victory.


The players – Paul Crouch (Generals Learned and Arnold), Roly Hermans (General Poor) and Steve Sands (British/Hessian), all members of the [then] Kapiti Fusiliers Historic Gaming Club in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.


Paul’s son Rylan enjoyed the game too!




Filed under American War of Independence, Foundry, Front Rank, GMB Design flags, Kapiti Fusiliers, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized

Military review in the Barryat of Lyndonia

Barryat of Lyndonia army on review

A military parade of the entire army of my ‘imagi-nation’, the Barryat of Lyndonia, has been long overdue.  But today a combination of being on childcare duty at home whilst my wife works, and some lovely autumn light for picture-taking, inspired me to set out all the 1/56th scale Minden Minatures figures I’ve painted so far.

To fill in those who don’t know about the Barrayat of Lyndonia (ie nearly everybody in the world), it is an imaginary nation – or ‘imagi-nation’ – I’ve created for my wargaming army, based on the Stanley Kubrick movie, Barry Lyndon.  

The Barryat does not recruit its own army, but instead contracts regiments from other states in Europe – which provides the backstory to allow me to mix and match whatever real-life nations’ units I wish.

Instead of pursuing historical accuracy when painting my figures, I’ve attempted as much as I can to depict my soldiers as they appear in the movie, historical inaccuracies and all.  Therefore when some expert in military history tells me that the turn-backs on my Prussians should  be red, not white, or that they can’t possibly have those three flags together in one regiment, I can point out my figures aren’t representing real Prussians, but rather Kubrick’s take on them.  

So, for your delectation, on with the photos of the military review (don’t forget to click on the pics to see them in their full glory):

Austrian and Prussian staff,

The guests of honour are some famous personalities from nearby real-life countries, including the Prussian King Frederick the Great and the Austrian Prince Charles of Lorraine.   Also present are a number of the local gentry and their ladies.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

A long line of red emerges from the trees, as Gale’s Regiment of Foot, a fictional regiment from the movie, approaches the parade ground.  By the way, I think that the above picture is especially cool when clicked on to bring it up to full size.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

After having marched onto the parade ground in line, they’ve now deployed into column of companies (my infantry regiments have three companies per regiment). Headed by Lt Colonel Charles Gale, the officers include the Irish adventurer Captain Grogan, the foppish Lieutenant Jonathon Fakenham and his ‘particular friend’ Lieutenant Freddie, whose surname is not disclosed in the movie.

The movie depicts the drummers wearing tricornes instead of mitre caps, but I’ve kept to the latter because I like their mitres so much – and because that is the way the Minden drummers come.

Gale's Regiment of Foot

In the movie, the regiment has no grenadiers, but I have added these, again simply because I like their colourful and intricate mitres so much – and what better reason could there be than that?!  They were tricky to paint, but I think the final effect is worth the effort, and they’re my favourite figures in the whole army.

Gale's Regiment of Foot in the movie 'Barry Lyndon'

Somewhere in the ranks will be Private  Redmond Barry, the main character in Barry Lyndon.  He joined Gale’s Regiment of Foot after being tricked into a duel back home in Ireland. Captain Grogan has now taken young Barry under his wing, and Lieutenants Jonathon and Freddie will later provide him with an intriguing opportunity for Barry to improve his status in life (you’ll need to see the movie to find out exactly how this happens!).

Royal Cravattes

Following Gale’s Regiment of Foot,  the Régiment de Royal-Cravates enters the field.  In the movie, this is the French regiment that Barry faces in his first taste of battle, “only a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupied an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass”.  The narrator in the movie goes on to say that though this encounter is not recorded in any history book, it was memorable enough for those who took part.  

The drummers in their royal livery were tricky to paint, with all that red and white lace.  But I’m pleased how they came out in the end.

Royal Cravattes

Whilst un-named in the movie, in the original 1844 William Makepeace Thackeray novel, the French regiment that Barry marches against is called the Régiment de Royal-Cravates, so that is who they are in the Barrayat of Lyndonia.

Royal Cravattes

The Barryat of Lyndonia’s French regiment replicates the incorrect facings and flags as per the movie.  The flags are actually those of two real French regiments, the Grenadiers Royaux and the Régiment de Flandre, yet the uniform facing colours are incorrect for both.

Kubrick Regiment

The last foot battalion onto the parade ground is the Kubrick Infanterie Regiment, led by Captain Potzdorf on his distinctive white horse.  The movie doesn’t name this Prussian regiment, which Barry is forced to join after being captured as a deserter.  So in the Barryat army it is named in honour of the movie’s famous director, Stanley Kubrick.  I hope he looks down on this with approval! 

Kubrick Regiment

OK, so the movie doesn’t have any grenadiers in mitre caps.  But, like Gale’s Regiment of Foot, I really wanted some of those smart-looking guys, so I’ve conjectured how Kubrick would have shown them, had he wanted to.  Basically, they’re the same as his somewhat inaccurate Prussian musketeers, but wearing mitre caps instead of tricornes.

Prussian column led by three flags

 The movie’s inaccuracies are all faithfully recreated!  The soldiers’ coats have the wrong coloured turnbacks, they wear incorrectly coloured straps, and carry mismatched flags (the orange, black and white flags in the movie are actually from three different real-life Prussian regiments).

Prussian dragoons

The sound of jingling bridles and trotting hooves announce the arrival of the only cavalry regiment in the Lyndonian army, the  Truchseß Dragoons. This regiment is the first unit that veers away from the movie.  While there were some small numbers of rather plainly-dressed Prussian cavalrymen in some scenes in Barry Lyndon, I went for the real-life Prussian Truchseß Dragoons merely because of their splendid light blue and pink uniforms.  Another perfectly good reason!

French battalion gun

In the finale, the whole army masses behind the two guns of the Barryat of Lyndonia army as they prepare to fire a salute.  The French gun in the foreground is modelled on one that appears briefly in the  movie.

French cannon

The gunners in the movie wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms.  This is actually correct, because small battalion guns such as these were manned by men assigned from the regiment, not Royal Artillery gunners.  I’ve done the same with the British gun, manning it with crew assigned from Gale’s Regiment of Foot.

Minden Prussian staff

The visiting Prussian king, Frederick the Great, is so impressed with the turnout of the Barryat of Lyndonia army that he has instructed his hussar general, von Zeithen, to write a note of congratulations, which the latter is now handing to a courier to convey post-haste to the Lyndonian palace.

Barryat of Lyndonia army


Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures, Uncategorized

“Barry Lyndon” Prussian big battalion finally complete!

At last, 60-plus figures all painted and based into one impressive big battalion.  My photo came out nice, too, in my humble opinion!  It is quite a long picture, so click on it to see the full effect of the large battalion in all its glory.  Shame the officer carrying the white flag toppled over without me noticing whilst I was taking the photo.

Anyway, this afternoon I attached the final piece of flock to the last figure in my 28mm Minden Miniatures Prussian battalion. It’s taken me a year to paint just this one unit, but I’ve finally got there!

This battalion of 28mm figures is based on the Prussians in the movie Barry Lyndon. So I’ve copied the inaccuracies in the movie. You’ll see the wrong colour turnbacks, the incorrect colour straps and the mis-matched flags, all faithfully recreated!

Photo with the three flags.

The movie doesn’t name the regiment, but in the book it is called the ‘Bulow’ Regiment. The orange, black and white flags carried in the movie are from different real-life regiments, but for my purposes, they will be the flags of the imaginary Kubrick Regiment, which is fighting for my “imagi-nation”, the Barrayat of Lyndonia.  The flags are the usual exquisite GMB Design products, by the way.

My unit organisation and basing are not designed for any particular set of wargames rules, but are purely the way I like them for aesthetic reasons.  Historical accuracy, historical schmaccuracy, for imagi-nation or movie-based armies!!! 

The Kubrik Regiment now joins my other two Barryat of Lyndonia big battalions:

– Gale’s Regiment of Foot:

– Régiment de Royal-Cravates:

– Kubrick Regiment


Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures, Movies

My Minden Miniatures finally based

Well, here they are, hot off the press … er, painting board,  my Minden Miniatures French and British regiments, and finally based on their Litko bases.  These figures are the first two regiments for my imagi-nation project, the Barryat of Lyndonia, painted up as per the movie ‘Barry Lyndon’. 

If you click on the photos, you’ll get nice big versions where you can easily see all the blemishes in my impressionistic painting style!

Oh, by the way, these photos are quite roughly set up, basically just as I finished flocking each base.  So some things may be in wrong positions – grenadiers, flags, officers etc … but the pics give the general idea.

[above] Gale’s Regiment of Foot marches into a skirmish against a rearguard of Frenchmen who occupy an orchard beside a road down which the English main force wish to pass.  

[above]  The French Régiment de Royal-Cravates counterattacks.

[above] A closer view of the Régiment de Royal-Cravates counterattacks.

[above]  This is what big wargames units look like!  Sixty-plus figures, including lots of separate officers, NCOs, drummers and so on.  The exquisite flags are by GMB Design.

[above] And here’s the same view from the French side.


Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures

Valeur et discipline

Click on the image to visit my old 'Valeur et Disipline' website

Today I was looking for pictures to illustrate a posting on WD3 forum about how to fold miniature flags realistically.  I was trying to find an old picture showing a well-folded flag, so started hunting though my old websites.

When I got to my Napoleonic French website, Valeur et Discipline, I realised that I had forgotten how pleased I was with the overall look of this site.  I haven’t visited it in several years, so it was great fun re-reading my own articles and looking again at the pictures.

The site was made in Dreamweaver, using an invisible  table layout (yes, I know, table layouts are very dated now).  I’m quite proud of the animated buttons that I made myself, as well as the banner (all done in Corel Photo-Paint).  While blogging is much easier, I must say blogs tend to look a lot more bland than these old-style crafted websites.   

My French army still occasionally goes to war, though I’m afriad my generalship doesn’t usually match that of the great Napoleon himself.


Filed under GMB Design flags, Napoleonics

Ta-dah! First Minden French company painted

Barry Lyndon French Regiment

One third of my battalion of Minden Miniatures French is now completed, and held its first parade today.  This battalion is not based on any real historical unit, but on the French regiment depicted in the Stanley Kubrick movie Barry Lyndon.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment with Minden MiniaturesHere are all the French figures I’ve painted so far (click on the photos for a closer view):

  • Three drummers in French royal livery – one drummer will be assigned to each of the three companies I plan to have in the battalion.
  • Eighteeen fusiliers/grenadiers – each of the three companies will have eighteen rank and file figures.  One company will be made up of grenadiers, the others of fusiliers.
  • Three officers and NCOs – in this case, a company officer, a standard bearer carrying the Flandres flag as depicted in the movie, and a sergeant (seen to the right of the fusiliers).
  • A battalion gun manned by four infantrymen.

As you can see from this still from Barry Lyndon, the French have red facings, whereas in real-life the Regiment de Flandres had blue facings.  The facings are bit pinker in the movie than how I have painted them, but as I am not a stickler for accuracy, and as I had Foundry’s standard three-step  red paint on hand, I was happy enough with the colour.

I’ll be basing the eighteen rank-and-file men in each company on three 45mm-wide bases, each containing six men in two ranks of three (thus each man having a frontage of 15mm).  I’ll put the drummers, officers, standard-bearers and NCOs on individual bases.  This basing system will provide flexibility to split the battalion up  for varying rules, but will allow me to display the figures in large formations like those depicted in the iconic wargaming book Charge! or how to play wargames.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment There’s something simple and unfussy about French coats with no turn-backs.  I also like the way Minden have equipped these men with linen packs and the archetypical large leather-covered cartridge boxes.

My method for painting the white uniforms is rather simple and impressionistic, but has worked pretty well, I think. The trick is to do the white before anything else.
  1. Using black undercoated figures, block paint all the white uniform areas in Foundry’s arctic grey (or a similar light warm grey colour) and let dry.
  2. Dry brush the entire figure with white paint.
  3. Paint the highlights of folds with white paint.
  4. Now carry on and paint the rest of the figure, using GW devlan mud wash where necessary to re-define the edges of any areas that have been lost in the white dry-brush.

Barry Lyndon French Regiment battalion gunI’ve given the unit a battalion gun.  As such guns were manned by men assigned from the regiment, they wear the standard white infantry coats rather than the blue and red French artillery uniforms.  The gun is actually a small Napoleonic cannon by Minifigs.  But with a lick of red paint, it vaguely resembles the little Swedish-style cannons used as battalion guns during the period.

Here’s an action shot of the brief scene in Barry Lyndon in which a battalion gun is featured.

My previously painted British battalion waits eagerly for their opponents to be finished!  With each battalion having more than sixty figures, building this army is going to be a very slow process.  In fact, I’m relying on a fellow gamer who is collecting similarly based Minden figures if I’m ever going to get a game with them.

A parting shot of my first company of French on parade. I’m particularly pleased at how the faces turned out … and they weren’t too difficult to paint at all:

  1. Cover the whole face with light flesh paint, and let dry.
  2. Cover the whole face with GW sepia wash.
  3. Pick out the forehead, nose, cheeks, chin and ears with the light flesh paint.
  4. Put a dab of GW devlan mud wash into the eye sockets and inbetween the lips.
  5. Add a tiny amount of GW black wash into the sculpted eyes.


Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures

Minden French command

I’ve now completed six figures in my Minden Miniatures French battalion. The first drummer I painted a couple of months ago has now been joined by two more, plus I’ve painted an officer an NCO and a standard bearer.

As always, the 28mm Minden figures are a joy to paint.  The detail is so beautifully sculpted that it makes it very easy to pick out with a paint brush.  For example, much of the drummers’ lace was merely dry-brushed on. 

One thing I have changed with my painting style is to abandon painting in the eyes.  While in the close-up photo above this ommission stands out, seen in real-life these figures look a lot better without the large staring eyes my previous work is adorned with!

The flag is by my favourite miniature flag-maker, GMB Design.  Those of you who know their French regiments of the Seven Years War will no doubt be shaking your heads and saying, “But he’s got it wrong – that’s the flag of the Regiment de Flandre, and they wore blue facings, not red!”  Well, my reasoning for this is that I am actually not following the genuine French army of the period, but instead am modelling the regiments portrayed in the famous Stanley Kubrick film, Barry Lyndon (see a previous post about this project).  And in the movie, the French regiment that the epoynomous Barry Lyndon faces in battle is clothed in uniforms with red facings.  So there!


Filed under Eighteenth century, GMB Design flags, Minden Miniatures