Sunday, 1 April 2018

Thirty Years War in 2mm - basing using 17th century military texts

I've had a Thirty Years War (TYW) project in 2mm on the 'back burner' for a long time. A very long time! As I have mentioned in a previous post, there are some terrific 2mm gamers out there who I am 'leaning on' heavily for this project.
For instance, for the 2mm enthusiast I thoroughly recommend a wander around Sydney Roundwood's blog (Roundwood's World) and check out his wonderful Lützen (1632) and Nördlingen (1634) projects in 2mm. I liked the result so much, I have shamelessly copied the winter basing Sydney has used. After all, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness!
What I love about 2mm as a scale, one small bag contains a few weekends of work!
Hmmmm. So, what to do with them...
However, I have added my own mark to the project by indulging my interest in 17th century military theory when basing the 2mm blocks. Rather than limiting myself to the standard approach of pike with two wings of musket, I have sought to reproduce the various deployments outlined in tomes such as Richard Elton's The Complete Body of the Art Military (1650) and Collonel (sic) William Bariffe's Military Discipline, for the Young Artilleryman (1657).

While in many cases the deployments of foot troops discussed in these manuals tend towards the theoretical rather than actually reflecting those used in the field, it helped me better understand the texts and posed interesting challenges in working with the blocks and the space available on the base.

Overall, the main Irregular Miniatures blocks I used for these bases were:
  • RBG7, 45 figure 1-2 pike/shot unit (15 pike/30 shot);
  • RBG12, 3-rank Forlorn Hope - 15 figures;
  • RBG33, 15 figure Pike block;
  • RBG25 Command - 2 figures;
  • RBG9, Swiss/Landsknecht pike unit (40 pikes);
  • BG2, Infantry in three ranks (24 figures) (these are from the Horse and Musket range; but make great musket units);
  • Oh, and of course, the Tercio! - RBG10, Tercio (100 figures 40 pike/60 shot).
What rules, you ask? I have yet to track down a set of rules that I am totally happy with for either TYW or ACW gaming in 2mm. Nevertheless, for TYW, I have been considering Polemos ECW, the 2 by 2 variants from the 2mm Yahoo Group, Jackson Gamers' English Civil War Rules 'Charge yr Pike! and the free older version of Father Tilly (version 3).

My basing scheme is using a 50mm x 25mm bases (c. 2"x1") for foot and cavalry with each foot base being a regiment and each cavalry base a squadron. Command and artillery (and possibly detachments of shot) will be on 25 x 25mm (c. 1" x 1") bases. So, basically, a scaled down Polemos basing system.
For larger regiments of foot I used the RBG9 pike block with wings of two blocks of BG2 for the musket. In come cases I  used some RBG12 as musket either deployed forward as the Forlorn Hope or to the
rear as reserves.
When laying out the regiments I found it very useful to rule up the base to help with positioning the pike and musket blocks (RGB12 and RGB33 in this case). It gave them a nice, crisp military feel.
In this case, I'm laying out 'a squadron or third part of a Swedish Brigade' as described by Bariffe, in Military Discipline..., p. 172.
All three squadrons deployed in the style of the Swedish Brigade.
Rather than laying out some units in with their pike to the left or right (depending on their flank), and with musket in reserve at the rear, I based all of the three squadrons as laid out on p. 172 - assuming the commander would deploy as necessary!
Bariffe goes on to describe a series of deployments for 'imbattelling larger numbers' (Military Discipline..., p. 130. In the next series of bases I have adopted various forms of the 'double Crosse-Battle.' In describing these forms of deploying regiments/squadrons of foot, Bariffe notes they '...may bring most hands to the fight, with conveniency, so that one part of your Battle doe not cumber or hinder the other...' (p. 130).
In this second form, after the musketeers have '...fired once or twice over, the Front-division of Pikes may move forwards, porting, until they range-even with the front of the Musquettiers, and there charge their Pikes: The Musquettiers still continuing their Firing. The Reer divisions of Pikes, in the mean time facing to the right and left-outward, and sleeving-up the flanks of the Reer-division of Musquettiers; there in like manner charging their Pikes. either to the front or flanks...' (p. 132)

Finally, below are a few pictures of my first attempts to pain some of the above bases. I have gone for fairly generic colour schemes. I have used the same approach as my ACW 2mm basing where I paint a discoloured patch to the rear of units to represent their footprints in the frost/snow.


  1. A great project, I look forward to seeing more of it. I am doing something similar for an upcoming big battle set called Twilight of Divine Right. I am using big bases, basically double Polemos bases, but the rules will work with whatever size bases you want. I couldn't work out how to put pictures here so I have uploaded some to the 2mm Yahoo group. I had forgotten about this group.

  2. For some reason I can't post photos to the 2mm Yahoo group. There are some on this facebook group -

    1. After a lot of messing around I have managed to get a few onto the Yahoo group - albums ECW/TYW units.

    2. Thanks for taking the time to upload your photos -absolutely love your basing approach. The basing compound gives them nice features and the fields and trails look first rate. Those units with 4 pike and 24 shot blocks are spectacular. I look forward to hearing more about ToDR - sounds interesting. 2mm group being acting strangely for me - two posts have gone missing (must be some issues). Thanks for comments - cheers Alan

    3. I have been having real trouble with the Yahoo group. I have tried to post the pictures a few times without success and even now only few would go there.

      Glad you like the units. I originally did Swedish Brigades in a similar manner as you - with 12 pike blocks and 18 shot blocks. Also all the other units were bigger but as I wanted to build enough units to be able to do any ECW or TYW battle that would be too expensive. So I toned it down to what I have now.

      On ToDR this is set for large battles played relatively easily. It is a version of these rules for later on - . With your figures I would use a frontage of 2 of your bases as a unit. Unit size is flexible but all must be the same frontage, so you could use 1 of you bases as a unit. This means all ECW battles and all but a couple of TYW battles are playable on a 6 foot by 4 foot table or less with 2 base frontage, half that with 1 base.

      Hopefully the rules will be out in about a month from the Pike and Shot society.

    4. I see posts are appearing on 2mm now - but something is going on.

      I can understand that with that many blocks on a base it does start to add up even in 2mm! Much inspiration in your work. I have committed myself to the 'winter' basing which does have some limitations as I'd like to use these armies for ECW as well (that was the original intention). Perhaps, a frosty morning at Edgehill!

      I will watch with much interest for your new rules - I like the sound of the mechanic of ToSK 9form Spanish review). The idea of working with base widths makes them very adaptable. Thanks for your advcie on possible conformation of units. I'll keep painting. Life is getting in the way at the moment but hope to have some more done in the next few weeks. Cheers Alan

  3. That is some great work, Oswald. I especially like what you've done for the footprints. Very inspiring!

  4. Thanks - appreciate it. I'm happy with the footprints too, thanks. Simple, yet effective addition. I painted the brown footprints as the second last layer, then dry-brushed some more white over it to cut it back a bit. Trying to decide if I'll add a little (frozen) foliage as well - a few small clumps of green/brown 'scatter' migth be good (or it could wreck it!).

  5. What a terrific and fantastic project, Oswald (Alan). Thank you so much for the kind comments, although I am the first to confess I have far from any great expertise in figuring out what works best for a 2mm-focused set of pike and shot battle rules.

    I love the attention you've paid to Bariffe's 'Military Discipline'. The 2mm blocks are perfect for recreating that drill-manual "feel" of the mid-17th Century formations. We found that, as we played the games on the tabletop, players were keen to be able to distinguish formations - Swedish, Dutch, tercio, German, and so on. That's one of the huge bonuses of the period in 2mm micro-scale, and one that is wonderfully shining through in our project.

    I can't wait to see more! Very best of luck!!

    1. Typo alert..."and one that is wonderfully shining through in YOUR project" !!

  6. Thanks Sydney!I think you are entitled to an 'our' given the inspiration I have drawn from your work. Yes, finding the right the rules is a ongoing challenge. I keep thinking I'll have to write my own...

    Thanks for your encouragement - I will keep working on this (just a short hiatus - study is absorbing all my free time). Agree, regarding the formations, TYW is so rich for that. More to come!