Thursday, 6 February 2014

Retiring Riskovia

I've enjoyed playing Maurice over the last couple of years, and very much enjoyed using my garish, unpainted plastic figures. But for ages I have been promising myself that I ought to paint them, and have been giving some consideration to how I might want them to look.

During the time we have been playing Maurice, we have developed a network of ImagiNations. These started with the brightly coloured Riskovians and their dour arch-enemies of the Duchy of Sans Couleur, which were swiftly followed by the armies of Albion and the Confederation of Tea States. We have even created back-stories and personalities for these nations.

Fun as they are, though, I have found the games lacking ... something. As much as I enjoy fantasy (indeed this blog's original remit is to a set of fantasy rules), I also like games that have some grounding in an historical basis. The nature of the armies for our ImagiNations has changed from game to game, as we have explored different makeups and national Advantages.  As I move my figures forward into a more permanent basing and possible paint-job I wanted them to be at least partially based on an historical prototype, so far as the rules and the numbers and look of figures allow.

What I'd like to achieve is two armies, each capable of being built to 100pts. National Advantages would be fixed and factored into the cost, but it would be nice to have a few options in terms of units of upgrades for each side.  I'd need to allow for the mercenary unit option of the basic attack/defence game in the rules.

Essentially the armies of Riskovia and Sans Couleur will disappear, to be replaced by two armies that look vaguely like historical ones.

Looking at this picture constitutes
about 50% of my research into the GNW.
Now 18th century warfare isn't something I know a lot about - Maurice is a case where I enjoy the game, despite not having much of a grounding in the actual period of history covered by it. There are plenty of conflicts and matched pairs I could choose from, but I wanted something I felt I could buy into, even with my limited knowledge. After minutes of research (Google) I have decided to look at basing my meagre forces on Great Northern War Russians and Swedes. This is for four reasons:

(i) They are both slightly more exotic than Prussians/British/French, without being too obscure.

(ii) We honeymooned in St Petersburg, and got caught up in the cult of Peter The Great promulgated by the tourist guides. Charles XII seems to have been a bit of a personality as well. So the main men are both interesting characters.

(iii) It's set in the early part of the period covered by Maurice, and I always find that the early stages of an era are the most entertaining - the kit and tactics are often clunkier and more entertaining.

(iv) The uniforms are pretty - I like the blue and yellow of the Swedes, and the green and red of the Russians.

OK, so where do I start?

Firstly, this is the era when some armies still used pikes, specifically the Swedes and Russians. So the Pikes rule would be in effect, and I will need to look at modifying one base in each infantry unit to become pikemen. I'm not sure quite how this will work with the pose offered by the Risk infantryman, but we'll see. I'm sure it won't be impossible. The Risk infantry has tricorne hats, which will work, although the Swedes also wore a nifty little blue and yellow cap, and the Russians had mitres. the caps I could probably reproduce with a little bit of judicious knife-work, but I'm, not sure how easy mitres would be to make. Or, indeed, if they're worth the effort for this project.

I think some of the cavalry ought to be wielding pistols, but the sword-waving Risk cavalry will have to do.

I have the following units to play with for each side:

Eight Infantry
Four Cavalry
Four Artillery

The Swedes have a well-trained, motivated army and a tactic (the Ga Pa) that consists of getting stuck into close combat as quickly as possible. Their cavalry might also be more prone to a 'traditional' knee-to-knee charge than their Russian opponents. The Russians often outnumbered the Swedes, but had an army that was undergoing reforms. Russian armies always seem to be depicted as steadfast, even if not entirely competent, so I'm going to run with that stereotype.

So, for the Swedes I am considering:

6 x Trained Infantry = 36pts
4 x Trained Cavalry = 24pts
4 x Artillery = 10pts
Total = 70pts

Plus: A La Bayonette and Cavaliers = 18pts

Total = 88pts

For the Russians:

6 x Conscript Infantry = 24pts
2 x Elite Infantry = 17pts
4 x Trained Cavalry = 24pts
4 x Artillery = 10pts
Total = 75pts

Plus: Rally To The Colours = 12pts

Total = 87pts

Left Over - two Infantry units, one of which I can paint in some generic uniform that doesn't look Swedish or Russian, and which can be the Mercenaries.

As you can see I'm still short for both armies, but they are at least roughly equal in points, and usable for a game. The Russians have the larger army, relying on the two Elite units backed up by a crowd of dross. Rally To The Colours should nicely represent their steadfast nature. The Swedes are a smaller army, geared up for close-combat, with their cavalry having a slight edge over that of the Russians.

I'm not sure how I'd make up the rest of the points at this stage. Ideally I'd like to get hold of another set of Risk figures, in which case I can make new units to add in. I'd like at least of couple of units of Cossack Irregular Cavalry, as both sides used them. A unit each of Irregular Infantry (dismounted dragoons) would be a nice option for each side as well. Otherwise I think the extra points would be spent on adding to the line infantry force - three more Conscripts for the Russians and two more Trained Infantry for the Swedes. Sadly I haven't seen any cheap, knock-off Risk sets for a while. I'm regretting not buying two sets when I had the chance*.

I'm certainly not going to pretend that the armies are 'accurate' representations of their GNW equivalents, but they would give the forces a little bit more character and identity.

Anyway, despite the length of this post, these are all just thoughts at the moment, and subject to me actually sitting down and doing something with the figures. But it's a start.

*In fact if you have, or know of, a spare set of tricorne Risk figure, I'd love to hear from you. I estimate I need about 100 infantry and 30 cavalry to pretty much do everything else I want to do.


  1. I'm looking forward to your progress on this! After I had already begun building my GNW forces in 1/72, i thought about using Risk figures instead after seeing Riskovia and Sans Couleur in action.

    I don't know anything about the rules for Maurice, but you could paint the extra units as Saxons to ally with the Russians.

  2. Many years ago I bought some armies of plastic figures from an advert on the back of a comic book, red British and blue American colonials. Rather than painting the soft plastic I used a black permanent marker pen to do the hats, cartridge boxes, muskets, etc. It was quick and easy and spruced them up nicely without all the work of a full paint job. They're in a box in the basement somewhere...

  3. Sounds like a promising beginning to a fun new project. The GNW would be quite an interesting war to do, as well. I am supposing that you are planning on 16-figure units. I suggest, then, a ration of 12 musketmen to 4 pikes (if you were going for 20-figure units I would have said 16 to 4). For the look od the thing, if you adapt musketmen for pikemen, you might want to face them 'quarter right' - that is, towards the right front corner of the stand.

    The pikes will still lean over towards the left, but not in so pronounced a fashion. If you could twist the figures' heads leftwards towards the front, so much the better for the look of the thing, but I reckon the pike blocks will look OK without running the risk of twisting heads right off.

    If you are using 4-figure stands, you won't be able to 'centre' the pike block. The options are:
    1. Simply place the pike block second stand from the right.
    2. Place pikes on the left half of one stand, and the right half on another.
    3. Bisect one musket stand 'per file', or even into individual stands.
    4. Place muskets on 6-figure stands.
    5. Place the pike stand behind the centre musket stand. This might not be unrealistic, representing the pikes being held in reserve in the rear, being brought up in the event of a cavalry threat
    All this depends on what rules you are using, of course.

    1. I'm using Maurice, which has four stand units, on each of which I have four figures. My plan is to make one of the four stands entirely pikemen, so a ratio of 1 in 4. I'm not quite sure yet how I will turn the musketeers into pikemen; that's a job for the weekend :)

  4. Spray undercoat and base colour. You'll save yourself loads of time.

  5. will be interested to follow this one.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...