CHOCOLATE BOX WARS WORK IN PROGRESS: ERSATZ SOLDATEN

CHOCOLATE BOX WARS WORK IN PROGRESS: ERSATZ SOLDATEN

 

Print and Play Bavarian-Themed Ersatz Soldaten for Chocolate Box Wars (or any system, really).  Two battalions of line infantry flanking an artillery battery,  a half battalion of freikorps out front, and command behind the line. (The camera picks up the protective fixative for some reason, making them look washed out or as if there is a film on them, which is not visible to the eye.) 

For long term followers of this blog, you may recall the running start I made on my 19th Century game system, Chocolate Box Wars, the details of which you may find at the linked resource page on this blog.  In short, this is intended to be a „battle in a box“ system to play post-Napoleonic continental (mainly) wars. Unfortunately, life got in the way and the project got sidelined (although I did produce my interim Volley and Bayonet variant for the era, which has worked out quite well, but that’s another story).  And, of course, I’ve produced multiple mid-century armies to play this era (Russians, Austrians, Hungarians, Danes, Prussians, Romanians…I think that’s all of them). Back to CBW. I have picked up the project again completing the first draft of the rules and moving on to playtesting (more on this, anon).  The problem is, though, that my collections are still packed up and in storage. Thus, I needed an interim solution to get them on the table for playtesting, which brings me to this post (talk about burying the lede!). Although I have minis–that’s for sure–I certainly am not averse to other forms of representation (see my Half Scale Kriegspiel Block treatment for Bloody Big Battles), and so I produced what I am calling my Ersatz Soldaten: print and play CBW armies.  I’ll share them with you here. As usual, in this post, you may clix pix for BIG PIX…

I went to a variety of online public sources, like the New York Public Library, and a considerable library of digital images that I had downloaded over the years, and pulled likely images that would work together to represent armies. I then resized them, touched them up, and put them on backgrounds to make them consistent. In real terms, these are roughly 1.25″ by 1.75″.  Not being a fan of the usual overhead view of print and play printed miniatures, I much prefer these representations. 

Long ago, I produced a boatload of sabots (above left). These are 2.25″ x 2.25″ plywood stands with metal wargames stands glued to them (painted a handsome green).  They are very close to the size of the stands for the CBW system, so they will work nicely for playtesting. All of my figures have magnetized bases, so the original idea was that I could put my individually-mounted figures on them if I ever wanted repurpose them to play a „rank and flank“ system. They also have come in handy for other uses (as you’ll see).  I also produced a set of labels on magnetic sheets for my CBW units (above right). These will (when the time comes) be useable on the metal strips on the back of my miniatures stands (a standard feature of my basing schemes). In the meantime, they will work on the sabots as well. 

I printed the army sheets, put them on sheet magnet, and cut out the individual soldiers, producing six armies. They are shown stored here, all in one handy little container. All I need to do is pull them out and put them on the sabots. Not being rigorous representations, they are „themed“: British, Prussian, Bavarian, Belgic, Nordic, and French.  All will work for Ruritanians, of course!  All I need to do is put them on the sabots with labels and I’m off to the races. 

By example, here are the four pages of the Bavarian Themed print and play army. Of course, I can print out more if I want more of any type of unit.

Here is a graphic representation of the British Themed army showing the size and configuration of a CBW army. As mentioned, the figure count is not high, consisting of a core force (four line infantry, one cavalry unit, one battery, and a command) plus supplemental units chosen from each of the three categories. When I publish the rules, this will (hopefully) make more sense. But for now, I think this gives a good idea of the look of the game using the Ersatz Soldaten. 

Getting back to „figures“ on table, above left are a few French themed units with labels and my newly produced 1 pfennig activation markers (face down). Above right, a face down activation marker and face up  activation marker (eagle showing). The camera did not pick it up, but the face up eagle is much brighter than the „1“ face-down (which still has the patina). We proofed this system in our first playtest and the distinction between the two was quite clear during use (unlike in the photo!).  This was good news given the amount of effort that had gone into them!

To round out the look of the Ersatz game, I wanted the table to look „graphic“ like the units. So rather than pulling my 3D terrain out of storage, I pulled images from my period Kriegpsiel maps to make forest and town templates, mounting them on cardstock, and am using matt board step hills (I may tart these up a bit in future).  For trees, I picked up the delightful 2D trees from Wofun’s Tabletop Terrain

I have since added a toy soldier-like base to the trees. The overall look of the table is pretty close to what I was aiming for. So much so that what began as an interim has now moved up to an alternate. I will continue to use these even after my miniatures come out of storage, particularly to playtest a scenario or when I want to get a game on the table in short order. And the Ersatz Soldaten will certainly be useable for other system: I’m thinking that they would work nicely in any hybrid miniatures and/or gridded miniatures system like Bob Cordery’s Portable Wargame for instance. 

The French Themed army ready to be deployed at the start of the Battle of the US Army Blanket, the first playtest of the CBW system: a modest report on which will be forthcoming. 


As a reward for reading this far, here are links to download (or just review) the CBW armies in pdf (you’re on your own for terrain); enjoy! 


Once the system is proofed and finished, I’ll add a stand alone resource page to this blog and post the rules there (along with these Ersatz Armies). 


Excelsior!

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