Friday, April 20, 2007

Creating Ober-Bindlestiff

The hobby of wargaming has many interesting side quirks, not the least of which is the creation of imaginary countries. This dates back to the days of Brigadier Peter Young and Charles Grant, and their two imaginary countries that were locked in a perpetual struggle for supremacy somewhere in Germany. The reasons for this are many, but let's focus on why I want to do it.

  1. I get to design the country the way I want to. I don't have to worry about a past history, or other historical baggage that might get in the way of enjoyment. This means I get to write the history, and it can be as serious, or as absurd as I wish it. And the country can contain as many odd little ins and outs as I want. It is, after all, my sandbox, and there were more than 300 tiny little German countries in the 18th Century. Who's to say this couldn't have happened?
  2. When I design the country I can do as many stupid and silly things as I want; for example, have a Royal Mistress's Regiment with their pink coats. Or have clerks who mismanage the paperwork in creative and amusing ways.
  3. I get to design the uniforms. This can be great if you like fanciful uniforms. Or it can be as simple as settling on white, and coming up with regimental names. By the way, I chose the latter. Though there might be an English contingent, probably expatriates. They aren't Irish, so they aren't Wild Geese. Oh, let's try something else. All right, these are the Wild Robins who left England (it's before 1708 so it isn't Great Britain) because of...well, that's their secret.
  4. I can be a monarch, at least in my own mind. This strikes some people as dangerous fantasy. But why is this worse than pretending you are the Doom Warden of the Western Marches in a D&D game. I know, that's a game. So is this. Only this doesn't have any rules; I make those up as I go along. But being a monarch means being as extravagant as possible (Louis XIV). For example: the army is such a bother -- feed me, pay me, clothe me, always me, me, me! Never a thought for their poor ruler with his three palaces, a mistress, and all of the other obligations of royalty.
  5. I can write the history (which I've done). That can be entertaining in its own way.
  6. It gives me an excuse for wargaming. As if I needed one anyway.
My earlier attempts at creating an imaginary country brought forth two: first, my Napoleonic country, Gottingen-Hoff, which was sort of a French country. And second, my Bronze Age city state Kwazituya (pronounced "What's-it-to-ya").

The latter was one of those small city-states that could muster a lot of warm bodies, a few chariots, a few real troops, and otherwise kept to itself in the fervent hope that Egypt or the Hittites would ignore it. Gottingen-Hoff was part of a larger continent that included my arch-enemy, Quackenbruck, and a number of "allies", Methylonia, Doff, and Pfaffenhoffen. These were part of an on-going campaign, that was done by fighting the battles, and then creating the campaign that led up to the battles. In an inverted way, it worked.

By the way, why France in the Napoleonic wars? Why not somebody else? That was because I felt more comfortable with the methods and techniques of the French Army, not because of some awe of Napoleon. I "fought" my Napoleonic battles in a French style, and so I settled on a French country. I later tried adapting to an Austrian style for my 6mm figures; that is another story. But wargamers fight their battles in distinct styles. There is nothing sadder than watching somebody flounder with a system they are not comfortable with; see my earlier reference to Austrians in 6mm.

So it is early in the 18th Century. Ober-Bindlestiff, an electorate somewhere in Germany, has a history, has an army, a government, and a many and varied population. It has a government based on the more lurid versions of the Court of Versailles and the Electorate of Saxony, only without the poisoning. More details will be forthcoming.
Now a word about related matters. I'll be linking to other blogs with their imaginary countries, and I hope to be putting up pictures of the army. I settled on Marlburian because I've been on a Marlburian kick for several years, and have a lot of figures for it in 15mm. Besides, this is before the Prussians upset everyone's applecart by actually getting serious about war. Oh, and it also takes me from 1702 to 1755. Focusing on the Seven Years War only gives me about, well, seven years.

Rules - yes, what's wargaming without rules? For mid-18th Century I've used Warfare in the Age of Reason by Tod Kershner and Dale Woods; used it, as a matter of fact, for a long long time (since 1983 I think), and even wrote the siege rules for them. For the period of Ober-Bindlestiff, I use Volley & Bayonet, 2nd edition, playtest copy as modified from the Age of Frederick for the Marlburian period. My modifications, by the way, but everybody seems to agree with them. My reasons for using these rules are many and varied, and I won't get into the particulars here.

Links - as I get them I'll link. But as a first cut, this is from Ambrowsehawk: via the Society of Daisy. There will be others as I sort through all of this.


Snickering Corpses said...

Welcome to the lovely world of blogging imaginary countries. Hesse-Engelburg is proud to add you to their tourist bureau pamphlets.

Bluebear Jeff said...

Welcome to the wonderful world of imaginary 18th century blogging!

My ruler, Furst Bruno V of the Principality of Saxe-Bearstein sends his greetings. He also wishes to invite you to send an ambassador to our fair principality.

Considering your penchant for rules, he also suggests that you might find the following location of some interest:

-- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

Maj_Gen_Stanley said...

Thank you, Jeff. Yes, I've tried Ian's rules, and even gave him feedback during the development of them (we had a disagreement about "self-activating in absence of orders when everything around you has gone to pieces".

For now I'll stick with Volley & Bayonet. I've had a traumtic journey to those rules, including rejecting them after a particularly bad experience (newbies should not referee games involving stronger players).

Bruce B.