Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Night watch

Cagliari, 2nd April 1714

Amidst the calm night of Cagliari town, a human figure in dark cloak keeps quiet and silent behind a corner, as if watching something he was. He then listens a faint rubbing sound behind him, and turns around startled.

--Stand still, Niccolò. It's me. --says a soothing voice. The man recognizes the voice and relaxes. When both men meet behind the corner, it becomes clear they are dressing in some kind of dark uniform, inclusive of a black cloak and a long halberd, and both are holding a lantern --now extinguished not to be watched in the night. They are night watchmen of the city.

--What were you going to show me, Niccolò? --says the second man.

--Can you see that large building ahead, captain? --Niccolò answers-- The one with two torches at main door's lintel.

--Yes I see it. Isn't that the Bacallar family manor house?

--That's right. Well, the matter is that this house was abandoned three years ago, when the Two Crowns were ultimately expelled from the island. It was deserted by its owner, Vincenzo Bacallar, who was by then military governor of Sardinia. It has since remained empty and lifeless... until last week, when an old man re-occupied it along with a couple of youngsters, perhaps servants to him. --Niccolò says, triomphantly.

--Hum, suspectful indeed --replies the captain.

Then the large house door opens discreetly. The figure of an old man emerges and closes the door again with care, so as not to make unnecessary noises. The night watchers react quickly and, when the man is about to start walking and get lost in the darkness, they stop him.

--Listen, sir. Would you mind to join us?

--Am I arrested perhaps? --the man replies in a fearful voice.

He is given no answer.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Slowdown there? By no means!

A long, specially hot Summer is coming to an end at last... While players of our current 1714 what-if setting enjoyed their holidays, I had to remain stuck to Minairons miniatures --a self employee never rests, you know. So that I decided to take some advantage of this calm August for finishing up some much needed projects. One of these is my WSS Austro-Catalan Artillery, that has finally been completed with the some much needed limbers:

By late Spring I had the idea of purchasing some ready painted pieces for such limbers, rather than buying and painting new models. I then discarded to waste time (and spend money!) seeking them on eBay, but decided to give a try to Hinds figures Ltd instead --and I'm very happy for having done so! We agreed to trade a number of WSS infantry, guns, limbers, gabions and carts in exchange for some Republican Roman and Carthaginian units I wanted to get rid of. Limbers and carried guns in the pictures above come from such exchange. I just had to repaint in yellow what had been originally in red, and give some final touches to horses.

As for deployed guns themselves, I currently already had three of them from various makes --with Roundway and Minifigs crews, as you can see. The one in the middle is a heavy cannon, flanked by its right by a light gun. The other one is medium sized, so that it was used in our previous 1713 campaign alternatively as a light or heavy cannon, depending on needings.

My Austro-Catalan artillery is completed by a siege or fortress set consisting of four heavy cannons from Peter Pig. Again, crewmen are a more or less consistent mix of Minifigs, Roundway and Essex figures. I've never had the need to use these artilleries yet, happily enough!

I'm about to complete a similar set of Bourbon Spanish artilleries. I hope to have them completed and depicted before my current game players are fully back from holidays!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

New appointments

To all players, 29th March 1714

A circular has been delivered by Vienna to its embassies and foreign chancelleries, acknowledging of the following appointments by His Imperial Majesty Charles VI:

  • New Governor of Flanders and Milan: Prince Eugene of Savoy
  • Viceroy of Naples: Prince Wirich Philipp von Daun, replacing Carlo Borromeo Arese
  • Viceroy of Sardinia: Marquis Josep Antoni of Rubí, replacing Count Antoni Roger of Erill
  • Vicereyne of Majorca: Princess Elisenda of Catalonia, replacing Marquis Josep Antoni of Rubí

Such appointments pursuant the agreements of Rastatt, by which the forementioned territories fall into Imperial authority from now on.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Fealty or expropriation (2)

Madrid, 27th March 1714

--Have I well understood, marquis? --says King Philip V, staring at Marquis of Aitona with a disgrunted expression-- Do you mean to be asking for my permission, for you to pay homage to that "so-called" princess Elisenda?

Visibly uncomfortable, Marquis of Aitona gazes intensely to Giulio Alberoni in a silent plea for help; but the by-then bishop remains unmoved and silent.

--Ehem... --starts the marquis-- As Your Majesty probably knows, most of my possessions fall within the Principality of Catalonia boundaries; not just the marquisate of Aitona itself is affected, but also the county of Osona, the viscounties of Cabrera and Bas, as well as several minor baronies belonging to my lineage... Princess Elisenda has formally requested my fealty for these, as this document certifies...

Timidly, the marquis handles the mentioned document to king Philip. But He refuses to take it, as if contaminated it was. Otherwise, the king answers haughtily:

--No marquis, by no means. I shall not give my consent to it. And I urge you to ignore the pretentious missive of this rebel and slick woman, on behalf of the due loyalty to your true Sovereign.

Desolate, the marquis manages to look impassive while he bows and leaves the room. It's now when Bishop Alberoni finally breaks his silence and softly asks: --Your Majesty, would You mind to listen a surely profitable suggestion?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Elisenda I

Barcelona, 21st March 1714

For the coronation ceremony, it was chosen the barcelonese church of Santa Maria del Mar. This was an intentional choice, for it was the same emplacement used seven years ago by Archduke Charles. Ceremony was marked by austerity, for Princess Elisenda rejected any wealth ostentation in these post-war times, not to offend the people. Thus, her own princely crown was little more than a nice diadem, while the orbs globe she would hold on left hand during ceremony was made of gold plated copper. Not even her robes differed that much from those she used to wear in other circumstances.

The only important expense that Elisenda considered essential was the Royal Sword she ought to hold in the right hand, the legendary «Tisó» of James I the Conqueror. As the original Kings of Aragon ceremonial sword had long ago passed to thicken Spain's own Royal Treasury, Princess Elisenda ordered a most faithful copy to be forged in best steel and gold plated grip, to be well balanced too as if conceived for war. She was unwilling to hold just a jewel piece there but a perceivably powerful weapon, so as to convey among attendants a feeling of strength and determination --her own determination to preserve the Nation's regained independence.

Ceremony took place on March 21 in the morning as scheduled, with abundant presence of local authorities and common people –but enjoying very scarce attendance of foreign dignataries, even from the Holy Empire itself or other Allied Nations. Princess Elisenda could have grieved by such absences --but she didn't at all, for in fact she already expected such setback. The new Nation would be carefully tested and observed from now on, so that a long, solitary journey was expected from them for a while. Her people were alone, she was alone herself.

“Well, as the saying says, better off alone than in bad companies”, Princess Elisenda ironically thought. “No need to continually waste time in explanations for everything we do. And it's the time now to start doing the things by ourselves”.

(Official portrait of Princess Elisenda I)

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Exposed coast

Cagliari (Sardinia), 18th March 1714

Colonel Carles Llorach taps nervously on the table without a word, while Lieutenant Colonel Josep d'Erill glances at him with concern. It's this latter who in the end dares to break silence:

--Something should be done, Carles --Erill cautiously points out.

--I know I know, Josep --the alluded promptly answers--. The matter is "what" can be done, current circumstances given. Since your father had to resign for health reasons, this island misses a much needed viceroy. We aren't empowered for taking measures other than using our scarce resources as wisely as we can. How is the Regiment deployed right now?

When Countess Francesca arrived in Cagliari a few days ago, bringing with her terrible news about a Barbary pirate attack on a Southeastern village, Cagliaritan society was plunged into shock. Pirate activity on Sardinian shores had declined in previous years, something that likely had much to do with the lately proliferation of large warships in the Mediterranean. Now that War of the Spanish Succesion was over and most powers had begun downsizing their armies and withdrawing their fleets, pirates had seen a new opportunity and re-started operations on the already overpunished coastal villages. The small force garrisoning the island wasn't prepared for this --not that soon, while still awaiting arrival of a new viceroy.

--Well, our Regiment's deployment is still conceived for facing an eventual major menace from overseas. The Two Crowns, I mean. Four companies here in Cagliari, while the other five companies are garrisoning walled towns such as Alghero, Sassari, Oristano, Bosa and Castel Aragonès. --Erill opens arms wide, as meaning he understands in advance what Llorach might reply to him.

Llorach simply nods: --We must change it. Cagliari no longer needs four companies inside. Let's reassign one in the Southwest, and split another two companies along the Eastern coast. Word should be sent to sheriffs and local Lords requesting them to properly allocate the troops.

Erill nods too and answers: --This should help --his face showing some skepticism, though.

Colonel Llorach stops silent again, thinking for a while before adding: --Let's do something else: I'm going to sail aboard one of our galleys with a small detachment, with the aim to inspect each one of the watchtowers along the Eastern coast, for I suspect some must have been neglected. Otherwise those damned pirates wouldn't have been able to fall that unadverted upon those unfortunate villagers. Please send a courier to Alghero town, ordering their garrison to perform a similar inspection along the Western coast using their own galley.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Building a scale fleet

One of the campaigns we are planning for a future in our Defiant Principality setting is supposed to run around the adventures of a group of Catalan settlers in the Spanish Main. Having this in mind I've calmly started to build a fleet of 1/450 scale ships from various Nations. The idea there is to reach a point where I can put on tabletop some of the most likely ships the adventurers may meet in the Antilles. I've started with the traditional arch-enemy of the Principality, whose ships are the most prone to get engaged by our revengeful gamers... I've managed to complete a first batch of three models: a brig, a full-rigged ship and a sloop. Three else are on the way --I'm finishing assembly process right now.

Here you have the Spanish brig:

And this is the full-rigged ship:

Some captions of the growing fleet:

After some trial and error, this has been my first ever serious experience at assemblying and painting scale sailships, so plentiful of some unavoidable planning mistakes, palette misjudgements and other kinds of error. Nevertheless, I'm quite satisfied with them --take it as the newbie satisfaction at the mere thing of having survived the experience!