I know that some of you are keen to follow this year’s campaign and the build-up to the weekend in Ayton, which should result in one or more cataclysmic battles that will live long in the memory.
Let’s start with the map, which until now you have only seen in black and white line format. So, after a couple of ludicrously late nights, here’s the colour version.
Before we go on, let me anticipate a couple of questions:
- No, I didn’t use any clever mapping software. This has all been done in Photoshop using a variety of techniques from filling shapes, to drawing lines using a stylus and trackpad, applying numerous filters and tracing paths which then have a stroke applied with different brushes. The final Photoshop file is 2776 pixels x 2001 pixels, uses in excess of 200 layers and has a ‘working weight’ of 695Mb.
- No, there’s no quick way of doing this.
Here’s the map, reproduced (when clicked on) here at half size.
If you need to do a bit of catching up, I refer you to a blog post I made, errr… crikey, a couple of years ago! The 1748 (2014) season had resulted in the liberation of Granprix’s capital, Pescadrix and the forces of Grenouisse and its allies had been given a very bloody nose indeed. It also happened to be one of the most spectacular and hard-fought games I have ever witnessed, with the table carpeted with troops. This year, we have set a limit on the numbers of troops that any one commander can field, so perhaps there will be slightly more room for manoeuvre!
What one needs to imagine is that in the intervening campaign months, there have been all manner of diplomatic shenanigans, as King Raoul of Grenouisse licks his wounds and does whatever is necessary to both defend his country from the rampaging victors, and also to either cement old alliances or forge new ones to prepare for what is a clear and present danger. Let’s not forget that in what became a national scandal, he was taken prisoner by the victors and excommunicated by the Church, which added personal humiliation to national crisis. The price of his freedom was a whopping 1 million Livres in reparations and ransom, half paid to Duke Zigor of Granprix, who has bough a new hat to celebrate, and half divided amongst the victorious alliance.
That alliance with Granprix consisted of Prunkland, Medetia, the Barony of Darien, Borscht and Whyeydia; their opponents in the pay of Grenouisse were The Gateway Alliance, Altefritzenburg, Aytonia, the Margraviate of Hunmanby, the Duchy of Elland and the Margraviate of Cress.
Ah, how times change.
It is clear that the loss of their “beloved leader” (a direct quote from the man himself prior to his demise) General E Pickled of the Gateway Alliance has clearly taken the wind from their sails quite literally, as the bickering about a replacement leader has led to a strike in the Gateway navy, and so their attractively-attired army will not be present this year. Similar sick notes have been presented by the Duchy of Elland and the Margraviate of Hunmanby.
So, who is fighting this year? Let’s see.
The Grenouissian Alliance comprises:
- Paul ‘Kung Fu Panda’ Bright, Lord Drumcharry, with the forces of Dal Riata
- Ken ‘MarshalNey’ McGarry, Viscount Gascoigne of Gateshead, with the forces of Whyeydia
- Andy ‘Belisarius’ McMaster, Oberstgeneral Seamus Gunter von Donovan, with the forces of Altefritzenburg
- Gary Phillips, General von Slivovitz, with the forces of St Paulin
General von Slivovitz is in overall command, as he has the largest contingent (though I’m not giving away any numbers here) and since he hasn’t participated in our madness before, he has no idea what he’s letting himself in for.
The Army of Granprixian Revenge consists of:
- Mark ‘Peeler’ Phillips, Lord Peeler, with the forces of Aytonia
- Peter ‘Purps’ Mark-Smtih, Marèchal de Camp le Duc du Flappe, with the Margraviate of Cress
- Dave ‘World2Dave’ Hall, General Amore, with the army of Medetia
- Dave ‘Buff’ McClumpha, Otto von Weeze, with the expeditionary force from Borscht
- And Simon ‘Goat Major’ Tonkiss, Generalmajor von Hauptzeige, with the Diplomatic Enforcement Corps from Prunkland (Prunkländischediplomatischedurchführungskorps)
With Medetia again having the largest contingent, and knowing his passion for staff work, Duke Zigor of Granprix has commissioned General Amore to lead this punitive expedition.
The major turncoat for this campaign is therefore Dal Riata. One might surmise that having captured King Raoul and negotiated his eventual ransom and release, a certain… ‘closeness’… may have developed, leading to private conversations in smoke-filled boudoirs in which certain sums and grants of land may have been promised. You might think that, but of course, I couldn’t possibly comment.
The Whyeydians have also chosen to cross the divide and support Grenouisse. This may be linked to reports of Viscount Gascoigne learning a few words of Grenouissian in order to better communicate with the pretty girls of Couervige during a recent tour. Rather than “Look at that charva owa there, she thinks she’s a right bobby dazzla,” he can now say, “Look at that charva owa there, she thinks she’s a right madamoiselle“. The young ladies of the capital of Grenouisse were, unsurprisingly, somewhat upset by the attentions of this middle-aged, leering artistocrat, demanding to be served pies with his beer. “Dee us some scran, hinny, I’m clamming.”
The Aytonians have also seen the sense of their ways, or possibly the depth of Duke Zigor’s pockets, and have crossed the divide to become an ally of the Granprixians. Given the trouncing they were handed last outing, it could just be that the wily Lord Peeler fancies being on what he sees as potentially the winning side for a change.
Alongside them will be the Margraviate of Cress, who clearly have been attracted by the heroic story of the successful retaking of little Granprix by its courageous Duke and his troops – though one suspects that, yet again, the stroke of gold coin on the palm may have had something to do with it.
The foundation of the Granprixian Alliance remains, however, the stolid troops of Borscht, always ready to brave the enemy cannonade for glory and, well, copious quantities of vodka. They are accompanied by the souave and sophisticated Medetians, well known for their exquisite coffee and equally exquisite swordsmanship. Their musketry? Well… Not so much.
And bringing up the rear, almost as a matter of national policy, is the ‘Diplomatic Enforcement Corps’ of Prunkland, whose role in this entire affair has never been made entirely clear, and perhaps never will. Is it just an excuse to ensure King Ludwig’s troops get regular exercise and some live training? Is it that Prunkland is playing the greater strategic game of gradually accruing power to the west of its traditional foe, Faltenland? Perish the thought! Is it that some men in the ranks of the whitecoats are actually secret agents, gathering knowledge and secret deals wherever its armies march? Or is it that they are perfectly innocent, selflessly carrying out their duties as international law enforcers as appointed by the negotiators when the Treaty of Pescadrix was signed – purely coincidentally aboard SMS König Ludwig – in Pescadrix harbour in May 1748?
I couldn’t possibly comment.
So, where are the opposing forces gathered, and why?
At least the weather has been merciful and the navigation adequate, compared to some previous expeditions. The fleets carrying the Granprixian alliance have arrived at various ports on the northern shores of Borgenmark without accidentally invading any neutral countries, so the ports of Hondrikshaven, Knudsenhaven, Sorensenhaven and Asbækhaven are awash with men and materiel unloading from warships and cargo vessels. There are rumours of movement in northern Schwitz too.
Quite how the Granprixians have managed to secure an agreement with the people of Borgenmark is not at all clear. This central northern Europian nation state is an Electorate, and the Elector himself is normally thought of as a wise and placid individual, averse to war. But the country does command a substantial army, based on an interesting conscription and reserves system, with a cadre of professionals, and has a useful navy which includes a number of vessels equipped with oars as well as sails, known locally as uudenmaa, hemmema and ojamaa.
Meanwhile, the infuriated King Raoul of Grenouisse has caught wind of the enemy’s plans and is mobilising troops in the northern tip of Grenouisse in the vicinity of the border. It’s a tricky little corner here, sandwiched between neutral Gelderstaad, Borgenmark and Schwitz, with whom relations have been delicate for decades. Schwitz is a complicated place, with no less than ten languages being spoken, though academics claim that half of those are just dialects of the other half, a claim which has nearly caused a civil war on more than one occasion. But the people in the southwest of Schwitz, south of the Massif Énorme, speak Grenouissian, so there’s perhaps a chance of cooperation…
Raoul also has four major fortress towns along the border: Passillon, Ofteborg, Lit de la Rivière and Lemande. Ofteborg is currently in the possession of Borgenmark, although historically, in the 17th century it belonged to Grenouisse and was known as Frésoignon. Lit de la Rivière is Schwitzian, though again it was once Grenouissian (under the same name) and lies near the source of what is most commonly known as the River Sturmwasser, the longest river in Europia, known locally as the Rivière Écumante.
As the campaign progresses and terrain is ‘discovered’, I shall be adding more detail, so the master map remains ‘live’ at all times and I shall post updates at the appropriate time.
With only a couple of weeks to go before the Bank Holiday weekend, the boys need to get cracking and will be sending me their initial orders shortly. I’ll announce updates in all the usual online places, including my @battlegames Twitter account and so on.