Body Count

Sun Tzu taught that the highest achievement in war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. this is an outcome, I think, that requires great intelligence on BOTH sides. The winner must formulate a plan so clever that the enemy is placed in an absolutely no-win situation and the loser must then be clever enough to understand the situation in which he finds himself.  As wargamers we can truly appreciate how a non-fighting outcome has occurred (think Turnham Green perhaps?) but we almost exclusively game the other other 99.9% ( or turn the remaining 0.1% into a fighting situation – uh – Turnham Green perhaps?).

We deal in fantasy and not in flesh and blood. We play – and play is the key word – in quiet solitude or in small groups for friendly ( well – usually!) competition. In a world where increasingly words seem to speak louder than actions many don’t seem to get that our fantasies are hardly ever our realities.

Any wargame, like any battle, has set objectives. These may be positional or aquisative but almost always also involve inflicting damage on the opponent. In the near endless collection of rules systems there are equally endless ways to keep track of losses ranging from tally sheets – to casualty caps – to numeric counters placed with each unit – to casualty markers. The last may range from a cardboard chit to miniature representations of dead and dying soldiers. I have tried most of them but finally settled on using miniatures, a decision that was only possible recently thanks to Pendraken.

Pendraken casualty markers being prepared for painting

Pendraken casualty markers being prepared for painting

In their huge and ever-growing range of figures, I was thrilled that they decided to make one of their first sets of casualty figures for the ECW period. I ordered them immediately and am very pleased with their look. I had painted a few to use with my recently concluded Tippermuir wargame but have just completed the rest to cover the other armies I am building. I have seen some minor grousing about the second foot figure ( in the bottom row above). It is a figure with a lobster-tail helmet laying face down over a halberd with a broken shaft. This is a fairly rare armament but easily serves the purpose as a foot officer. If, however, you want a pike casualty it would be a simple matter to cut away the blade and fluke and-bam!-you have a pike! I am not troubled by using it to represent any casualty, horse or foot. In making casualty markers for the Covenant forces I did cut away the crown of the musketeer’s hat to make a bonnet.

Completed casualty markers in three paint schemes. The mounting bases are 1

Completed casualty markers in three paint schemes. The mounting bases are 1″ in diameter

The photo above shows markers in the major paint schemes:

Covenanter: (first file) light grey over lighter grey, musketeer with a blue bonnet. Since Covenanter forces fought in all three kingdoms, they get their own exclusive scheme.

Royalist – Anglo/Irish – Irish Confederation: (middle file) dark brown over tan.

Commonwealth – Anglo/Irish: (third file) Brick red over black.

Each time a combat piece is removed from play it is replaced by a foot casualty marker. These markers move with the unit (as in Pike and Shotte) until the unit exceeds its casualty limit. When this happens the remainder of the unit (along with all foot casualty markers) is removed from play and replaced by a unit casualty marker (a horse casualty).

Completed horse casualty markers mounted on the standard combat piece base.

Completed horse casualty markers mounted on the standard combat piece base.

The unit (horse) casualty markers have the same general paint schemes as the combat piece (foot) casualty markers. In most scenarios armies have a limit to the number of unit casualties that they may receive and remain viable ( usually three or four but no more than five). With this limit in mind I have produced twenty-five foot casualty markers and five horse casualty markers per paint scheme ( shown below in their storage box).

Completed casualty markers in their storage box

Completed casualty markers in their storage box

I may someday decide that I need numbers greater than this but given the space I have available for set-up I think it unlikely. I think I can do a battle the size of Benburb but to do The Boyne or even Dunbar I will probably have to concentrate on one portion of the Battle at a time.

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