25/02/2024 - Edição 525

Cultura e Entretenimento

The Great Paraguayan War in miniature

Publicado em 17/07/2021 12:00 - Victor Barone


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Perry Miniatures is one of the leading companies dedicated to building historic miniature lines. The brothers Alan and Michael Perry have already explored classic historical periods for the wargamer scene, such as the American Civil War, Napoleonic, Franco-Prussian War, American War of Independence, World War II, English Civil War, various medieval periods and others.

In June of last year, Alan Perry surprised the wargamer scene with an unexpected range, focusing on the War of the Triple Alliance, the largest armed conflict in South America, which brought the Brazilian Empire, Argentina and Uruguay into conflict against Paraguay in a fratricidal war that lasted six years (1864-70) and that practically decimated the Paraguayan male population. The release was unexpected for several reasons, including the lack of knowledge of the European and North American wargamer scene regarding this important conflict.

The new Perry’s range was also the starting point for the development of ‘Borders of Blood’, the first war game rules system developed in Brazil and published outside the country. Authored by Brazilian wargamer Victor Barone, the system is specifically dedicated to the Paraguayan War and can be purchased, in English, on the Caliver Books website, and in Portuguese (in digital format), on Wargame Vault.

In this interview, Alan Perry explains how he became interested in the range, how the research for the development took place, and what is coming.

At what point did the Triple Alliance War pique your interest?

I was aware of the war when Terry Hooker brought out his book for Foundry Publications in 2008, but at the time the period hadn’t grabbed me. Years later, I came across a few pictures by the soldier-artist of the war, Candido Lopez. This really sparked my interest, there’s so much detail and information in the paintings, just perfect when you want to recreate the terrain and armies on the tabletop. So I ordered a book of his paintings shortly after.

How was the research process for the creation of the Triple Alliance line? What were the main sources for understanding the characteristics of the conflict, having access to equipment, weapons and uniforms?

Well, the main sources were Terry Hooker’s book ‘The Paraguayan War’, Candido’s paintings and luckily a glut of books from Gabriele Esposito ‘War of the Triple Alliance’ published by Winged Hussar and a few Osprey’s on the subject from the same author. I’m reading Thomas L. Whigham’s ‘The Road to Armageddon’, University of Calgary Press, at the moment. This is his second tome on the war which covers the background and details of the campaign from 1866-70 and is great read. His first is the ‘The Paraguayan War: Causes and Early Conduct’. The artillery side of research; i.e. what they were actually using has been a bit difficult to pin down, but now I’m getting there. Photographs of troops in the field are essential to get the right look; there are some out there, but not nearly as many as the American Civil War. I’m always searching for more info.

How is the acceptance by the European and North American public?

I think it’s been quite a surprise to most European and North American gamers. It has a different look to most other theaters that are normally gamed, so it’s quite exotic. Although it’s going down pretty well, it will never be a big seller, but it is steady.

Was it a risk to invest in this line?

No, not at all. We normally make ranges that we want armies of ourselves, if customers buy them that’s an added bonus.

There are many parts from the Triple Alliance range that can be used with ACW as well. Do you intend to continue exploring this feature?

I wouldn’t say there were ‘many’ parts from the Triple Alliance range that can be used with ACW. The regular Infantry of the Triple Alliance armies do look similar to their ACW counterparts, but on closer inspection their equipment and cut of uniforms are usually slightly ‘out’. The Brazilian fixed/garrison troops and volunteers are a little closer to ACW infantry as are some Argentine volunteers, some of which can be created with ACW figures, particularly converted from ACW plastic sets. So I’m not exploring how the TA range can be used for ACW, it’s really the other way around. Apart from converting a few ACW plastics into Brazilian and Argentine units for my own army, I’m just making the TA’s in the uniforms and equipment they should have and if it crosses over, all the good.

The history of South America is still unknown to most Europeans and North Americans. As a consequence, the wargamer scene reflects this fact. There are few rule systems and miniature lines dedicated to warfare on the continent. Do you consider that this could change from now on?

Yes, South America is really not a ‘big’ wargaming period in Europe (or I imagine in the US) apart from Aztecs, Maya and Conquistadors and even then quite niche. Wargaming 19th century Warfare in South America in Europe, as far as I’m aware, is nearly non-existent. I don’t know if this range will change anything, I hope so. There are certainly a few more wargamers who are now aware of the war. There are a lot of gamers I’ve talked to who had never heard of it.

Did the line pique the interest of the small South American wargamer community?

It’s hard to say, I don’t really keep tabs on orders going out. I have noticed quite a few positive responses on Facebook from South America when I’ve put up new releases, so I think there’s been a small reaction. Unfortunately we don’t actually send orders to Brazil anymore as they always went missing; they never arrived with a customer, so we had to stop sending them, we were just losing money. We had to do this around the time the range was coming out unfortunately!

Perry Miniatures did a wonderful job with the Triple Alliance line. Today, any wargamer interested in the period has a very extensive list of options to start a collection. However, there are many iconic troops that can be represented in the collection, such as the Zouaves Battalions of Bahia and Pernambuco (made up exclusively of black soldiers), the indigenous Guaicuru cavalry, the 40th Paraguayan Battalion, formed by the economic elite of Asunción, the Garibaldi Battalion (who worked first with the Uruguayans and then with the Brazilians), the elite Paraguayan cavalry, Paraguayan battalions mostly armed with bladed weapons (spears, swords and daggers), which became quite numerous after 1869, among others. Do you intend to represent these troops in the future?

Yes, some of these are underway. We both normally start ranges with the nucleus of what gamers need to be able to start playing, so the more special units come in later. I’ve finished the Bahia Zouaves and they’re in the casting queue. I haven’t come across the Pernambuco battalion; you’ll have to send some pics! The Garibaldi Battalion could actually be represented by ACW confederates in shirts and kepis, but I may make some anyway. I’ve just started some dismounted Paraguayan cavalry armed with spear, sword and occasional pistol who, I believe, were used in fair numbers in defense as well as attack. The Guaicuru cavalry look interesting, so they’d be nice to make.

Another interesting issue is the participation of adolescents and the elderly in Paraguayan battalions, especially at the end of the war. Although controversial, it is an important historical fact in the conflict. Do you intend to represent these troops?

Well, it did happen, so I’ll probably need to make them. I too, used to think this was towards the end of the war, but according to Whigham the first drafts of teenagers and old men arrived at the front in December 1865.

Regarding historical commanders such as Caxias and Osório (Brazilian), Dias, Caballero and Solano Lopes (Paraguayans), Mitre and Flores (Argentina and Uruguay), do you intend to represent them?

Yes, I’ll make all the main commanders. The packs I’ve done already are really generic mounted officers.

What news are about to be presented to Triple Alliance fans? Could you give us a preview?

Well, next up are Brazilian volunteers of Patria, Brazilians marching in full pack, more artillery and the Bahia Zouaves.

Is there any chance of having a Triple Alliance plastic line?

No. Some ACW plastics sets, as mentioned above, can be converted to cover some troop types.

The launch of its Triple Alliance line was a huge boost to Caliver Books’ publication of Borders of Blood book. Did you ever test the Triple Alliance line at play with any system of rules? Which? Want to test Borders of Blood?

I think the range came out before the book. I haven’t played a game yet, but that will change soon, as I now have enough for a decent sized game and have nearly finished terrain for it. Over the last two years designing the range I’ve been itching to try out the Black Powder rules on them. We’ve used these rules for years and they’re easily tweak-able, so the first battles will be with them. However we’ll certainly try Borders of Blood too and see how it goes!


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