Saturday, 13 September 2014

French Napoleonic Genie

Inspired by Westphalia Miniatures production of the French Genie wagon and members, I quickly painted up four of the six available poses (the other two await to work with the Perry pontooniers?)

uniform note: I have repainted the facings in black with red piping and have added white cuirass belts.

It is mounted on my regular sized stand and so could be used as an combat element. For a contested river crossings perhaps?

Here is the link to their website: Westphalia Miniatures

and the posing inspiration from the picture in their gallery:gallery photo

Sunday, 7 September 2014

a Napoleonic board game

David B. came over with his elderly board game Napoleon for a play,  a block style game by Avalon Hill from 1977!  
The rules are fairly simple, a good thing not bad, which often serves to give a better game as one can concentrate on strategy than on looking through the rules each turn.

Based on the 100 Days/Waterloo campaign, the idea is to eliminate over half the respective armies blocks (these based roughly on a half corps each or so with artillery and cavalry elements)

Movement is a simple point to point move with some restriction in the number of block which can be moved all at once. Simple but effective.

As it turns out, the campaign played in about two hours or so, had some exciting moments as both our dice rolling was quite poor and sixes hard to come by.  I hate when sixes are required as inevitably I roll ones.  Perhaps I need more wrist action to get them to turn over?

A neat little campaign idea is to have the Allies lose a whole unit should Ghent fall (one from the Allies), Liege (from the Prussians) or Brussels (one from each!).  This simple mechanic, has the Allies looking to protect these three cities and the French to take them, all the while knowing that the destruction of armies is still the main task.
I have been looking for a simple map system and campaign focus for my miniatures collection as I want to run a campaign to generate tabletop battles and for player focus on the larger campaigning purpose.  How many tabletop battles have you been in, in which the player unknowingly has found himself outnumbered 3 to 1 and under a flank attack?  And he cannot complain as, well, he put himself there!  Good stuff indeed!
Allies (British, Hanoverians, Nassau and Dutch-Belgians - did I miss anyone?) in red, Prussians in green, French in blue.
For the game, I as Napoleon, made my main thrust against Ghent.  After one of the 'opening battles' had some of my French 'retreat' into that unoccupied city.    These initial battles had us practice the 'battle section' of the rules which handle all the engagements under a wholly different dicing system with the player moving around elements from one of three zones, right and left flanks and center and needing basically 6's to hit - sometimes 5 and 6's - but quite the dice game which I have noted we both sucked at.  Averages be damned.  Once a flank is eliminated your army is "in rout" and further hit upon.  Strength, as in most warfare, is the key and in what turn about to the ultimate battle I came close, initially outnumbering the Allies but David had a large Prussian force nearby to keep feeding in reserves.  Sound familiar?  I had a strong artillery contingent so I sat back a continued to bombard to only some effect finally throwing in a very strong element ( the Imperial Guard ? ) in a bid to overwhelm his centre before he took out my flank.  Again sounds like Waterloo?  I had no reserves to put into the fray. "Where are those men!!" However after some exceptionally large amount of 1s, David finally blew away my flank to have my army go into rout.
The "battle board"  This is one of the 'opening' battles which are small and over quickly.  Personally I still like the pomp and colour and eye-candy of the tabletop action!
Yes, that battle went badly but the campaign was not quite over as I still held Ghent.  This meant that David was forced to remove an Allied block which immediately put that army over 50% losses.  Wellington was forced to leave the campaign for home.  No train station named for his great victory I guess.  However, just as Napoleon was writing a victory speech for the people of Paris, the remaining Prussians, themselves close to defeat, followed up on the French remnants of the great battle of Sottegen to finally gain ultimate victory.  Napoleon was overheard as he rushed back to Paris, "It was a near run thing"

Thanks for Dave in coming over, and leaving this game with me to study as use as my guide with my 100 Days Campaign collection in the near future.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Napoleonic Italians

OK, I admit I might have a bit of a problem with priorities...
While I manage to pick up my socks off the floor and remember to take out the garbage, I quite often in my wargaming,  get diverted from what I need to paint to paint what I think would be fun to do.  While I should be doing other more important things, my new Italians were staring at me.  What is a guy to do?
The Italians 

There is a certain appeal to the wash technique to painting which I have selectively been employing. The Spartacus army  from a few years ago [ post link  ]  and currently with faces and some large portions of figure , so with the vast areas of white for the Italian infantry, and as I hate painting white,  I thought to give the style another go.
The Italian line infantry wore white open lapel tunics - they never went to the closed lapel 'Bardin' style - and with combinations of 'national colours' of green, white and red for the facings of each regiment.  There is still some confusion about which regiment wore which combination.  You will see examples of each variations in different reference books and websites.  
The figures have been gained in trades and are mostly Warlord early French with a few Victrix types, along with Perry packs in many instances, and various different heads.

I painted the gaiters, packs and shakos the usual method of heavy highlighting but the tunic, pants and caps were left in primer white and then given a wash.  I do not do the technique often enough to understand how much is too much as it dries darker than the application would suggest, so some areas are coated a bit heavily trying as I was hoping to bring out the details a bit more.  However, perhaps after a month or two of campaigning, white uniforms, not really pearly white to begin with, would be less than tabletop bright!

The units must still await flags but with the exception of the Velite Guards which did not carry any [see here for their construction link] .
Italian Royal Guard Velites

Monday, 25 August 2014

My Italian Guard in the raw

Oh heck, summer is almost over but before it ends, I do what many of the animals do; I make store for the winter.  So with this in mind I get units prepped and ready with primer so that I have lots to paint during the winter months when the painting is good but the moist air [for the primer] is not.

In looking at my order of battles, I decided I "need" the Napoleonic Italian Guard and looked through the various plastic components I have gained on trades. I had left over Victrix and a box of Warlord early French uniform, the type of which the Italians continued to wear even late in the wars (1812-1814)

From the Warlord box, I used the one single 'elite company' posed figure, these seven constituting  most of the element which will also include two Victrix types and an officer from their Imperial Guard Grenadier box.

I think both manufacturers look fine together but, of course,  the two are not completely compatible as the Warlord collars are included with the head, while the Victrix [and Perrys] are head only and the collar is part of the body.
just before the primer

So I brought out the 'Green Stuff' and made a little ball, stuck on Perry heads - the GS working as a great adhesive - and then smoothed the resulting into a collar around the necks.  I like the shape and quality of the sculpted fur of these bearskins than the Victrix or Warlord versions.

I always seem to overestimate the amount of GS needed, so I took the remaining and made a roll for one - seen on the left of the photo.  This will break up the uniformity of the same pose as will the three Victrix types.

The packs were all Warlord. For the two Victrix, who sculpt the cartridge box onto the body, this needs to be removed. No problem with plastics as one cut of the knife and a bit of easy scraping is all it takes.

Completed last night and primed this morning when the wind is calm.  Now another unit is ready for me to paint during the winter.  Another nut for the squirrel.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Basing tutorial

As many of my fellow wargamers are volunteering to do up some units for our Napoleonic games I have been asked to provide a tutorial on how I have done the basing technique of our units

I like to have a clean, and 'unified' table without what I think of jarring effect of dissimilar terrain.  This is important to the look of the figures, the look of the game and indeed the rules themselves, the type, shape and size of the base of miniatures can be as important to the game as the miniatures themselves.

The compliments which Seth and I receive for the look of our games come in no small part from the unifying effect of a universal basing style which we will stress to maintain as more of our fellow wargamers join us in collecting for these Napoleonic rules.  With that in mind, I have produced this tutorial on our simple basing technique which is easy and IMHO looks very good on the table.

Da Basing - Step by Step
Step 1 - attach 'painter's tape' found at your local Home Depot or hardware or even dollar store, which will cover an area at the rear edge of the stand.  We find 2" by 0.5" is adequate.  Although I must admit that for some units I make it a bit longer to accommodate some of the commanders very long names !

Step 2 - glue down the figures and dice frame. A 7mm d6 in black is used.  These can be found at:

Step 3 - once that glue is dry (!) smear on the Elmer's "Walnut" wood putty.  See photo captions for more details. Do note that it can dry within 5 minutes or sooner depending on thickness applied so perhaps do two at a time, going back to first once the second one is 'smeared' to touch it with the dappling brush to give more of a look of dirt .

Step 4 - detach tape and paint exposed areas with brown paint.

Step 5 - if not previous done  [ I find it cleaner to to this step initially ] paint or repaint the edge of the base with black paint.

Step 6 - glue on flocking.  Inevitably there will be parts missed or don't look that earthy; perhaps you still may see some "wave" action from the application of the putty.  No fear.  Simply cover those areas with the Woodland Scenics "Blended Turf" flocking.  I tend to cover most of the edges of the base and quite a bit all over but do to your satisfaction.  Additional representation of small bushes and vegetation can be done but for the most part these steps will produce basing that will match all the other fellows and produce an excellent look to the game.

The tools of the trade.  Note the size of the base for all infantry and cavalry is 12 cm x 6 cm [ 4 3/4" by 2 3/8" )  The wood - MDF or plywood - is 1/4" thick.   Painter's tape, several old stiff brushes along with coffee stir sticks or any such tool to apply the wood putty which is a paste.
the "earth " we use.  no need to paint , easy to apply.  Also very easy to clean with water, non-toxic - but I wouldn't eat it  - and have never found an irritant (??) and can be cut easily once dry if necessary.  Water will dilute so try to keep it from moist brushes.
the green 'painters tape' is placed at the rear of the base and is usually 2 inches by 1/2". The dice frame is place at the rear right corner. { most people are right handed and so this is the easiest place to reach to change the dice facing }
the initial smear of the wood putty ( my newly painted British Light Dragoons )
our grass, man   No. Not THAT type!  
the stiff brush in action
the idea is too roughen up it a bit to give the putty an earthy ground effect and to obscure any 'wave action' created in the application of the putty.
The putty cover.  You will notice the lack of putty and smooth effect under the horse of it's base.  This will be covered by flocking later.
You may notice that a bit is missing and other imperfections. These can be simply covered by glued flocking later.
Any thin areas dry quickly however these are usually on the outside edge which I mostly cover anyway as to blend into the mat surface covered in the same material.
Hmm, I tried removing the tape before the putty had dried and it came off well.  Still should wait until the putty fully dries before painting the exposed areas of wood.  The area is kept 'clean' so to allow easy attachment of our "Command Labels" These are pieces of green card on which the particular General's name in historical command of this brigade and which can be changed for each battle or scenario.  The labels are attached by 'Blu-Tak' or similar low adhesive gum.
While in the past I have used a home mixed versions of the colour of the wood putty, I have found this paint in my local hobby store. It is called "Shield Brown" #09161
Previously done French cuirassier with and without a Command Label

Well that is it, I guess.  Yup, that easy.
Hope this helps.