Sunday, 30 December 2012

More French additions

It is horrible how the Holiday season can interrupt routines.  But nevertheless it can allow for some good quality painting time so I have created a few additions to my now completely insane Napoleonics project.  As usual it has expanded beyond my originally sizable limits to now doing the whole Hundred Days campaign, albeit at a 1 element to 2,000 infantrymen ratio.  Still nuts though.

Some of the units so far are noted below. 
Perry metal French Imperial Guard 2nd (Red) Lanciers
Some of the cavalry will be in metal, some in plastic depending upon availability for the most part.  And while the Perrys do create the required types, I will mix and match parts and do much modelling to create what I can in plastic for mainly the weight issue.
Perry French Line Horse Artillery
Most of the artillery will be, by necessity metal as only Victrix with their British Artillery box set, has created any in plastic.  The Perrys are good, well posed with each figure 'playing' its part.  For example the gun-layer of the above set of French Line Horse Artillery is so matched to the gun model that for gluing down the figure, the gun model did not require any glue to fully secure it to the base!

The infantry are again plastics and are in marching pose for the most part which is fine with me.  Most will be this way as can be seen in the above photo of the over-coated French masses.  The Perry versions are the unit to the right, while the two following units are Essex.  These I picked up from a sale very inexpensively but some of which were from the Revolutionary era; so it was off with their heads to be replaced with spare Perry heads.  They are a tad smaller than the more modern sculpts but this is not noticeable from above and so added another four elements to the French.

While most are in march pose, the Victrix Guard boxes had a couple of poses which were not 'moving' and so were destined to be in the 'firing line'.   With these I created two elements of the Young Guard Tirailleurs.
This first one I added a spare limber (Prussian) to add some space and drama to the vignette (and I was a couple guys short!).
While I would love to take credit and say I conceived of the action and glued the arms, made adjustments and sculpted them; I merely grabbed arms out of the trays and glued them on to the torso in almost random fashion.  Only after painting did I then take the time to position each according to what they appeared to be doing.  For example the figure in the middle behind the limber appears to be adjusting the firing lock on his musket (or some such).  Have no idea what the original arm positions were intended but I only made sure a right arm was on a right side of the body. Funny how the positions kinda make sense in context.

This is especially evident in the next photo of the second element as the you can almost hear the dialog of the middle two front figures.
"Mon deu, why does the musket not fire?!"
"I think your firing spring is broken.
"That thing there"

Trust me, while painting them I was wondering how the pointing guy was ever going to look good individually but together with that other mal-aligned pose, they seem to pull it off.
Mind you marching poses are way quicker to glue together and quicker to paint!  They better be...I have boxes of the buggers to do......

Friday, 7 December 2012

"Square" Markers

OK, here is one of those stories, dare I say typical (?) of the wargamer and his hobby.

For the new Napoleonics project,  units are on solid, one piece bases.  But Napoleonics are all about the 'square' formation, is it not?
Before this era, the SYW or AWI for example, do we have units going into square to beat off cavalry?  Nope.
After? in the Franco-Prussian War say. No again.

Even if the stand represents many individual units (the stand ratio 1 : 1,000 to 2,000 men). Tactics would suggest the square as a tactical option be available to the player. Rather than painting up an extra 100 or so miniatures for elements to be placed in pretty square shaped vignettes ( as nice as that would look!) is the need to have a marker to give the visual reminder to all the players that the unit may indeed get a modifier or some such.

Sooo, I need a marker.  And not some lame cardboard chit or colored fluff ball. Yuck.   With that in the back of my mind, I looked around the local dollar store and discovered blocks of wood.  Squares for, ahh, squares!

While quite large for the table at 5/8" or 15mm a side, I sought to minimize their obtrusive effect by painting them black and terrain the top side.  The effect can be make from the photo, whether it has been achieved.  Hopefully visible and yet not.

My French Marine Artillery formation 'in square' against Perry plastic French Cuirassiers.  (Obviously an internal dispute about the brandy rations or some such!)

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Soldiering on

Reading the narratives of Napoleonic campaigns, one is struck by the endurance of the soldiers.  Sleeping what can only be a fitful sleep on soddened ground with only a dirty coat as warmth, with little or no food in the belly, only to woken before dawn to march another long march burdened by musket, pack and equipment.  Then to be thrown into a maelstrom of cannon and fire and slashing swords; of immediate death and panic, only to survive to see the horribly wounded and dying.  Yet to march off again wet and tired to fight the next day and go through the horror once again.
As I muse these thoughts to my wife early this Wednesday workday morning, her only comment:
"So it's like 9 to 5...."

Friday, 30 November 2012

French Line in overcoats

My latest painting are these Perry plastics.  I finding it amusing that in doing Napoleonics I choose the overcoat types over the regulation dress (the boys in the bright plumes and such).  In fact all the Perry 'Bardin' poses are still on the sprues!

Contrary to the brightly attired attraction of the Napoleonics in full dress uniforms I seem to be drawn to the covered-in-mud campaigns of 1814 France and the Hundred Days -  conducted in the rain for the most part.

Perhaps as we get older the attraction of fashionable but perhaps uncomfortable, or at least showy duds, leads to more practical clothing. Nothing more practical in the Napoleonic age than a greatcoat and waterproofed shako or forage cap. So much of my early units are thus...making the painting much easier by the way!

However one crack in this theory came as I had completed the painting and had terrained the units and viewing them on the table.  "What a dull lot" I thought.  Then I observed that I had forgotten to paint the pompoms on the shakos!  Hmm, well the orange, purple and bright blues should add a bit, what. 
Certainly did.  With that splash of color I am back on the true Napoleonics train.....

Perry metal General with accompanying Victrix infantryman

Monday, 26 November 2012

French Naval Artillery Regiments

This unique Napoleonic unit(s) fought during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns when after destroying his Grande Armee in Russia, Napoleon looked to various sources of manpower.  The naval ships, blockaded in harbors, proved to be a surprisingly good source of quality troops in this regard. While often incorrectly titled as 'Marines',  these Naval Artillery units could be considered elite, or at least, very reliable and conducted themselves well in an infantry role.

While there is some debate about the uniform and color of the belts, I went with the "classic" dark blue artillery overcoat, white belts and red shoulder fringes.  The distinctive carrot-shaped pompon of these units, I made, adding a bit of 'green stuff' to the existing round pompon on the shako.  I got them sort of the same size and my heavy coats of paint hides many imperfections.

The small d6 die is placed within a divot in the terrain and used to indicate any change in the unit's morale/hits.  The blank space in the rear will be used to easily attach the unit's commander's name for game purposes.

I'll add a photo of my Imperial Guard.  One can understand the Prussian reports from the fight for Mockern during the Battle of Leipzig (1813) mistakingly having fought with elements of the French Guard rather than these fine units.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Lacoste AND Runchney's Colored Units

Having picked up Old Glory's pack of "Men of Color" (Why? Umm. Let's not get into the psychology of that at this time...) I obviously needed to create one of the few units of all coloreds from this war.  Lacoste's battalion fought in the New Orleans campaign (see my previous post ).  For this I used the 'better-dressed' poses from the Old Glory pack   [the others with smocks, I will use as Daquin's smaller unit of the same campaign.

Here is my finished version:

However, a lesser known unit which fought against the American invasion of Upper Canada in 1812 was 'Rauchney's Colored Corps' which contested Queenston Heights.   History: ( link)

Here is my finish version:

The astute viewer will note of course that it is indeed the same unit with a different officer which I can substitute either with the blue coated officer and placing of an American flag or a red coated officer and the Union Jack.

The officers are placed on pennies with a sabot set up:

The placing on the pennies turned out to be more elaborate than I had anticipated as the Old Glory based were so thick and when placed on the pennies put them as giants with the rank and file.  Thus I removed the bases and placed them in 'green stuff' to create the ground work.  However much faster than painting up another unit, eh.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

an SYW "Battle of Bunker Hill"

Another Monday Night game at Francis'.   He wanted another Shako game so I said I would come up with the scenario.  The usual for those boys is 15mm Napoleonics but I wanted to see if Shako would handle my SYW basing and a tough scenario of Bunker Hill!
This battle of the American War of Independence/ Revolutionary War (take your choice), has been on my 'bucket list' of scenarios to play.  SYW troops?  Yeah, close enough.....

The Brunswickers (i.e. the Americans)  were given 10 units in total, 4 as a division in the redoubt on the hill along with a stationary artillery piece (facing the wrong way it turned out), three units forming a division along the fence with one of its units in reserve off table. The reserve was to only come on if a double is thrown with 2d6.  This was to portray the reluctance of many of the militia men to join the defenders through the artillery rounds tossed by the British ships in the harbor.  Of course, Francis "Mr. Dice King" (that is the polite version - he was called other rather more impolite names at the table) rolled the necessary double on his first try and on they came.

To portray the snipers in Charles Town, I gave the Brunswickers/Americans a skirmish unit within the town.  The British historically fired upon the town, starting blazes which forced them out.  I gave the Hessians and Hanoverians which comprised the historical British forces 6 rounds of off-board artillery which was used could have used thus, or to damage the Brunswick/American off-table reserves, but they choose to cannonade the redoubt and roll a darn 6 EACH time for three consecutive turns!  Lost a unit with that.
The Brunswicker officers happy with the troops deployment the moments before the cannonballs start raining down on them.

Kev's Hessians, which made up the first wave of the "British" landings with half of the 12 regular and elite units , massed to move around the backside of the hill/redoubt.  His lone skirmish unit fired upon Francis' skirmish unit and rolled a 6 destroying its target. At the same time Francis (pulling another 6 out of his arse) did likewise!
  Well, we don't have to go through that phase of the turn chart anymore.

Francis moved his units from the fence line, got a few turns moves toward Dave's side of the board when Dave finally rolled the required double and 'landed', moving his 6 units of red-coated Hanoverians (also playing as British) in a great line.  Francis stated: "I wouldn't have moved up if I thought he would have THAT much".  Personally, I was happy as a scenario designer.  Players shouldn't know all.  I didn't tell him what would oppose us (and he actually didn't ask either).

Well, as Kev moved around the hill and my musket fire into his units as they filed past proved totally ineffective  ( lots of sixes were being rolled by every one...except me of course!) Dave directly assaulted the redoubt. One of my militia quality units gainly threw back a couple of assaults but could not hold forever and with divisional morale now demoralized, no reserves, and Kev directly in the rear, the units were lost (surrendered). 

My Brunswick troops happy to be in the redoubt
a look at my Brunswickers under Francis' control (standing in as Stark's command in the actual Bunker Hill battle)
The Hessians advance

Dave's Red-coats (Hanoverians) in the great line. One of Francis' Brunswick units already moving back!
German artillery.  'Beer. Never fire without it.' (yes, yes, the model is not correct for the era)
The assault up the hill. The redoubt was taken after a few more turns.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

a Monday Night Game - 'Shako' 15mm

Went to Francis' Monday Night gaming session for a 'Shako' affair as he readies himself with practice on the rules.  The White Rock boys are having the big Borodino game in a week or so and they think he is a dice god (he does seem to roll extremely well at times!) so he has a lot of pressure to do well.  It would seem he is tasked with commanding the Grand Armee heavy cavalry - the ones who historically assaulted and took the redoubts - and so is expected to recreate this feat.
Personally I think it is good tactics and knowing how the rules work and his intelligence that is the true key to his tabletop success.  But perhaps when he can actually verbally dictate which dice numbers he or his opponent should get (!) or his ability to get 6s at the best times earns him comments like "Francis, you are a f***ing c**t!"  ,that he is best known.

I haven't played 'Shako' for quite some time, but I seemed to remember most of the key points during the game.  While Francis would play GM and set up the simple scenario;   "Doug, see this chit? Yes, this one on the far side of the table and behind all this large Russian army?  That is your objective and victory condition."
  I commanded my Polish army while Dave set up the Russians; the almost as large as my army, Russians. Well, who said war was fair.  Dave as defender set up first and with very good scouting (apparently!) I knew his exact deployment (other than where his Cossacks would appear and when).  He stretched out his army thinly along the whole line of the table so I ignored one flank, used one command to go up the middle and the other infantry force with my light horse lancers to overwhelm his left flank and so hoping to collapse his line.  It would have worked but time ran out and with one less unit eliminated and still holding the 'chit', Dave claimed victory.

my 15mm Poles advance
the middle units are in white uniforms as the Polish 13th Infantry Regt.  Ex- Austrian attire apparently.
"The General's eye view"

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Battle of Sans Ile (fictional solo game) War of 1812

Battle of Sans Ile  (fictional solo game) War of 1812.  November 7, 1812

"God-d*mnit General, I want a diversion for the main landing across the St. Lawrence and I want it here!!", screamed the  Commander, his finger pointing at a small dot named "Landing de Merde" . 
"But sir..." , the General managed to get out before the Commander cut him off.
"But nothing, General!" , the commander's red face from anger and drink irrupted.
"Yes, sir" the General stated while saluting and then walked out into the miserable weather.  Too few boats, he thought and pilots and experienced crews.  I could never hope to get enough regiments across before the British hit us. Perhaps they will be caught off guard. But not likely. Lots of bluster and dreams but little preparation by this commander. 

Thus, the scenario has the Americans coming piecemeal on a small landing on the north bank of the St. Lawrence.  I began the battle with the advance guard of US Riflemen already landed.
The US Rifles and my dismounted General telling them not to go "that way!" The General is a conversion I made.  See: post

 Each subsequent regiment would land on the turn when 2d6 turned up doubles. (this was the case for the British reinforcements also).  Originally facing the Americans were pickets of the Voltigeurs, a French-Canadien light infantry unit,  guarding the east road and two small units of Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia coming across the west bridge.
my Lower Canadian Sedentary Militia, by employing French and Indian War Quebec militia in capots.  Very similar.  I placed in British officers to make them more "1812-ish"
The officers of these units, unused to command in the field, fretted about.
(I rolled a 1 for 'Orders' and for disruption. If a 1 was rolled for the random movement, this added to the disruption. Going THAT slow must be for SOME disrupting reason!  This poor rolling was to affect many units in this battle. Veteran units will be less affected, poor units more unlikely to recover.)

The American Rifles continued their probe up the west road when finally arriving at the fence line to face the militia while under ineffective artillery battery deployed in a rare opening through the heavy vegetation of the slough.  The militiamen's will then collapsed, in part it was said because one of the officers were leading them to the cemetery(!) (and my dice rolls!) and both routed back across the bridge.  But as they crossed the first of the British regiments, the 89th Foot, arrived pushing the militia out of the way. Right behind, was the de Meuron Foot (a 'Swiss' unit of the British army) coming with veteran efficiency and they quickly formed to right and left of the bridge putting the Rifles in crossfire.
The British 'de Meuron' Regiment of Foot on the bridge. Did the unit just for the colorful flag! This formation was involved in the 1814 Plattsburg campaign.

The US 16th Infantry.  It wore black tunics for much of the war.  I wanted to paint it in lieu of doing Napoleonic era Brunswickers!
Meanwhile the 16th US managed to land and move tentatively up the road to support the Rifles.   The regimental records have the colonel ordering the advance. However the officers and sergeants with proper intent to redress instead, caused some confusion and the unit retired slightly to the rear.  [ I 'ordered' the unit to advance but then noticed the forgotten 2 disorder points  which had the effect, with a poor roll {again!}, to have the unit back up according to my "Order Chart".  It would have been better in the circumstances to have the unit redress the ranks and eliminate some of the disorder points. While this 'history' is contrived, it does give the solo game fun to justify the dice!]

British artillery

By this time, the US 28th Regiment had landed but was quite disorganized by its move toward the action and taking hits from effective long range artillery fire and thus finally routing back to the landing. 

While the US 16th together with the Rifles were making a valiant stand, more British reinforcements made their way to the battlefield, as the 104th Foot arrived (this veteran unit never made a shot in anger as it continued to try to force the American flank, advancing all the while in march column without the opportunity to come to grips!) 

Behind the US 16th, the panic stricken mass of the US 28th finally reached the landing area only to come under fire from the Voltigeurs skirmishers.   Into this, the US 17th Regiment arrived on shore, moving passed those soldiers looking for a way on board the boats.  Frightened soldiers grabbed at oars and waded into the deep strong water of the river to gain space in the returning boats. Confusion reigned and the US 17th, a newly-trained unit was much disorganized by all this.  However disorganized they gainfully charged the skirmishers who retired in haste losing half their number back to the north bridge and were done as an effective unit this day.
The US 17th advance upon the Voltigeurs in the background as the US 28th mill about in confusion.  The 'cannonballs' marker show the disorder points
The 17th did not pursue the Voltigeurs but moved west to support the main force.  But this main force was already in trouble. With three full British veteran regiments in the field, the Americans were outgunned and the line started to collapse with the US 16th and Rifles falling back under steady musket fire. (the British artillery, now masked, was slowly repositioning)

The 89th perhaps angered or wanting to be gone from the cemetery, then made a large sweep forward overwhelming the 16th in close combat and having that unit, together with the General accompanying it, surrender en mass.  Continuing the charge, the 89th Foot then collided with the line of Riflemen who had just briefly rallied but who also joined the mad rush of Americans to the dubious safety of the landing. 

The 89th Foot in the cemetery I built for the historic Lundy's Lane battle
The aggressive 89th Foot, as a veteran unit, shrugged off any disorder and continued its advance smashing into the US 17th which also fell apart.  Thus all the American units had collapsed.   And with all hope of meaningful reinforcements or a way home abandoned, the wholesale surrender began.  

Against only under 100 casualties, the Americans suffered some 200 casualties with over 1000 captured including the American General.
As the General was graciously given a horse and led away, he remembered the tirade by the commander who interrupted him off before he could say. "But sir,... .....that is an island.  If the British block the bridges, as surely they will, we will have no where to go, no way to retreat.  Our force can only come piecemeal, and only by luck cross the river, as you have all the boats.  Yes, sir, we must win to get off the island, but if the British outnumber us in strength, what then?"
But he knew, the commander would not have tolerated such talk anyway. With different luck, different throws of the disorder, the whole affair would be much affected.  That is the fog of war and the story of the wargame.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Battle of Waxhaws Project?

OK, time to look introspectively into the mind of a crazed wargamer.

Through some trades, I acquired a few Perry American War of Independence figures. Very nice mind you, but I did not like the style should they be combined with my existing Front Rank collection. So they sat in a box.

But today, I got window shopping on the Perry site looking for more Napoleonics to buy, (yes, yes, like the diabetic loitering in front of a candy shop...) when I again took notice of the AWI section.  So I ran down to the Perry box to see exactly what I had.  Not many really -- 24 Southern militia, 14 British in roundabouts, 2 artillery pieces and some limber pieces.
However, it gave me idea of the potential order of battles as I used a trip to the washroom to exam the Greg Novak order of battle book of the AWI Southern Campaigns, to see what little obscure engagement I could model this collection towards. Novak offers no battle descriptions but does have an OB for the smallest of skirmishes.

I did not want to make this project very big.  Heaven knows, I have those!  No, this was to be small 'fun' deal and has no need to expand, so I require a small numbers battle, to limit any thought of expansion. (this is the alcoholic saying to himself to only finish off the small bottle and not start on the 40 ouncer).
Well, low and behold, I find the Battle of Waxhaws.  I run to Wikipedia. Yeah, yeah, not the most accurate but gives me an idea of the type of battle and I also found a good site on AWI battles (link: AWI battles) to try to confirm the battle details and the numbers. While these do vary, I will use 360 Virginians (my militia types) and 2 6pdr cannon (I have just those!) vs. 100 Legion infantry (my roundabout types) plus 60 British 17th Dragoons and 90 British Legion dragoons.  Well I don't have the cavalry but heck, the Perrys make some nice ones and even with the 17th in 'southern dress'!  A quick calculations suggests a 1:10 ratio could work. Only 7 or 8 packs should complete both sides.  Not that much he takes another swig..... 

While the battle was very one sided and even termed a "massacre", it could well have gone differently perhaps and that is the field for the wargame. In itself, the 'campaign' is self contained and small, which is what I am looking for.  Heck, the battle has some emotional historic kick as it gave ol' Tarleton his bad boy reputation as "Ban the Butcher"

I think I may go for this.  What is yet another project, eh?  But, as with my recently completed Spartacus Roman collection [ see:my blog entry  ], the Perry sculpts and the uniform colors just scream for the wash painting technique and so I will wait until next summer to complete. 

Banastre Tarleton himself

Monday, 29 October 2012

French elements based

I finally did a quick (ahem) basing of those French elements I have painted for the Battle of Hanau (1813) for Seth's scenario to be played at Enfilade 2013. 
The rules will  be a DBx version with step-down "morale" rather than recoils as an attrition factor. 

I present the first photo

Now, did the small [7mm] black dice jump out of the photo? Hopefully not.

 As we only need a 6 max to 1 min spread in the attrition, d6 will do nicely. While the marking of the attrition originally took some different methods, using a d6 seemed the most elegant. Originally we thought to use different colored dice in 'national' colors (French in blue, Austrians in white, etc.) but I finally settled on black in order to make them as obscure as possible yet visible enough when needed for the game.  Hopefully the eye is not drawn to them in a too bold a manner.

The infantry elements themselves are 12cm by 6cm which Seth settled upon and cut using thick MDF hardboard.  Artillery 12 x 12cm.  Good to pick up these largish bases without hopefully harming the predominately plastic figures. 
Perry metal 28mm about to fire.  While the one model on the element may make it seem empty, one should image the land area necessary to contain all the wagons, cassions, and necessary spacing required for the Napoleonic artillery battery.  

At the Battle of Hanau, the Old Guard artillery was massed and blew holes in the unfortunate Austro-Bavarian infantry.  The Old Guard infantry then attacked and swept them away. Yes this is the historic battle in which you can legitimately use the Old Guard we have all painted up!

To command the lot, are the Generals elements.  I have made the commander's name (in this case the Guard's Drouot) as separate cards in a matching green color to the basing flock which is to be temporary stuck on the commanding element and those of all the elements it commands.
The point, of course, that the name on the label can be changed to suit different battles or scenarios and use the same miniatures.

The use of the label will make the game management smoother as each player can quickly identify his troops.  Any Napoleonics buff worth the moniker should readily identify at least a heavy cavalry unit from a light.  I will have the unit's ID on the bottom of each base should that be necessary or interesting to know ;-)

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Lyon's Mill

While trying to get in a couple of extra pics in before the camera battery died on me, I quickly took this snap of my "Lyon's Mill" This scratched build structure was built a few years ago while visiting over the holidays to the mother-in-law.

Knowing that a) I would be outnumbered by the females some 7 to 1, b) we would be doing nothing but eat, talk or watch television for the most part, and c) I would be bored silly; I brought over the wooden coffee stir sticks, glue, scissors and card etc., to create this for the tabletop.

I managed not to upset too many sensibilities with the women and gained a nice ornament for the wargame table. 

Friday, 19 October 2012

Wooden fortifications

While within the Napoleonic era, the War of 1812 was a separate entity with its unique character.  One of these was the use of fortifications which could be constructed much more rapidly and easily than in Europe due to the vast natural wood supply.  By cutting down the trees to create a open fire zone, the troops would use the tree trunks and thicker branches to create a bullet proof wall;  the smaller branches, an abattis in front to slow up any attack, such as the Americans besieged at Fort Erie in 1814 did enlarging their defensive area.

Spending a warm summer evening outside rather than watching stupid television or some such nonsense, I took some straight sticks I picked up during a walk in the local woods (a benefit of the region in which I live) and snipped them into appropriate lengths then sharpening one end with a knife to create that "axed down" look.  I then applied a hardening clay to a piece of flat board and using additional glue, placed the sharpened sticks next to one another.  The effect is supposed to be that of a quick trench dug, the trunks placed vertically within and the displaced dirt packed in supporting the created wood wall.

Any militia unit worth their salt could create such a rampart in short order!

In case you are curious, these figures are 28mm Old Glory in all their 'delightful' posed beauty (cough) depicting the "Voltigeurs" a well-trained French-Canadian light infantry unit

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Latest War of 1812 units

Finally finished the basing of my latest three units for the War of 1812
These are on 40mm square wood bases and have varying number of figures on each depending upon troop type.  The three units in this blog have for the Upper Canadian militia 3 to a stand, being, well, militia; the Glengarry Fencibles also 3 to a stand due to being light infantry with the ability to act open or formed; and the 2nd West India Regiment 4 to a stand as a regular foot formation. For those truly skirmishing units, 2 figures to a base are employed.  The organization is a visual representation of their quality/qualifications.

The Glengarries in open formation.  Regarded well-trained and disciplined unit of Canadians who fought with distinction. Wore a 'rifle' uniform despite using muskets.  The officer with the highlander over-the-shoulder sash as it began as heavy recruited from ex-Scots.
The Upper Canadian militia in green tunics (with officers in proper scarlet) and the blue trousers common to the militia.  (apologies to Mark, I have yet to get the flags ready)
The 2nd West India Regiment.  These 'black' units were used, not surprisingly, primarily in the Caribbean but were brought along for the New Orleans campaign and, for the 2nd, for raids along the Carolinas coast.  (no flags (the 'colors') yet as I have yet to find good information on these)
  I am rather forced to splash on the highlights on these Old Glory sculpts as they tend to have haphazard indents representing folds of clothing. And I do not spend much time on such subtleties. :-)   However the sculpts do seem to portray the correct racial facial features upon which I applied my usual color scheme, however poor or good that may seem.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Spartacus and the Romans

This week seems to be the time when all these summer projects have all been finished seemingly all at once. One of these has been my 28mm DBA based Spartacus Servile War armies.

A little background first.  I have played DBA for sometime now but only once a year at the Enfilade convention held in Washington State.  No one up here plays it but I fell in love with the concept of the game. This being having all but 12 elements in a army, a maximum of 48 figures, but much often less, to paint yet with all the research and history to study which I enjoy.  The game rules themselves?  Well, it is quite arguably quite "dicey" and well, the dice often fail me.  I roll ones a lot.  Club champion at one time.  And while I did place 3rd in the Open Tourney one year - still befuddles me how THAT happened - I don't fare all that well in the tournaments.   Probably because I only play it once a year and never look at the rules?  Maybe.

Anyway, I have some armies in the preferred 15mm, with some more to paint, but my eyes are needing reading glasses to paint with, and all that detail I do paint on the 15's are lost when they are all far down on the tabletop.  So I have been concentrating on 28mm.  One of the boxes of lead sitting patiently in storage has been my 'Spartacus' armies.  These are the Romans and the slaves in revolt led by Spartacus.  I have always had an interest in the Romans and had fitfully collected some in a rather haphazard way through inexpensive purchases at bring and buys (ooh, a big bag for only....!) or by trades.  [as an aside, I consider traded figures to be free.  If that I have, I am willing to part with, then it has no value to me even if I had paid well for it years before when I thought it WAS important! ]  I usually asked of the trader, "So what do you have to trade."  If the answer was, "I got some Republican Romans" I said to add them to the mix.  The local store had one lone bag of Gauls on a good deal, so they were added. As were some old Gladiators.   So basically this force of almost 100 figures was gathered with no particular purpose in mind.  But the Gladiators were the spark as was flipping through an old wargame magazine on an article about the revolt. 

So I went into the box to sort out what I had.  Hmm, lots of Romans but some could be slaves with captured armor, yes?  But only these number of this type of scutum (shield) so those have to be for these guys.  OK, lets make the few gladiators as Spartacus's command.  Impetus rules are good.  Yes Doug, but you only have these numbers.  Well, if I add these Gauls to the warbands, I could get 12 elements a side. OK then DBA it is.  Good. Now organized.
...Then I put the box away for a long time.

With the thought of all that plain clothes and flesh on the ancients which frankly do not really fit my painting style, I did not have the interest to complete these. However the interest in the Dip method of painting and the use of Minwax and other inks and stains in painting of miniatures had me thinking this was the way to go.  A big departure in my usual method.  Dean's painting displays (see his blog at: WAB Corner ) was great encouragement. 

So I decided on several things for this collection.  I will get it prepped (knifing flash, gluing spears, primering) in the summer all of this outside in the sun. I think I may have a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder and so just love the sun and high temperatures (and I live not in the climatic zone for it!) The primering in white to facilitate the type of painting; in contrast to my usual black primer.  I will conduct all the painting outside in the summer sun and so not on my nice high painting table with all the good light in the dark basement but on folding tables and chairs in the bright glaring sunshine.  This will mean inaccuracy in the painting, which I hope will be corrected in the staining stage but for which I was not overly concerned.  All this and I will want to be quick.  Really quick. Really really fast.  Heck I have a lot of other stuff to do!

Jumping ahead somewhat I tallied the number of hours I spent divided by the number of total figures and came to slightly over 5 minutes per. Wow, that's fast, even for me. At first that did seem to be a very short time, but big brushes, very few colors to be honest and ignoring all blotches did allow for speed.  I like the stain technique for this reason. It does seem to cover many faults!  Although I am of two minds about the overall effect.  The 5 minutes does not account for the terraining which frankly seems to take longer than the painting!!

Initially I tried Minwax but immediately did not like the effect or color even if it was the well used 'Tutor Stain'  Therefore I used the "magic wash" style using Future Floor wax and some inks thrown in.  I do not have the formula as I just kept adding amounts from a very old bottle of Winsor and Newton brown ink I had together another old bottle of GW to create the kinda red-brown mix.  Being a rookie at this technique I was not subtle about the application (remember, speed was the motivation) nor of the amounts and so lots of pooling can be found on many of the figures especially in folds and bottom of the shields.  I hit them with a spray of Dullcote but the shininess is still strong; a sort of semi-gloss but not a bad look; and I decided to leave it as is.

This whole exercise has been  interesting for me.  Is the cost of the armies important?  No, not really but it is fun to think of them as really cheap. Is the painting and its accuracy important?  Yes, I still found myself going "oh man THAT splotch is really bad...." but oh well, carry on.  Do I like the painting?  Well, yeah I think so.  But, let's revisit that one after I get it back out of the box in a year or so!

So with that long introduction here are some of the pictures of the armies
Starting with the Romans. 
Yes, yes there are no shield patterns. My rational is two fold. 1) all of the designs during this period are pure speculation.   2) Historically the Romans had to muster recruit armies quickly. Would they waste time on such details. 3) Do I want to? PS: I don't do decals.
Roman command.  As with this collection I really don't know or remember the manufacturers of the miniatures.  28mm however.
Some of the shields had imperfections, I just exaggerated them to give a 'battle damage' effect
 The wash technique seems to cover-up many of the wanderings of my paint brush. Not all, but many on first glance. So don't stare too closely.
My philosophy for painting horses? If it's brown, it's a horse!
This shot is interesting for the effect the wash on the boots.  My painting was a very quick splash of light brown to the foot area.  The wash then allows all the details to pop-out.  Let's see: number of colors used? Dark Red tunic[1], flesh[2],dark brown back of shield[3], brown pila& boots[4], gunmental shield rim and pila point [5], light brown hilt[6] bronze helmet, belt and scabbard [7].  Seven total colors and not worrying about edging or even coverage. Yup, 5 minutes is not unreasonable I guess.

And the Slave army. Do note that this version must be mid to late revolt as many of the ex-slaves have full Roman armor taken from the many dead legionaries by their previous victories over other Roman armies. Even the shields. Thus red for both sides.  To make a quick distinction, Romans in red tunics, slaves in pale.

in DBA 5 elements are warband, 5 blade (4 in captured Roman armor and for me Spartacus' blade General in, probably, unhistorical Gladiator armor.
the small group of gladiator miniatures which seem to start this whole collection!
showing the wide variety of miniatures I used to create the slave warbands
This is a good picture of the wash effect.  The middle warrior is a rather simple (but well sculpted) figure which I gave minimal colors.  The wash, albeit way too heavy, nicely enhances the sculpting. The shield to the left shows the wash pooling on the bottom. I must pay attention to that next time I use this technique. The shield in the middle shows a rather nice mud-spattered effect. Didn't do that on purpose; probably when painting the bases.  Oh well.