Thursday, 27 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 16

An old school Osprey hardback compilation volume - I do not have a copy but I do remember it as being a very handy single volume reference.

I had a very productive night yesterday in that I was able to finish cleaning up the unit of French Cuirassiers, trimmed the bases of the Horse Grenadiers and then managed to rebase ALL of the French cavalry - some 64 models. I have eight units each of eight figures and consisting of the following:

Horse Grenadiers of the Guard
Dutch Lancers of the Guard
Polish Lancers of the Guard
Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard - not sure about these as they look very much line Chasseur elite company types - more research is needed here methinks
Line Dragoons
Cuirassiers x 2 units

The plan for this evening will be to base the additional allied odd figures I now have and also to remove the now four day old soaked figures from their original bases. Once that is done I can move the based portion of the collection into the man cave - it will give me some elbow room - so that my lounge painting station can be readied for phase two - painting and varnishing.

I am certainly making good progress!

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 15

Taken from the Historex website - Horse Grenadiers of the Guard

The final piece of the Del Prado puzzle for phase one of my Napoleonic project is drawing to a close. With the arrival of the goodies from Bob Cordery and a few selected eBay purchases - the final of which should be with me in a day or so - the armies are now looking in fine fettle. For sure I have the final unit of French Cuirassiers to tidy up - smoothing off the bases prior to rebasing - and a small basing adjustment to make for the French Horse Grenadiers of the Guard but overall things are in great shape. The bases of the French Horse Grenadiers of the Guard are over two inches in length and so need some careful trimming back to fit on their new version. It is a pet hate of mine seeing figure bases overhanging the basing material used so it is a niggle I need to attend to. I adjusted one of the eight figures I have and have worked out the most efficient way to do the remainder - it is not difficult but one has to be careful so I do not want to rush it. I have 64 French cavalry in total together with 32 British, 24 Prussian and 8 Dutch Belgian.

The final order I am waiting on is for guns and crews in the shape of 2 French foot, 2 British Foot and 2 Prussian guns, each of these has a crew of 3 figures. The artillery park consists of 4 French Foot and a Guard Horse gun, 3 British Foot and 2 Horse artillery and 4 Prussians guns. That is 16 guns in total. I shall be adding to this in that I want a battery of French Guard Foot artillery and 2 batteries of French line horse artillery. I will also need to think about the allies and their artillery requirements.

I want to get the pure Del Prado figure elements fully up to table usage stage before I embark on a Tradition order as I have more than enough to be going on with and the extra models are mainly for completeness sake.

The last two nights have seen me organising figures rather than actually working on them - it was a necessary part of the process - but this evening will see me resuming the task in hand. The first order of business will be to tidy up the last French Cuirassier unit and then to tackle the overlong bases of the French Guard cavalry. Along with these two tasks I will also be removing the thoroughly soaked bases from some of the figures I received from Bob. Bob uses 3mm thick MDF for his Del Prado collection whereas mine are 2mm.

You would not think that a single millimetre could make that much difference to the removal process but it really does!

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

The Mighty Box of Conan....

"Hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jewelled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."

I have always had a soft spot for fantasy stories and those involving Conan the Cimmerian have featured high on the list. I suppose tapping in to one's inner barbarian against the backdrop of the (largely) civilised lives we lead is a welcome antidote to the rule of law and order! In any event I have always enjoyed reading his adventures and the usually overblown style they are written in (they were classic 'pulp fiction' in any event) - probably because I enjoy this as much as the content itself!

After all, there are probably only so many times one can use the expression 'mighty thews' when describing a muscle bound and loin cloth wearing barbarian cleaving an enemy from head to sternum with a two handed sword....

When the miniatures game you see above first came out I was interested in it for sure but it was more than I really wanted to spend at the time despite being crammed with some 74 models produced in various grades of plastic/polythene (and very nice they are as well). To cut a long story short and as the result of some of my legendary wheeling and dealing I am now in possession of the above for a whole lot less than when it first came out.

This is fantasy combat skirmish game with some quite lovely models that will be a lot of fun to mess around with. In fact, I am even looking forward to painting them - which is something I NEVER thought I would say!

In all seriousness the acquisition of this game ticks a number of boxes. It is for the most part self contained and with a lot of replay value. There are a number of expansions available - some of which look like they would be well worth taking a serious look at - so it is not a game that would grow stale over time. Also I have a number of alternative rule sets that would work well for this background. The base game contains more then enough material to be getting on with so as an occasional entertainment this will be money well spent (at least I hope so!).

Ordinarily this kind of acquisition would be a major distraction for me but front and centre at present remains the whole Del Prado project so aside from skimming the rules and re reading the Conan Chronicles for the umpteenth time it will be business as usual.

The strategic game - Conan wanders about the map and is used by whoever has his services at the time. It is more about kingdoms battling for supremacy and has been described as a toned down version of The War of the Ring

It will be fun though and I am seriously looking at the strategic level game -The Age of Conan - to provide a backdrop to the skirmish level version.

Almost inevitably I will revisit the Schwarzenegger films and so with that will leave you with Conan's words on the ultimate meaning of life.

"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women."

A bit like wargaming really....

Monday, 24 February 2020

An almost Perfect Weekend

A brace of Cavaliers. Not the wargames show for sure - I took no pictures on the day -  but they look good in any event. Many years ago I used to own a tricoloured (the one on the right) Cavalier called, with startling originality, Rupert - and they are great dogs to have around.

The weekend just gone has been really good. In fact it was almost perfect except for one small faux pas that I will save until last.

Saturday morning was spent conducting the usual weekly shop whilst the afternoon was spent with me loading the car for the visit to the Cavalier wargames show in Tonbridge on Sunday. Two large boxes of books, four crates of unpainted figures and a pile of other bits and pieces filled most of the Honda Civic but with all the extra ballast on board I fairly confident that the forthcoming high winds would not be an issue!

In the evening the family headed out for a belated celebratory dinner for my wife's recent birthday (and also our wedding anniversary). As this was the weekend our grandson was with us it was the perfect opportunity to head out and so we visited our favourite local Turkish restaurant. The food was, as always, excellent but since they doubled the size of the venue it has lost some of its personality. It was also very noisy which was a shame. The general consensus was that in future we would probably confine ourselves to eating there outside of the weekend or via their excellent takeaway option. It was great fun though and as mentioned, the food was outstanding - Turkish cuisine is my favourite if I am honest, surpassing even Indian.

Sunday was of course the day of the show itself. For me it is the first show of the year and it is always one I enjoy. I set off bright and early although the drive down was dismal with overcast skies and wind propelled drizzle all the way - there was also the small matter of the main road - the A21 - being closed in the vicinity of where one would usually turn off for Tonbridge. This meant an impromptu tour of the nearby town of Hildenborough which was actually rather pleasant. I arrived safely though at around 8am.

I was quite fortunate in that I bumped into Colonel Bill in the car park which was very handy as the four crates of figures were heading in his direction! These represent the remainder of Eric's unpainted 18th kit which he is sorting through for me.

It was then on to Dave Lanchester and his second hand book emporium - in exchange for helping him and his wife Lynne set up his stall it means that I can get in early. We also had some business to transact and so I am now the proud owner of copies the Blandford Peninsula War and 1812 titles in hardback as well as George Nafziger's monumental work on the Russian campaign of 1812. I could easily have spent a small fortune with Dave and his stall is always worth a look.

Members of the bloggeratti were present in the shape of Bob Cordery (more of which later), three of Postie's Rejects - Lee, Ray and Postie himself - Lee Gramson (again, more of which later) and also Henry Hyde. With the exception of Lee Gramson I had some lively and thought provoking discussions and apologies to any other bloggers that may have been present that I missed!

Bob and I indulged in our usual exchange of bits and pieces and so I am now the grateful owner of a large number of Del Prado figures - mainly command types but with some very useful infantry and guns - as well as some 15mm WW2 kit which is being put to one side for the present whilst the Napoleonics are being worked on. There were also some 1815 related titles which is always a good thing in my opinion!

We spoke about things many and varied - Bob is always good value for gaming related advice and support - and following on from his blog post about the Portable Colonial Wargame it is one that I am really eager to see in due course.

On the subject of books due to arrive Henry Hyde mentioned that his forthcoming book on Wargames Campaigns is moving towards the final stages prior to publication which is really good news and it is certainly one that will be on my 'to get' list in due course!

I had a brief tour of the show which seemed to be busier than usual and also with a few 'no shows' in respect of the traders. If I am honest I was more concerned about making sure that all the various bits and pieces I had were delivered than looking around but it was great fun in any event.

The only downside for me was that I completely managed to mess up meeting with Lee Gramson - basically we didn't - for the first time after his move back from foreign climes. I will have to stick my hand in the air and say it was entirely my fault as I had not nailed down the arrangements nearly well enough. After several tours of the venue, some attempted messenger calls, a brief and intermittent exchange of  emails (probably not the most reliable method as my phone signal was rubbish) and evening a shout out over the PA system I was forced to abandon the attempt and head home at 12:30.

Note to self - failing to plan is planning to fail....

All in all it was a great way to spend a Sunday morning and the injection of figures for the Del Prado project was really welcome. All of the French figures are now off of their original bases so I can now start cleaning up the undersides prior to getting the glue out. There are a few figures from Bob that need soaking off  their bases and so they went straight 'in the drink' last night. As mentioned most of the figures are command types - mainly musicians and standard bearers but with a smattering of officers, some rank and file and gunners. Not to mention a pair of French guns as well. All good stuff and with the eBay bits that are arriving this week I am in pretty good shape overall.

Friday, 21 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 14

Now there is a rather imaginative use of Del Prado Waterloo figures and the board from the old Waddington's board game: Battle of the Little Big Horn!

The first phase of the great Del Prado renovation is drawing to a close. I currently have 8 figure units of French Dragoons, Carabiniers and Cuirassiers soaking off their bases and have a single 8 figure unit of Cuirassiers left, which will be going into soak this evening. My order for more 25mm bases from Warbases is on its way so by the end of next week everything will be ready on its new base for painting.

A selection of French line and light infantry figures. The musket and right arm are separate and occasionally require fixing back in place. Of the figures in my collection I have had two such repair jobs which is pretty good going in my opinion.

I made rather a schoolboy error in that I had lumped all what I thought were French line infantry into a single pile whilst bemoaning the fact that I did not have Young Guard infantry. I should have looked more closely as sure enough, there were some 17 Young Guard figures lurking amongst their comrades of the line.... I only became aware of this when prompted to check the model number on the underside of the base against the catalogue.

Due to this discovery I am now a little light on French line infantry rank and file figures but fortunately I do have plenty of command figures to bulk out the units. I am most certainly not short of French light infantry though.

Aside from some trading of figures I am doing with Bob Cordery I have also raided eBay for some bits and pieces. These are a little dearer than I would like but needs must and all that. Fortunately I have not needed to get that many.

It is the Cavalier show at Tonbridge on Sunday which I shall be attending and am looking forward to enormously. Aside from it being the first show of the season (at least for me anyway) it is a great opportunity for me to catch up with friends old and new, to indulge in some post new year retail therapy and most importantly of all - to hand over and/or receive items for use in one's projects. Also, for the first time since I cannot remember when I shall be looking at buying some paints....

Whatever next?

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Completing the Circle

Waterloo - All in One taken from the Command and Colours website which is an invaluable resource for all things Command and Colours related as well as having a myriad of scenarios

In many ways this has an air of inevitability. It is the culmination of over 45 years of wargaming experience, of armies collected, painted and discarded; of rules used and filed away never to be seen again and of wistful flights of 'what if?' It represents everything I got into wargaming for in the first place. It is a small rain swept and muddy field in Belgium in June 1815. It is Waterloo.

OK, dramatic introduction over with - I am going to use the Del Prado collection to fight the battle of Waterloo at some point this year. I shall be trying the armies and rules out on a much smaller action to begin with but a refight of Waterloo based on the above scenario is the ultimate aim.

Ambitious? Absolutely.
Mad? Probably.
Achievable? YES!

There is a basic scenario for the battle during the 11am to 3pm phase contained within the base game but I am looking at the fuller version that is available on the Command and Colours: Napoleonics website. This covers the whole day and includes the arrival of the Prussians.

There are a number of things that need to happen before I get to this stage. First and foremost the figures need to be completed which is currently in hand. I need to work on the terrain to go with the new mat - this is more generic than strictly Waterloo based - and is also in hand. Finally, there is the small matter of the rules I will be using as currently these exist as a series of scribbled notes and loose ideas.

For sentimental reasons it would be nice to fight this on June 18th but for practical reasons this will not be happening - it falls on a Thursday for one thing - so the plan is to look to do this at some point during the summer months.

The Reason Why

You would probably need to go back to the early 1970s to know why I am doing this and in truth it is very much a personal thing. I cut my wargaming teeth on Airfix Napoleonics back in the early 1970s and so tackling the battle using painted 25mm metal figures was an aspiration then as it is now. The Del Prado collection has given me the wherewithal to realise this and whilst the battle itself was the end of a historical era for me it heralds something of a Napoleonic renaissance as I plan to explore the latter years of the period in more detail - 1812 until 1815.

I have mentioned previously that I will own representative forces for the Anglo-Dutch, Prussians and French once the current refurbishment work is complete. I have the beginnings of a Russian army which would not take too much work to get to fighting trim which leaves our old friends the Austrians. In effect I would be raising one and a half armies from scratch. With the armies coming in at slightly larger than Portable Wargame size even I would not have too much trouble raising the appropriate forces. The great thing is that the Del Prado collection features figures painted in a simple flat colour style that would be easy enough to replicate which in turn means that my own efforts will not look too out of place.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 13

Highlanders preparing to defend a ridge - note David Chandler’s book The Hundred Days in the background

The joy of hex

The great soak off continues and so last night saw me removing the Old Guard and the line infantry figures from their bases. Currently the Light infantry are in soak and will be replaced this evening by the gun crews and mounted staff before tackling the cavalry - they should be done in three batches worth. This means that all being well by the close of play Sunday everything will be on its new base and ready for painting.

In the meantime I have acquired a selection of hexagons (20 in fact) cut from 18mm thick MDF sized at 100mm across the flat sides which I shall be using for hills. The plan is to paint the sides and roughly a 3 or 4mm perimeter on the top edge in my usual base green colour (Humbrol Satin 131) and I will then apply a sticky label - I have a pack of A4 labels that are perfect for this - with a copy of the gaming mat base colour printed on it. The print can be 'fixed' with a suitable spray so will be protected from wear and tear.

I plan to get some MDF 3mm thick hexes for use as terrain tiles - roads, rivers and similar - and for reasons that will become obvious in due course I need to manufacture a sandpit type tile....