Friday 28 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 17

Assorted allies with the (hidden) Prussians currently occupying the shoebox on the left. There are Brunswickers, Dutch-Belgians and a selection of British on show.

The great unbasing of the figures from the Del Prado collection is complete. The final figures - which came from Bob Cordery as part of our recent exchange - came out of soak last night (after 4 days!) and their 3mm thick bases were carefully removed. The bases peeled away, onion-like, with the average being 3 slices a base. There were no casualties!

Completed the night previously - some of the French cavalry, in this case two regiments of Cuirassiers and the Dragoons with a selection of mounted commanders and a solitary Old Guard drummer.

After having done this I set to with the super glue and based some assorted allied figures, a sample of which you see above. There were also a dozen or Prussians that are now residing in a dedicated shoebox as their temporary accommodation until something more permanent is organised.

This evening and indeed probably the rest of the weekend, will be devoted to the French Infantry and artillery. The plan is to have the whole lot based by the close of play Sunday and if the additional artillery I have ordered arrives in time that will be processed as well.

The next phase will be painting and varnishing the bases.

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....

Monday 17 February 2020

Thoughts on Rules....Part 2


Pondering great things and in mess dress as well....How very civilised.

You get the idea....

I am pretty sure that most, if not all, wargamers have their own ideas of how battles of a particular period are fought. They will have read up on the period - usually in general and more specific detail - and will have in their mind's eye an impression of what it would have been like. Occasionally there may be a suitable film or TV show that helps to reinforce the impression (for good or ill!) so, at the risk or repeating myself, one has a good idea of how things should look when being translated to the table top.

I am also pretty sure that most wargamers are inveterate tinkerers. How many of us have taken a perfectly usable set of wargame rules and added our own set of 'house rules' or amendments? I reckon quite a few of us have done this at some point in our gaming career - I know that I have.

So where is this heading then? I am keen to put my own stamp on the rules I want to use for the Napoleonic and ACW collections and whilst there is nothing wrong with my default options - the Portable Napoleonic Wargame/Command and Colours: Napoleonic/Charles Wesencraft's Wargames book - I have some ideas of my won that I want to try out.

The rules I have in mind are very much a fusion of several sets - no real surprise there methinks - but it makes sense to outline the foundations.

1. The rules will be hex based and designed with a playing area of 13 x 9 hexes in mind.
2. Units will be 2 to 5 bases strong - and a base can contain a variable number of figures.
3. Where possible unit formations will be depicted - this will include detachments for skirmish screens etc
4. Combat - both fire and close - will be resolved using 1 dice per base.
5. Units will be ordered based on the scenario/army rating - typically 4 to 6.

The above are fairly obvious points but number 2 is an interesting one. Originally I was looking at one figure = one block which is certainly viable for larger actions. However, at a lower level I plan to make up units of bases of figures as this will look better. Typically a four base unit would have two figures on each base for eight figures in total. With this approach in mind you can see the advantage of using figures based individually rather than in multiples.

I need to order in a number of movement trays from our friends at Warbases to achieve this effect and my experiments using card cut to size looks really promising. Using a 4" hex in conjunction with 25/30mm figures means that realistically the largest ground are occupied translates as 4" by 4" which means 8 cavalry figures (4 x 2" x 2" bases) or alternatively a 5 base infantry unit deployed as 4" x 2" and a single 2" x 1" base. In other words this fits in perfectly with the unit sizes I want - either the single figure = single block or single base = single block.

It is early days with this idea at present but it certainly looks feasible and so is something I want to pursue. For now though, the priority is getting the figures ready.

Sunday 16 February 2020

The Man Cave and some Mysterious Figures

I am feeling pretty good at the moment as not only has my health improved considerably but it has been a good week on the domestic front as well as being productive on the gaming front.

The ‘book’ side of the man cave

The gaming table (5ft by 3ft) and the modelling table under the window

One of my jobs for this week was to tidy the man cave so I thought I would share a couple of pictures of how it now looks. The biggest change has been moving the table back to its original position and I have been able to get all the remaining boxes of Eric’s collection under it. This is an immense breakthrough for me as the whole area was really beginning to get me down.

Two Highlanders and three cavalrymen - an officer and two troopers

Whilst tidying the boxes of Eric’s stuff I came across the figures you see below. They are obviously Colonial types and I am thinking that maybe they are Jacklex. They are rather nice in an old school way and I would certainly enjoy using them.

I have to say that finally getting around to sorting out the man cave was enormously satisfying - even getting the vacuum cleaner out and cleaning the Velux windows was a pleasure - and the area is now well placed for the forthcoming gaming frenzy I am planning.

Bring it on!

Saturday 15 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 12

British Infantry (the red box file was purely coincidental!) with Prussians in support. The 25mm circular bases have taken a hammering so a new order will be on its way for some reinforcements. The empty container will be full of Frenchmen tomorrow.

Considering I have just had a week and a day off work you would be forgiven for thinking that I am fully relaxed and refreshed and ready to once again gird my loins to reenter the rat race....

Not exactly!

It has been an veritable whirlwind of activity (nothing to do with Ciara and Dennis mind) on the domestic front with a pair of significant birthdays, two trips away, a wedding anniversary, parcel packing, two shopping expeditions and the assault on the man cave.

Despite all this I have made some fantastic progress with the Del Prado collection. All the Allies - Prussian and Anglo-Dutch - are now off their old multiple bases and on their new individual ones. That is some 70 mounted and roughly 250 foot. I am very pleased with this effort and so tomorrow will see me starting on the French with the first batch going into soak.

I reckon I have lost around 3 or 4 figures to irreparable damage sustained whilst removing them from their original bases which is pretty good in my opinion.

I have a few packs of figures acquired from eBay en route and I have also arranged a trade for some surplus figures from the collection of Bob Cordery that I shall be acquiring later in the month. I am really pleased to have gotten this done and although there is still a lot of work to do I am looking forward to the next phase which will see me getting the paint brushes out.

Thursday 13 February 2020

Thoughts on Rules

The three sets of rules that will be the foundation for my Napoleonic (and ACW) adventures although I have a few ideas of my own that I will throw into the mix.

I have been rolling a few ideas around about rule options to go with the Del Prado collection and whilst I have more or less settled on the Portable Napoleonic Wargame and Command and Colours Napoleonic (minus the command cards though) there is naturally scope for plenty of other things.

A number of year ago - this would be the late 1980s - I purchased a number of packs of RAFM iron on hex transfers with a 3 1/2” grid. These were in support of a set of rules I came across that were hex based (very avant garde for the late 1980s!) for the Napoleonic period. I cannot remember what the rules were called or even if the were produced by RAFM - as near as I can recall I picked them up from a Wargames show - but the one thing that stuck with me was the scale. A single figure equalled 125 men so a 500 man unit was represented by 4 figures.

I can remember being hugely inspired by this concept and in many ways it has stayed with me - that and the article by Charles Wesencraft on Napoleonic battles using a single figures to represent a battalion. These made a long lasting impression on me and have influenced my thinking to this day.

My own spin on the period will incorporate ideas from a number of sources and I am fortunate that even if the end result does not work out as envisaged I will still have the above sets to use. My thoughts in a little more detail will appear in due course but for now it is back to the basing.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Turkish Delight

Hot from the press are the following pictures of part of Eric Knowles Ottoman Turkish Army. Bill reckons that all told there is around 6 to 8 x 32 litre crates full....

He has also discovered a further box full of painted Seven Years War Prussians - no pictures yet - which I will post when I have them.

Note that these pictures are not in any order and I would expect to be sorting the figures out once they are in my hands. I have not added any captions - just take a look and enjoy!

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 11

Prussian cavalry (Hussars and Dragoons) and a few gunners on their bases and ready to be refurbished. Seeing them like this has convinced me that my basing decision was the right one.

Phew! A four hour drive home yesterday followed by the inevitable post-weekend domestic round and I still managed to get all the Prussian cavalry on bases as well as resuming the clean up of the remaining British infantry. Being up close and personal with the Prussian Cavalry has raised or rather confirmed the minor issue of some basic renovations.

Some of the figures have a few chips and dinks in the paintwork so I have come up with the following plan.

Once the figures are on their bases (which are useful to hold on to whilst painting) I will carry out the required touching up - for the most part it seems to be swords, bayonets and shakos with the occasional horse leg - before tackling the bases and varnishing. I am going with matt for the bases and gloss for the figures.

I have one more batch of figures to soak off their bases after those currently in the ‘tank’ and this will then mean that all the allies - Anglo-Dutch and Prussian - are close to being ready for the next stage. I shall get every figure on its respective base before the brushes come out - which in reality means that the actual painting part of the project will not start until next month as I want to have the entire collection prepared before phase 2 commences, In the meantime though, work will continue with the French army next on the list for its soaking.

Monday 10 February 2020

Back from the Birthplace of the Bard

The birthplace of William Shakespeare 

We have just gotten back from a weekend in Stratford upon Avon for a 70th birthday party - and great fun it was as well. We did not get to explore very much of the town due to the travelling about we have been doing ‘on party business’ but it is certainly a place I want to go back to again at some point for a proper look around. We did get to see the birthplace of the immortal bard - somewhat spoiled by the the fact that the street it is located in is currently having new pavements laid meaning that safety barriers and holes in the ground are everywhere.

The Garrick Inn 

We did manage though to have a very nice meal in the Garrick Inn which is not only the oldest pub in Stratford (dating back to 1400 or so) but is also haunted. Apparently the cellars were rumoured to have been used to bury plague victims!

It was a pleasant break, albeit a busy one and I am now off work for the rest of the week. There is the small matter of our wedding anniversary and SWMBO’s birthday on Thursday but I have Wednesday earmarked for a major assault on the man cave. I have a few items to post so some packing will be in order and I have also placed the next batch of figures in soak. My order from Warbases arrived so I plan to get busy with the glue over the next few days.

Thursday 6 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 10

One of Blandford's finest - I now need to get the 1812 and the Peninsula versions!

I have racked what passes for my brain over the whole basing issue and have come to a decision. In truth it is probably the only decision I could make given the circumstances surrounding the collection and the availability of original figures for it. I am going to go with individual bases rather than multiples.

There are a number of factors that have clinched this for me. To begin with, as much as like the idea of multiple figure bases these are only worthwhile in my opinion if you have a number of figures deployed thusly. Placing two infantrymen on a base and calling it a multiple is stretching things a little. Three infantry are the minimum I would consider for a base but a two base unit of 6 figures does not sit well for me – if you are using units that are that small then why not just base then individually and have done with it? This would seem to be at variance with the set up that Bob Cordery has but his collection has a far better mix of figures than mine so he is able to configure his units with identical or complimentarily posed figures far more readily than I can. It looks very effective under these circumstances.

If I were starting a collection from scratch and with a full range of figure poses to choose from then I would use Bob’s basing for certain. Indeed, I plan to get some movement trays organised to fit up to 4 foot figures or 2 mounted which will serve admirably for the Portable Napoleonic Wargame or for when I go ‘off the grid’.

Using individual bases will mean that I can utilise far more of the collection than ordinarily as I will not be constrained by the making up of bases of similarly posed figures. Obviously I will do this as far as possible but it means that I will have the flexibility to chop and change unit compositions as and when I need to. This is only an issue with the infantry as the cavalry are far more uniform in respect of poses.

The appropriate bases have been ordered so I will be able to get the figures based up and ready to finish off with my preferred shade of green (Humbrol Satin 131) green and plenty of gloss varnish.

Whilst I was pondering the thorny question of basing I have been spending a lot of time revisiting the Waterloo section of my library. I am embarrassed to say that it is a shadow of its former glory as I disposed of a number of books whilst having one of my periodic reorganisations. One casualty was a copy of the Blandford book: Uniforms of Waterloo by Philip Haythornthwaite. I am happy to say this has now been rectified and so the uniform section at least for my Waterloo library is complete as it now resides alongside my copy of Ugo Pericoli’s work and the two volumes of Funcken. I appreciate that these books are quite old but they have a sentimental value for me above and beyond any apparent inaccuracies. My armies will look close enough to their historical counterparts – as long as one does not look too closely that is!

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Thoughts on a Basing Dilemma

Basing styles. The left hand figures (on the green bases, available from Essex Miniatures) have a 40mm frontage and a 20mm depth for  infantry and 40mm for cavalry. The figures on the right (based on MDF) have a 2” frontage and a 1” depth in the case of the infantry, 2” for the cavalry. The three infantry figures and two cavalry are the Portable Napoleonic Wargame standard

Strictly speaking this post should be number 10 in the 'Planning a Napoleonic Adventure' sequence but instead I opted to write this as an accompaniment to the ongoing series. 

I am going through another of my bouts of indecision and so are having second and third thoughts about the most effective way to tackle the basing of my Del Prado collection.

Originally my plain was to replicate the style I used for the ACW collection which used the convention of 1” circular bases for foot figures, 1” by 2” pill shaped bases for mounted figures and artillery pieces were left unbased. In effect this would be using a single figure to represent a Command and Colours block.

I then leaned towards using a system based on that employed by Bob Cordery’s Portable Napoleonic Wargame which uses 2” by 1” bases for infantry with 3 figures and gun crew in 2s and 2” square bases with two cavalry figures or an artillery piece. Rifle armed infantry use a 1”.

My dilemma is simply whether or not I should be fitting the collection to the basing or the basing to the collection.

Given the variety of figures that are present in the collection it would appear that basing figures individually wold maximise the numbers I could use. This would be straight ‘1 block, 1 figure’ exchange which would certainly make translating Command and Colours scenarios onto the tabletop very straightforward.

I have hit a small snag going down the Portable Napoleonic Wargame route as, taking the figure mix I have available there are going to be a number of unusable figures due to unit sizes, in effect leftovers. I am not keen on mixing different poses of figures in the same rank especially when it is a single rather than deeper.

Another option that has appealed to me is to use a two figures base for infantry and cavalry and to use a '1 base, 1 block' system. This has a number of advantages. A standard 4 base infantry unit can be deployed in two ranks meaning that mixed figures can be given a purpose. For example the front rank kneeling firing and the rear rank standing. It also means that I can incorporate command figures, standard bearers, musicians etc. It means that I can maximise the variety of figures I can use from the collection and better still, as most of the cavalry are organised in multiples of 8 figures, all the units will have more of a tabletop presence.

The disadvantage of this method is connected to the base sizes themselves. The 2" x 1" base for infantry with 8 figures spread across 4 bases occupies an area of 4" by 2" which takes up a big chunk of a 4" Hex. the infantry also looks a little on the dispersed side. For cavalry it is even worse because a four base unit would be 4" x 4" which makes for some hex overhang - something I am keen to avoid. Using a 40mm frontage so that an infantry base is 40mm by 20mm or 80mm by 40mm when deployed in two ranks of two bases and the cavalry is 80mm by 80mm which looks a lot more compact within a hex. the 40mm frontage would appear to be the more attractive option should I decide to go down this road. Naturally it will also mean a complete reorganisation of the armies....

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

I have stepped back from my earlier decision in order to consider fully the options I have mentioned but as luck would have it I do not need to take any basing specific action just yet. The great 'unbasing' continues with both the Highanders and the Guards currently in soak and I am half way through cleaning up the Prussian cavalry so progress is definitely being made.

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 9

Brunswick troops in 1815 - I always had a soft spot for these chaps and back in the day (early 1970s) my converted Airfix Confederates gave sterling service as Avant Garde Jagers

Work on the figures continues apace and it is vital that I maintain a good head of steam as I have a number of domestic issues to attend to over the next couple of weeks. Two birthdays, a wedding anniversary, a party and a family dinner out rounded off with a visit to Cavalier at Tonbridge on 23rd February. In addition I also have some parcels to get posted out (that will be my job for tomorrow) as well having the fitting of my new glasses. All in all then, February is a busy month but Cavalier will round it off nicely.

The British heavy cavalry were taken off their bases and the first of the infantry went into soak. I also made a start of cleaning up the Prussian cavalry bases prior to painting. I have sourced some additional figures for the collection and have also arranged some trades with Bob Cordery who had some spares squirrelled away.

I had thought about painting as I went but I have decided instead to get all the figures off of their original bases first. I am fortunate that the cavalry are based on 2" squares with two figures so in some cases I could get away with merely repainting the base. It also means that the various new acquisitions will have filtered through into the collection.

I have been giving some thought to the organisation of the collection and whilst it has not in anyway been finalised I am looking along the following lines for the Anglo Dutch.

4 x Mounted generals
2 x British Guards infantry
2 x Highland infantry
6 x British line infantry
2 x Rifle infantry - 1 British and 1 KGL
1 x Light infantry - more accurately combined light companies
2 x Household cavalry
1 x British heavy cavalry
3 x British light cavalry
3 x Foot artillery
2 x Horse artillery

2 x Mounted generals - 1 Belgian and 1 Brunswick
2 x Belgian heavy cavalry
4 x Belgian infantry
1 x Belgian light infantry
2 x Brunswick infantry
1 x Brunswick light infantry - I will need to buy these as Del Prado do not have figures for them
2 x Foot artillery - 1 Belgian and 1 Brunswick

I have a substantial amount of this lot to hand and the number of figures I will need to buy in from Tradition is quite modest and at this stage limited to the Brunswick contingent.

There is one key difference in the way I am organising the above in respect of the Portable Napoleonic Wargame. I intend using light infantry units and skirmishers in addition to rifle armed specialists. My early thoughts on this are allowing an infantry unit to deploy a single figure in the hex they are occupying to indicate that a skirmish screen is present. There are a number of kneeling firing figures in the collection so this would be a good way to make use of them. Similarly there are a number standing figures reloading muskets which I could use as garrison markers - indeed Bob Cordery has whole formations of these.

I have some ideas around the rules governing the use of skirmishers and to be honest it is a component of Napoleonic warfare that I am keen to allow for in my games.

The Prussian army is far more straightforward and will need some additional troops at some point but there is sufficient to begin with.

2 x Mounted generals
3 x Dragoon regiments
2 x Hussar regiments
6 x Landwehr Infantry
4 x Foot artillery

Ideally I would like to add a couple of line infantry regiments and perhaps some Jager but other than that the force is sound enough for my immediate needs.

Logically i should be outlining the French yet but that will a post for another day.

Monday 3 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 8

Hinchliffe British Hussars - these were in the Del Prado collection but by mistake and so will be heading back to where they cane from. Lovely looking figures though!

Yesterday saw work continuing on the Del Prado Collection and so I was able to completely clean up 16 British Hussars, 9 British gunners and 5 British mounted commanders - including the Duke himself. I was also able to make the appropriate repairs to a British horse artillery gunner, a British infantryman and 2 Prussian Dragoons. All of these have also had their bases properly filed flush and cleaned up as far as possible prior to painting, varnishing and basing. Currently soaking are the remaining British cavalry being the Scots Greys and the Lifeguards.

Whilst beavering away at all this lot my thoughts went to the possibility of paint conversions and unit representations. The Del Prado range does not replicate every single unit that took part in the battle as the focus is mainly on the key players. that is fine but it does mean that there are some holes in the order of battle. Many of these can be addressed by the time old method of paint converting. Old Painter Bob had already thought of this and so the French Guard cavalry now has a unit of Polish Lancers as well as the Red Dutch version. A Prussian general has been painted black for the Brunswickers and also some Hanoverians have been pressed into service as the KGL Light Infantry that garrisoned La Haye Sainte. He also tackled a unit of Prussian Hussars in a similar way so that I now have two different regiments.

I have no problem with this at all and indeed, given the limited range of figures available within the collection it would be foolish not to consider doing something similar - and so I have.

My plans at the moment concern the British. Back in the days of my Airfix army for the period I had two regiments of Highlanders - both the 92nd and the 42nd. Well, I have sufficient figures to replicate this (bearing in mind we are only talking of 6 figures in each unit) so they will be on my 'to do' list along with another unit, possibly two, of British Hussars. I also have some plans for the British Lifeguards. A quick splash of Blue and voila - you have the Horse Guards. I also what to use the figures as the basis for some heavy dragoons. I reckon that by trimming the helmet crest and painting the entire thing black to represent an oilskin cover would pass muster (it is what I did with some Airfix French Cuirassiers  when I converted them into British Heavy Dragoons way back in the early 1970s) but sadly I am stymied by the lack of figures at present.

This could potentially be the thin end of the wedge as the last thing I want to do is to undertake wholesale repaints - if I was going to do that then why would I have acquired a ready painted collection? I want to personalise a couple of units for the sake of variety but for the most part I shall be leaving well alone other than for the odd touch up here and there.

One decision that I have taken concerns the use of other ranges of figures with the Del Prado collection. Initially I planned to only do this if I really had to - specific figures for units not available - and my go to range of choice would be Tradition as they are of a similar build. However, I am going to relax this a little as I reckon certain other figures may also fit in quite well. These will be older style figures so no Foundry, Perry, Front Rank or similar but earlier Hinchliffe would certainly be a good shout.

The two armies that will need to make use of other manufacturers figures will be the Austrian and the Russian when I get to them. I have a selection of Russian cavalry and artillery from the Relive Austerlitz range but will flshe this out with some old Hinchliffe and Tradition - which is what i did way back in the early 1970s when I started on an 1812 period Russian army!

What goes around eh?

Sunday 2 February 2020

Planning a Napoleonic Adventure....Part 7

One of the best wargaming books in my collection and what will be a cornerstone of my Napoleonic adventure.

I am feeling a whole lot better than earlier in the week and as a result have been able to catch up on a number of outstanding issues as well as formalising what I am going to do with the Del Prado collection.

All the Prussian cavalry are now off their bases and I have made a start on the British. I have a couple of minor repair jobs to attend to but plan to do this when I get to the painting and basing stage. The bases will be painted in my standard Humbrol Satin 131 - the same as for my ACW figures - and will not be flocked.

After having looked through the collection for the umpteenth time I have come to the conclusion that I have been looking at it from the wrong direction. I had all these good ideas about using the figures for all manner of games because having the figures based individually meant that there was plenty of flexibility about what I gamed and how I gamed it. This is fine in theory but realistically my focus is pitched squarely in what I would call the ‘traditional battle’ style of game. For me this is around a dozen or so units a side which is basically anything above battalion level.

I like the idea of commanding brigades, divisions and even corps so of necessity using a scalable rule set where the number of figures in a unit merely serve as an indicator of the general type works well rather than saying 1 figure equals x real troops. Bob Cordery’s book does this very well indeed so it makes sense for me to look to this as my first point of reference. Given the vagaries of the Del Prado collection and the increasing scarcity of the figures it makes sense to utilise what is available as fully as possible. Whilst my collection is considerably smaller than his the same principle applies.

With this in mind I have taken the decision to base my armies using the Portable Napoleonic Wargame as a guide rather than basing figures individually. Bob’s rules contain much to commend them but - and I am sure he will welcome this - there are a few things I will be incorporating for my own benefit and based on my own understanding of the period but his suggested basing strikes many chords with me.

This will mean 6 figure infantry units with 2 bases of 3 and 4 figure cavalry units with 2 bases of 2. Artillery will have a pair of gunners and rifle armed or dedicated skirmish infantry will be based individually. The latter deviates slightly from what Bob suggests but I want to be able to reflect the effect of skirmish infantry.

I will tinker with a number of other parts of Bob’s rules simply because I have a few ideas I want to try out but this will not be a problem.

There are rule elements from such sources as Volley and Bayonet and from the pen of Charles Wesencraft that appeal and this collection will be an ideal way to embrace these concepts whilst being anchored in the Portable Napoleonic Wargame.