Monday, 16 July 2018

Thinking about formation and table plans.

After a busy three Months in Spain during which I simply have not had the time or inclination to get down to some proper painting of model soldiers I'm just days away from  having my old painting desk set up again in our new home. It's due out here on Thursday, along with the remainder of our furniture and packed boxes. A few days ago we took delivery of flat pack bookshelves, TV unit, bedside cabinets etc from Ikea in Valencia and I have been gradually putting the stuff together, certainly not my favourite job. I am really looking forward to some quiet days spent sitting at my painting desk again next week, we are also having air conditioning fitted next week, a couple of days work, but after that things will settle down to something more like normality!

The shelves are finally up, and the first thing to go on them was my 40mm Napoleonics. It was a moment of great joy to stand back and look at them all together for the first time so of course I had to take more photos! This has led me to spending quite a bit of time thinking about how I plan to use these figures on the tabletop - and I DO plan to play wargames with them this time. Over on his 'Napoleonic Wargaming' blog Paul has made a couple of very thought provoking posts recently on the subject of formations and how they are represented on the tabletop, and he has had some interesting discussion. This subject has caused me much anguish over the years, and to be honest I have never really found the answer that suited me. This time round, and with large scale figures, I'm determined not to get too hung up on this issue, the basing style is flexible enough to play 'Sharp Practice' large skirmish style games with 8 figure companies, or indeed to follow Paul's example and deploy 4 x 16 figure infantry units, a couple of guns, an 8 figure cavalry unit plus a commander to represent an entire division, the latter looks quite impressive in 40mm and it's really just making that mental adjustment from the days of Big Battalions in Peter Gilder style, to understanding that groups of figures can represent anything I want them to be, and I don't need to feel guilty!

The photos show the figures as I arranged them on the shelves and after a bit of fiddling around with them. As you can see the bulk of the British infantry are arranged into 2 x 25 figure units, each including a mounted officer. That's another option of course, and I think they look great, but again I can deploy them anyway I wish and the 4 x 16 figure option also looks good en masse. I do of course have another 50 + figures mostly painted but unbased still in the box.

As said previously I intend to add to this collection considerably, unpainted in the bags here I currently have British Light Dragoons, French Chasseur a Cheval, Highlanders to expand the 92nd and more Royal Artillery crew ans another gun. The cavalry will be painted and deployed on the shelves in units of 8 figures. The 92nd Highlanders will need to be rebased to conform with the rest of the infantry and more figures added including flank company. On order from Andy are more infantry and command packs for both sides and British Heavy Dragoons - my favourite British cavalry of the period in bicornes.

Great characterful faces.

I really like the kilts on these.

These are the only 4 figure in full dress, but again beautifully painted examples.

No doubt inspired by 'The Gun'.
A solitary light dragoon superbly painted but not by me. He will form the 'test figure' for the rest of the unit.

Into the underbuild!
I have won the right to build a wargame table down in the underbuild as it is called here. It is a considerable space that will easily accommodate a table 5' wide and 7' long with plenty of room to move around it - I would not want a table any larger than this. As we tend to unload our shopping from the car through the space and up the stairs to the kitchen the table will need to be able to push against a wall when not in use. It's also quite cool down there, even on a day when the temps push towards 40 degrees as they did yesterday.

So all in all plans are going well,.

Far too useful to park the car in surely? The tiles are each 30cm so you can see no problem getting a decent sized table in there.

To the left is another useful space, will be converted to extra guest accomodation.

I really love it down here!


  1. Wonderful figures! And your new gaming space looks inviting. It even suggests "cool."

    Best Regards,


    1. Thank you Stokes :) I keep going down there planning what I will do, first step is to get a table built.

  2. Wonderful figures and well worth adding to. The new wargame space looks a great refuge to defend against the heat :-)

    1. Hi Norm, I'm delighted to have that space, it's like I have turned full circle from my 6mm C&C set up on the 4 x 3 hexed table to what will be a large table again. I also intend to build some armour, I have the Tank Wars German and Soviet starter boxes here, just trying to source a black spray primer in Spain! I do miss ebay and it's ability to order just about anything for the hobby.

  3. I agree there's no point feeling guilty - we all do what we think suits our taste, it's only if you want to claim your games represent a serious simulation of Napoleonic conflict that such issues really matter. And while talking about personal taste I'd go 6' wide if it'd fit especially with 40mm figures - you can always go for folding table to make them pack away neatly. I use three Ikea gate leg tables that collapse into three draw unit only about 3' x 1' (wide x deep) that are then stood around the room leaving room to swing a small kitten.

    1. Hello Rob, great to hear from you again :) I'm going to think about making the table 6 x 6 as also suggested by Paul below, your suggestion of Ikea folding tables is a good one, I'll look into that as we do have IKea in Valencia. I have a source of sheet ply wood that can be cut to size for the boards too, as well as the means to texture and colour them so that's a good start.

  4. Hi Lee

    Glad to hear that you are getting settled in. We have been checking on your blog most days to see how the move is going. Great wargames area in the under build. Glad to hear that you have got permission to use it for your wargames room.

    I can see that it would be a difficult decision what size units to go for. They are lovely figures, and I can see that for presentation purposes they would look better in large infantry battalions. But that would really restrict you on what games you could play. Most are in marching pose, so they are not ideal for skirmish type wargames.

    I had a similar problem with my 28mm figures, which I had always used in large infantry battalions. But I am really pleased that I went for the 8 figure brigade organisation. It allows for much more interesting wargames, and most important (for us) allows us to run a multi corps campaign to provide the battles to game.

    I now find that I actually prefer the smaller brigade sized units. We have 2x2 foot scenic squares for the wargames table, and one of my corps fits comfortably on each square. Each army is 4 corps, so when all are engaged they deploy with three corps wide and one in reserve. I think they look pretty good, and they encourage use of reserves. My house rules are fast moving and rely a lot on luck of the dice, so games are fast and fun.

    You have picked a bad time to move to Spain, especially as you have to furnish your new home. July and August are the hottest months, and this year has been particularly so. And no doubt you have discovered the Spanish work practice of long lunch breaks. Most shops close from 1pm to 4pm, which makes it very difficult if you want to compare furniture or fittings. It is a real pain having to pass three hours in the middle of the day waiting for the shop to open again.

    Love your figures, particularly the Spanish ones. I presume that the figure with the red cape is Frank Sinatra?

    I understand your decision about the size of the table. But if at all possible I would recommend 6 foot wide. You will need all the playing area you can get with the larger figures. And if you ever decide to run a campaign (which I strongly recommend) you will find it easier to transfer from map to table if you can use a similar grid.

    We are really looking forward to following your progress as you settle in and follow the dream.

    Paul and Jan

    1. Hi Paul,

      Phew, it's hot here in Spain!! We are really enjoying it though, no regrets about leaving the UK and the Spanish are such friendly people and have made us welcome, we already begin to feel at home. Busy time, but once settled we really must meet up.

      The underbuild was a surprise to me, so well finished and tiled it's a very usable space and there is a covered area outside it for the car.

      Sourcing materials now for the planned wargame table, I think I may see how a 6 x 6 table would work as I could use 4 x ply textured baseboards 3'square, that would work well with large figures as you suggest.

      We look forward to meeting you both in due course and I would love to learn how your rules work in practice with your Divisional organisation.


      Lee and Sharon.

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  6. Lovely looking figures, basing and rebassing is as constant as the northern star for wargamers! Your gaming space looks splendid,I need to address mine in my copious free time!
    Best Iain

    1. Cheers Iain, I'll shoot myself before I ever rebase another figure collection :) Only a few of these will need new bases - the Highlanders are on 6 figure bases and the wonderful piper is lost behind one of the standard bearers.My old trusty painting desk will be here tomorrow (Thurs.)

  7. Nice photos of what used to be my nice collection. Really glad it has gone to a good home. As for formations - my original idea was for large battalion games or "slice of battle"- where you would game a particular event from a particular battle from a regimental perspective. Personally I have always prefferred this type of action - often culled from a memeoir- to the larger actions which - especially with small units get too impersonal for my taste. That is why the figures are based the way they are - for maximum flexibility. - I could and indeed did use 20-30 figures as a battalion or even a company if I chose or otherwise use 10-12 figures as a company for different games which required such. When I had them done the French Hussars for instance represented the First Squadron of the 2nd Hussars- hence the Elite company.
    Also on a very different note perhaps Lee you should get those tasty photos up on one of the Napoleoni groups on Facebook - as they are different from my photos ....

    1. Hi Andy, I'm delighted to own these figures as you can probably tell! I hope you have no regrets selling them to me, I plan to have a lot of fun with them. I'm sure you are familiar with the Lardies 'Sharp Practice' rules, it's possible to form 'groups' of 8 figures - which I like to regard as companies- into larger formations so you get the feel of a traditional style wargame (whatever that might be,) without hundreds of figures. I wasn't too keen on SP to begin with, had to get my head into 'Lardy' mode to really appreciate them and I plan to play Peninsular games heavily influenced by the adventures of Richard Sharp and his lads to begin with.

      I'm still working with my camera trying get nice crisp shots that are not overlit, the shots of British infantry I'm quite pleased with, but yes, I'll add some to he Facebook Tabletop wargames group.

      Cheers Andy,



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