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!

Friday, 29 June 2018

Just a game of soldiers ?

I am in something of a reflective mood right now. Phase 1 of our planned relocation to Spain is complete, we have a new home in Ador, Gandia, bought and paid for, that we are currently furnishing, and we look forward to many happy years here together. It was a huge step, to sell up and move to another country, not to be undertaken lightly, but we both feel very much at home here already and have not a single regret ..... well possibly the English Ale, but at least I found it in cans! 

The new house has an 'underbuild' actually a large garage with access down from the main house, it is fully finished with plastered white walls and tiled floor to match the main upstairs, far too nice to use for the car which can sit beneath the integral porch to keep the sun off it. Domestic negotiations are still at an early stage, but I have made my case for the occasional use of this space for the playing of the wargame on a temporary table as and when not in use for visiting family extra accommodation. We are going to have the roll over garage door replaced with double patio sliding doors so it will become the perfect multi function space.

I very much doubt that I will want to play much more than a good old fashioned simple game of soldiers with my 40mm Napoloenics, although I do still intend to paint and expand them. I'd like to build them into 24 figure battalions for the infantry and 16 for the cavalry, with the artillery being a couple of pieces each. I have sufficient figures here for about 4 such battalions per side with a bit of extra painting work, a very good start. I really just want to be able to take them from the display shelf, place them on the table and fight a simple battle in an hour or two every so often.

I set up a 24 figure battalion for  a few pics below, together with a couple of French guns and crews, I think 24 figures looks about right in this scale?  I have a bit of basing to do this week having managed to find a supplier of such materials nearby, card, glue, filler, ruler. Stanley type knife etc.

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Great unboxing - a few more pics.

It's touching mid Thirties here now, and we have moved to a different rented villa with views down over Calpe and the rock, there is a pleasant breeze, and I'm sitting by the pool updating my blog. Our new home has similar views down over Gandia, slightly further South along the Costa Blanca, towards Valencia. On Wednesday we are to attend the Notary's office in Oliva along with our excellent solicitor Josefa when the purchase will complete and the house will be ours. This one is completely un-furnished so are on the hunt now for new furniture, fully modernised and far more modest than the huge villa we initially went for, but we know we are doing the right thing, it has a lovely homely feel and a large infinity pool shared between just 6 properties in a gated community,(which also means shared costs of upkeep). Our neighbours are Spanish and German.

Meantime I have continued to unpack the 40mm Napoleonics, and have to start by saying what a brilliant job Mrs 'Big Andy' made of the wrapping up, not a single broken bayonet or sword, even the extra 'blocked in' figures all individually wrapped! I'm going to really enjoy finishing off the blocked in figures, adding detail and shading etc and generally bringing them up to the standard of the completed figures. I'm really pleased with them, and have organised them into 8 figure Sharp Practice companies. With a total of about 300 figures it did occur to me yesterday that with additional command figures I could organise them in 24 figure units for Muskets and Marshals instead, possibly for small games given the scale, I'll set up a couple of 24 figure battalions for the next post as an example. Anyway, here is what came out of the unbased/unfinished box yesterday and next time I'll feature some of the artillery and foot, along with the mounted officers.

Finished line below and Grenadiers above. I counted a total of 16 Grenadiers plus an officer.

Lower two rows of French infantry are 'blocked in', above are fully painted.

These are finished figures, ready for basing.

'Blocked in Brits'.... the hard work mostly done now it's down to detailing and shading etc.

Printed linen flags.

The view from the terrace towards Calpe.

Friday, 22 June 2018

French 2nd Hussars.

I unpacked these yesterday and thought they are worthy of a post of their own. Magnificent 40mm  scale French 2nd Hussars, superbly painted and based. Once again they are perfect for Sharp Practice, cavalry being fielded in troops of 8 figures. Among the unpainted figures I added to this collection are French Line Chasseurs and British Light Dragoons and I'm looking forward to getting settled and painting again shortly. Also unboxed are the first of the French infantry and I'm organising them into 'companies' of 8 figures with lots of command choices for SP. I still have 3 boxes to tackle yet.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Safe arrival & getting stronger!

On Friday my youngest Son in Law finished a four week work contract back in the UK, picked up my 40mm figures and caught the 5.30am train Saturday morning from Folkestone to Calais before driving the 1000 miles down into Spain for a weeks holiday. All arrived in good condition and yesterday I started what is going to be the slow and careful job of unboxing. Great care has obviously been taken in the packing, with each individual figure/base being wrapped in bubble wrap and taped. I will probably have to be patient for another week or so until we hopefully get the keys to our new home, but here are a few photos from the first couple of small boxes, including Highland command base, some Spanish infantry and a few of the 60th Rifles. The standard bearers of the 3rd Regiment of Foot (The Buffs) also emerged from the top of the second box, and I was immediately reminded that my own Grandfather served four years with the Buffs in the 1914 -18 war, being sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force. I have a copy of his Attestation papers saved on my laptop. No doubt the Napoleonic Buffs will take pride of place in my display cabinet. These figures are prefect for Sharp Practice rules and I do intend to use them.

The new house is far more modest than the large rustic property we initially went for but had to let go due to legal search results. It's in a gated terrace of just 6 houses on a hillside overlooking Gandia and the Mediterranean and has a lovely shared infinity type pool. We are due to visit the Notary next Wednesday with our excellent Spanish Lawyer to sign the deeds and complete the purchase, we can't wait.

I'm up and about again, but it's left me feeling very tired, it's clearly going to take some time to fully recover from what was a nasty virus, but I'm happy to be able to walk properly again.

Getting to grips with my new Cannon camera so pics not great, but working on it!

Got them at last!

All are 40mm Sash & Sabre.

60th Rifles, have a dozen of them so 2 x 6 Sharp Practice skirmish units.

Flags are printed onto cloth.