Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Waterloo Project - planning stages.

In order to keep some focus on my Napoleonic collection as it continues to grow, I have been making notes and working out what I will need in order to fight the Commands & Colors Waterloo scenario using a single base of figures to represent each 'block'. This idea is actually not as mad as it might at first seem! I have been giving a lot of thought to the hex size required as a starting point, and have arrived at the conclusion after playing around with various size hex templates that I only need to increase my grid by 50% in order for this to be workable. Currently my hexes are 95mm face to face. 'Point to point' this makes them 110mm. Thus a new hex size of 190mm x 165mm will comfortable accommodate a typical 4 block C&C formation. So the standard 9 x 13 C&C game board will just about fit a 6 x 4 table. There are just 2 formations, both on the British/Allied side that are represented by 5 blocks, these pose only a slight problem which will be solved by adding the 5th block as 2x 60x30mm bases, a standard base sliced in half so to speak so they still fit into the larger hex grid. All other formations are of either 3 or 4 blocks.

The next stage having established hex grid/table size is to look at the troops formation themselves in order to decide what is required for the game. I have already worked out overall numbers and in terms of figures it looks quite impressive, which should achieve the sort of visual impact I will be looking for.

56 infantry bases = approx 1600 figures.
9 cavalry bases = approx 162 figures
4 artillery bases = 12 guns and crews (will remodel with 3 guns per base)

44 infantry bases = approx 1300 figures
12 cavalry bases = 216 figures.
4 artillery bases = 16 guns and crews ( will remodel with 4 guns per base_

Given that I have painted over 1200 figures in a relatively short space of time already I would see the above as being perfectly achievable. If I dedicate myself to a modest target of just 3 bases per week, I could complete this by next summer. Of the 100 infantry bases that will be required for example I already have around 28 usable bases, that's excluding the Portuguese bases which are not usable in this game of course, but including all of the 'Peninsular' British infantry bases, which in this scale would be OK I think. All future bases painted will be for use in this project, so that of course means British in correct 'Belgic' shako. Of the 21 cavalry bases required I already have 10 usable bases completed and that excludes my Light and heavy dragoons who will need to be replaced with correct headgear bases.

I am now working out where on the C&C map the various allied formations are represented, KGL, Dutch Belgians, Brunswick, Nassau could all be represented by bases once I have established how best to break these numbers down. More to follow in due course.

Meantime here are the Royal Horse Guards of the Household Cavalry, just completed. The 1st Kings Dragoon Guards will complete this 3 block formation, the Life Guards being already completed.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Vassal for Commands & Colors - Napoleonic.

Having decided to take a bit of a break from my ECW project and paint some more Napoleonic units, I got to thinking about where to go with regards to the issue of Solo v Opponent gaming. Having now played through quite a few games solo I am in little doubt that I want to play against an opponent now in order to maximise my enjoyment of this hobby. While I might try to find a local opponent down here on the Kent coast I have read much about Vassal for C&C-N and have decided to give it a go. Ideally though, I'd like to be able to use vassal as a basis for a table top game rather than on screen, and I'm sure that it would be possible to work this out. I'd envisage using vassal to play the game onscreen, while mirroring the moves etc on the table top for a more satisfying visual experience for both players. If anybody has any experience of Vassal, or any ideas and suggestions as how I might best combine the online/tabletop game I'd love to hear from you please. In the meantime I'm downloading and studying the vassal system. I have placed a few links below for anybody who might care to take a look into this with me, perhaps as a potential opponent?

Download Vassal.

Vassal engine.

About Vassal.

Vassal - Commands & Colours Napoleonic module download.

Couple of screen shots.

Right then, I'll get on and have a play to see how this works. Meantime a thank you to those who have followed my humble blog which has just recorded 20.000 page views, I'm astonished! I'm currently painting another cavalry unit and I'll add pictures once completed. This ones a bit of a conversion job so I'm hoping it will work out.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

More terrain hexes.

I was asked over on TMP forum how I make my terrain hexes, specifically the fields. As I needed to make up a few more I decided to take some pictures as I went along and add a few notes of materials used etc. This has proved a welcome relief following a particularly heavy psychotherapy session on Friday which has left me physically and mentally wrecked for three days. Something about sticking little bits of foliage and texturing stonework etc I find very relaxing. I'm glad I have this hobby at times like this!

The hexes are of course those made by Tony Barr at East Rising Miniatures and what a quality product they are. Laser cut, non warp and only 2mm thick, Tony has even added my 95mm hexes to his shopping cart for easy re order.... hows that for service.

PVA glue is then brushed on, a thin coat is all that is required. I then scatter my 50/50 mix of fine grit and foundation 'dirt' flock* and leave to dry for 24hours. For the wheat fields I instead cover with Parched Straw static grass.

Next step depends upon what feature I'm making - for fields I apply a thick bed of PVA where I want to place my 'hedges' which are made from the summer clump foliage as below. This contains three slightly different shades of clumps which can be broken up to make small individual pieces to represent hedges.

For the 'wood' bases on which my trees stand I apply small patches of static grass only, for the 'broken ground' hexes I apply a few patches of grass, a few small clumps of foliage and large stones made from selected pieces of perlite, (intended for drainage in plant pots). Around the edges of the fields I also use static grass, the grit/dirt flock mix and a few perlite stones. Have fun with this and try to achieve a nice blend of textures/shades.

Once its all dry I begin to drybrush the stones. I tend to use Citadel Vermin Brown as it matches my figure bases, and then again a further highlight of 'Linen' just picking out the tops of the stonework. And that's about it really. My main aim is to keep everything blended across the hexes as much as possible.

*All my scatter materials are ordered from Totalwargamer. They always provide a reliable service and the products are good quality. For this demo I'm using the following product codes/descriptions.

Links to each product code used are listed below. The Gale Force Nine products are reasonably priced and very good quality.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Commands & Colors - Movement experiments.

Having taken a couple of weeks break from playing Napoleonics I have been thinking a lot about the C&CN rules. I am in no doubt still that they represent for me the very best set of Napoleonic rules in terms of pure playability that I have used. Some may recall how I resisted initially the hex grid and experimented with using distance units instead, but in so doing lost much of the C&C feel of the game. So the hex grid table was born, but with the points only painted in yellow dots, a suggestion for which I remain most grateful. I have now fully embraced the hex grid and the new pre cut wooded hexes from ERM have allowed me to begin to develop a more varied terrain in terms of fields and woods etc. This is still in early stages, as I have big plans, but already I'm happy with the look of the table, even though those fields serve no functional purpose in C&C, I think they look nice!

Group movement in C&CN.
This has been one area where I have been slightly frustrated with the rules. I like to deploy my battalions in brigades of 3 to 4 units and I see no reason why a brigade should not be moved as a single entity, especially in the early stages of a game. I outlined previously Tony's very practical suggestion on how the 'probe' card could be used to make a 'march' move for each unit within the section defined by the card. I have now gone a step further and in the experiments so far I'm pleased with how this allows a more fluid development of the early move turns. Basically what I am currently doing is as described below:

A 'scout' card may be used to move a full brigade of light cavalry a full move but not battle. Otherwise the card may be played normally.

A 'Probe' card may be used to move a brigade of infantry or cavalry a full move but not battle, or may be played normally. Where a battery is attached to the brigade in an adjacent hex, the battery may also be moved a normal move but not battle.

An 'Attack' card may also be used to move a full brigade of infantry or cavalry plus an adjacent battery as above but not battle, or played normally.

Essentially, the 3 above cards now have 2 functions, firstly to allow troops to manoeuevre by brigades or secondly to use normally to move and/or battle. What I envisage here is that once troops are within striking distance of the enemy lines the cards will be played normally to allow brigades to advance forward battalions to engage in ranged or melee combat whilst being able to keep reserves in hand. Certainly I'm finding I'm doing less dancing around the table like a snooker player, and the frustrations of having to select just a single or two battalions for movement is gone. I should have added above that where a brigade straddles 2 sections the full brigade may still be moved as a single entity. I have found no problems with this so far.

A few pictures from my latest game. I'm trying different lighting set ups and settings thus the difference in picture quality. I feel the above changes have led to a far more coordinated looking battle line and swift development of the early turns. Note the bases sitting in the new fields and the improved woods bases all now made from the pre cut mdf hexes.

Any comments or suggestions welcome as always, especially on the rule tweak to C&CN movement.

The table - after just a couple of turns.

British heavy cavalry brigade.

The new fields in action!

4th Swiss.

French Grenadier battalion with raw battalions (M) in the rear.

Portuguese troops on the British right, supported by 95th Rifles.

2 battalions of Foot Guards plus the Household cavalry held in reserve on a hill.

A brigade of British light cavalry move up on the right flank.

British artillery with a nice field of fire.
Oi, you surely never made it into Spain! Oh well, Red Lancers in reserve.

Light cavalry on the extreme French right flank.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Back in the saddle again!

Having picked myself up and dusted myself down I am now firmly back in the saddle again, (which also happens to be the title of a very good Aerosmith song!). I have had a bit of a change around in my little wargame room and reset the board with every single base of Napoleonic figures I have so far for a major set to. This time I'm going to enjoy myself without the pressure of writing it up. As I hope you can see I have attempted to set out the figures in brigades of 3 to 4 battalions and I will be using a C&CN 'tweak' to enable an entire brigade to be moved on the play of any 'probe' card, which usually only allows two  units to be ordered. I hope this will significantly speed up early tactical movement and overcome the frustration of only being able to move part of a brigade  at a time. We shall see how this goes. The rule tweak is as follows and is only a slight variation on 'Foys' original idea:

When playing a probe command card a player may elect to move every unit within a brigade within the sector indicated by the command card. Where a brigade straddles two sections if the majority of the brigade is within the section indicated by the card then all bases may move. Units may not initiate  combat when using this rule, it is intended to allow increased tactical movement only. Otherwise the card may be played normally.

Example of a probe command card - this one for the centre sector.
Previous comments - a thank you.
A big thank you to all to those who commented upon my previous post and who offered ideas on how technology can be used to play against a distant opponent. I am sure that somewhere between Vassal, email, FaceTime and Skype lies the solution and I am thinking about how best to proceed here. I am toying with a couple of ideas based upon your many suggestions and comments and looking in to how I might be able to capture a good wide angle overhead view of the table for such games and how two players could be provided with shots of their individual card hands in such a game, with myself as host moving the figures and responding to orders. Any more thoughts or ideas on this please keep them coming!

Timely delivery.
As I typed this post the postman just delivered my hexes from East Riding Miniatures and an order from Baccus for more ECW stuff. The hexes are excellent, and fit together perfectly. I have laid out a few for a quick photo. Immediately this opens up a lot of possibilities for improving the general landscaping of my table. Initially I'll be remaking the wood and other hexes which were previously made from thin plastic and did warp slightly upon the PVA glue drying. What it does mean is that my days of labouriously hand cutting hexes are now at an end. I have a fair bit of landscaping materials, flocks, grits, static grasses, clup foliage etc on order from Totalwargamer so this should keep me busy and keep up enthusiasm for the immediate future.