Sunday, 30 September 2018

Thinking out loud..... part 1.

Somewhere between these three publications lies my ideal wargame.

I have been doing an awful lot of thinking and mental planning recently with regards to how I want to be able to use my 40mm Napoleonics. I needed to get a few ideas 'down on paper' and out of my head, in order to be able to see where I am with this. So this post will probably consist of numerous bullet pointed notes that will hopefully come together to assist me in better understanding the shape and form and type of wargame I want to be able to enjoy, and I invite comments and suggestions of course.

1. Grid or no grid?  So this is the starting point for me, and believe me when I say it's been buzzing round my head for weeks now as I weigh up the pro's and con's of both. My instinct is to go with a grid based game using a very subtle 6" square grid, indeed I would like the challenge of doing this and I think a lot about how I could make this look as conventional as possible. Grids just work for me, when I place a unit within a grid it instantly defines the ground occupied, the type of terrain, the movement options available and the range bands for shooting. I don't have to worry about the finer points of facings or formations too much, my unit can be assumed to be doing all that, but the important thing is that it sits within that grid and everything else is obvious at a glance. Units can be placed in formation that best suits the nationality and training of the troop type, in my case columns for the French and line for the British. I am adamant that I will not go back to hexes again for three main reasons, firstly I have done it too many times before, secondly because it's sodding hard work marking them all out, and thirdly because I'm looking to achieve a grid based game that will feature conventional terrain features such as rounded hills,  roads and rivers that can be laid straight across the table, square or rectangular fields and such like. I have in mind Bob C's Portable Wargames rules with the addition of a dice driven random activation system along the lines of Bolt Action where the advantage can potentially be with one side for a few moves before it swings back again which I always found great fun. I'm also keen to avoid the 'you go, I go' thing where all units of one side are moved together, fire, melee etc.

2. How many model soldiers can fit in the grid square and what do they represent? This one has been going round and round my brain almost to the point of torment! I think I now have it nailed however, I'll try to explain. Let's say I want to deploy x number of model soldiers within a 6" grid, there has to be space to represent the terrain type that area represents, so the units need to be fairly small, and 12 x 40mm figures allows for this. I can place 12 British infantry in two ranks, or 12 French infantry in a column of 3 ranks. Now, I am mentally unable to see those 12 figures as representing anything but a single company, they simply wont do as a regiment, brigade or division etc, it works for others I know, but for me it's an infantry company or a troop in the case of 4 cavalry. The next stage is to deploy several companies representing larger formations, so my 12 British infantry based on 120mm frontage can be formed up alongside other companies forming a realistic long firing line, with only a 30mm space between the companies, this really don't look bad at all on the table and the French columns look equally good to my eye as allowing space to deploy into line, although of course this is not relevant to my game. Table size I have decided to use is 5' wide by 6' long which equates to a 10 x 12 grid of 6" squares.

3. Nice flags, musicians and mounted officers. 12 infantry figures representing a company does not allow for lots of flags and officers etc, they would look silly and unrealistic, but of course we all like to see a few on the table don't we? Again I have agonised over this and finally come to the conclusion that I can create command stands representing 'officers', not too big but large enough to accommodate 1 mounted officer, standard bearers and the odd character etc. I think nice round bases maybe 60mm will do as they will need to fit within a square with a unit when they choose to attach and give the morale advantage (ignoring retreats) etc. 60mm is just about workable and will look very pretty I think.

4. What about cavalry and artillery? At the moment my 2 cavalry units (French 2nd Hussars and British 16th Light Dragoons) are each of 16 figures, and in 40mm they are huge! To sit in a 150mm grid square I have to break them down into troops of 4 figures, no choice in that given the size of the bases. I can live with this, especially when 2 such are deployed beside each other. As for the guns, they have to represent a single piece at this level and again I have no problem with that. I will only ever be fighting small scale, low level actions I know, but in 40mm I'm more than happy with that, I just want to push my lovely toy soldiers around the table.

I'll leave it there for now, but will next try to explain in more depth my ideas for the actual rules as outlined above. I'm hoping that Bob C's next book 'The Napoleonic Portable Wargame will expand upon the original rules - I have a hardback copy of 'The Portable Wargame - and address the issue of cavalry charging formed squares and the reaction of the infantry in such cases, most certainly Commands and Colours does this very well and it's something I would like to incorporate into my games, which will be set in Spain around 1810 - 1811.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Blushing French Officers and (slightly) better photos!

Firstly I'd like to thank those who commented on my last post, and especially to 'Norm' who took the time to write a detailed and informative comment that has really encouraged me to persevere with the DSLR camera.

This last week has seen much progress on the basing front, with only a few units to finish off. It has helped that I have decided upon the finish that I want to use, it's pretty simple, coloured filler mix applied by knife and textured, a few stones added here and there, 6mm static grass mix,  Vallejo Flat Earth over the bare areas and then a final highlight/drybrush with Buff. You can see it in the images below.

I have added two more mounted French officers this week, the chap with the bicorne being particularly pleasing to me. I don't normally blush up the cheeks but I did in these cases and I really like the impact it has on bringing out the faces. If it's old toy soldier style I don't mind one bit! I have a couple of French standard bearers and a drummer up next, after that I want to get stuck into a squadron of 8 British heavy dragoons with laced coats and bicornes.

40mm Sash & Sabre Peninsular Napoleonics - note only the mounted officers were painted by me, the infantry are part of the painted collection as purchased, I'm just basing them all up!

Figures have been given one coat of Vallejo satin varnish.

More French infantry get the new basing treatment.


I am holding back on a post tentatively titled 'Thinking out loud' wherein I have tried to get some of the thoughts and ideas on how I plan to use these figures to game with out of my head and down on the blog. I hope to have it posted here by Sunday and hope it will prove thought provoking.

Finally for now, we were in 'Merca China' this week, one of those Chinese sells everything cheap kind of shops, actually buying decorated plant pots, and as usual I always keep an eye out for anything that might prove useful hobby related. Imagine my delight when I spotted large sheets of balsa wood, perfect for constructing scratch built Peninsular style buildings! Again this is something I have had in mind for some time but been searching for a base material. I plan to build 40mm scale houses but in slightly low relief and the balsa will form the basic shell of what I have in mind.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Interim post - IPhone 7 v DSLR photos.

I'm going to reply to comments to my previous post, thank you for taking the time to do so, it is always appreciated and helps loads with motivation :)

I wan't too happy with the photos though, when I came to Spain my youngest daughter allowed me to hang on to her Cannon DSLR and I must have spent hours messing around with the settings in order to try to get the hang of it. I just took a few shots on my IPhone 7 that I tend to use for my Facebook page, which is mostly about our new life in Spain, and they are so much more focused! OK, so I'm never going to be a photographer, but my main aim here is to present half decent images of my growing 40mm collection. Today I have been working on the bases of the 92nd foot and this has carried over to the 60th Rifles. The intention is to bring all of the collection together using my new static grass mix and Vallejo Flat Earth. Note all will need a final drybrush on the groundwork. The lighting was poor , but the images so much sharper, I think it will be the phone in future!

92nd (Gordon) Highlanders with newly painted mounted officer and 60th Rifles.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Mostly basing, some painting.

My blog seems to be settling back into a regular Friday update again, I find this helps with motivation as I can see week by week how the armies are growing and what I'm achieving. I have written a longish post on how I plan to use my troops on the tabletop as I'm close to that stage now, but I think I'll hold that over as a Sunday 'extra' and meantime record whats been done this week and what's on the agenda for next week.

This morning is a lovely one here in Spain, the temps are set to be in the high twenties again so we are off to explore Gandia beach today and find a nice seafood restaurant to have lunch. The drive through the orange groves is always a pleasure, but more so now that the trees are heavy with fruit that is slowly beginning to ripen and we are looking forward to experiencing the time when the air becomes rich with the aroma of the oranges.

View across the orange groves towards Gandia beach, our destination for today.
This week has been mostly spent getting the basing texture on the French infantry and touching up the numerous figures that were described as 'blocked in' by Andy, in fact they were not far off being finished and I have been highlighting coats, brightening belts and bringing out the faces etc. I'm in the process of organising them into 12 figure companies as you can see below, still need to repaint some pom poms to match, but they are nearly there. Apart from this I also painted two more British mounted officers, one being the colonel of the 92nd Highlanders, I could not resist replacing a bicorne head with a highland bonnet! I hope that by the end of next week I will have all of the French command figures painted, some are already undercoated ready to start.

Working in 12 figure batches attempting to bring them all up to the finished stage.

120 infantry, +16 voltiguers not shown here.

This is how I want them all to look once finished!

Just off the painting desk. No varnish as yet.

Next up are these two fine French officers plus  two more Eagle bearers.
Aside from the above I'm pleased to say that my first order for Vallejo paints sent from the Uk (yes I know, it's a bit mad as they are made here in Spain), arrived in just 6 days via priority mail. This is the Napoleonic boxed set of 16 shades, I have 3 more on the way via Royal Mail international so that will take a few days longer, but for a total delivery of just £6.00 for the 3 sets I think that's very good service. The other 3 sets are the Equestrian shades, the Flesh tones and the 'Basics' set, all contain very useful colours with a few duplicates such as black and white but then I use a lot of those colours. It's good to know that I can still order my modelling supplies from the UK with no problem.

Friday, 14 September 2018

A productive weeks painting.

My wife left for a week visiting friends and family back in the Uk last Friday and is due home tomorrow. I have missed her a lot, it's been very quiet but I have managed to spend a fair bit of time painting. Sharon will be bringing back to Spain the next batch of 40mm Sash & Sabre figures as well as a few eBay orders for basing materials such as static grasses and grass tufts etc. The figure order (from Andy at Old Glory) includes:

British Heavy Dragoons in bicornes plus command pack.
Command packs for French and British infantry, 2 of each.
British flank company marching ( to add to existing battalions)
British and French mounted command packs.

I also have a goodly quantity of Vallejo paints coming via eBay. I'm running low on the basic shades so took the plunge and put in an order for the Napoleonic box set, the equestrian set, the 'basic' set and the flesh tones set, a total of 64 pots of paint! These have been posted directly to Spain at less cost than I had imagined, and are due between 20th and the 24th September....... fingers crossed.

Since the painted figures arrived in Spain when we were back in Calpe I have added the following, mostly since being settled in my own home with my old familiar things around me:

16 x British Light Dragoons, not decided which regiment as yet, still looking for a suitable flag, probably via GMB designs. Meantime the standard bearer appears to be making a rude gesture towards the French 2nd Hussars!

Surviving example of a Light Dragoon banner, post Waterloo.
16 x Highlanders, 92nd regiment, including 4 grenadiers painted in a single day yesterday, bringing the total strength to 28 infantry.

5 x Royal Artillery crew and 1 gun.

Very pleasing total. The 92nd still await their mounted commander, who will be wearing the feathered bonnet.

Once the bases are fully coloured, grassed and highlighted the rocks and stones will be far less noticeable.

I also still have a unit of line Chassuer a Cheval in the draw to paint also.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Royal Artillery crew & 9pdr.

I have just completed the five Royal Artillery crew as you see below, just varnish required. They took a lot of painting to get them to this stage where I'm happy with them.  I'll move onto more British Cavalry next. I tried to match the existing gun and crew as closely as I could, the gun might just need a little more work.

This morning my wife has flown back to the UK for a week visiting friends and family, so as it's just me, the cat and the dog here I intend to get a good bit of painting done. Shaz has taken a fair few bits back with her that she won't be bringing back again so with spare room/weight in the suitcase I plan to get in some orders for hobby items that I need.  I need basing materials, static grasses, tufts etc in order to match the existing bases, and I'm looking at some large tree kits, possibly woodland Scenics. She will also be bringing back another 2.5kg of 40mm figures!

Royal Artillery crew and 9pdr, 40mm by Sash & Sabre. Just noticed I have not painted the gun sergeants stripes! Blue appears slightly lighter shade in these pics than in reality.