Saturday, 31 October 2020

Going for it - a busy week!

Having cut down a few larger pieces of MDF to make up more of the doubled up units I'm now committed to working through the entire collection, adding additional figures as required. Once again something has just clicked and I know this is the look I have been after all along. In an odd way the black rear labels are a throwback to the 6mm version I did back in 2012 after I was first introduced to C&C Napoleonics. I now have all of the ready cut sabot bases thanks to Tony at ERM (link), who has been cutting my MDF probably since that time and always provides an excellent service. Along with the bases are some 5" hexes that will be used to mark out the board. The new 5" hex grid will be the key to this project allowing my 4"frontage bases to fit with sufficient space for buildings and other terrain items whilst keeping the integrity of the formations with just a 1" gap between the bases (please excuse me talking in 'old money!) What I will lose in portability should be more than compensated for by the overall aesthetic appeal of the game as a whole.

I should say that what I'm going for here is an initially Peninsular themed project, but with the freedom to paint other units as I see fit working towards an 1813 Prussian army and eventually the 100 days campaign.

Most recent additions are Young Guard, and the wonderful RHA Rocket Troop, recently released by AB. Blog followers will know my enthusiasm for this unit and I had been keenly casting around the various manufacturers trying to find suitable figures so  was delighted when they popped up on the AB new releases. 

The YG base actually represents two different battalions, my main source of information is THIS excellent blog. The unofficial fanions (the YG were not issued Eagles) adds a nice splash of colour to the base. I have another base to do later. These were painted over just 2 days this week Tuesday and Wednesday.

On Thursday having completed the above I allowed myself to paint the newly arrived RHA Rocket base. Composition on the base had to be something of a compromise, after all who would let off rockets with horses in attendance! But I just had to use all from the set plus the mounted officer and on the whole, whilst a little crowded I'm pleased with it. These are small ground launch rockets, similar I would guess to those fired at Waterloo through a field of corn where they caused consternation among some Chassuers a Cheval. unlike my 40mm version these are correctly attired with the holsters rather than swords. Again these were painted in a single day when it wet and windy outside.

I also put together a base of 'Grenadiers' (C&C). These actually represent a 'Provisional' formation of elite shock troops and I learned that such units could comprise not just the Grenadiers drawn from the line but also the light company, so I decided to form this base from already painted Grenadiers and Voltiguers. I'm pleased with it save for the Eagle, but it's not too bad for the time being.

Next stage is to gradually put all of the other bases together, adding extra figures where required, starting with my Portuguese contingent for which I need to paint an extra gun and crew and 6 more cacadores, undercoated and ready to go.

Monday, 26 October 2020

More experimentation - sabot bases for C&C games on a larger grid.

 This is something that has been lurking in the back of my mind for probably months now, and with the collection growing fast I'm now in a position to see how this works. OK, so the 3" printed mat set up is done and I'm happy with it, BUT the idea of doubling up the bases for more visual impact just won't go away. One issue with the small grid is that of fitting terrain items around the 50mm x 35mm bases, it's all a bit tight! Now if I was to go with a 125mm hex grid I could double up the unit frontages, fit more trees, buildings and other scenic items in (including my lovely Spanish church which won't fit the 75mm grid), and the 13 x 9 C&C grid would fit comfortably within a 6 x 4 board. That's the first box ticked.

My figure collection has outgrown the 3 drawer storage unit now with around 650 painted figures last count, and for example my French army comprises over 20 infantry bases (each of 10 figures) which is probably more than I will ever comfortably deploy in the modest sized games I want to play. However, double them up and not only do they look better, but also gives me around 10 units for C&C, not counting cavalry, artillery etc.

So it was time to see how it would look in practice. I cut a couple of 100mm x 45mm sabot bases which gave me a 10mm plain strip on the rear to add a printed black label with the unit stats printed on it on which could be placed the small MDF circles that I use to mark the current strength as losses occur. Not wishing to do anything too permanent I added tiny blobs of blue tac which would hold the existing bases firmly in place but would remain easy to remove. I must say that I'm really pleased with the results. Of course this will require a 'full size' table that will need to be dotted out in the 125mm hex grid but I just feel that the effort will be well rewarded.

Given the current situation with Covid 19 I can see that for the remainder of the year and into 2021 having a project such as this to occupy myself with will be extremely beneficial to my mental health as I do spend an awful lot of time indoors even though our area of Kent remains in the low risk tier, at least for the time being. 

Anyway, here are the two test bases that I did this morning. I'll need to order the sabots from good old Tony Barr at east Riding Miniatures, I cut these two by hand which is a bit of a pain.

I have two bases of Young Guard up next, the AB's are exquisite little sculpts, these are in reserve maybe just about to advance. Doubling up the bases will enable me to mix different units, for example the 'Old Guard' will consist of the Grenadiers (already painted) and the Chassuers (on order). I think it offers a lot of scope for colourful units.

Friday, 23 October 2020

Back to Spain with C&CN! More terrain and Spanish army expansion.

 Right, so my brief affair with The Portable Napoleonic Wargame is over and I have returned to my true love - Commands & Colors! I certainly do not mean to disrespect Bob Cordery's work and clearly they are the choice of many on the PNW Facebook group, but for me I simply can't get past C&C rules as my favourites for Napoleonic wargames. Since I was first introduced to them back in 2012 by Tony, (alias 'Foy'), I have found it impossible to settle for any other set of rules, I know that something just clicked at the time when I had been struggling for enthusiasm, and almost 9 years later I still get pleasure from playing them. Fighting in square against cavalry,  Combined Arms combat where you get to make a melee attack with supporting fire from artillery batteries, Retire & Reform, Leader casualty checks, the elegantly simple but effective flag symbol roll which handles morale so well forcing you to keep units well supported whilst leaving open paths of retreat and ensuring that weakened units forced to retreat can be replaced with fresh troops to avoid giving away Victory Points are all nuances of this wonderful game, easy to learn but takes years to perfect.

So, feeling upbeat once again I decided that I wanted to add some roads and rivers to my C&C set up. The game does not actually depict roads but many gamers do add them and house rules can give a move bonus to troops moving along them. 

I used the 'Narrow' road sections from S&A Scenics to make the roads, giving them an edging of PVA/static grass and then carefully drybrushing them with vallejo Buff to add a little more highlight. I had to cut numerous small sections and angle pieces to work with the 3" hexes, but was well worth the effort I think. River sections were made from plastic, the type used on those cheap plastic folder covers, cheap and cheerful but I think again works well. Working out and cutting the curved sections took a bit of doing but after the first one was cut it was easy to make more from the template. Once again a grass edging was applied, I used straight Oxford Blue for the water followed by a heavy satin varnish coat.

I am considering printing improved tops for the hill sections as they are slightly too light, but on the whole I'm happy with the 13 hill sections that I now have. The new double tree bases each represent a wood hex, although two or three together representing a larger wood do look better. The Hovels buildings are just small enough to allow a base to fit a hex with two such buildings although sadly my church is too large to be used. The windmill still requires it's sails, which I will make from thin cloth to get that 'sagging' look, mostly it just sits off board for effect because I just love the model! Another job will be to carefully pin the mat to a board and then edge it, it will stop the creasing which I find irritating.

On the painting front I have decided to expand my AB Spanish troops to a full army so what with John's WSS troops I'll be painting a lot of white uniforms over the coming weeks. Latest off the bench is a second RHA battery and mounted officer, these will be joined by a recent release from AB the Rocket Troop set featuring mounted and dismounted figures with ground launch rockets, should be here next week along with a big pile of Spaniards, infantry, more cavalry and artillery.

Thus I end the week with a clear sense of direction and satisfaction at what I have achieved with this modest sized set up. Of course I had to place some figures on there so my Spanish troops got a photo shoot opportunity, I must admit they are among my favourites so far.

The entire thing will look much better once pinned to a suitable board and edged to avoid creasing.

Of course I just had to feature my orange grove!

Some of the fiddly road sections required to fit the hexes.

Edited to add that I found this updated version (V2) of the Spanish Expansion quick reference sheet available to download, it corrects an error on the Portuguese chart and includes the Rocket Troop stats. Looks like you need to roll double symbols to hit anything (with just two dice) which seems about right to me!

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Just some 18mm 'eye candy' - testing The Portable Napoleonic Wargame.

Well, it certainly produces a very pleasing game aesthetically! I just placed an infantry brigade plus a battery and cavalry regiment per side on the board for a first run through of Bob's rules at the brigade level. I'm going to have to take some time to think things over as I do have a couple of issues which I hope to go into in further detail  later, mainly around the melee combat rules which I found somewhat indecisive, unless of course I am missing something at this early stage which is probably the case, but for now here are a few nice photos. I'm fully aware that my blog posts have been very repetitive recently and lacking in content, but then this was always a blog about painting soldiers more than the actual gaming. 

18mm's by AB and Blue Moon using 2 bases per battalion as per the rules which allows for different formations - column, line and square - to be represented. To be continued.

The board, 7 x 7 grid. I diced to see who got to select table side (left or right) British won and selected the left edge with the ridge to front.

The randomly chosen armies, just a brigade per side, all rated 'Average'.

Both sides advance, Move rates and ranges are quite generous on this small table.

This is the melee that left me scratching my head a bit!

Two French battalions formed into line (please excuse the plethora of Eagles!).

The French Lancers charged the British battalion formed on a ridge hoping to force them into square, but were unable to get to roll on the Resolving Hits chart resulting in both sides left hanging there.  Both sides roll a D6 and add or deduct numerous factors, but a modified total of 3+ is required to roll on the Resolving Hits' chart. Attacking uphill is -1 (I rolled a basic 3).

Friday, 16 October 2020

Doubling up for The Portable Napoleonic Wargame.

A couple of weeks ago I revisited my copy of Bob Corderey's The Portable Napoleonic Wargame book. It occurred to me that my bases could be used to run through a few games based on the Brigade Level rules, where two bases represent a battalion, with three to four battalions a brigade. For those not familiar with Bob's book it offers three levels of battle, Brigade, Division & Corps, with different rules for each level and an example game of each level in action. For me the Brigade level would most suit my collection and basing style with 2 bases in line just fitting into a 100mm square grid. Whilst a bit tight on the frontage, the look of several battalions in line does give a good representation of a British infantry brigade deployed in firing line. So I decided to bite the bullet and mark up my card table in a 100mm dotted grid, 7 x 7 for some trial games. Being keen to keep the look of the thing as conventional as possible I only wanted to dot the corners and have a cunning plan to avoid square hills which would seriously detract from the aesthetics of the game for me.

The next thing was to sort the figures into 2 base units which has involved painting up some additional bases where required to double up.

In order to give an idea of how the game will look when set up on the card table I have laid out some terrain and troops for a few photos. My aim is to break up the green with textured fields etc, the 100mm grid allows just enough space with troops deployed to fit terrain features in. This is obviously a project in progress and I feel that a larger board ( 4 x 3) would give a better experience with more room to manoeuvre. Battle reports will follow in due course, but so far so good as an alternative to C&C and DBN.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Terrain for DBN, Highland Brigade and Daisy!

With the arrival of my new cloth from S&A Scenics I thought I would lay out some of the terrain items that I have acquired over the past few months. I'm now happy that this very manageable 5 x 3 battlefield is the way to go for me and is perfect for my DBN games as I do utilise a slightly increased ground scale (2" = 100 paces) and my slightly wider and deeper bases which just opens the game up a bit more. I did experiment with placing the hills beneath the cloth but I think they work better laid on top. I'm finally happy with my representation of woods, the re-based trees placed on a section of the old cloth is more the look I was after. Road sections have been edged with static grass and I have the narrower sections to do to represent paths etc. I might yet re think the fields and possibly make different shaped sections which can be placed together to represent ploughed or wheat fields etc in order to break up the expanse of green cloth. 

All terrain items featured here are by Simon at S&A Scenics, I also have one of his vineyards but could not find it this morning anywhere. The buildings are 10mm scale by Steve Clay at 'Battlescale' which work perfectly well with 18mm figures. The cloth just needs an iron run over it to remove the creases!

And here is a shot of the three Highland infantry bases together with their mounted commander, two AB's units flanking a Blue Moon unit. Hopefully you can see that I tried to represent the different tartans as best I could. What I like about DBN is the ability to form larger formations of 30 to 40 figures which is when my small bases com into their own.

Finally I am delighted to introduce Daisy, born on Saturday 10th October, 6 lb 2oz to our youngest daughter and her partner. Daisy is our fourth Granddaughter although we have a Grandson due in early January 2021, as my cousin said to me "keep going at this rate and you will have your own football team". With the covid infection rate being low here in Medway we are just so happy that we are able to see them, I feel so sorry for those Grandparents who are not able to do so.