Thursday, March 15, 2018

Rules Roundup for RPG level Napoleonic Rules

I. This is predominantly to provide a list of what's out there and available for those of you who want to game something with Napoleonic flavor, but don't have a lot of miniatures painted up. There have been a flurry of new publications and revisions over the last couple years that I thought it'd be a good idea to catalog and organize them so you know what to pursue.

I've arbitrarily divided the large skirmish category into three categories to loosely reflect what a beginner might have on hand:
Category 1 - the RPG level:  up to 20 figures per side
Category 2:  20-60 per side
Category 3<  60+ ( I suppose you could get up to 200ish and still be a skirmish as I have planned, but we'll see. Individual companies squared off against one another seems appealing to me - on paper that's well over a hundred figures per side, but throw in auxiliary formations like a gun or a squadron of cav or other hangers on and it can cross the 200 mark quickly.) 

Today I'll focus on Category 1. Most are older and geared for the Peninsula conflict, but I suppose the historians among you can find ways to tinker with them to take them into eastern Europe, North America, the Caribbean or among the many German or Italian states of the time. 

As a starter I used Extra Crispy or Mark Severin's (of Scale Creep Miniatures) most comprehensive list of Napoleonic skirmish rules, past and present, that could be found. Following his categorizations I stripped off everything that was clearly battalion level or above. That's not obvious by the title and I also had to exclude the scores of blank or unknown level descriptions of many existing sets.

Of course, the appeal of the games at this Category 1 skirmish level are often counting rounds and recording wounds on individual figures. We want to be among the actual men, with maybe yourself as a personal and formidable opponent of His Majesties armies. These are the most personally interactive level of gaming, with you the player being the main character and being a significant and influential part of your force. Figures are often scaled at 1:1 or 1:5 at the max, so it's not uncommon to see rosters requiring names of each miniature with special unique skills or character traits for flavor. Ground scale is in yards if even indicated. These are mano a mano encounters.

II. Let's get on with it: In alphabetical order, here are the sketchiest of details (but with links) of the Category 1 - RPG level of Napoleonic skirmishing rules:

95th - Adventuring in the Napoleonic Wars! This set is fairly new from the folks at 2 Hour Wargames, and not in my possession, but I read it's based on the Chain Reaction system originally designed for WW2. The samples are those of Category 1, but it says it can be scaled to what I've defined as Category 2, depending on the number of players. 

First in the Field Falls between Category 1 and Category 2. Despite the link at the end of this review, these do not appear to be available from Caliver Books any longer and I can't find any other references of substance.

Flintloque Napoleonic/Fantasy Skirmish – This one may not be for everybody, I understand the core rules would work with all human belligerents but the lore and fluff provided is positively fantastic in nature. The French are represented by Elves, the Russians, the Undead, etc. Alterative Armies has great supporting materials and tons of free stuff to go along with it, but I, at this time, would rather focus on the real thing. 

Forager: The Napoleonic Skirmish Wargame Napoleonics Skirmish -  After a successful Kickstarter, this one came out fairly recently and commands are 6 figures per side.They make a range of their own miniatures to go with the personalized character cards.

Green Jackets & Voltigeurs, Revised Ed. I've met the author, but did not get to play this one when it was being heavily demo'd at HMGS cons. I do have a copy and it is a remarkable resource in it's own right with lots of art, history, and a ton of scenarios mostly set in the Peninsula. Sharpe has a long sword indeed based on how many rule sets were inspired by Cornwell's creation.

Over the Hills And Far Away V2.2  This set is from the great scratch builder Matikishi who runs one of the best websites in wargaming. This is a game for up to six players each controlling up to eight figure. 

Finally, Songs of Drums and Shakos - the multi-award winning, and still very popular set from Ganesha Games. 

II. The following sets are in Category 2 which I may cover at a later date: 
Sharp Practice 2nd Ed - This staple in many groups calls for 40-60 men per side 
Osprey's Chosen Men recommends 5-20 figures per unit, 3-6 units per side = 15+ minimum  -That's potentially a small game and the commanders are personalized and customizable so it's on the fence.
Smooth and Rifled 1700-1900 Skirmish recommends “a few men per side to bigger encounters with 50-60 miniatures (or more) per side.” Looks like 20ish men per unit for Napoleonics – these are available free at the link at right.
Green Jackets Category 2 - Also free, no frills, no cover, and no art. Marketing fail, but there may be something interesting in there.10-50 figures per side and covers only Peninsula actions.

III. These are not skirmish level at all but Divisional and found only in Wargames Illustrated #49: 

IV. Finally, these can't be found at all, but perhaps Mark and Howard can pile in here for further illumination:
Adventures in the Rifle Brigade by Howard Whitehouse
Age of Glory - On Extra Crispy’s lists but no mention anywhere else.

I only own about half of these and I would like to go back and put in any special requirements like what dice you need or whether you need cards of some type.  

Thank you all for looking. Questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged. If you have information that would make this entry more helpful, please post in the comments and I'll incorporate good information above.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

25mm RAFM Lively Spirits Pickled Ghosts

I've had these for ages and they've been sitting on my desk for quite a while. I had intended that they be posted around Halloween '17, but a long exodus from the painting table prevented their completion until this morning. Does this evoke a colonial era cellar?
I have zero use for these on the tabletop, but I like having whimsical stuff around.
These are available still today from RAFM, and I rather like their interpretation seen at the at link. Fun stuff!

Thanks for looking - followers, questions and comments are welcome and encouraged!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

15mm ECW Hedge Row Tutorial (Updated 4/19/17)

I documented my attempts at making hedgerows primarily so I could remember how to make more if my technique worked. Having seen many tutorials online already I thought I saw room for improvement. I'll let you be the judge. (Battle mat is the Cigar Box  - Plush - Just Fields one that came out recently. See more of that, and the finished hedges here.
Two pieces of basic kit for any modeler is the white glue and the lolly stick. I have a bigger bottle of glue I feed into this smaller one for more dexterous handling.

Save those old sprues gentlemen! These all had flat round protuberances along the lengths into which I drilled a central hole with the hand drill at right. You'll see why below.

White glue was perfectly adequate for this part. Allow time for adequate drying.

Further, I had Woodland Scenics cut and broken stumps lying around for ages and unused so thought I'd add these in to break up the lengths.

Part II - The Hedging: Scotch Brite scouring pads cut into one inch strips then folded in half and hot glued to the sticks. This had to be done almost in one step as the hot glue dries fairly quickly. First I cut the the inch strips then found appropriate lengths between the stumps and what will later be trees. Hot glue going, I folded and pressed them along the lengths. I was here concerned about leaving space on either side of the hedge  - next time I won't bother - let the hedge go the the very edge of the stick. They are a bit lower that way but I think it's a better product then trying to then grass up the very narrow strips of ground that remain after.

I only cut irregularities in the hedge tops to a minimal degree - mostly rounding edges off at the ends rather than the tops. Glue had penetrated fairly deep up the interior of the hedge such that it didn't make for easy cutting.

Stumps, trees, rocks and later, other bushes, break up the lengths.
Here is the start of a stone fence here where the hedge grew inadequately. It is also evident here why drilling the sprue was necessary. 

I've had these odd metal trees from what was a HO Scale Woodlands Scenics "Hedge Row" set but they seemed too tall and were loose, dusty and without instructions or a means of basing them. Better to make them small saplings or larger bushes.

Also a few odds and ends from outside - washed and dried first of course.

If someone were to tell you that you'd get eight feet of hedges out of this project, you'd think that'd be plenty. On the contrary, I should have probably tripled this amount. To enclose a single large field takes about half of what I made here in these sixteen 6" lengths.

Finishing up ...

Everyone has a container of loose flocking debris in various colors and textures. Here I applied some of this scrap to conceal the sprue and to add some continuity with the hedges themselves. Probably helps these somewhat delicate lead tress have a firmer base as well.

Note the one with the open entry - exactly one cavalry base wide. With modeling paste, I created some ground for the logs to rest upon.

Part III: The Painting: Rustoleum Camouflage Brown spayed over the lot. I didn't worry too much about penetrating the green scour pad - seems it'd be ok if that came through if I missed a spot. And because I wanted the bases to be dark brown, I didn't miss anything.

There's no reason for fancy hobby sprays for this kind of thing. Please save your money here.

On to painting. Wood furniture is brown, but natural tree trunks are often brown tinged variations on grays. Cheap craft paints here. Again, save your Masterclass paints for the miniatures.

Tracks, also in modeling paste, grooved in with a toothpick. Note to self: when you do go back and make more of these, do a couple with a small gate.

Piled stone wall - this does not look authentic to me and I won't do it again.

Part IV - The Flocking: Super Leaf! I love this product! It appears on close inspection, to be colored and shredded plastic bag material. Tacky glue for the bulk but I needed to get into tighter spaces with the white glue - especially around the stumps. Also, I used the white glue to spot-fill places I missed without already disturbing the tacky portions.

Not perfectly evident here but I did the tops with a light dusting of the lighter colored Super Leaf as a highlight then put the darker over the rest. They intermingled enough at the top to subtly blend. I poured the leaf over these over a plastic container and used that overflow when I could, to ensure there was a mix of light and dark leaf randomly all over.

Why are only half of the hedges done? So that I had something to grip while brushing on the glue on the other side.

Some finished ones. Spring tufts and what used to be the standard "Green Grass" from Games Workshop. Trying to glue down a tiny strip of grass, as I mentioned above, wasn't worth the effort. Had to be done, but I'll cover the entire lolly stick for the next batch.

The tree foliage came in the form of the pull-apart fibrous sheets that were included in the "Hedge Row" kit. I hate this stuff - and applying it is difficult as you have to wrap it around these soft lead branches. I used regular clump foliage on the short multi-limbed bushes - like that one at the back on the right.

All were sprayed with Scenic Cement as a final touch.

For scale purposes, I included Magister Militum figures from their Age of Reason range. I've been using them for Napoleonic engineers to assist in throwing up earthworks- and there's some eight more with shovels and picks and others with wheel barrows. Thanks Steve for the ID. They are right at 15mm high I believe.

You'll see these hedges again as I complete my Blue Moon ECW forces. Thanks for looking and as always, questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

French Blue for the Habit

These came up in a thread involving Napoleonic French uniforms and I had to share if you haven't already seen them. Credit to TMP's "von Winterfeldt".

Why do I care so much about this issue? Partly because French forces comprise roughly half of every Napoleonic game you ever see - why not use the right colors? I just tire of seeing the obviously wrong Bavarian, Andrea or sky blue colored habits predominate. Equally aggravating are the excuses for why the French, and only the French, need to be painted incorrectly for a host of bad and unfounded reasons. It's just contemptuous of the history.

I spose Funcken, and countless other illustrators are to blame in part as is the ubiquitous availability of Vallejo and GW paints in the U.S. Neither have good colors for French but it's what's available. Though Vallejo's Oxford Blue and possibly Dark Sea Blue are not too far off  - the former being too light and the latter having too much green in it.

In any event, it's a crusade I intend to wage - aren't we all entitled to one?

Questions, comments and followers are welcome ...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Cigar Box Battle Plush Mat - Just Fields - 4' x 6'

First, I have criticized some of the artistic decisions made by Cigar Box Battle (CBB) - primarily on the rendering of tall objects (hedges, fencing, trees, etc) on a two dimensional surface - I'd rather they, if there needs to be a wood, render a forest floor instead of the tree tops. Just omit hedges and walls - we can model those ourselves in the precise spot we 'd like them. Criticism aside, I LOVE this new plush mat - Love it! What a simply beautiful accessory.

Before the pics I'll add too that service was rapid - Saturday to Saturday from order to delivery. Nice work. I will bitch about the deliverer who left it on the stair uncovered and in the rain. it came in a plastic envelope and had an interior plastic bag so no harm no foul, but still - what a risk!

The mat itself, my young daughters couldn't stop touching it as it was so soft and it does resemble a comfortable plush blanket in all of it's tactile features. In another world, it would serve beautifully as a wargame themed blanket - who wouldn't want to curl up under the battlefield of La Haye Saint, for example?

A particular plague on my specific hobby enjoyment is lack of a large table, permanent or even temporary. The table I have is littered with Russia 1812 stuff and I don't have the wherewithal to relocate it all at present so these quick shots will have to do:. Below is the thing just folded up and on the counter:

Hedges are scratch built by yours truly, building - an old Gallia model begging to be repainted to my current standards, and random trees from realms long forgotten.

I'll have better shots at a later date but couldn't resist posting.

Thanks for looking,Questions, comments and followers are welcome and encouraged!