In what must be 1994 I was dragged on a summer trip to Coventry to take Granny to visit her family there. This was infinitely tedious for a teenager, but in an act of buying my placation my parents let me get a computer game (a real game on 3.5″ disks, none of this app nonsense), which was Fields of Glory. Not to be mistaken with the tabletop shenanigans of recent years, this was a Microprose take on the 100 days campaign. I had no idea what the 100 days campaign was, I’m not really sure I fully got who Napoleon was, but the picture on the back had cannons and cavalry, colourful uniforms – it was clearly very dashing and fighty and cool. Which essentially sums up my thoughts on wargaming Napoleonics in recent years – it looks amazing, the history is very cool, and basically there’s a really good reason someone wrote a whole lots of books about a Boy’s Own style character in this period; it oozes appeal. Yet I still don’t own a Napoleonic army. Actually that’s not true, I own some 6mm, having half heartedly tried it, and kind of stalled with numbers, and fiddlyness. Therein lies the mother of all reality checks. For all the childhood joy of checking the in-game encyclopaedia back in the day, I don’t really know much about Napoleonic troop types or uniforms – the computer rather coloured them in for me; and I played the British mainly with not very complex titles like ‘Heavy Cavalry’. There seems to be a great deal more history crammed in the Napoleonic wars than really seems fair, or maybe someone just really really needs to know what colour underpants Prussian landwehr wore, because then they are ahead in the historical minutae cup. Either way, despite having embraced other historical periods over the last 8 years, this was the step too far, too much detail, too intimidating.
At this point I had a revelation. Or rather I got bored of denying myself and decided I didn’t actually care if the wargames police came round about the colour of socks on my dragoons, this had to happen. 6mm was just a bit daunting, these detailed uniforms in ultra-small (they will be finished one day though), so 15 or 28mm. It seemed obvious: 15mm. Smaller, cheaper, can have detail but hide the most intricate bits. Then all this plastic 28mm stuff came out…. no, still too much painting, but it made me pause…they look so good. Then metal prices went up…it looked more appealing. Then I did a couple of other armies using this magic ‘dip’ thingy. Painting time was down, and the results were decent… damn. Indecision came back to paralyse the whole thing.
So 2014 came around and I happened to read an article in WSS magazine about their Ligny project. Building armies as a club towards an eventual refight. This seemed like a good idea…so I immediately turned it into what might be a very bad idea… With no prior experience let’s split forces as a club, do an army each and get it on in June next year. What scale…28mm, remember all those good reasons not to? Yep, well sod it, it looks pretty and it’s now cheaper than 15mm metal. Should we not start small and build up? Nope, boring and far too sensible. But what battle can include lots of different countries and be realistic to re-stage? Erm…. Leipzig had lots of countries right? Er, yeah, but it’s massive. Minor point, let’s do that…
So there we go. One year to build from scratch a 28mm Napoleonic force to form part of a re-fight of Leipzig (or part of it anyway) with a number of other gullible young fools from the club – what could possibly go wrong? Keeping that strictly rhetorical, this should in fact provide lots of interesting content for the blog as all manner of painting issues and premature mid-life crises are generated by the project. Should be fun!