Monthly Archives: June 2014

Me & M Buonaparte – First painting…

So… having signed up for Mr Stacey’s little Nappy adventure (yes, we know that sounds wrong) and purchased a small mountain of finely crafted Perry plastic to make up the bulk of my 1813 Russian infantry companies, I sat down to paint a ‘test’ unit. Yes, we know its more usual to paint a test model, but this is a BIG project..!

assembling the first unit

Perry’s 28mm plastics are beautifully sculpted, and the information that comes with the box is very useful as guide to painting and assembly. As a group, we’d decided on a 3×2 formation of 40mm bases with 4 men to a base – meaning 24 men to a unit in a 6 x 4 formation. All well and good, and I vaguely understood that, like the War of Spanish Succession I’d collected and played in 6mm, it was usual to represent part of the unit as grenadiers as the unit would actually be representing a battalion of companies, most of which would be standard line infantry with one battalion of ‘elite’ grenadiers.

At this point I paused as I realised I really needed to understand the kind of order of battle I was going to try and model and how I could represent that using the Black Powder ruleset we intended to use. Doc and Paul (my other main partners in crime on this project) had posted about it on our forum thread, but I was too clueless on the terminology and tactics to really follow it. I need to get reading. But in the meantime, I’d paint my test unit with a base of grenadiers and follow the guide on the box rather than trying to recreate a particular unit from the time…

assembling the first unit 2

Assembly was pretty easy – though the heads are a bit of a pig (though they do tend to end up at odd angles which actually looks good, so that’s all right then…)

First unit - base colours First Unit - base colours - close up

Base colours for the Russians is white and green, and basecoating in white is paying dividends. However, in my haste to get a good solid white to work with, I’d gone a little heavy on the spray undercoat. Not to worry: I always hate this phase. I’m a pretty messy painter. I’m usually happy with the end results – but it take some work to get there. I long to be able to do a neat and tidy basic job… I’m more of an impressionist painter than an old master…(!)

Lesson learned: don’t stick the backpack on until after basecoating: its a pig to get in at the details in and around the hanging cartridge boxes and swords…

First Unit - Ready for dipping First unit - Details

Adding in the details: its starting to come together…

Almost finished 1st unit

The nearly finished first unit: Liberal use of the invaluable ArmyPainter strong tone dip, and a pretty hurried and messy paint and base job becomes a lovely unit to look at.

Just some edging, a de-shine, and the addition of a couple of company flags to do and the first unit will be ready for the tabletop…!

On to the next unit (with separately undercoated backpacks this time!) – and time for a think about army composition and how best to represent Napoleonic formations and tactics on the tabletop with Warlord’s Black Powder rules…

Me & M. Buonaparte (we got a thing going on…)

Me and M Buonaparte

My name’s Dan and I’m a wargamer… It’s not quite as serious as a proper addiction, but it can be quite as embarrassing to family members if talked about in polite company. It’s cool to be geeky these days, but we have to draw the line somewhere. I’m comfortable with who I am and the hobby I love. I’ve got past the ethical struggle of being perceived as glorifying war and real-life atrocities, when we’re really, really not. I’m as comfortable discussing the relative merits of Enforcer tactics in a Deadzone or the Battle tactics of Tywin Lannister as I am of Dark Age Viking warbands or Canadian forces on D-Day, but there’s one historical era I’m not comfortable with – and that’s the big one: Napoleonics.

I got into gaming when I was a kid – from simply loving to line up tiny plastic WWII soldiers, I learnt my mate’s big brother actually played proper games with proper realistic models. At around the same time, Tolkien’s middle earth stories hooked me, and once I learned (from the same mate) that this modelling and gaming malarkey wasn’t confined to WWII, but had all sorts of Lord of the Rings type fantasy things going on as well… things have never been the same. I remember the first time I went into a Games Workshop (in Sutton Coldfield in the mid-80s: it must have been one of a handful in the country then) and picked up the Citadel Compendium. My dad couldn’t understand it, but my eyes lit up with wonder, and they haven’t dimmed since.

I kept away from ‘real’ war in those early days. I didn’t know the history well enough to even know where to start, and I just couldn’t reconcile playing games with real life war; it felt better to keep it in the realms of fantasy. It wasn’t until I found the wonderful Warwickshire Gamers (then the Wellesbourne Wargames Club), that I took the plunge into historical wargaming. I’m glad I did – it broke the bond to GW games and showed me new and better ways of playing the games I loved. Even more, there were brilliant people around to point me in the right direction and lend books that filled the gaps in my knowledge.

Ever since then I’ve voraciously eaten up history books, and enjoyed the combination of reading about new periods of history whilst modelling and gaming the period. I’ve gone through Ancients and Romans to Dark Ages and the Renaissance. I’ve started at the other end of history too, inevitably being drawn into WWII gaming (though skipping anything more modern as still a little too close for comfort…), and gone back as far as the American Civil War. But for a while now, the big scary monolith of Napoleonic gaming has been on both horizons like an immovable object.

Napoleonics is the mainstay of wargaming, even more so than WWII. It’s how many wargamers get into gaming in the first place – but I’ve never touched it. I don’t know the history, and it has such huge attention in gaming and in history books, it’s more than just a little daunting to know where or how to start…

I’ve skirted around the edges, by falling in love with Patrick O’Brien’s Master & Commander / Aubrey & Maturin novels and trying to uncover just one aspect of Napoleonics first by focusing on the maritime stuff of the Age of Sail, but Mr Paul Stacey finally came with a scheme I couldn’t refuse: We’ll all jump in at the deep end together; we’ll all sign up to produce a shedload of 28mm units over the next 12 months with the aim of refighting a big set piece battle from 1813 in summer 2015.

So – this is the blog of how I met Monsieur Napoleon head on and what happened after… Stay tuned…