Archive for the 'wargames' Category

1813 Project Order of Battle

Having committed to the new 1813 project described by Immer Vorwarts, I started looking at an order of battle to model.  Jason & Eric are focusing on units that fought at Mockern in the fall of 1813 as part of the Battle of Nations (Leipzig).  Since I’m building Russians that means units from Blucher’s Army of Silesia.

I’ve chosen to build units from Langeron’s “Corps Group.”  These are units that are remnants from the army that fought at Borodino the previous year and have followed the French all the way back into Germany.  My starting force will be St. Priests’ VIII Corps.  The entire Corps had around 8,000 infantrymen at Mockern, so this will be manageable organization to start building.

A quick aside about unit strengths:  Regardless of what a full ‘paper strength’ battalion may have looked like to Napoleonic era war planners, after a few months in the field, an average infantry battalion would likely be around 500 men.   In the period we are modeling (the latter half of the 1813 campaign), the field armies were even further under-strength from a year of more or less constant campaigning, casualties, sickness, desertion, etc.

So, I’m looking at St. Priest’s Corps.  One thing I love about the Russian army is that the commanders are a hodge-podge of Russians, Germans, and other Europeans.  In this case, both Comte Langeron and Comte St. Priest were French emigres, former Bourbon loyalists whose families fled France during the revolution.  So we have French generals fighting against French generals.  How perfectly Napoleonic, eh?

There are a number of different places to find orders of battle on the internet.  My favorite is the Nafziger collection, which was donated to the US Army War College a few years back.  George Nafziger did a tremendous job collecting orders of battle, and included individual unit strengths where he could.  This is a boon to the historical wargamers.

Here’s St. Priest’s VIII Corps organization from the Allied Order of Battle at Leipzig:

8th Corps: Generallieutenant Count St.-Priest

11th Division: Generalmajor Prince Gourialov
Brigade: Colonel Turgenev

  • Ekaterinburg Infantry Regiment (2)(936)
  • Rilsk Infantry Regiment (1)(564)

Brigade: Generalmajor Karpenko

  • Jeletz Infantry Regiment (1)(526)
  • Polotsk Infantry Regiment (1)(571)

Brigade: Generalmajor Bistrom II

  • 1st Jager Regiment (1)(478)
  • 33rd Jager Regiment (2)(527)

17th Division: Generalmajor Pillar
Brigade: Colonel Kern

  • Riazan Infantry Regiment (2)(670)
  • Bieloserk Infantry Regiment (2)(705)

Brigade: Colonel Tscherioff I

  • Wilmanstrand Infantry Regiment (2)(566)
  • Brest Infantry Regiment (2)(746)

Brigade: Major Charitanov

  • 30th Jager Regiment (2)(472)
  • 48th Jager Regiment (2)(913)

Corps Artillery:

  • Position Battery #32 (12 guns)(270)
  • Light Battery #32 (12 guns)(176)
  • Light Battery #33 (12 guns)(155)

Corps Cavalry:
Brigade: Generalmajor Borozdin II

  • Mitau Dragoon Regiment (4)(458)
  • New Russia Dragoon Regiment (4)(377)

Brigade: Generalmajor Emanuel

  • Kharkov Dragoon Regiment (4)(484)
  • Moscow Dragoon Regiment (2)(250)

Cossacks: Generalmajor Kaisarov

  • Gzov #2 Cossack Regiment (194)
  • Stavrapol Kalmuck Regiment (298)
  • Grekov #21 Cossack Regiment (317)

A few notes:

  • The 11th division is the remnants of Docturov’s VI Corps from the Battle of Borodino.  One nice thing about the Russian army is that it was consistent with its numbering.  Divisional organizations were fairly permanent even if the divisions themselves shifted between corps over time.  Check the OB for Borodino and compare divisional numbers.
  • Likewise, the 17th division was in Baggovout’s II Corps at Borodino.  The organization hasn’t changed much, other than that the units are much smaller.
  • Much like the French, Russian light infantry units (Jagers) could operate either as formed infantry or skirmishers.  Russian light infantry gets a bad rap from some Napoleonic rules writers.  While not as skilled as the best French or British units, the low-numbered Jager regiments had been in existence for some time and spent a lot of time fighting the Turks, so they were experienced in skirmish operations.  The 1st Jager regiment was considered one of the finest in the Russian army at the time.
  • Looking at the unit strengths, there are numerous cases of regiments having two battalions but only having around 400-500 men total or both units.  Odds are good on the battlefield that the unit would operate as a single combat unit, as a 200-man battalion has little staying power.

In Black Powder, you have four basic unit sizes:  tiny, small, average and large.  For our project, an ‘average’ battalion would be around 24 figures, and I’m equating ‘average’ size with a battalion somewhere in the 450-650 man range.  For units with around 300-400 men, the question becomes whether to field those units as ‘small’ units on their own or combine them to be one ‘average’ or possibly ‘large’ unit.  Each option has advantages and disadvantages.  I suspect I won’t know which one would be a better reflection of the units performances until I play a few games.  I’ll get some extra command stands so I can run with either option.

Here’s a helpful list of OB’s for Leipzig that you can find on the net:

28mm Napoleonics Painting Update

I’ve switched back to working on more 28mm Napoleonic figures after doing little but Warhammer 40K Tau for the last 8 months or so.  This is prompted by my new friend Jason cranking up his 1813 project using the “Black Powder” rules, and inviting me to participate.  Before getting sucked into 40K in the middle of last year I had started working on my 28mm Napoleonics again, albeit without a real goal or direction in mind.  It’s my favorite historical period, so I always fall back on that when I run out of other project work.  I dithered along but without an organized group project, maintaining focus is hard, so naturally I didn’t keep it and shifted around to other things.

The purpose of this post is to show how I’m choosing to paint up my rank & file miniatures.  A project like using Black Powder for Napoleonics will require hundreds of figures for an army.  It’s just the way of things, and if you want the massed battle/”Big Battalions” look you have to accept it.  I like to think I’m a pretty good painter, but for whatever reason I had a devil of a time moving up to 28mm historicals from a painting standpoint.  My main bugbear was figuring out ways to paint black and white without looking unnatural or just dirty.  I’ve been using my Sash & Saber Russians as test figures for a while to figure things out before investing in the new Perry and (maybe) Warlord Games Russians for my core force.

First, I think I should spend a few sentences talking about what I’m aiming for.  As mentioned above, these figures are going to be for mass combat units in Black Powder.  As such, they will be based on multiple figure bases two ranks deep.  They are not going to be used or looked at as single figures.  They will be part of a unit of 24 figures (on average), and will be viewed at arm’s length or farther for the most part.  As such, I’m going for a paint job that looks good ‘en masse’ and not trying to turn each figure into an individual work of art.  It would take too much time and, since many of these figures will be obscured in the middle of mass formations, the work would be almost useless.  Since I’d like to get a full army or two up and running before I die, sacrifices must be made.  So, some details will not be picked out or highlighted for the rankers.  I see this as the best compromise for the goals I wish to achieve.

Anyway, enough pontificating.  Let’s see some lead.

Here’s a picture of a figure I painted up in the middle of 2012:

Old Method

The picture isn’t the greatest, but you can see the following things

  • The trousers are offwhite washed with Army Painter inks.  The creases shaded in well, but the overall effect is way too ‘dirty’ for my liking.  I also wasn’t totally happy with the colors I selected.  Trying to find a good-looking color palette for linen trousers isn’t easy.  It has to be a ‘warm’ white with brown tones in it versus a ‘cold’ white that has blues or greys in it.  
  • The flesh paint was globbed on and again washed.  Doesn’t look too bad, but not enough contrast to stick out well at arm’s length.
  • Shako cords were offwhite washed with Army Painter “Dark Tone” (i.e. like old GW Badad Black).  Looked too bright and, again, messy.  I have a tenency to lay whites on thick to get it to cover over darker base colors, which doesn’t look very good at the end.
  • The reds are washed with the Strong Tone as well, which muddies up the color a bit.

There are all mostly niggling things, but the end result didn’t turn out that great so I went back to the drawing board.  More experimentation and conversations with Jason and other folks have led me to working on this as a new test:

 

New Method

What do you think?

Here are the main changes:

  • The trousers are not washed.  I used a few colors from the Andrea Miniatures White Paint Set to build up a nice brownish color.  Might have been able to use another highlight, and my shading technique needs more work, but overall I’m pleased with how they turned out.  I have a method to build on if nothing else.
  • The skin tone is GW Dwarf Flesh, washed with Army Painter Soft Tone, and then highlighted with a mix of Dwarf Flesh & Elf Flesh. I think this lightens the flesh up a bit as well as gives a nicer contrast you can see at distance.
  • I used Vallejo “Light Grey” and “Sky Grey” for my belts, straps & shako cords instead of offwhite.  I think it looks a little more subdued and is easier to work up without looking dirty like the whites always seemed to.
  • The reds are washed with GW’s “Carrowburg Crimson” and then highlighted with Vallejo Scarlet.  Makes for a nice red tone that isn’t too bright or too pinkish but still stands out at distance.

I expect the quality of the paint jobs to raise a bit once I get more experience with things, especially with the shako cords and the trousers.  Overall, I think this does a nice job of concentrating the eye’s focus on the face and upper torso, which is where most of the action is for historical figures.  Once I get a full unit based up and ranked I hope you’ll agree that the effect looks great even if the individual figures aren’t masterpieces.

In case anyone’s interested, here are the colors I used:

  • Trousers-  Andrea White Paint set 2nd shade, base, & 2nd highlight
  • Shako, boots, packs, scabbards – Vallejo Black Grey
  • Coat – Vallejo Extra Dark Green, GW Athonian Camoshade
  • Cuffs/collars/turnbacks – Vallejo Red, GW Carrowburg Crimson, Vallejo Scarlet
  • Musket – Vallejo Hull Red
  • Musket strap – Vallejo Red Leather
  • Flesh – GW Dwarf Flesh, GW Elf Flesh, Army Painter Soft Tone ink
  • Straps/shako Cords – Vallejo Light Grey, Army Painter Dark Tone ink, Vallejo Sky Grey

Happy Painting!  If you have any questions or comments, please leave them here or hit me up on Twitter.

 

 

 

A Long Overdue Update & Plans for 2013

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s been a long time since I updated this blog.  As usual, there are a couple of reasons for this:

  1. Life has been busy.  My work got very busy in the second half of 2012 and I spent a lot of time working out of town.  Naturally this had a negative effect on my hobby time.  I also had some family health issues to deal with as well.
  2. What hobby time I have had has mostly been spent working on non-historical projects.  I picked up a copy of Warhammer 40K last summer and found a new (to me) local game store that had a healthy GW gaming crowd that had a vibe I liked.  As a result, I’ve spent most of my hobby time painting up a Tau army for Warhammer 40K.  I’ve started a separate blog covering my GW-related activities.  If you’re interested, you can check it out here.
  3. When I’ve had hobby time, I’ve been spending it on painting versus writing.  I joined Twitter last year and spend more time writing short updates there.  I find the short-form micro-blogging that Twitter allows for is something I can keep up with much easier.  If you’re curious, my Twitter handle is @GreatRedoubt.  I talk about both GW & historical gaming there.  I haven’t found too man historical miniatures gamers on Twitter so my content & timeline skews towards the GW crowd.

I’ve enjoyed the break from painting Napoleonics figures.  While I would still love to build armies and play games with large blocks of 28mm Napoleonics, it’s not a short-term project for me, especially without at least one other committed partner.  In the meantime, I’m looking at starting at least one short-term, smaller project to break up the painting production line.

The main project I’m starting is 28mm WWII.  I recently bought some figures during some end-of-year closeout sales and am looking at a doing some low-level skirmishing.  I know, 28mm probably isn’t the preferred scale for this period, but I like the character and dynamism that figures from companies like Artizan, Crusader & Warlord (among others) bring, and I’m already committed to doing some 28mm terrain to play on, so the thought of having to duplicate a lot of it in 10/15/20mm scale is not appealing to me.

I’m starting with 1939 in Poland.  I have a few squads of Polish infantry and early German infantry on order, and eventually I’ll add some smaller tanks and supporting vehicles.   While the Polish campaign was over relatively quickly, the Poles put up as much of a fight as they could, and the combat at the tactical level was not as lopsided as some gamers may think.  The Germans had yet to perfect their tactics, so at a tactical level the two armies were probably closer in skill level than, say, the Germans and Russians were in 1941.  Both armies used the Mauser rifle as their main squad weapon, with the Germans having a distinct advantage in squad MG (the MG34, with it’s high rate of fire) versus the Polish BAR.

I’m looking at games with maybe around a platoon per side.  This keeps things small which means I can get game-able forces painted up faster as well as provide both sides without breaking the bank.  I think a number of the Warhammer 40K players may be interested in trying something like this, along with some of the historical miniature players in two.

The nice thing about skirmish gaming is that basing & organizations are the same across rules sets, so I will be able to try out and potentially play a number of different rules sets.

Current candidates include:

  • Bolt Action – This is the new ‘it-rules’ for WWII put out by Warlord Games & Osprey publishing.  I have yet to pick up a set but plan to do so soon.  I suspect this rules set may be one of the easier crossover games for GW players to pick up.
  • Disposable Heroes – I’ve played this before and it can put out a fun, if sometimes bloody, game.
  • Rate of Fire – These rules from Crusader Publishing look relatively simple while still being fairly ‘historical’.
  • Force on Force – These rules from Ambush Alley Games would probably put out the most ‘realistic’ game, but it’s a bit complex for novices.  I’d love to try it but it might be a harder sell among the local crowd.  I have the pre-Osprey edition of FoF that still had the WWII rules included.  A new, updated WWII version of FoF will come out eventually, but not until Bolt Action (another Osprey product) will have had a good head start from what I’ve read.

Over time if I keep on enjoying myself, the project will move into later periods of the war.  I just don’t want to have games that are wall-to-wall panzers, so early war seems like a smarter place to start.

Beyond WWII I’d be interested in other 28mm projects, whether it’s ancients (WAB or similar), Dark Ages (Saga) or horse & musket. We’ll have to see how things progress as the year goes on, and who I find to game with.

Well, that’s enough blathering for now.  I hope that 2013 is a good year for you and your gaming projects, and I hope to keep this blog more up-to-date as well.

 

New Army Painter Inks

I managed to try out the new inks from The Army Painter this evening in between dealing with firefighting for work & feeding some starving children.  The figs are still drying but for now I am impressed.  We’ll see what they look like when fully dry but I can see myself going through large amounts of Soft Tone & Dark Tone ink for my figures.

In an attempt to speed up my painting I’ve been moving towards doing a more basic block painting combined with washes and selected highlights, and I think the new AP inks will fit into this scheme very well.  After getting the basic color blocked in I gave my figures a coat of Future to try and reduce the amount of ‘tooth’ in the paint.  After the Future finish dried I hit them with the AP inks and they seem to have flowed nicely into the cracks.

I did some experimenting with the tones and at this point here’s what I think:

  • Dark Tone will be my goto for silver metals, blues, greens, greys, among other dark-ish colors.  The black works well to shade a lot of colors without overpowering them.  I will also use them for white belts & straps to give it more of a pipe-clay look.
  • Strong Tone will be used for yellow metals and browns.
  • Light Tone will be used for flesh (Caucasian at least) along with off-white and other lighter brown-ish tones.

For my Russian Musketeers I worked on tonight, most got the Light Tone for their trousers & flesh and dark tone for everything else.

I’ll post a follow-up once things dry totally.  Thanks to Der Feldmarchall again for the tip.

Foundry Sees The Light

It’s the end of an era today, folks.

Wargames Foundry, one of the earliest drivers of ’28mm’ historical miniatures, sent me an email today:

Dear Sir/Madam,

While you may not have noticed yet, things are changing at Foundry and we are the middle of a process of restructuring and reorganisation. This will include bringing back some old ranges and reintrodcuing some old packs that were inexplicably removed from others. This will all take some time but we want to return to being the company we once were. As a symbol of this we have reintroduced the English Civil War and Thirty Years War ranges.

Although some of these things will take some time to put into place, one immediate change we have made is to make sure that those ordering from outside of the UK will pay the same price as everybody else. It was a particularly bad policy that we have rectified as of today, no matter where you live in the world you will not pay more than our domestic customers

Watch out for further changes in the future.

yours faithfully,

Neil Littlewood

 

There have been a number of things that historical miniatures gamers could whine about with regard to Foundry (dalliances with fantasy/SF ranges, declining quality of new ranges, the whole ‘our customers are collectors, not wargamers’ bit, etc.), but the main thing US customers would whine about was the fact that Foundry was purposefully screwing overseas customers through bloated local prices for their products.   This note from Mr. Littlewood indicates that this practice is coming to an end, which is good news indeed.

Foundry’s prices are still not cheap, and they still need to restock their stable of sculptors IMO, but at least everyone is getting treated the same now.  Well done.

Painting Update, or How I Learned to Live Without the Optivisor

After finally kicking myself in the butt I’ve started working in earnest on my 28mm Sash & Saber Russians again.  As I described in my last post I’m trying something new (and old) starting from a white undercoat and then blocking in the main colors with a bias toward the brighter end of the spectrum and then toning it down with washes.  Instead of using Minwax I’m using my current supply of Citadel washes instead.  Unlike previous go-rounds with the washes I’m not just slathering the entire figure in Devlan Mud this time.  The faces are being done with Ogryn flesh, the hair & linen pants in Devlan Mud, and the rest of the figure in Badab Black.

I like the effect a lot and think it looks good at tabletop distance.  I’m not trying to produce award-winning paintjobs with this technique; I just want to complete some units and play some games.  With a good basing job and some nice flags these figures will look good, and let’s face it, unless you’re a top-shelf painter displaying your figures with professional-quality photos, no one will look that closely at the rank & file figures anyway, especially when you need several hundred of them.  So why slow yourself down?  I also got rid of the optivisor for everything other that shako cords and straps which again saves time and removes the neurotic need to add one more highlight to that musket firing lock.

So, here are some WIP shots of my new figures.  I took them with my mobile phone so apologies for the meh photos.  The flash bleaches out the wash details a bit more than they should.

Sash & Saber Russians, White undercoat, basic block painting and citadel washes.

Compare that with one of my attempts to start from a black undercoat and do more of a Foundry/3-layer paint job:
28m Sash & Saber Russian Musketeer
More photos are available at my Photobucket page.

Enjoy!

An Update of Sorts

Life rolls on.  A recent job change has moved gaming down the priority chain a bit.  Now that things have settled down I’m starting to paint again.  I’m slowly working on Coppens’ Zouave battalion and am making decent progress.  After that unit gets finished I will probably be switching back to Napoleonics.   There are rumors of a large-ish Napoleonic scrum next summer and I would like to pump out some units for that, since Napoleonics is my favorite period in wargaming.   With Perry Miniatures and Warlord both releasing 28mm Russians (and Victrix to follow up eventually), there will be plenty of choices available.

I’ll post pictures of my zouaves as they get close to completion.  Assembling the plastic figures is a bit tedious, but I really enjoy the ability to customize the poses.  My zouaves all are charging with their rifles at various angles, presenting a bloodthirsty and fearsome image.


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