Sunday, 29 August 2010

Officers And Tables

The Gendarmerie officer is complete and sits proudly at the head of his squadron as the accompanying photo shows. I liked the photo so much I didn't reduce it in size as I usually do. Painting single figures like this is terrible for productivity, but scores highly for pure enjoyment. So the remaining officers for this regiment will be allowed to join at their leisure: the CO has been absent on his country estate for years now and the regiment has not missed him.

I suspect the availability of a decent sized wargames table is a problem that vexes many a wargamer. In my case I have had a solution mapped out for this for some time: but it has been placed 'on hold' as it has depended on the necessary materials appearing in some nearby skip.

The ideal wargames table needs to be reasonably light (stories of ceilings bowing under the weight of a sandtable come to mind here) while possessing dimensions normally associated with the banquet tables of reigning monarchs. Even if such an article was entirely homemade, the materials, if shop bought, would represent a considerable sum. However, it occurs to me that there is an unappreciated item of domestic architecture that is admirably suited to the purpose.

This is the cheap wooden domestic door. Round my neck of the woods these are often discarded in skips due to the belief of local womenfolk that a fancier article is necessary to their peace of mind. It is relatively robust and yet light, being constructed of thin wood stretched over a wooden frame, and is generally 28" wide and 80" in length. As a neighbour has just thrown three of these out, I at last have the materials to make a 7' x 6'8" table: not quite up to the size of Charles Grant's table as shown in 'The Wargame', but as large as I can fit in my house.

Making the thing will have to wait until Winter: the garden is taking up most of my energy for now.

Friday, 6 August 2010

A Company, An Old Acquaintance, and a New Artillery Table

Progress has been slow: this is the time of year when warfare is mostly being carried out in the garden, against invading hordes of slugs, aphids and caterpillars. However, the first company of the Imperial Army's Furstenberg regiment is, at last, complete. The second company is already started and I ought to be knocking companies out at a fair old rate. But there is a monotony here that prevents me doing this at a faster pace. I find myself distracted by other, more fiddly but fun projects.

Lentulus Wonders Where the Rest Are.

In my pile of unpainted figures (more a metal molehill than a mountain) I have a couple of Suren cuirassier officers waiting their turn to be introduced to their squadrons. This figure has always been a problem for me: it's nicely proportioned, but the right arm is waving about in mid air, in a manner that leaves me baffled as to what to do with it. I am led to believe that it is intended to hold its sword aloft, in which case its not going to be holding a sword at all after a few wargames.

The one officer painted up until now had his hand dropped to the pistol holders, resting there in a rather unmilitary fashion that might have prompted Old Fritz to make a few unkind remarks. I decided this time I'd try for a better pose, drawing the sword from its scabbard. This should place the sword in a safe position where other parts of the figure protect it from damage.

Suren Cuirassier Officers on Stadden Horses.

There is one small detail that has me concerned. As usual I have replaced the saddlecloth with one made of paper: this makes it easier to fit the Suren figure to a Stadden horse as well as having a better scaled thickness. But the cuirassier troopers all use a saddlecloth that has a rounded shape whereas some - but perhaps not all - officers seem to use squared off ones. At least, this is how I interpret the illustrations in Dorn and Engelmann, but as I can't read the accompanying German text I haven't a clue what the proper distinctions are here. I think I shall mount the Colonel on a squared saddlecloth and the squadron commanders on rounded ones, administering the necessary quantity of lame excuses - as is every wargamer's prerogative - should I be in error.

Prussian Infantry Under Fire From The Old Artillery Table

This refers to the artillery rules here.

My new artillery table is another attempt to recast the powerful artillery of the Charge! rules into something a little more game-friendly. Using a two dice roll to hit gives a Gaussian probability distribution, so the decrease in accuracy at extreme range becomes much more realistically pronounced, while at closer ranges where artillery can be expected to become destructive, there is little change from the original rules. I added an 'mischance' table consulted when a double one is thrown: this adds a little colour but should rarely need consulting as it has only a 1 in 36 chance of occurring. There is a 1 in 6 chance on this table (1 in 216 when the odds are combined with the 'to hit' roll) of killing one of your own gunners. I based this on an incident from Captain Mercer's Waterloo diary:

"He had just finished ramming down the shot, and was stepping back outside the wheel, when his foot stuck in the miry soil, pulling him forward at the moment when the gun was fired. As a man naturally does when falling, he threw out both his arms before him, and they were blown off at the elbows."

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Movement and Curses

What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) html editors are hard to find and rarely successful. Sadly, the blogger 'compose' mode editor conforms to type and can best be described as a What You See Is Not What You Wanted editor. So, after much bad language, I have reverted to editing in pure html mode and have switched off the 'compose' mode so that accidentally invoking it does not allow it to work its evil deeds on my efforts.

This post refers to the movement table at the end of this section of rules.

There is one rules mechanism in Charge! that I am eager to be rid of. Charge! instructs us that moving within a set distance of other companies (rule 7c page 56) reduces a company's movement rate: this is the method by which the rules prevent a battalion deployed in line moving at the same rate as a battalion deployed in coulumn of companies. There is good reasoning behing this idea: if a column has room to its flanks then it can navigate around terrain features that would throw it into disorder were the unit compelled to march through them.

But it matters very little to the individual infantryman whether he has thirty or a hundred men to his right and left: he is still expected to advance at the regulation pace of so many strides of regulation length to the minute. If a battalion in line advances across ideal terrain that happily resembles a parade ground then it will advance as rapidly as a single company in line. But if the same battalion advances in line across a battlefield which has all the typical features of a rural landscape, it will find its advance slowed as its various companies encounter obstacles.

If we can model the problem of terrain in our wargame, then we will see that the rate of movement of a line will be dictated by the frequency with which parts of it become entangled in obstacles. So we can replace a somewhat awkward rule with a more pleasing simulation of the problems of manouevre that were associated with linear tactics. This is made easy because we have hexagonal terrain, and so we are able to define unambiguously which terrain areas have the potential to impose these kinds of delay on a formation. We have only to scatter hexes that represent this terrain around the battlefield judiciously. Movement rates for the company in line and in column are therefore all that are needed.

I can therefore use a hex-based variant of the movement table (page 59) with the reduced movement rate for infantry in battalion line removed. I have reduced movement distances so as to favour a smaller table than the original authors of Charge! envisaged, using 1 hex as equivalent to 6 inches even though my terrain hexes are actually 4 inches across. For consistency the same system will be used when determining firing ranges.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Organisations, Formations And Movements

This post discusses the rules linked here.

I am going to try following the list of chapters that is used by Charge! So the first chapter discusses the organisation of units, their formations, and how this determines their movement rates.  This part is uncomplicated: the organisations used by both Charge! and The Wargame require little alteration.

The biggest change from Charge! rules is to use four twelve man companies instead of three sixteen man.  On aesthetic grounds alone, I prefer the 'square' organisation, and I suspect that Charge! adopted sixteen men per company solely because it uses firing groups of eight men.  But my musketry will use a system based on The Wargame and that uses six man firing groups, so the twelve man company will work well enough.

Light infantry are organised as per Charge! The use of open order formation is one instance where hexes are beneficial: it is easier to denote use of open order by limiting deployment to four figures per hex rather than having to carefully maintain proper spacing between every figure.

The cavalry squadron organisation of eight troopers plus an officer is nominally as per Charge! but in reality represents a slightly weaker unit as my officers are nothing but eye candy whereas in Charge! officers would fight along with the rest of the squadron. Cavalry don't fit so well into hexes.  A squadron must be able to opt between deploying in a single line or a double line: in the former case the space required dictates that the squadron can use two adjacent hexes.

The next step will be to lay down the various movement rates.  There are some problems here, but also some benefits from using hexes: but this will be covered in the next post.

I put a lot of photos into the section: they aren't particularly informative, but do give some feel for what the units will look like when conforming to hexagonal terrain.  The formations in column do not look pretty: the half hex offset between hex rows is aesthetically unpleasing.  So the photos in this case do serve to warn about how the look of the wargame suffers in this manner.

Friday, 16 July 2010


When I first started this blog I wrote that I was interested in developing hexagon-based rules for fighting my battles. Since then, although I have used traditional 'measurement by ruler' based rules, the goal of using hexes has remained fixed in my mind. My unit organisations have all been ordered to fit within 4 inch hexes, and my terrain has been constructed upon these hexes.

Using hexes has significant advantages. The speed with which a game can be played is speeded up because there is no measuring to be done: ranges can be assessed at a glance, movement distances are immediately apparent. More importantly for a competitive game, there are no ambiguities; no borderline cases where a distance might be 'in' or 'out' depending on how the ruler is held or on the prejudiced eye of the observer. Movement orders - defined by destination hex and facing - are made precise.

I have reached the stage where it is time to start setting down my ideas for the rules themselves. This is where the technology that is now available to us all comes into its own. My idea is to set out my rationale (if that's not too kind a description) for a particular section of rules in an entry on this blog, and to write out the rules themselves in an accompanying blog that contains the rules without any of the associated blurb.

There is sufficient precedent to show it is possible to create hex based rules, but whether it is possible to do so while retaining what represents to me the essential look and feel of old school rulesets is another matter. There are some obvious problems. The imposition of hexes removes all chances of making small adustments to position or facing: a battalion in line cannot face just where it wants. There is no move distance smaller than one hex, so penalties like 'half move up hill' cannot always work. Using a rules blog for the exercise will, hopefully, help a lot with trying to develop mechanisms that cope with all this: it represents an easily editable medium in html that I can update as the rules develop (or flounder). If I set the layout of the blog correctly it should be printable.

Inevitably, the rules are intended to suit only my personal taste, but anyone interested will be able to make suggestions (or point out shortcomings) in the comments section of the blog. All such help is gratefully received. And at the worst, the rules blog can be deleted without any great sorrow if - as is only too likely - the effort does not prove fruitful.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

More on Multiple Basing

I have rebased a complete infantry battalion so it is now possible to judge whether the method gives the visual effect that I want. The photos show my Grenadiere-Garde battalion deployed with various august personages inspecting. Just laying out the battlion for a photo would have taken some time with single basing, whereas this shot was prepared in a few minutes and the figures, constrained by card and milliput, are arrayed with a precision that the Erbprinz regiment would approve.

I decided to retain officers and musicians on single bases. They do not represent the same time problem as there far fewer of them, and there is no need for the precision in placement that is required when drawing the rank and file up in formation. So I am happy, for now at least, that I have obtained the compromise between practicality and looks that I was seeking.

As the photos show, the unfortunate 'Oick on a yellow horse' has been found a position. My artillery battery was lacking a CO and this happy coincidence allows me to find a use for the Oick while observing 18th Century prejudices against the lower classes. It is yet to be discovered whether the fellow's understanding of ballistics is any better than his knowledge of horseflesh.

Modern architects like to use the description 'honest' to describe many of their most hideous productions. My basing system uses the opposing philosophy. I no longer have figures that are individuals, they are now mere components of six-man blocks, irrevocably linked together until the end of their days. As this is something I don't like, I'm happy to use a basing method that disguises the fact; that lies about it. I am reminded of something Michael Flanders' description of his revue 'At the Drop of a Hat':

The purpose of satire, it has been rightly said, is to strip off the veneer of comforting illusion and cosy half-truth. And our job, as I see it, is to put it back again.

Once figures are mounted on multi-figure bases, there are numerous modifications that need to be made to the Charge! rules. The following amendments are intended to cover these.

1. Casualty Removal. Casualties are always removed from the flanks of the unit, the unit gradually shrinking in upon it's centre. If only one base is removed then this is taken from one flank and the remaining bases are shifted half a base's width in the direction of the flank the base was taken from.

We lose the appealing spectacle of gaps opening in the ranks as casualties are taken, but this is not necessarily any less realistic. It would be natural for the men to close in upon the centre as their losses mounted: in bad regiments the officers struggled to keep their men spread out in line rather than breaking ranks and ending up in a formation best described as a huddle.

2. Melee Resolution. The number of figures in contact on each side are counted up. If there are X figures on the side with the highest count and Y figures on the other then we have:

X minus Y = Z combats at 2:1
Y minus Z combats at 1:1

So if twelve figures are fighting ten, we have 12-10 = 2 combats at 2:1 and 10-2 = 8 combats at 1:1.  This isn't difficult maths to do in one's head.  Anyone playing Little Wars will have become accustomed to such calculations.  I find it's a lot easier than working one's way along the figures keeping a careful eye on where we have gotten to in a confused melee.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Imperial Infantry At Last (Part 2)

I have finished painting the first four castings. The photos show the final result.

Imperial Infantry (Home sculpted and gravity cast)

Imperial Infantry - Rear View

I have a second mold for the same figure currently drying out: if that works then I have all I need to start casting the figures in quantity. I still plan to make a third mold for safety's sake.

Imperial Infantry - Side View

The muskets are made from 1/32" brass rod, which allows them to be far more slender - and stronger - than if they were cast.  Surprisingly enough using this diameter brass rod means they are still slightly too thick than if they were properly scaled.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Bizarre Basing

One consequence of my starting work on my fifth infantry regiment is that I have to rethink my method for basing the figures. It is apparent that my armies are reaching a size where moving individual figures becomes too lengthy a process to be practical: fighting a battle with hundreds of men on each side cannot be done in the few hours that will generally be available.

Infantry Company on Single Bases?

Moving to a system where I can pick up and move multiple figures is now a necessity. I know trays are used successfully in many big battalions battles. This, to me, is a pragmatic solution that sacrifices too much of the 'look' that I want. The trays have to be relatively robust if they are to hold the weight of an entire big battalion,  and so they add to the already considerable bulk of the bases of the figures and are very noticeable.

But I don't like the look of multi-figure bases either. It is possible to create terrain on them that is, in itself, a work of art, but to my jaundiced eye it never really works out. The problem here is that the bases do not merge tidily into the terrain that they cover. For example, it always appears that a battalion marching along a road is dragging turf and other foliage along with it. The problem becomes worse when the terrain is contoured, as the base cannot sit comfortably on a rounded surface.

I'd like to preserve the look of Charge! formations as much as I can. So I have decided to try using a base that has gaps between the figures on its exterior edges. If the connecting material can be made stiff enough to support the weight of the figures and yet remain sufficiently slight; it might appear to the observer, if he does not look too closely, as if the figures are still individuals.  My infantry battalions are organised into four companies each of twelve rank and file. My plan is to rebase these on eight bases each of six men. This will allow the battalion to be deployed in all the formations I use ( I use three man wide columns of march rather than four man wide).  And so, on the photo at the top of the page, the six figures on the right are all mounted on the same base.  I hope this was not immediately apparent.
I won't be leaving any figures on individual bases for casualty removal: whether I use casualty markers of some form or else rely on record keeping is still undecided.  Officers, standard bearers, and musicians will be left on separate bases so that I will still get the look of Charge! battalions where the mass of the battalion is surrounded and decorated by such folk.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Imperial Infantry At Last

Recruitment for my Reichsarmee has been slow. Since the onset of winter I have recruited but one regiment of cuirassiers. With my painting a few personality figures, this might have resulted in an army with as many generals as private soldiers: appropriate given the subject, but not my intention. Fortunately, it appears I am reaching the end of the process that has been causing the delay: I have gotten the first mold for the Imperial infantry working. The results of the first four attempts to cast a figure are shown in the photo.

Imperial Infantry - The First Castings

These castings represent a considerable improvement over my cuirassier figure. As this was my second iteration at creating figures I felt confident enough to invest a little more time in the sculpting. I had also learnt from my first molds that it is necessary to thin the vaseline used to coat the sculpt when pouring rubber. Failing to do this last time resulted in a pronounced loss of detail.

There appears to be only two flaws in the mould; both in the form of small air bubbles. One is at the front of the tricorn: had it only appeared slightly further to the left it would have made a nice pompom. As it is, it will have to be cut from each figure, along with the second bubble which is lodged between the turnbacks at the rear of the figure.

I'll be casting elements of at least three Imperial infantry regiments from this sculpt. A single mold will be very unlikely to last that long, and I'd like more molds so I can cast more figures from one melt of metal. So I'll be creating two or three more molds from the same sculpt.

More immediately, I need to try making muskets and then painting a few figures to see how they look. Until that's done, and I know there's no adjustments that I want to make to the original, I'll hold back on further mold making.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Nag Nag Nag

I'm afraid I can be unkind at times. My relatives are inclined to agree, although they replace the 'at times' with 'usually' while gently indicating their disapproval and urging me to reform. That Stadden horse is feeling the full brunt of this callous side to my nature. Having been frankly unimpressed by what I consider to be the deficiencies in its anatomy, I decided that a steed of such ignoble character warranted a paint job to match.

Oick On Horseback

"It was a Beaunese sheltie, of about twelve or fourteen years of age, yellow as an orange, without any hair on its tail, but abundance of galls on its legs, and which, whilst carrying its head lower than its knees, yet managed gallantly its eight leagues a day."

Anyone who has read the book will not fail to recognise Dumas's description of the horse that propelled Dartagnan from the parental home to Paris. When Dumas wrote "The Three Musketeers" in 1844, he could assume his readers would be familiar with horses and popular prejudices towards their appearance: we can be sure that the colour is not intended to recommend the animal to us.

It seemed to me, at the time of painting, that such a apparition might, in this case, suit admirably. On reflection, it seems my imagination has gotten the better of me: I have produced some poor oick mounted on a nag that no gentleman of quality would be seen dead on. Oh well, I shall try and palm it off on visiting generals.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Anatomical Angst

The first half of the mold for my marching infantryman is drying out. Its been over a week now and the surface has only just solidified: I suspect I didn't use enough catalyst, so it will be best left a while longer. In the absence of anything else to do I've continued fiddling about with the Suren personality figures.

Nice Figure, Shame About The Legs

Almost every horse I use is the Stadden H1 standing figure. The only exceptions to this is for the colonels of infantry regiments who use the H2 walking figure so they don't get left behind by their troops who are inevitably moving forwards in march attack pose.  I decided that for the Suren personality figures I could use a wider range than this, amd as a 'daring' experiment I bought one of the H10 horses. This noble steed is rearing in a dramatic manner, that is just begging to be used by the more flamboyant kind of general (or possibly any gentleman who has difficulty controlling his horse).

On examination, I was surprised to find what I think are a couple of flaws in this figure. This is something I am reluctant to admit to: Stadden served in Mule Pack Transport during WW2 and so his knowledge of equine anatomy was on an entirely different level from my own. However, I decided not to let the flaws pass because they bothered me, and fortunately I have only myself to please.

The first problem was the front right leg. This seemed to have telescoped considerably and had to be shortened to match the left fore leg. I chose not to cut the leg down as the legs on this figure are rather flimsy: instead I build the ground up beneath it and modelled a new hoof using Milliput.  The second problem lay with the bending of the neck. The inside edge of this had a considerable arch to it that looked wrong to me. Photos on the net - with one exception - seem to show that the horses neck would compress rather than arch in this area, so I chose to fill the arch in with milliput. Right or wrong, the new neck looks more believable to me.

Having attached rider and reins as per usual, I applied the usual black undercoat and a light drybrushing of white as a preparation for painting. This is the stage at which the first photo was taken. What seemed to be a satisfactory figure when viewed as bare metal, doesn't look so good when undercoated: the noble steed has rather bent, thin and nobbly upper legs. I could straighten them out a bit, but I have decided the figure would benefit from a little bit more preparation, filling the insides of the upper legs to create a most robust set of limbs. Oh well, time to scrape off some black paint and break out the Milliput again.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Marechal De Saxe

The world is full of secrets and it should be no surprise if Tradition of London have theirs. If you go to their website, all the wargame figure ranges seem to be visible in a block on the main page: so you click on "30 mm Tradition" or "30mm Suren" and off you go.

And you might just miss the link Tradition Scandinavia which leads to 30mm Willie Series which would be a shame because, unless you follow them, you will never happen upon such wonders as The High Command T.S. Willie Box D F1.  These boxed sets are Suren figures that have been cleaned up: they retain all their original beauty but have had the wrinkles that come with age removed. With Private Schulz currently awaiting his great encounter with destiny (in the form of silicone rubber mould making) I have need of another project. And this will fill the gap nicely.

Marechal De Saxe: Suren Figure on Stadden Horse

The box does not come with horses supplied: a great convenience for me as it allows me to order the Stadden horses which I prefer. The first figure I chose to work on is the one that I take to be Marechal De Saxe. Any general lively enough to die from a 'surfeit des femmes' following an 'interview with a troop of eight actresses' deserves a figure to commemorate him.

Saxe at Fontenoy - Or Not

I found the choice of uniform for de Saxe problematic. Pictures of him at Fontenoy show him mounted on a white or a brown horse and he is dressed in a dark blue or a red uniform. According to Wikipedia he was carried round the battle in a wicker chair (he probably needed a rest) so the artists are clearly not fussy about accuracy. I chose to use the red uniform simply because it differs from the Prussian blue of the "other lot".
The only physical changes I made to the figure were to cut the rear of the saddle cloth off and replace it with milliput that I could fit more exactly to the horse's back, and to replace the cast reins with wire.  There's a small blemish on the horse's mane that I didn't notice until I could see the photographs I took of the figure: it's only with the magnification these images give that such problems are noticeable by me, alas.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Private's Progress

St. George's Volunteers (Gillray Cartoon from Wikimedia)

Poor old Private Schultz. He's never going to break any records for beauty, though he's perhaps not as ugly as the characters in a Gillray cartoon. But if the Guiness Book of Records had an entry for the greatest length of time taken to sculpt a figure, he'd be a contender. I am making progress, but it's very slow due to the number of errors I am making on the way.

Schulz -Some cleaning up left to do

The 'affair of the right hand' will serve as an example. I did manage to sculpt what I thought was a pretty good hand. It wasn't quite 'Staddenesque', but it was a servicable hand with the requisite number of fingers and generally satisfactory proportions. But a right hand has to be attached to a right arm of the correct length: and it was there that I failed. So the hand had to go when the arm was lengthened, and now Schultz is blessed with a new hand which, despite being in an anatomically better position, somehow doesn't seem to measure up to the standards of the old one.

Schultz's legs and feet have been completed and a base added.  As noted by DC in the comments in the previous post, there was a certain 'sauciness' about the legs that would have been suitable for one of Marshall de Saxe's actresses, but entirely inappropriate for infantry of the line.  Hopefully, this has now been fixed.  The figure is now as good as my current skills can make it, so I will be trying to make a mould after I have had a few days to convince myself there really is nothing else I should try to do.

Track Sections (Unpainted)

All this fiddling around with milliput is generating appreciable quantities of unused putty. Rather than waste it I'm putting it to good use making track hexes to add to my stock of terrain. The milliput is smeared onto paper as thinly as possible before ruts are drawn into it. I could use plaster of Paris for this purpose, but that would be at the risk of considerable warping as the plaster dries out. None of the modules are painted as yet: this process uses spray paint and so I need to complete all the new terrain before I can economically spray it all in one go.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Private Schultz

The photos show the current state of affairs with 'Private Schultz' my master figure for Reichsarmee musketeers. Hopefully, they demonstrate some improvement in technique from my first attempts.

At this point I am torn between hastening to complete the figure so I can start painting, and the need to work a lot more to bring the figure up to a higher standard. This figure, if successful, is likely to be the progenitor of the troops for at least three infantry regiments (almost 150 men) and so every improvement made now will be of considerable value later.

The pose will be March Attack.  At the moment I am planning so use brass rods for musket barrels, so only the wooden stock needs to be included on the figure.  If I tried to cast the musket using gravity casting I'd have to have a short and excessively thick musket.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Points Mean Prizes

It almost seems like heresy, but there are various mechanisms that can be introduced into the framework of the Charge! rules according to the taste of the wargamer. Long ago the group I played with fought Napoleonic battles with 15mm figures. These were, of course, tawdry affairs between massed ranks of popinjays garbed in peculiarly shaped headgear and not a decent tricorn in sight. But they are worth recalling because we used a variant of the Charge! melee rules (I have no idea where this variant first arose) that is of some interest. Such a system might be used for the Seven Years War as easily as for Napoleonics, and so I thought I might present it here.

Melee is resolved using individual combats as per the original Charge! rules. This is a point of importance to me, as the procedure generates some excitement (as well as occasional bad language and unkind remarks). But Charge! uses a single dice throw for each side, with multipliers according to the number and type of figures. With the variant rules, each side uses a 'score' which is calculated as the sum of the melee values of the figures involved plus the value of a dice roll.

The melee values we used in our Napoleonic battles were:

Heavy Cavalry = 3
Light Cavalry = 2
Infantry = 1

So if two light cavalry troopers are fighting one heavy cavalryman we'd be comparing (2+2+Dice) vs (3+Dice). A casualty would be removed if a difference of two or more in scores result (as the ordinary Charge! rules dictate), although an additional saving throw of 6 on a single dice roll is allowed for cuirassiers.

It should be noted here that infantry are decidedly weaker in melee than before; no less than three of them are needed for an equal combat against a single heavy cavalryman. I believe this to be a considerable advantage over the original rules where infantry, if they have significantly narrower bases, can rather too easily mob cavalry. As John Preece has noted: allowing only one infantryman to fight any given cavalry trooper can be a useful amendment to the original Charge! rules.

Dragoons Versus Cuirassiers

So much for detail. Now it so happens that Smith, with a full cavalry regiment of thirty all ranks, has been manoeuvring to charge a regiment of Jones's dragoons. I suspect it will come as no surprise to most readers if I disclose that the latter regiment, for a variety of reasons, numbers only twenty.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

A Fight To Forget

Jim Wannop, having bundled his good lady wife out of the car somewhere in the vicinity of Wolverhampton, was in the area 'visiting family': which meant he spent the day fighting a battle with me. Two infantry battalions, a regiment of cavalry and one cannon per side with Charge! elementary rules in play. Unfortunately we were very pushed for time and so I failed to take any photos to record the fight.

That is probably for the best: my performance was not something to dwell on. Napoleon is supposed to have once said "I have fought sixty battles and I have learned nothing which I did not know at the beginning". In my case, on the evidence of the day's proceedings, it appears that I may have forgotten most of what little I ever knew.

Hohenzollern Cuirassiers - Looking On With Dismay At Their General's Ineptitude

Although I failed to recognise it at the outset, the battle was going to hinge on whether I could advance sufficiently rapidly from the confined space in which I had to deploy. Had I placed my cavalry in the front line I might have been able to do so. But instead they spent the larger part of the battle trapped to the rear of my infantry who were frankly going nowhere. Jim had noted the fault in my arrangements and, alert to the opportunity, pressed forwards to box me in very effectively.

The only bright spot was in the closing stages of the battle. My Hohenzollern Kurassiere made a brilliant charge losing but one trooper to a ragged volley, and then sabring a fair number of infantry without any further loss to themselves. Sadly, by this stage my infantry were melting away and my army was at half strength: the agreed decision point.

Perhaps I need to take a lesson from Napoleon's book.  After any setback he'd write a distorted acoount of the battle for Le Moniteur, confident that a sycophantic editor would publish it without any questions.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Officers And Gentlemen

The rank and file of the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers are almost at full muster. The near completion of this stage has raised the issue of how the regiment is to be officered. I decided (for reasons of vanity if nothing else) that I wanted the entire regiment to be made from my own figures. I am therefore taking one of my trooper castings and promoting him, by craftknife and milliput, into an officer: this will serve as a master for an officer's mould. Converting a figure is easy compared to creating one entirely from scratch, and so at the same time I am converting another casting into a dragoon figure to be used for my second Imperial cavalry regiment.

Hohenzollern Cuirassier Officer

Looking at this photo now I can see the poor fellow is frightfully flat chested:  I shall have to adjust him to more heroic proportions. 

Just to add to the list of projects (and to make more efficient use of the milliput I mix up at each stage) I am creating an improved horse figure. This uses a casting of my first horse as a starting point. I have moved two of the legs very slightly for ease of casting as well as refining the horse's anatomy very slightly.

Horse Begets Horse

The final photo shows the current state of my attempt to sculpt a new infantryman. It took a while to decide how to get this moving. I really needed some kind of physical reference point on the dolly: I didn't make any progress until I hit upon the idea of using the frontal edges of the coat for this purpose. So I rolled out two thin cylinders of milliput and pressed these onto the dolly so they ran along the approximate position I though the coat's front edges should be on. Once these were on I used two shorter cylinders to form the inner edges of the coat tails, and after that I could fill in between cylinders to complete the form of the tails.

Mr Blobby

Monday, 1 February 2010

Rubbish In, Ruins Out

I am forever looking for ways to make use of excess milliput left over from conversions, filling in, or my attempts at sculpting.  In the past I was using this for making trees, but I long since gotten enough of those.

The photo shows the final destination of the last year's unwanted milliput. This ruin is intended to take the place of the temporary fieldwork thrown up alongside the mole on the river Weser in Sittangbad. It was made out of MDF offcuts left over from making terrain baseboards. Having made the structure out of MDF, I applied the waste milliput (whenever I had some) on top and cut the stonework in it using my bamboo sculpting tool. This isn't a style of terrain making I particularly like (the effect is rather too like icing on a cake rather than believable construction) but it did salve the conscience on otherwise throwing away perfectly usable material.
Soubise and Lentulus discuss prospects for the forthcoming campaigning season

Aside from that, its clear from the photo that the green on the tile edges is far too bright and doesn't merge at all with the green on my other terrain boards.  So I'll have to go over it again and try to tone it down.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad

As the photos show, the second squadron of Hohenzollern Cuirassiers is, at last, complete.  The time taken to complete a squadron is not down to the painting required: as with any low-detail figure, painting is actually relatively quick and easy.  The problem lies with the preparation: each figure has three cast components and another seven items made out of wire, milliput and paper.  Added to that, there's the need to fix any casting flaws with more milliput.  I am reminded of the Douglas DC3, an aircraft that was described as a "a collection of parts flying in loose formation."

Wire, Milliput and Paper in Line

The third squadron is already cast and is now undergoing assembly.  With the completion of the rank and file now plainly on the horizon, I need to decide what to do about the regiment's officers.  I'd prefer to complete the regiment using all my own figures: my first attempt to do so will be by converting the trooper figure by cutting off straps and modelling coats without turnbacks using milliput.

Meanwhile, my attempts at sculpting some new figures is going badly.  I have an acceptable dolly now, but building up the uniform on top of it is proving a frustrating task.  It seems that whenever I add milliput to the dolly, the stuff is determined to adhere to anything else.  However, I shall persevere: the only way to succeed at something like this is to work at it and learn from each failure.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Mangling The Milliput

My experiment with creating sculpting dollies is progressing slowly. The first problem was deciding what gauge wire to use. 1/32" brass rod would seem to offer the right degree of stiffness, but might be a bit thick compared to the limbs of the dolly I am trying to create. I have some garden wire that's thinner, so I'll try making a dollies using both types of wire.

The Milliput Production Line
The photo shows the two dollies in progress. One is still attached to the paper template, the second has been detached from the paper so that its back can start being rounded out. As can be seen, I haven't followed the shape of the template as well as I might. But I am not sure how much effort I should put into that kind of detail yet: if I acheived decent proportions at this stage, all that might be wasted if it doesn't look right once the dolly is bent into the required pose. This is something I'll appreciate better once I've gotten to the later stages on this, my first attempt.
I have also shown the production line for my cuirassier's muskets. I use a single template with eight muskets so I can create multiple muskets per session: I chose eight because this quantity doesn't get too boring to do all at once. Brass rod bent to shape, rods with milliput (crudely) applied still glued to the template, some muskets needing more milliput where I've accidentally broken it off, and the finished article, is shown. I have found it easier to shape the milliput after it has set rather than be too particular when applying it: the muskets are so thin that the milliput can be filed to the correct shape very quickly.