The ramblings of a miniature painter
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|Posted on October 14, 2013 at 9:40 PM||comments (34)|
I just posted some pictures of my first battalion of Murawski Poles on my blog
Many more pics are available on my blog. I will add these pics to the Website Gallery in a month or so.
and I recently posted some pictures of our most recent games, also on my blog
For those who may wonder why all the new stuff is now on my blog, the main reason is quite simple; Blogger is a lot more user friendly and faster to use. Less time blogging = more time painting
So if you haven't done so, I'd strongly suggest you bookmark and become a member of my blog
|Posted on May 25, 2013 at 10:25 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted on April 14, 2013 at 1:20 AM||comments (3)|
I've been quite busy recently working on a FIW and a biblical project, and updating my new blog, which explains in large part the lack of updates and activities on this blog. I say in part because for a while now I've been in somewhat of a funk when it comes to my Napoleonic collection. One of the biggest problems I find of Napoleonics is of course the number of figures needed to play a game. And if you do 28mm, that means a long time spent painting! While you can "complete" (if such a thing is really possible) an army for most periods in around a year or so with some dedication, it will take a few years at least to do the same for Naps, anyways for most of us (yeah, looking at you John M). In my case, and I'm sure many others, this brings its share of problems, as the project has been ongoing for so long that my tastes and goals have changed since!
Indeed when I started this project many years ago it was my first foray into Napoleonics, and even though at the time I planned meticulously what I wanted to do, a lot has changed since. Let's have a closer look at my original ideas, and where I'm at now.
My initial interest in Napoleonics was to replay big battles using Grand Tactical rules. This was influenced by the fact the first Napoleonic rules I read were Napoleon's Battle (circa 1993) and then a lot later Grande Armee. Like many neophytes, I wanted to take on the role of Napoleon and Charles, wanted to field the complete Austrian army and to refight the great Wagram, Aspern, etc. in their entirety. I was amazed at the number of units required for such massive endevaours, and so had to find a way to make this possible, a hard task considering I knew I would have to paint both sides, as at the time the only people I knew who played Naps had 15mm armies. The first step was to paint small units; I'm not a fast painter so painting 30 or so 24/36 figures units per side was out of the question. Small 4 bases units of 16 figures seemd like a good compromise. Put into attack column, these could also be used in Grande Armee. Since my units would usually represent brigades I felt that representing each unit as a regiment was logical. It also gave me the option of having differently coloured Austrian units. I then just picked and chose regiments which were present at Wagram and had nice facings. I used a 20mm frontage, the standard frontage of WAB and Warhammer fantasy. Actually the very first unit I painted was individually based on GW bases. I rebased them later when I found out about Litko marvellous bases and the advantages of multi-figures basing.
I then worked tirelessly to paint an Austrian and a French force (with some hired help). And then I played a couple of games, read more on the era, read more wargame rules, and well in the course of more than 6 years a lot has changed...
First of all I've grown to enjoy the tactical level a lot, and I find that 28mm are made for that. I'm still interested in Grand Tactical, but if I ever go that route I'll probably use 6mm with the big bases à la Grande Armée. Because I have to admit it; a 16 figure unit doesn't look like a brigade to me. Yes, it doesn't look that much like a full battalion either I hear you say but I'm sure you get my point. I've also became a fan of smaller state armies, which you really can't do justice to in Grand Tactical. As an example, my future Napoleonic projects will probably be Poles, Brunswick, Berg or the likes.
I realized that most of the time games I play will involve few players and that a lot less units than I initialy thought are necessary to play a good game. You don't refight Wagram with two players! Moreover I enjoy playing the role of a General de Division, and you know what? Smaller actions can be just as rewarding, if not more so, than huge battles, not to mentiion they take a lot less time! What does that mean? Well first of all, bigger units; they look better and time and space are now much less of an issue. Second of all, a reassesment of what I need!
Then we have the basing issue; If I were restarting from scatch I would probably go for a smaller frontage, 15 or 18mm; Naps look better and more historical when they are tighter. I would also base my figures 6 to a base instead of 4. The less bases you have, the better. Even my tastes in figures and the looks of units has changed; I used to love units in full dress with all troopers in one pose. Now, while I still like that, I also love the look of animated units in dirty campaign dress!
I know it sounds extreme, but I thought once or twice of selling the entire collection and starting from scratch! Fortunately I'm not one to make rash decisions and I've spent waaay too much time (and love) working on this project to do that! But all these issues, maybe minor to many of you, have slowed my motivation to a grind. For many months now I've been thinking about all this, and how to make sense of it and reconcile my old plan with a new one. I'm someone who needs structure when doing a project, and the lack of a precise plan is hurting my motivation.
I still don't have all the answers, but I'm starting to have some ideas.
The first thing I decided to do was to paint all my new infantry units as 24 figures instead of the 16 and cavalry 12 instead of 8, as I mentionned a few times already. I'd like to go bigger like my TYW project but I have to be realistic; I'm just not a fast enough painter to pull that off considering the number of battalions needed. While I toyed with the idea of reducing frontage, it was not feasible; I'm not rebasing my entire collection and it's something I can live with. Not to mention John has a similarly based collection (actually his frontage is smaller than mine, but his bases are the same). My plan is also to beef up all my old units, but I'm realistic and I know this will take me a lot of time, if I ever find the courage to do it all! But at least all my new units will be bigger, and better looking for it. I might also make the odd bigger unit here and there, just to mix things up.
Secondly, it's time I changed what my units are meant to represent. Out with the regiments, in with the battalions. I mean what's the point of them looking like regiments if they're always used as battalions? For my Austrians it means switching from two to one flag per unit, as well as repainting some facings, or painting more figures to represent 2nd and 3rd battalions in order to create proper historical brigades/regiments. I did think about going with two flags anyway per battalion, history be damned, but I couldn't do it! The Austrians are my specialty and it feels wrong to me! I figure I will keep the second flag bearer for when I paint the second battalion. Of course it also creates problems with my officers, but I'll tackle that issue later! One thing at a time.
I would also like to use that change to maybe try to represent a real 1809 Austrian division. But it's quite difficult considering all that I already have painted so right now I'm still thinking about this. Whatever I end up doing, I would like to create a new plan, historical or maybe fictional, of what I want for my Austrians and then eventually my French...and Bavarians. Ahem. I take solace in the fact I'm only 34
I did think a lot about the look of those new battalions. Yes, I place a premium on the aesthetic of all my projects and it's probably the most important aspect. I probably spent hours thinking about ridiculously small issues like
- How many officers per unit?
- Should I include a mounted officer?
- How many drummers?
- Where to put the standard bearer? Front row or back row?
Yes, a little sad...
I know I have to create something I really like this time because I will not go through that again! (famous last words)
So two weeks ago I got fed up of being stuck in neutral and decided I had to do something about it. It was time to beef up one of my Austrian units and see how it looks.
The lucky winner is my (IR11) Erzherzog Rainer regiment, with its beautiful pink facings.
This used to be the (IR11) Erzherzog Rainer regiment
And now we have the first battalion of the (IR11) Erzherzog Rainer regiment
The addition of a drummer and a mounted officer really adds to the look of the battalion, and I actually find the flag in the second row looks much better. But really just the addition of 8 more troopers (well actually 6 + mounted officer) has tranformed the unit from a colours party into a real battalion imho. I'll admit I didn't spend a lot of time painting the extra figures, but they match very well with the older figures. In this case I just added 5 troopers + a drummer + a mounted officer. The pink crest of the drummers was artistic license on my part, and of course the other two battalions of IR11 will have the same. I'm convinced, and this is a personnal oipinion, that little excesses on drummers uniforms were common. Human nature, just human nature.
So that's the first battalion to get the "upgrade". I'm not in the mood to redo all my units in some kind of blitz, but I'd like to upgrade a unit here and there in between new painting and other projects.
Next time I will also talk about the state of this blog, which might come to an end in it's current format.
|Posted on January 21, 2013 at 11:05 PM||comments (0)|
Roger is having some technical difficulties at the moment so I thought I'd help him out and show some pics of the latest figures in his Napoleonic Polish range, sculpted as always by the talented Mr Hicks:
Fantastic figures as always!
ADC & General - £8
Krakus standard bearer and officer - £8
3 different Krakus - £9
Plus p&p etc.
Roger is going to paint some soon to show them off.
If interested, contact Roger @ roger.murrow(AT)mmc2100.co.uk, or visit his blog
|Posted on December 24, 2012 at 4:35 PM||comments (0)|
Merry Christmas (and happy Hanukkah) to my all my wargaming friends around the world, you know who you are. I'm always amazed just how friendly and helpful you lot are, and it's great fun to get to discuss and share my Napoleonics with you.
|Posted on November 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM||comments (9)|
These were painted this summer, and I finally got around to varnish them and put the flag. As the rest of my Austrians, these are Foundry figures. Oldies but goodies.
The unit is meant to represent the Grenadier Battalion Scharlach (Hungarian). The battalion was made-up of the Grenadiers from IR 31, 32 and 51. Lacking real Guards regiments, these guys were the crack troops of the Austrian army. I already have a battalion of German grenadiers and I would like to have four eventually, 2 of each, enough for a brigade. In 1809, Grenadiers battalions were usually kept together as a reserve.
I do like their looks. Hungarians are already pretty cool, but equip them with a bearskin and it's a whole new level of coolness
The battalion is 24 figures + a base of skirmishers (2 figures), which is my new standard for my Napoleoni units.
Can't wait to give these guys their baptism of fire.
And don't forget to look at my new blog : I recently added Indians.
|Posted on November 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM||comments (5)|
Last week-end John, Nicolas and I got to play a Napoleonic game with Curt, from Analogue Hobbies. Curt made the trip all the way from Saskatchewan with a custom made scenario and a set of of his own home brewed Food for Powder rules. Nicolas (Klenau) and I (Fresnel) would play the Austrians and John (Friant) the French. Curt has just posted an AAR of the game on his blog
Interestingly enough, the battle takes place a few days after the skirmish at Amberg, which John and I played two years ago . A nice touch!
Curt running the show was much appreciated by everyone, as we could concentrate on gaming instead of reading rules and resolving issues, and in my case allowed the taking of many pictures. Nicolas was kind enough to remind me to take pictures of the later stages of the battle, which as you all know I often forget.
Nicolas and I received our briefings a few days before the battle :
So here are the numerous pictures. Don't forget to read Curt's blog for the AAR
The Austrians set-up
The French set-up
My Hussars and Curt's Uhlans in the middle (note to self; you need Austrian Uhlans)
John's French quickly move to attack, Chasseurs in front (represented here by a regiment of Hussars)
French advance cautiously (kinda) on the other side
Dashing Austrian cavalry
The Austrians, conservative as always, set-up a defensive position
While the French keep pushing forward
Grenz and Artillery ready to fire at the dastardly frogs
Jagers succeeds in forming squares...Chasseurs change targets (and get fire at in the flank by the Jagers in square)
A view from Friant's side. You can see the Austrian reserve in the back; far away from Friant's inquisitive eyes
Hampered by bad command, the Chasseurs allow the small Jager unit to get reinforcements
The famous charge of the Merveldt Uhlans, charging like madmen in between their own artillery to reach the Chasseurs, which fled in shame
The remnants of the Chasseurs running away
The gang. From left to right; Nicolas, John, Curt and yours truly. You might think I look small in that picture. It's actually those guys that are freaking tall!
It was a really fun game. The objectives were very different from the usual battles and I think we all did a great job getting into caracters. Nicolas and I made a point of playing the 'Austrian way' and all the players did their best to avoid showing or using their reserves, which I thought was great.
Curt is a great guy, and the day went really well.When meeting a gamer for the first time you're never sure what to expect, but Curt was a great fit for our group. A damn shame he doesn't live in Montreal! John did try his best to show him the good side of the city, as they went together for some traditionnal (with a twist) French Canadian food at Le pied de cochon. If that doesn't convince him to come back nothing will!
|Posted on October 28, 2012 at 6:45 PM||comments (0)|
I just started a new blog to discuss my other projects and painting.
Have a look : Par la bouche de mes canons
|Posted on October 17, 2012 at 8:40 PM||comments (2)|
A little over a week ago our litte hobby group got together for a Napoleonic battle at my place. The battle was based on Reynier's assault of the Busaco Ridge in 1810.
Here's a recap of the scenario, from John's blog:
Marshall Massena’s Army of Portugal had been tasked in the summer of 1810 to invade Portugal and take Lisbon. Throughout the summer the French had captured Ciudad Rodrigo on the border and had taken the Portuguese fortress of Almeida. Wellington as usual had carefully surveyed the land and had decided to make his defense on the ridge of Busaço, through which the road to Lisbon ran. It was there that 50,000 Anglo-Portuguese confronted 65,ooo strong French army. Most of the Allied forces were on the north of the ridge with their reserves to the south. Massena on Marshall Ney’s advice decided to attack from the south in order to out flank the Allies on their right flank. Reynier’s division was order to advance up the steep ridge.
GAME PLAN: In our game, 20 French infantry battalions with 1 unit of Pied d’artillerie in support (in 4 brigades) will launch an attack up a steep hill held by 11 battalions of Anglo-Portuguese supported a single Portuguese artillery battery (in 3 brigades). In support, on Move card 6, a further 4 battalions of British troops with one Royal Artillery battery will arrive. The game will be played on a 8x6’ terrain with a single BUA which can hold 2 infantry battalions. The rules played will be Field of Battle from Piquet.
VICTORY CONDITIONS: French to secure Busaço Ridge or destroy 2 Allied Brigades (9 units)
and the the British conversely to hold Busaço Ridge or destroy 2 French Brigades (11 units). The
game can be also won by one side if Army Morale fails as defined by the ruleset.
The Martin brothers (i.e. yours truly and Gabriel) got to play the French attackers while Nicolas and John played the Anglo-Portuguese force. Ironically, Nicolas, our French resident, convinced me to take the French! Gabriel and I had a score to settle, as we had been crushed the last time we faced the unholy Franco-Newfoundland alliance.
Our (the French) plan was to send the bulk of our forces (2 brigades of Infantry; Brigade Foy and Merle) to smash the middle of the British line (which looked vulnerable) and then flank their left side and destroy it. The Brigade Heudelet would support the assault against the Britsh left side. The fourth Brigade, Brigade Sardut, was to stand and protect our left flank (the British right side) and keep the British honest on that side. Eventually, it would have to face the British reinforcements if the battle dragged on...
As usual, her's a very quick and simple AAR.
The French starting position. The Brigade in the forefront is Sardut.
The Anglo-Portuguese* starting positions. *From now on, the Anglo-Portuguese will be refered to as the "British"
A view of the battle. The 'balls of moss' represent the ridge.
The Brigade Heudelet
The British positions
A view of the French right side.
The first turn; the French rapidly take the initiative by moving at an impressive pace (both French generals got really lucky with their movement rolls!)
The French keep making fast progress and start ascending the ridge. Champeland sends his Cacadores skirmishers forward to harass Brigade Heudelet. In the middle, Brigade Merle and Brigade Foy continue their advance.
The Cacadores retreat back behind the ridge
More shots of the British middle. British and French battalions exchange fire
Soldats, en colonne d'attaque ! Brigade Foy and Merle change into attack column as they prepare to charge the British middle.
With the flick of a wrist, Gabriel sends hundreds to their death, all for the glory of France! A massive four battalion charge against MacKinnon's Brigade
Nicolas seems unfazed by the carnage
Brigade Foy, waiting for their turn...
On the other side, Brigade Sardut assumes a defensive position
The battle rages on
The 105th South Essex is destroyed, some cracks appear in the British middle
All quiet on the western front...
The crazy charge of the 21st...charging a battery head-on. It worked
The 'hmmm...I think I hit the b&w button and did not notice' moment. Which deprives us of the picture of a massive two Brigade column of attack in colour. Still impressive to me though...
With the destruction of the 105th South Essex and the rout of the 79th Cameron Highlanders, the French have succeeded in achieving their main objective; the middle is about to break in the face of overwhelming numbers.
The British reinforcements did arrive that turn, but it was too late. As per my (annoying) habit, I forgot to take pictures of the very end of the battle. The French routed the remaining of Mackinnon’s brigade, then turned on the flanks of Champelaud’s Portuguese, destroying half the brigade in one charge. The battle was lost for the British and their allies...
It was a fun (and nice looking) game but we did have some problems though with the scenario and the Ridge, there were a couple of things that did not work; basically the terrain should have advantaged the British more than it did, as it was making it a tough proposition for them to win. John's talks about it on his blog Anyways, you learn as you go.
Having said that, Gabriel and I were quite pleased that we managed to execute our battleplan perfectly, which is a rarity in war as well as in wargames!
The next battle is scheduled for November, with a special guest making the trip all the way from the Canadian prairies...
|Posted on October 8, 2012 at 4:35 PM||comments (4)|
I posted a pic on La Bricole two days ago to prove that the piece was finished in time, but I waited until today to take decent pictures of it. We played a game yesterday, so I used the set-up to take good pictures. Next in my wish list; a basement or an attic where I can leave a permanent set-up to play and to take pictures. But, yeah, a basement comes with a hew house so we'll keep that thought in the dreams department!
So without further ado, here is my entry : Austrian Hussars relaxing on campaign
It will make a fine addition to my Austrian army. I can't see myself winning this thing though as there's been some really impressive entries. If you haven't looked over on La Bricole, I really encourage you to have a peek, you won't be disappointed!
As mentionned earlier, we played a Nap game yesterday, with our (soon to be usual) group of Gabriel, John, Nicolas and yours truly. It's great to have four guys who get along and who share many of the same historical interests. I will as usual post a quick AAR and some pics in the coming week. We have another gameday scheduled for November, although we are not yet sure if we play Naps or something else.
|Posted on September 7, 2012 at 12:40 AM||comments (2)|
Last week we had one day of low humidity so I rushed outside to varnish and remove the AP shine off the three horses for my Austrian Hussar diorama, using AP Anti-shine varnish. It worked! Thank god. I had some problems with it in the past.
This summer has been a real hell in Montreal for miniature painters; humidity, humidity and then more humidity. We are currently mid-september and it's still humid and hot as Hell! It was actually the first time in over three months that I used a spray can. I thought long and hard about varnishing my new Hungarian grenadiers battalion at the same time (I want to show them off!), but I decided to wait for the Dullcote John is bringing me in october. I don't want to take any chances with a big unit like that.
After going out to buy a new hobby drill (how the hell can one lose a hobby drill?!), I went to work on the last two figures. When painting cavalry and mounted officers, I always paint horse and rider separately. I just find it's easier. So I drill and attach the rider to a old wine bottle cork and go to work.
They were painted with the same colours as the last bunch; one an officer and one trooper. I've been asked about my light blue recipe so here it is
Basecoat : Vallejo Andrea blue
First highlight : Vallejo Deep Sky Blue
Second highlight : Vallejo Sky Blue
They are basically finished. I'm looking forward to basing them and seeing the end result.
|Posted on August 21, 2012 at 11:00 PM||comments (2)|
So I managed to work on my entry last week-end. The four foot figures are basically finished, maybe one or two details left to do.
I should begin working on the last two mounted officers in a few days. As soon as I find my damn hobby drill. Where the hell did I put that thing...