Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Salute 2010

Posted by Martin on April 25, 2010

Elements of my first command on the right flank. Blue tokens represent the two manoeuvre points required to retain attack orders.

Elements of my first command on the right flank. Blue tokens represent the two manoeuvre points required to retain attack orders.

It must be my age but my feet are still throbbing from yesterday’s adventure at Salute. I don’t really know how to structure my report so I’m going for a stream of consciousness series of observations.

The queue: it was easily the longest one I’ve seen in all the years I’ve been going to Salute. But it wasn’t an issue because the stewards organized it so smoothly and it progressed so fast that nobody had time to get bored enough to complain. It does help when some of the stewards are daleks – nobody wants to step out of line and risk extermination!

The headcount: I found the morning a little trying because of the sheer number of people who all wanted to look a the same things as me. There were a few impolite pushes past me – how very dare they! Still, the headcount is a measure of success so I shouldn’t complain too much. After lunchtime, things eased considerably and made life easier.

Paint shopping: once again my search for a vendor of Andrea paints ended in failure. On the plus side, though, I had an entertaining encounter at the Privateer Press stand with the people who sell the P3 range of paints. I’ve heard good things about their white paint, so I thought I’d buy a pot. Problem: they didn’t have pots of individual colours on sale seperately (who comes to the UK’s biggest wargames show and doesn’t anticipate that people might want to buy individual colours?). So they pointed me at their range of pre-packed boxes of six different colours. Needless to say, the five other colours had no appeal to me and I wasn’t going to pay almost £13 to get one pot of white. So I suggested to them that the entrepenurial thing to do would be to offer to break up one of the boxes and sell me the white pot alone. Slightly blank faces until I pointed out that they could then take the box back to base and pop another white pot in for future sale. I’m glad to say that seemed to swing the deal. Well done lads!

Basing materials: I’m not one for buying expensive little bags of things that I can pick up for free on a country walk or buy in bulk at a DIY centre. However, there are a few things that aren’t so easy to come by and £1 for a nice pack of cork boulders qualified as a fair deal especially since this pack will last me for years.

Demo games: there was a strange dichotomy this year. On the one hard there were a couple that really got my goat because the only effort that seemed to have gone into them was laying out a sheet of green felt and sprinkling it with sawdust. Come on people, this is Salute, not your local club night! Move on, nothing worth stopping to see here. I look to the demo games to stock my enthusiasm and inspiration locker. Gladly, several games scored direct hits. I don’t have space, time or a sufficiently good memory to mention them all but three do stick out:

  • Loughton Strikeforce’s Bussaco game. OK, I know I’m biased towards Napoleonic big battalion games but the deal-sealer with this one was the fantastic scenery that captured what it must have been like for the French infantry to struggle up the steep slope through Bussaco village under withering British and Portuguese fire from the top of the ridge.
  • Tin Soldiers of Antwerp’s tunnel rats game. I don’t think this was even officially listed in the programme but it struck me a a novel idea executed effectively in minimum space.
  • Whitstable and Hearne Bay Waragamers’ Ride the Divine Wind. Japanese Kamikaze attack on US warships. For some reason this really pressed my buttons. I’ve got a soft spot for WW2 Japanese aircraft, the modelling was super and idea showed how you can do something really impressive with concentration on quality over quantity – there can’t have been more than half a dozen Japanese planes and only a couple of US ships but they were beautiful.

There is one other game I’ve left off that list but that’s because I’ll come to it later.

Perry plastics: there was quite a scrum at the Perry’s stand and around their colourful Wars of the Roses demo game. I’m not yet ready to buy the plastic Napoleonic cavalry boxes but I did want to inspect them to see how the horses have turned out and what the casualty figures look like. I have to say that the horses impress me tremendously. These plastic ones seem to avoid the squashed body syndrome that afflicts the metal ones. As for the plastic casualty figures – well I’d like to see more variety and I’m never going to buy a box of cavalry just to get hold of a couple of prone casualties. However, if any of you have got spare Perry French plastics casualties you’d like to send to a good home, please remember me in your prayers. I’m even willing to paint one for you as a “thank you”.

The painting competition: usually one of my favourite stop-offs but marred a little this year by there being too many people crowding round for me to comtemplate the artistry in depth. I tend to ignore the fantasy and scifi categories and concentrate on the historicals. I especially liked some 28mm Saxons that appeared to have been based for the Impulse Impetus rules and David Imrie pointed out some excellent Romans that I suspect actually won a prize (I missed the announcement of the winners).

The Dutch-Belgian battery whose fire caused my lead battalion to falter and stall my first attack.

The Dutch-Belgian battery whose fire caused my lead battalion to falter and stall my first attack.

And so to the main attraction of the day: my chance to learn about the Republic to Empire rules first hand from the author. Barry Hilton had laid on a Waterloo campaign demo game to showcase the rules and I had the chance to take a command and learn the basics. Barry was ably assisted on the day by several fellow League of Gentlemen Gamers and my thanks go to David Imrie, Dave O’Brien and Peter MacCarroll for being so welcoming and such good company.

I started off by taking over a French brigade of three battalions as they attacked some Dutch-Belgian artillery on the right flank. My attack faltered almost immediately but it served as a lesson in the way the rules work. The steps for each turn are easy enough to pick up: roll for initiative, calculate your manoeuvre point entitlement (these are what allow you to issue orders, change formation and execute charges), movement, firing, morale checks, charges and combat resolutions. The first time through, there’s a fair bit to remember but after that it all becomes pretty natural because the structure is logical and, crucially, produces historically realistic outcomes.

Later I graduated to commanding the whole French force: three infantry brigades, a cuirassier brigade and an artillery grand battery plus a couple of other odds and ends. It’s surprisingly easy to scale up the turn sequence from being a brigade commander to commanding the whole division or more by yourself if you don’t have a group of fellow players to share the work. And, as it turned out, I became a lot more successful with my attack on the other flank pressing home and routing one British battalion despite my brave fantassins receiving a point-blank volley from them!

The rules are a clever combination of many ideas that people will recognise from existing rulesets peppered with some unique innovations – particularly for artillery. What I like about them most is that they pay close attention to creating a specifically Napoleonic atmosphere and characteristically Napoleonic outcomes. As such, they encourage players to think and behave like genuine Napoleonic commanders rather than game players trying to exploit the foibles of a given set of rules.

Commanders have to think carefully about the orders they issue and understand that, via the manoeuvre points mechanism, they only have a limited degree of, rather than omnipotent, control over their forces. Foresight, having a practical plan and understanding what formations to use and what orders to issue are at a premium. For example, placing your light cavalry under “advance” orders provides a way for them to disrupt an incautious opponent’s plans at a distance in an historically meaningful way but injudicious issue of the “attack” command to the same units can result in their loss to the classic “charging at everything” problem. Similarly, you need to think carefully about when you choose to fire. Some rulesets will allow an artillery battery to fire almost incessantly and cause casualties far beyond those that would have happened in reality. In Republic to Empire you need to be aware that your battery can only fire a limited number of times before it must fall silent to refit and thereby offer an opportunity to your opponent.

I also like the treatment of casualties and morale. History teaches us that instances of units standing and fighting to the death were few and far between. It was far more typical for one side or the other to lose its nerve and turn and run. As soon as a unit reaches 25% casualties in Republic to Empire, it starts to become highly susceptible to loss of morale and this often results in one side or the other turning tail. The results of this depend of the nature of the forces involved and the resolve of the units concerned. For example, loss by veterans of an infantry versus infantry combat may result in an orderly withdrawl but inexperienced infantry that lose a combat to cavalry may be swept from the field.

Overall, I think Republic to Empire is an excellent ruleset and almost certain to become my preferred option. Just one cheeky aside if you’re also considering these rules: make sure you have a bucketful of dice. In one combat situation I needed to roll 17 dice against Barry’s 13. Don’t worry, it’s easy to do, you just need plenty of the little blighters.

Finally, a word about a detour I made on the way back across London to catch my train home from Paddington. I’m indebted to Mike Siggins’ website for drawing my attention to the existence of the artshop Cornellissen and Son at 105 Great Russell Street in Bloomsbury. This part of London is one that I know well and I often visit the British Museum and various bookshops in the area but I’d never noticed this delight before. It’s a highly atmospheric little emporium full of hard-to-come-by goodies for the painter including fulsome stocks of Plaka and Flasche acrylics artists paints and, most especially for me, a stock of Da Vinci paint brushes that I could actually inspect before purchase. In fact, the very helpful staff even offered to let my try the brushes and offered me a choice of two different incarnations of Da Vinci’s brush cleaning soap.

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19 Responses to “Salute 2010”

  1. Bob Talbot said

    Hi Martin,
    First time I have commented on your excellant site, which I regularly browse.Just to say how much I agree with your remarks about R2E, I was fortunate enough to take part in Barry’s 1st weekender last week, and can only say what a terrific game we got from the rules.As you say they give a real feeling of a napoleonic battle, not just a generic horse & musket encounter.I was 1/3 of the French side and whilst trying not to replicate our historical namesakes mistakes we did attempt to recreate the battleplans in most ways.Hopefully Barry will get a report up soon to report on it all, it was a weekend that the 6 guys involved will not forget in a hurry, it feels great having about 150 cuirrassiers to control, even if 1 regiment was routed by some blokes in skirts(in line as well).Agree with you regarding the artillery rules also, you really have to think when to use it, not just fire at a unit 72 inches away because you can see it.
    Finally if you do get a chance to go on a weekender Iwould thoroughly reccommend it, probably see you there.
    Bob

  2. Frank said

    I too enjoyed the Republic to Empire game. I kept returning to it. The figures were awe enspiring. I have previously been negative towards plastics, but I purchased a box of heavey cavalry and assembled some when I got home. I am very impressed! I also purchased Perry’s FN1 which is the Napoleon staff group. In 34 years of painting I have never painted Napoleon until today. I have had an epiphany, I can paint (hopefully) in the region of 2000 figs to recreate (part of) Waterloo in 2015. Re your casualty figs. I have four(4) French and Four(4) Brits, if these are what you seek tell me where to send them.
    regards
    Frank

  3. rob said

    Great report, Martin. I especialy appreciate the insight into “republic to empire”. Will there be any more photos of the game?

    Also, a couple of questions… First, did you see the Victrx plastic artillery in person and, if so, what did you think? Second, did Peter F. make it to Salute, ideally with good news and new Saxons?

    Rob

    • Martin said

      I do have a few more photos but they haven’t turned out that well. I’ll see what can be salvaged.

      I did see the Victrix plastic British artillery sprues but to be honest, that nationality is not one that interests me so I didn’t inspect them too closely. From what I remember, they’re on a par with the other Victrix releases.

      And, no, Peter F. couldn’t make it due to family commitments. More soon on that front I hope.

  4. ken said

    Martin

    Should be able to send over a few of the Perry’s French casulties.

    email your address

    ken

  5. Clarence said

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up, Martin. Glad you enjoyed the game. I think the more people see, the more they like!

  6. Phil said

    So if you’re starting out with R2E, have never played, and don’t have someone around who has already played, how big a game should you try?

    • Martin said

      There are others better qualified to answer this one and I hope they’ll pitch in here. Clarence?

      But my suggestion would be to try the simplest possible situation first just to get the hang of how turns, initiative and MPs work. So that would be a one infantry brigade versus one infantry brigade encounter. From there it’s easy to add some artillery or cavalry support and quickly move on to a division versus division level.

      The rulebook contains a nice section that walks through an example battle for eight turns. It’s worth reading that before you play yourself.

    • Clarence said

      Phil, there’s are starter scenario on my blog at http://quindiastudios.blogspot.com/search/label/Scenarios.

      Ignore the chapter on Skirmishers and BUA. Other special rules are listed in the scenario.

      There is a detailed write up of an attempt of the scenario by a first time player at http://fuentesdeonoro.blogspot.com/2010/03/battle-of-puente-de-piedra-rte-starter.html

      The main thing you need to get to grips with is the command system. Combat is fairly straight forward apart from charging which is a bugger in most sets. Martin is correct, once you have a feel for the game, scaling up is no problem. Try the scenario again using the skirmisher rules, adding a second brigade, a unit of cavalry, etc.

  7. Hello Martin

    Sounds like you had a good day at Salute. Thanks for a great write up, including your insights on Republic To Empire. So Republic To Empire is to supplant General de Brigade for you? Of course there is General de Brigade Deluxe waiting in the wings!

    As a matter of curiosity the picture of the Dutch-Belgian battery does not seem to show any of the battery detritus so beloved by Barry. Was this out of shot behind the hedge?

    Did Peter F. make it on the day? It sounds like the answer is ‘no’.

    I managed to keep track of your tweets on the day (night for us down here) so at least one personage was watching. For future potential use is it possible to tweet photos?

    BTW, did the 28mm Saxons appeared to have been based for the Impulse rules, or the Impetus rules (big bases of 12cm frontage?

    Salute
    von Peter himself … hoping for more pictures!! 8O)

    • Martin said

      Yes, I’m very enthused by RtoE, as I suspected I would be.

      The Dutch-Belgian battery wasn’t Barry’s so it didn’t have caissons, limbers etc. hiding behind the hedge but IIRC an exclusion zone was set out with a couple of markers. The area behind the French grand battery was full of such stuff though.

      No Peter F. due to family commitments (as mentioned in a reply above). And, yes, I meant Impetus – I’m a novice on rulesets for other periods.

  8. El Mercenario said

    Hi Martin
    If you need any Andrea paints I could easily buy them for you in Spain and send you them by post. On Salute, althogh I missed a few traders and there were less attendants than other years I had big fun. Actually I took advantage to talk with people who past years used to be too busy.
    Javi

    • Martin said

      Thanks for the offer Javi. There are places in the UK where I can order Andrea paints online (like Historex Agents). What I was really hoping to do was actually look at some of the colours before deciding which ones to buy.

      • El Mercenario said

        However I should let you know something. About two years ago they changed the colours. New paints (NAC codes) don’t always match with the older ones (AC codes) and are not as matt as they used to be. Although I comprehensively used them in the past in combination with Vallejo, I was a little bit dissapointing with the change and progresively moved to an almost 100% Vallejo palette.

  9. Barry said

    I have been working on the game report which is growing and growing. I think I will have to upload it in ‘parts’. I have actually found it very interesting to write.
    I was speaking with GdB Dave Brown at SALUTE and he mentioned that Republic to Empire had ‘raised the game’ in terms of rules quality and layout and that he had pushed Caliver to produce a sexier edition of GdB next time which I believe may appear sometime in September. Frankly, I don’t actually think in terms of one rule set supplanting another. GdB has its fans and their is plenty of room for other sets too. I think BP will not suit Naps particularly as its broad mechanisms make for fun games but reasonably generic ones. As for the others, well.. I’m sure we will all find our little groups of followers.. good luck to all I say.

  10. Hello Martin

    Not that it was ever in any doubt but I have just seen photographic evidence that you were indeed at Salute 2010.

    I still get my Wargames Illustrated from Caliver Books meaning that I get it a few days after everyone else over here in NZ. To add a further delay we’ve just got back from a trip to Christchurch. Wargames Illustrated #273 was waiting for me upon my return. A quick flick took me to the Salute 2010 Show Report. A closer examination of the picture at the top of page 97 revealed a Martin Kelly like character partaking in Barry Hilton’s Republic To Empire Waterloo game. Not such a bad photo of you either. Photo’s of mineself are invariably rubbish!! 8O)

    Salute
    von Peter himself

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