Befreiungskriege 1813-14

Painting and modelling 28mm Napoleonic wargaming miniatures

Posts Tagged ‘David Imrie’

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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The countdown begins

Posted by Martin on April 16, 2010

Perry Salute 2010 special Napoleon set.

Perry Salute 2010 special Napoleon set.

At this time in just over a week, I’ll be on the train home from Salute 2010. With luck I’ll be footsore but happy after a day out of hobby-related self indulgence. Right now, though, I’m at the point where anticipation and excitement are starting to build and I’m compiling my traditional plan for the day.

What’s on the menu this year, then?

With luck, I’ll be able to meet up with Peter F. and tour the traders and games in his company. This isn’t a certainty because of Peter’s domestic commitments this year so I’ve made some precautionary arrangements. Chief among these is that I’ve been granted a command at Barry Hilton and David Imrie’s Republic to Empire Waterloo demo game. I’m not quite certain what I’ll be in charge of but I’m hoping for some elements of the Imperial Guard. David’s been doing a terrific job of painting up some Victrix plastics for the occasion and I hope I manage to aquit myself as well as these figures deserve. Of course, the real benefit I’ll get from this is the chance to come to grips with this promising new ruleset properly for the first time under the tutelege of the author himself.

There are at least two other Napoleonic games I’m looking forward to seeing and a 25mm American War of Independence game too, so there should be no shortage of colourful eye candy. With that in mind I aim to take some better quality photos than I did last year.

Meanwhile, the Perry twins continue to make the most of show opportunities to promote their wares. This time they’ll have a Wars of the Roses demo game (not so interesting for me personally) plus (much more interesting) a number of Salute specials. One of these is the offer of a free Ney figure for purchasers of three boxes of plastic Napoleonic cavalry. I’m not sure I’ll stretch to three boxes but I might try to club together with some friends so that we get at least one Ney figure between us to fight over! The other interesting Perry Salute special is the mounted Napoleon set pictured above which features the Emperor himslef plus Soult and a Mameluke figure.

Elsewhere, I’ve marked my card to look at the Doctor Who game (sea devils anybody?) and search around for inspriational basing materials, intruiging books and to see if any traders are carrying a stock of Andrea paints. Finally, of course, I mustn’t forget the painting competition, must I?

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Phew!

Posted by Martin on May 25, 2009

What a scorcher! And I don’t just mean the welcome sunny weather over the last couple of days. After a good night’s sleep I’m able to reflect on a hectic weekend of hobby-related activity that has seen me escort von Peter and ADC Simon to Calpe Towers and then onwards to Partizan and back with Peter F. It’s hard to know where to begin so I think it’ll be simplest to take things in chronological order.

That means we’ll start with an overnight stay at Calpe Towers enjoying the hospitality of Peter F. and family. There was a lot of discussion about the usual topics: painting, uniforms, the imminent Saxon range (and some exciting plans beyond that!) and the upcoming adjustments to the website. It doesn’t take psychic powers for me to deduce that many BfK regulars will want news of the Saxons above all else.

Well, the full set of production moulds for the march/attack musketeers is complete and I’ve got a set of castings sitting here on the desk beside me in Bfk HQ as I write this. The number of variants is astounding: more than enough to do a 32-figure battalion without a single figure repeat. And there’s plenty of little details to admire across the figures. The three foot officers and three mounted officers demonstrate this brilliantly with their range of headwear, jacket and legwear options. Just make sure you read the uniform notes with care to get the colours right before you wield your paintbrushes!

Peter’s going to write up the release notes this week and “magic dip” some figures for proper photographs for the new section of the Calpe website. With that in mind, I’m going to restrain myself from including any homebrew sub-standard pictures of unpainted figures here. I promise you’ll see the official shots on BfK first plus, of course, WIP on ones that I paint. The intention is to aim for a 1st June release date. Meanwhile, on the Saxon front, plans are in hand for a second set of musketeers in advancing pose, line grenadiers, artillery and two sets of light infantry (plus all the other troop types required for the 23rd and 24th divisions of Reynier’s corps). Peter is also in the middle of sculpting the new versions of the Prussian dragoons that will have the saddle furniture integral with the mounted figure rather than on the horse.

Peter F’s already painting his first Saxon battalion so we spent a lot of time inspecting the workbench and leafing through uniform plates discussing colours, accurate uniformology and reasonable conjectures for campaign kit. This set my mind racing about the possibilities and I’m going to have to adjust several of my painting palette choices.

Sunday saw us take the road North to Partizan at Kelham Hall. The only disappointment was that none of the traders had the supplies I was hoping to pick up but that’s easily resolved with a bit of online ordering and more than made up for by everything else at the show. It really is a day when you seem to bump into everybody and share a pleasant cup of coffee and/or chat. I enjoyed seeing a WW1 trench warfare game, a bijou 1066 game that would have fitted on my dining table and what looked like something inspired by Ice Station Zebra.

There was also a second chance to see two of my favourites from Salute. The Perry Twins ran their Quatre Bras game again but this time with added cotton wool smoke and flashing red LEDs to simulate musket and cannon fire. If I’d had my tripod with me I could have captured the effect on camera for you. The whole thing was a source of much mirth and Alan didn’t seem to averse to the suggestion of visiting to take proper pictures. The other news from the Quatre Bras game is that the Black Powder rules are almost ready for publication. We do seem to be on the cusp of the apeparance of glut of new Napoleonic big battalions rulesets and I feel a big comparison review coming on at some point.

The other Salute re-appearance was Barry Hilton’s Peninsular War game. This time with the added attraction of several of Barry’s friends from Scotland. I was especially delighted to see David Imrie again. Particularly because the game featured his massive 100-figure French legere unit (split into two 48-figure units for the occasion but we re-arranged them when Barry waan’t looking) that I mentioned the other week. It looks even better in reality that in the photos and David confirmed several things about how he’d put the unit together and based it that will certainly inform my future unit plans. David also had an only slightly smaller French line unit involved in the action. I’m hoping he’ll publish some pictures of this soon too. And there’s the prospect of a Napolenic game if we can hook up on my usual Summer trip to Scotland. My sister-in-law will have to manage without the pleasure of my company on one evening of the holiday!

Posted in Calpe Towers, Clubs and Shows, Forward Patrol, Saxon Musketeers | Tagged: , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Planning for Partizan

Posted by Martin on May 17, 2009

If all goes to plan, at precisely this moment in a week’s time, I’ll be enjoying the refreshments on offer at Kelham Hall as I attend Partizan in the company of Peter F, von Peter and his young ADC, Simon.

Kelham Hall is at Newark (that’s “somewhere up North”) and I live in the West Country, so it takes quite an effort to get there and, as a consequence, I don’t go every year. This year, the trip has taken on the proportions of a ruthlessly planned mission because I have to pick up two of the party on Saturday afternoon and head for basecamp at Calpe Towers. Then we have an overnight stay there prior to our assault on the summit via the A1.

All the planning should bring a worthwhile reward though because Partizan is one of my favourite shows. Partly that’s because the very fact that I don’t go every year means I don’t get the chance to fall into complacement familiarity with it. Also it’s because Partizan has a unique atmosphere of it’s own in the way it combines the qualities of a big national event with the cosy camerarderie of a local club show. But the main attraction of Partizan is that it usually boasts the highest quality demonstration games.

You can never be quite sure which games and traders will be there until the day itself (the website doesn’t seem to be entirely up-to-date) but I’m already licking my lips at a second chance to see the Perrys’ Quatre Bras demo and the League of Gentleman Gamers’ offering. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the latter will provide an opportunity to inspect David Imrie’s new large French units. Ever since I saw some photos on Steve Dean’s forum I’ve been wondering about adopting some of the ideas – in particular the 60x60mm square bases.

The extra real-estate on these bases is something that David has used to enviable effect. It’s provided room for impressive use of the Silflor grass tufts. One thing I quickly realised is that there’s no point in being stingy with these tufts – the mass effect of lots of them to create drifts of grass is definitely the way to go. David also placed other items like dead casualties in this extra space and I intend to emulate him as well as adding abandoned drums, broken artillery equipment and muddy varnish puddles. All of this will come into play as soon as I get started on my first Saxon battalion. I’m also considering a move over to the 3mm thick versions of the Litko plywood bases to avoid warping given the larger 60x60mm size.

In fact, I’m getting really itchy palms just typing this and I’m hopeful of having a full battalion’s worth of Calpe Saxon musketeers in my hot little hands RSN. Peter F. and I have been discussing the changes we will need to make to the Calpe website when the official release date arrives and I hope you’ll appreciate the specific improvements we’re hoping to make.

In the meantime, I’ll be the one at Partizan feverishly looking out for the Andrea Miniatures white paint set (thanks for the tip, Harry the Elder), Silflor 6mm Autumn grass tufts and that trader who had Litko bases at Salute. If any of you know where I should look, let me know!

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