Tuesday 17 April 2012

"Wigs and Wine" updated

I introduced readers to my Mid-18th Century wargame rules back in November.
As with most rules they are a work in progress and the battle-of-futonville threw up quite a few suggestions for changes, which i have now worked on and incorporated. Apart from changing the figure scale from 1:10 to 1:15 there are no other scale changes. I've standardised on no infantry battalion being bigger than 48 figures, and many are smaller, which makes the units more manageable but they still feel satisfyingly  "big". A lot of the changes involve cavalry which I've found difficult to get feeling right, yet still simple. There is some trade off between firepower and melee effect so that cavalry in certain circumstances have the choice to fire or counter- charge. Many troop types have slightly less melee points now and the melee saving throws are slightly easier - so hopefully less wholesale slaughter.  My test game showed cavalry are still very effective against infantry though with their swords! I've also  introduced/redesignated Heavy and Field artillery and battalion guns; these light guns are not very effective due to only one die per shot and fewer crew so one can afford to have plenty without ruining the game. There are some restrictions on double move distance and I've introduced a small "charge distance" - very old school. Also no individual prisoners from melee saving throws now but more drastic surrendering from units with very poor morale who are still in melee. You can download a copy (Version 4) from the Downloads side bar under Imagi-Nations, or here is a quick link.
Wigs and Wine Version 4

CB reviews his opening dispositions,
still with about a third of his army just off table
I was lucky to be able to test many of the new features last week by enticing my very oldest friend, Chris Beaumont, back to the 18th Century gaming table. Although I hadn't played him since about 1975 it was like we'd never been apart and it wasn't long before Chris was arguing the toss with me and inventing rules amendments like he used to as one of England's youngest wargamers back in the mid 1960s.  Now recently retired he's thinking of doing what I did and turning his various artistic and cultural pursuits into a way of making a living, but hopes to fit in  the occasional game with me from time to time.

I kept this game pretty small, about 500 figures total, with my "Allied" army strung out to defend a road stretching most of the way down the table. For CB's benefit, and as we had no umpire, I revealed all my units first, including those in cover and let him deploy his French force. He sent light troops on his right flank and a strong brigade of infantry to attack a little hamlet at his left centre. Artillery topped his central hill and , off table, reserves of infantry and cavalry were kept to either side, biding their time. It's not my intention to give a blow by blow account but I hope you will find a few key photographs of interest.
French Infantry followed by cavalry approach the Allied held hamlet
On the other flank Hussars square up for a clash........
....and then the French charge
But they eventually come off worse, partially due to flanking fire from the
Liccaner Grenzers and some unlucky saving rolls
Meanwhile the Le Noble Fusiliers have been forced out of the chapel
and defend the remaining houses against French pressure
In the centre the 4th Regiment of Foot receives a full blooded charge by French dragoons;
but this photo is before we removed the casualties from their volley!
And this is after a couple of rounds of melee.
The infantry are shattered but the red dragoons will retreat  from a poor morale die roll
 while the blue dragoons, weak though they are,  remain in possession of the position.
Hessian grenadiers have come up to protect the flank.
The incongruous looking general officer is CB's contribution to the game.
 A nice looking figure from probably 30 years ago painted up specially in "old school" Humbrol gloss
and plain bright green base..........I'm trying to persuade him to go to water-based matt paints in the 21st Century.
Next Chris brought on his reserve infantry columns and the sustained fire of the
Hainaut Grenadiers forced the Grenzers from their wall and back through the woods
A general view near the end.
My Grenzers have decided to leave the field at half strength while in the centre
my depleted but brave hussars charge the French Royal dragoons, who being at quarter strength,
 have no choice but to surrender. The 4th Foot head off in disorder and the Le Noble fusiliers have finally been destroyed in the hamlet. On my right flank a practically intact French battalion executes a pivotal move across the vital road.
I leave you with a close up of my untouched dragoons, which, with the Grenadiers,
will soon make an honourable retreat. My cavalry commander has gone forward to assist the
Hussars take prisoner the enemy dragoons, guidon,  and their commander  as a final act. So I couldn't
hold onto the road but the defeat was not without prizes and some credit....
and what  a fine day it was to relive some memories with CB and welcome him back to wargaming with a victory.
This game was very much a warm up for a big game I'm holding this weekend with over 1200 figures and about  6 or 8 players. It will be a follow up to the Battle of Futonville using half the previous battlefield and more surrounding it. This will be the showdown by which Savoy's Duke of Deuxchevaux will have to prove his worth to King Louis by a make or break contest with the Imperial General Urff.  I expect to be reporting on that within the next couple of weeks.

Friday 6 April 2012

Lady Hussars anyone?

Now for something completely different.........well, almost.......

Keeping a blog is fascinating as you have access to the statistics of visitors in various ways. My posting featuring light blue uniforms  - Lauzun's Legion  - has proved the third most popular of all the 25 posts I have made so far, showing that many of my audience has a liking for light blue uniforms. One of my art clients got into an email discussion with me about Marshal Massena's mistress, Henriette Leberton, whom Massena took on campaign "disguised" as a cornet of dragoons. However, both my client and I agreed that much more fetching military attire for a mistress in the blackpowder era would have been that of a hussar, and this led to speculation on my producing one or more Napoleonic style "pin-ups" to prove the point. In the end he commissioned  me with painting a pin-up in classic pose but put back 200 years or so and seated on a cannon instead  of a classic car and presented in the alternative Lauzun Legion officer's uniform of 1778 from Digby Smith and Kevin Kiley's "Uniforms of the American War of Independence, 1775-1783"

So for all you fans of light blue uniforms and tight red breeches I give you "Lucille of Lauzun's Legion"

I thought if I was to do this properly I needed to follow the example set by Detaille, Meissonier, Rocco, Troiani and other serious artists of military themes and acquire a uniform and authentic equipment, not to mention hiring a suitable model. So I did and since I like doing military paintings it seemed a good opportunity to take many reference photos of both male and female hussars which will stand me in good stead for the future. So now I'm well equipped to take more commissions and can offer almost any hussar, chasseur, light dragoon style uniforms in poses from battlefield action to off duty and even lady hussars wearing all or little of their uniform.

This can, in fact, become an adjunct to Imagi-Nation wargaming. If you've designed a natty uniform for your tabletop regiment why not commission a painting of its colonel for your wargaming room?

The  painting of Lucille is in acrylic on a smooth gessoed canvas ground and is 16 inches square, large enough to show good detail. It has already been sold to the client who won't mind me saying it was priced between £150 and £200. I expect that most future ones that I do will be smaller and they will start at about £80, but any size and price can be considered.

So if you have an interest in commissioning something hussar like, male or female, at war or at play, mounted or dismounted, please feel free to email me for more information without obligation at Chris Gregg . Of course I can do other military subjects too, as former CWJ readers will be aware.
Or, if you prefer I will be compiling a mailing list of anyone wishing to see future paintings of hussars or hussar ladies, so please email me if you'd like to be added to that list.
And failing that, comment on this blog to let her proud new owner know what you think of Lucille!

Some of my other military paintings can be seen here
Chris Gregg Military Paintings

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Crude yet strangely charming

Some might say that title well describes me! But no, I'm not talking about myself, merely a bunch of little metal chaps that will be gracing my table in the next Imagi-Nation game.  I've had a go at home design, casting and animation and shared the results only with a few trusted wargaming friends because I was a bit ashamed that they weren't more polished. But when Phil Olley says "publish and be damned", you've just gotta do it! First an overview before I tell you more.
Chasseurs de Fischer use a line of trees to defend a bridge
I'd already painted a squadron of plastic Perry Hussars as my version of Chasseurs de Fischer but I couldn't find any satisfactory information about the foot chasseurs of this corps. The nice thing about Imagi-Nation wargaming is you can get close, but if it's not quite right, so what? So I looked among my piles of unpainted figures but found nothing suitable. I looked around the web and decided that it wasn't worth shelling out yet more hard earned quids for commercial figures that I didn't think were "right". So I opted to make my own master figure as some kind of generic soldier in a tricorne and minimal equipment that could pass as a light or irregular infantryman. I wanted some variety of poses in a "small wars" unit so made the master with arms wide apart to be bent in varying positions and "open" hands to take a musket in a variety of ways.

Well, I've got a lot of practicing yet to do with my own masters and making moulds, and to cut a  long story short the figures turned out intact but with skinny legs, "non-open" hands and loads of flash!  It was so much work to clean up and animate them that I decided the make the unit only 18 strong instead of 24 (life's too short and I had other projects to progress). Here is a photo of the master at left (made from ProCreate "Grey stuff" on a wire armature) and the first few successful castings.
I suffered some teasing from Phil about using the penny as a base
and then casting  more as a get rich quick scheme - I think not!
Much, much later I put together all  18 and painted them in the same colour scheme as my "hussars" but with yellow Hungarian style trim on their tight red breeches. So now to some closer views.
I was pleased with the loading poses.....

...and the standing firing is not bad
Two Foundry officers and a drummer by Old Glory add a touch of  class
to the uncouth "old school toy soldier" style home castings
And here they are hastily being joined by their mounted cousins...."Make way there you foot sloggers!"

Passable to game with but don't stand close inspection. Nevertheless I'm sufficiently inspired to design a simple march attack figure and use it en masse (but only when I've depleted the boxes of the hundreds of unpainted little men I have in store!)

Oh, and if you are partial to tight red breeches ( aren't we all?) then check out my next posting, hopefully in a few days.