Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Napoleon: a Kickstarter

Found this on Kickstarter the other day. While not in the block buster league of some of the projects (Reaper Bones for example), it seems a good value for such a classic game. The extra sized map, better foils and additional pieces, look like making this edition a classic of the board game.

It would be great to take part in the higher pledge levels and attend the 2015 Waterloo Batte field tour. Maybe something to save for.

Anyway, I thought some of you good readers might be interested in getting your own copy to enjoy. Click on the graphic below for more details and to back the project.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Digging in

There are no sapper or miner figures available for the Allied forces. As far as I can tell the 1815 campaign employed civilians to conduct any entrenchment work on the Allied side,  not that much was done an any of the battles.

I found some suitable figures from the Pendraken range - some generic 19thC civilian working party FPX1. There are two sculpts in the 15 figure packet -  a pick axe and a shovel. The figures are working in plain clothes, not uniforms, making them suitable markers for any army.

I mounted them in threes on a standard infantry base, added some ballast and flock and a few bigger rocks. All done.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of 4Ground's 15mm walls

Packet contents of the 15mm walls
I picked up a packet of 4Ground's 15mm walls at Cancon yesterday. I had been eying them off on their website, but waited to see them to check the sizing for 10mm, before buying a packet. The detail looked impressive on the packet, they use a laser to etch the MDF sheets.

In the packet there are three sheets - 2 wall sets, a base set and a clear set of photo instructions. The sheets are 2mm thick MDF. The walls are etched on one side with a rough stone pattern. Some of the walls have removable sections for a ruin or damaged effect. You glue two sections of walls back to back to make a 4mm thick section, the glue it onto the base.

The base has been burnt to a dark brown, looking like earth, removing the need to paint, although you can if you wish. The laser etching on the brick work leaves a dark brown mortar line. The bricks are a buff colour. I thought about painting the bricks, but liked the look as they were, so left them. You could seal them.
Scale of the pieces with some Redline figures in the background

The pieces popped easily out of the frame with only a small attachment point. I didn't trim them as they seemed not too noticeable. The laser seals the edge and makes it a nice dark brown, you don't need to paint this. All the pieces fitted together firmly.

They have a clever way of doing the bases which allows walls to be joined up without needing T pieces or corner sections.

After glueing the pieces together, I added my usual coloured ballast base mix and some flock. On some of them I put glue on the walls and used coloured flock to simulate bushes and vines growing over them. The whole process of assembly and flocking took about an hour.

In the box you get just over 1.5m of walls which is very good value. There are
More scale shots, Redline Jaegers and an Old Glory Office

  • 12 x 60mm wall sections
  • 4 x 60mm damaged wall sections
  • 2 x 60mm large gate sections
  • 2 x 60mm small gate sections
  • 8 x 30mm wall sections
  • 4 x 30mm damaged wall sections

One packet is certainly enough to dress up a battlefield, two if you have lots of built up areas. I would even consider getting some to cut up to add to building bases.

While walls are not too hard to scratch build, I was impressed at the speed it took to get a quality item onto the table. It would have taken me many more hours to achieve this.

The quality of the walls is excellent. 4Ground seem to be adding lots of new products all the time. They have some very nice pre-painted kits for 28mm and 15mm.

I have asked if they could start a 10mm line with some accessories (wheels, walls, carts), some European style buildings or kits to add to foam blocks (doors windows, roofs). They seem interested but need a number of requests to start something new. If you are interested in 10mm stuff and like the look of their products, please write to them and encourage them to do some good work. I can see some very nice flat packed village sets for Russia or Belgium or Spain, or some walled farm kits. They are cheap to post, easy to make and look great on the table.

For more information see their website at www.4ground.co.uk

Finished section
Glued together

Closeup of the double gate

Basing ballast added

Monday, January 7, 2013

Napoleon's Waterloo Campaign: An alternate history - Book Review

It has been a while since my last post, I got distracted with other things. I haven't done much painting or gaming, but I did read an extraordinary book - Steven Marthinsen's "Napoleon's Waterloo Campaign : an alternate history".

One of the frustrating bits of reading about the 1815 Campaign is the sheer number of mistakes and blunders made by the different sides. It is easy with an armchair General's view of the world (with the luxury of hindsight) to say "Oh I would have done something different".

Marthisen's work is a careful narrative spread over two volumes and 773 pages with the premis of what would have happened if just one thing changed - what if Marshal Grouchy had let General Gerard and his IV Corps march to the sound of the guns on the 18th?

He startes the book with the scene between Grouchy, Gerard and Vandamme arguing on what to do. Without resolving this he goes back to cover the events leading up to the 16th June 1815 from multiple perspectives. Written with a deep understanding not only of the vents, but how soldiers think and feel during some very trying times. His descriptions of the struggle to maintain morale and reform broken troops, gives a fresh insights on the challenges of leadership in the time.

As Marthinsen moves through the events up to the 18th, he carefully slips in Grouchy's decision and take the reader on a new journey of the subtle difference and ultimately huge effect, this decision made.

The first book ends with a different outcome of Waterloo (which is renames Mount St Jean), still very close up until the last moment. The second focuses on the Battle of Ohain on the 19th between the French and Prussian armies. I don't really want to give too much away for the enjoyment of the reader, but I found it engaging.

I particularly enjoyed the description of the Jacquinot's lancer regiments cat and mouse game with a battery from the Prussian IV Corps. The careful sense of timing and understanding of on battle tactics was illustrated beautifully. IT would be something hard to replicate on the gaming table.

Each chapter is started with an eyewitness' account of the event of the chapter. I am sure the beginning ones are based on true accounts, but the latter works of fiction have seamlessly blended in.

His descriptions of the thought processes of the leadership and they struggle with less than perfect battle field intelligence are well described.

Marthinsen knows his details, not only of the events, but captures the feel of that climactic week. At the end he offers an opening to what might have been post 1815. As a bonus he gives a good OOB with strengths of both the battles of Mont St Jean and Ohain.

I would highly recommend this read to anyone interested in the era or who would like to game some historical fiction. The battle of Ohain is definately on my bucket list.

The book comes from Amazon by clicking the link on the above thumbnail.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Napoleon's Imperial Guard - Book Review

As preparation for an upcoming project, I thought I better brush up on the history of this most famous of Army Corps. J.T. Headley's "Napoleon's Imperial Guard - From Marengo to Waterloo" is an interesting 261 pages covering the Guard's impressive history. It follows, in sequential order, the Guard's exploits both on and off the battlefield from 1799 until after 1815. THe

Much is made of the mutual devotion between Napoleon and the Imperial Guard. This is told through numerous examples of interactions between the two, which are well described, as well as the incredible feats of valour on the battlefield. These feats were usually under overwhelming odds and mostly turned the tide of the battle. You can't help but admire the courage of these soldiers.

The retreat from Moscow describes the horrendous suffering of he troops as well as the exemplary behaviour while the Emperor was in their midst. Things got messy when Napoleon abandoned the army with Murat in charge.

The stories of the Pupils in the 1813/14 campaign highlights the effect of many years of war and conscription on the population of France.

Of particular interest was the chapter of the Guard after Waterloo, describing how some of the survivors made it to America and attempted to set up a colony. It was something I had little awareness of and would make an interesting fantasy campaign.

Headley makes an interesting point at the end of the book about Napoleon not starting wars, but reacting to the actions of the other nations around wanting to extinguish the Revolution and it's ideas. He paints the Imperial Guard as being part of a expansion of ideas of freedom and liberty against the established monarchies of Europe.

There is no attempt at describing the uniforms or detailed orders of battle. Occasionally at the end of each chapter the total number of the Guard is stated. Some details on the uniforms or organisation would be a welcome addition.

The book has a number of black and white plates of battles the Guard fought in. The order doesn't always match the chapter. Being in black and white, much of the emotion of the battle seems lost, as it is hard to tell particular uniforms. There were no maps in the book.

One disappointing aspect was the number of typographical errors I noticed (almost as many as on this blog). It seems the book was written and edited with some haste. Headley wrote this from material he had from another book project, so it seems a bit of an after thought.

Overall I found it an interesting read with some insights into the Guard. It was quick to read, but once read, I doubt that I'll go back to it.

Certainly good inspiration to finish painting my own Imperial Guard in 10mm, my upcoming summer project.

Monday, October 22, 2012

100th Post

Seems like yesterday that this project started. When I wrote in my very first post that playing Waterloo was one day a dream to play. Now some 20 months later, I have almost the complete OOBs for Quatre Bras (just a few Hanoverians to organise), as well as having various other units from Waterloo done. I estimate that I am about a bit over a third of the way. Much of the last six months has been on smaller projects and gap filling, rather than great numbers of rank and file.

Some statistics on the first 100
  • First post 3rd February 2011
  • 628 days, average 1 post every 6.28 days
  • Posts - 100
  • Comments - 115
  • Followers - 86
  • Page visits - 35075
  • Most popular post - The Emperor's Beautiful Daughters
  • Total figures done - 3698 + 117 Guns
So what is coming up? There is still so much to do. Part of the challenge in making this project work is not to get too overwhelmed. By concentrating on discrete blocks, particular Divisions or Brigades, the sense of completion provides the enthusiasm for the next part. In the next year I aim to -
  • sort out the Hanoverian contingent
  • begin the Imperial Guard infantry
  • fill in the Gaps in the British line
  • finish off the outstanding Cavalry and Artillery for both French and Allies
  • finish off the Nassau contingent
  • complete Lobau's Reserve VI Corps
  • start researching the Prussians
While some parts depend on the right figures being available, others are just a matter of organisation and time. But I don't plan to work on it alone, some of the bulk painting will need to be outsourced, otherwise there is no way I'd make the 200th Anniversary.

I'd also like to dedicate some more time for playing some games. As most of my time comes in little parcels it is easier to focus on reducing the lead mountain, than getting games going. But there is a special satisfaction in playing with your creation.

So thank you, loyal readers, for your comments and clicks. Without this important feedback, not many blog posts would have been written. Currently the level of visits to the site is the highest it has ever been, which is a validation for the effort in writing contributions, and a motivation to keep writing.

What would you like to see? I am happy to take suggestions. Let me know in the comments and I will do my best to accommodate the requests.

Looking forward to the next 100 posts.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Kellerman's Heavy Cavalry Corps

Kellerman's III Reserve Cavalry Corp. 
General de Division Francois Kellerman commanded the III Reserve Calvary Corp during the 1815 campaign. He lead a brigade of Cuirassiers on a successful charge at Quatre Bras, capturing the Colours of the 69th Foot before making it to the crossroads. He narrowly escaped after his horse was shot from beneath him by hanging on the bits of of two trooper's horses. His Cavalry were involved in the massed charges against the Allied square at Waterloo.

He was called "the Younger" as his father had served as a General in the French Army.

The III Corp numbered some 3600 sabres - made up of the 11th Division containing the 2nd and 7th Dragoons  and the 8th and 11th Cuirassiers, and the 12th Division with the 1st and 2nd Carabiniers and 2nd and 3rd Cuirassiers along with supporting horse artillery.  The 11th Division was engaged at Quatre Bras, as the 12th had been delayed crossing the Sambre River.
Kellerman the younger

Most of the figures I had painted earlier, just needing to finish off the 3rd Cuirassiers and create some leaders. To make the leaders I used a Old Glory packet of Cuirassiers as a base. I cut of the square portmanteau at the back of the saddle and used some green stuff to model some coat tails. I also covered up the sheepskin shabraque at the front of the saddle and made cloth pistol covers out of green stuff. One had a comb replacing the horse hair on the helmet to become a Carabinier General. They were based individually on a 15 x 15mm for the General de Brigades, and with another rider on a 20 x 20mm for the General de Division. Standard bearers or trumpeters were used as the second figure.

Kellerman was from the French Leaders pack with two Cuirassier escorts. They came out pretty well.
The back square portmanteau was cut off
Green stuff was used for the tails, pistol covers and helmet comb

Remodelled Carabiner General leading his brigade

The whole Corps just fits into one of the storage draws

Monday, October 15, 2012

van Merlen's Brigade

Rushing to support the units at Quatre Bras
Major General Baron Jean-Baptiste van Merlen commanded the 2nd Netherlands Light Cavalry Brigade made up of the Belgian 5th Light Dragoons and Dutch 6th Hussars. He had earlier fought against the British in Spain on the French side. Made a French General in 1814, he returned to his homelade in the Netherlands after the first abdication to take a command in the new Netherlands army.

The 5th Light Dragoons suffered heavy casualties in clashes with the French at Quatre Bras. On engaging with the 6th Chasseurs for Pire's Division, the French recognised the unit and called on their old comrades to defect. Merlen refused and ordered a charge. As it pulled back unsuccessful, their green uniforms were mistaken for the French Chasseurs by some British troops and they suffered further casualties form friendly fire.
Van Merlen and the Dutch 6th Hussars 

The 6th Dutch Hussars also took heavy casualties during Quatre Bras. At waterloo they helped repulse the French Cavalry attacks. Over the two battles they lost 45% of their strength in casualties.

Mark Adkin reports in "The Waterloo Companion"  - During a melee at Waterloo he defeated a French General he knew well, but released him saying "General, this is my side of the battle, yours is over there. Take care of yourself; farewell!" Shortly after Merlen was wounded and died a few hours later.

Belgian 5th Light Dragoons