A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Something for the Weekend - The Battle of Not-Quite-Uclés, 13 Jan 1809 - set-up

On Saturday I have guest generals coming to play at Chateau Foy, so this is a special occasion, especially after the recent panic involving the cancellation of the Siege of Newcastle.

Work on the set-up is proceeding...
Our scenario for the day will be something rather similar to the Battle of Uclés - not too similar, naturally. A Spanish army under Mariscal de Campo Venegas, comprising 23 battalions, 5 regiments of light cavalry and two foot batteries will defend the formidable ridge which the town and monastery of Uclés bisect; the opposition is a French force commanded by Marshal Victor, who will have available 21 battalions, 5 regiments of dragoons and 1 of chasseurs à cheval, 2 foot batteries and one horse battery. I shall use the largest of my available table configurations - any larger and we need to find a bigger venue.

The Spanish Army is assembling on the Plastic Canteen Trays of Mars, as you see...

...while, in the interests of security, the French are marshalling in another room,
on the official ironing board (has it been pressed into service?) - formidable, n'est-ce pas?

I expect we shall have rather a lot of fun, but if anyone out there fancies a bet on the result, I would suggest a sporting 10 pence on a resounding French win. Some of the French are to arrive a little late, subject to the whim of the dice, as a consequence of (allegedly) taking the wrong road, but I fear this will not affect the result.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - Beremundo

The loneliness of command - under revised house rules, brigade commanders still don't get an ADC
Another senior officer for the Spaniards. This chap is a spare from a stock of Spanish cavalry I've had for a little over two years, waiting patiently in the paint queue. These are some of the figures I commissioned from Hagen - they paint up all right, I think?

This is Colonel Beremundo Ramirez de Arellano of the line cavalry unit Reina, who had the (brief) pleasure of commanding the brigade of cavalry at Uclés (13th Jan 1809).

Since he is a colonel, much of the prep work consisted of carefully filing off his epaulettes - hands are still sore this morning!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - More Leaders, and a Possible Outbreak of Creeping Elegance

You know you get a sort of half idea, and you quite like it, and before you know what's happened you find you can't get it out of your head, and you have a new project starting up...?

For example - years ago, I once found that I had acquired a couple of mounted infantry colonels from somewhere, so the next couple of French battalions I painted up had a mounted figure in the command, just to try it, and I liked that a lot. It looked just like the pictures in the old Charles Grant book - splendid. It was really just to use up the spare figures, but I knew almost straight away that eventually I would end up rebasing all my Napoleonic armies and adding mounted colonels throughout. It took ages, but I got there in the end, and now I never think twice about it - it's a house standard.

This time it's generals. I have my generals based individually, except for army commanders, who are on a rather larger stand, and have an ADC attached. I have a growing box of attractive staff-type castings waiting to be painted - generals and aides and adjutants and all that - the availability of new figures from Art Miniaturen and elsewhere makes this hard to resist. I like painting generals and ADCs - small jobs, lots of fiddly bits - ideal for short paint sessions, and I am looking at painting up a special new staff group for Marshal Suchet, and I have some more Spanish generals on the bottletops at this very moment, and - O Lord - I've just seen the latest post from History in 1/72. I think I would like to have a little collection of celebrities and other oddballs to grace a suitable occasion. I already have a Spanish division commander who is based with an ADC, which is non-standard but looks pretty good (not least because Goya did the painting...). As of this morning, I am beginning to sense that a new house standard is sliding in from left field. I think I'd really like to move to brigadiers based on their own (as at present), division commanders with a single ADC, and army commanders or other special bods based with 2 supporting staff. Brigadiers will be on the standard 30mm x 45mm bases, division doubles will be on 50 x 50, and I need a new size for the triples - maybe my ECW 60 x 60s would do for that.

Three new Spanish generals - two brigadiers (one in his regimentals) and a
division commander (with the gold lace) - in fact they look a bit shiny - better get
the next coat of varnish matted down a bit.
So - anyway - it looks like a period of progressive rebasing and sorting out (and painting) is coming, to get my staff to the new standard. It doesn't have to happen all at once, of course, but I have some very nice unpainted ADCs just looking for a gig somewhere, and I have some of Jorg Schmaeling's latest Art Miniaturen French generals and aides, itching away in the French Command box. Yes - it feels like a good idea, and it's not too disruptive in the short term. Rebasing generals is a doddle, really. If I order in a supply of pre-cut MDF 50 x 50s from Uncle Tony Barr at ERM then that will get me started.

No rush. Looking forward to it. Creeping Elegance - you know it makes sense.

***** Late Edit *****

Now have the chaps based up, and have added a converted Hinton Hunt ADC to the division commander. ADC is in non-regulation uniform, you're right. Some quick pics in the garden...

This brigadier is dressed as colonel of the Regto de Africa (Antonio Senra)

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Serial Turncoat

Always striving to get ahead...

This chap has been featured on this blog before. I bought him, a good while ago, as part of a job lot on eBay - he was sold as a mounted British infantry officer - apparently an old Hinton Hunt OPC, and I put him away in the spares box for a future refurb.

British officer - as purchased

When I had time, I had a good look at him, decided it would be best to strip and start again, and consigned him to the Nitromors (hand-remover). It shifted the paint, but also shifted his head...

Carrying on heedless
...and it became obvious that in a previous tour of duty he had started life as a Hinton Hunt Austrian general - AN 102 - like this one:

Origins - photo borrowed from The Hinton Hunter 
It seems a pity to waste a useful figure, and his Austrian origins, and consequent lack of epaulettes, suggested a possible conversion to a Spanish general officer. As is the way of these things, the headless horseman has been kicking around my painting desk for three years now, but I am trying to move my Spanish army towards some kind of complete state, and I am always short of generals and staff officers - in particular, I need brigadiers - quite a few of them - and since there are precious few suitable castings around it becomes a very attractive idea to produce some conversions. Not many things look as limp as a complete set of identical officers - a matching battalion is OK - I have plenty of those - but matching officers are not so cool.

Righto then - there was a pequeño uniform for Spanish generals - single breasted, like a French surtout, and I gave my adventurer a head from a miscast Spanish fusilero from my NapoleoN spares, who had a missing foot. Better and better - nothing goes to waste here, if I can avoid it. As always, he will win no prizes for beauty, but he is a unique figure, and I need all the characters I can get for my Spanish army.

Hola! (I think a brigadier would probably say "Hola!" in a suitably deep voice.)

By the way, you will observe that the base of the original figure has been built up with lead sheet, which is a bit serious for my collection - if anyone recognises this fellow - in any of his past personae, please do get in touch!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Update to Peter Brekelmans' C&C-based TYW Rules - Ver 2.2

Peter Brekelmans has modified his TYW Variant rules based on Commands & Colors. The link in the top right hand corner of this screen will now get you to the same place-marker post of mine as it used to, but the links have been updated to the latest versions of the documentation, and the presentation of the downloads has been greatly simplified.

Since I am notorious as a man who cannot update hyperlink addresses and chew gum at the same time, I'd be very grateful if you let me know of any sharing problems - I think I set everything correctly, but you know how it is.

As previously, I must emphasise that these are not my rules - I was privileged to be involved in the discussion of them last year, and they share some features with my own ECW rules (which are still being maintained, and are also accessed from the links on the right hand side), but they are Peter's own work, and stand on their own.

Some explanations, based on Peter's notes on the changes:

All in all, the changes to the Chaunce Deck include -

1 - the re-introduction of the FRIENDLY FIRE card (with a modification to restrict it to firing only on friendly units that are within 3 hexes of an enemy)
2 - the deletion of the PAYLE card - redundant 
3 - a change to the MAPPE card
4 - a few minor changes to the text of titles and descriptions (to make them better suited for use with NANDeck card-printing software)

The rule revisions largely concern terrain, and are as follows - 

1 - a new 'higher slope' classification to differentiate between multiple levels of gently sloped hill plateaus and hill tops
2 - tightened up the wording re the effects of buildings, villages, towns and fortified areas
3 - added a priority provision to allow for multiple terrain types in a single hex

As well, there is a change to tighten up the rule for coming out of a 'set pike' formation.

Friday, 7 April 2017

1809 Spaniards - Better, but Still Digging Furiously

The carpet remains a job in hand, so today's first mission is to clear the decks a bit to get that sorted out.

In the meantime I shifted my painting/carpet-soiling operations into the dining room, and now have the first battalion of Granaderos Provinciales - complete apart from the flag, which should follow in a day or so. The flag, since I mentioned it, is going to be a bit of a flight of fancy - units of granaderos of the line were normally assembled on campaign from the grenadier companies in a division, which means that, as provisional entities, they did not have flags unless someone lent them one. Not so for the Provinciales - the grenadier companies were supplied by the Provincial Militia units of a particular - erm, province, I guess - but they were then given a permanent identity and treated as a distinct regiment. Thus they had a flag, I understand.

These chaps, then, are the 3rd "Division" of Provincial Grenadiers - namely those of Andalucia (other "divisions" were for Galicia, and New and Old Castille). As grenadiers they manage to avoid categorisation as militia in my rules (with all the potentially disastrous implications that would bring), and count as bog-standard line infantry. They are not without a certain prestige, in fact the colonel at the Battle of Ucles would be Pedro Giron, who later was C-in-C of one of the main Spanish field armies. They will form part of the Reserve division of the Army of La Mancha - in company with various guard battalions and the very attractive Irlanda.

Granaderos Provinciales de Andalucia - short of a flag

...and, of course, they have to look good when retreating - note minimalist flammes

Their flag will be some fairly generic coronela - if anyone knows better, please feel free to shout. I'll provide a more official picture when the flag is issued and the chaps are ready for action.

The other such battalion is partly complete - thus far they have their command finished, and the rest of the chaps are undercoated and have had the white paint done (lots of white paint) - they can go back in the Really Useful Box for a respite period, while we sort out the domestic collateral damage.

Oh yes - figures are Falcata castings - the rank and file laboriously (and grumpily) fettled and cleaned up prior to painting - they came out OK, I think - the mounted officer is a conversion involving a Kennington Frenchman and other bits, and the standard bearer is by NapoleoN.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Paint Accident - a small vote of thanks to Citadel


One of my battalions of Spanish grenadiers has reached the stage of painting muskets. Since my brand new pot of Foundry Musket Stock Brown is thin and horrid (is it just me?), no matter what kind of stirring procedures I use, I resorted to an old pot of Citadel Scorched Brown. This is one of the Citadel pots from what I call their "in-between" period - i.e. after the old hexagonal pots which I used to like very much, and before the current pots, which have a captive plastic cap which will lock into an open position. The In-Betweens had a captive round cap, but it had no locking mechanism, and they absolutely refuse to stay open in a position that you can use for (let us say, for example) painting.

For in-betweens on which I have relied in the past, I have tended to cut the lid free, so that it may be removed, complete with paint sample, and used as a little palette. Thus what happened today is all my own fault.

I can claim nothing, really, beyond my own ineptitude, but there are certain, ergonomically unhelpful devices which can encourage my ineptitude to blossom, and - you guessed it - my wrestling with one of these stupid cut caps resulted in its popping off at some speed, and applying a spot of Scorched Brown to the living room carpet, just in front of my painting bureau. To my recollection, this is the first such paint accident I have had in many decades of model painting - and we are talking here of periods which included frequent removal of Humbrol enamel tinlet-lids with a screwdriver. I guess I should be grateful that my luck held for so long.

Having exhausted my supply of more easily-remembered terms of appropriate profanity, I have now committed all sorts of effort and cleaning materials to the scene of the accident. It is water-based paint, there was very little spilled, and the carpet is a light brown/beige colour anyway, so I am confident that it should come up pretty well - if necessary, I am sure that the Contesse's trusty steam cleaner, or even a little professional help, will get things back to normal. Thus I am currently in a period of cooling-down, while the rescue scene dries out a little, ready for the next phase. This has not helped painting progress at all, of course.

Normally, you will realise, I bear no malice to anyone - well, maybe there are a very few exceptions, come to think of it, but generally life is too short to bear grudges. Today, though, I should like to single out Citadel paints for special mention. I sincerely wish that the hero who designed the pre-locking, in-between period cap for their paint pots might have one of his splendid caps inserted, rectally - ideally, to a position just below his tonsils.