Corunna bathtubbed – progress

Since this morning’s post the required spray paints have arrived. Hills have been varnished, then sprayed green and brown and re-varnished. Stream tiles were sprayed green, varnished and then thickly applied with a mix of blues and greys from tester pots using an old kids’ craft painting brush, then revarnished.

The new bits and pieces

With the new hills and streams in place I am almost there. Grid lines need to be drawn on the new tiles, the sea/river section must be painted, a bridge made and trees sought from the Toy Cupboard or the loft (or made from scratch if not found)*.

Most of the terrain is ready

* Trees are made by making small woollen pompoms in the traditional manner, then attaching them to thin dowel rods on a circular MDF base. They are then based in pairs. Two bases (four trees) are impenetrable, one base (two trees) is passable by infantry or light cavalry.

Where does the time go?

31st January. Another month gone and not a wargame played!

I am almost ready to play “Corunna Bathtubbed” but I have to make several stream tiles. Checking my supply of spray paints I needed more green and brown, both for these tiles and the extra hills that needed to be painted.

Table in progress. Stream tiles to be painted. More trees to be discovered.

When finally ready I intend to make up for lost time by fighting the battle three times with three different sets of rules. The first will be “Est-il Heureux”, the second the “Grenvile’s Kids’ Game” and the third playing will use Bob Cordery’s “Portable Wargame”.

Est-il Heureux was a game system that I designed for battle demonstrations at Napoleonic re-enactment events, using printed soldiers on wooden blocks on a free terrain. I later adapted it to a gridded table. I used to play these games in an open tent in the guise of a French veteran soldier, a pensioner of Les Invalides. My tale was that my game was seen by a visiting Prussian gentleman called “von Reisswitz”, which inspired him to create his own game…

Grenvile’s Kid’s Game is a simple game I developed to entertain the younger gentlemen of my current re-enactment regiment: Sir Richard Grenvile’s Troop of Horse. The game mechanics owe a lot to Richard Borg’s “Commands and Colors” games, but adapted to a 12×12 squared board. The cards are replaced by a simple dice activation system.

The Portable Wargame possibly needs no introduction to my readers. It has a large and growing online community on Facebook, and more information can be found on Bob’s blog:

More on the detail of these rules will follow in the forthcoming battle reports.

Corunna Bathtubbed – a little progress

After a reminder from WordPress that no progress has been made for a month I have done some work.

The battlefield has quite a lot of stream/river squares, so I looked amy stock. I have some MDF 2×1 painted river sections and some MDF with Irregular Miniatures streams.

I bought and tried to cut out some blue vinyl streams, but they were too prone to twisting, so I reverted to painted MDF, but starting from scratch. The 2mm MDF is on order.

I have expanded my “Waterloo” walled farm/village squares to the five needed for this game and also bought the last remaining “Village in a bag” that I could find online.

Meanwhile I have painted and varnished some more cork tile hills, unfortunately not with the same shades of green/brown as my earlier hill tiles. No matter.

My plan for stream terrain elements is to make as many as possible in a 2 x 2 square format. Hills and other terrain may sit atop these thin items. Some will of necessity be 2 x 1 squares. I must also make a triangular “sea” terrain piece with a maximum of 3 squares x 3 squares.

Progress so far, with streams, some more woods and a bridge to be added.

Corunna Bathtubbed

The Battle of Corunna 1809

Some years ago, after retiring from active battlefield service with the 45eme Regiment de Ligne re-enactment unit, I set myself up on the campsite as a Pensionnaire des Invalides, the French equivalent of a Chelsea Pensioner.  The fact that at the time I would have been disqualified for having four working limbs was overlooked. 

I developed a game using wooden troop blocks on a basic wooden terrain that I later claimed that I had shown to a visiting Prussian officer called Reisswitz, if I recall.  He then developed the game for the Prussian army staff, and thus I could claim to be the true father of wargaming.  I called my game “Est-Il-Heureux?”, after Napoleon’s supposed question about his new generals.  Is he lucky?  The elements of randomisation by die roll after issuing orders meant that you had to be lucky.

Later, for simplicity I adapted the game to be played on a 24” x 24” card table, divided into 2” squares.  It was much simplified and owes a lot to the ideas of Richard Borg in his “Commands & Colors” series of games.  My adapted game, later played with young re-enactors to great enjoyment, used metal 6mm models on 2cm square metal bases, and thus could still be interpreted as a public display in the early 1800s.

We have played Waterloo several times, but I have now resurrected the game for a new battle.


I have recently subscribed to the magazine “Military History Matters” and have resolved to fight every battle covered in the magazine in some shape or form.  This may be difficult for the latest edition, covering Pearl Harbor.  The previous edition focussed on Corunna 1809.  Coincidentally this was the first ever wargame I fought, solo, about 50 years ago, using Airfix Waterloo figures on a 6ft x 2.5ft ex-door as a game board.  My source material was Christopher Hibbert’s book, one chapter of which I translated into French as part of my “A level” course work in 1972.

I replayed the game using the “Commands & Colors” scenario, but was disappointed by it.  I decided to reconstruct it for the “EIH squares” game.


My first task was to find a suitable map.  The one in the magazine was unsuitable for a simple board adaptation, so I searched the internet.  The most appropriate was this one, which is clear and concise.

My next task was to convert this to a 12 x 12 layout.  Clearly from this map it was not possible to extract a section, so I decided to stretch the horizontal perspective, resulting in this:

I don’t believe the adjustment will adversely affect the battle game.

The next stage was to add a 12 x 12 grid to the map:

This map was imported to an Excel spreadsheet as a background, the Excel cells adjusted to fit the sheet and some drawings added.  Here is part of the field as work in progress.

Removing the background gives the playing board:

The armies

The next step was to set the troop deployment.  In my game the default unit strengths are 4 Infantry bases, 4 cavalry bases and 2 artillery bases.  This battle was fought after a long retreat and pursuit in winter, so numbers were reduced.  Looking at the map and the order of battle this would need to be adjusted.  After some calculations I came up with:

British:  28 Infantry bases, 2 artillery bases.  The minimal remaining cavalry element was ignored.

French: 36 Infantry bases, 9 cavalry bases (6 dragoons, 3 hussars), 6 artillery bases.

They are deployed as on this map.

Next step: playing the battle. I can either use my default red army vs blue army models from the original period set-up, or I think I have sufficient correct 6mm soldiers to play with. We shall see.

My little Repair Shop

British readers may be aware of the TV programme “The Repair Shop” where a team of experts painstakingly repair and restore much loved objects brought to them by the general public.

While awaiting a response for a personal item, I had my own little challenge. We have a wooden “Advent Tree” – a wooden Christmas tree with 24 hooks and 24 drawers for small wooden items to hang day by day.

Packing away our Christmas decorations yesterday I found that the start at the top of the tree was lopsided. The spike at its base was snapped.Fortunately my left eye has now recovered sufficiently to attempt a repair. So I sought to repair it. First step was to cut away the remaining stem.

A fallen star.

After cutting away the remains of the stem with a razor saw I sought out our box of wooden cocktail sticks.

A suitable substitute.

Having snipped one pointed end and checked that it would fit the hole in the top of the tree I began to carefully drill out the star where the previous stem had been.

A suitable drill

The short end of cocktail stick fitted perfectly, and I glued it in with UHU glue. Here is the final result, ready for December 2022.

A star is reborn.