Not much gaming as Waterloo looms

It seems a long time since I had anything to post.  On the wargaming front the Peninsular War e-mail campaign progresses slowly as more forces begin to find and engage the enemy.  It will be two more wargame days before I can post a “one month in arrears” update.

I have been making some tweeks to my Napoleonic “in period” display game, requiring some new models to be painted.  The problem was the infantry squares.  I am using Irregular Miniatures 6mm models and there is very little definition on the infantry square castings, and from what I can see it appears that many of the men are carrying a blanket roll or greatcoat above a non-existent backpack, as the crossed belts are visible  on their backs. I compromised and painted some with crossed belts and others with packs.

There is plenty of action on the reenactment front, particularly in preparation for the Waterloo 200th anniversary.  I have switched armies for this one and am eagerly awaiting some very expensive uniform items.

For my camping I designed an extended tent built from two ordinary soldiers’ tents side by side, with one of them rigged as an awning to be used as a day tent. (I am a Major, so I claim I can have two tents).  It worked fine in the garden with no rain and little wind.  First time out in a gale I added guy ropes to brace it.  Overnight the wind reversed direction and we had a downpour. The resulting weight of the rooftop swimming pool threatened to pull the whole structure down!

I have reverted to the original plan of using my bell tent and have loaned my soldiers’ tents to my French friends.  This will no doubt incur the displeasure of the camp organisers because camping in the garden at Hougoumont will be somewhat “cosy”, given the numbers and the available space.  Single occupancy bell tents are apparently frowned upon by the General Staff in their well-appointed marquees.

It appears that we will be displaying a white canvas tent city at Waterloo for the benefit of the expected 20,000 visitors per day, despite the fact that it never existed.  On the other hand, if at my age I will be living in a muddy field for a week under public scrutiny I intend to be as comfortable as possible whilst staying “in period”.  What we should be showing is officers cramming into peasant houses and the soggy soldiery making do in the field, but historical accuracy in reenactment will always come second to modern comforts.

I am told that I am a Supernumery Officer, so can I have a special cape and wear my underpants outside my overalls?



Too much to do

It has occurred to me that I have not posted anything for some time.  This is mainly because nothing has been completed.  I have my finger in too many pies.

However, I have been making progress in various directions.  On the reenactment front I have been trying to obtain buttons, buckles and bows for my role as a major in the British army at Waterloo in June.  I have been appointed Assistant QMG to 2nd Brigade Allied Army, despite spending 25 years as a French soldier in this period.  (Not so odd – at my first Waterloo in 1990 the current commander of the British army in the UK was my French sergeant).  The 2nd brigade, one of four infantry brigades on the allied side, including the German brigade and the Royal Dutch Army, will have around 300 muskets on the field.  While small by US (i.e. Gettysburg) standards, this will be one of the biggest European re-enactment events ever staged.

While thinking of Napoleonic re-enactment, I would like to pay tribute to Peter (Tiny) Castle, Sergeant and commander of the 32nd (Cornwall) Regiment, who died last Sunday.  A large man with a huge personality and a commanding voice who will be sadly missed.  A shame he could not make it to the finale.

On the wargaming front, in my World War Two campaign I have the troops prepared for another battle in Poland on 2nd September 1939, but needed some more marsh terrain.  This is nearly ready…

Awaiting a spray of varnish to fix everything, then another gloss coat on the water.
Awaiting a spray of varnish to fix everything, then another gloss coat on the water.

In the bottom left of the picture are two strips (=1 base, 1/4 unit) of “Red” light cavalry being painted.  I hope that by mid May I will have all the necessary models ready for a display of my “pre-Reisswitz” wargame depicting Waterloo at a Town Council sponsored event in Horsham, UK.  Despite restricting the toy uniforms to red, blue, white and black, plus horse and gun colours, these seem to take a long time to get ready.

I have also been preparing for the second Donald Featherstone tribute weekend (21-23 March) at the Wargames Holiday Centre, where we will be playing Arnhem with Rapid Fire rules.  I own the first edition rules, but have never completed a game with them or used them competitively.  I have been toying with some reduced-scale scenarios, but I await the postman with the edition of the rules that we will be using, as if owning and reading the rules will grant me any greater success!

I have asked for command of 130 Brigade, 43 Division if it’s included in the game, as these are the lads from the counties where I grew up.  Otherwise I will take what I am given, Allied or German.  I’me not sure if we are playing just Arnhem or Market Garden, or somewhere between the two.  Whatever, with something like 650 square feet of table to play on it will be a challenge.

I have a lot of literature about the Market Garden operation and last year ran a 3 day real-time PBEM game which was a wonderful but exhausting experience.  However it’s played, this mini campaign reveals how easy it is for plans to fall apart on both sides, and the futility of war.

I hope to post some photos of the Arnhem game next week.





Painting, painting, painting

I am trying to increase the metal forces for use in my display games at Napoleonic re-enactment displays.  This project is to replace the wooden blocks that I originally made for my home-grown game “Est-il Hereux?” with metal stands of 6mm miniatures.

I am currently working my way through a couple of hundred line infantry for Red Army and Blue Army and finding it a chore.  Although the uniforms are very simplistic, toy soldier like, this batch has given me several headaches.  First I managed to apply the white spray painted undercoat too thickly and it has filled the gaps between the legs of the soldiers and obscured some of the other detail.  It has also come out with a glossy finish on the metal figures, even though some hard plastc figures sprayed at the same time have a matt finish!

This means that the red and blue acrylic paint is not taking well and most figures need at least two coats to get a proper covering.  It does not help that I over-thinned the red paint before application.


First basic covering.  Much touching up to be done.
First basic covering. Much touching up to be done.



A sub-project

As part of my wargaming projects to display the “battles of my youth” in my role as a pensioner of les Invalides in 1815 and to replay all the battles of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars on the tabletop I need more infantry.  I already have all the troops created as printed paper overlays on wooden blocks, but I want to create “lead” playing pieces.

My models do not need a great deal of detail.  They are to be toy soldier style as red army and blue army.  I am using Irregular Miniatures 6mm figures.  These infantry are no longer in the catalogue but Ian Kay still has the moulds and is kindly supplying me with the old castings.  I have to cut the bases down from nominal 21mm wide (but in reality frequently more) to fit a 20mm square metal base.

I have about 500 figures to paint for my next battle.  They have been spray painted with white undercoat and a few have their shakos painted.

My Pseudo-Napoleonic infantry waiting for their uniforms.
My Pseudo-Napoleonic infantry waiting for their uniforms.

September 1st 1939 – still waiting

So much for not holding up the game when I discovered I had missed creating an entire unit (see earlier post).  When I came to set up the battlefield I found I was short by three slope hexagons, so an emergency order to Kallistra was prepared.  At the same time I ordered some new houses from Total Battle Miniatures to replace the Irregular Miniatures buildings I intended to use, which look a bit small against the new troops.  If they don’t arrive before the new hexagon tiles I will press into use some nicely painted American Civil War models I bought at a tabletop sale last year.  They are a reasonable substitute, judging by newsreel film of September 1939 recently viewed.
ACW bulidings from Total Battle Miniatures ACW buildings from Total Battle Miniatures

So now it’s a race.  Will the new hexagon tiles arrive before the buildings? And in the meantime I can start painting the missing unit.

“Order – Counter-order – Disorder”

More toys ready for the table

I have just finished painting two light cavalry units for my generic Red Army and Blue Army.  They are painted in a toy soldier style, using only red, blue, white and black for uniforms, and a standard colour for horses within each regiment.

The models are from Irregular Miniatures’ 6mm range.  FN5 Polish Lancers if I remember well.

These photographs do not do them justice, taken with an iPhone because I have nothing better at the moment.

Red waits while Blue deploys two troops in scouting formation
Red waits while Blue deploys two troops in scouting formation
Blue cavalry scouting
Blue cavalry scouting
Red light cavalry in column of march
Red light cavalry in column of march

Footnote.  I know that in this scale you are supposed to skip the detail and concentrate on the mass, but I wish I had never taken up cavalry re-enacting.  I now feel compelled to paint almost every item of horse furniture where previously the reins would have been sufficient.  I use the Army Painter “Wargamer: Insane Detail” brush for much of this work, with a good light and a large magnifying glass.

And when deployed on the table know that the detail is there!