Mixing my hobbies

Recently I had the opportunity of mixing two of my hobbies by putting on a small public display at the Napoleonic reenactment event at Ickworth House, Suffolk.

In my role as an old soldier I have designed a game to relive my past glories on the tabletop.  This has gone through various design steps and the latest version is played on a squared grid, using 6mm model soldiers.

As a change from my usual practice of displaying a battle from 220 years previously (20 years in my timeline) I tried to recreate Waterloo in a highly condensed form, in keeping with the event theme.

Red Army and Blue Army deployed for the start of the Waterloo game.
Red Army and Blue Army deployed for the start of the Waterloo game.

The armies are generic, Red and Blue, and there are five troop types, identical for both sides.  These are Artillery, Line Infantry, Guard Infantry, Light Cavalry and Heavy Cavalry.  For the Waterloo game the ground scale was 400 metres to a square and the figure scale 1:100 (guns at 1:25). A square could contain 7200 infantry, 3200 cavalry or 50 guns.

During the course of the display I tweaked the rules and made notes as awkward situations arose.  The rules seem to be generally working, but have now expanded beyond the original single sheet.  I want to keep them simple enough to allow a passer-by to sit and play a turn or two.

The problems were in the scenario and the condensing of a three-mile front into 12 squares.  Hougoumont became almost inaccessible to the French because of the woods.  La Haie Sainte fell too quickly and Grouchy twice managed to arrive despite a 1:216 chance of doing so.

The battle for Plancenoit, on the other hand, played out most satisfactorily.

The results? With the victory conditions set as ocupation of both villages (Mont St. Jean and Plancenoit) and two of the four farms (Hougoumont, la Haie Sainte, Papelotte and Frischermont), Blue Army won the first day and the second day was a draw with both sides exhausted.  At least they did better than the reenactment French!

 

New units finished

Despite all the problems related in my earlier post I have managed to get six new 72-figure units finished for use in my demonstration battles at Napoleonic re-enactment events.

Six new units deployed for action
Six new units deployed for action

They are standard infantry units for red army and blue army, with four bases of three strips of Irregular Miniatures old-style French Napoleonic Infantry on a 2cm square steel base. The painting is deliberately “toy soldier” style to fit with their natural environment, as seen in the photographs.

A Blue column prepares to assault a village held by Red.
A Blue column prepares to assault a village held by Red.

An advantage of this mounting in 3-rank blocks is that the painted strips can be sorted before basing. Those with the best cross-straps go in the front rank, those with the best pack and pouch detail go to the rear and the rubbish goes in the middle rank.

Two opposing units come to close contact.
Two opposing units come to close contact.

Waterloo in miniature – in miniature

At the end of May one of my reenactment groups, the 45eme Regiment de Ligne, is putting on a Waterloo themed display at Horsham.
My planned contribution is a display game of the Battle of Waterloo, played in my role as a pensioner of les Invalides.
This will be a big “bathtubbing” exercise, because I intend to replay the battle on a table two feet (60cm) square, divided into 144 squares.
I have the basic terrain ready, but some of the cork tile pieces representing higher ground need to be painted and gridded to match the table.

Hougoumont, with a battalion of Guard Infantry and a company of skirmishers in the orchard
Hougoumont, with a battalion of Guard Infantry and a company of skirmishers in the orchard. My original Hougoumont occupied two squares and was too big.
Two companies of skirmishers hold la Haie Sainte as Blue columns advance towards the Red line on the ridge
Two companies of skirmishers hold la Haie Sainte as Blue columns advance towards the Red line on the ridge

Then most of the figures need to be painted. I will use the 6mm generic Red and Blue armies that I have been developing for this game. Tentative orders of battle are prepared.  Units in the order of battle consist of four bases as shown in the photographs, except artillery which will have two gun bases.  Maybe I will include two limbers as well – that remains to be seen.  Their presence or absence will not affect the game.
Blue
2 Guard infantry
7 Line infantry
2 Heavy cavalry
3 Light cavalry
4 Artillery
Red
1 Guard infantry
6 Line infantry
1 Heavy cavalry
3 Light cavalry
3 Artillery
Red casualties will be recycled. When 4 bases of the same type (2 for artillery) have been lost there will be a chance that an identical Prussian unit will appear on the south-east corner of the table near Plancenoit.

Plancenoit village. Red (Prussian) reinforcements advance against Blue(French) Guard Infantry - it's as exciting as watching glue dry.
Plancenoit village. Red (Prussian) reinforcements advance against Blue(French) Guard Infantry – it’s as exciting as watching glue dry.

More news as the project develops.

“Est-il heureux” updated 20th January 2013

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This is a scene from my wargame system that I call “Est-il heureux?”, meaning “is he lucky?”, the question hat Napoleon reputedly asked of his new generals. The game is designed for display of historic battles at Napoleonic re-enactment events, as well as being a quick game to play at home.

The idea is to show something that could have been invented and created by an old soldier to relive his past glories, and as I now play the role of a pensioner of les Invalides, it is a good way to pass the time and educate and entertain the visitors.

The troops are represented by wooden blocks covered with printed paper soldiers. Houses are from toy shop “village in a bag” and two dimensional trees are from christmas decoration suppliers or commissioned from my own design. The ground is represented by stacked cork wall tiles with roads and rivers chalked in.

All movement and combat is controlled by dice with red, green or blue coloured faces, keeping the game simple and easy to remember.

I hope in the near future to publish a blow by blow account of a battle using his system.

20th January 2013
Today I am busy producing more troop blocks for a forthcoming game set in Spain in February 1813.
For this game I will need a lot of red skirmish infantry representing Spanish guerrillas, and some of the new designs representing infantry and cavalry in march column on roads.

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In the picture are completed blocks and some of the printed paper covers for the unfinished blocks cut from 12mm pine strip wood.