January 24, 2010

Starter Scenario for REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE

REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE is the Napoleonic rules that I worked on with Barry Hilton. The general impression I've gotten from reading forums and blogs is that people think the rules are complicated. The game play is smooth and free flowing with minimal need to refer to the main text once concepts have been mastered. New players usually pick up the key mechanisms within three to four game turns and our play testers were able to run games using only the quick reference sheet.

REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE can be used for all scales although they are primarily written for 28mm scale Divisional to Army level games. However, during play testing, most of my games were played solo with only a single brigade per side. The mechanics work perfectly fine for games of this size with one simple rule change: No Manoeuvre Points are required to maintain Brigade Orders. Manoeuvre Points are still required to allocate new orders to brigades or issue Single Unit Actions.

Playing games in this fashion is the perfect way to learn the rules or introduce new players to the hobby. A game of this size can be played in about two hours, possibly less once you've got the hang of the rules.

January 23, 2010

New Camera

I just purchased a Canon EOS Rebel Xsi. I decided it was time to upgrade my photography equipment. For years I've used a Canon Power Shot S30 and I've had good results (All of my photos from Republic to Empire were taken with the S30). Recently I've noticed my old camera's auto focus function seems to be having trouble and I started looking around for a replacement. After a pile of research online, I picked the XSi.

Right out of the box, I got this shot among my first attempt:

The only post production on the computer was a 5% increase in brightness to bring out the brushwork in the fur bonnets. I'll post more about my photography in the future with details of my set up and camera settings, but for now let me say I am ecstatic with my choice.

January 22, 2010

Vive L'Empereur!

Just a quick post to get a pic of a couple of my French battalions on the blog (and get 'French' listed in the sidebar). These are Foundry models and the flags are my own. This photo is one of many featured in REPUBLIC TO EMPIRE. For those unfamiliar with the rule set, you can see a preview of the book here.

January 21, 2010

Fix Bayonets!

I'm talking about plastic models, not a cry to ready your men for hand to hand combat! I love all of the new plastic models that have come over the last year. I've been building multi-part Games Workshop plastic minis for years. The ease of converting plastics is something I welcome in historical miniatures.

However, one of the drawbacks with plastic models is that they are much more fragile than metal. The bayonets on these new recruits are easy to break if you're not careful. While you can send the careless bugger into combat without it (serves him right after all) it's actually an easy fix. I always have muskets left over so a loner should be easily on hand. The secret is not to try and fix the bayonet - it's too small and unless you have the broken bit, you will never be able to piece it back together seamlessly. Instead, make the cut where the bayonet joins the musket. I use liquid super glue for all of my plastic modeling projects so there won't be any unsightly goo left around the join. Apply a small amount of glue on each section, count to ten to give it time to start working. It is melting the plastic for those unfamiliar with plastic modeling glue and the brief pause will make it 'tackier' and easier to stick together. The end result will be good as new!

January 17, 2010


After several questions on other sites where I posted the pic, I realized the Legion Hanoverienne was not a very well known unit!

The Legion Hanovrienne was created by General Mortier, Governor of Hanover, on 12 August 1803 following the French occupation. it was established as a regiment of light infantry in two battalions and a regiment of chasseurs a cheval in four squadrons. 

Desertion, sickness, and the consequences of campaigning in general, meant that neither the infantry nor cavalry elements ever realised their establishmeets. The Legion Hanovrienne was posted to the 3rd Division of Junot's Army of Portugal in 1807, where it served alongside the Legion du Midi (Which I will be adding to my collection next month). 

This Formation became the 3rd Division, VIII Corps, Army of Spain, later transferred to Soult's II Corps, where it became the 4th Division. The unit continued to serve with the Legion du Midi and both were joined in the 4th Division by the Detachement de marche of the Garde de Paris. By the beginning of 1810 the unit, still with the Legion du Midi, was in the 3rd Division of Ney's VI Corps. On 10 March 1810 the remains of the disbanded Bataillon de Westphalie, which had been combined with the Legion Hanovrienne in 1809, were used to form a second battalion.

Nevertheless, the effects of the war in Spain were such that the Legion Hanovrienne had to be disbanded on 11 August 1811. The remaining personnel were distributed amongst other German speaking regiments of the French army, 3e and 4e Etrangers, 127e, 128e and 129e de ligne. 

This information was pulled from an article by John Cook in the Age of Napoleon magazine, issue 21.

January 16, 2010

Legion Hanoverienne

My Peninsular French collection is based on Ney's VI Corps in 1810. There are several reasons I picked this corps - Ney is my favorite Marshal, the formation sparred with Craufurd's Light Division continuously that year culminating in the Combat on the Coa, and the presence of allied battalions to break up all of the blue coats!

This one of two Legion Hanoverienne battalions in Loison's Division made with Victrix models. The second one is under way as I post this. In addition I will be adding the Legion du Midi as well - basically French uniforms with brown jackets and sky blue facings. All of these units will be joining the French attack at Historicon!

January 11, 2010

No Army Lists? No Problem!

We made the decision early on to avoid trying to create points based lists for Republic to Empire. The period simply has too many armies and too many variations to do any kind of justice to such a project without devoting a whole book to it. Even then, I'm not confident that such lists would ensure fair and balanced games. I will agree that such lists are useful to the beginner, but I would argue it's just as easy to pick a real brigade to use as the focus for a collection. After all something brought all of us into the hobby, whether it was reading about a specific battle, a particular general or unit, or even a Sharpe novel! The Napoleonic period is well documented and there are detailed orders of battle for almost any battle you care to draw from.

Republic to Empire has a chapter devoted to the process of turning historical formations into tabletop armies, but let's look at one of my British Peninsular divisions for an example of how to do this.

The British Light Division is a wargamer's dream. Colorful personalities, elite troops, and a mix of coat colors (no having to paint six battalions with the same uniform). The composition of the Light Division changed nearly every battle (and indeed this is true with most formations in the period). For my collection, I chose the Combat on the Coa to serve as my model. Oman's History of the Peninsular War series is one of my favorite sources for detailed orders of battle for that theater. Although I couldn't find detailed unit strengths for the Coa, the third volume has Wellington's army listed at Bussaco which took place a couple of months later:

Light Division, Brigadier-General Craufurd

Beckwith's Brigade
      43rd Foot (804)
      95th Rifles (384, four companies)
      3rd Portuguese Cazadores (656)

Barclay's Brigade
      52nd Foot (946)
      95th Rifles (358, four companies)
      1st Portuguese Cazadores (546)

Republic to Empire is designed for a default 1:20 scale, but my collection was started years ago and is actually built on a 1:30 - no worries since you can field units of 18-48 infantry!

Beckwith's Brigade
      43rd Foot (27)
      95th Rifles (12)
      3rd Portuguese Cazadores (21)

Barclay's Brigade
      52nd Foot (31)
      95th Rifles (12)
      1st Portuguese Cazadores (18)

Finally, I base my units in stands of six models so I round my units to multiples of six:

Beckwith's Brigade
      43rd Foot (30)
      95th Rifles (12)
      3rd Portuguese Cazadores (24)

Barclay's Brigade
      52nd Foot (30)
      95th Rifles (12)
      1st Portuguese Cazadores (18)

That's it! This gives me a viable wargame force for small games that is colorful and historically accurate. At various times, the Light Division was detached on it's own and Craufurd was given a small cavalry element as well made up of the 1st KGL Hussars, 16th Light Dragoons, and a battery of RHA. Both cavalry regiments numbered around 450 in 1810 so I rounded down to two units of 12 models.

Veteran wargamers will not have learned much from this post, but it has been mainly aimed at the beginner who may be feeling lost without an army list. In a future post, I will talk about playing 'fair and balanced' games without using a point system.

January 8, 2010

More Rifles!

Part of my existing collection contains the Light Division and their most famous unit - the 95th Rifles!

As I mentioned before, I have plans to replace my existing collection with a combination of Victrix and Perry models. When I started collecting Napoleonics, Front Rank was the only manufacturer who made Cazadores that I liked.

The Light Division is a wargamer's dream:

1. An elite formation that saw action in almost every major Peninsular action (unlike collecting, say, the French elite Imperial Guard which probably shouldn't appear in great numbers on a wargame table unless you are playing really large games or very specific portions of a battle).
2. Lots of different coat colors! One of the soul destroying aspects of painting Napoleonics can be the endless drudgery of painting the same models over and over and over. The Light Division has red coated light infantry, brown coated Portuguese, and green jacketed riflemen!
3. It is a formation that was often detached on it's own in the Peninsula, making it appropriate even for very small games and skirmish level scenarios!

While I am very proud of my Light Division (only one brigade is shown above - I have both finished), the Front Rank models do not look good rebased with the rest of my collection. They are much larger than the Victrix I've used for the rest of my collection. They didn't look bad in the display case, but originally I based everything as single figures. I wanted to put the two light battalions on multi-figure stands and after trying to base the first unit, I found they looked terrible packed as close together as my Victrix units. The size difference was magnified as the models looked crowded. Thus I have made the decision to rebuild the Light Division with Victrix models (inclding the new metal Cazadores that will be out later this year). For Historicon, I only need Craufurd's original Light Brigade consisting of the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th. I MIGHT use my Front Rank 95th if I run out of time. They really are nice models and the size difference did not bother me until I tried to pack models onto 50x45mm bases.

January 6, 2010

The First Minis of 2010

I'm starting off the year with models I can use for both Historicon and my personal collection (clever, that).

When I set out to muster a new army for any period, I find an orbat from a battle that will form the basis of my collection. My initial foray into Peninsular Napoleonics for the British was Craufurd's famous Light Division. Having finished that (though I am now painting on building the division again using Victrix and Perry - more on that in coming months), I picked out Picton's Third Division to choose elements from next. I finished the first brigade (I'll post pics of them in the coming week) except for the 'penny packets' of the 60th Rifles that accompany the brigade. Eight of the twelve are pictured above and the other four are nearly finished...

January 2, 2010

Happy New Year!

2010 promises to be very busy. Besides a second edition of Beneath the Lily Banners and several scenario books for said rules, I will be focusing on Napoleonic painting for a participation game using Republic to Empire at Historicon 2010. More details on the project as it unfolds, but here's a peek at two of the units that will be involved...

These are Victrix French 1804-1807 painted as Spanish Line Infantry. While there are certainly differences in the uniforms, these work well enough for my table!

You'll probably see changes to this blog's appearance as we go along because I'm just getting into the tools available. Hopefully my regular site will see more updates too!