Monday, August 29, 2011

28mm Churchyard at Aspern

A while ago I mentioned to my friend Sylvain that I've always wanted to do a tactical Napoleonic scenario that focuses on the ferocious fighting for the village of Aspern at the Battle of Aspern-Essling (May 20-21 1809).

Before we go any further you have to understand that Sylvain is completely mad. Bonkers. Nuts. Certifiable. 

Yeah? Oh, so now you want me to create some freakin' battlefield in Austria for you...? WTF. You know man, I have needs too...
Anyway, Sylvain likes to scratch-build buildings and since he's a bit 'touched' (and doesn't do anything in halves) he got it in his mind that he'd make me a 80% to scale representation in of the Aspern churchyard with all its buildings and grounds for my 28mm collection.

As you can see its pretty amazing.

With a 32 figure battalion as indication of scale.
Below you can see the roof has been removed so you can place figures in the upper galleries.

The roof can be removed to show battle damage and allow figures to be placed on the third level.
Another shot of the roof timbers and firing platforms.
The church tower can be removed as well in order to place figures.
Both the Church and the Rectory can be broken-down like a layer cake to allow each section to be defended separately.

The bottom layer of the Church with a nave and attic.
Her is the Rectory broken-down into its three component layers (minus roof).

Sylvain tells me he has another building (a mausoleum, I believe), the graveyard and the surrounding walls to add and then the project's done. Its going to dominate any table but if the action is purely focused on taking the church grounds then the scaling will work great. I'm thinking of using a beefed-up variant of Sharpe's Practice to do a monsterous tactical scenario based around the churchyard but first I need to paint and groundwork this stuff AND finish a raft-load of Austrians...

Bravo Sylvain! Awesome work!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Batrep from Sylvain: First Play of 'Firestorm Armada'

Sylvain put up this batrep on our gaming group page but I thought I'd repost here as well:

While I was in Winnipeg, the last two weeks of July, I stopped by at Imagine and bought the rulebook and cards for Firestorm Armada. I found that the basic fleets (1 battleship + 3 cruisers + 3 frigates + 3 frigates) did match the two Battlefleet Gothic fleets I have. I organized a scenario to test the rules where the Terrans (represented by the Imperial Fleet), played by Curt, meet the Directorate (represented by the Eldar fleet), played by me.

The surface is a sea textured mat that Curt graciously lent to me. In the above picture, the three Directorate cruisers are forming into a line of battle in the upper left while my battleship, in the lower left, escorted by frigates, prepares to deliver deadly broadsides.

Maybe not so deadly... I soon discovered that Directorate ships are more efficient when firing in multiple arcs. So my best approach would have been to move within the enemy formation. I guess I was using outdated tactics from the age of sail.

But it was now too late as my last cruiser blew up into a miniature supernova.

Overall, it was a good introductory game. The Firestorm Armada game engine is really simple and fun. You activate your squadrons (from 1 to 3 ships) one at a time and perform all your moves and attacks for that squadron before inviting your opponent to activate a squadron. You damage ships by accumulating hits up to a certain threshold. And you get to roll LOTS of dice. There is a rule refered to as "explosive 6s". Whenever you roll a "6", you score two hits and get to re-roll. Although unlikely, it would not be impossible for a single fighter rolling 6s after 6s to blow up a battleship. Squadrons get to link fire, which adds to the number of dice. The cards add some unforeseen events, without completely shifting the battle from one side to another. It was good to have some space action.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Simple Movement Trays

A French battalion tucked into its movement tray.
I've always liked movement trays. They can really cut down the time it takes to set up a game as units can come right out of the cabinet ready to play, they allow players to quickly, easily (and safely) move units around the table, and it speeds up the cleanup time as they go right back into the cabinet ready for the next battle.  I asked Sylvain if he could make me up some movement trays for my Napoleonics and so he made me a shed load of these out of simple heavy card.

240mm x 60mm raw card tray.
The way we have based our Napoleonics is that a standard sized battalion in line has the same frontage as a standard sized regiment of cavalry in double line of squadrons (240mm) so this way we can pretty much use the same movement tray system for each troop type.

Battalion in Line in a single tray.
Two trays accommodate a Dragoon Regiment in Double Line.
I used acrylic Liquitex Gel to seal up the perimeter joins and give the edges some texture so the trays were easy for players to grip.

Edges applied with Liquitex gel medium.
Once the gel dried, I sprayed the trays with Krylon Olive Green. I then used inexpensive Americana craft paint to drybrush the edges the same colour tones as my figures' bases. 

I wanted to get away from using flocking on the movement tray edges as they often come off on player's fingers so I opted to use Woodland Scenics green undertone emulsion to give the impression of turf and for the bases to better blend-in with the surface of the table.


There you have it! Simple movement trays for your troops that are as cheap as chips.

The Boys all trayed-up and ready to water their horses in the Danube (or the Dnieper, or the Sambre, or...)
I think I'll do up trays for Attack Columns and perhaps Squares next...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

French 1806 White Regulation Uniform - 16th Regiment, 2nd Battalion

The new lads from the 2nd battalion in all their off-white glory. A mounted officer behind the rear ranks is happily making the mens life a misery ...
For those who may have been following this blog last winter this unit has been languishing at the rear of my painting desk for several months now so I thought it high time to get it done and ready for action.

The 16th Regiment, deployed in line, ready for action.
These three units depict the 1st, 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 16th Regiment of the Line. From 1806-1807, due to a lack of indigo dye, Napoleon issued a new uniform regulation that would see his line infantry begin a conversion from its standard blue uniforms to new ones in white. He initially chose 19 regiments in order to determine how they would hold-up in the field. It is not known exactly how many of these 19 regiments were actually issued the uniform but it is confirmed that there were at least eight regiments dressed in white by the end of 1806.

In 1806 the 16th was issued the white uniform with blue facings and turnbacks. John Elting mentions that this uniform was very sharp, being a hit in Paris, but (as could well be imagined) very difficult to keep clean in the field. I also chose the 16th as it saw heavy action in one of my favorite Napoleonic battles, Aspern-Essling. At that battle they were under the command of Molitor and were in desperate close-combat contesting the town of Aspern.

Napoleon ultimately changed his mind on the white uniforms. Some say it was because he was appalled at how the blood stood out on them after the battle of Eylau, but I think this is a little sensationalist as Bonaparte was a man not easily moved by the sight of carnage. I think it was merely due to the fact that French producers found a way to source blue dye to maintain the established uniform. Nonetheless the white uniform was popular amongst those regiments that received it and it was not until late 1809 that the last battalions were (begrudgingly) converted back to blue.

I decided to keep the third battalion in greatcoats to indicate their more conscripted status (something I will probably continue to do with all the higher numbered battalions in my regiments). A portion of the figures from these three units I bought in an Ebay auction. Nonetheless they were a little rough around the edges, in need of a bit of 'tweaking' and fleshing out to get ready for the table (shipment repairs, highlighting, washes, rebasing, drybrushing, etc). I also added new NCOs, colour party members and mounted commanders to all the battalions to tart them up a bit more. All of the flags, as usual, are from the indispensable Flag Dude.

Friday, August 5, 2011

28mm Napoleonic French Vivandiere and Orderlies

Its been a few weeks since my last post, but summer is upon us and we're taking full advantage of the great weather. Nonetheless, I've managed to finish another rear area stand to add a bit of colour to my Napoleonic French army. This one's a bit more whimsical, depicting a Vivandiere bringing a tumbler of wine and some bread to a gallant orderly and his companion (In my mind's eye I think she's a bit sweet on him). 

I've always really admired the sculpts and animation of each of these figures and so I've been saving them until I thought of a suitable composition. 

The French orderlies are from the Perry Waterloo range while the Vivandiere and her trusty donkey is from Warlord Games.

Like my other 'rear area' stands these will either tuck-in behind the artillery caissons to add a bit of depth to the formation, or be loitering in nearby villages.