Sunday, June 21, 2020

2mm Napoleonic Terrain and Units for Waterloo

Hi All!

Last summer I began a 2mm Napoleonic project using 3D designs sourced from Forward March Studios. During that initial burst of productivity I managed to create two decent sized forces, one for the French and another depicting the Anglo/Portuguese of the Peninsula.

As June 18th marked the anniversary of Waterloo I thought it would be fun to revisit this project and add a few more units and terrain specific to that campaign.

After snooping around, I picked up a batch of building sets from Brigade Models which depict several locations that are iconic to that battlefield. So what we have here is the chateau of Hougoumont, the walled farm of La Haie Sainte, the church at Plancenoit and the inn of La Belle Alliance. Everything except La Belle Alliance has been based on 4" MDF squares as I wanted each base to act as a 'sector' for gaming purposes.

For Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte I wanted to include their formal gardens and orchards as they played an important role in the battle. For the garden walls I used thin plastic sheeting and for the hedges I glued down trimmed figure packing foam (the stuff you find in blister packaging) which I thinly coated with Liquitex before painting.

La Haie Sainte with its attached Orchard
La Haie Sainte with French columns and a square nearby.
Hougoumont being attacked by a French battalion in line.
The village of Plancenoit became a critical battle within a battle. I have the first base done depicting the village churchyard. Historically the possession of the churchyard seesawed between the Prussians and French throughout the late afternoon - a real charnel house. I plan to add another two bases to better reflect the entire footprint of the village.

Plancenoit's churchyard mocked up with some extra buildings and plasticard bits.

Plancenoit's churchyard with two French columns approaching.
Finally, the inn La Belle Alliance. Napoleon used the inn as his headquarters the morning before the battle and it was nearby to this location that Blucher, the commander of the Prussian forces, met up with Wellington in the evening of the 18th upon their victory over the French.

La Belle Alliance with a penny to give a sense of scale.
And, dug up from the photo archives, here I am at La Belle Alliance, er, Le Caillou  when we visited the battlefield in 2008.

For La Haie Sainte's formal orchard, and for the odd individual tree here and there, I decided to create my own from bits found around the hobby desk. After a bit of experimenting, I used the same packing foam I used for the hedges and trimmed them into roundish shapes using small topiary scissors. 

I then pierced the foam with 1/2" brad nails dipped in hot glue to serve as the tree trunks. Once they were set up I coated the foam in Liquitex and then painted them up using craft paints. 

There you go, fast and easy microscale trees.

I also added a few more units to my British force, battalions in line, column and square.

Here's a unit of British infantry in column. It's interesting that the Brits had their colour party positioned in the center of their formation as opposed to the French, who had their's leading from the front.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of two differing column formations. See how the French formation is more compact due to the three-rank doctrine? Neat. To me this is one of the highlights of doing this in 2mm as one can convey, basically in 1:1 scale, the wide variety of formations that were used by the various powers. Pretty cool, eh!?

The same goes for the line formations. In this scale we can see the British two-rank doctrine creates a formation that is substantially longer than an equivalent sized French unit in three ranks. You can see that unit discipline and firepower is the focus here.

Here is a British battalion drawn up in square formation.

And finally, you may have noticed the smoke markers that I've used in some of the previous photos. I've discovered that in large games we often need a visual reminder of what units have fired from those who've not, so I had these MDF markers made up by Byron over at Northern Lights Terrain based on some sketches I bodged together. 

The markers are simply three irregular shaped layers of MDF glued together to give the impression of gun smoke. I find that they're easier (and less messy) to use than pillow ticking. 


There you have it! Thanks for sticking it out to the end. These were a lot of fun to work on and I'm looking forward to using these when we can all get back together to game in-person. 

Remember, be excellent to each other.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Resurfacing, a Mine Entrance and a Construction Project

Forgive me hobbyists, for I have sinned. It's been over a month since my last submission...

Excuses? Yes, work has amped-up, there is that, but in fact it's more about the wonderful spring weather we've been having that's stolen me away from the hobby desk. While our winters in the Canadian prairies can be brutal, the other three seasons can be glorious, and when this happens the paints, brushes and figures play second-fiddle to the dogs, deck and yard stuff. 

Nonetheless, while I've been shamefully absent from posting to the blog, I've still managed to keep involved in a few hobby-like things. 

First, this protected mine entrance for my Siege of Malta project. 

During the siege, the Ottomans made very clever use of sappers who dug shafts and mines in order to collapse the island's outer defenses. I thought this would provide a nice  centerpiece for a scenario where the defenders sally out to try to disrupt the besiegers.

This is a one piece vac-formed terrain piece from Vatican Enterprises (previously Hudson & Allen).

The other hobby project, one that has been absorbing a lot of my spare time, has been the planning for the construction of a hobby-studio on our property.

Having a dedicated gaming space has been a long-held dream of mine. Our home, while very comfortable, is limited in its layout in providing a dedicated space for gaming and hobby stuff. I typically host games on our dining room table (with all the frantic game preparations and laborious tear-downs that entails), and my hobby storage is limited to where I can find nooks and crannies around the house to squirrel things away. 

One scenario had us looking for a new place which could accommodate our various wants and needs, but we found the search next to impossible as we've grown quite attached to our existing home and were reluctant to leave our neighbourhood. So the resulting compromise was to construct a structure on our property that could serve as an additional space for games and hobbies. So we contracted a wonderful designer who took in my various ideas and provided a few concepts for us to work from. Below is the one we went with.

A few views from the architectural plans of the proposed hobby studio.

It's a bit of a Q-Ship really. For the purposes of getting a building permit and local tax assessment the structure has been declared as a 'detached single-car garage', which it certainly is, but in reality the interior will be kitted-out for full-on hobby geekery (i.e. loads of shelving, figure storage and a decent sized game table). With us living in Canada this project involves lots of infrastructure considerations like heating, cooling, venting, vapour barriers, water drainage, property line setbacks, the works. It's really like building a separate mini-house.

One of its best features is that it features a 12' bank of glass sliding doors which will overlook our deck and garden. This will provide lots of light and give us a nice place to step out have a drink or two during games. 

Anyway, the building site has been cleared and we're just awaiting the city's go-ahead to begin foundation work and construction. To say I'm very excited would be an understatement. My plan is to have the basic structure up and enclosed by autumn with the finishing work to be wrapped up next spring. Wish me luck!