Friday, 22 January 2010

The Force so far

Been a busy week or so here, so not too much time left for blogging. But just so you know I'm still around here's a picture of the force so far, built over the past couple of months:

Artillery Battery, Erbprinz Regt, Marchmont Dragoons, and Garde Jaeger.

Just now I have a painting lull as regards the "Classic Collection", with some Thirty Years War items taking priority, but there's another consignment of Staddens on the way, so I should be catching up with the Swedish Ice Hockey results any day soon (for those not aware, when ordering the Stadden figures from Peter Johnstone at Spencer Smith Miniatures, they come from Sweden well-packaged, including some newspaper wrapped around for extra protection!).

Meanwhile, have a great weekend.


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Building your forces - Part Three

Cavalry were the most problematic arm to decide on as the figures photographed in Charge do not appear to be available any longer. So I had to make some compromises here, still capturing the essential Classic look. I confess to feeling that the Stadden horses are rather large for my tastes (albeit they are actually properly proportioned). And in Charge, other than some of the Staff Officers, I’m not sure any of the Cavalry are Stadden figures. In fact I’m pretty sure they're not, and the cavalry depicted look rather smaller than the Stadden infantry, so I decided to begin with a regiment of Holger Erikkson figures.

So, first up… The Marchmont Dragoons, which are as close in terms of pose as I can get to the cavalry regiment shown in the book.

above: The Marchmont Dragoons
Note: extra officer included to bring the organisation up to 30 all ranks. It seems far neater to have each squadron having an individual officer, and the Regimental standard accompanying the CO and Trumpeter.

and below, in Black and White for those who prefer.

A word of warning, however; these figure castings are no longer in the best state, and in reality do not represent value for money. They are very fragile at the legs, and require a lot of cleaning up. The detail is not very clear, making painting less than enjoyable, so I resolved to apply a very basic style to simply enjoy the finished spectacle.
For variety, my next cavalry regiment will be something different, and will be shown here in due course.

And, onto Light Infantry, The Garde Jaeger:

Above: The Garde Jaeger, Light Infantry company.

These are a copy of the figures used in Charge for the unit of the same name, being of course Napoleonic Russian Pavlov Grenadiers! Again, if this seems anomalous to you, and you wish to create light infantry more consistent with a specific army or time period, for example by creating some genuine Grenzers or Jagers for the mid 18th century, there is no shortage of such figures. You may even wish to incorporate a company of The Black Watch, or The Arquebusiers de Grassin. The choice is yours.

As I indicated previously, I felt that in Charge the Light Infantry were too powerful for my tastes (my preference being more 18th century than Napoleonic), and particularly when operating 4 company mixed regiments of the Line, where one of the companies is a Light Company. This would put too many light infantry on the table for me, and probably prevent players adopting linear tactics, and edging more towards a Napoleonic style game. I therefore decided to field my Light Infantry in individual companies, rather than as the 2-company battalions shown in the book (although I may also use the full 2-company regiments when suited to a specific scenario). To further diminish the impact of the Light Infantry, I may also limit their operations and firepower within the rules, but this is again a purely personal preference reflecting my desire to have my Light Infantry as a “nuisance arm” rather than “battle winners!”.

and for comparison, here are the relevant plates from "Charge!"

Note the plate showing a “regiment of light infantry” appears actually to be two separate companies of Light Infantry (note one half have dark gaiters- these I believe to be one company of the Garde Jaeger LI regt- and one half have white gaiters, and I suspect the latter is the Light Company of the Erbprinz Regt as it comprises 16 privates, reflecting the organisation of Light companies of Line regts in the book).

More next time.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Clearing up confusion... I hope

Following the discussion in the comments section after my last post (by the way, thank you to all who left many kind words), I thought it would be appropriate to clear up a little of the confusion around things like basing, rules and the like.


This Classic Wargaming collection is a project I am doing which is very different from my other wargaming armies. The "basing" (or lack of) is a direct result of the desire to recreate the units shown in Charge, unbased.

For my other armies, as used in some of the books with Charles, I have used multiple bases, and am quite happy with the way the rules worked. We used rules from The War Game, with some slight alterations to accomodate multiple bases, but really it was very straightforward.

For the Classic collection, I am creating rules based around those in Charge.

To give a simple visual reference as to the difference between this Classic collection, and my "normal" 18th century wargames collection, I hope the follwing picture will help:

This is my "normal" 18th century collection, with multi-basing.

Compare this with the photos of the classic units seen on the rest of this blog.

Now, I'm not saying one is better than the other. But only one is what I would call "Classic Wargaming"... and I am approaching it in the same way that someone reconstructing a Classic Car would be reproducing it as faithfully as possible to the original.
One of the most liberating factors with reproducing units as seen in Charge is that no decisions need to be made about basing at all.

Cavalry that tend to topple over if left are being glued onto thin pieces of metal, purely for stability. Apart from that, it's very straight-forward.
I think...

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Building your forces - Part Two

Taking the organisation of a simplified force laid down previously, now to choose the actual regiments.

Remember first, I am not being straight-jacketed by a specific period or theatre of war, and am happy to mix my units from any in the Horse & Musket era. And, as in Charge, that means being comfortable with the anomaly of Napoleonic RHA taking the field flanked by SYW Grenadiers, and supported by AWI Light Dragoons if need be.
Now, for some, such anomalies may be too much to bear, and in particular for those people not “au fait” with the book, and whose experience of wargaming is confined to the past few years where period accuracy and faithfulness are taken as a given. If you object to such a cavalier approach for your own Classic collection, then feel free to indulge in your own way, and to stick to a specified time-frame, or even to go as far as replicating only Prussians from the years 1757-59 or whatever your chosen personal preference.

Not to labour the point, but for me, it was very much a conscious decision to go with the essence of Charge, and the mildly eccentric approach of having anything I fancied from the “Horse & Musket” period.
So, first, I wanted to replicate certain units from the book, and in particular:
The Erbprinz infantry battalion
RHA batteries (for both sides)
a company of Garde Jaeger Light Infantry

pictures of the Jaegers coming soon... when I've finished painting them!

That left me with a few units to invent and name, all of which will be revealed in due course. Somehow it’s a good feeling to have given your army some sort of character from the unit names even at this early stage.

We’ll come onto replicating the cavalry and my first regiment of horse next time.
Meantime, do continue sharing your army building activities ...

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Building up your forces

Most recently completed unit is a battery of artillery, seen here during a Sunday afternoon drill session outside "The Fox and Hounds" obviously!

One of the questions people seem to like to ask is how to build an army. Now I’m not going to go into chapter and verse on this, and everyone will have their own way, their own approach, but I thought I would just share some ideas over the next few posts, and include some of the jottings from my wargaming journal where I tend to plan such things.

In the case of this Classic wargaming collection, I already had a few Spencer Smith battalions, as you’ve seen previously, but to recreate the essence of Charge in particular, I want to have plenty of Tradition/ Stadden figures and others to give that certain “look”.

The sensible (?!) approach seemed to me to simply build a small Stadden force, and use the SSMs to add to this as the collection grows.

So, what would a small force consist of?
Remember, we aren’t talking thousands of figures here. If your table is as big as 8' x 6' you can still fill it with just a few battalions. A 6' x 4' table means even fewer are required.
Given that I’m intent on the large battalion unit organisation, the following sketch scanned in from my Wargaming Journal seems a good target to aim at…

scanned in from my journal : click to enlarge:

Meantime, I would be interested to know whether anyone is currently starting from scratch to build an army of this style, inspired perhaps by what they have read here, or elsewhere, and simply following the journey. So feel free to comment. Your story may help other readers too. As always all comments are welcome, even if I do not get chance to answer specific queries in too much detail.
Right, back to the painting desk for an hour...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Infantry unit organisation

Unit Organisation - Infantry

Whilst I appreciate that not everyone has the space devoted to wargaming to allow them to deploy such large formations on the tabletop, on a personal note, I felt it essential to create large wargames units, akin to those in the original books in terms of number of figures. This is for me what classic wargaming is about. I also wanted to be able to identify with individual companies, as well as their parent battalions, allowing me to detach sub units to perform specific tabletop functions, thus aiding flexibility.

Of course, the lack of basing (ie with each figure left as a single, rather than having them based as multiples) is not only in-keeping with the essence of Charge/ The Wargame and in the spirit of Classic Wargaming, it is also a huge aid to flexibility. The decision not to base figures is purely one of personal taste, as I believe they retain a “classic model soldier look” when left on their metal stands.

With Churchill’s quote about “compromises usually offering the worst of both worlds rather than the best” echoing in my mind, I have created a structure for my own collection reflecting, I hope, the best of both “Charge” and “The Wargame”, and ironed out some wrinkles without losing the spirit of classic wargaming.

The most important point is that as near as possible, all units on the table, on both sides, should have the same complement of officers, slight variations being attributable to the vagaries of campaigning, of course, but taking care not to allow one side or the other to be disadvantaged by any major discrepancies.

Whereas in Charge there seems little reflection of the role of officers in the rules, in The Wargame the rules do reflect officer casualties and these have an impact on morale. For my own rules, losing officers does have an impact on the combat effectiveness of units in action (at both the individual independent company level, and on full-blown regiments). More of which anon.

Meantime, let’s just have a look at the organisation of units, focusing on the infantry for now:

Charge “mixed” 4 company infantry battalion
(The Innsbruchen Infantrie shown here comprising a Grenadier company, 2 line companies and a Light company; with full officer complement)

The Wargame infantry - 3 battalions advancing in attack columns
(Teutonburg-Fredonia Leibgarde, Innsbruchen Infantrie regt, Battenburg regt)
All have 48 rank and file, + 5 officers

The Charge 3-company battalion structure is shown in the blog header and in my previous post.
This will be my preferred organisation option.