Der Resin Kavalier

Friday, April 16, 2021

On to Spain, Part 2

 In my last post, I showed you some of the Bourbon Spanish forces that will be used in my current campaign. The rules are titled About Bonaparte by Dirk Donvil. However, I noted in the previous post's opening that it has been my experience that no set of rules survives first contact with gamer. Let me state though that I like the mechanics of the rules and the results (so far) seem to be consistent with many other sets that are used for this period. Most of the changes I've incorporated are primarily aesthetic. So let's take a look.

I don't like square bases! I have been gaming with toy soldiers most of my life, and in an organized way (i.e. using written rules) for more than sixty years. From my earliest excursions, bases have been mostly rectangular. Dirk's rules use a 55mm x 55mm base for 2 infantry figures, which also allows for some creative landscaping. Four bases constitute a unit ( 8 figures). The rules allow for different basing, so mine are 3in x 1.5in, with three figures (12 per unit). It takes up more room, but I think it looks better. Light Infantry are mounted on the same size base but with two figures. Likewise, instead of splitting a base or removing a figure for casualties (and skirmishing), I just use a plastic ring to indicate it. 

The cavalry in AB are on individual bases 55mm x 110mm, and since I hate rebasing, I've let that alone. Artillery on the other hands is supposed to be on a 110mm x 110mm base with 3-5 gunners. I've left the gun un-based and the gunners on 1.25" fender washers. I think it looks good, and appears to have no significant impact on the rules play. Below are some photos of the French.

Artillery on the march!

French Line and Chasseurs à Cheval

In these photos, you can see the general deployment of  the troops.  

French Lights skirmishing

A Swiss Battalion in French Service

Monday, April 5, 2021

On to Spain! The Campaign Season Begins!

 It has been said by many much wiser than I, that no plan survives the first contact with the enemy. I think the same could be said for wargame rules. It's been my experience that gamers almost without exception  tinker with rules and rule sets after the first game or even reading. I am no different!

Although it's been several months since my last post on this blog, I haven't been idly puttering away. On the contrary, I've been painting, mounting, and playing with my 54's. Of course, most of the time it has been solo play as the pandemic continues (although it seems to be abating here in New England). In a recent video conference with members of my club, the consensus was that maybe by the end of April, when all of our members should be vaccinated, we just might be able to get together for a game. But getting back to my point...

I have been play testing Dirk Donvil's About Bonaparte rules for large 54mm Napoleonic battles. While I like the mechanics and play, there were (are) some things I have changed based on comments both from Dirk, my friend Ross, and of course my own observations. Likewise, I have been reading Neil Thomas' Napoleonic Wargaming and have adopted several of his ideas. 

So what's new? Well, I'll go into more detail in an upcoming post (I actually have several all lined up for final editing!) but the most obvious change is the basing. Now, I have been been brought up on rectangular bases for Napoleonics since, well, since Napoleon was a corporal. About Bonaparte uses a 55mm x 55mm base for infantry, 55mm x 110mm for cavalry, and 110mm x 110mm for artillery. My Anglo-American Armies for the War of 1812 were based that way in my early test games previously posted. Even using half bases for skirmisher, it just didn't look right to me. So I opted for 3" x 1.5" base for infantry. I didn't change the cavalry, and ignored basing for the artillery altogether. I just think it looks better, an doesn't seem to impact the game at all. I also ignored or modified the national characteristics for the various armies given in the rule book.  The actual mechanics of the rules were pretty much retained (subject to further play test, of course). 

We'll finish up today with some photos of my Spanish forces. I've already written about the modifications I made to come up with the infantry. The artillery and dragoons started as Armies in Plastic American Revolution artillerists and cavalry. Careful trimming of the tricorns, along with a plume, give a pretty good facsimile of those Spanish troops. 

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Viva Espana, part 2

Follow-Up to Yesterday's Post

 Yesterday, I wrote about my conversion of some ACTA French Line into Bourbon Spanish infantry. I left you with some primed figures which unfortunately didn't convey the final product. I hope to rectify that today. Below is the "master figure" for my Spanish contingent (see my September blog for an explanation of "master figures"). He represents a soldier from the Regiment Grenada. The colors and details came from the long out-of-print Funcken book: Uniforms and Arms of Soldiers of the First Empire. If you can pick up a copy somewhere, it is well worth it. It's a two volume set, published originally in the late 1960's. I have had this set for some fifty plus years now, and I find it still valuable.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Viva Espana!

In my last post I displayed some pictures of my French and Allied figures that would make up my armies for the Peninsula Campaign to be played using the About Bonaparte rules. For those who might be thinking about such a campaign, real or imagined, the availability of figures for both the French and British armies is truly spectacular. Likewise the range in price varies from relatively low  ( Armies in Plastic or AIP) to moderate (A Call to Arms or ACTA, HaT), to the relatively expensive (Expeditionary Force, or XF). The general quality also varies with AIP being moderate at best, ACA and HaT being more highly detailed, to XF with its exceptional detail (and cost accordingly).

Similarly, the figures necessary to make up the various allied troops/auxiliaries are more or less a different paint job on one of the above existing.  For example, AIP British can become KGL or Portuguese; AIP can be painted as the various German States, Italian, or Neapolitan forces. 

Cavalry requires a bit more seaching, although both ACTA and XF have wide selections. Those figures sold as Napoleonic cavalry by AIP, are basic at best. Artillery is easily available from XF or AIP.

All are there for the painting except for one major power...the Spanish. But there is an answer and that, of course, is conversion! The cut of the Bourbon Spanish Army was essentially French, but with a bicorn and plume.  Now, in the early 19th century, European uniform design, as in the SYW of the previous century, boiled down to a couple of styles: French, or British. (Austria, Prussia, and Russia were more or less unique.) So this provides the starting point.
While I'm the first to admit that I am not a good photographer, these pictures should illustrate the conversions. The base figures for the infantry originally started out as ACTA Series 17 French Line Infantry. After removing the original head, I replaced it with one from Irregular Miniatures' line of  military heads. The plumes were taken from AIP set #5803/4. Using a pin vise, I drilled a hole in to both the base of the plume and the bicorn, then inserted a 0.020 brass wire fixed with CA. There was a bit of judicious carving and trimming with an Xacto knife with a #11 blade. And, yes, a bit of blood was spilled, but that is another story for another time.

The results were satisfactory and when painted up should provide a reasonable Spanish Infantryman. 

One further note: the officer is also from the AIP set. What I find, however, is that the Irregular heads don't look quite right on most AIP or HaT figures. ACTA figures are a bit slighter in build and a hair shorter. So they fit the figures almost by design.

Next time, I'll post some pictures of the initial French and British forces. The Brits you've seen before and the French were featured individually in my last post. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

1812 and All That...Now, On to Spain!

This year I made a promise to myself to try to publish at least one post in Der Resin Kavalier, every month. Well, today being the last day of September, it's publish or perish (well, no, not really). Why Spain or even Italy for that matter (the Battle of Maida is coming up!)? First and foremost: the British Army is all painted, based, and organized for battle using the About Bonaparte rules by  Dirk Donvil. A couple of boxes of AIP's  Napoleonic "2nd Foreign Regiment Chasseur -1810" (Set #5803) provided the French Line (and Lights, with a slight ignoring of the long-tailed coats). Some trimming required! So for the past few weeks, painting has occurred (more than usual, I might add). More to the point however, is that Napoleonics has always been my first love in this hobby...even more than AWI.

My normal routine when I am beginning to paint in a new era or scale is to do a series of what I call "master figures" -- prototypes for how I would want the rest to turn out. Fortunately, being units of usually no more than eight figures, this seems to work: more exacting on the first figure, somewhat less as short-cuts become apparent. So today, I present a few pictures of  the combatants! 

The first is a British Highlander, probably an old Airfix, that was given to me by my friend Ross a couple of years ago at Huzzah (along with about a dozen or so companions).

 Next couple are those AIP figures I mentioned in the first paragraph. They've been painted as both light and line infantry.

 Next, to add dignity to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl, here is the first battery of the French artillery.  These are AIP.

They are followed by some Wurtemberg Infantry (HaT). Who would go to Spain without allies?  

 Finally, we have a dragoon that I think is A Call to Arms figure. I lost the original container that was their shipping package. He is a bit slighter in build than the AIP characters but the animation more than makes up for it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Look at the Rules

 Following my last post, I re-read the rules, About Bonaparte, and compared my experience with what the rules state and the reality of the game. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the scenario was taken from One Hour Wargames with the troops selected from the mechanism described in that book (a D6). Each side had six units with the Americans having a more balanced tactical force of 3 infantry units, 2 artillery, and a unit of light dragoons. The British on the other hand ended up with 4 infantry units, 1 artillery, and 1 skirmisher unit. Typical of a Napoleonic battle? Not by a long shot, but certainly plausible for a War of 1812 scenario. As is typical with many of the scenarios in OHW, units arrived on different turns and different locations.

The mechanics of the rules were not out of the ordinary, save for the use of special dice, Movement and ranges were given in centimetres although those who are less than enamored with the metric system will find conversions to more familiar inches right alongside. Ranges did seem a bit short, although movement distances just seemed to work. The rules about support need to be read at least twice as well as the rules for "contact" (melee). The effects of "Flag" dice with their effects (and exceptions!) definitely require a read or two. 

Command and control was a bit confusing at first. A number of dice needed to be thrown to activate the unit or group. That number varied depending on whether the general was present, his aides, and unassigned officers in his entourage. But after a turn or two, it becomes almost intuitive. The game went along as reported in my previous installment with only a few hitches and I think the rules are something I will definitely use.  

My biggest complaint is the section on national differences. Throwing a Flag against a unit during fire or melee result (normally) in compulsory moves. For example, let say you roll four dice for fire and assume the roll ends up 1-Blank, 1-C, 1-I, and 1-F. If the target is regular infantry, the result would be one figure (I), and a 20 cm withdrawal facing the enemy. The Blank and the C(avalry) would not count. All well and good, all pretty straight forward. Unless the target is British! According to the rules, British after 1809 are considered veterans (ignore the first flag), an Officer figure must be in place with each British unit (ignore the second flag). If they were "supported", they could ignore even the third flag (if it were thrown). Most any other unit would retreat 40 cm, backs toward the enemy on the second flag! If a third flag were thrown, the unit would rout off the board. 

My point is British infantry are incredibly difficult to force back, let alone rout. If they happened to be elite (British Guards), they would be forced to practically die to a man! The national characteristics definitely need to be adjusted, especially those units assigned to North America in 1812-13. 1814, however, would be another story!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Battle: Bridgehead, Part 2

Things were now beginning to heat up on both sides of the bridgehead. As the artillery on both sides deployed, casualties began to mount. More to the point, the turn saw the British reinforcements arrive from the east (point C on map). Two battalions of veteran line now supported the rallied skirmishers and artillery. But, like so many things in life, fate or fortune has a way of short circuiting the best looking plans.
British reinforcements begin to arrive
The British gun was having some problems: first, it was unable to move initially (no "A"s came up), compounded by the inability to roll any useful hits on the American line. The American artillery, having taken up position on the flank of the bridgehead unit, was raising a fair bit of angst on the British line.
American artillery deployed.
As my friends in the artillery used to remind us poor grunts (what now seems a thousand years ago) "Artillery adds dignity to what otherwise would be a vulgar brawl." 
British artillery had some difficulty 
The Americans shifted their line somewhat, with the original unit moving into the woods as the newly arrived unit with the Brigadier, the well-traveled, ill-famed, but always available, Bloodnock. As the firefight became general, the Americans now began to feel the weight of British ire. Their firepower knocked out one gunner, but the two flags that accompanied that roll proved too much for the hard-pressed gun, and the crew routed. With their flank exposed to a British assault, things were decidedly dicey.
British firepower begins to tell
  Fortunately, the second American gun arrived and deployed on the American side of the river. With the range shortening (and a few lucky die rolls) the situation stabilized enough for the third and final American infantry unit to get into position. A near run thing, but now casualties began to mount on the British line as both musketry and artillery took their toll. One regiment fell back, still another began to weaken.

Disaster looms for the Americans!
The 2nd gun deploys and fires
 More British arrived, stabilizing the situation. A rough parity began to appear: both sides had 2 combat effective infantry units (the Americans in the woods ultimately retreated) both sides had guns in the fray... Stalemate...or victory? As it turned out, the battle had stabilized. The British 10th and 54th Foot (yellow and green standards) ultimately were force to retire. But in their stead, the  3rd KORR, and 4th (The Buffs) manned the line. At that point with the lines now engaged in a battle of attrition, the game was called without protest (easily done when playing solo).
British casualties continue to mount

The 2nd Light Dragoons finally appear
 With the final arrival of the light dragoons, again living up to their motto "denique nuper denario diurno", it was still up in the air as to the ultimate victor.

So, how did the rules play out? Well, my opinion will have to wait until next time. But until then, check out this link: Dale's Wargames .