Der Resin Kavalier

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 .

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Battle: Bridgehead, Part 1

In my last post, I went over the map and OB to be used in this test of About Bonaparte. Let me expand that and describe the forces in a little more detail. Under the rules, troops are classified using the terms Green/Militia, Trained/Regular, Veteran, and Elite. Each of these is in turn assigned a point value per figure. Thus multiplying the number of figures in the unit (8 for infantry), we can arrive at the unit's value. Trained/ Regulars for example are 3 points per figure, or 24 points per unit. Veterans on the other hand are 5 points per figure, or 40 per unit. Theoretically then armies of equal points should be well-matched against each other.
The initial American position. 
 Another key concept is the use of the specialized dice mentioned in the previous post. Flags are especially critical. Rolling one or more flags when firing on a unit will, depending on its training type, and can result in catastrophic failure of their morale, although various mitigations are in play. For example, Veterans can ignore the first flag thrown that turn. If an officer is attached (at extra points), even a second flag thrown could be ignored.
The picture on the left shows the American unit occupying the "unfriendly" side of the bridge. On the right in the woods are two skirmishers from the unit. The photo below shows the initial advance of the British.
British skirmishers and gun enter the board from the North.
 According to the OHW scenario, the Americans (Blue) have crossed the river and have taken up their position. The unit is classified as Trained/Regular, and since it is a detachment from the main body, an officer has been attached in command. During the initial exchange of volleys (Blue) has fired. The roll of 4 dice 1-blank, 1-C, 2-F. The blank and the C caused no casualties (infantry targets require and "I"). But the two Flags...well normally, that would be another story. BUT, the British Light Infantry (Red) are Veterans, with an officer. Veterans can ignore the first flag, and the officer allows them to ignore the second.
Return fire from Red inflicted 2 casualties on the infantry.
Turn 2 saw the first reinforcement for Blue. Trundling across the bridge from the road, an American light (6 pdr.) iron gun took up position to the right of the Americans. Red was not scheduled for reinforcement this turn. Meanwhile, the British advanced and fired without effect. American return fire saw one skirmisher down.
The Lights advance. The gun is desperately trying to deploy.

British casualties begin to mount.
The Americans had a space before more, and more deadly, British infantry entered the fray. Now luck turned against the British. Since the officer was attached to the lights, the gun needed an "A" roll to activate. It didn't. The Americans on the other hand did roll an "A", and the gun was able to deploy. But the Lights were game and advanced. But now, facing a gun, and an almost full unit. The firefight was one sided at best (rolling 3 flags, and an "I" certainly helped. the remaining 3 dice would turn out to be 2 blanks and a "C"). The British lights fell back
Game fellows, All. But the combined firepower was too much!
Well, we'll finish up here today. I'll be posting part 2 later in the week (at least, that's the plan).

Friday, July 24, 2020

Testing the Rules, Part 1

Bridgehead: A One Hour Wargame

In my last post, I described a set of rules for battles with 54mm figures that appeared to be both comprehensive and fast.Written by Dirk Donvil and available from Caliver Books (Partizan Press), they are called About Bonaparte. In this installment and the following, I will report on a battle fought using these rules (with a couple of tweaks for the War of 1812). The scenario is drawn from One-Hour Wargames by Neil Thomas and is #5 Bridgehead. I copied the map although I enlarged it somewhat to an area of 4 feet by 3 feet (my dining area table is 5' by 3'). The map is shown below:

The American Army will be entering from the South, the British from primarily the North and East

One of the things I like about OHW is the provision for randomly selecting the forces involved. By rolling a D6, players (or player--great for solo games) will be assigned if you will a force of between three and six units, depending on the scenario. This particular game required 6 units to a side. Rolling for result, the following were given:

Red Force (British) rolled a 5 on a D6 giving them a force of 4 infantry, 1 artillery, and 1 skirmisher.

Blue Force (Americans) rolled a 1, giving them a force of 3 infantry, 2 artillery, and 1 cavalry.

Further dice rolls determined when and where the troops would enter and initially deploy. This gave the American force 1infantry unit, north of the bridge and within 6 inches of it at the very start of the game. On Turn One, the British would roll to determine who comes on and where. Their result was two units (1 artillery, 1skirmisher) entering at point B. On turn Two, one blue unit would arrive at point D.

So, here we have it. But before finishing up for today, let me give you some of the tweaks I mentioned earlier. Under the rules, all of the British (after 1809) are considered Veteran troops and additionally have an officer attached (this is critical when your opponent rolls a "flag" on one of his/her dice). Americans are Regulars/Trained, and have an officer with every two units, leaving one dangling if a flag is rolled against it. Otherwise, each unit of non-skirmishers may deploy 1 figure as a skirmisher. I hold to this for the British whose organization (historically) included a Light Company. The Americans at the time followed along to a certain extent except the "elite" companies in American Regiments included 2 flank companies, both often lights, whereas the British had one light, and one grenadier company for its "flanks". Thus, I allow an American unit to deploy 2 figures in a skirmisher role.

Next time: The Battle!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

New Ideas, New Rules: War of 1812

It's been a few months, but as we are now in high summer, and despite the fact that most of Massachusetts is open after the recent pandemic, the temperature outside would indicate that some inside (air conditioned) activities might be warranted. In my last post I wrote about my original interest, later revived, in the War of 1812 (as it is known here). In perusing the net, I came across a blog I would highly recommend:PMCD-Mobilisatie

This group seems to specialize in 54mm wargames and although located in Belgium (Flanders), most of the postings are translated to English. The photos and postings are well-done. Check it out if you get a chance.

Now, one of the issues that seems to be more common with 54's than other scales is a lack of rules that both provide a satisfactory game and can accommodate lots of troops. In perusing the pmcd-mobilisatie postings, there was mention of a set of Napoleonic rules that they used called About Bonaparte by Dirk Donvil and available through Partizan Press (Caliver Books ). I think they may fit the bill very well! As much as I enjoy Charge! and All the King's Men (ATKM), they have their drawbacks. In the case of  Charge!, large units and rules that can be, and often are, a bit confusing. Having no quick access or summary sheets certainly doesn't help. ATKM is straight forward, but the use of large amounts of dice and colored status markers does tend to slow things down.

About Napoleon is promoted as fast play, and I think that is true. Units are eight figures on 4-6 stands. The dice are customized, marked by having I (infantry), A (artillery), C (cavalry), F (flag), along with a blank side. Still, I was able to purchase a dozen blank dice on line easily, and marking the letters with permanent markers took only a few minutes. The rules for movement, command, firing, and contact (melee) are straight forward. They are fairly comprehensive and include sections on national characteristics, a simple set of campaign rules, as well as specific rules for other musket era wars including FIW, AWI, ACW, (even nineteenth century colonial wars!)

Now, I was skeptical that Napoleonic warfare could be represented well with such small units and in such a large scale, but I was, happily, wrong. I've included some photos of my War of 1812 Americans and British.The figures are both AIP and ATKM. They are organized for the About Bonaparte  rules. More next time!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Sometimes, You just need a Change

Old Haunts, and New Projects

Many years ago, when Jack Scruby's miniatures were state of the art, and Donald Featherstone's Wargamers' Newsletter was the magazine to read on the hobby, I discovered the War of 1812. Scruby carried a line of 30mm figures both American and British. At the time, the late 60's, my friend Tom and I were just discovering that there were actual rules available, and we could use them to fight battles! The rest, as one might say, is history.

Flash forward fifty plus years: Tom and I, along with other members of our club, still meet and game on a regular basis, at least until recently. With the COVID-19 pandemic, such things are put in abeyance, hopefully soon to resume our normal daily pursuits. Yet it did rekindle my interest in the War of 1812...and painting figures for future battles in better times.

For those who have read my musings over the last couple of years, know that the AWI and 54mm figures are pretty much all I write about. But sitting at home, only going out for a daily walk or trip to the supermarket, does tend to concentrate one's mind. This renaissance for 1812 began a few years back when I discovered Ken Cliffe's company and his 54mm figures, now sadly no longer in production and sorely missed. I still have some of his 1812 line waiting, like so many others, for the brush.

Next time I'll go into more detail and discussion, but for now I will leave you with some photos from a game I put on at Huzzah 2016. I don't remember the outcome, but everyone seemed to have a good time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

A New Normal?

New Horizons, Ideas, and Games

As I write this, we are about halfway through the second week of "stay at home" advisory ordered by our governor to cope with the current troubles. All but "essential" businesses have been ordered closed, although many (at least hobby suppliers) are still fulfilling online orders. Indeed, I just received yesterday an order of HaT figures that I put in just on March 23. If you need any figures, paints, or accessories, I highly recommend this vendor,  The Hobby Bunker (and, I have no ties to this firm other than that of a satisfied customer!).
I am sure that many of us have tried or toyed with the idea of solo games or even campaigns. With everything that's going on, this is the perfect time! I mentioned one earlier in my postings, namely the Wars of Franconian Succession. What troubled me for awhile was the need for a suitable map, showing the relative positions of the various powers involved in this imaginary campaign. Having found this online, I figured it was perfect: Europe, about 1000 A. D.

Well, now I had a map! As for troops, the Hessians that I have used in previous games and published at various times in this blog would do for the Duchies of Swabia and Franconia. My Saxons would do for those of Thuringia and Saxony, while the Kingdoms of Burgundy, Lombardy, and Duchy of Upper Lorraine would be represented by my French and Spanish SYW figures. Pictures and organizations of the contending armies will be the topic of next time!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, Part 2

As mentioned in my previous post, the British were initially outnumbered by nearly two to one. Von Riedesel and the Brunswick contingent  were off-board and required to remain so until at least turn three. The Continentals were presented with an opportunity to bring superior numbers to bear against Hamilton's Brigade. With that in mind, the American Commander began a rapid advance to close with and hopefully drive back Hamilton before the Royalist reinforcements could make their presence felt. But that was not the only problem the Americans faced.

The American forces advance against Hamilton's Brigade. The Brunswick contingent can be seen in the upper right. The American skirmishers near the artillery piece are the LOD figures I wrote of in an earlier blog.

Under the AWI variant of the Charge! rules, the lack of bayonets among the Continentals and Militia would produce a significant disadvantage (-1 to melee die rolls) should they enter into hand-to-hand combat (melee). Generally, a difference of 2 or better on each die roll was needed to win the combat. Thus a Continental in combat with a British Regular would need to roll, let's say, a five  (5-1=4) in order to win against the Regular rolling a two (2). Melee is generally figure to figure.

About half of the American force was without bayonets.

Things were going fairly well for the Continentals...until turn 3. At that point, Von Riedesel came on between the redoubt and Hamilton.

Von Riedesel arrives! Now the battle became a one of attrition.

 From that moment on it became a firefight, with a couple of melees thrown in. Hamilton was eventually driven back, but the casualties among the Americans were mounting and the advance was halted as a number of units were forced to fall back. Tactically, the battle was a draw. Strategically, Burgoyne's campaign was stopped, and the rest as they say, is history.

The final positions--it's now a stalemate as neither side has the strength to advance.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, Part 1

Freeman's Farm: Preparation and Opening Moves

For those of us of a certain age, Young and Lawford's Charge! Or How to Play Wargames, was the holy grail as far as many of us were concerned. They were a relatively simple set, with both an "Elementary Game" and an "Advanced Game" sections. Many of the innovations we have seen in gaming had their roots here.

But time went on and new ideas, procedures, and eras proliferated.  It made the late 1960's and early 1970's and even into the 80's a veritable crucible of new and better ways of doing things...or so we thought. Things got more complex. Was it really better? That is a loaded question. For me...well it's been a mixed result. I've gone from simple to complex and finally back to simple. At my age simple is better!

Freeman's Farm is a return to my roots: toy soldiers, simple rules, and lots of dice. The scenario was simple: the Americans needed to drive Hamilton's Brigade off the table. Von Riedsel could arrive with his Brunswickers (cleverly disguised as Hessians) any time after turn four. Once that occurred, Frasier's Brigade in its redoubt would be allowed to actively move in support of the Royal forces. It was a race. Initially, the Americans under Morgan and Poor had an almost 2:1 superiority in numbers (not quality, however).

Morgan and Poor begin their advance. Frasier's Redoubt can be seen in the upper right
Off-board Movement: On the map given to both sides, there was a series of blocks. Each block required a full move to pass through before finally moving onto the table. The Germans were required to spend the first two turns in a "strategic reserve". Starting turn 3, they could begin to move toward the game table. The earliest they could arrive was turn 4, the latest (if they tried come on the flank) would be turn 6. Does one come on early, through a limiting space behind the British, or be more daring, and come on either the left of right flank forcing the Americans to face a fresh and relatively strong force of German Regulars?

Hamilton's Brigade awaits. Freeamn's Farm is just behind them
Frasier's Redoubt

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Basic Training (Sort of...)

Forming a New Regiment

In the last couple of installments, I reviewed some recent acquisitions produced by LOD (see link in previous postings). A minor criticism was the variety of poses that came with each set (16 figures, 8 poses). While absolutely outstanding for skirmish level games, many of us prefer our units to consist of the same pose, save of Officers, NCO's, Drummers, and the like. One reader went so far as to contact Ken (of LOD) about the possibility of producing sets of the same pose. I am happy to report, that he didn't say no...or yes for that matter. But hope prevails!

Today, however, I would like to talk about raising (painting) new regiments for our armies. Now, many of us belong to gaming clubs or have a few friends with which we carry on on miniature recreations of history. And so we plan games, draw maps, and collect the troops to be used in the scenario...and inevitably find that if we had just one more of this or that, things would be better. So frantically, we paint those few figures we want, and field them with the varnish only recently dried. At least that is what I found just be a recent Thursday night game with my local club (Old Colony Wargamers). I'll be publishing that battle report shortly.

But, at the same time after a game, I find myself inspired to paint up something new and perhaps make a dent into the many figures I have sitting in boxes awaiting the brush (a common situation for anyone who been wargaming for years...and years).

Below are two units just recently primed (yesterday) and soon to be painted. Both will become part of my AWI British contingent.  I am also trying something new by using Model Master (tm) Enamel primer, instead of my more frequent Acrylic type by the same company. The original switch was unintentional (I ordered the wrong type from my hobby supplier), since I have used water-based paints for some twenty-five years now. But I do kind of like the enamel. It covers well, provides a smooth semi-gloss surface that takes acrylics very well. Unlike water based primers, which sometimes leaves bare spots indicating areas you missed when washing off the release agent, these cover everything and ultimately saves time, although I have also found they take a bit longer to cure. The units are a RA light howitzer section and a British Foot Regiment (I haven't quite decided which one yet). Both are produced by IMEX whose figures I highly recommend. As they are completed, I'll post some pictures.
IMEX RA artillery crew with a light howitzer

The Colonel supervising the swordsmanship of the new company commanders 

The RSM working with the recruits, along with a drummer trying to be as inconspicuous as possible!