Saturday, June 30, 2012

Operations near Vilna 1812

Two centuries ago the French Army was learning the hard way about the need to keep supply for the massive 500,000 men that were in operations.

They were slowing down and growing very hungry in their attempt to catch Prince Bagration in the Vilna region.

"The pace of the French advance was now clearly slackening, as a combination of pouring rain, delayed convoys, and scarce intelligence reduced the forward movement to a crawl.  Clearly, the Campaign of Russia would not be over in the first twenty days -- as originally estimated."
~ Chandler, D. The Campaigns of Napoleon p.775

Russian forces retreat, leaving scorched earth behind them.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Garden Wars return?

June 16, Alex and I started on a Garden Wars game.

French army for Garden Wars, the measuring sticks you see are 3' for the long ones (for scale)

The weather turned against our plans and we had to rush into the clean up phase before rain fell ...

unlike the men that they are representing, these fellas do not do so well in the rain.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two Centuries ago...crossing the Niemen

Starting on 24 June 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte and the Grande Armee crossed the Niemen River.

From the film War and Peace by Sergei Bodnarchuk

Commencing the largest and most costly campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

I plan to game out some of these titanic engagements over this summer and have a major clash for the Dak-Kon game event in Courtenay in October.

This year also marks the bicentennial of the War of 1812 - between Canada and USA.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cavalry Riders

Now some painting time will be devoted to the riders.

I often use the works of Liliane and Fred Funcken as inspiration for my own painting efforts.

1st Lancers, Polonais of the Imperial Guard

Dutch Cavalry and private, flank company, as they appeared at Waterloo

While there are many other more technically accurate or historically detailed sources, I have always enjoyed the timeless artistry of these images and, as my minis collection must also be 'table playable', I often have strayed from the historically accurate unit depictions in order to make the different units distinguishable from one another.  This is a particular challenge with Austrian units as so many of them were white with some version of yellow or tan or buff on the cuffs and collars.

What uniform research or inspiration do you use?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Horses Progress #3 - Ink

Now the ink layers get done.

I have used a mix of brown and indigo, well watered so that the color below can show through.

I used an old brush for my ink works as accuracy means nothing with this process, just get it all on fast.

For your first few horses you may want to use less bright colors in the under layer, or just do them all as chestnuts and paint them light brown or a muddy yellow as the under color, so that when the ink goes on at this stage you can call the horses 'done'.

Time for this stage was 35 minutes, you can work very sloppy here, just get the ink over everything.

Horses Progress #2 - A horse of a different color!

Now the undertone main colors go on.

These are primarily tan, brown, orange, red and yellow.  Yes you read those last three colors right.

The undertone colors will bring to life the surface of the horses hairs.

I have decided to do this force mostly in the latter three colors partly as a showcase of what can be done.

The horses will look very strange at this stage, do not fret, the inks will change all that in the next step.

This layer is about 80% of the time that the first layer took, mostly because I had to keep stopping to take pictures (and some of them did not turn out - so more pictures)

So much time used on the horses and pictures that I have yet to do a lot on the riders.  I decided to do the riders as part of a second stage so that I could paint the shabraques on the horses correctly and not have inks washing over them.

Time for this layer was 55 minutes, total to date 141 minutes or 3 minutes and 30 seconds per horse (not including drying time).  The reality is the more horses you do at one time with this method the less time, per horse, gets used up.  I did this same method on 104 horses in 2007 and got them all done in two weeks.

Next stage is inks.

We are also prepping for a new Garden Wars game or two this summer ... my eldest son is back into interest in exploring the game on the grass in our back yard.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wargmaing 101

A little video made by a Trumpeter Society member.

Giving a good overview of 'what is this miniatures war gaming'?

Many thanks to Terry Sawchenko for sharing the video link and Francis Munroe for his pose in DICE ROLLING!

Five minutes to share with your non-tabletop war gaming connections to help them understand.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

3rd Montblanc Main Battle AAR

A proxy battle for the Defiant Principality, game played on 2 June 2012 using Warfare in the Age of Reason rules.

General Bellver of Catalonia, had two line regiments and a collection of light infantry companies, from different regiments, that he amalgamated into one actionable force of regimental strength.

The mountain region to the south west was again going to be key in forcing the Spanish into a narrow corridor.

The difference this time was the Spanish column was twice as large as last time and there was a siege train of artillery moving towards them at Montblanc.  Worse still the Spanish Guard had a mixed brigade of grenadiers and horse closing in from the north.  There was no question of having to fight, the only question was how long they could hold out and how many casualties they could inflict on the main body to the south before having the Guard arrive.

Catalonian forces were ranged in two lines covering the outlet from the mountains and bordered by the river.  On both flanks of the foot were the batteries, medium to the east by the river and two light ones to the west.

Catalonian lines before Montblanc

The Spanish under Brig. Gen. Torremayor, chose to break into two brigades of three regiments each.  One was to form an advance guard and press along the flank of the mountain sides and sweep or at least engage the skirmish infantry, then if possible press on to an assault of the Catalan lines so as to  wear them down and pin them so that the second brigade and the siege train of artillery could deploy and deliver the knock out blows.

Straight away the Spanish got their plan into action.  The skirmish forces could not hold their ground with the advancing formed battalion closing in on them and lost their nerve routing completely off the mountain to the North, only personal reaction from Bellver kept the mountaineers from fleeing the field entirely.

While Bellver was engaged in rallying the skirmishers, the Spanish drove forward to within close musket range, the leading battalion even attempted a charge under the command of their temporary brigadier Colonel (fill in the blank), this failed and the men refused to close in.  Undaunted by the confusion facing them the infantry of Catalonia and the two light batteries opened fire!

by turn 4 the volleys were being fired.
The Catalan medium battery had chased off the Spanish medium battery while they were maneuvering to position the guns.  Those guns had retreated behind one of the second brigade battalions and were now advancing with the siege train guns covered on all sides by infantry columns.

Bellver rallies the skirmish infantry

devastating first fire takes out 1/4 of the lead battalion
A little later, 30-40 minutes, and the lead battalion had fled, taking the temporary brigadier with them, now shot through with what would prove to be a mortal wound.  Not fatal on the field, yet deadly enough that by sunset he would be no more.  As the battalion fled to the rear they temporarily disordered the lines behind them, now a fresh battalion would be facing the combined fire of the Catalan lines and light batteries.

The skirmishers had recovered and were now sweeping back south into the highlands on the enemy flank.

all Spanish forces had a toe hold on the field, the horse was present and waiting

The Spanish siege train was now unlimbered and the guns were being positioned.  It was to be only a matter of time now before the casualties for the Catalans would come....

the Catalans on the line were delivering fire at a furious pace

The Spanish horse had begun to arrive also, now held in reserve awaiting the moment to run down any fleeing survivors.

With a great roar the siege guns opened fire on Our Lady of the Disempared IR, in the opening salvo destroyed fully 1/4 of the regiment.

siege guns fire, in AoR you count a hit for every '12' pips ... this was big!
 While suffering the Our Lady of the Disempared IR did not flee, nor even become disorganized from the pounding, indeed the kept their line formed and continued to deliver fire into the lines facing them.

Another 30-40 minutes later, now Our Lady of the Disempared IR was below 50% strength and continuing to melt from the pounding by artillery and opposing muskets.  The siege guns continued to fire, on Saint Narcissus IR, while only taking 17% casualties in one salvo series, it was clear that very soon there would not be any more men to face the still firing Spanish infantry.

Along the highland terrain, Spanish officers had seen the skirmish line reforming, now the second Brigade deployed into lines to face the left flank and cover any possible sniping from the skirmishers.

casualties from artillery were mounting
opposing front lines kept up a weak disordered musketry exchange
An hour later and the situation for the Catalans was desperate, continued casualties with Saint Narcissus IR now had sent them fleeing past Bellver to the north of Montblanc, only a scattering of muskets remained around the battle flags of Our Lady of the Disempared IR.  They were disordered and suffering from 83% casualties, yet they steadfastly refused to recoil.  This helped the light batteries as they kept up a continuous barrage on the Spanish front battalion, likewise keeping them from charging.

terrible losses now in Catalan lines
Our Lady of the Disempared IR holding fast amidst terrible losses
the massive siege battery continues to deal out death with each salvo
skirmishers on the flank do some damage, not enough to change the battle results
The siege battery, having run out of massed infantry targets, now switched to the medium battery of Catalan.  They proved to have no courage in the face of the mighty barrage and quickly packed up their guns and began to retreat out from the field via the north east road.

Watching this Bellver, also scanned the north horizon, seeing dust clouds in the distance and much closer now a formation of Guard Horse.  The trap was shut, his brigade was melting from the heat of the siege guns.  Our Lady of the Disempared IR was still weakly holding its position, the light batteries were firing.  He could see that the mountain skirmishers were slowing fire now ... likely they were in retreat to the west.

The End had come
Bellver must now choose his end
Spanish left and center, Catalan skirmishers could not win this alone
Carnage in the center
view to the north west ... no way out with the Guard here now
The final options
With the casualty count to the Spanish of one battalion/regiment that led the charge in the advance guard and a 'field' promoted brigadier (former colonel) dead, the Spanish were to easily take the ground of Montblanc.

For the Catalans, the story is more complicated.  Any hope of retreat for Our Lady of the Disempared IR is impossible.  They were exhausted, with 83% casualties.  The others?  There were 8 squadrons of fresh horsemen, two of them Guard, that had not taken any action at all that day.  Only two light guns to slow any of them down and no horse on the Catalan side to cover any retreat.

Want to find out what the final decisions were?

Go to Defiant Principality to get the tale...

3rd Montblanc - North AAR

This after action report is for a battle posted as part of the Defiant Principality

St. George's Cavalry has prepared to meet the enemy at the crags between Solivella and Rocallaura. Lieutenant Colonel Comes has already prepared his troops in favorable terrain, but he does not trust to hold them for long, Sir. For his regiment is not complete while the enemy is composed of two full battalions of Spanish Guards, two squadrons of Horse Guards and a battery of artillery.

The battle starts off with the Catalan cavalry concealed in rolling scrub terrain near the only ford north of Montblanc.  The rest of the area is scored by mostly dry riverbeds and streams.  This one crossing is the easiest for artillery, foot and horse may cross anywhere....

Marquis of Aitona leads his command of Guard Horse, Grenadiers and guns towards the ford...

After leaving instructions with the Horse Guards Colonel, Marquis of Aitona moves to bolster the morale of the Guard Infantry as they scramble down into the stream and across.

Caught at the moment of crossing, the Catalonian Horse charged.  Not surprisingly the Spanish Guardsmen finished the crossing and formed a firing line.  For the artillery a harder choice was now at hand, they could not retire with enough speed to evade the horsemen and they could not get any of the guns into action.  As the Guard Grenadiers were standing their ground and as the Marquis of Aitona was literally watching over their shoulders the gunners chose to make a brave stand and toss a few shells at the charging horsemen before running to the cover of the adjacent lines.

There was not to be any great overturning of expectations here.

The line quality Catalonian horse was no match for the Spanish Guard Grenadier infantry.

Indeed, while the charge did roll forward, it halted in confusion and disorder right before charging home into the guardsmen.  The guard did not miss this opportunity and literally shot to pieces 100% of one squadron that charged them.  The other squadron was more successful in catching, overcoming and literally destroying the artillery battery, sending the gunners scattering and touching off powder in magazine cases and rolling guns to the blood soaked waters.

The fire from the adjacent guard infantry did manage to off 1/3 of the squadron though.

This left St George's cavalry with 2/3rds losses in total and in no position to hold any ground the remaining troopers fled the field.

The Spanish Guard had been held up for perhaps 45 minutes, the Guard Horse had not taken any action at all and was free to press on to Montblanc.

Next up:  AAR Montblanc proper.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Horses Progress #1

I have been asked to do a detail of my fast painting horses method, first shared to me by Bluebear Jeff, so I shall go through the progress and include what detail comes to mind.  Please do ask any questions that you have so that this may be a useful resource to others in the future.

As with most painted metal men, flashing cleaned off, then I mount them to fender washers.  Small #12 or 3/16" ones for the foot troops and line cavalry (two on each base) or a larger 1/4" disc for command types and 'blown or disorder' horses.  I do this so that my minis can be attached to sheet metal stands using powerful neodymium magnets.  I spent quite a lot on the bases (originally for SHAKO) and have since found the same bases useful in Napoleon's Battles, Fast Play Grande Armee, Tricorne Wars (Jeff's design) and Warfare in the Age of Reason.  I can re-base or re-arrange the troops as needed and whenever casualties occur on the field of battle I just 'tip them over' leaving them on the field where they lay.

After that I mount the mini onto a painting stick ... I have used paint can stir sticks, leveling wedges and 'spacers' from wood packing crates, which most of my paint sticks are.  I get them for free at lumber yards as these are normally waste products that keep the cut lumber from wearing against themselves in shipping.  I have seen folks use hobby sticks (like large tongue depressors) and other wooden or card scrap materials for the same job.  I suggest anything flat, stiff and free (since it will be used many times by me, I like the wood as it lasts longer).  I mount them to the sticks with thinned out paper glue, the 'school glue' non-toxic and washable.  I used 'thinned out' with water as I do not want the mini to be permanently attached, just stay on the stick well enough to be turned upside down while I work with the paintbrush and still be able to 'release' so that I can take them off and use in game.

I have used gray base coat material on this lot, as it was all that I have left in stores right now.

Base coated and ready to paint horses

For this method of horse painting the riders are done separately.  This way you can lavish the attention to each part that it needs.  One school of thought is to do the horse very basic while making the rider more detailed and layered.  I like to do the horse with the fast approach and spend some time on the rider and shabraque (horse blanket), especially if it is 'cast' on the horse.

My riders are all mounted to a cardboard wedge with a 'cutout' that I use as a saddle space.

Again the thinned out white glue is used to attach them as I want them to let loose so that I can attach them to the horse once both are painted ready to go.

Base coated and ready to paint riders

Work now commences on the painting.

I use GOLDEN tube acrylics, I mix almost all my own colors.  In tubes I have black, white, ultramarine blue, primary yellow, primary magenta and burnt umber.  I cheat for certain colors with crafters hunter green and base flesh.  For metallics I am back to GOLDEN tubes with iridescent fine bronze, silver and gold (these metallic tubes I have had for more than 15 years and still have only used maybe 1/2 of them).  I started with the little pots of paint, they kept drying out, so I went back to my art training and began mixing my own colors again.  All acrylics as I cannot have the mineral spirits around with my small son who likes to get into things still...

The first tools
My palette consists of an old white section of plastic signboard, a corrugated plastic center (like cardboard) with a flat white plastic sheeting outside.  I wrap this in plastic food wrap, so that when I have filled the palette with paint sections that have all dried out or I just do not want to use them any more I just lift off the 1/2 of the board I was using tear off the plastic with the paint on it and toss it away, in less than 15 seconds I have a clean palette and continue painting or have it ready for the next day all clean.

Everything is this stage is WET, very WET and thinned out.  I mix 1/2 & 1/2 brown & black, thin with water till runny and slop it all on ... I do this with any color base spray.  Even black.  Why?  No matter how good the spray or what focus you did when you put the base coat on, somewhere gets missed, this wet dark brown is a perfect way to complete the base coating.  With gray and white you get a darkening effect which helps to bring out the tack and harness.

Leader horse on 1/4" fender washer ready for paint

First stage wash in progress, work it WET

First stage of all horse done

The entire time for this first stage took me 1 hour, that included 41 horses and riders, 2 staff officers and 24 artillerymen.  (along with pauses to take pictures)

These minis were then left to dry overnight.

Stage 2 was the 'white pulling' or "wet light brush".

Here a white was thinned out and an old straight brush was charged up with the paint.

The paint is then very lightly dabbed or brushed or pulled across the miniatures.

The lighter the contact, or more spaces that are left without paint then the darker the final miniature will be.

You can also work with the wet paint being so thin that it becomes bubbly.  Do not fret if there are 'splotches' on the miniatures.  The horses will look very strange at this stage, that is normal.

Wet 'pulling' and dappling on the future highlights

A very light hand here with the thinned out white wet paint
This stage was just the horses, some 26 minutes for the 41.  (and pictures)

These horses are then left to dry overnight.

My next posting will be about the color work.

Leave your thoughts and comments or any questions, thank you for your time.