Monday, 14 July 2014

Summer Wargaming Plans


Judging by the absence of posts over the past few weeks, you may have thought that I’ve been a bit idle on the hobby front. It’d be a fair assumption, but not quite the full story. The truth is that I’ve been pulled in a number of different directions hobby-wise.


First, I’ve been enjoying painting through the “last few” 28mm late war French figures. The Verdun/ Operation Gericht games at Partizan and at Evesham made me realise how much I enjoy running games in this period, and the variety of battles and engagements we can create from the history of the First World War. Within this in mind I’ve steadily been finishing some of the figures which have been in the painting queue for some time, including this French battalion command group. I’ve also not forgotten about posting the Operation Gericht scenario oline, and adding a campaign diary – sorry for being late in doing this, but it’s coming…

One distraction has arrived in the shape of the temptation to recreate a small unit from one of France’s most famous formations. I picked up the excellent Martin Windrow/Mike Chappell book “Uniforms of the French Foreign Legion” a couple of days after returning from Evesham. Getting books like this, stacked full of fine illustrations, is a very bad idea for a wargamer! In the long term, I’m tempted to get some of the splendid Artizan Foreign Legion figures for the 1890s.



For now, however, I bought a “final” few more packs of Brigade Games’ late First World War French infantry to recreate a demi-platoon of the 1e Regiment de Marche from the Legion Etranger, for around 1916/1917. I’m planning some conversions of these figures, aiming for a battle-hardened look. I’m also hoping to add in a couple of Scarab figures to the Brigade Games figures to give the unit a bit of a less uniform appearance. I’m hoping this will be something I can model and paint during the work downtime in August.

Also on the holiday reading list is “Poilu”, a recently edited volume of the memoirs of Louis Barthas. Well known in France, this memoir is less familiar in the UK. I’d not heard of it before famed blogger, and all round gentleman, Curt Campbell very generously brought a copy over for me during his recent visit. I’m about a third of the way through and can thoroughly recommend it. 


The two big distractions for the summer have some in a smaller scale. For about two years, I’ve had a Pendraken 10mm late war French army in a box on my study floor. I bought these as a complement to a 10mm late war German force I painted in 2010. I have no idea why I never painted up the French, apart perhaps from the fact that the focus at my local wargames club in St Albans moved on in the interim from large scale games set in the First World War. However, somewhere, in the Verdun Project, I got the 10mm inspiration again.


This motivation is probably connected with the misery or carting around 28mm terrain to club evenings and wargame events like the Evesham games day. As you know, 28mm terrain looks wonderful, is great fun to create and is something people always seem to enjoy playing on. For one-off games, it’s unbeatable. But for every-week gaming, it’s a bit of a pain. There have been a number of evenings when the club has fallen short of a game last minute because of a scheduling problem. Stepping into the breach with a 28mm game is hard in those situations. Focusing on building some 10mm forces, and easy to transport terrain is one possible alternative I want to try to help fill in those last minute gaps.

 

I’ve cleaned and based up the French over the past couple of weeks. They've not taken long. The Pendraken sculpts are little things of wonder. Beautifully modelled and cast, they are flash free, and just need a little clipping on their base before gluing down. The artillery needs some care, but nothing too which is too much trouble. The main challenge was keeping the wheels on the axles of the 150mm gun carriages – but I found a thick superglue really helped with this. The German infantry have painted up en masse very well, and I think the French with the Horizon Bleu greatcoats may well look even better.  

I’m hoping to try out these figures in August or September, aiming to recreate some of the brigade and divisional actions from the Nivelle Offensive of early 1917. I’m not sure which rules we’ll choose. It’s a temptation to try and create our own ruleset, perhaps borrowing from the work Richard has been putting in on the Boer War. However, I have heard many good things about Great War Spearhead II, and I might well start there and see how they work. There are rumours (heard around the table at the Evesham curry) of a fine set of rules coming from Alex Buchel for the Great war, and I shall certainly be keen to try those out when the arrive.  So, all in all, more on the 10mm front to come, hopefully.

The other small scale distraction is in 6mm, but more of that in a later blog post. It’s French again (at least in part), but from an earlier period and with very pretty uniforms. I’m hoping that’s going to be a lot of fun.


 
 

39 comments:

  1. Great stuff Sidney. I have some Artizan FFL on the painting queue too, but I'll wait to see what you do with yours now first mate ;).

    Frank
    http://adventuresinlead.blogspot.com.au/

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    1. Thanks Frank! I've been looking around for a skirmish project for a while. I very much like the idea of the FFL in the 1890s - I think they would give some really excellent, colourful games. We can probably do a lot, rules-wise, with an adaptation of Sharp Practice, or even Through the Mud and the Blood. I'd also like to try some other non-Lard rules for the setting such as "Death in a Dark Continent". Probably a slow burn, period wise, but something I'd like to do later this year, time permitting.

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    2. Totally agree Sidney, a very exciting period. Rules wise I was considering Triumph & Tragedy, which plays really nicely and has a Colonial supplement. Will be watching this one with interest.

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  2. Thanks for brining my attention to the "Poilu" book, it sounds like a great read and a must have.
    Love that Detaille/Neuville painting. Amazing to think that this enormous wall piece is actually only a small cut-out of a extremely large and round painting that these two French painters/legends did together. I also really like the symbolism it holds, the wounded lignard (as a symbol of the Imperial Army) passes his last cartridges to the Mobile (as a symbol of the new republican army that will take up the fight with the Germans, now that the Imperial army has been beaten, and the emperor taken prisoner). Good luck with that Pendraken collection, shall be interesting to see this when finished.

    Kind regards
    Søren "Black Powder Games"

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    1. Søren - that's a fantastic post. Thanks so much for commenting in detail and sharing! The FPW art works in the Musee d'Armee are simply stunning. It's that mix of military history, national identity and sense of drama in the FPW and the Commune which makes the 1870-71 period a really interesting one to wargame. I'm not sure that I can really do justice to the period in 28mm. Although the uniforms are lovely, there's a lot of larger actions which suit the smaller wargaming scales/ larger command actions perfectly.

      I've plumped for 6mm for the FPW, so I'll be interested in people's reactions when they see the forces...

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  3. That will keep definitely keep you out of trouble and make you a busy man indeed

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  4. 6mm Franco-Prussian War? Hurrah for the Zouaves, Turcos, Curassiers and the like. I wish I'd have seen those paintings before I started painting my own figures but it appears I made a lucky guess with the colours.

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    1. Hi Matt - yes indeed, 6mm for the Franco-Prussian War. We thought about 28mm, but it's going to be near impossible to recreate the actions we're interested in. Richard has 15mm armies already, but we concluded that a smaller scale would be better to bring out the unit organisation, differences in weapons systems and the alternative deployments. 10mm was an option, but 6mm really makes the best sense for what we're trying to achieve.

      I have to say seeing Bruce Wiegle's amazing 6mm collections and terrain at Colours last year were a major driver to the 6mm scale (plus the wonderful Baccus figures for the period).

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  5. you will be busy! wargames planning i love it.. i have some of those Artizan FFL they are nice!! another project in the wings

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    1. Thanks Dave. Yes, another project in the wings. It's been a long while since I drifted off the First World War.....looking forward to it!

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  6. Oh my, 10mm! Really looking forward to seeing what you do with those Sir.

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    1. Ha! Michael - you really know how to make me nervous!!!

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  7. I look forward to seeing how this develops.

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    1. Thanks Chris. Hopefully, you'll like what's coming

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  8. I sure did enjoy viewing your 10mm Germans so I'm very curious to see your French! I've toyed with 10mm, but struggle to get to terms with them as they are harder and harder to see these days. Every time I try smaller scales for reasons you gave like transport, cost, storage etc. I just come right back to 28mm as fast as I can.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Christopher. The 10mm Pendraken Late War Germans were one of the easiest things I've painted in the last few years. They do look quite nice I think. Close up, they look fairly average...but on mass from 4 feet away, they do look nice (all credit ro Pendraken in that respect!)

      Most of all, and in a slightly silly fashion, I love looking at the two small boxes in which I have the entire German division packed away. It's nice seeing a lot of painted figures in 10mm and realising they fit into a space of about two large sixed shoeboxes. They are harder to see - definitely need to be painted under a good light - but they have an attraction of their own.

      I think the French with their uniforms should look even nicer. You might also notice that about a quarter of the 10mm Poilus are Tiraillieurs Senegalaise - which hopefully will add yet more colour. Fingers crossed!

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  9. Ahhh, French French and more French! Will this fascination never end Mr Roundwood?

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    1. Ha!! Perhaps not! And why should it?? I'm saving up my blog post about why I like wargaming with French armies for a rainy day, Phil....all will be revealed!

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  10. Well two very interesting projects to look forward to. As always I'll follow your project closely.

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    1. Thanks Moiterei! It is absolutely great to know you're following. Here's hoping I don't disappoint and mess it all up!!!

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  11. Those 10mm look very interesting, will watch with interest.

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    1. Thanks Mark! The 10mm Pendraken figures are really nice. They are little works of art. You can't see them at all well in the photos (which is entirely my fault). But hopefully, during the course of the summer, you'll get a better view of them! Thanks so much for dropping by! All the best!

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  12. More French!!! The 10mm figures look very pretty even without the paint on!

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    1. They're very nice figures, Ray. It's hard to believe that Pendraken can produce 10mm figures en masse with no flash on the figures at all. But they really can. Very nice sculpts indeed. It makes the process of moving to 10mm a lot easier - I'd not have given the figures a try if I thought I had to clean them up, and file them down first.

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  13. Great stuff busy man! Nice looking army, we play FPW in 15mm, but 10mm should be very interesting...waiting for more!

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  14. Thanks Phil. We're doing the FPW in 6mm, and the late great war in 10mm. At least that was the plan last week !!!! I'm looking forward to it...the FPW is going to be fun. Slightly nerve-wracking starting a new period...its been a while since the last one....but hopefully it'll give some cracking games.

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  15. Caught this late, typical, but 10mm, way to go. For me they are a great choice, falling between 6mm (it's so tiny I need my glasses) and 15mm (gosh there is a lot of detail to paint) the size has a lot to offer. Now, all I've got to do is finish my 6mm Ogre/GEV collection, and then I can get back to my 10mm WW1 force that I abandoned in mid strife. How hard can it be? ;-)

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    1. Ashley! Fantastic to hear from you - thanks for dropping by. I honestly think you are spot on when it comes to 10mm - they are a useful scale which seems to be immune from the problems of 6mm (too small, as you say) and 15mm (too large to ignore the detail) !

      Very much looking forward to seeing what you're going to be doing on the 10mm First World War front. See you soon!

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  16. Do you have any thougths about using a modified Through the Mud and Blood for the 10mm figures? you are of course fairly familiar with the rules...

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    1. Hi Lasgunpacker! Good question! Usually i think of 10mm figures as being suitable for larger scale actions. But i think there's no reason at all that you could not use 10mm figures for "Through the Mud and the Blood". I actually think there are some very good reasons for giving this a go:

      1. For a very small outlay, and a relatively fast painting time, you can create two perfectly viable forces quickly. You would need to base at least some of the figures individually, but that should not be a problem as a lot of companies now offer pre-cut 3mm thick MDF bases which would be suitable.

      2. The ground scale of the battlefield is much compressed, allowing you to create a very portable terrain at less cost and a shorter time. One of the reasons I am currently so enamoured with 10mm is that the terrain is a LOT more user friendly and portable than with 28mm.

      3. As the 10mm figures are really simple to paint, and you don't need many for "Through the Mud and the Blood", there's a real attraction in being able to build multiple forces on a single front, or multiple of the First World War fronts, or at different time periods, and still have time to spare.

      So plenty of scope for 10mm as a viable scale I'd agree,

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    2. Thanks! reducing games aimed at 28mm->15mm is something that people have been doing for quite a while, so it makes sense that you could go even smaller to 10mm. Smaller tables and smaller terrain have a definate appeal to those of us without much space (or time!) for terrain too.

      Although to be honest, my original thought was more like using multi-based 10mm figures in place of the single figures that "Through the Mud and the Blood" is aimed at, so instead of individuals you have sections/squads, and instead of platoons, companies, companies replaced with battalions. That would give you sort of a "tactical battalion" level of game. It was just a thought I had when looking at your 10mm basing.

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    3. Thanks very much for the reply. There's certainly scope in a set of rules like "Through the Mud and the Blood" to scale up as you suggest. I've not tried it, but I imagine its a viable idea. The thing with any scaling-up is (in my experience) not just to add more troops on the table, as that seems to throw sand into the wheels of almost any set of rules.

      As an alternative, pre-"Through the Mud and the Blood", we tried out a version of "I ain't been shot Mum" adapted for the Western Front in 1918. "Max" Maxwell published this fine adaptation in one of the TooFatLardies Specials in 2008, and they worked very well to transition IABSM company scale Second World War actions to the late Great War period.

      If you scale up "Through the Mud and the Blood" as you have suggested, I would be very interested to hear how it goes. Very best of luck!

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  17. Glad you're getting into the copy of 'Poilu', Sid.

    6mm Franco-Prussian? Hmm. You know, I could be tempted to do some and bring them over the pond next time for a game. I thin that would be a great bit of fun, wot!?

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    1. Hey Curt! Thanks so much again for the book. It's really excellent.

      The more I have thought about 10mm/6mm, the more I am winning myself over to these scales as a portable, viable, gaming friendly alternative. For a seasoned traveller like yourself, they have so many attractions as wargaming scales. Of course, they won't quite replace the lovely 28mm forces we've built over the years.

      But you could pack a couple of 6mm French divisions into an old cigar box on your next trip over to the UK, and that would be a perfectly viable travel wargaming force. To get the most out of the idea, I think 6mm for the travelling wargame is probably the way to go - they are significantly smaller than the 10mm figures, and en masse they are very attractive indeed. Something which I would never have believed had I not tried it myself (much though I had earnestly wanted to!).

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  18. Hi Sidney
    I'm late with this but as we all know "LIFE" happens.

    I think you'll really enjoy 10mm scale. Portability, ease of painting, making terrain and storage as you mention.
    Though using 10mm for years only very recently have I decided to go with 10mm almost exclusively for those reasons.

    I use different shape and size bases (square, round, oval, triangular, etc) for squads, command, support, etc to help quickly identify troop types from a distance. This has worked well for us, avoiding game delays since what a base represents is clear from several feet away. It has the additional benefit of allowing the table situation to be easily viewed as a panorama.

    Have fun with the scale.

    .

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    1. Thanks Charles! Great to see you here, and sorry about being late in replying myself! That's a great piece of advice regarding the different size of bases. I have take it to heart, and clipped the corners of some of the French units to depict assault infantry - you'll see what I mean in future posts. Thanks very much for this invaluable advice!

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  19. Very interesting plans, Adam.
    I'm looking forward to seeing your progress during summertime.

    Cheers
    Stefan

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    1. Thanks Stefan! Hopefully you'll enjoy what's coming.

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