Tuesday, 23 September 2008

*Sigh*

Words fail me...

But only for a moment! I'm really excited about trying my hand at these. I am no stranger to plastic modelling, having worked on my share of Airfix and Historex 54mm models in my time and loads of armour, ship and aircraft kits.

I really like the idea of being able to convert individual figures and to "customize" the units. I've done a lot of conversions on my metal miniatures in the past, but plastic remains a lot easier to work with.

The fact that these come in a mix of habit-vests and greatcoats mean they will blend nicely with my Front Rank minis. There is a slight size and style difference, but in separate units they should do just fine, and a consistent painting style can give a unity to the look of the whole.

And not only is the price right, but one box contains exactly enough figures for one battalion of infantry using the General de Brigade rules.

I'm impressed enough to have just pre-ordered two boxes' worth- for a start.

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering where the hell the 28e legere is, I've been experimenting with painting base textures and finishes for a while, and found some interesting ideas from Barry Hilton in the latest edition (#14) of Battlegames magazine. I've been taking my time on this, as first I need to pace down a bit after last month's marathon painting sessions, and secondly I do not want any last minute screw-ups on a whole regiment of minis through not trying out some sample finishes first. But it is looking good!

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Introducing...


Victor-Eugène Sardanapalus Bouillon-Cantinat,
13th Marquis de Sangfroid (1775- 1866)
Col. 22e Regt. de ligne
;
General de Brigade, 8th Div. 1813

"The great-grandson of the illustrious Louis-Baptiste Sardanapalus Bouillon-Cantinat, 10th Marquis de Sangfroid, Comte de Roue and the Prince Ecclesiastical of the Bishopric of St. Vignobles, hero of Dettingen, Fontenoy, Laffert and Dobrudsha.

The Revolution was hard on the Bouillon-Cantinat family, with several of its members destined to end their eventful lives at a fatal appointment with Mme. la Guillotine, where they died bravely in the spirit of their ancestors. Among them was the 12th Marquis de Sangfroid, thus leaving his teenaged son, Victor-Eugène, to inherit the family title.

Being quick-minded and in possession of an independent spirit, Victor-Eugène had been entered into a military career at an early age, as a subaltern in the Regt. de Touraine. He had the good fortune in being stationed in Antibes at the time of the revolution, far from the scenes of bloodletting in Paris. Given his amiable nature, considerable youth, and the fact that he was able to draw on the family fiscal assets to help secure his relative anonymity, he managed successfully to avoid the fate of his less fortunate (and less tactful) relatives during the worst excesses of la Terreur.

They say the fruit never falls far from the tree; and although perhaps not as religiously devout as his forefathers, certainly
Victor-Eugène shared many of their characteristics. Letters of the time suggest that as a youth, he soon made a name for himself through his bravery, good humour, generosity and love of cards, in which he had the misfortune- and good sense- to lose when engaged in games of chance with those of influence in the new regime.

He certainly possessed
a lust for adventure, for pretty girls, and above all, for the wines of the famous family vineyards of St. Vignobles. All activities that have long been the hallmark of the male line of the Bouillon-Cantinats. Nevertheless, the young Marquis was proving himself to be of a practical turn of mind, and in matters of politics and guile was considerably more phlegmatic than his heredity would have predicted.

By the time of the Consulate, he had demonstrated considerable aptitude for the military calling, and displayed professionalism and a genuine patriotic fervour. He was assisted in his career through the good offices and favour shown to him by his patron and mentor, the celebrated General Etienne-Marie-Antoine Champion de Nansouty and through his family connections with the famous Minister of State, M. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord.

And he had need of such highly-placed patrons, as being of
aristocratic birth he found himself being frequently held back from the promotion he so clearly deserved. This was a result of the distrust and machinations on the part of a number of officers of humble origins who now held places of high rank in the administration of the time. Certainly, it was no great secret that some of these jealous luminaries of the Empire coveted their own share of the extensive Bouillon-Cantinat hereditary lands very much indeed...

However, Victor-Eugène's shrewd sense of political- and personal- survival ensured that he was able to retain, recover, and even expand much of the Bouillon-Cantinat estates through the days of the First Empire and beyond. This despite- and indeed, perhaps, because of- the turmoil of the years. And undoubtedly, his considerable talents on the field of battle gained him enormous political credit with the authorities of the time.


His services to the Emperor against the Austrians, Russians, and later the Spanish, earned him a fine reputation both as a competent tactician and as a brave leader of men, serving in Napoleon's Grande Armee in most of its major campaigns from 1805 to 1809. In that year at Ratisbon he received a severe cannister wound to his right arm which healed badly. When he eventually returned to active service in 1811, he was given orders to report to the army in the Iberian peninsula.

He spent some considerable length of time
in Spain, first with Massena's Army of Portugal and later with Suchet in the south. In the reorganization of the Grande Armee that took place after the disastrous Russian campaign, Napoleon turned to his veterans in Spain; the Marquis was appointed Colonel of the 22e Regt. de ligne and assigned first to Mainz for refitting the regiment, and from there on to Saxony. By late 1813 and the campaign of Leipzig, he found himself given command of a brigade in General Souham's 8th Division.

In many a battle and siege, through actions big and small, the 13th Marquis de Sangfroid served his Emperor as faithfully as his forefathers did the kings of France in the ancien regime.

What remained a secret to his comrades in La Grande Armee was that throughout those tumultuous times, and despite his unflinching service to the Bonapartist regime, he retained his Royalist sympathies. After the wars he became well known for his close friendships with royalty and the scions of various noble houses throughout Europe. But as a child of his times, he knew his first duty was to La Belle France."

M. Georges du P. Debroullier; "What Higher Master than Honour? A History of the House of Bouillon-Cantinat" Pierre Declat & Cie. St. Vignobles, 1902



Monday, 1 September 2008

Litko comes through!

"I just love the smell of plywood in the morning..."

Came home to find these in the letterbox- this weekend I'll be immersing myself in white glue, putty, sand and paint. Although the resulting mess will no doubt cause a rip or two in the fabric of domestic harmony, it will be worth the effort and finally all shall be revealed. Stay tuned!


In the meantime, something of a change of pace. I've been making another try at a getting into 6mm miniatures. This time with a bit more success than in the past, as you can see with the 1809 Austrians on the Kaiserliks blog.

These call for a whole different approach than do 28mm miniatures. In honesty, they are not as satisfying to work on as are their larger 28mm brethren, but they are a lot faster to paint, and
despite their rather "dwarfish" physiognomy, they do have their own charm and en masse do not look too bad at all.

While you are there, check out Braxen's excellent Waterloo collection to see just how good 6mm can be made to look.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Some exciting developments here at Chez Stavka.

"Move over Sharpie, I'll take the adventures of this guy any day!"

1) Positive reinforcement...

We all need a reward for success, and this will be mine! I came across this on Amazon.com, and one "click" and a week's delivery time later, it's at my doorstep.

I have long been a big fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard short stories. I first come across Brigadier Gerard and his regiment, the Hussars de Conflans, in my school library when I was in Grade 8, and ever since I have been hooked on the tales of this flamboyant- and totally immodest- light cavalryman serving in Napoleon's Grand Armee.

However,
I have only read the stories either individually as selections in other books, or more recently as selected uploads on the Internet. I had never been able to find them in print as a complete collection anywhere; although there are more versions of Sir Arthur's Sherlock Holmes stories available than you can shake a sabre at, his other works have not nearly been so widely available. It is the detective in the deerstalker who rakes in the money!

Imagine my excitement, therefore, when quite by accident I came across the book you can see here. Not merely just a collection of all eighteen of the Brigadier Gerard short stories, but one that is in hardcover, fully annotated, and which includes the illustrations that accompanied the stories when they first appeared in Strand magazine back in the 1890's.

As writers go, I'll take Sir Arthur Conan Doyle over Bernard Cornwell any day of the week. He created Brigadier Gerard as a result of having become bored with his Sherlock Holmes character, and these stories are in quite a different vein- lots more humour for a start. While granted that they are short stories rather than novels, the Brigadier Gerard stories have a literary flair about them that I find missing in the Sharpe novels.

At my own request, my wife has "custody" of the book for now. Once I get the pictures of the finished and based figures I've been working on up on this website, she will then hand over the book to me, and then I'll settle immediately into my armchair with a glass of cognac and immerse myself in the tales of the Good Soldier. No doubt I'll find some inspiration within its pages for a few Sharpe Practice scenarios!

Inspiration indeed for persuading me to slave away like a madman at the painting table.

2) Bases on the way!

More good news. I checked my email this morning to find a message from Litko telling me that my order for bases has been shipped. Past experience tells me that they should be here by next Friday or Saturday at the latest, and once they arrive out will come the glue and sand for some mass basing.

This means that the 28e legere will make its pictorial debut way past the original deadline, but it cannot be helped given my change of course on base sizes. It will have been worth the wait, I'm sure.

3) Napoleonic decals? Yes!!

Alban Miniatures
out of England produce a very nice range of British riflemen for the Peninsular War designed by Richard Ansell. They also intend on doing French, starting with light infantry. Unfortunately while the figures seem to be very nice and well-proportioned, they don't really suit my painting style and what is even more important, are absolutely incompatible with my collection of Front Rank miniatures.

However, Alban caught my attention big-time recently as they have announced a range of decals for Napoleonics. Created by Dom Skelton, these are to be used for things like regimental backpack numbers and canteen markings. So far these are just for the British, but they plan on introducing decals for French light and line infantry as well.

I think this is really exciting news, as it should speed up the painting time and also allow for much nicer looking touches such as markings for the French covered shakos, company markings on the cartridge cases, and hopefully at some point in the future we will see shabraque and portmanteau markings for French cavalry, all of which can be a pain to do freehand (as I am discovering...).

I look forward to these new releases from Alban, and even if I cannot use their miniatures I will definitely be springing for the decals.

Wonderful stuff. With all the new and innovative releases coming out these days from a number of manufacturers, this is a simply a great time to be a wargamer with any interest in 28mm Napoleonics.


4) Finally: "Hey, man, WAY cool!"

Literally. The weather in Tokyo this summer has been really unpredictable. It has been so hot and humid these past two weeks- 35 C. give or take a degree or two- with a lot of thunderstorms. This has made painting a real chore. Not only was it physically uncomfortable working in my upstairs room under a hot light- I had to take a break every twenty minutes or so-, but my acrylic paints were drying out on the palette far too quickly- a real hassle when trying to work on faces and horses when I needed to blend colours.

But today the temperature has really dropped down, to 23 C. While for Tokyo this is really unseasonable weather for late August, at a time of year which is usually pretty much unbearably hot until the middle of September, it does make my painting progress much faster. Which is lucky, as I'm really running out of time for those chasseurs!

Friday, 15 August 2008

The Sands of Time...


"No sign of that wretched Sharpe fellow anywhere, mon ami..."


Time for a quickie update as I really want to get back to the painting table. The 28e legere are now being brush-varnished with a protective coating, after which I'll give them all a spray of artist's matte finish. I found a brand that sprays evenly and lightly, and dries matte with only a slight sheen. It seems to bring out the colours nicely.

While waiting for my bases to arrive from Litko, here is a skirmisher stand that I made up using one of the bases that I do already have. These are 50mm by 25mm pill-shaped bases that will do just fine for the voltigeurs.

The voltigeurs have now had their bases textured with fine sand, but I will paint the bases all in one go after the whole battalion has been based and textured, so that the paintwork will be consistent.

Note picturesque verdant background to photo. I bought some green hobby grass matting from a local craft shop. While at 50cm by 75cm it is too small for a gaming table, I have glued it to a board that I will use for my "studio" shots.

Right now I'm giving my back a break from being hunched over the painting table, and I've been looking at various online horseflesh-painting tutorials for the cavalry.

M. le Capitan's log, supplemental-  I found a couple of good sites here  and here on painting horses- lots of pictures of the actual beasts as well.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Baseless rumours...

...can sometimes be true!

Let me explain, but first a quick update on the painting progress so far.

I have begun what amounts to a week of vacation time, and I have pretty much the whole time for painting, especially as the wife is off to visit her family in Sendai while I stay in Tokyo to babysit the cats- and to chain myself to the painting table. This means that I can -finally- finish the last few figures for the 28e and concentrate on those magnificent Front Rank
chasseurs a cheval. All will be done by the 25th of this month.

********
As the figures near completion it is time to take a look at basing. My original intent was to go for a 1:30 ratio of figures to actual men, and to base 24 figures on four-figure stands in single rank. Thus a French infantry battalion in line would consist of a long line of figures with a 36 cm frontage all in one rank. The reasoning was that the resulting "footprint" of the unit would be closer to what historically would have been the case than is often portrayed in many wargames rules.

But I have had lots of time to think things over, and as the finished minis take shape I realize that ultimately, what I
really want is that "Peter Gilder" look; large battalions in two ranks, with a figure ratio of 1:20, just like the ones from his Leipzig game at the Wargames Holiday Centre that featured in those very early issues of Miniature Wargames (way back in the 1980's, when Duncan Macfarlane was editor).

The pictures of those games really took my breath away, and served to establish an interest in Napoleonics- particularly the 1813 campaign of Leipzig- that has continued to this present day. They remain my "platonic ideal" of what Napoleonic wargaming is all about. Ultimately, it is the aesthetics of a game which attract me a lot more than does any effort at simulation.  I'm into toy soldiers!

Now, the catch with moving to a 1:20 representation is that it means bigger units and more figures to paint. But I do not want to keep looking over my shoulder later on and wish that I had done things differently.

Cost has always been a factor as well in me not taking the "Gilder" route before, but I do have most if not all the figures I need already, especially for the French. And now that plastic French (and possibly Russian!) Napoleonics are on the horizon from companies like Victrix and Perry Miniatures, expense has become much less an issue. That just leaves the questions of storage space, but as the figures are in close order I do not think that the difference is that significant.

It also means using rules like
In the Grand Manner or General de Brigade- I've opted for the latter, as the command and control rules give them a big edge in my opinion. Furthermore, the rules have a high profile and are widely used so I that will not be limiting my options so much should I ever find myself moving again, as would be the case if I opted for a more idiosyncratic basing system. General de Brigade also has good online support with an active forum
(where I post as GL Z.D. Olsuviev).

Now a full-strength battalion of French infantry at a ratio of 1:20 is 36 figures, while a Russian battalion would be 32 figures strong. Now, it doesn't take a genius to work out that that is is 50% more painting (and expense!) than is the case for a 1:30 figure ratio which gives 24 minis per battalion for the French. That is indeed too much painting, so I am going to go for understrength units on both sides- about 30 give or take one or two for the French and 28 for the Russkis. This will mean fewer figures to paint, but units that still look good! And it would be more historically accurate for 1813- even then, given the debilitating manpower shortages of the time, it is probably being over-generous.

You can see how I intend to base the infantry regiments here. Only a few units will have mounted officers, as by late 1813 horseflesh was getting woefully scarce for the Grande Armee, with cavalry and artillery units getting priority.

Last week I ordered the new bases from
Litko Aerosystems. Once they get here I'm in business! In the meantime, I have to paint up six extra figures for the 28e legere. Think of it as a penalty for me being behind schedule!

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Cowardly captain's eye view


Not the best picture, the reds (highlighted in gouache scarlet to stand out on the tabletop) have come out much too orangy/ pink.

Note all the straps, accoutrements, piping, and assorted "doohickeys" which convince me that to be a Nappy buff you've gotta have the patience of Jove, or at least lean towards some interest in masochism...

Better late than never...


You'se talkin' to me, dude?...

Unless you're Marshal Grouchy, I guess. I underestimated just how long it takes to do the details- the musket straps, piping, shako plates all took a lot more time than I anticipated. Nevertheless, I am happy with the results and everything is falling into place.

How the heck Iannick could paint so many, so well, and so quickly is beyond me. I doff my chapeau to him in admiration!

Here is the first instalment- the carabinier company of the 28th legere. These guys were real swine to paint up- lots of fringes and the red chevrons on the shakos took a steady eye and a lot of patience. If the weather co-operates I'll give them a coat of spray varnish and mount them on their bases early next week.

More to come- the
voltigeur company next, and then the centre companies which were a LOT less fiddly!

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Pumpkin time approacheth...

...at midnight tonight.
I lost another evening's worth of painting yesterday to an unanticipated outbreak of urgent tasks on both the work and home fronts, and tonight I have about three hours to make the cut.
Let's just say that I know how Napoleon felt on those final assaults on the ridge, all the time glancing over his shoulder praying for success before the Prussians arrived!
Friday sees me up at 4:30 am(!) and out all day on a business trip, so after I get back on Saturday I'll grab the camera and all shall be revealed.
One thing I do have to concede defeat on already is the skirmishers, but they are not that far from completion and will certainly make it by Monday- close enough to the deadline I set myself so that I'm not overly concerned, but my priority now is getting the batallion finished. By way of compensation I have painted a brigade commander and aide de camp!
I'm already thinking about how to get started painting the horses for the 7e chasseurs a cheval, and indeed am looking even further ahead to the next stage of the project. Russkis next time, I suspect, with a French line batallion and artillery battery also on the horizon.

"Uh, Sire, perhaps we should, you know, like...hurry up or something? "

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Some Work in Progress

And progress was slow today. Work selfishly raised its ugly head and kept me busy with some unexpected tasks so that I only had an hour for painting after getting home.

Aside from some touching up and cutting neat lines where paint has slopped over into areas where I didn't intend it to go, I did manage to work on some detailed faces for two figures that will be a "mini-vignette" on one of the company stands- a Front Rank falling wounded figure with his companion looking on with alarm (or is it relief that it wasn't him?). This meant eyes and more detail on the faces than most of the rank-and-file are getting.

The photo is
merde, but it was taken at night under rotten light conditions- and is not meant for the cover of Wargames Illustrated anyway. Brian Phillips or Spencer Keen I ain't.

As you can see, there is still some work to be done here- notably on highlighting/ shading, painting the steel on the musket and bayonets as well as the shako details and the hands. Not to mention a myriad of other small knick-knacks and what-nots that need to be done when one is painting Napoleonic soldiery. My target, though, is to get a unit wargame ready. I can always take figures "out of the line" and tart 'em up a bit later.


"Hey, Gaston- would you mind stopping another one for me there, seeing as you already got yours?"

Monday, 28 July 2008

Lock, stock,...

...but not barrels- not yet, anyway.

Today I had a few hours to work on the lights, so I painted all the woodwork on the muskets and touched up some of the faces. I don't paint the eyes on figures wearing shakos, as they are in shadow under the peak. But those figures either bareheaded or wearing
pokolems tend to get the "full treatment". Takes time, but I don't want to compromise on these guys, as when the whole unit is done the eye is drawn towards these miniatures first.

Tomorrow it is facings, gaiters and bases, and lining the straps to give them definition. And of course, going over the usual cases of missed areas and mistakes...

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Four hours...

...spent just painting straps. Not fun.

But I had something of a revelation. I usually block in the tunic/ overcoat first and then paint the straps. Next time I think it will be faster to paint the straps
first and then to paint the coat areas around them later- I can always go back and touch them up later. Same for the backpack and rolls.

As it stands now, I spend a lot of time painting areas that are just going to be covered up later anyway.

Oh well, live and learn. Time for a break and a glass- or two- of wine.

French wine, bien sur...

M. le Capitans's log, supplemental: I've just washed my brushes and cleaned up the table after a day's painting. This weekend I managed to paint in the straps, most of the faces, and finish blocking in all the main colours.

I have five out of the six companies looking as if they are at least approaching the finish line, but one company still needs the faces to be done, and I haven't had the chance to work on the skirmishers yet. What I'm sure will take time is all the "fiddly" bits; shako plates, cartridge boxes, facings on the cuffs and the collars, that kind of thing. Not to mention the highlighting and "touching up" the missed spots! Will I make it by the July 31st? It will be a near run thing!

But even if my original goal proves to be too optimistic, I am happy with the progress I am making and feel that I have passed a critical point in getting the regiment finished- today I got a sense that at least from here on the going is downhill. I'm certainly not about to give up now. The very last step in painting will be the company pompoms on top of the shakos. That step always adds a touch of colour, and says to me: "it's done!".

"Les Bleus" are blue over...blue!

I've been working like a demon on the 28e legere this weekend, and I noticed with considerable dismay that my old pot of Ral Partha French dark blue paint- which I bought back in 1994- is finally reaching the end of its long life and invaluable service. I probably have enough for another unit or two of French infantry, and as this particular paint is long O-O-P, it looks like I'm going to have to send off an order for Vallejo or Derivan substitutes.

It is too bad, as the Ral Partha paint dried absolutely matte, had great coverage, and was really dark. Perfect for Prussians, too.

Any suggestions as to good, really dark blues are welcome!

For services rendered: Merci et adieu, mon vieux ami.

Your Emperor salutes you!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Sound the "Pas de Charge"!

...and get ready for painting. Here are the boys, mounted on plastic bottle caps and ready to submit themselves (again!) to the agonies of my paintbrush. All Front Rank figures, of course.


7eme Chasseurs a Cheval- 28eme legere- skirmishers/ artillery crew

******
Here's a closeup of the 7eme Chasseurs a Cheval. I did some head swapping on some to give them an "on campaign" look. Note the bugler in his poncy pink facings- including the shako!

Lots of work to do yet on this unit, but as there are only twelve of them to do, I'm cautiously optimistic that I can get them done by the deadline (Hah! famous last words...).



******
Here's the 28eme legere. Actually, upon inspection these fellows don't need all that much work before they are presentable on the tabletop! Not visible is the command stand- already finished and shown earlier in this blog.



******
In the front of the following picture, you can see some skirmishers for the 28eme Legere, six figures including an officer and hornist. Lots of conversions here, including colpacks, flammes and in some cases elite company epaulettes added to the greatcoats. All sculpted from Tamiya epoxy modelling putty.

Pure artistic licence on my part, I am assuming that even with the coming of the
Bardin regulations, the proud colonels would be reluctant to part with those ostentatious badges of their "elite" status. Indeed, there is a contemporary print of French troops surrendering at Leipzig which shows the officers in this headgear- two years after it was officially forbidden.

Rules are, after all, meant either to broken or to be ignored.




In the back rows you can see some artillery crew and officers- not part of the "pledge", but I found them in the same box while dusting off (literally!) the cavalry. No gun yet, but I may assemble a six-pounder to go with them if time allows.


Sunday, 20 July 2008

TARGET #1

Bassoonist, 7eme Chasseurs à Cheval. Note the pink facings!

So here we go! I thought it best to keep my targets modest at first, as they have to be reasonable if I am to have any chance of achieving them.

By the end of the month I want to get the following unit finished:
  • 28eme Régiment d'Infanterie Légère - to be completed by July 31st. 24 figures + four voltigeurs.
This will be followed by a regiment of light cavalry:
  • 7eme Régiment de Chasseurs à Cheval- to be completed by August 17th. 12 figures.
This will clear the painting table of two units that have been in painting purgatory for ages- indeed, much longer than I am willing to admit here! The light infantry are about 70% complete so I believe I have set myself a reasonable target, while the chasseurs have some way to go- they are about 15% done. Both to be duly photographed upon completion and and put up here.

If successful, I shall name the good colonel of the 7eme chasseurs in honour of Iannick Martin! (Thus I have someone else to blame should they get routed off the table in their first engagement...). While only 12 figures, getting these painted by the deadline may prove a challenge as I have never been a fan of painting horses with all those straps, reins, and various nooks and crannies that the paintbrush never seems to want to go.

Once these guys are done, the next up will be a unit of line infantry and some Russians, along with a scenario for a skirmish game. This should be fun, as I can start coming up with ideas for the character attributes I will need for the "Big Men" using the Sharpe Practice rules.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Potential Remedy?

"if you think this hurts, just wait till you get my bill..."
  1. Start gaming with what I've already got as soon as possible, and set myself a target date.
  2. Start working on some terrain.
  3. Make use of peer support.
  4. Remove other potentially distracting projects from view (aka clean the painting table!)
And that is what I have done, or am in the middle of doing.
Getting in some gaming is key. But how, when to do a decent-sized game of, say, GdB means painting and basing at least four or five units of anywhere between twelve to twenty-four miniatures a side?
The answer lies, I think, in getting "stuck in" using a rule set such as Sharpe Practice by the TooFatLardies. This is one of those "large skirmish" sets, is tailor made for 28mm, and should not only allow me to get some fun games in a small area (kitchen table!) but will also start creating a "narrative" that will help to keep me engaged in the project and which will encourage me to paint more.
I have already ordered a pdf copy of the rules, and they look like being a lot of fun- while clearly designed with the Peninsular War in mind, I shall transport them to the environs of Leipzig where they should do just fine.
The hassle may be reconciling the different basing needs between Sharpe Practice and a rule set like GdB or Shako. Frontage is no problem, as 15-17mm per foot figures seems standard, the problem is that skirmish games call for individual basing. I still need to think how I'll get around this one, but the problem is not insurmountable and I can always use temporary bases- the intention is to just get in some gaming.
It is an approach I may also apply to my War of the Austrian Succession project.
Working on terrain boards is another way to inspire, as a nice looking layout is central to what I am looking for in my wargaming experience. And I really enjoy the modelling aspect. I have a few buildings, but hanker after an enclosed farmhouse and in the short term at least a good-looking terrain cloth. It will also give me some variety as I can reward myself for getting a unit painted by doing a terrain piece.
Keeping a table free of distracting toys is self-explanatory. But the key to keeping on task and on target must be the peer support, and this is where I have to thank Iannick Martin ("Archiduc Charles" from TMP) for suggesting that we set ourselves some painting targets and encourage each other in our progress. He has a wonderful collection of Austrians and, more recently, French, so hopefully I can pick up some of his positive- and productive- vibes!

The Problem...

"Merde, quels plus sans valeur…"

For those of you who check out my blogs from time to time, it must be evident that I work in fit and starts, and that I have a number of projects "on the go" that don't seem to- well, go!

Looking beyond the usual suspects of work pressures (when I get busy I get REALLY busy), there are a number of reasons for this.

  1. The twin demons of laziness and procrastination.
  2. My tendency towards perfectionism as a painter- this really slows me down I as can spend hours and hours on one figure.
  3. Inability to focus on any one project at any one time. I am often too much like the proverbial donkey who starved to death as a result of being placed equidistant between two equally-succulent bales of hay, and who could never decide which way to go!

The stumbling block must be when I reach that "half-way" stage in painting a miniature, where it has been undercoated, the main colours blocked in but not yet trimmed, and the next stage is the fiddly backpacks and straps- the figure looks a horrid mess, and the motivation and energy to push on decreases considerably. More often than not, I tend to fail my morale throws at this point and progress really slows to a halt.


I know from my years of active gaming back when I lived in Vancouver that there is nothing like having the deadline of a regularly-scheduled game in order to inspire one to get the "666eme Regt. de Ligne (M. le Diable's own)" finished and on the table so that you can employ it to humble your opponent on the field of battle, and enjoy the resulting pleasure of crowing loudly at his resulting defeat and humiliation...


But there's the rub- gaming has become a very rare pleasure, and other than during the occasional trip back home, I haven't been able to get in a wargame using 28mm miniatures for years- and I mean years. I also have to do both sides. This translates into a lot of painting, and if the rules need a lot of battalions and squadrons, the more uphill the task will be of getting enough painted for a game. Yet without the gaming, how to find that extra level of motivation that will keep me going? Of course I need to keep an eye on my ultimate target, but I also need some kind of "immediate gratification" just to keep the hobby alive.


I find there is a "Catch 22" for me here. Ultimately, I want the spectacle of battalion after battalion advancing up some slope to meet the foe, which means rules like Shako or General de Brigade. The problem is that it will take such a long time to get to "critical mass" -the point where I can get enough miniatures to play a game- that I cannot currently see myself getting anywhere near that point.


So what to do about it, that's the question?