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!


Iannick said...

No worries Robert, I'm faced with unexpected problems myself (go to my blog for more details).

I still plan to finish my part of the deal by the 25th, but I had to make some small changes to the content of the deal (sorry!).

As for unit size, I perfectly understand your point. I too would want bigger units if I could. For me however, I realized that I do not have the time for bigger units. Money is not an issue, but time is!

That, and I realized some time ago that, while I can paint 16 figs in a row, more than that I have to divide my units into painting batch. And I hate that! I find motivation in the fact that every time I finish a batch of figures, a new unit is created.

One day, maybe, I might add two bases to my units (to make them 24) but not anytime soon. I want to play one day! :)

Robert said...

Yeah, time is a factor my end as well, but I realized that if I am going to the effort of collecting and painting the figs, I may as well make sure that the project will hold my attention in the long term.

Actually it is not too bad as I have a mix of greatcoats/ full dress/ campaign dress in my armies, so the painting does not become too repetitious. Lots of colour variations in coats and shako covers help too.

For me the batch method seems to be working well. I tend to go for a company at a time of five to eight figures, and stagger the painting tasks so that I'm working on something different every time with different groups- one session muskets on some figures and faces on others. This keeps things manageable for me psychologically.

Ironically, I am finding that it is the Bardin uniform in full dress that is the easiest and fastest to paint! Fewer folds in coats and fewer straps.