Friday, 22 January 2010

Decisions, decisions.

This post is something of a digression- more of a rant, perhaps- and certainly it is a very personal view.  But I'm finding myself wondering if it is worth renewing my supporting membership at The Miniatures Page, which is up for renewal within a week or two.

Now, there is much that is good about TMP;  It has become a main focal point of the online wargaming community. It is a major source of Hobby News, and there is some good discussions on various message boards.  The membership is, by and large, very motivated and helpful.

So I keep telling myself, but I find myself wondering more and more whether it is worth my wanting to "ante up" with a supporting membership.  Recently, I've realized that I've been finding my visits there just as frustrating as they have been rewarding.

Just looking at the Napoleonic boards alone, there has been a steady stream of what to me have been fairly inane- and at times clearly trolling- topics being posted ("What if Napoleon had the 7th Panzer Division and Cruise Missiles at Waterloo?"  "Was Ney really an Ottoman spy?"  "Did Mother Nature make a pact with Beelzebub and Wellington to defeat Napoleon in Russia?").  And it seems to be the same few people who feel compelled to post them in the first place. 

And we still have the petty cat fights that seem to infect Napoleonics like no other boards, and which still seem to infest the place like ants at a picnic  (although say something glowing about FoW on the WW2 boards and see what happens).  Take this recent thread for example.  Round up the usual suspects, shall we? The smaller the stakes, the nastier the fights.

Then there is the increasingly "Hit-and-Run" political commentary which seems to have gotten more and more common since the end of the Current Affairs board.  Now, I'm not averse to political discussion, and used to dabble on the CA boards myself regarding international issues.  But I liked having the opportunity to go there- or not to go there- as I pleased, and having politics for the most part being quarantined from actual wargaming boards.  

Having  people make throwaway political comments on wargaming threads annoys me because:
  • Often I go to hobby sites just because I want to get away from politics and the "real world".  That's what a hobby is all about.
  • I can't comment on what I feel are the more outrageous remarks without risk of either being Dawghoused (not that it matters, mind) but- more to the point- without derailing a thread any more than it has to be.
  • I really don't care about, say, US domestic issues such as Medicare, any more than most Americans would if I posted diatribes against some tax policy here in Japan.
Yes, there is the complaint button, but I don't want to act the snitch and would be a lot happier if Bill Armintrout just found some reliable moderators to deal with such shit as it came up, and do away with the Dawghouse altogether.  Much better to just quietly delete posts or  threads and, if necessary. lock accounts without the spectacle of a virtual Bloody Assizes which provides entertainment to the Masses.  Who'd complain?  After all, "Bill's house Bill's Rules!" remember?  

Friction and nastiness emerges on any forum. But in comparison- and while allowing for the smaller membership- I feel that the moderators of WD-3 have handled such incidents much more quietly and much more effectively, and to the ultimate benefit of the forum itself, without the need of any "Dawghouse".  

In short, TMP would be better off without it.

With all the new rule sets coming out these days, there has been an almost steady stream of intense disdain and contempt that some people seem to bring towards differing wargaming approaches and rule sets which they may dislike or disagree with.  Especially- God help them, those from large and clearly successful companies. All this talk of rubbish rules and "fanboys" just makes me shake my head in wonder.  If you don't like a product,  just  don't buy it.  It really is that simple.   Why waste time slagging a product off, let alone slagging off those people who do like it?

No-one is forced into anything in this hobby.  I'm a Front Rank fan, and I personally I don't have any love for The Foundry, largely because of their policies regarding shipping charges.  But neither do I feel compelled - as some people do- to post gratuitous and unsolicited comments on TMP  advocating that someone would be best off selling their whole collection of Foundry stuff and replace it with Front Rank.  (Iannick wouldn't listen anyway!)

Bottom line, I just don't enjoy the place as much as I used to. 

I cannot help but to feel that there has recently been a rise in the level of bloody-mindedness, intolerance, and just plain bitchiness over at TMP, enough to push the envelope of my comfort level as a paying supporter.  

The kicker recently was when I realized that I have been finding myself hesitating before posting anything on TMP these days.  Before hitting the "submit" button, I start to wonder if it would be my turn next to have the balloon of enthusiasm rudely deflated by some cranky killjoy.  That, or someone would take umbrage with me over my use of the word "kepi " instead of "forage cap" (regardless of the terminology of what 90% of other gamers use, especially those for whom the ACW is not a main interest- like me!).

Typing all the above, it looks as if I've probably answered my own question, although I still have a week or so to decide. I'd miss the private mail function, and communicating with some fine people out there.  But I find myself spending much more time on La Bricole  and WD-3 these days, and posting a lot more often there than I do on TMP. 

It may be that my money would be much better spent on things like getting my Russians painted! 

M. le Capitan's log, update 02/04/2010: In a classic case of hope triumphing over experience, I've decided to renew my supporting membership for three months, and when it next comes up I'll see how I'm feeling about things then.   In the meantime, I'll just do my best to avoid reading any thread over 50 posts, which is usually a sure sign that something stupid is going on!

Monday, 11 January 2010

8th Division, IIIrd Corps- revisited!

I have been working steadily on les bleus, but progress slowed down somewhat due to a return to work after the holidays, and painting the ironwork on the 6pdr gun carriage is taking more time- and patience- than I had anticipated!

Nevertheless, the last two companies of the 1/28eme are just about ready for varnishing and basing.  I always paint the metallic parts-  musket barrels and bands, shako plates, sword hilts, and so on- last.  And this takes time, concentration, and steady nerves.

In between the nerve-wracking bits, I've been working on my next French infantry unit.  I was going to work on the 2/28 Legere. But after all those advancing figures in dark blue I felt it might be time for a change. 

For variety- and balance, as I need line as well as lights- I decided that instead I would work on the famed "Soixante-neuf"- the 69eme Regiment de Ligne.  

Veterans of Jena, Eylau, Wagram and Spain; and famous-in my mind at least- for their presence in a whole series of mid-19th C. wargames which we had fought back in Vancouver before I came to Japan.
The "Soixante-Neuf" (Maybe I should go for thinner bases?) 

This will be a change in that these figures- almost all Front Rank (but can you spot the stranger in the back row?)- are in march attack pose. My idea is that all the light infantry regiments will be in advancing poses, while the line will be in march attack. Put it down to greater élan on the part of the lights.


In trying to decide on a suitable line battalion which would be carrying an eagle (as I had already mounted one on the standard bearer's pole), I spent some time again going over the orders of battles which I had to hand for Brayer's 8th Division.  

Now, French orders of battle for 1813-1814 seem to be somewhat akin to snowflakes; no two are completely alike.  

So I set myself the following strict academic standards in order to better evaluate which order of battle to rely on:
  • Which order of battle is based on the most verifiable historical primary sources?
  • Which source is given the most credence by  learned, highly-respected military historians and experts?
But after considerable research, reading and thought, I decided that two further criteria were needed. Criteria which would trump all other considerations: 
  • Which lets me field the coolest units?
  • Which gives me the excuse to field the most eagles?
Not a lot of fun, after all, in having a force consisting mostly of duffer 4/5/6th battalions, all carrying nondescript battalion flags on plain poles.  Think about it; where would be the literary appeal of a title such as; "Sharpe's Battalion Flag Mounted on a Pointy Stick"

No; to me a French force needs eagles; Eagles are NapoleonicLes soldats courageux fight- and die- for their eagles, as much as they do for their Emperor.   

Eagles ARE France.   

Therefore, mesdames et messieurs, eagles I will have.  

With that in  mind, I made the decision to go with the order of battle found here, and to make the blithe assumption that all the battalions referred to are first, second and (in the case of the 22eme de Ligne) third battalions.  All first battalions will carry eagles, as will my light cavalry.  End of story.

To some, this may seem like heresy, fantasy, disrespect- or even criminal.  Should my taking such liberties with History bother them too much- well, they may feel themselves free to leap into the River Seine in outraged protest. 

The new order of battle for my 8th Division can be seen on the sidebar at right.  The nice thing is that it includes the names of the regimental colonels.  I always like to be able to personalize my wargames figures!