Wargames Factory Spanish Succession Cavalry

I thought I might go through with these guys step by step as I put them together and paint them with the white undercoat, just to go through my techniques and to make comments on the figures themselves.

First up, the horses go together very easily, but when attaching them to the bases that they are supplied with, they do not necessarily stand comfortably. Two out of the four horse poses are fine, the other two lean quite a bit. To fix this I cut a small piece of thin plasticard – 1mm I think, and glued it under one of the hooves.

You can see the plasticard inserted here

The rest of the figures are absolutely fine and go together very cleanly. I’ve used some pieces from the infantry set to construct a standard bearer as there isn’t one in the cavalry set.

Six dragoons awaiting the next stage

One of the things that I took away from my test paint figure was that I need to paint the rider and horse seperately, as there is just too much difficulty trying to manouevre the brush for fine detail like the lace loops on the jacket when the rider is attached.  So today I sawed up a couple of pieces of wood and drilled some holes in them. I then drilled holes into the bottoms of the riders (I’ve done this plenty of times before with pinning cavalry so it no longer makes me wince). I then grabbed some wire from a pack of Old Glory spears that I never put together and used blu-tak to secure the riders onto the wire and the wire into the wood. This enabled me to spray the undercoat on them and get all around coverage. I plan to use the wire to hold the cavalry figures while I paint them – we will have to see – I may simply be able to hold the wooden block and they will stay in place. I will reveal the result in the next post.

With this project I am tempted to sell something and fund a bulk buy of everything that I need (eleven boxes of plastics and a few metal figures from Front Rank and Old Glory), but I think that it would be too overwhelming.  there is a lot of construction time with plastic sets, no matter how user friendly they might purport to be (even Perry Napoleonic French infantry take a bit of time, and they would be the most user friendly kit). I think that I am better off just buying a box set once a month and trying to get it completely built and painted before the next one arrives.  At the moment that is my plan of attack. If the pattern works and I can stick to it, I might follow this up with a similar Napoleonic project using Perry minis. Although, the twins are apparently unveiling two new sets at Salute this weekend for a totally new period, and if it is Franco-Prussian War or Seven Years War then I make no apologies for revising my plans once again!



The new Marlburians take shape

It was in November that I last did anything with my 28mm Marlburians. As things got more hectic I put them on the backburner and got my US and Soviet Flames of War finished instead. Well, now they are back, and ready to be a main project for the next year or so (alongside my 15mm French Revolution project).

The last time that you saw these guys there were 16 of them and they were all individually based. Well, I decided that I would revive my original plan to use the Wargames Foundry 1644 rules, needing units of 20 figures ( it could be more for the French and less for the Allies, but I like 20 as a number).  These rules have individual casualty removal, but I like having multi-bases to move figures around with, so will simply use mini dice to keep track of hits like I do when using Black Powder.  They may yet end up being used with Black Powder anyway.

I’ve left the figures on their washers and then based them on balsa. I find that this gives them a nice heft so that I won’t accidentally send them flying across the room with a careless sleeve getting caught on the bayonets.

The Regiment Tourville.

I like these Wargames Factory figures – I’ve written before that they seem to be the Spencer Smiths of the 21st Century and I hope they remain around for a long time ( well at least the next year while I’m building my armies).

If you think that the drummer in his livery looked onerous to paint, you are wrong. I really enjoyed doing the detail on his coat, probably because I knew that he was the only figure in the whole regiment that I would need to lavish this much attention on.

I have also glued one cavalry figure together and experimented with painting him up as one of Coynyngham’s Dragoons. I think that I am getting the idea with white base coat painting, in that if your paints are slightly watered down they give a thick wash which provides natural highlights. I still have a tendency to want to paint everything in opaque colours and mix highlights. I’m not sure I’ve got white base coat quite right, but I’m pretty impressed with the results. I also quite like the effect of black-lining, although it is a rather long-winded process.

I also did a final coat of Army Painter Strong Tone just to accentuate the recesses.

The only thing I am thinking to myself is whether I want to go with my traditional matt finish or a more ‘toy soldier’ shiny finish. Comments would be welcome.


Plastic progress

Warhammer Historical’s Waterloo has inspired me.  I get the feeling that this is a Napoleonic project that will get finished – a case of seventh time lucky!  This isn’t just based on blind optimism, but the fact that I only need six units for a whole army!  Of course this will expand when I make it to the required minimum, but it is being able to reach a playable army size relatively quickly that will ensure I don’t give up and move on too quickly.

Here are my first 2 elements, some Perry Plastic light infantry for my 1er Legere:

This was an interesting painting project.  First of all, I had given some of these guys a white undercoat, and some a black undercoat.  The white undercoat figures were definitely more labour intensive, but my original plan had been for them to be part of a Ligne battalion with white trousers, so I thought that white would be a sensible base coat.  I used the dip only after I had painted everything, and then went back over some of the white areas (the officer’s trousers) as a highlight.  This worked quite well.  But my thoughts for the future are to use neither black nor white and to go with a grey undercoat.  This is the technique suggested in the rulebook, and I think that it is worth a try.

For the first time ever I decided that I would not paint eyes on the figures.  A close up is below.  I don’t think I have lost anything really:

I painted these chaps in the last week as a bit of a trial run, but previously I had managed to finish half a French battalion for the War of Spanish Succession.  This is the Regiment Tourville, because my daughter liked this flag better than the other options I gave her:

The flag is made out of a piece of an old sheet, and the paint stiffened it enough for it to have a slight fold.

As much as I like these figures, the Marlburian project is on the backburner until the initial Napoleonics are finished.  I also have to finish off my last two units for my Flames of War Soviet army, and then I will do a photo essay blog entry on the whole host.  Then into my US FoW army, and slowly my modern Brits and Taliban for Force on Force.  The latter will be a total immersion project where I paint the figures, terrain and play the game hard out to get a grip on the rules, so in a couple of months time when school holidays are here it will probably be ready.  But for now, here is my first almost completed 15mm Command Decision WMIK:

In the mean time I’ve been rewatching Ross Kemp, reading War by Sebastian Junger and have 3 Para ready for when that is finished.  I have to say that I’m looking forward to this one immensely.  Looks like 2012 will be the year of Waterloo and Afghanistan.


The new Marlburian project begins

If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and again and expecting a different outcome, then I must be mad.  Not content with painting up loads of figures for the Spanish War of Succession in 15mm, I sold them and decided to start on something else.  That something else, was, of course, 28mm figures for the War of Spanish Succession.

I’ve been looking at the Wargames Factory plastics since they were released, and stayed away, mainly because I already had armies in 15mm, and there was no conceivable reason for starting again in a different scale.  Well, that isn’t a consideration anymore, is it?  They have had mixed reviews.  For a start there are the WF ‘haters’, but I pretty much ignored those.  Then there were those whose opinion I respect, such as my old mate Scott (link in side bar), who were a bit concerned about the googly-eye complex.  But what the heck, at $30 NZD a box I thought I’d give them a shot.  I’m happy to say that I am not disappointed.

The first two test figures are above.  Yes, yes, I cocked up the chap on the left and cemented the wrong body on so he has his crossbelt going in the wrong direction.  It was too late to cut him in half again by the time I realised, as the cement had set overnight.  Never mind that right now, there are more important things to talk about.

This project is going to be my Old School Wargaming endeavour –  my chance to get into the spirit of Charles Grant and Don Featherstone that inspired me as a junior novice wargamer.  Now, I have thought long and hard about Spencer Smiths, but they aren’t available in plastic anymore, and frankly, they are not all that inspiring.  Not too mention that although I like the War of the Austrian Succession, my true love is 35 years earlier.  I saw these guys described on TMP today as the Spencer Smiths of the 21st Century, and I agree.  They have a real old school feel about them while still being nice figures in their own right.  But no 48 figure battalions.  Just too big for my 4′ x 8′ table.  So 24 figures they will be, all individually based on 20mm diameter washers.  The rules will be the Rick Priestly 1644 book from Foundry.  The latest version has lists for the Marlburian period, and I have worked out my forces at roughly 1,000 points each.

The next question was painting.  I’m dying to get into white undercoat and black lining with ink.  But I’m also lazy.  So this first battalion – the Orleans regiment, have been my guinea pigs.  I started with a wash of Vallejo London Grey.  It was too dark.  So I mixed up a magic wash and this flowed much more freely.  I will now declare myself happy with this part of the experiment.  The only problem is that in places the plastic detail is not as raised as it would be in metal, and the wash does not give defined outlines.  So I decided that I would have to line in these areas with London Grey.  But the contrast wasn’t strong enough.  So I have now relined them with black.  So that attempt at being lazy was totally unsuccessful.  Never mind, the next phase to make things easier/quicker was to turn to my new friend, Mr army painter quickshade.  I realised that strong tone would be too powerful on white coats, so I went with the soft shade.  Result?  It didn’t make much impact at all on the face, cuffs or belts – again, the detail was too fine – but managed to be too strong on the coats for my liking.  The one positive was that it tinted the white coats a dirty creamy-brown – what I would consider the perfect colour for ‘white’ coats in this era!  So the dip stays, but only a very light coat and preventing the excessive pooling at the bottom of the coat.  Oh, yes, and before varnishing the figures I dropped them on concrete from a height.  They bounced, did not break, and the dip protected the paint job!  I will be returning to the old techniques of three layer flesh painting from now on though.

So overall, I’m pretty happy with this project.  I plan on buying a box a month and having all of the figures painted before the next box arrives, so that it doesn’t become another monkey on my back with a pile of figures sitting there just looking at me.  Should be totally finished by half way through next year I reckon.

And as for the googly eyes – you be the judge:

‘Hey Thierry, did you see that les Tricolores got into the Rugby World Cup Final?’

‘Oui, Maxime.  By the way, what are you doing with your cross-belt?’


Oh, and Go the All Blacks!  Big semi-final tonight.

Army Painter dip on brightly clothed figures

This is the first time that I’ve tried the dipping method on anything that wasn’t in drab colours.  This is a comparison of two Front Rank figures, the one on the left has been dipped, the one on the right painted in the more traditional base coated – main coated – washed – highlighted way.  I have to say that I am very happy with the dipped result, especially as I look to build 28mm Marlburian armies in a relatively quick way.  Let me know what you think.


18th Century Black Powder

This just announced:


A supplement for Black Powder that includes the Battle of Blenheim. The news release at Warlord Games says:

” This supplement for the Black Powder game overviews the main conflicts and armies of this period, and includes army lists and special rules to enable you to refight these wars using the Black Powder rules, as well as scenarios for the most dramatic battles of the time. Featured conflicts include:

  • The War of the Spanish Succession – the Battle of Blenheim (1704)
  • The Great Northern War – the Battle of Holowczyn (1708)
  • The Austro-Turkish Wars – the Battle of Petrovardin (1716)
  • The War of the Austrian Succession – the Battle of Fontenoy (1745)
  • The Wars of the English Succession – the 1745 Rebellion
  • The Seven Years’ War – the Battle of Hundorf (1762)
  • War in the Colonies – The French Indian War & The War in India
  • Raids and Invasions – Amphibious Warfare in the 18th Century “
Very much looking forward to this!

Ne Plus Ultra – homemade wargames rules for Marlburians

I’ve been playing around with some simple one brain-cell rules for Marlburians for a few weeks now.  Originally I had planned for them to cover the whole horse and musket era, but changed my mind after my first playtest and concentrated on the War of Spanish Succession.  I’ve borrowed some newer ideas – Black Powder’s morale saves for instance – and added some very old-fashioned mechanics borrowed from the likes of Featherstone, Grant and Neil Thomas.  The result I have christened Ne Plus Ultra, although I am vaguely aware that that name may have been used already for a game in this era.  As a I have absolutely no commercial ambitions, however, I don’t think that it matters.

The whole game is driven by cards. Each general is assigned a brigade, and when his card is played he may declare charges and then move his units.  The end turn card (I use a joker) finishes this phase and all shooting and melee are resolved.  If I want to speed things up, sometimes I allocate a commander two cards.  The end result is that depending on where the joker turns up, some units may not get the chance to declare charges or move.  It works great for solo play, and this is what I tested today with a small Marlburian battle of 6 infantry, 2 guns and 3 cavalry a side.

Above is the centre of the table mid-way through the game.  Each element can take three casualties.  Once this number has been reached, an element is removed.  If half the unit is removed then the next casualty sees the unit removed from the table.  The break-point of the brigades is recorded alongside the general.  There are two ways that a brigade breaks: if over 50% of its units are broken; and every time a unit is pushed back in combat or is broken, then it is recorded on a dice beside the general.  If the dice reaches 6 then the brigade is broken.  This means that extra-large brigades do not last indefinitely.  As can be seen below, the Anglo-Prussian centre was actually broken when the die reached 6.

Overall I am quite happy with the final product.  I made a few tweaks in-game, like increasing the power of artillery and adding a disordered rule, which have balanced it up quite a bit.  Units last a decent amount of time, elite units perform well, exposing your flank is a bad thing and supporting units with friendlies to their rear is worthwhile.  Command and control is sometimes frustrating, but the game does seem to roll along at a good pace.

The next phase of the plan is to try a Charles Grant scenario and see how it fights out.  A PDF copy is here for those that are interested.


Battle of Dolfstein

Last night John came around for a game of Black Powder using the Marlburians.  I wanted to try out the Black Powder rules with the ideas that I had in mind from my previous post of tinkering as little as possible.  We also rolled for our general’s leadership, both of us getting stuck with one turkey with a command rating of 5 – the Marquis de Grenouille for the French and Lord Maykit for the Allies.

I was going to post a full battle report on the Frankenberg blog, but the camera batteries ran out and I didn’t get to record the end of the game.  So I’ll a brief summary here with some pictures and commentary on how the rules went.

The scenario was that the Allies have just captured Dolfstein (under siege for a couple of months now).  The Comte de Fois-Gras has moved to the West and is attempting to cut the communications of the Allies.  To do so he must capture two key roads – one through Schue village, the other through Leichardt’s farm.  Two Prussian battalions garrison these positions, with two Danish battalions and a cavalry regiment camped nearby.  The English Foot Guards are also being sent to relieve the garrison for a rest after their sterling work at Dolfstein.

The setup after the first turn.

The initial attack by the French was to get into close range of the buildings and try to weaken the garrison before storming it.  On reflection I should have simply given the order to charge.  The Royal Italien and the Irish Dillon regiment were supported by the Gardes Francaises, but as the battle wore on and the units were disordered from shooting, the chance to attack the built-up area was lost.  This is something to remember for future games, as the benefit of having the Gardes in support was nullified by not actually getting into combat.

This was followed by the advance of the Danes and the refusal to move of the French support under Grenouille.  In the end the other commander, Vieux-Poisson had to ride back to his reinforcements and send them forward himself.  A command rating of 5 is worse than useless.

The firefight rages at Schue

Situation by Turn 4 with the Danish cavalry on the left about to hit the flank of the Swiss von May regiment.

There was little cavalry in this scenario (mostly held back for a strategic reserve), so it was quite effective when it got out and about.  The Danish cavalry rolled over a regiment of Swiss, but was in turn countered by the charge of the Cosse regiment. Having already been weakened, John rolled low and the Danes broke and fled.

The rallying off of hits by generals is vital and something that really came to the fore in this game.  One thing that we were really bad at, and I guess it is natural in wargames, is withdrawing troops to secure positions in order to rally and return to the fight.  Another lesson learned.

Reinforcements for both sides turned up in turn 5, the Brits coming on opposite Schue and the Bavarians coming on at Leichardt’s farm.  Again the Bavarians moved up into musketry range to try to weaken the garrison.  But the next turn one regiment charged. After 2 turns of combat, they captured the farm and one of the scenario objectives was secured.

John’s reinforcements were led by his ‘5’ general, and after watching my chap struggle he immediately sent another commander down to move the troops up. he then promptly rolled the dice before giving an order.  In the past I’ve let this go, but we’ve both played a few games of this now, and he immediately realised what he had done.  We rolled on the blunder table and his reserves promptly retreated off the table!

By this stage John was getting fairly depressed as his Danes were starting to crumble as well, but a final shot and the Italians melted away. The French Gardes charged the Danes and broke them, followed by a similar manouevre from the Lyonnais regiment.  The French hit the British Guards in the flank.  The game was all but over…

Then John rolled his reserves back on board and advanced them towards Schue in time to hit the French Lyonnais regiment in the flank. The Gardes Francaises were also hit in the same position.  The fighting at Schue drew to a bloody stalemate with John still in possession of the village.  So with an objective each the game was technically a draw.  In terms of the campaign, though, the French had failed to seal off the communications of the Allied army, and had to withdraw to plan a new strike.

The rules work fine with minimal tweaking.  A few too many exposed flanks getting hit, but then again this did happen historically (I’m thinking at Blenheim in particular), and it shows the necessity of supporting formations.

A fun game was had by all.


Musings on Marlburian modifications for the Black Powder rules

I haven’t played Black Powder Marlburians for a couple of months now, I simply haven’t had the time.  But I have been giving much more thought to the Black Powder rules and the mods that I (and others) had come up with in the middle of the year.  Much of the discussion can be found on the Last Hussar’s barracks blog here:


On reflection, the rules about moving through woods and artillery only having one movement were ones that I adopted.  The others I felt were modelled well in Black Powder without mods.  As regards wheeling through 45′ and moving around flanks, this is something that did happen in this general period, and I would be loathe to alter it.  My biggest concern was modelling how I perceived the contact phase would work.

I had read a lot about bayonets not being crossed in the open, and the defeat of the Gendarmerie at Blenheim when they chose to stand and fire rather than countercharge.  This of course translated into the need for rules to mimic this.  My answer was a special rule – ‘must give fire‘.  The idea was that units with this rule could not charge home in a single turn, but had to pause and shoot once they were within 3″ of the enemy.  It was simple in my head, but once I tried to apply the rules, we found that it bogged down the game a bit and gave a huge advantage to those units not given the rule.

I altered the ‘must give fire’ rule to be that any unit – charger and charged – with the special rule would be given the chance to use closing fire but forgo any charge bonuses.  I never playtested this though.

I recently read an article in the Lace Wars Yahoo Group files by Pat Condray on the historiography of wargames design dealing with the evolution of cavalry in this period which basically stated that his research had demonstrated that the French did not really have a doctrine in their cavalry tactics.  He went on to say that the reason that the Gendarmerie at Blenheim acted as they did when charged by Palmes was circumstantial, and that there are plenty of other instances where the gendarmerie charged with cold steel.  Suddenly the ‘must give fire’ rule seemed a bit superfluous for cavalry.  Why would they have to give fire if in reality they did not always do so? Maybe no rule was actually needed? Disorder and staggered might simply accommodate for using pistols rather than swords, or being at the halt when receiving the charge, or whatever vagaries there might be.

But surely we needed something to remain for the infantry?  After all, the charge was just an ‘advance to contact’ with musketry in the open wasn’t it?  Well, I was convinced of this until I received James Falkner’s ‘Marlborough’s Wars’ for Christmas.  Although I haven’t finished this yet, I am interested in the number of times that eye-witnesses seem to be describing crossing bayonets when not in built-up areas.  To be fair most of these are smaller patrols and skirmishes, but nevertheless it did happen.  Furthermore the result of contact was inevitably that one side broke and withdrew, whether through musketry or melee.  Did it matter how the result was arrived at, so long as it arrived?

So where am I at?  Well, to be honest, I now believe that Black Powder needs hardly any modifications or special rules to play the Marlburian period.  I still think that the mods for artillery are sensible as it was notoriously difficult to move around, and of course moving through woods is essential if you want to refight Malplaquet.  So they stay.  Everything else, though, is unnecessary as far as I can see based on what the Black Powder rules are trying to achieve – that is realistic outcomes through mechanisms that are simple and need interpretation.

Let me know what people think.


15 Months in the making…

Today I put the last flag on my last Marlburian unit (the regiment Toulouse to be specific).  I started this army last year with a slightly smaller goal in mind, but here it is with 12 regiments of infantry, 6 regiments of cavalry, 4 guns, and 5 generals per side.  There is even a small contingent from my imagi-nation Frankenberg. It averages out to over two units a month, and as there have been weeks on end when i haven’t managed to do any painting, I thought that that was a pretty good!

I’ve taken a few photos – the lighting isn’t very good, but I will probably set up a battlefield shot in the very near future and make it look a bit more professional.

It doesn’t look as much as it feels… but if I use all the troops pictured it gives a decent evening’s game for several players.

The Franco-Bavarians.

The Maritime Powers

Horse, Dismounted Dragoons, Generals and the Frankenberg contingent.

I’m looking forward to a big game with them very soon!