A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Bavarians - Brigade Commander

I do enjoy painting staff figures, as I've possibly mentioned before. We have a game coming up next weekend, and I was short of a brigade commander for the Bavarians (who will be getting a run out, though I fear they are going to get thumped again).

Here's a new arrival. In my normal Bavarian organisation (3rd Divn, VII Corps, 1809) this will be GM Vincenti, but next weekend there will be a bit of role-playing going on, so he will be Minucci for the day.

The casting is a fairly recent one by Hagen, though his horse is an OOP Falcata. Yes, he does look a bit as though he's falling from his horse, but I think he's just giving a very dramatic signal for his boys to get a move on. In the honourable traditions of the theatre, the twitch of your eyebrows must be discernible from the back row, or such that even Hansl in the 14th IR picks up on it.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

French Refurb Project - Chug-Chug-Plop

Front (L to R): 2/47e Ligne (Les Higgins figures), and two battalions of the 1er Ligne, which, apart from the SHQ command figures, consist of Hinton Hunt figures from the collection of the late Eric Knowles. At the rear there are two Art Miniaturen infantry colonels, who are to command brigades (hence the coloured borders to their bases), and a battalion of the Voltigeurs of the Young Guard (all right - the Tirailleurs-Chasseurs - same deal) - Les Higgins with Art Mini command
A few more command figures completed - a few more empty slots filled in the units in the "Assembly Boxes", and suddenly today there is a gurgling noise and I have another 4 battalions complete. They are still to get their flags, but they'll be ready in a few days. Not much of a photo, I'm afraid, in the time being.

Separate Topic - a message from Sitting Bull to a man without a racist bone in his body (just lard).

Go back to where you came from. 
Some back rent wouldn't go amiss, either.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Scenario Design for Klutzes

There will be a game at the end of the month here. Since I have no sense at all, I have taken it upon myself to design a scenario. My methodology for this involves more of a pantomime than you might expect, but here you see some breathtaking shots of the stages in the development. The rule system is my Ramekin variant on Commands & Colors: Napoleonics.

How to fit the terrain features onto a hex-grid table (start off with 13 x 9 hexes)
Having plotted the terrain (which has now grown to 17 x 9), and having sorted out the OOB, I now work out the starting situation - you will see that both sides have lots of off-table reserves headed toward the guns at the start
And then I set it all out, with the units in place - Battle of Neumarkt-St Veit - not one of Jean-Baptiste Bessiere's best days, as it turned out...
More of this in a couple of weeks...

"I never wanted this stupid gig in the first place"

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Hooptedoodle #338 - Well Said, Johanna

I'm not a big tennis fan, though I can waste whole afternoons watching matches on TV if I get caught up. Wimbledon is on the telly. It's a British institution. Strawberries and cream, top players, excitement, thrills and shocks - and it's all brought to us by the BBC. In fact it would be difficult to find much fault with the way it is brought to us by the BBC, but they do suffer a little from the delusion that they somehow own the event. Having given us the Women's Football World Cup, we are now lucky enough to have Wimbledon bestowed upon us. We are not worthy. [At least it is one thing remaining for which we do not have to pay the Murdoch family.]

Yesterday Johanna Konta, who is a British player, lost her quarter-final match in the Ladies' Singles. I didn't see the game, but I did see this clip of the post-match press interview [click to watch it - it's worth the time]. One journalist, who would have been fawning and offering to wash her car if she had won, assumes the role of careers teacher when she loses - we will have an insensitive, analytical look at her weaknesses, and the camera will give close-ups if she is moved to tears. Great TV, too.

Well, no. I am delighted to observe that Ms Konta pulled him up very nicely, and told him his fortune. One small but maybe significant blow against the army of overpaid parasites who make a soft living out of the media aspects of professional sport, capitalising on the dedication, talent, hard work and heartache of others. Just because this twerp gets to interview or write about the best players in the world does not give him any credentials of his own - knock him down with a French loaf. I am sick of seeing microphones being stuck under the noses of distressed sportsmen and women who are obviously struggling to keep it all in.

"How disappointed are you feeling at this moment, Mauricio?"

"Why don't you go and **** yourself, you moron?"

Nice one, Johanna - I shall follow your career with more interest!

Monday, 1 July 2019

French Refurb Project - The Gonsalvo Battalion

This is a bit late on my part - these chaps arrived a few weeks ago, and my efforts to base them up have been somewhat delayed - for one thing, I was busy doing Real Life stuff again, for another [mumbles in embarrassment...], I had carefully ordered up a new batch of 50x45mm bases from Tony Barr at ERM, in advance of the recruitment of extra battalions. Tony sent them off promptly, as ever, but I carefully and thoughtfully stored the package of fresh new MDF biscuits away in a well-thought-out location, forgot where that was, and couldn't find it until a few days ago.

Oh well.

Anyway, here we have the 2nd battalion of the 26eme Ligne, very kindly painted up for me by The Bold Gonsalvo. I'm very pleased with them, and grateful to all three of my recent guest painters who have contributed so handsomely to my Refurb effort. Thank you, gentlemen. It is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to call on reserve troops painted by friends - adds a whole extra dimension to my armies.

Castings are old Les Higgins for the most part, circa 1973 - the mounted officer and the drummer are by Art Miniaturen, the porte-aigle by NapoleoN 20. Pretty much the standard mix for the current Refurb push. These chaps, Bavarian scenery notwithstanding, are destined for Ferey's 3rd Division of the Armee de Portugal, but will be more than capable of serving gallantly in a variety of theatres, of which the Danube campaign is certainly one.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Storage Wars - Boxed Bavarians

Deroy's Division on the move
One of the great truths of the world is that painted soldiers take up a lot less space than soldiers which are being painted, or which are about to be painted. In the chaos presented by my current situation, which I refer to as "getting there", my inner OCD keeps a little vision of how it should work out...

When the Spanish Army is finished, when the missing Portuguese Brigade is finished, when a number of other incomplete projects are finished, I'll have a lot fewer Very Useful Boxes containing unpainted units sorted into freezer packs, a lot fewer cardboard boxes full of things still to be promoted to labelled freezer packs (or, ultimately, disposed of). My main "showcase" storage unit (which is a laugh, since no-one can see into it unless they open the doors), known here as The Cupboard, will correctly contain the Napoleonic French and Anglo-Portuguese armies (minus the artillery, logistics vehicles and staff, since they won't fit), and everything else will be stored in an orderly manner in magnetised A4 boxfiles.

I'll have a lot more space - it will work - I will be able to find things - I have the spreadsheets to prove it...

This is not entirely down to my becoming more peculiar as I age, though a big driver is the ease with which I am able lose entire regiments - for a recent battle, I dug my heels in and refused to give up on searching for a French general in a carriage - it took about an hour, but eventually I found him in a boxfile labelled Mules & Carts - that's not too good, is it? Happy ending, and he got to be Massena for the day, but things have to become more organised. He should really have been in French Staff & Odd-Bods, obviously, but that is now full, and waiting for French Staff & Odd-Bods (2) to be commissioned.

The current (ongoing) expansion of my French army means that The Cupboard has to be cleared of anything that shouldn't really be in there - the buildings have mostly gone, the strange little wooden trays of things that came from eBay and are still being thought about are in the process of being relocated. Yesterday's big step was to re-house my Bavarians into official boxfiles. That has always been the plan really, but I'm kind of sorry to see them move - I've got used to seeing them lined up on the bottom shelf, but they have to shift so that Ferey's Division and Taupin's Division and the new Guard Division can be accommodated properly in their rightful place.

Anyway, they'll be happier in their new home. I thought someone might enjoy the sight of a couple of boxes of Bavarians - the dragoons and three brigade commanders are still be be painted, but it is evident that a Bavarian division fits neatly into two A4 boxes. That's rather satisfying. A Bavarian division, in passing, is a nicely-sized and balanced force for a wargame, it seems to me. This morning's extra task will be to replace the household's labelling machine, which finally died of exhaustion...

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Reining in My Enthusiasm - Whinge of the Day

I was checking out my painting queue, and - inevitably - I came back to a pile of mounted figures which are stuck until I find out how to assemble them. These figures are mostly (though not all) from Hagen Miniatures, and they are splendid little figures, but they are all the work of the demon sculptor, Massimo, who likes to produce his horses without reins.

Here's an example - this is part of a very nice set of French general staff - you can get these from Hagen. Obviously, you simply have to fit reins, running from the bridle bit, round the rider's hand(s), draped artistically, depending on the action. What could be easier?

Well, my problem is that I cannot find a method of fitting reins to the horses which works for me - I've had so many harrowing episodes trying to solve this that I have now developed something of a phobia about it - I have managed to fit about 3 horses with reins successfully over a 3 year period, and there have been a lot more than 3 failures. In my project boxes, waiting to be assembled, I have 40 Spanish cavalry, 20 Portuguese cavalry, 10 French cavalry and about 30 or 40 assorted staff and celebrity figures, and none of these is going to make any progress at all until I understand what to do about it.

I have tried fuse-wire of various thicknesses (a couple of successes, but it is a nightmare to bend to shape, and won't take a sharp curve), cotton thread (a recommendation from Hagen - it sort of works, but it's hairy, man!), copper wire, aluminium wire (assorted thicknesses from 0.56mm to 1mm), lead foil from wine bottles, nylon fishing line (2 thicknesses)...

This should be a reasonable thing to achieve, I'm hardly a craftsman, but I have many years experience of hacking figures about, drilling, reshaping - my regular re-heading jobs in 20mm have caused my wife some unease for a while now. This reins issue has me flummoxed, and no mistake.

Any sensible or wise suggestions as to how I may shape up and get on with this? All help would be most welcome. Solutions involving superglue just cause an exasperating mess - even with the official accelerator, the bloody stuff is hopeless.

I've even had a look at some online sites which describe how to tie fishing flies, which I thought might be useful, for techniques and materials, but this is getting well away from the topic. Anyone done this? A few kind words could change things quite a bit...!

Topic #2 - a Painting Story

I'm currently painting batches of Les Higgins French infantry - I've been lucky enough to get some welcome assistance with painting lately, but this work will be ongoing for a while yet. I was reminded of another occasion - many years ago - when I was painting Les Higgins Frenchmen, which makes me wonder whether my life has progressed at quite the rate it should have, but no matter.

This story is set in a flat I once had in the Marchmont area of Edinburgh, which must date it pretty accurately to about 1974, I guess. I had a phone call from my friend Allan, who was a regular wargaming opponent and buddy at  that time. This was on a Friday, when I was at work. Allan was expecting a visit from an old pal, and was going out drinking with him on Saturday evening - if I was up for it, they would call for me and we could go up to Chic Murray's at Bruntsfield Links.

Fine - I was up for that. Saturday came and went, and no-one called and no-one rang. That's OK - I've been stood up before. On Sunday afternoon I was finishing off some wargames figures (the aforementioned Higginses) when the doorbell rang. It was Allan, with his friend Lammy.

Lammy was originally an Edinburgh man, but Allan had met him in Zimbabwe some years before. He now lived in Gibraltar (I think), and was back in Edinburgh for his mother's funeral. [His name, I should explain, was Lawrence, but he was called Lammy as a reference to a long-forgotten kids' radio programme called "Larry the Lamb" - I could tell you wanted to know this.]

Lammy was a bit loud for me - drink had obviously been taken already, and he was definitely a tad bumptious.

"Ah - painting...!" he roared, and he sat down at my painting desk, switched on my old Anglepoise lamp and produced a folding magnifying glass from his pocket - he began to study my paintwork.

I wasn't very comfortable with this at all - my painting was probably effective enough from the opposite side of the table, preferably in very dim light, but I was not happy at the prospect of a serious review. Allan explained that Lammy was a very keen figure painter, and regularly organised and judged painting competitions at his club in Gibraltar (or wherever it was). That didn't make me any more relaxed at all, especially when Lammy began to announce his findings...

"Hmmm....  Aha!...   Hmmm... Gosh..." and then, more alarmingly, "Oh dear...."

"I take it this is a line regiment?" Lammy directed his question at Allan, who nodded to me, with his eyebrows raised. I realised that I must still be there, after all.

"Yes," I said, "they are the 76e Ligne, they are intended for the Peninsular War in about 1811."

Lammy was delighted - he tipped his head and looked at me sideways, like Hercule Poirot making an accusation. If he'd had a moustache he'd have twirled it.

"You realise, of course, that only Guard regiments had brass fittings on their muskets? The line had steel, so this is incorrect. Why did you paint brass fittings...?"

I was getting a bit hot and bothered at this point, but Allan cut in, very smoothly.

"No, it is not incorrect. The 76th Line had been on service in Martinique, as you will probably be aware, and my guess is that Tony has assumed, very reasonably, that they will have brought their muskets back with them. Of course, the muskets issued for colonial service were of superior quality and had brass fittings, like the Guard's."

"Erm - oh yes, of course..." said Lammy, and he excused himself to visit the toilet before we went up to Chic Murray's.

I was very impressed, and said to Allan, "How did you know that stuff about the French colonial service? - I just thought all the muskets had brass."

"I know next to nothing about French muskets," said Allan, "but I can bullshit with the best of them. Lammy is a very indifferent painter, to be blunt about it, and not much of an expert, so just nod and say yes when it seems appropriate. It'll be fine."

Edinburgh drinking-places of the 1970s - this was a good one - lots of after-hours darts matches, and they had a fantastic mynah bird that used to swear at the customers...