Tuesday 28 December 2010

Muskets & Marshals

Following the Battle of the Crossroads I have had a final tweak of my house rules Muskets & Marshals. I say ‘final’ tweak even though experience has shown me that there is actually no such thing because tinkering with rules is as much a symptom of my borderline OCD as the desire to keep re-basing my model soldiers is.

That said I am pretty happy with the rule set as they stand and I certainly had a lot of fun playing the game using them. The firing system involves throwing a lot of dice and I’ve found over the years that this always tends to make a wargame more fun than the slide rule/logarithm approach.

The rules are an amalgamation of various rule systems and ideas nicked or created over the last 40 odd years. The movement rates and ranges are straight out of the London Wargames Section Napoleonic Rules (1968). The melee system is spookily like the one from the board game Risk. Many of the other ideas were developed for a set of ACW rules my brother and myself knocked up in the 1980s. The emphasis is on fun and speed of play.

Saturday 25 December 2010

Stille Nacht

A lone Prussian general plods through the Christmas snowscape on his tired old warhorse scouting the horizon through his telescope. The figure is a vintage casting of PN64 Prussian general (mounted) looking through spy-glass given to me today by Mrs S. She acquired him via eBay, I do hope it wasn’t her I was bidding against…

Monday 20 December 2010

Battle of the crossroads – Part 3

While the French heavy cavalry passed his flank General Aldercreutz took refuge in the square of the 4th Swiss regiment. Aldercreutz presented something of a target on his high horse (due to the fact that being a ‘knock-off’ his base is unusually thick) but thankfully he survived the action unscathed.

General Aldercreutz took refuge in the square of the 4th Swiss.
D’Hilliers wasted no time in ordering his cavalry to charge straight at the Union brigade forcing them to make an immediate morale test. This they took on a minus one (because of Ponsonby’s demise) that left them shaken and unable to counter charge. A few more rubbish dice rolls meant the resulting melee was lost – the unthinkable had happen, the Union brigade was in full retreat!

The cavalry melee.
Meanwhile in the centre of the field things were going from bad to worse for Wellington. Mercer’s battery had been steadily losing casualties to the fire of the 10th Legere and yet another failed morale test for the Allies saw his guns limbered up and making haste to the rear. All this as the columns of the Nassau grenadiers and 45th Ligne were closing on the position held by Picton and the Naval battalion.

The French columns close in.

A volley at long range from Picton’s men took out three of the Nassauers and for a moment it looked like the line might just hold but then the Nassau colour-bearer ran forward holding his flag aloft (he has a very strong hand) and the Nassauers were in amongst the British with the bayonet. Even the presence of the Duke (with his plus one to morale rolls) wasn’t enough to save the situation and the Naval Battalion broke and fled.

The Nassauers show the Brits some cold steel.
The Allies were in full retreat and a dejected Wellington sat upon his trusty horse Copenhagen looking on at the sorry scene. “A hard pounding eh, gentlemen?” “A hard pounding indeed your grace.” said Lord Hill and Picton.

The vanquished.
On the other side of the field the Emperor looked upon the same scene but was in a very different mood “I told you the English were not good soldiers Bernadotte, did I not?” “Yes sire, you did.” replied Bernadotte. “They may have the best cavalry in Europe but it is the worst led and anyway, I’m sure those ones on the grey horse were drunk!”

The victors.

The battle was over but the war had only just begun…

Sunday 19 December 2010

Battle of the crossroads – Part 2

With the French skirmishers distracting the Allied line the Emperor now chose the moment to start to advance his infantry columns.

The French press forward.
While the French light infantry continued to annoy the Allied infantry, General Ponsonby was growing impatient at finding himself in reserve. Eventually the General could bear it no longer and, seeing a group of the enemy no more than 100 yds in front of the Landwehr, decided enough was enough. “Forward the Union Brigade, at the trot, charge..!”

Forward the Union Brigade.
Cavalry units may not make a passage of lines through friendly cavalry. They may however make a charge move through friendly infantry (they incur a 100yd movement penalty and must be able to end the move in contact with an enemy unit). The infantry unit will become disordered and must test morale.

The troopers charged through the Prussian Landwehr and on into the French skirmishes who failed to form a skirmish square in response (If charged by cavalry skirmishers may form a skirmish square on a roll of 5 or 6 (4,5,6 if elite) otherwise they are ridden down). Ponsonby was elated as the Grey’s cut down the enemy to a man but a final musket shot from the French knocked the poor general from his horse!

"Watch out General Ponsonby, sir!"
It can be said with little doubt that neither Blucher nor the Duke was at all pleased with Ponsonby’s movement. “Mein Gott!” cursed the Prussian Marshal “Vot are zees dumkoff drunken vools up to?”. With a die roll of 2 the Landwehr failed their morale test, broke and fled – a spectacular own goal for the Allies.

“Come back mein children!”

Meanwhile the French responded to the sudden appearance of the British cavalry by forming the 4th Swiss into square and advancing D’Hillier’s heavy cavalry to meet the threat. The Carabiniers in the lead were confident and positioned themselves for a charge while the ranks behind them (being DK castings) were slightly more nervous.

D’Hillier’s moves forward.
All along the line the Allies were now very hard pressed and even Mercer’s battery was losing heavy casualties to the incessant French skirmisher fire. The situation for the Duke was starting to look serious.

To be continued…

Saturday 11 December 2010

Battle of the crossroads – Part 1

I felt suitably inspired last Sunday to finally have a bash at a wargame with the Hinton Hunts. It was a small affair using two terrain tiles to produce a battlefield just 2’ by 4’ and I played solo using my own rules Muskets & Marshals. The game took about two hours to play, lasted only five turns and was surprisingly good fun. This is what happened.

The Duke of Wellington (with his ADC Lord Hill) had deployed the Allied force in line to defend a vital crossroads. On the left were the Naval Battalion commanded by Sir Thomas Picton (resplendent in red coat and top hat) and on the right were the Silesian Landwehr under the watchful eye of old Marshal Vorwarts. Ponsonby’s Union brigade supported the Landwehr while Mercer’s horse artillery was placed across the main road between the two infantry battalions.

The Allied army deployed in line ready to defend the crossroads.
A few hundred yards to the east the Emperor (with his ADC Marshal Bernadotte) was preparing his force for the attack. From left to right deployed in column were the 4th Swiss (General Aldercreutz), the 45th Ligne (Marshall Lannes) and the Nassau grenadiers (General Klingspor). On the extreme right flank were the Imperial Guard horse artillery and to the rear of the infantry line was General D’Hilliers with the heavy cavalry. To the front, deployed in skirmish formation, were the elite 10th Legere in their lovely furry hats.

The French army getting ready to advance.
Happy that all was now ready the Emperor signalled the artillery to open fire at long range on the Naval battalion, which they duly fired upon and failed to hit. Captain Mercer, not waiting for the Duke’s command, gave the retaliatory order “open fire!” to his battery sergeant and the six-pounder’s let rip with a roar.

Mercer gives the order “open fire!”
The first shot from Mercer’s guns flew across the field and knocked brave Marshal Lannes from his horse before bouncing through the ranks of the 45th Ligne where it claimed a further casualty. The Duke was not impressed “The commanders of armies have something better to do than fire upon one another.” he exclaimed to Lord Hill. “Yes your grace.” Hill replied, “but it was a damn good shot!”

Marshal Lannes becomes a “fallen leader”.

The Emperor, angered by the turn of events turned to Bernadotte “Mon dieu! These English are not gentlemen at all. Send forward the 10th Legere, we will show them the way we French play wargames!”

The 10th Legere advance on the Allied line.
The French Light infantry moved up to effective musket range and started to pepper the Allied line with musketry (skirmishers may move up to half a move and fire with full effect). The Landwehr soon lost one man to their fire but then the Naval Battalion suffered a greater blow as the skirmish group to their front rolled 4 sixes!

“We will show them the way we French play wargames!”
The Naval battalion were visibly shaken by the ordeal as Picton rode up and down the line trying to restore order in their ranks.

Picton steadies the Naval Battalion.
At his command post near the church Wellington looked on “Hot work Lord Hill, what time is it now?” “Just past turn two your grace.” Replied Hill. “I think I may ride forward to give Picton a hand (and an extra plus 1 on morale), I’m sure Blucher will hold on the right with the support of Ponsonby’s cavalry.”

To be continued…

Saturday 4 December 2010

On the carpet

This is another unit in my collection that hasn’t had much of a showing here. These infantry figures are RN17 Russian grenadier (marching) with RN11 officer (charging). The castings are all vintage and they were the very first unit I painted at the start of this project.

A line of Russians

Advancing in column

For some reason Hinton Hunt Russian figures are the hardest to come by in my experience. Apart from this unit I have a regiment of Pavlovski grenadiers (really looking forward to painting those), a single squadron of cavalry and one gun crew. It’s a small contingent but the figures are amongst my favourites – I hope to get them all painted up in time for the World Cup in 2018!

“Come on comrades, quick march!”

You will be pleased to hear that I have nearly finished those French grenadiers and I will post on them next. I did however have a bit of a mishap whilst painting them when I managed to knock over my pot of Foundry 47a Copper Wash. It was a slow motion moment as the little tidal wave of brown paint made its way towards me down the desk - the question was do I save my jeans or the carpet? I opted for my jeans – wrong!

The wonderful new carpet effect I have perfected plus the offending pot of 47a

Throughout the whole drama our old labrador Snuff (who you may remember shares my study) remained singularly unhelpful. There was no Lassie style rush to my rescue with kitchen roll or a damp sponge, in fact she just looked rather annoyed at all the commotion.

Not Lassie

Those of you who have read back through my older posts may have noted that this is not the first time that I have had an incident with my 47a Copper Wash. I knocked over my last pot almost three years ago to the day, that time however I managed to keep most of it off the carpet and out of Mrs S’s line of vision. I fear I have not been so lucky on this occasion.

Saturday 27 November 2010

4th Swiss on parade

I still haven’t got those French grenadiers finished although the last three figures are sat on my work table in black undercoat looking a bit sorry for themselves – I will get them finished before Christmas. In the meantime I thought I would take the opportunity to post some more pictures of the splendid work Matt did on my Swiss infantry.

The 4th Swiss in line.

Advancing in column.

Here they are from the rear – not running away, this is the view their supports would have.

A close up showing the grenadier company (actually composed of FN23 Old Guard grenadier, firing).

One of the reasons I’ve not been painting recently is that we took a trip north of the border last weekend to visit our daughter in Perth (that’s the original one in Scotland not the one in Oz). Whilst up there we were taken to Killiecrankie ‘gateway to the highlands’ where we walked to soldiers leap. This is a rock in the middle of the river Garry where a government soldier made a huge leap to safety on the opposite shore pursued by Jacobite forces in the aftermath of the battle.

Soldier’s leap sign.

Another sign told us that Queen Victoria visited the place once and proclaimed the jump ‘impossible’ – I’m not sure how she came to this conclusion as I am guessing she was never chased by a bunch of claymore wielding highlanders.

It’s a bloody long way up.

We also went to see the Wallace monument near Stirling which to be honest I’d never heard of before but turned out to be a wacky gothic tower erected in the 19th century to honour William Wallace. It’s a long way to the top (and I didn’t make it all the way) but one of the chambers contains Wallace’s actual sword, which was impressive – he must have been a big bloke. As you may detect there was a bit of a theme running through the weekend namely the Scots thrashing the English, next time I hope to make it up to Culloden for a bit of balance.

Friday 12 November 2010

Chasseur-a-cheval (take 2)

These two-piece Hinton Hunt French Chasseurs (FN319) were among the first figures I painted when I started this project. Looking back over my old posts I realised that they had never had a decent showing so I thought I’d rectify that now.

They really are lovely little castings that are amongst the best in the Hinton Hunt range in my humble opinion.

Chasseurs of the Line are perhaps a bit under represented on the wargame table being less glamorous than their friends in the Hussars and lancers. However, I hope you will agree that these lads are looking pretty smart. I have a couple of squadrons of the one-piece version to add to their ranks – eventually.

Saturday 6 November 2010

Nassau Grenadiers

I managed to get them varnished and based up during the week and ready for a parade today. So here they are:

21 x NN/2 Nassau Grenadier (charging)
3 x NN/3 Nassau Officer (charging) – one converted as a standard bearer

The figures are vintage Hinton Hunt castings and all but one (no prizes for guessing which one) were painted by Matt Golding.

The full battalion on parade

Bionic-hand man waves the flag

About face!

Inclining to the left (really I should have stuck them on the diagonal but that’s a bit fiddly). It’s bugging me slightly but I won’t re-base them, er, not today anyway...

I’m very pleased with them and they are a useful addition to my Hinton Hunt army especially as they can be used to fight either with or against the French. I suppose that given recent developments in the entente cordiale it would probably be best if I choose the latter option, as my British forces may no longer be available to fulfil that role.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Purest Green Stuff

The original Hinton Hunt figure range was poorly supplied with flag-bearer figures and back in the early 70s I was forced to attempt my first conversion to produce a Prussian one. This consisted of gluing a wobbly bit of unbent paperclip into the hands of an advancing figure (the one supplied without a musket) and attaching a hand painted paper flag to the staff. Not the most difficult of tasks you would think but in the days before super-glue or commercially produced flags I found it pretty challenging. Sadly I have no photo of that one but here is the result of my efforts over the last couple of nights.

Figure painted by Matt Golding, flag by Revo, conversion by yours truly

The figure is a standard bearer for my Nassau Grenadiers converted from NN/3 Nassau Officer (charging). The conversion involved using some of the mysterious “green stuff” I have often seen mentioned on other blogs (who can forget the Black Adder “purest green” sketch? Click here if you have!). For the uninitiated Green Stuff is a two-pack putty that slowly hardens when mixed together and eventually dries rock hard. I used it to make the top bit to the flagstaff and the ends of the dangling cords. It was also used in bionic man fashion to reconstruct the hand that grips the flagstaff.

Before and after
I opted for a flag from Revo rather than try to make one myself. As far as I know Revo flags were the first proper commercially produced flags for wargamers so I feel they are appropriate for use in this project. The flags are printed on sticky backed paper and can be quite a fiddle to attached to the flagstaff properly but in this case I made a perfect job of it first time, perfect until I realised I had stuck the thing on upside down. It was quite a job to put it right but as you can see I did manage it in the end.

What a whopper
When I bought my Hinton Hunt Nassau figures a couple of years ago they came complete with a converted flag-bearer made by the original owner. Now I know that there is a school of thought that says that wargame flags need to be a bit over scale so that they show up on the wargame table – and I agree with this – but I think this example might be taking things to extremes!

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Welcome men of Nassau

I made a detour via the Royal Mail depot on the way home from work tonight to pick up a package containing the Nassau grenadiers Matt has painted for me. They are splendid indeed and this quick snap does not really do them justice.

The uniform green looks quite dark in this shot but is less so in the flesh and will brighten up when I varnish and base them. That’s the next job then.

Saturday 23 October 2010

That was the week that was

A bit of a manic week that began heavily weighted towards work then changed emphasis towards the consumption of red wine and finally culminated in a trip to Chichester for my son’s graduation. None of this is relevant to this blog of course but here are a few highlights that just might be:

Tuesday – FN361 General Nansouty arrived in the post. My first successful Hinton Hunt eBay purchase for a long time and a welcome arrival as it means I am only missing one French HH personality figure now – cool (as the young people and old hippies say). Nansouty will be at the back of a very long painting queue, probably looking over the shoulder of Massena trying to see what the hold up is.

Tuesday (a few seconds after Nansouty’s arrival) – A copy of the Hinton Hunt export price list from 1972 arrived in the post from Don in the US. This list is almost identical to my UK list except that the prices don’t include VAT. Slightly strange as you would think that the export prices would be cheaper without the VAT. Click on the image to make it readable.

Thursday – Matt emailed me a picture of the completed Nassau grenadiers letting me know that they would be with me after the weekend. They look brilliant and I can’t wait for their arrival. Seems to be something of a Nassau theme running on some of my favourite blogs at the moment.

Saturday – Stopped off in Arundel on Friday night and went to visit the castle today. Quite amazed as I was expecting the usual sort of damp windswept ruin – had no idea it was still the fully functional residence for the Duke of Norfolk. We spent over three hours there and had a great time. I didn’t have my camera but the place is spectacular and well worth a visit - click here to take a look at the castle website.

That’s it then – the week is almost over.

Friday 15 October 2010

Painted Black

For some time I’ve had in my possession four Brunswick Hussars (BRN/17) but as I need six figures to make up a squadron they’ve been waiting patiently for reinforcements. Now as you can see I’ve finally managed to recruit the two missing troopers. This squadron has been assembled from the four corners of the earth (well the US, UK and Australia to be exact) and they’re just awaiting a bleach bath to remove the old paintwork before I repaint them.

I have a certain affection for these “Death’s Head Hussars” which I’m sure is shared by many other Napoleonic wargamers. Apparently Lady de Lancey compared the Corps to “an immense moving hearse” when she saw them on the march during the Waterloo campaign. The Hussars fought under the Duke of Brunswick at Quatre Bras where they gave a good account of themselves.

The other reason I like them of course is the ease of painting or at any rate the theoretical ease of painting – after all I could just splash them all over in black as the previous owners have done. However I think I should put a little bit more effort in so intend to use a dark grey for the uniform and then black on the straps for some contrast. Anyway, surely even I can paint these up relatively fast although of course I have to finish those French grenadiers first.

Saturday 2 October 2010

The cost of wargaming

This is my remaining original copy of the Hinton Hunt price list and I think it dates from around 1973/74. I don’t know for sure as there is no date printed on it but that was about the last time I ordered any figures direct from Hinton Hunt so I’m probably right. If you click on the image it should become big enough to read properly.

Hinton Hunt Figures were never the cheapest option for building a wargame army and their mail order service was not particularly fast when compared to contemporaries like Minifigs. However to me they were the figures to have because they were the ones featured in Miniature Warfare magazine and the ones that Callan used. The problem was that you had to order over 150 figures to get the best price (6p infantry, 12p cavalry) and that was a lot of pocket money but it did make for an exciting package when they finally arrived.

The figures could also be bought ready painted (25p infantry, 50p cavalry) although that was way beyond my pocket as a kid but I dreamed of being able to order complete ready painted armies. Since then, having heard various tales about the quality of the paint job, I can see that perhaps I might have been disappointed on that score.

Saturday 25 September 2010

Secret Weapon (phase two)

This is a test figure of NN2 Nassau Grenadier (charging) that I painted a couple of weeks ago. I really like the pose of this one and he was relatively straightforward to paint. It’s a strange thing with the figures Marcus Hinton produced how some are really excellent sculpts while others do seem to be a bit lacking. I’m not sure if Hinton sculpted all the figures himself but certainly this one is one of the better offerings.

I’m very fortunate that Matt (my secret weapon) has agreed to paint up the rest of the unit for me. This means that I have had the fun part of working out the way I want them to look without the hard work of mass production. Matt’s work is superb and he puts me to shame with the sheer speed of his output but at the moment this is a huge help to me.

Now I do feel a bit guilty about all this as part of the point of this project was that I was going to paint all the figures myself. However a couple of things have changed since I started this blog; firstly I have accumulated way more figures than I ever thought possible and secondly I have less time to paint them than I did back then. The result is (as regular readers may have noted) a bit of a drought of painted figures, in fact I still haven’t completed the unit of French grenadiers I started last autumn. I do intend to rectify this in the future but for now I am very glad of Matt’s help.

Friday 17 September 2010

Fall in the 45th (again)

Checking back through my postings I see that I completed my first version of the famous French 45th Regiment of the Line back in April 2008. Since then they have been staring back at me from the display cabinet proudly showing their two Imperial eagles. The fact that they had an extra eagle was not just a contingency in case they lost one to the Scots Greys (who’ve been eyeing them up from the middle of the same shelf) but because I was short of three fusilier figures to make up the numbers.

Thanks to the generosity of Paul however the three missing figures of FN5 Fusilier (charging) turned up here a few weeks ago and I have finally got around to painting and basing them up. The result seemed so pleasing that Marshal Lannes just had to assemble the battalion and put them through some drill.

The battalion form column of attack

They quickly manoeuvre into line

And then into square (this is one they really do need to get smarter at!)

And finally they go back in time to the 1960s

(Apologies for the poor lighting in the above photos but I still haven’t properly set up a studio area since we moved to our new house)