Friday, 10 January 2014

Hi my name is Rob I live near Southampton, Hampshire in the UK and I've been wargaming for longer than I can remember! I started off with Rogue Trader and various other editions of Warhammer 40k even running my own X Legion WH40K tournaments up until last year when I became disenchanted with 40k. I've always enjoyed military history and studied strategic studies at university and I have created a number of wargames and roleplaying rules for myself and my friends.
I've always wanted to get into historical wargaming but 40k and other wargames got in the way! Now I've slipped the shackles I've decided to take the plunge and get into Napoleonic wargaming, which is one of the main periods I've always been particularly interested in!
The purpose of this blog is for me to have an outlet where I can share tales of my collecting, building and painting Napoleonic models, making a gaming board and terrain, trying out different rule sets and maybe designing some rules of my own. Hopefully I'll get some advice from the community along the way!
I've read a lot of blogs that have inspired me, I've looked at huge Napoleonic wargames and thought that's what I want to do! Hopefully this will help fellow wargamers interested in getting into Napoleonics and amuse those whom have already made the journey or are embarked upon it. So welcome to my journey sorry for the longwinded introduction and lets get on with the action!

Where I'm at: I started this project three months ago, the plan is to have a budget of fifty pounds a month to spend on whatever I need. I already knew I wanted to collect a French Napoleonic army as I like the history, uniforms and army organisation. There is of course, also the fascination with Napoleon! The next decision was what scale to go for? Ideally I'd like to play big battles but still keep detail in the models and after some research on the internet I was very tempted by 15mm scale - especially AB models as they look amazing but having seen massive 28mm (or 25mm) battles on blogs such as the 'Avon Napoleonic Fellowship' and 'Marauder Moments' I figured if they can do it so can I!? So I've plumped for 28mm scale. As my wargaming buddies are a little reluctant to invest the time and money in a new project I decided to collect another army for them to play with and for me to fight against in the hopes of getting my mates interested and they were keen on Napoleonic British.
So, with the scale and armies to be collected sorted I made my first purchase - a box of Perry French and British infantry from the Wargames Emporium. I definately recommend this online store prices are very cheap and delivery very fast. I'm familiar with the Perry's work from 40k and I wasn't disappointed with their Napoleonic miniatures! Originally my plan was to build and paint one unit at a time so I actually painted all the models before moving on to another one (yes like most I have a cupboard of unpainted models!!!!). Obviously I started with the French! The models are very easy to put together (much easier than 40k models) and they're very nice looking models.
So onto the first thorny issue - basing! It seems this is a big topic for historical wargaming as most rule sets seem to demand a different basing system! As I have no idea what ruleset I'll be using yet I had to make a decision and did so based on some research and basically what I thought looked good. In the end I decided on Renedra 20mm square bases and to base each model individually. I think the bases are just the right size for each model to be based separately whilst maintaining the close order drill look of Napoleonic formations.
This is where things start to get interesting and hopefully there's a bit of help here for 'noobs' like myself! So I had to answer the question for myself of what scale to play at - not model scale but battle scale? I want a game that represents Napoleonic warfare at a level where the different type of formation a unit is in matters, where individual soldiers matter but not a skirmish game - I definitely want big battles. It quickly became obvious that the battalion was the basic unit upon which formations were based and the equivalent is the cavalry squadron. So with a bit of research I discovered a French battalion was comprised of six companies - 4 line companies 1 voltigeur (skirmisher/light infantry) company and 1 grenadier company. Whilst many systems seem to use 24 or less models for a battalion 36 seemed to represent a battalion better especially when in line or column formation, therefore I decided a French infantry battalion would consist of 36 models in their 6 respective companies. I would later regret this decision somewhat when I came to attempt painting my first battalion due to the sheer amount of work! However, I'm glad I persevered as I think the big battalions look great.
In comparison, a British battalion consisted of 10 companies and were generally (on paper) stronger than a French battalion, therefore I decided to represent them with 10 companies of 4 models for 40 man strong units (the British generally had 8 line companies, 1 grenadier company and 1 light infantry company in their battalions). I was surprised to learn functionally there was very little difference between voltigeurs, grenadiers and line infantry in both French and British battalions (having been mislead by other wargames especially computer wargames!?) In fact it seems any French/British infantry battalion could skirmish and voltiguer/light infantry units were just as capable in a toe-to-toe fight as any other troop (stereotypes can be hard to shake so the research has been very informative). Using the same scale for cavalry squadrons a unit came in as a very convenient 12-18 models strong.
With the research I discovered a Napoleonic army organisation was roughly: several companies make a battalion, several battalions make a regiment, several regiments make a brigade, several brigades make a division, several divisions make a corps and several corps make an army. I'm still not sure what sort of level I'm aiming for but its largely irrelevant at the moment!
So according to my original plan I duly built and based my first Napoleonic infantry battalion and because of the amount of white on the uniforms I decided to undercoat the models in white spray undercoat (previous experience of painting white has been fraught with difficulty!) After 4 weeks of painting I still hadn't finished painting the battalion and that's when the regret on the size of the unit kicked in!
Now, I am primarily a gamer and I'm desperate to get my models on a board and start playing with them so with two weeks off from work over Christmas I decided the current rate of progress just wasn't fast enough! Luckily for my birthday and Christmas my parents gave me some money, which I duly invested in another box each of Perry French and British Napoleonic infantry, French curassiers, dragoons and French and British hussars! With my time off work over Christmas I decided to change the plan and build all the units I had so I could get them on the table asap! Christmas was productive and I only have the British hussars and one battalion of infantry left to construct as I type!
With regards a gaming table my second months money went towards a woodland scenics spring grass matt 8 foot by 4 foot wide, which I sourced online from a model railway shop for roughly thirty pounds. I already have MDF baseboards so I also invested in some Gaugemaster trees from my local hobby shop that set me back 17 pounds or so but there's a lot of trees in a bag and they're nice quality.
As well as building as many models as I could over Christmas, I also made a start on a rough copy of rules. I won't go into too much detail but I've based the rules on a D20 system that will hopefully address a lot of the faults or issues I've had with other rule sets such as I-go-you-go systems and the like.
With the money from January I bought 400 Renedra 20mm square bases! With the cavalry basing I simply used the individual bases that came with the Perry Napoleonic cavalry boxed sets as they're a perfect size and I now have plenty of them (they're the same size as many from the infantry boxed sets which I haven't used.) I still have 20 pounds left over and my plan for February is to spend 70 pounds on Victrix models - primarily more infantry battalions! It will be interesting to see how the Victrix models stack up in comparison to the Perry models. Hopefully it will give a nice bit of variation to the infantry battalions.
So that's where I'm up to at the moment. As soon as I get chance I'll post some pictures of what I've achieved so far. Once I've finished building all the models I have so far I'll get back to painting as having a nice gaming board and nicely painted armies is all part of the fun for me but I want to be playing as soon as possible whilst I achieve that goal. I need to expand the British force to keep up with my beloved French and high on the list of priorities are more cavalry support (which doesn't seem easy as I want to use plastic as much as possible but British plastic cavalry seems to be in short supply) as well as some artillery support for both armies - I'm already eyeing up the Victrix plastic British artillery!
I'm thinking about going to Salute on April the 12th 2014 to see what's happening in the historic wargaming community and I believe last time Victrix had a great deal on their ranges so I might start saving now if that's the case! I'll do my best to keep this blog updated and full of content and I'll share some more of the research sites and snippets I've picked up on my journey so far. All help, suggestions and comments more than welcome!

Rob :)


  1. Hi again Robert, I have just spent a very pleasant spell of time reading your blog in its entirety. You asked for comments so here goes;-
    You've made a great start.
    There's no harm in putting a hold on buying and concentrate on painting for a bit!
    The infantry battalions are exactly right at 36 for the French and anything between 24 and forty for the Brits. The cavalry could be bigger, especially the French, 18 to 24 for lights and 24 to 32 for the heavies is what I would aim for. Some of my heavies are 16 strong but I usually combine two to form one bigger Regiment.
    As you know we use General de Brigade rules, they suit us but rules are almost irrelevant as long as you have fun! You won't need much scenery so don't go mad, it does mean that you can buy good stuff though - it makes all the difference to how your games look.
    Lastly and possibly most importantly ditch the basing system! Ours are all on 15mm frontage, 20mm deep for foot and 20mm by 60mm deep for cavalry. Everything is on company bases in two ranks, eg 36 French = 6x6 bases, (3 troops across, 2 deep). I know you just bought 400 bases - use them to mount troops while painting them. I know it sounds mad but it will repay you many times over in years to come when you have thousands of models to move. It also looks right proportionally. Is 20mm a GW hangover possibly?
    Most importantly play and have fun!
    Hope that helps a little and doesn't cause offense . Any questions just ask,

  2. Hi JJ :) I'm pleasantly surprised you managed to find my blog! I did'nt want to shamelessly plug it on your blog!
    Thankyou for the advice no offence ever taken I want all the comments and advice I can get! :)
    Does general de brigade use infantry in battalions and cavalry in regiments? I guess it makes sense or cavalry squadrons are a bit flimsy versus larger infantry units.
    Would an cavalry regiment be comprised of squadrons of the same type?
    Oh dear I'm already in basing trouble! Lol :) I chose the 20mm square bases simply because I thought they looked right and im planning on using a casualty removal system. The plan was to put the units on battalion movement trays to ease movement do you think that would work ok or would the larger bases make it impossible to crossover into other systems like general de brigade?
    Thankyou for all the advice and encouragement I really appreciate it :)

  3. Hi again Robert, plug away all you like!
    General de Brigade uses the Battalion, Battery and cavalry Regiment as the smallest tactical formation. As the name suggests these form Brigades of between one and about eight units with various Brigades making up a Division and so on as you clearly know.
    For me what makes the game "work" is the order system, there is little or no casualty removal which is great as your time painting is rewarded by toys staying on the table top! It also helps with tidying away at the end of the game and subsequent storage of toys. They are quite complex, "deeper" than 40k for instance, although if you memorized every rule plus all the codices you might get close! Not perfect but good enough for me.
    There is provision for use of squadrons within the game but this is really only used by Rich who likes it for some reason!?! I can't over emphasize the base width enough and certainly the multi base system, that's why the Perry's supply them in the box if you need any further endorsement.
    Take care and have fun,
    PS how do I follow this blog?

  4. Hi Jeremy :) sorry its taken a while for me to get back to you life has been very busy! :) not sure how you can follow the blog I'm new to this! Lol :)

    I'm keeping my eye out for rhe general de brigade rules they sound very interesting!

    The whole basing thing has got me stumped and I'm not sure what to do! Really I know I should take your advice but by the same token I'm thinking if this is going to be a homemade set of rules for me and my mates the basing I've gone for already will work fine.... Problem is I know I'm going to regret it! Lol thankyou for all your help and advice I really appreciate it! I've got an exciting blog update coming soon hopefully in the next few days :)