Mission Statement

To help me focus on war gaming the latter half of the 19th century and track my own progress thereby creating and indeed furthering my desire to get on with it. Hopefully without too many distractions.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Basing, basing, basing! Part 2

So I left it part 1 with the various rule sets I had collected, a brief summary of each of these, but, each recommending various basing conventions.

Also, as previously mentioned I had a nightmare deciding on exactly how to base my miniatures and what that base would represent.

I therefore experimented... A lot.

It has taken me a long time to finally rest on a basing convention since buying the Baccus FPW figures. Too long, which has meant I haven't actually gamed the FPW with my own figures as yet which is frustrating.

But I have, this morning, ordered a load of laser cut 2mm MDF bases from East Riding Miniatures.

I will explain what I have ordered (base sizes) shortly and how and why I came to this conclusion. But, first, I wanted to show you the experiments, so without further ado, actual photos of miniatures;

First off we have the recommended Volley & Bayonet 3 inch by 3 inch base:

The Prussians

And the French

The artillery bases for V&B are 1 1/2 inch by 3 inch as below:

Prussian battery

I hasten to mention I initially went with the Baccus recommended 60mm by 30mm but I don't have any photos of these. I then re-based these for V&B. this was my first change of heart.

Then I had my second change of heart on thought to use 30mm by 30mm for all (apart from limbers) as you will see below:

A Bavarian 30mm by 30mm infantry base

Two French batteries on 30mm by 30mm bases

Then I had my 3rd change of heart and thought about using the V&B artillery bases as the bases for all:

A Prussian Jaeger battalion skirmishing on the edge of some woods

So as you can, it was an agonising journey that I went on and for a year or so after buying different bases, different rule sets and reading ever more about the period I finally came to some conclusions that I feel I should have reached before buying the figures.

So my advice to anyone getting started in miniature war games or just starting a new project, read as much as you can about the period, buy several rule sets and give them a good read over. Think about and decide upon, how you would like your battles to look, and what level of manoeuvre element you want to represent on a base.

Once you have decided a rule set and level of play, the rule set will offer up its own basing recommendation though you don't, by any means have to adopt. However, my advice is, if you want to be gaming as soon as possible, just go with what your favourite rule set says, every time. It makes things easier, and don't try to over think it!

Then and only then should you buy figures, bases, flags etc. this will make things soo much easier and save time and money and too many wargames projects going on the back burner!

After doing all this reading, with the figures laying idly in a box file, I decided on how I want my games to look and what I wanted to represent on the wargames table.

Firstly, I wanted to be able to play games at the grand tactical level. Secondly I wanted to be able to represent the French Imperial phase in August 1870 and campaign this first phase of the war. Thirdly, I had decided that 1 base should represent a battalion. This made most sense to me in respect of wanting to play at the grand tactical level but also offered flexibility for lower level scenarios and games. That is why I decided against Volley & Bayonet in the end. I didn't feel the regimental bases offered as much flexibility.

So what did I decide upon I hear you ask!?

Well, I was saved by Zouave II by Bob Jones. This one of the last rule sets I read, and in it, the rules recommended a 2 inch by 1 inch basing system for infantry and artillery, and 1inch hex for artillery.

I didn't go with V&B basing as the bases and my idiocy allowed the bases to absorb too many figures. The 60mm by 30mm basing recommended by Baccus felt too clumsy - it just didn't feel right. The 30mm by 30mm bases felt too square, I'm not a fan of purely square bases, and just a bit too small. The 3inch by 1 1/2 inch bases that the Jaegers are on felt too large a frontage still, too rectangular if that makes sense.

So I gave the 2 inch by 1 inch a go and, like Goldilocks, it felt just right.

I have now received my large order of bases on this theme. Bob Jones also suggests using different shapes to represent different troop types. So infantry are on 2 inch by 1 inch tablets, limbers on same size but oval, artillery on 1 inch hexes, cavalry on same size rectangles and skirmishers ( Chasseurs a pied and Jaegers) on same size pill bases. All of these are available from East Riding Miniatures who will add any sizes you want to their website. Just email Tony.

French Imperial line infantry battalion

For me the 2inch by 1 inch base allows for some degree of mass, you can easily see the amazing detail on of the Baccus figures and you can still make it look like an action base!

I am now very happy with this basing convention and have enough painted figures on the rack now, to be able to fulfil corps very quickly and get gaming with my own figures for the first time in a couple of years. Somewhat and sadly excited by this prospect.

This has been a torturous learning curve. But also, I feel an important one in terms of experience in the hobby itself.

The 2 inch by one inch basing convention will now become my preference for my 6mm war gaming. It makes most sense to me personally but no doubt other people will have very different ideas.


Sunday, 27 July 2014

Basing, Basing, Basing!

Basing, basing, basing! Part 1

I started to read about Bismarcks wars sometime ago starting with Wawro's treatise on the Franco-Prussian war. This work fascinated me, the era fascinated me and I started to read more and more about the era including Wawro's treatise on the Austro-Prussian war and Michael Howard's work on the Franco-Prussian War. I was hooked and highly recommend these books to anyone interested in military history. Reading about 19th century Europe post 1815 will also give the historian a much greater understanding of the events of the twentieth century, particularly the opening conflicts in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fourteen.

So about 3 years ago, I picked up a load of Baccus 6mm FPW. These figures are amazingly detailed that paint up easily and naturally look good.

However, things are never as straight forward as just picking up nice figures. As I soon learnt.

Basing your figures and the decision therefore, how to base them exactly, and for which rule sets can be a real minefield. Painting the figures was not the problem. But basing them, we'll, I went through so many changes of heart I ended up all a'flummoxed and decided to put yet another war games project on the back burner.

However, my interest did not dwindle as it sometimes does when you put war games projects on the back burner.

My interest remained and even grew. So I bought various rule sets specifically for this era. These included Polemos FPW - a great little set which lends itself very favourably to house rules and focuses on the grand tactical with one base representing a battalion, regiment, or under strength brigade.

I also acquired a copy of They Died For Glory. A great set but I decided I wanted to focus on the grand tactical rather than multi-stand battalions and different formations at this level.

I then acquired the outstanding rule set by Bruce Weigle - 1870, published by Medieval Miscellanea and available in the UK through Caliver Books. I highly recommend this not only as a great set of grand tactical rules but equally as a reference works for the period. The information about the period contained in this rule set is fantastic. With details on all the weapons, tactics, chronology, scenarios (which can be played consecutively as a campaign!) and orbats for all sides. Fantastic! I have since bought the other rule books available by this author; 1866 and 1859. 1859 includes rules for 1864 also - even more fantastic!

Then I bought Volley & Bayonet, also through Caliver Books, a great set of grand tactical rules with big bases that represent a regiment/brigade. They are focused on the Napoleonic wars but with excellent suggestions for post-Napoleonic engagements.

The next sets was Zouve II. A fantastic set of grand tactical rules specifically for this era in the same way that the 1870 rules are by Bruce Weigle. The author, Bob Jones, of Piquet fame, has sold Piquet to Brent Oman and Bob Jones has gone onto evolve two new sets of revolutionary rules, The rules mentioned above, Zouave II, and Die Fighting. The second edition for Die Fighting is now being produced, in video format! And Die Marching is due to be released as the campaign rules to accompany Die Fighting.

However, returning to the topic of Zouave II, these rules are revolutionary in the way they remove the total control of the war games across every aspect of the entire battlefield. A situation that is still not possible for today's battlefield commanders. Zouave II has a unique, and I believe, excellent way to deal with the fog of a nineteenth century battlefield. Remember, one battle begun, Even Moltke could do little to influence the course of the battle and it's progression and evolution.

Often, Moltke struggled to control one or two of his more obstinate officers even whilst trying to outmanoeuvre the French in August 1870 and these rules reflect that cleverly and enjoyably.

So the final set I purchased is Field Of Battle 2nd Edition, Piquet 1700 - 1900 by the aforementioned Brent Oman.

This is an evolution of the Piquet system but is a complete, easy to use comprehensive stand alone rule set i.e. You don't need the Piquet master rules and then the subsequent add-on books according to period. These are also an intriguing set of rules. However, a battalion consist of four separate stands owing to the fact it has to cope with 200 years of warfare and the significant technological revolutions and therefore the significant evolution of tactics accordingly.

At last, a photo: