Tuesday, March 13, 2012

On Stability and Flexibility

Lately, in between the periodic interruptions of real life, I've taken a break from paper miniatures and uniform machinations, to think about basing. There are several sets of rules I plan to use for my large battles. The candidates include Ross Macfarlane's "Hearts of Tin," Bob Cordery's "The Portable Wargame," and "Volley and Bayonet" by Chadwick and Novak.

I chose these rule sets because they focus on battalion- or brigade-scale games, and I love the look of large units on the table. All three use figures based on multi-figure bases, in various sizes. Here's what I've come up with.

Taking the direction set by the scenarios in Grants "Scenarios for Wargames," I'll distinguish between regular infantry and light infantry. Grant suggests that the number of figures in light infantry units should be about half those in regular units. While the number of figures per stand makes no difference in any of these rules, I figured the guidance was still a good one to follow, to let me easily tell line units from their supporting skirmisher units.

The standard line unit will include twenty-two infantry figures and a mounted officer, mounted on 30mm x 30mm stands. This configuration is in the middle of the picture below. Light infantry will include twelve infantry figures, chosen and arranged to represent skirmishers, also mounted on 30mm x 30mm stands. A typical light infantry unit is at the bottom of the picture.

I have enough figures to allow me to field one or two units per side at a larger muster. These units will consist of thirty infantry figures and one mounted commander, on 40mm x 30mm stands. I haven't decided what, if any, game effect these larger units will have compared to their smaller line infantry units.

These figures are temporarily mounted on card stock bases, using putty normally used to mount posters on walls. This allows me to experiment with base sizes quickly. I should say that I tried several other schemes, but settled on this approach because it fit my collection of figures very well, gave me nice, chunky, "heavy" looking units, and allowed me to use these based units for all three rule sets of interest. More on that in a moment.

Below are the same three units, in profile. Those thirty figure units are particularly impressive, to my eye.

A little more detail now. The picture below shows a typical line infantry unit, in line formation. The standard bearers and mounted commander are central to the unit. Drummers are to the rear, and an NCO flanks each end of the rear rank.

The same unit, in square. The two flank stands have been withdrawn behind the middle stands, and faced to the rear.

Attack column. I made a small mistake when taking this picture. If I were to swap the rear rank stands, the NCOs would still flank the rear rank, as I'd intended. This configuration of stands will also be used when playing Volley and Bayonet, which uses square unit stands.

The same stands, but arranged as two infantry units for The Portable Wargame. I intend to play The Portable Wargame on a 3" hex map, which will fit two stands very nicely in each hex. Notice that the arrangement of the command figures allows me to configure each such that the standards or officer still form the center of each sub-unit. Each has a single NCO, still flanking the rear rank.

Basing up my figures temporarily has three more advantages. First, I can make deliberate choices about precisely which figures of each type I'll use for each unit. I have a few more figures of each type than I need, and this lets me separate the figures I'll use from the spares. Second, it lets me assemble the armies, possibly play games with them, and then quickly take them off their temporary bases for painting, a unit at a time. Finally, and very importantly, this approach allows me to play with storage options.

I have some hard, separate-top boxes that I plan to line with magnetic sheet, allowing me to place the permanent metal based units in safely and securely. This experiment shows me that I can fit just over half of the infantry I plan for this collection into the bottom of one box. One more box, or possibly a second level built into this one, will be enough to store the remainder of the collection: remaining infantry, cavalry, artillery and commanders.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Experiments in Uniformology, Brown and Yellow

Two more uniform experiments, whipped up on a break. The first is the yellow uniform suggested by Ross and Abdul.

I like this very much. It's colorful, unusual, and will make the entire Baden-Hundsheim army quite vibrant, alongside the red and blue "Turks" and the purple Ducal Guards. I decided to color the small clothes and the banner in the facing color, along the lines of the Hanoverian practice. And because I didn't want to rework the script on the flag, which would have faded away into a yellow banner.

Here's the BIG downside, however: I find yellow a monstrous pain to paint. And there would be a lot of yellow in an army painted this way.

Next, brown uniforms similar to the ones I prototyped originally. These, too, are very smart. I intentionally used a very dark shade of brown, to lend a more "intentional" feel, as opposed to uniforms that appeared to be made of whatever common cloth was at hand. I'm not thrilled with an army full of brown standards, however. I'd choose something else if I went with this uniform color.

I have some thinking to do. I think I'll just let these designs marinate in my noggin for a while, and see what I think after that.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Experiments in Uniformology

Experiment #1: darker purple uniforms.

Between the white gaiters (thanks Abdul), the darker purple and changing the facing to the complementary yellow, I'm liking these. I changed the small clothes to blue as well, in order to tie them more closely to their "Turkish" allies. I'm happy enough with this color scheme to be pretty sure I'll be painting up a unit this way, to see how they look in metal. Worst case scenario: you're looking at a battalion of the Ducal Guard.

Experiment #2: black uniforms.

Another sharp design. I changed out the banner to white, and made the small clothes red because I liked the red, black and white together. The downside is this: the Formulgalan infantry will be in grey, with red small-clothes. The identical small-clothes aside, I'd have one army in (more or less) black, and the other in grey. Not colorful enough, I think.

So, the experiments continue. I'll try Ross' suggestion of yellow uniforms next. I do like the look of the drummer from the "black" experiment very much, and that's close to what they'll look like.

More as I play around.

Friday, March 2, 2012

On Uniforms and the Military Mind

As followers of the blog will know, I'd settled on uniform coats of purple and grey for the infantry of my two imagi-nations. I was quite pleased with them. Or so I thought.

Lately, however, I've been looking, and re-looking, at those colored paper soldier mockups and the colored templates from Not By Appointment I made up. In particular, I was less happy with the purple uniforms, especially when beside their red-coated Turkish allies, the more I looked at them.

Now I do like the purple because it's regal, and because it's novel. There were no purple-uniformed troops during the real world 18th century that I'm aware of. But therein lies part of the problem. They look a little too fanciful, as I look at them now.

And so I've started tinkering with uniform colors again.

I am happy with the dove grey Formulgalan uniforms. I think they will look smart, and the militia can be painted in a darker (presumably coarser) grey cloth to make them seem cheaply outfitted and still fit the army style well.

As an experiment, I started with the red and blue "Turkish" uniforms I like so much and decided to have a try with red uniforms, along a sort of Hanoverian line, for the Baden-Hundsheim infantry. I darkened the red for the Turkish jackets, but perhaps not enough to be really noticeably different from the new line infantry jackets. I've changed the standards to red as well, for now. I suspect some lighter color (white, yellow, etc.) may look better, or I may keep the purple standards.

I've also been thinking about the size of my miniature units, and more on that later, but I put together a couple of quick mock-ups at twenty-four figures per unit, and another showing a Baden-Hundsheim and Turkish unit on the field together, to see how they struck me.

First, the newly crimson Baden-Hundsheim line infantry.

Next, their "Turkish" provincial troops.

And finally, the two units advancing together.

Your thoughts and opinions are most welcome.