Saturday, 31 October 2009

Numbers. More Lace Wars.

I've got all my ducks in a row for my next casting session, which will be Monday. It's really important to work out all the unit sizes, and the poses required, before one tackles the job of pouring the metal. I intend to cast a few more of each pose than I shall actually paint and use, but it really helps to know how many are needed, so as to avoid the temptation of getting carried away on a favourite pose. I do speak from experience here...

I have to cast and paint both sides of this fictitious conflict, so any idea of large units and lots of them, isn't really on the cards. First of all I have to set a limit to the number of units I shall have, and of what type. If this is not done, I shall likely be overwhlemed as the task runs away from me.

So, two armies.

The Mounted General figure will be for high ranking officers only; Brigade officers and the Army Generals. I intend to have one Army General for each side, and three Brigade officers, two for the Infantry and one for the Cavalry. So a minimum of eight casts then. Not a lot of use from that mould really, so lucky that I got it cheap during one of Prince August's periodic "give away prices" sales.

Each Army's Foot contingent will consist of 4 x Infantry regiments, 2 x Grenadier regiments, and 2 x Light Infantry battalions.

Each Infantry regiment will consist of 24 figures, including an Officer, Standard Bearer and Drummer. Added to that total will be a mounted (or dismounted, depending on how democratic he feels) Colonel. That's a total of 100 figures, 4 of them mounted, per Army.

Then there're the Grenadiers, which will have the same organisation; they will need 50 castings, 2 of which will be mounted.

The Light Infantry battalions will consist of 12 figures each, but not include a Standard Bearer or the Mounted Colonel. I need to get a Bugler mould for these, so I'll be browsing eBay for one, and only forking out PA prices if I am unlucky there. So 24 figures per Army.

The Cavalry has to be downsized, I now feel. Initially I had intended to use 16 castings per squadron, but frankly the figures are large and a unit of 16 has quite a big footprint on the table top. Too big, really. So I've dropped their Order of Battle to 12, including all command. Each Army was to have 2 squadrons of Heavy Cavalry and 1 of Light Cavalry (Dragoons), each with the same contingent of 12 castings. 36 castings per Army. Again, I need to get another mould for the Dragoon; I'm thinking the Mounted Cavalryman, Raised Carbine, here.

The Artillery are next. Here I am not going to bother with limbers and horses. Again, with 40mm figures I feel the unit footprint on the table top is just too large. So two guns and 12 crew per battery, plus a battery commander (on foot). I'd originally gone for 1 gun per battery, but feel that would make them too flexible and powerful. Two batteries (4 guns) per Army seems about right for the overall force sizes. So aside from the guns, that's 26 figures per Army.

So the total number of figures to be cast is 8 guns, (already done), 8 Mounted Generals, 72 Cavalry, 200 Foot. 100 Grenadiers, 48 Light Infantry and 52 Artillery Gunners. That's if my maths is OK.

As regards uniforms, I am playing this by ear. I have some ideas, and basically my usual approach is to clean up a couple of castings and paint them up as a uniform colour template, as it were. When I am happy with that unit's colour scheme, I clean the rest of the castings for the unit and then finish it off.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

40mm Home Cast Fictional Lace Wars

I've toyed with the idea of abandoning this time-consuming project and selling these moulds off a few times now, but finally made the decision to carry on. The argument winner here was that not long ago, I managed to find two great moulds; the Marching Foot Shouldered Arms, and the Marching Grenadier Shouldered Arms.

These are two iconical Holger Ericsson poses, made famous in their 30mm Spencer Smith manifestations in both Brig. Young's Charge and Charles Grant's The War Game.

I also dug up some old style HE Cavalry Command moulds; the Trumpeter and Standard Bearer, as well as a generic Mounted Officer Pointing with Sword.

Thus armed with my new enthusiasm, I went on a casting spree and knocked out most of this little lot in a couple of days last month. It's still a very cheap project. I have around a hundred weight of white metal, which was boosted by our gardener finding around 20 lbs of roofing lead in one of our flower beds out front.

The figures at the front are the Marching Foot, Shouldered Arms. I've not cast any of the Marching Grenadiers as yet, but don't anticipate any problems, as the mould is unused.

I had originally settled on units of 20 (including Drummer, Standard Bearer and NCO), plus the Colonel. However, those small battalions seem to lack presence on the tabletiop, even for 40mm figures. So now I've settled on units of 24, including Standard Bearer, Drummer and NCO, and a Colonel, 25 in total.

I've decided on squadron sizes of 16, including all command, for the Cavalry. That's really a compromise as they are large figures and take up a lot of room on the table. Artillery will be a gun and six figures per battery.

There & Back Again.

Well, after a gap of many months, and one momentous life-changing decision, the Poacher has returned, albeit in another form.

This blog represents a move away from the topic featured in my previous one, and will concentrate instead on a wonderful pastime that has remained my principal hobby for as long as I can recall: Wargaming.

I wargame with miniatures and boardgames, although circumstances have now seen a drastic reduction in the eras gamed, and armies used. I have also largely moved away from the historical side, now only gaming ACW and Ancients as historical periods.

The rest of my gaming is now centered around totally fictitious clashes in various eras, 18th century Lace Wars, 17th Centry Musket & Pike, Modern Jungle Warfare and a rather fun World War II era game, based on Charles Grant's Battle, where I happily mix various nations' equipment in my two armies, based simply on the notion of whether I like the look of it.

It is a wonderfully liberating experience, freeing oneself from the strait-jacket of a historical perspective. Gone are all the arguments, internal and external, about who were the good guys and bad guys. Gone are the arguments about the correct colour to paint the tanks and uniforms (in my WW2-era game, one side are Green, the other Brown). Gone are all the worries about the correct OOB for the armies. I make up my own, so I decide if they are correct.

Even with the historical periods that I do play, ACW and Ancients, I use highly stylised and, in the case of ACW, very old-fashioned rules. Purists may well shudder. For Ancients I use Command & Colors: Ancients, the wooden block boardgame designed by Richard Borg, which is fun, fast and furious, and probably not too bad from a historical perspective, if that's important.

My ACW gaming is based around a slightly modified set of Featherstone rules dating from the early 'sixties. Anyone familiar with Games Workshop Fantasy Battles will have no problem with them at all. The figures for the ACW games are old Spencer Smith 30mm plastics, or the newer metal versions, painted in an old-fashioned glossy toy soldier style. These armies are due for serious expansion soon, especially as John Preece (of Flanderkin Serjeant fame), a good gaming friend, passed me a load of wonderful SAE metal figures which have not been available in the range for around 30-40 years.