Friday, January 9, 2015

First units for Blucher

My first serious miniatures army was 15mm Napoleonics, which I painted while I was in high school and college.  After a long wargaming hiatus, I decided to sell my 15mm armies and get back into the game with 6mm armies. I found myself unsatisfied with the scale, being unable to tell armies of different nationalities apart at the benchmark three feet, so I sold those units and started over yet again with 10mm.  I enjoyed that scale a lot, but a lack of opponents and a rule set that stirred my passion, and my failure to take advantage of the scale to create larger units cooled my enthusiasm. So when I joined the Ambler Gamers, I happily upgraded to 28mm.  So Napoleonics have the distinction of being the only period I have gamed in four scales.

The immanent publication of Sam Mustafa's Blucher rules caught my eye. I have long wanted to try a game that captures an entire Napoleonic battle, rather than just the maneuverings of one corps (at most) against another.  I looked at Volley and Bayonet, and while I found parts of those rules interesting, there did not seem to be enough substance to the rules to make repeated play desirable.  Blucher's mini-campaign system piqued my interest, and the activation system establishes an unpredictable pool of command resources that promise to add nail-biting excitement to every turn.

The game seems to cry out for big bases filled with small minis. I still had some unpainted 10mm French Guard units from Old Glory in my basement, so I made a few tests with cardstock bases. While I supposed I could have simply played the game with groups of bases from my 28mm figures (they would make nice 80mm x 80mm squares), I wanted the start over, yet again, with 10mm. For those of you keeping score at home, this will be my fifth go at Napoleonic armies.

I have not done Russians yet. So...Russians.  Again from Old Glory, as their OG Army discount is hard to beat for a gamer on a budget.  I chose 3" bases, and I left 3/4" of each base clear so that I could affix a label containing unit information.  I do not have a copy of the rules yet, so these labels, held on with a humble glue stick are just prototypes.

Here are those Old Guard and Guard lancer units that were left over from my previous go at 10mm.  I was able to fit 50 infantry and 14 cavalry on each stand. At this scale, it seems a little ostentatious to have two units of Guard in bearskins, or two units of Guard cavalry with lances (I painted one as Dutch and one as Polish, but still...), I may have half of these units sit on the sideline when it comes time to game, or I may designate them as more generic "Guard" and "Guard light cavalry" units.
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Here are my first Russians.  That's heavy cavalry (dragoons and cuirassiers) in the front and line infantry in the rear. I did not add any skirmishers or integral artillery to the Russians yet. In the late wars, Russian artillery doctrine was starting to favor the formation of grand batteries over parcelling out batteries to individual brigades. I'll probably put a few guns on later units, but for now they are just infantry. As for the skirmishers, I will probably aim for about 33% of my Russian infantry to have skirmisher support, reflecting the rough percentage fo brigades that fielded Jaegers (who may or may not have been effective skirmish troops.  Mine will be).

A view of the French showing the labels.  The Old Guard infantry could certainly have thrown out a skirmish screen, but I made the decision to withold skirmishers from any units likely to be held in reserve at the start of the game.  I want that massive attack column of guardsmen like you see in the movie "Waterloo"!

A similar view of the Russians.  Each infantry stand holds two units of twenty figures each. I experimented with three potential deployments: columns, lines in echelon, and line with rear support. I'll probably continue to use all three to add some visual interest to my armies.

Some cuirassier goodness.

Voici les Grognards!

Next up: some artillery units, line infantry with skirmishers and integral artillery, and perhaps some Russian grenadiers.

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