Yes, I’m as surprised by the appearance of Napoleonic troops on my blog as you are. I blame Wargames Illustrated.
I was all set to fill March with a series of apocalypse themed posts whilst wryly claiming that they were as unrelated to Brexit as the closure of a Honda factory, and then Wargames Illustrated give me some free Napoleonic cavalry. Even though I deftly palmed them off on Pete so quickly that I didn’t even count them in my tally, the seed was sown. Before long, I was flicking through Osprey books, sitting down in front of Sharpe and digging out a project I haven’t touched in over a year.
Fortunately, I had abandoned these five militia at the halfway stage, and getting them completed wasn’t as much of a pain as it could have been. However, I have been keenly reminded of the special part of hell reserved for whoever it was that designed Napoleonic uniforms.
Remember the patch on the packs?
Whose bloody idea was that? I need to freehand lettering on every single soldier!
The keen-eyed amongst you will notice that this says NY, for the New York militia, rather than US for the US army. New York was the most heavily involved state militia in the conflict (although Kentucky list more men due to several massacres by the natives they were fighting) and handily have a uniform that allows them to blend in with the US regulars.
The models are from Matchlock Miniatures and are single pose, chunky figures with a somewhat Frankenstein feel to them.
I’ve also painted this officer, which came in with a bundle of figures I bought off eBay. I’ve no idea of the manufacturer, although it’s noticeably smaller than the Matchlock sculpts, and I’ve no idea whether it is even a War of 1812 model.
However, the uniform is vaguely similar to an image I’ve found of an officer of engineers, and so he’s been co-opted as either that role or as a militia officer who’s designed his own uniform.
This leaves my rump force for Sharp Practice just two officers and a single unit away from completion, although I’d prefer to have a more suitable officer for either the Rifles or the Frontiersmen than the Engineer (I see him attached to artillery). Also, the remaining unit is cavalry, and you know how I feel about them...
My plan, should I ever actually play Sharp Practice, is to merge my infantry into one unit which in theory will look like an ad he scouting force, but will probably look more like a group of re-enactors than a realistic military unit. However, I’m trying to get by with what I have.
If Sharp Practice doesn’t materialise as gaming opportunity (I need someone to fight, after all), there is now an alternative in the form of A Song Of Drums & Shakos from Ganesha Games, which is a true skirmish game for around a dozen models per side.
This scale is handy because that is approximately how many Napoleonic British that Matt has painted, and so the opportunity arose for me to actually play a game with my Americans.
My force was as follows:
1 Infantry Officer
1 Infantry NCO
6 Line Infantrymen
Matt’s British were:
1 Infantry Officer
4 Centre Coy Infantrymen
The first game was about getting to know the rules, but after weathering a storm of rifle shots, my clump of line infantry met with Matt’s and came off better, even chasing down and killing his officer. This ultimately led to Matt’s force breaking, and so on the second game I decided to take some pictures to record my second glorious victory...
...well, that was the plan...
Taking advantage of leadership bonuses from the officer and NCO didn’t help much when I rolled double 1 and failed to active on my first turn.
I eventually got moving and the US riflemen proved how dangerous the marksman rule was by killing one of if the British line infantry.
However, not to be outdone, the 95th Rifles won the skirmish battle by killing two of their American counterparts.
With their skirmishers gone, the line infantry had to advance into the teeth of the enemy and took heavy fire.
Despite taking casualties, a presentable line was formed and lead flew in both directions, however, the Americans struggled to to more than force the British to recoil.
Although this looks fairly even, there were British riflemen sealing round both flanks.
Ultimately, the Americans were surrounded, hemmed in and forced to surrender by accurate British fire.
That’ll teach me to start taking photos.
The game is quick to learn and easy to remember, and there was very little rulebook flipping in the second game. The activation rules are cagey as you try to maximuse you chances of success. Matt’s higher quality Rifles has more freedom, but my officer and NCO giving bonuses and group orders to the line infantry was a deadly combination.
I think the game will really shine when we start playing scenarios with specific objectives, and I think the model count is accessible enough to encourage others into the period. Both Matt and I have found a bit of motivation to paint more models from the fact that even a couple of models are useable and can change the way the game plays.
I think this is something we are going to play more of.
That’s it for now, but for those who care, the tallies are as follows:
It’s getting healthier, but the impending arrival of the 7TV: Apocalypse Kickstarter is not going to help at all. Looks like I need to build those cavalry.