David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Problems and Solutions

As I mentioned in the previous Blog there are no games planned now in GHQ until the end of the month: Phil is away and Jon is too busy with work to spare the time. I have a couple of weeks to myself, so I've decided to apply myself to a couple of issues which have been nagging away at me in respect of my Wars of the French Revolution project. These are hardly big issues I should say first, but they have been things I've been thinking about off and on for a good while now.
Firstly, the issue of 'vignettes' to fill up the base line and give some feeling of reality to the whole look of the battlefield. Now, in my ACW collection for example, I have loads of bits and bobs to fill in the spaces which almost inevitably will appear as the game unfolds. But, for the WFR project to date I have nothing. Skip back a few weeks to Derby Worlds and I took steps to begin righting this void. From Dave Thomas I bought two Perry Miniatures French sets ~ Generals and ADCS ~ which will give me two groups of four figures, one seated around a table scribbling orders and one of a determined looking general and his staff. Strictly the uniforms are too late of course, but careful painting and posing should help minimise that. In the bag of goodies I collected from Trent Miniatures there turned out to be some spare Austrian officers. I also  had bought a whole heap of 'bits' from Irregular, which I forgot to mention in the relevant blog post, and amongst that was a table, bench and chair. The result, a little vignette of senior officers gathered around their maps planning their next move ~

The maps I found by searching on the Net for C18th maps of Flanders which I then reduced to an appropriate size. Pointless in many respects, but I know at least that they are appropriate and that level of detail on so small a piece is well beyond my skills now a days! The piece needs to be matt varnished, but I'll wait until I have a few more done to break out the fan heater and the spray cans!
The second thing which has been occupying my thoughts off and on since Monday's game is the issue of representing skirmishers on the table top. Now, as I understand it, Blackpowder does not require you to depict skirmishers at all, but I like the games to look right. When I looked back over the snaps I'd taken the individual figures loosely grouped just didn't look like I thought they should. I'd got a few oval MDF bases in stock, and Phil gave me a few more, so I began experimenting with the figures and the detritus I'd got from Irregular Miniatures at Derby. I'm quite pleased by the 'vignette look' of these larger bases and at least I feel it looks something like a skirmish screen now. Of course, you may disagree entirely...

Firstly, above, three bases to represent French skirmishers. I've taken some close up pictures of each base, so I'll discuss them in a minute. Secondly, below, some Austrian skirmishers, attempting to cordon off their French opposing numbers ~

Turning first to the bases of French figures: they comprise a number of figures from packs of French Elites in bicorn firing and the French Infantry Firing Line, an officer from the Royalist Vendee figure set, two kneeling Elites, which I don't think are generally available yet, and one Light Infantry figure kneeling ~

On each base I placed one item from the bag of Irregular Miniatures goodies, the three figures, some odd stone pieces from the original bases, and a few discreet tufts.

Now, I know I shall need more bases than this, so next year I will be picking up other figures to paint up and base in a similar style. I believe that Matt made some distinct Skirmishing French figures for Duncan, indeed, they may even now be cast up. Mixed with others of the types already used I hope it will give me a more satisfactory looking French Skirmish screen in future games.

The Austrians are from the German Infantry firing line packs. I had five spare figures for each of the two Line Infantry Regiments I had already painted up, hence the bases of three and two figures. I'd no spare officers at that time, but I don't feel that's an issue with these bases anyway. I just happened to have the French officers going spare!

I have some suitable spares also for the forthcoming Hungarian Infantry I have in the painting queue, so I shall mount these on similar sized and styled bases to complete the 'look' I'm after for the armies once deployed on the tabletop ~

They won't appear though for a couple of months! First up I'm working on two Brigade Command stands for the British Infantry part of the Allied army and the three Austrian Dragoons I bought to bring the unit up to strength! I also plan to tackle my fourth British Infantry battalion for the 1914 project as I see Phil has started his Germans! I've also got three camp cooking pieces from Irregular which can appear in several periods camp scenes I hope. That's October spoken for, at the very least, so we'll see how it goes! I'd appreciate any feedback on either mini project idea which might help me develop my thinking and improve the end product, so do comment if you feel you can add anything to the pot!


  1. Great stuff so more visually appealing than individual figures scattered about in front of the unit, yes they should be represented in BP if you wish to use the tactic, most folk appear to take the light company figures from the main unit, but I think it looks better using additional figures like you. Nice command vignette, it may inspire the little lead men to better things next outing.

    1. Thanks for putting me right there Phil? I will continue with these vignette style bases in future.

  2. They look nice David and do have more visual appeal then singles.


    1. Thanks Christopher, glad you agree with my thoughts on these type of bases.

  3. David,

    They look brilliant! I hope I may copy this idea?


  4. Thanks very much,Bill. Of course you may copy the idea, I probably did...