Thursday, July 22, 2010

First steps on a loooooong project (with crummy photos)

Devoted readers (hey - there are a few of you) will recall from February that Fawcett-Conscript-West Consigliere Curt has outlined a challenge where both he and I will build up a 25mm force to play a game of Black Powder - a new and rather grand set of rules for the horse & musket era.

I certainly love Napoleonics, and the proliferation of new rules as well as new figures in the 25mm/28mm scale (especially plastics!) has for some time now been causing me to do a few figs here and a few figs there. I have a huge hoard of metal Austrians from Foundry, and some others from companies like Front Rank and Sash & Sabre.

I had always thought one day I would paint these up and base them for Shako. And the Perry French I have painted so far are also based for Shako. Shako is not perfect, but it's pretty good, and I hoped that one day these models would see action with our group.

New rules like Lasalle and Black Powder are certainly changing the calculus. Lasalle offers real battalion-level battles, and an infinitely larger scope of scenarios. It also has drawbacks, but is pretty innovative. Black Powder is another game that does away with the pretension of representing all or even half of the very large battles which are so often a feature of Shako, and instead allows for you - even encourages you - to focus on a smaller action.

The spirit of these games is great. But they also challenge you in another way, especially if you want to do 25mm. The units are much larger - and in the case of Black Powder, really large. An average battalion in Shako is 18 foot models. An average one in Lasalle is 24, and in Black Powder, an average battalion can be as many as 36 foot models!

I have divided feelings about this. No question the large units look really, really cool. And I salute the desire to move away from "Let's do Quatre-Bras" and toward "let's do part of the advance guards from two armies clunking into each other one day in 1809". But wow - so many figures.....Black Powder (the rules are beautiful - I recommend getting them just to see the book) is really a rules set for people who have studio armies. And full credit to the authors - they don't think they are better than you, and they tell you to go nuts with any scale or basing size you want, as long the sides are consistent. Lasalle also goes out of its way to present ways to play in different scales with different base sizes. But to really capture the rules, you need to go the way they do. I'm just not sure that is practical for the long term.

Nonetheless, I have undertaken the challenge with Curt to do the units for a scenario that is small - three foot units, two cavalary units and an artillery battery. Even so, scaling for Black Powder, I will need to paint 120 foot castings just to represent the infantry! Then there will be cavalry, skirmishers and artillery....but I said I would do it, so time to start.

I already have a unit of Foundry Napoleonic Austrians based for Shako, but that won't work for our approach to Black Powder, so it's back to the hoard-o-metal, and square one.

My first unit will be 39 models - 38 foot and one mounted officer. The foot lads will be Sash & Sabre, and the mounted officer will be from Foundry. I mounted and primed 24 foot troops for painting, and polished off four of them last night. Sorry the pictures suck.

The above picture shows the 24 models - just over half of one unit.

Here is one of the "sticks".

This close-up is not too bad. The battalion will be "German" and has red facings. Unfortunately Sash & Sabre do not sell "Hungarian" troops in helmets, but I have some Front Rank guys that will do there. But one unit at a time! I like to think I can paint pretty fast, but this will take awhile. Especially because I struggle to focus.

I am going to try and post a little "counter" of some kind of the blog, to share progress and hopefully maintain some peer pressure on myself to keep at it...and hey, it's a chance for Cam to pile on.

1 comment:

Curt said...

Quit your whining, Burch! If you weren't distracted with silly stuff like Space Brits, RoboBlech and wedding planning you'd be further along with the important things in life. I'll try to get a post out with my progress to date - suffice it to say that my garlic-infused French are massing, whetting their appetites for schnitzel, foamy beer and young boys in lederhosen...