Wednesday, April 3, 2013

War of Spanish Succession - 6mm

British infantry for the WSS period from Baccus, 6mm
Curt's painting challenge is over but I'm still focused on historical figures these days.  For something new I dug up something old - a purchase from a couple of years ago from Baccus, makers of a very diverse line of 6mm figures - a War of Spanish Succession starter kit.  The kit comes with everything you need to try their "Polemos" rules system - two starter armies (French and British) complete with bases, painting guides and even flags, a rule book, errata and play sheet for said rulebook, and even a few buildings to give you a bit of terrain to get going in 6mm.

An excellent read, got me interested in this period
I purchased this after reading "Blenheim - Battle For Europe" by Charles Spencer (itself an impulse buy made one day at Chapters).  I really enjoyed the book and I recommend it highly.  It is well-written, very engaging, transporting you to a fascinating time in Europe's history when the succession of the Spanish throne to King Louis IV's relative set the table for French hegemony in Europe and a war lasting over 10 years, covering many parts of the continent, to prevent it.

The main elements of my WSS French "starter army" from Baccus out on parade on the table
This was of course the time of that great Captain from British history, the Duke of Marlborough, and his Imperial ally Eugene of Savoy.  Drama, muskets, tricornes, cannons, cavalry, fancy uniforms, great characters, Dutch squishiness, Gallic egos, British treachery, flip-flopping electors, the Holy Roman Empire, confusing little patchworks of German states that somehow have armies, political infighting - the War of Spanish Succession really has it all!

Field artillery

The guns and crew are on a 30mm square MDF base
One of the things I like about 6mm is that is an easy way to try out new periods.  The uniforms in this era are quite dramatic - tricornes, lace, belt loops, etc.  Some French regiments seemed to use pocket styles as a way to stand out!  But 6mm lets you dodge out little details like that and focus on the main parts.  That's one of the reasons this product appealed to me - 6mm seemed like a safe way to "dabble". 

French C-in-C stand - again on 30mm square MDF base
I had painted a few of the French infantry back when I originally received the package, but the project got shelved when I moved two years ago, and did not re-emerge until I was rummaging around and lining up stuff to paint for Curt's painting challenge.  Over the past couple of weeks I have re-based the previously finished figures and moved ahead with finishing the rest.

French cavalry wing - three regiments of horse in the fist line, a lonely regiment of dragoons in the second line
So far I have finished most of the French starter army, and one solitary base of British troops.  Each army comprises eight units of infantry, six units of horse, four units of dragoons, four artillery pieces and a group of officers.  You also get figures to represent your dragoons in a dismounted deployment.

French horse on the left of the picture, a dragoon regiment in the centre; French dragoons of this era had funky, "toque" style head gear
Polemos puts each unit on one base - 60mm x 30mm rectangles for infantry and cavalry units, and 30mm squares for artillery and officers etc.  You base the infantry in slightly different styles to represent their style of musket fire - either the a prest "school" or Dutch "school" of musket drill.  The French infantry ("a prest" school") are in three ranks of eight figures, while the British infantry ("Dutch" school) are in two ranks of 12 figures stretching right across the base.

French infantry regiments

More French infantry - the fellows in the back at left (in red) are Irish troops fighting for Louis!
I give Baccus a lot of credit for a neat gaming product here.  I like gaming products that give a player "everything they need" to get started, so-to-speak.  Battlefront (whatever I think of their rules) is a good example of this, and Games Workshop will do that the odd time.  Warlord is starting to do that a little more too.  With Baccus, between the website and the rulebook that came with the starter package, there were a number of easy to access resources in terms of getting started with the painting while doing some more in depth research.

The Baccus castings are also nice.  I still rate Adler as top of the class for 6mm, but these are not bad at all.  Lots of character in the little figures, and fun to paint.

Senior generals lead the infantry in the centre
As compared to, say, the Napoleonic period, the military thinking in the War of Spanish Succession was much more rigid.  There was a "campaign season". Your army rarely fought pitched battles.  Steady sieges of Vauban fortifications were more likely campaign features.  If you met your enemy in pitched battle, you had your infantry in the centre, and cavalry in the wings.  And you had A LOT of cavalry, who's job was to stop the other guy's cavalry.  Your infantry had two formations, line, or line. :)

Another view of French cavalry - the unit at the back are Dragoons, with bright yellow uniforms

The building (and base) also came from Baccus with the starter pack; there are two more buildings and they are quite nice
Still, with all of that rigidity, a lot of interesting and very large battles - like Blenheim - took place as Europe struggled to contain Louis and his ambitions.  But I'm a looooong way from Blenheim or anything like that - these starter armies would represent a small section of the front line in that battle.  My hope is to get these done and try a much smaller engagement - whether using the Polemos rules or (more likely), Black Powder.

The British "starter army" waits their turn for priming and painting
The French are getting there, and then I will get cracking on the British.  I hope it will all be ready for a game at Dallas' new place sometime this summer!


Ray Rousell said...

Its a great period to play and Bacuus are some of the best 6mm figures out there!!

Monty said...

This looks brilliant - I really like the thought of these starter army/campaign packs, too - nice one ;)

Dallas said...

Bonkers, sir! Totally bonkers! I heartily approve!

Ian said...

I really like how you have done these. I think Baccus win over Adler, overall when you consider it from a point of getting an army on the table. Though Adler are the better proportioned and detailed figures. I am happy using both


Curt said...

Lovely work Greg! I can't wait to give these a try in the near future.

Greg B said...

Thanks guys.

@Curt - these guys would travel well down the TransCanada, I think.

@Ian - good point - there is something about Baccus that allows you to get units ready much faster.

Oswald said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oswald said...

Great to see what you are achieving with the starter set - doing much the same thing myself at the moment. French painted Brits half way there. Can't wait to get them on the table and give the Polemos rules a go. would be keen to know if the Baccus basing compatible with Black Powder as well?

Greg B said...

@ Oswald - thanks for your comments.

In terms of scenarios, I will probably start with ones that are small and likely fictionaly i.e. the Allies are laying seige to a town somewhere in Flaners, and must hold off a small French relief army to ensure the town falls.

I will also probably try breaking down some of the larger battles i.e. play Marlborough's attack on the Franco-Bavarian centre at Blenheim, as opposed to recreating all of the battle of Blenheim.

In terms of basing, I think Black Powder will work with nearly anything. One downside of the Baccus' style basing is that it limits your depicted formation to line. A way around this would be to o the units up on three 20mm x 30mm rectangles, but I didn't think of this until it was too late :)

But with some bodging, I'm sure the Baccus basing can work with Black Powder - that system is very, very flexible.

Oswald said...

Good to hear that about Black Powder possibly working. I'm all for a bit of bodging ;)

I like the scenario ideas - also provides for some interesting terrain - some saps and mortars perhaps!