Saturday, 31 October 2020

Obfuscation

This is the second 'rant' post in a week. I shan't make a habit of it, I promise. This blog should be about figures, books, history, ideas, analysis and games in the Napoleonic era.

I beg your indulgence once more though.

How Not to Stand Out in Any Crowd, Steve Kayser
 

My topic relates, somewhat, to my tongue-in-cheek request last week asking people to post less frequently. As I said, I really enjoy following the blogs of others and derive great joy, knowledge and interest from the marvellous range of figures, games, projects, reviews, campaigns and so forth that are the subject of people's posts. Keep 'em coming.

There is one thing that detracts from this: TLI/TLAs.

Three-letter initialisms or acronyms, where the number three can also be two, sometimes four, occasionally more. I have even seen it done for one! Sheesh.

The Woodchips, by J Daniel

Sadly there is far too much of this in my field (agricultural science). It is not as bad as in medicine, for example, although there are still plenty of times when one reads stuff and thinks, “did that really need to be made into an abbreviation/initialism?” There is enough space. I particularly dislike it as notation for a treatment. I was most pleased to see this topic raised as a concern in a recent issue of Nature.

If it is bad in science, it is out of control in wargaming, particularly wargame rules. Every unit type, factor, test, many of the outcomes; right down to the near ubiquitous use of D6 (gosh, I am guilty of that one!). You find yourself having to flick back to find out what the BMV or UFF was.

It does not stop there. It is done for nearly every war—mind you, I have never see the Napoleonic Wars referred to as NW, thankfully. Just another way in which the period is a cut above the rest, haha?!

The one that really, really drives me bonkers is names of rules. It seems that no-one can resist. Have you tried BP? No, what about NB? Surely you have heard of DBN (which one?) or SII, GNBAS, FOG, B, ESR, BE, GdB, MdE, GdA, GdD, CDB, RtR, L, LB, MA, MN, M&M, NFD, SB, SN, VlE, V&B, GB?

Arrrrrgh! Just write it in full, so everyone knows what the hell you are talking about!

If you won't do that, then please, please take a moment to pause and ask yourself, "do I really need to abbreviate this or to create an initialism?". Is it really understood by all?

Here endeth the rant.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Tom the Wargamer

I was directed to this fabulous young fella's videos thanks to a post on Graham's Scotia Albion blog.


Open and genuine. I encourage you to have a look at his You Tube channel. Perhaps even subscribe? Great stuff from a youngster in the hobby.

Another chip or two

A few more kinder steps with these early French.

 

 

The brown that began with Ottoman Deli cavalry carried on to adding backpacks and musket wood to these before it took me to First World War German infantry!

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

First world problem

When I began blogging, back in the day (2010) it immediately became an enjoyable part of the hobby for me. Equally and increasingly, I came to enjoy reading and looking at other blogs with a wargaming/figure painting/amateur history type of bent. Initially I limited myself to 'follow' those blogs with a focus on Napoleonics or at least a lot of content related to the period. Progressively, and in recent times, exponentially, I have expanded the range and number of blogs that I follow. It is now up to some 359.

 

Hence the title of this post #. I am having trouble keeping up!

(# Unlike many, many words and expressions that are adopted by business, commentators and the public, 'first world problem' is not in my list of the 20 number 1 expressions that I hate. To me it is a modern version of 'poor little rich kid', but I particularly like it as it is self-effacing and a reminder to have a little perspective.)

This is not purely due to the number of interesting blogs that I am trying to follow. I don't know whether it is a factor of many bloggers having more time at home, but some of you are posting several times a week and I need you all to slow down. I could make this 'following' thing a full time job and I do need to get some work done!

All jests aside, I really enjoy the range of content and particularly the excellent photos that people take and post. Besides which, those with a lot of pictures are easier to follow!

Keep it up and long may you all enjoy your hobby and blogging.


Here is a list of the (current) top 20^ number 1 expressions that I hate (in no particular order)

1. Elephant in the room
1. Back in the day
1. Sounds like a plan
1. Like
1. Élite (the best example of this was a sports commentator speaking of ‘élite communication’ on the footy field)
1. Park that
1. Issues board
1. Workshopping
1.Correct
1. At the end of the day
1. Punches above its/his/her weight
1. It is what it is
1. Agile
1. Move forward
1. Take home message
1. Artisan (as in artisan toast)
1. Organic (when it has nothing to do with carbon-based molecules/lifeforms)
1. Evolve organically
1. Not Robinson Crusoe
1. Fake news

(^rapidly expanding to 100: new normal, unprecedented... probably should be in the top 20)

Actually, I do have a number one: elephant in the room. If there *was* an elephant in the room I reckon that I, at least, would point it out. Quite effusively, in fact. I was shocked, surprised and saddened to learn that the origin of this is not 21stC business but likely from Dostoevsky referring to a fable "The Inquisitive Man" written by Ivan Krylov in 1814. Of course, it was not over-used, back in the day.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Fleshing out plans

An extended morning of painting today let me finish applying flesh to 233 early French infantry that are at the forefront of my 15-year plan; focussing my Napoleonic reading, collecting, painting and likely some games or other ‘recreations’ with miniatures around various quasquibicentennial / vigbicentennial^ events of 1796–1815.
^My best attempt at 'latin' terms for the 225th/220th anniversary; pleased to be advised of more appropriate terms.

French revolutionary infantry: undercoated with flesh applied

I really enjoyed the focused activities for the Napoleonic bicentennial, but, not starting until 2010 meant that the Revolutionary and early Empire did not get included (not to mention only re-fighting some of the battles of the latter Empire). I now plan to go back to the 'beginning', starting next year with the 225th anniversary of 1796.

The Revolutionary French infantry that I applied flesh to today will initially represent troops of the Army of Italy, later being pressed into service for the Egyptian campaign (initial phase) as well as part of the forces for the Marengo and 1805 campaigns.

The vast majority of the figures are Strelets' excellent French Line Infantry (Egypt), with half a dozen Hat Napoleonic Early-Mid French Marching, a couple of Italeri French Infantry 1798 - 1805 and four officers from the Hat 1805 French Line Infantry. They took a while to prepare ahead of undercoating with a number of head-swaps and some more major alterations to make drummers and standard bearers.

Hat 1805 French Grenadiers and Voltigeurs, with a pile of fusiliers in the foreground

These early French are now in the pipeline along with the other Napoleonic—early French in greatcoats, Oudinot 'grenadiers', French foot dragoons, early Russian infantry and later French in greatcoats—as well as non-Napoleonic figures that I am painting.

Oudinot 'grenadiers': infanterie légère

Oudinot 'grenadiers': infanterie ligne

1805 French in greatcoat (actually not issued until 1806)

Foot dragoons for 1805
Early Russian infantry

Late French in greatcoat—thrown into the mix


Friday, 3 July 2020

Book review: l'Infanterie de ligne 1796–1810 by André Joineau and Jean-Marie Mongin

I love uniform books; especially Napoleonic and particularly about the French army (doubt that I am alone in that amongst readers of this blog). When I saw this book promoted in an e-newsletter from Éditions Heimdal it took only a quick look at the description on their website before I decided to purchase it. It arrived last week and did not disappoint.

This book is largely a compilation of material from two issues of Soldat magazine (also published by Éditions Heimdal) into a lovely, hardcover, A4 format. True to the title, the book covers French line infantry from 1776 to 1810 with about a quarter of the 160 pages devoted to  pre-1789, around another quarter to uniforms of the revolution and consulate (including the Egyptian campaign, see later) and the remaining half to those of the early to mid-Imperial period. The book is a visual feast with a plethora of pages of full colour drawings of troops in assorted uniforms. I'll summarise these later, but firstly a bit of background that may be of interest.

Readers may recognise André Jouineau's name from the marvellous, soft-cover Napoleonic uniform books that were published by Histoire et Collections. Sadly, that publisher went into receivership in 2012#. Fortunately, the void that they left was filled by Éditions Heimdal. Based in Bayeaux, Éditions Heimdal. originally focussed on the middle ages and world war two, but since 2015 have expanded their range to "... cover history from the bronze age (1800 BCE) through to conflicts of the 21st century." Since that time they have been prolific in the publication of books about uniforms, campaigns and military history, ten of them of the Napoleonic era (a trilogy about the Imperial Guard, French artillery, Dictionary of the Grande Armée, Italians of the Empereur, Swiss in the service of France, Arcole & Rivoli, Egyptian campaign and now line infantry). I recommend them all. Most are in French only, but the trilogy of the Guard, published in 2017–18, has been translated into English. For this recent book, Jouineau combined with Jean-Marie Mongin, with whom he co-authored the magnificent trilogy about the Guard.
[#Pleasingly Histoire et Collections was brought out of receivership by Sophia publications (now renamed Sophia Histoire et Collections) and has been back in operation since 2016, specialising in "...current affairs and military history, vehicle collection and vintage fashion." Their focus are their magazines: Raids, Raids Aviation, Militaria Magazine WingMasters, SteelMasters, Charge Utile, Tracteurs Passion & Collection, Figurines, GBM et Styles Vintage, but they also publish books in both French and English, including their back catalogue.]

Jouineau's illustrations of uniforms, a full 120 pages of them, are the main feature of this book. These show various units, ranks and modes of dress of the line infantry. Images are presented from front side and rear, along with detail of equipment, flags and items of uniform.

Beginning with the late Bourbon era, the initial pages of illustrations show the units that served in America in 1780. This is followed by pages devoted to the regulations of 1786. The uniforms of every unit are illustrated along with accompanying pages showing the uniforms for privates, NCOs, musicians and officers and some of specific uniform items. We then move to the republic with illustrations of each of the initially white-uniformed units, during the 'transition' from the King's army—all shown in profile across nine pages, then to the blue-coated l'infanterie de la republique. This is followed by eleven pages devoted to the special uniforms adopted by the troops in Egypt 1798–1801; a fantastic inclusion for mine.


The uniforms and flags of all regiments according to the provisional regulations of 1791 are illustrated in profile.

Two of the eleven pages of illustrations of demi-brigades in Egypt 1798–1801.

A couple of pages of illustrations show the troops of the consulate before the second half is taken up with the early to mid Empire. Six pages illustrate regulation uniforms before this final section concludes with 50 pages devoted to each of the 3e, 4e, 6e, 7e, 8e, 9e, 12e, 14e, 16e, 17e, 18e, 19e, 21e, 22e, 24e, 26e, 27e, 30e, 33e, 42e, 45e, 46e, 57e régiment d'infanterie de ligne illustrating the variety of dress across time, rank and troop types.

Examples of the pages showing regiments in detail; here we have the 14e and 15e régiment d'infanterie de ligne in their white uniform.

Two of the pages devoted to the 18e régiment d'infanterie de ligne.

Illustrations of items of equipment and uniform add greatly to those of the troops.

Along with these beautiful illustrations, the book features 25 pages of text (in French) interspersed with reproductions of paintings of battles and illustrations of troops (some full-page), along with the bibliography, contents and publication details. The text packs in a lot of detail in support of the images including a brief history of the development of French infantry formations and organisation from the middle ages to the consulate and 1st empire. This is followed by details of the uniform and equipment of the infantry of the early to mid Imperial period, including key changes over that time.

An example of one of the reproductions of paintings included in the book; this of a grenadier in Spain with covered bearskin.


This is a fabulous publication that I plan to enjoy leafing through, reading and generally drooling over for years to come. My only complaint is that I would have liked more(!)—that greedy perception is the only thing preventing my giving it a score of a perfect ten! I look forward excitedly to the publication of tome 2.


Additional

I recently 'stumbled' across André Jouineau's website, Images de Soldats which has plates of uniforms and planes drawn by him that can be downloaded as thumbnails, or purchased for 2,50 € per plate. A book is cheaper, but this could be a good way to purchase specific examples.



Sample plate, available as a free download from Images de Soldats.


References



Jouineau, A and Mongin, J-M (2020) L'infanterie de ligne 1776-1810. Tome 1. Éditions Heimdal, St Martin-des-Entrées, Bayeux, France. 160 pp.

Rating

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Fun with latex

I prefer home-made scenery. It goes back to the early days of wargaming with Dad when everything was (relatively) so much more expensive so we used the small amount that we had from train sets and improvised/made the rest. Besides, it was all part of the fun. Even now, when professionally made scenery is so much cheaper I prefer the home made variety as the bought stuff, while flash, lacks character for mine.

Some old terrain squares have formed the base scenery for the games thus far at my new (as it still feels to me) wargaming shed. I want to move to using the overlay 'sheet' method—actually I have purchased some lovely, plush green stretch material which will add to player comfort, ha,ha. I was thinking about how I'd like to represent roads and rivers. Then I suddenly remembered; liquid latex.

I have a fairly large quantity that was left over from making soil peels (monliths). These are constructed by painting the stuff on the face of a soil pit. The soil sticks to the latex which is then peeled off and mounted on a board. The resulting impression shows how the soil changes down the profile and is an excellent, visual tool. Anyway, I thought that I should be able to paint the stuff onto plastic, mold it a bit, even stick things to it when wet and then paint it afterwards.

I had a test run making some items for a First World War game. I made circles to represent an explosion, the resulting crater and, what was going to be smoke for gas, but I decided would be better as a rock outcrop (not for World War I). I was pleased that it all worked. The latex peeled off the plastic when dry, assorted bits that I had stuck to it held tight and I could paint it with my acrylic paints.



Test run making terrain elements for First World War games, which I'll be trying out later.

Buoyed by this I decided to go into a bit of production making sections for rivers and roads. I painted various shapes on to an old piece of vinyl. I added some pieces of lichen and bits of model trees to some of the sections that I wanted to represent swampy areas around a river.


Sections of liquid latex painted onto vinyl. These are destined to be rivers and ponds.


Some would-be river sections with lichen and tree bits added to represent swampy areas.


The sections once partially dry (above), fully dry (below left) and painted (below right).

Once they had dried it was a simple matter of applying paint (two coats) and they were good enough for me.


Painted sections of river and swampy-banked river.

I was really pleased with the final result, particularly once placed on a tabletop. They will not win any terrain prizes but are functional and flexible. Most of the sections that have I made are quite short, so I'll now make some more of the longer ones.


On the table-top. This is the layout for a small, brigade-scale game of "Twilight of the Sun King".