Monday, 25 October 2021

Do yer self a favour

James has updated his blog ( with some photos of the Waterloo diorama at the National Army Museum in London. Check it out if you have not already. It is absolutely superb, outstanding and magnificent.

What's even more amazing, there's more to come. You can see the 'gap' where the Anglo-Allied squares and French cavalry are going to go in the bottom-centre and left of the photo above from my screenshot .

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Re-evaluating 'Miniature Wargaming the Movie'; plus progress

I did not think that I'd be interested in seeing the film Miniature Wargaming—the Movie, but I have gone from 'likely never' to a 'definitely want to see it'. This change came about firstly due to Keith Flint and secondly to LittleWarsTV, Greg Wagman in particular. Thanks Keith and Greg.

A recent post by Keith about the film on his blog led me to look at the review by Greg on LittleWarsTV (from January this year) and then on to the extended interview with Joseph Piddington, the director and producer of the film, in the LittleWarsTV (free) subscriber section.

Greg's frank, detailed and considered review had me interested. He described the quality of the production, the section on the history of wargaming (a recently piqued interest of mine!), which made me think that there would be enough there to interest me. He ended up suggesting to have a look at it, even though he had some reservations about it and felt that it presented a negative image of the hobby as the three/four stories used were not particularly up-beat (to paraphrase). The interview with Joseph, particularly the full-length one, sealed it for me. Here is a genuine and thoughtful person an aspiring young producer-director (no, of course, he is a producer-director) and a passionate wargamer who has produced a thoughtful and interesting film. The target audience is the 'general public' or perhaps, in Joe's words, that friend or relative who wants to know why we do this (seemingly) strange hobby. I reckon that I'll find it interesting too, even if there will be sections that I will not relate to and/or annoy me.

I am sure that the insights from 'industry insiders' about the nature of the business, especially the cottage-industry nature of it, will have much that will be new/news to me. Further to this I look forward to Joseph's next project which will be aimed more at wargaming enthusiasts and which I, as one who generally avoids kickstarter and the like, can see myself chucking in a few dollars to help get off the ground (and paying to view it once it does). I'll keep my eyes out for further news about it.

In the meantime, I'll have to find out how I can see the film. Part of Keith's post was about his annoyance at not being able to view it yet in the UK. Sadly, there was no mention in Greg's interview with Joe about a release in Australia—nor Europe for that matter. Hopefully it will be a matter of time.

Ah time. That limited 'resource' that seems to evaporate when we are doing things hobby.

The two videos mentioned above were really interesting, but were great from another perspective. The videos being chiefly about the words, as opposed to the visual, and those words being in English, meant that I was able to get some basing of my early Austrians done while 'watching' them! Here are a few photos.

No, not Brunswickers in kasketts, but early Austrians by Italeri. Undercoated some time ago, now most of the fiddly bits done and basing material added. Ready for a few more details and then white.

When I first got a box of these "Austrian Infantry 1798-1805" by Italeri, I thought that they were far to big. They are more like true 25 mm figs than 1/72. I then hit on the idea of basing them on really thin plastic card (the sort that comes as a base in those re-useable, material shopping bags). This is sufficiently thin to make them about the same height as 1/72 figures when the latter are based on my usual 1 mm ABS sheet.
As I have painted them I have liked the figures more and more. The detail is excellent, poses are good to excellent and flags and drummers are plentiful. They are fine
from 1792–1798 and I'll be using them for the Austro-Turkish War of 1788–1791 too. I have also recently found out that many units still wore kasketts in the Marengo campaign, so I'll  be using a lot of them for that too.
All this is just as well since I sought them out from several suppliers when I thought that they were difficult to get and have ended up with twelve boxes so far and another eight to come! Of the fifty figures per box, thirty-five are in kaskett, nine in helmets (including the officers above) and six
grenadiers (seen at the back of the photo above this one).

My basing material (green): PVA glue, acrylic paint, sand, old, dried coffee grounds and old tea leaves. Needs to be stirred often as the heavier materials sink to the bottom.
The latter are two materials that come from a beaut idea of Iain Dickie's in his "Wargaming on a Budget".
I like using this mixture as it is easy to mix, reasonably easy to apply and adds weight to the plastic figures without making them too heavy, plus aids binding them to the base.

Below are some more photos of my recent hobby 'travail'. It will not look much compared to posts of past progress, but there are some changes: adding 'fiddly bits' like facing colours, and metal for muskets, but also in converting figures to use for Grenz hussars, early uhlans and Polish-Italian legion uhlans.

Austrian Grenz hussars with Mézáros uhlans behind. In process of having more 'red bits' done. Also need some colour on the horses, of course!

As above, but with 'red bits' done, plus some artillery—the gunners in greatcoats are the only figures that I have at present. Nothing else is produced in plastic so I intend, later, to supplement these with some from Irregular and Newline.

Polish-Italian legion uhlans. Blue and crimson needed to make these look like something, plus some colour on the horses too.

French infantry, also with some of 'fiddly bits' done. A splash of red added to some of the grenadiers when I have had some 'decanted' paint to use up. Plenty of blue and white, plus some more red needed. Strelets "French Line Infantry in Egypt" with a few head swaps.

More French infantry, plus Napoleon at Marengo as one of my vignt-et-un Napoleons.

More French infantry, Strelets "French Line Infantry in Egypt" again, with some converted to flag-bearers using flags made from tin foil from Milo lids or from around wine bottles. The flags will be shaped once painted.

Consular guard (for 1800), three more of my vignt-et-un Napoleons and Napoleon's guides for 1796 (and I'll use the same figs for Egypt). A mix of many figures and conversions there.

Austrian grenz. I started these some time ago, then put them to the back while other figures (those above and my First World War figures) took precedence. The grenz units in Italy in 1796 (and in 1809) had white coats. I'd like to get all the Austrians to the stage of the white-coated grenz here by the 4th. Figures are Hat grenz and I'll use as is for 1796, despite the backpacks and blanket rolls being worn over each shoulder rather than slung. I considered some 'cutting and trusting' to convert them, but decided against it!

Most of the 2 mm Austrians. I'm doing them as circa 1809 (much as you can tell) and they have had yellow added, hence that colour standing out!

Julian and I are catching up for a session on the 4th. I want to have a go at the Battle of Voltri using a my first pass/adaptation of Kriegsspiel. It has been twice delayed due to 'other things' cropping up. I have been happy about that as it has given me more prep. time. I'd like to have the above figures looking a good deal like they are meant to, so at least have the base-coat done. Some more of the 'fiddly bits', some more basing and then I'll be applying white, white and more white;

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Waterloo Remodelled—a magnificent diorama at the National Army Museum London

Since early 2014 Major General James Cowan (aka 'General Picton') has been working on a magnificent diorama of the Battle of Waterloo. He began his monumental project as a solo effort, but more recently has been assisted in the task of painting the (now) ~30 000 1/72 miniature figures (metal and plastic from numerous manufacturers) by "contributions from UK, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia". Hats off, a huge cheer and sincere congratulations and thanks to them all!

The sensational diorama Waterloo Remodelled.  Image from 'Deadlines' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

I have been following James' wonderful Waterloo in 20mm blog about the project for most of the past seven years. He has posted regularly about his research into the buildings, uniforms and battlefield, as well as updates of the work. They have been an absolute joy to view.

A few weeks ago he posted the exciting news that the diorama will be on display at the National Army Museum in London between 20-23 October. If you will be anywhere near London during that time, get along and see it. The rest of us will have to enjoy it from a distance.

Further details about the display are available at the website of the National Army Museum and at Waterloo Uncovered.

I have included but a few photos from his blog below. Do yourself a favour and check it out from inception to near completion.

Well done to all and especially to James on his drive, wonderful painting and modelling.

Early days. Image from 'Introduction' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Hougoumont takes shape. Image from 'Hougoumont' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Above and below, some of the masses of troops. Various 1/72 metal and plastic figures. Images from 'Cuirassiers' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

A square of Hanoverian infantry. Image from 'Bremen and Verden battalions' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Above and below, Hougoumont attacked. Images from 'Hougoumont a battle within a battle' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Casualties. Image from 'Reality of war' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Plancenoit. Image from 'I've been working on my Plancenoit' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

The Guard advances. Image from 'Deadlines 2' on Waterloo in 20 mm blog.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

And now for something completely different: Lee vs Napoleon

This is a joy to behold. The latest 'active diorama' from Michael at 1/72 Legions In Plastic Depot is an alternative history in which Napoleon invades the United States and confronts Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. Plenty of suspension of disbelief required but it is superbly done and had me beaming from ear to ear!

Click this link to see the video

I love that he adds the caveat/disclaimer of "Not intended to be 100% historically accurate", just for the pedants!

I became aware of Michael's marvellous dioramas after I ordered some figures from him via his 1/72 Legions In Plastic Depot store. He brings together the playfulness of the toy soldiers of our childhood with the patience and sheer capacity of the model soldiers of our adult selves.

This video is one of his "Bedroom Floor Battlefield series". He uses primarily 1/72 plastic figures with classic 25 mm figures added in. As one person commented on the video, it is fun to play 'spot the figure'.

If you liked this (and I can't see how you could not), then you'll also enjoy his version of Waterloo or the one inspired by Major Dundee. Better still, check out the lot on his YouTube channel.


Some joyous Sunday viewing.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

'Discovering' wargaming history (5) Following in the footsteps of a fellow-traveller: "Le Kriegspiel Napoleon"

"Time to reinvent the wheel", as Joe astutely stated in a comment to my first post in this 'series'. Like lots of wargamers, I have always adapted and even had a go at writing rules. It is little wonder that many, many (many) sets of rules exist for Napoleonic wargaming "dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands" as 'Marius' ('Figalpage') noted in a recent, excellent post in which he provided a precis of 43 of those published since 2009 (and more besides—check it out. If you are not into trying to practise French, you can use Google translate).

Knowingly or not the authors of each of these sets, produced at a steady rate since the popularising of wargaming in the 1960s and an exponential rate in more recent times, has been influenced by Kriegsspiel. For most, I suspect, this has been via other, earlier sets of rules, but who knows as so few of them bother to acknowledge the sources of their inspiration (it's okay, I'm hopping down from me soap-box now...). Despite my rude comments about near or actual plagiarism, I actually embrace this great variety because, like 'Marius', I reckon that it provides a heap of options for games at a range of scales in terms of figures, table, battle, time and players' preferences. This is not limited to Napoleonics, of course, but the sheer volume of rules for this era and the rate at which they are produced reflects the huge interest in this 'pinacle' of wargaming periods.

What really excites me about my current attempt is going back to the 'source' (noting that formal, 'ruleset zero' is further back still, let alone the ancient versions). Prior to reading Kriegsspiel I was back on the track of wanting to produce a rules system to suit my interests, using elements of various sets that I like. My excitement with Kriegsspiel is in 'finding' an original, contemporary set of rules for Napoleonic warfare that I think will form the basis of this. My interest was piqued further last weekend when I 'found' Le Kriegspiel Napoleon, written by Jean-François Gantillon.

Jean-François is a fellow traveller who has produced his own adaptation of Kriegsspiel, which he calls Le Kriegspiel Napoleon. I say that I 'found' as these rules, in quotes, since they have been under my nose for sometime. Jean-François contacted me via my blog in February this year and I began to follow his. It's all about timing though, isn't it? Since, at that stage, I did not have an appreciation of Kriegsspiel so I did not look into his version. Now, prompted by seeing it as one of the examples on Marius' post, I have rectified that omission.

Le Kriegspiel Napoleon is available as a pdf file from Wargame Vault, either in French or English. I would have liked to have been able to purchase both the French and English versions, but had to choose so went the lazy route of getting the English translation. The rules are well-laid out, interspersed with images of games, troops, historic paintings and such, and include tables, unit characteristics (for troops of France, Britain, Saxony, Poland, Württemberg, Northern Italy, Prussia, Bavaria, Denmark, Sweden, Westphalia, Russia, Austria, Spain, Naples) and numerous playing aids (that are also available on Jean-François' blog), although no quick reference sheet per se. The guts of the rules comprise around 72 pages of the document, spread over some 97 pages by full pages of images and examples. The entire pdf is 200 pages long, quite nicely produced, but clearly an amateur production. At US$33 for a pdf file they are not cheap and I reckon that they should be about half the price—it was only my particular interest in Kriegsspiel and adaptations thereof that lead me to make the purchase, but I am not disappointed that I did.

Screenshot of part of a page of Jean-François' blog, with links to the player aids available to download.

Le Kriegspiel Napoleon
is quite different from the Napoleonic army level Kriegsspiels (available via the UK Kriegsspielers website), which is an
adaptation of Kriegsspiel but still a map-based, strategic game using blocks or counters. Jean-François' set has been written specifically for a 'history game with figurines', scaling Kriegsspiel to turns representing 20 minutes. He has used battalions, two squadrons and batteries as the basic units, so broadly the same as Kriegsspiel and has utilised the adaptability of von Reisswitz's system to suggest a range of ground scales, 1:2 000 up to 1 to 3000 for different sizes of basing with suggested numbers of figures per base for 25/28 mm figures down to 6 mm. This also enables all measurements to be done in terms of unit frontage, a 'modern' concept that I had also seen as immediately possible from von Reisswitz's Kriegsspiel. Movement speed is divided into tactical movement speed and a combat move (marche au combat, MaC—most of the abbreviations/initialisms are from the French), with an optional 'operational' movement speed (see below). Firing and combat are clearly derived from Kriegsspiel, but overall Le Kriegspiel Napoleon is a significant departure from the original, with many added mechanics. 

In fact, it is misleading for me to suggest that Le Kriegspiel Napoleon is an adaptation of Kriegsspiel. While the influences of Kriegsspiel are there (per above), Gantillon has utilised and been influenced by other works on military strategy and theory, wargaming and weapons (provided in his reading list*). Chief amongst these are the writings of Colonel Charles Ardant Du Picq, to whom the rules are effectively dedicated with the subtitle 'Project Ardant Du Picq'.
*It's interesting that Empire is not amongst this list when there are several mechanics that seem Empire-esque to me.

This post is about relating Gantillon's rules to my thoughts on where I'd like to go with a system derived from Kriegsspiel, so is more about the rules in that context than a review per se, but a brief summary is in order and still relevant. The main rules are divided into sections about the game sequence, command, movement, combat and victory conditions, with numerous sub-sections. These are quite easy to find from the table of contents, assisted by separate 'page of pages' numbering for each section (in addition to the page numbers of the document), but there is no index.

The sequence of play

The game sequence is semi-alternate, with each player alternating as the first player in a predetermined sequence of side A odd turns and side B even. This immediate departure from Kriegsspiel is a clever way of dealing with simultaneous movement versus alternate and removing the requirement for an umpire. (Mind you, Richard Zimmermann's system of two half phases to a game turn, with shooting between the two, switching between which side is first in each phase and an initiative die roll to determine which side chooses to go first or second in the first phase is the most clever method that I know of).

Each game turn begins with placement of any reinforcements by both sides and is then divided into seven phases; Orders, Operational Movement (conducted simultaneously), Tactical Activation (for the side going first and then that going second), Combat Resolution, Escape Movement, Removal of Order Cards and Advance the Game Chronometer. After Operational Movement and during Tactical Activation, units of the non-phasing player may react by direction, requirement or even at the request of the phasing player (some automatic, others requiring a test).

Le Kriegspiel Napoleon has two levels of orders. The basic game uses command ranges to determine whether each unit is in command. Units are in command if within command range of their commanding officer or in a 'string' of units (within two base widths) of the same tactical group (roughly a brigade) that are in command. Units that are out of command have limited opportunities for movement and action, but there are options to move a commander (one base width) at the beginning of the phase to bring them into command. If the optional 'Attitude Orders system' is in use, then each tactical group will be issued an order (Defense, Support, Attack, Manoeuvre) in addition to the use of the command ranges. Orders cost command points to issue, with these points determined by the size of the army, number of units demoralised and officers.

Like Empire, Le Kriegspiel Napoleon has two types of movement; operational for moving troops large distances across the battlefield (an optional aspect of the rules) and tactical movement. The essence of the Operational Manoeuvre phase is remarkably similar to Grand Tactical Movement in Empire with order cards being turned over, orders declared and movement made. Rather than being part of only one player's turn, this is done within each turn by the first player and then the second, with a few reactions possible by units of the non-phasing player at the end of each side's manoeuvring. Once units that can move at operational speed (outside Tactical Stopping Distance) have moved, those that could not do so may make a move at tactical speed.

Tactical Activation involves supporting fire by artillery, artillery bombardment, infantry support fire, deployment of skirmishers and march to combat. The player whose turn it is to move first completes tactical activation for units within a tactical group at a time and concludes by conducting reorganisation and rallying. The units of the side of the other player then conduct tactical activation, but these are more limited in scope and range.

Combat Resolution involves the resolution of actions conducted in the Tactical Activation phase. Artillery bombardment is resolved for the side whose turn it is, then the second side. Next, advances to combat are carried out and then resulting combats are resolved and mandatory movement carried out. The turn ends with

Example of a table, the Combat Resolution in this case, showing the adaptation of Kriegsspiel in this aspect. Tables in Le Kriegspiel Napoleon are colourful, produced in a large font, but are busy and take time to comprehend.

The rules are full of abbreviations and initialisms, an aspect of so many sets of wargame rules that I find frustrating. The frustration is slightly less with Le Kriegspiel Napoleon as Jean-François has provided a 'Keyword Index' at the beginning of the rules and a list of acronyms and abbreviations at the end (the latter in French and English).

As with von Reisswitz's Kriegsspiel, Le Kriegspiel Napoleon are detailed and take time to become clear, but are actually easy to follow in their key mechanics. Most of the detail comes in explanation, specific examples and situations. Like Kriegsspiel, the more I looked and read in detail the more I appreciated and was impressed with the concept of the system. I was originally going to conclude this post by saying that I do not expect to use Le Kriegspiel Napoleon at this stage, but in compiling this post I become more and more interested in them, so expect that I will give them a go (at the very least). I certainly do expect that I will consider Jean-François' approach in the course of my own adaptation of Kriegsspiel. In my first outing I will stay closer to von Reisswitz's system, with compounded moves depending on proximity to the enemy, but then all moving to standard moves once necessary. I too can see the need for a orders, but, like with all aspects, I am going to begin with actual orders rather than categories of.

I expect this will be the last post of this series (but, who knows what I'll 'uncover' next?). Time for some of that metaphoric rubber to hit the road.


Gantillon, J-F (n.d.) Le Kriegspiel Napoleon blog. Créé par un Passionné : pour des Passionnés du Jeu d'Histoire avec Figurines.

Gantillon, J-F (2020) Le Kriegspiel Napoleon rules (English version of Le Kriegspiel Napoleon 2018) available as a pdf download from Wargame Vault ($US33).

James, M (n.d.) Napoleonic army level Kriegsspiels. Kriegsspiel a website dedicated to Kriegsspiel run by a "group of UK based Kriegsspielers, who meet a number of times a year at Little Gaddesdon, Hertfordshire, UK".

von Reisswitz, GH, Baron (1824) Kriegsspiel. Translated by B Leeson. Too Fat Lardies, 76 pp. Available to purchase as a pdf from TooFatLardies.

Zimmermann, R (1973) The Wargamer's Handbook: Rules for Wargaming in Six Periods of History. Z & M Pub. Enterprises, 74 pp.