Thursday, March 15, 2012

15mm Historical Gaming: Jumping in with both feet!

Since I started miniature wargaming a million years ago (my first Warhammer game was in 1989 or 90 with my friend Brad in Austin, TX!), I've always wanted to do some historical.

I do some Flames of War, which is great, but for me lacks the panache of the 19th century warfare...flags, ranked up units, cavalry charging, cannon booming. That's what I've always wanted to do!

It took just a single post on the Ordo Ineptus message board for me to jump in with both feet!

Onward! To new games and new minis and empty wallets!

So the folks that are interested in this are all picking up some different rule books, which we will all sample in demo games and get the feel of, then we'll choose the set we like to use and all use the same set for our 'real' games!

The eras we're looking to play are the American Civil War, and Napoleonic favorites! I couldn't be more excited. The rulesets I've chosen to look at for those periods are "Guns at Gettysburg" and "General de Brigade", both written by the Dan Brown, you can read more on his blog here.

These rules attracted me because of the scale (15mm, which we've all agreed on is the level we want to play at, for space and well as sheer spectacle of that many guys in a battle!), the unit-size featured (in this game you're dealing with Regiments and Battalions); that they're by the same author, using very similar rules makes playing both easy, without melting my brain. Some little details are that the systems are pretty simple and straightforward, but give historical-seeming results (at least from our play-testing!); there are points-values included for "balanced" pick-up games, as well as a fair number of historical Orders of Battle and Scenarios available.

The first thing we'll be doing is the American Civil War. After reading up on the internet about several game systems, reading battle report and rule reviews, I decided I was pretty safe to go ahead and buy figures for my army. My goal is to build Hood's Division from the Gettysburg campaign, with the idea that the units will look generic enough that I can play any Rebs anywhere, really!

I've ordered miniatures from 3 different manufacturers: (expensive but highly regarded AB brand miniatures); from (reasonably priced Battle Honors line, also highly regarded but far more affordable...especially when on sale!); and from (also reasonably priced and reviewed).

This should give me enough figs for all 5 Brigades under General Hood, as well as 3 of the 4 artillery batteries he commanded (I'm skipping the 4th, as I simply don't think I'd ever field that much artillery, and don't want to spend the money!)

I made up bases for the whole Division, all will be on 25x25mm (1") bases. I used a few sheets of the Games Workshop Movement Tray material, as it's pre-measured, and I can cut it out with a decent pair of scissors quick and easy.

Picture a bunch of well-painted Confederate soldiers on these empty grey squares...

The slightly larger bases will be for the Brigade Commanders; the largest will be the Division Commander. The Artillery will go on 40mm wide bases, maybe 50mm long depending on what I need to fit the gunners on the base too.

Each of those bases will hold 4 guys. In the Guns at Gettysburg game-set (and most others at this scale), one figure is roughly 20 yeah, I've got a LOT of guys to command here: somewhere around 7000 guys, over 10% of the whole Army of Northern Virginia!

Last night the first of my orders arrived, the AB minis from Eureka. Less than a!

Baggies of Crack!

These guys will be Law's Brigade: the 4th, 15th, 44th, 47th, and 48th Alabama Infantry Regiments. Along with a few cannon.

A cutesy little 3" Ordinance Rifle Cannon

For those of you familiar with Flames of War models, I put a guy next to some Panzerpioneers to get a sense for the scale...I think he's a bit taller and wispier, but the Pioneers are so laden with equipment and hunched over, it's hard to say really...still, a close fit and gives an idea of what these guys will look like.

"This war would be a lot easier if we had more troops like you!"

I intend to paint them before they're permanently mounted to their bases, but used some 'sticky-tack' to fit them to the bases and get an idea of what they'll look like and organize them a bit.

First I did all the Regimental Command bases. Flags are on order from elsewhere. Each base has an Officer, an NCO, a Standard Bearer, and a Musician. These don't have any real in-game effects, but will look nice I think.

Command bases, hopefully a decent variety.
  Then I put together a Regiment that I wanted to look like it was engaging in a musketry battle...line up and shoot, and hope you don't get shot!


Then another Regiment, this one looking like they're charging, or at least moving at the double. This regiment is slightly bigger than the others, and will represent the 15th Alabama. Yes, that's Col. Oates there directing the boys up Little Round Top!

  The other two regiments are very similar to the 15h, though slightly smaller.

"I hope this farmer doesn't mind that we've ruined his crop..."
  And there's General Law, leading his brigade from horseback, binoculars in hand!

"Will being the only guy on a horse make me a bigger target?"
 I really like the mix of slouch hat and kepi, and the varieties of poses work very nicely I think, giving a definite 'ragged' look to the troops. They're definitely soldiers doing soldierly things in a soldierly manner, they're just a bit on the scruffy side!

Keen observers will notice that one base from each regiment has a pair of kneeling "skirmishers"...these will be the companies that will form the brigade skirmish screen when this is called for. Cool, huh?

That ugly thing the guys are sitting on is a quick-and-dirty "farm pasture" I'm putting together to get some more rural and agrarian 15mm terrain added to our clubs collection. I finished two of them up, but failed to get pics. They're perfectly serviceable, but the fences badly need a coat of paint, a wash, and some drybrushing...that will have to wait until after I've painted up some figures, though!

Now, I said I was jumping in with both feet, and I meant it. Not only have I bought this large Rebel Division for ACW gaming, but I've loaded up a credit card and bought a division of French Infantry and a Heavy Cavalry division: something like 300 infantry, 200 cavalry, and a dozen artillery pieces (6 foot and 6 horse)! Yeah, I'm an addict, but they have such cool hats! These I all ordered from, same as a lot of the ACW stuff. They have a sale going on, price that can't be beat, I can't resist.

Painting these guys will be high priority for me, as this is something I've got a lot of love and passion for! I hope I can get the hang of doing these 15mm guys and do them justice!

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