Friday, April 11, 2008

Napoleonic War-gaming with General de Brigade - British Army of 1815

Well its been a long time coming, but I have finally started on my Napoleonic Odyssey, venturing into what some see as the pinnacle of war-gaming; 28mm Napoleonics.

It had to happen eventually, as my local gaming club, the Kapiti Fusiliers are, as you can imagine from the name, rather keen on this war-gaming era. However, for myself having come from a fantasy and ancients background it has, and still is, been quite a steep learning curve.

My initial knowledge being somewhat limited to there having been a battle at Waterloo, where the Duke of Wellington defeated the Emperor Napoleon, aided by the timely arrival of Blucher's Prussians.

So with this initial basis of understanding, and being a Brit myself, I decided to theme my army on the British army at this battle.

With this in mind, some time ago I ordered some figures from Front Rank, a favorite figure manufacturer amongst the Fusiliers. Sadly the figures languished in their box untouched for many months while other projects distracted me.

But I am pleased to say April 08, has seen the first application of paint, and the following test paint figure completed.

Please forgive the painting prop, but this was just to get an idea of how the figure would paint up. I used my usual Foundry and GW acrylics, black undercoat, then dark base tone followed my mid tone, and extra skin highlight.

What had partly delayed my getting to grips with this period, was the plethora of rule sets available, and the various basing conventions. In the end, the more popular set of rules that is played locally, at present, at this scale is "General de Brigade". However even with this choice made, basing was still a little bit of a contentious issue, in a very gentlemanly fashion.

Local players had previous adopted a local house rule whereby battalions would be set at 24 figures. This allowed conformity, but went against main guidelines in core rules. After much thought and pondering, I finally decided to try and follow rule book guidelines, in the hope that with some further gentlemanly agreement, my based units will be compatible to play against the local Kapiti Fusilier players, and yet also against players further afield who may "go by the book".

I can see this being a very lengthy project (a year at the very least I would say) before completion. If you average 30 infantry figure per battalion, 4 battalion to a brigade, and maybe 3 brigades to a division... well, as the yanks say, you can do the math..... And then of course theres the cavalry regiments and artillery batteries. OK, so to be fair, I can see this project keeping me involved off and on for many years to come!

The nice thing is there are many local players with whom I will be able to join forces and get a game with my fledgling battalions, bolstering their armies :-)

I hope maintaining this blog post will keep me focussed on completing this undertaking. Wish me luck!

Blog update (30/4/8). I have completed the first 16 (of a planned 32) foot figures of my first Battalion. Still on their painting props and yet to be varnished or based, but thats still not bad going for me; 16 figures in 19 days!
I have decided to set the battalion sizes as 32 as this seems to match quite well with typical battalion sizes for the British at this point in the campaign. Typical Battalion strengths would be roughly 600-650 according to the sources I have read. Using G de B's infantry ratio of 20:1, this fits quite comfortably with 32 figures per battalion.
This first battalion is going to be modeled on the 69th South Lincolnshire Regiment, who fought at Waterloo.
When I decide to do a Guards regiment, I may increase the battalion size, as guards regiments frequently had higher numbers of troopers as these units were maintained at full strength where possible. A full strength battalion would be ideally 1000 men, but this was rarely achieved. So again based on ratio 20:1, this would mean a battalion of up to 50 figures!

Update 9/5/8 - just a quick picture to show how first centre company based stand has come together. Only 4 more to go!

Further update note 29/5/8: Completed paint job of battalion (although still awaiting arrival of GMB flags before I can finish the two standard bearers) . Just have to varnish and base figures. Also casualty marker to paint too.
30/5/8 - painted the casualty marker. I did notice as I started to paint it that it actually has a slight miscast to the shako making it look a bit crumpled at the top. I may consider it "battle damage", or try and conceal it with a clump of foliage flocking. I also made a start on first mounted command figure to represent first Brigade General. (the Robert Craufurd model from Front Rank). I am supposed to be working in the garden today (long weekend of queens birthday), but I have been battling a slight cold recently, and its a bit of a breezy cool autumnal day outside, wonder if its a good excuse to find some time to paint instead? ;-)

12/6/8 - Still awaiting arrival of GMB flags :-( In the meantime I have been busy working through my foot artillery battery, comprising two 9 pdr guns. However the pack I got only had 7 crew for the two guns and as the rules suggest 4 crew per gun, I need another crew man! I have also decided to up the battery to three guns, so will need to place a little order to Front Rank anyway, for the extra gun and crew. I have finished the crew and will start the guns over the weekend if I get a chance. I have also finished the Robert Craufurd model and Duke Of Wellington mounted figure (although not 100% happy with the colour his overcoat has turned out, I may change it?).
13/6/8 - Just checked the mail and my GMB flags have arrived - yippee! Wow, they are indeed nice and well worth the price I would say.
21/6/8 - Finally finished to completion my first British foot battalion, despite my best attempts today to cut off my hand with an angle grinder!;-) I would have had the battalion finished a little sooner, but for the delay in the arrival of the flags from GMB. However, that delay, has allowed me to get a good start with the artillery battery with 7 crew painted and varnished to date and 2 guns undercoated. Also completing the two characters as mentioned above. I left the colour of Wellington's overcoat as it was - I have come across a few variations in the depiction of the colour and decided mine was good enough. I have ordered the 3rd gun and crew for the artillery battery, and a few more mounted officers to complete the command stands, from Front Rank. I'll post some pics of the battalion shortly.

Here follow pictures (taken 22/6/8) of my first battalion of foot; The 69th South Lincolnshires.

The battalion comprises 32 figures, which at a ratio of 20:1 represents 640 soldiers. I decided to base the command base and the two other centre companies on bases of 8 figures, with a base size of 60mm x 50mm. The Grenadiers, as defined by their all white plumes, are on a base of 4 figures, 30mm x 50mm, and positioned in the place of honour to the battalions right side. The Light company as defined by their green plumes, are individually based on 15mm x 25mm, and mounted on a magnetised "sabot" 30mm x 50mm, and positioned to the battalions left side.

The Light company can be deployed as skirmishers, by moving the individuals from their close order battalion sabot, and then transferred to their skirmish magnetised sabots 50mm x 30mm. This gives the skirmish screen a figure frontage of 25mm.

Finally the command base, which comprises the front rank with officer, the two colour bearers with the Kings colour again in place of honour to battalions right side, and regiments colour to left. The NCO with seargent's stripes and pike completes the front rank. The rear rank has two drummers in centre of rear rank behind colours, and flanked by two regular centre company troopers. The standards themselves are made from Foundry 80mm steel pikes, trimmed to size. The colours are from GMB, and glued together and onto the pole with regular "Pritt-stick" type glue, and the flags gently folded before glues dries. The white cut edges of the flags are then touched up with matching paint. The flag top finnials are again from Front Rank, and glued to pole with Araldite. I actually painted the standard bearers to completion then added poles afterwards as this made painting the figure easier. I left the insides of the hands bare metal to ensure metal to metal bond with glue, then painted the poles, varnished and added banner.

I am pleased to have this first battalion completed. I may add a little more scenic clump flock to the bases to give them a little more "glitz", when I get a moment! Now to finish off the Foot artillery battery. Garden work is rained off today, so I may get some time to paint :-).

19/7/8 Further update. I have finished the painting of the 9pdr foot artillery battery, and have gloss varnished and cut the bases. However my usual GW satin spray, has given poor results (as it does intermittently). After chatting with a fellow Kapiti Fusilier, I have been recommended Derivan Matisse Final Varnish Matt Finish (MM15). This is a brush-on matt varnish which gives a very flat finish evident from his work. I have ordered a tub from local art store and will hopefully collect it next week, after which I will get varnishing and basing completed. In the meantime, I have been working through completing the various command figures I have.
If I like the effect this matt varnish gives, I will have all my other whole armies (Medievals / ECW / Barbarians / FOW / pirates) to give a coating to as well!

Blog Update 24/10/8:-

Commander In Chief base featuring Wellington, Uxbridge, and an Officer with ADC.

Brigade General Base,...

...and another.

9pdr Foot Artillery Battery, from the side...

...and from the front.

Rules preference update - This force is now scheduled to play Black Powder by Warlord Games, rather than General de Brigade.


  1. Truly a fantastic job on the battalion Scott.

    You have done the club proud.

    I can't wait to see the artillery!


    Fusilier Ray Te Paiho
    (lost in the outback)

  2. This is excellent. I'm considering getting into Napoleonic wargaming and was confused about basing. You have included some very valuable images and information that have helped me immensely.



  3. Excellent work!!

    I am now reconsidering my basing.

    Have you taken a look at the 'LaSalle' & 'Napoleon' rules?

    Kansas USA

  4. Thank you.
    Actually Larry, since writing this post I have dropped GdeB rules, in favour of Black Powder by Rick Priestley and Warlord games.
    See more recent posts on this activity.
    I have not as yet experienced 'Lasalle' or 'Napoleon'.

  5. Great paint work Scott.
    Just on the spelling side, in the "The battalion comprises 32 figures, which at a ration of 20:1 represents 640 soldiers." the correct word is ratio. 20 rations per soldier is undoubtedly the wish of every infantryman :-)
    Could I ask why you chose to change rules.


    1. Well spotted! I'll fix that...
      As for the rules, i found them frustrating as everything seemed to require a morale roll to do anything... I recall at the time we were trying these rules out, we get our armies out (well my mates would bring theirs round) and we'd unpack everything, deploy, start moving, and after about 4hrs of play we had just reached the centre of the table and about to engage, and we had to end the game due to time running out... it happened repeatedly, the game just took too long to resolve in an evenings play...
      BP was a much a simpler, faster, and dare I say more enjoyable ruleset...


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