Friday, September 28, 2007

Composition of the Army of M'Eudail

I decided that it's time to post the proposed composition of my "little" army, as well as its "official" OoB. A word or two of reference is required here. I am using, at least at the moment, a set of "home brewed" rules that started as a modification of the old Bowden and Ray "Minuteman" rules many, many years ago. Ken Ray and I started the work, then a few years later Les Powell and I worked on converting them for League of Augsberg, and I am now going back and cleaning up the original work for the mid-18th Century, incorporating some new ideas that Ken and I didn't think of back then. The figure to man ratio is 1 casting or figure to 10 men, with artillery models being 1 gun model with appropriate crew (varies based on poundage and role) to 2 real guns. I am using Infantry "companies" of 8 figures (with five companies to a typical Battalion) and Cavalry "squadrons" of 12 figures (with two squadrons to a Regiment typically). I base my Infantry figures on company-sized stands drawn up in two ranks of 4 figures each. My cavalry is in a single rank of 3 figures on the same sized base. The actual size of the base isn't hyper-critical in these rules, but I have tried to allow for a base size that will allow players whose armies are based for other systems to adapt a common frontage using sabot bases or trays. I use metal stands that are 2 1/2" wide by 2" deep (originally made for Flames of War, I believe). This allows enough frontage and depth to adequately display my figures, accomodate some of the more "athletic" poses, and accomodate figures based for Old WRG, DBx, and many other rule sets. Please note that I am ONLY addressing 20mm, 1/72nd scale, or "true" 25mm figures here. Obviously if you have some of the newer large 28mm, or traditional 30mm figures , then these base sizes will not work for you. The same applies to smaller scales. My rules do not make provision for removing single figures, although they probably could. Instead I use a system of "Attrition" markers that incorporate fatigue and casulaties, with entire company-sized stands being removed when their total value is reached. I use markers to represent the Unit's overall Attrition status, and this status does effect their ability to perform in a cohesive manner on the battlefield. More on the rules later, here is the proposed OoB for the Army of the Duchy of M'Eudail.

Sir William

Introduction to the Army of the Duchy of M'Eudail

If you have checked out my other blog on the mythical Duchy of M'Eudail, a little detail is probably in order. Since this type of detail would be out of character for such an exalted personage as the Duc de Batau, I shall post it here instead.

I have chosen to use plastic figures almost exclusively to represent the Army, although I am waiting to examine potential recruits from both Historifigs (the old Scruby 25mm range) and Musket Miniatures (25mm AWI range) to fill in any gaps that I perceive. Why plastic? Well, I began this adventure intending to recreate the AWI with some of the great new plastics out there, until these wonderfully crazy Imagi-Nation types got hold of me. I still designate some of the figures I own, and some of the new sets that I'm acquiring, to the AWI stockpile. I will either complete my AWI project, or the Imagi-Nations of Greater Europa will go a-colonizing and need potential opponents.

Working with plastics does create some challenges, as the designer's seem intent (especially the newer Eastern Bloc ones) on putting as many different poses in a set as possible. Probably excellent for the dioramist, casual painter, "New Age" wargamer or child using these as toys. What's worse is that some of the poses are so extreme as to require the actual soldier being modeled to be a potential Olympic athlete! Definitely not Old School Wargaming. Most of us tend to like our 18th century armies to be composed of nice, orderly ranks of disciplined troops all following the lead of their companions. We usually do allow some variety in cavalry at the Charge, but not so much that a "unit" resembles an English fox hunting scene! The plastic manufacturer's also seem to be enamored of the loading pose, and in some cases, the "I have no real idea what I'm doing, so I'll just kneel here awhile" pose. If your goal is to create true OSW style battalions and squadrons, this usually means acquiring more plastic than you really need to get the proper mix of figures in acceptable poses. Another problem is that of standard bearers. Plastic manufacturer's like to completely ignore the fact that many, if not most, battalions of the musket era carried two colors. What's worse, many of them love to mold the single color-bearer in a heroic pose drawn from some painting where the flag is draped around the bearer's upper body like a toga; not the easiest thing to paint and certainly not the proper way to display the colors. I have made it a practice to pick out a suitable pose of figure and create standard bearers for my units. It robs me of a figure that I might use elsewhere, and usually requires some conversion, either by paintbrush or carving or both, to make this figure represent a proper Ensign. This is another reason that I am looking at some possible metal recruits. And finally, there is always the challenge of how to properly convert and paint the "bendy" little buggers. Fortunately, there are enough gamers around the world using plastics now (possibly the only good thing to come out of the DBx movement), that there are several very good sites that offer the latest tips on this, as well as news of which manufacturer's are trying new plastics that take conventional glues and allow different painting techniques. I will be posting links to some of these sites in case, like myself and a few others, you feel compelled to try plastics.

My biggest personal challenge is that I am just starting to get back into the hobby after a long absence and multiple eye surgeries. Once upon a time, I was a "championship" level figure painter, having won most of the recognized US competitions and commanding the highest prices for my painted troops. Where I used to be able to stay up all night, happily painting away to the strains of the Rolling Stones, Yardbirds, Cream or Hendrix actually shading 15mm and putting recognizeable eyes, lace and tartans on them; I now feel like a half-blind old man wearing 3X or greater magnifiers wishing I could actually see the little buggers and that my hands would stop shaking! I know part of this will just be a matter of re-learning my technique and developing my style within my new limitations, but it is frustrating at times. However, "Onward into the breach!", as the Man once said. Progress reports and pictures will follow, hopefully soon.