Saturday, June 20, 2020

From Curt: The Close of the Quarantine Challenge - 2mm Terrain and Units for Waterloo

Hi All!

Well, here we are at the end the Quarantine Challenge and I must say, 'How did it go by so quickly?!' Geez, it just seemed like yesterday that we had started off in the first few days of spring - wow, the time just zipped by. 

First, I have to apologise for my somewhat on-again-off-again participation during the QC. The warmer weather has made its typical gravitational pull on my hobby time, but that being said, I did manage to get a few things done during this past few weeks to present to you as my last hurrah.

Last summer I began a 2mm Napoleonic project using 3D designs sourced from Forward March Studios. During that initial burst of productivity I managed to create two decent sized forces, one for the French and another depicting the Anglo/Portuguese of the Peninsula.

As June 18th marked the anniversary of Waterloo I thought it would be fun to revisit this project and add a few more units and terrain specific to that campaign.

After snooping around, I picked up a batch of building sets from Brigade Models which depict several locations that are iconic to that battlefield. So what we have here is the chateau of Hougoumont, the walled farm of La Haie Sainte, the church at Plancenoit and the inn of La Belle Alliance. Everything except La Belle Alliance has been based on 4" MDF squares as I wanted each base to act as a 'sector' for gaming purposes.

For Hougoumont and La Haie Sainte I wanted to include their formal gardens and orchards as they played an important role in the battle. For the garden walls I used thin plastic sheeting and for the hedges I glued down trimmed figure packing foam (the stuff you find in blister packaging) which I thinly coated with Liquitex before painting.

La Haie Sainte with its attached Orchard
La Haie Sainte with French columns and a square nearby.
Hougoumont being attacked by a French battalion in line.
The village of Plancenoit became a critical battle within a battle. I have the first base done depicting the village churchyard. Historically the possession of the churchyard seesawed between the Prussians and French throughout the late afternoon - a real charnel house. I plan to add another two bases to better reflect the entire footprint of the village.

Plancenoit's churchyard mocked up with some extra buildings and plasticard bits.

Plancenoit's churchyard with two French columns approaching.
Finally, the inn La Belle Alliance. Napoleon used the inn as his headquarters the morning before the battle and it was nearby to this location that Blucher, the commander of the Prussian forces, met up with Wellington in the evening of the 18th upon their victory over the French.

La Belle Alliance with a penny to give a sense of scale.
And, dug up from the photo archives, here I am at  La Belle Alliance er, Le Caillou when we visited the battlefield in 2008.

For La Haie Sainte's formal orchard, and for the odd individual tree here and there, I decided to create my own from bits found around the hobby desk. After a bit of experimenting, I used the same packing foam I used for the hedges and trimmed them into roundish shapes using small topiary scissors. 

I then pierced the foam with 1/2" brad nails dipped in hot glue to serve as the tree trunks. Once they were set up I coated the foam in Liquitex and then painted them up using craft paints. 

There you go, fast and easy microscale trees.

I also added a few more units to my British force, battalions in line, column and square.

Here's a unit of British infantry in column. It's interesting that the Brits had their colour party positioned in the center of their formation as opposed to the French, who had their's leading from the front.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of two differing column formations. See how the French formation is more compact due to the three-rank doctrine? Neat. To me this is one of the highlights of doing this in 2mm as one can convey, basically in 1:1 scale, the wide variety of formations that were used by the various powers. Pretty cool, eh!?

The same goes for the line formations. In this scale we can see the British two-rank doctrine creates a formation that is substantially longer than an equivalent sized French unit. You can see that unit discipline and firepower is the focus here.

Here is a British battalion drawn up in square formation.

And finally, you may have noticed the smoke markers that I've used in some of the previous photos. I've discovered that in large games we often need a visual reminder of what units have fired from those who've not, so I had these MDF markers made up by Byron over at Northern Lights Terrain based on some sketches I bodged together. 

The markers are simply three irregular shaped layers of MDF glued together to give the impression of gun smoke. I find that they're easier (and less messy) to use than pillow ticking. 


There you have it! Thanks for sticking it out to the end. These were a lot of fun to work on and I'm looking forward to using these when we can all get back together to game in-person. 

To close, I want to thank all our participants for treating us with lots of wonderful models to keep us enthused while we were being isolated and keeping safe. I hope I see you all in a few months when we get ready for Challenge XI.

Remember, be excellent to each other.


From NoelW: This week I painted a complete army!

Although it was only 2mm:

I'm developing rules for 2mm land battles that interleave with Warlord's Black Seas naval rules. My rules are pretty simple, as the idea is to cover joint land/sea operations, in which the naval game is the priority. I'm thinking about the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia (1808-9), for example, much of which involved island hopping with various actions involving transporting land forces back and forth, bombarding of besieged fortresses and so on. But there’s no shortage of joint operations in the Black Seas period – in the East and West Indies, the Mauritius campaign, actions against pirates in the Persian Gulf and the Barbary corsairs of the North African coast, the French invasion of Egypt with actions around Alexandria and along the Nile, several Russo-Turkish wars, the Greek War of Independence - the list is temptingly long.

At 2mm, there’s little point in trying to represent all these different armies in their specific detail, so I’m creating “abstract” forces, roughly Napoleonic in appearance, built around brigades of four battalions/regiments. This one is the blue army, currently representing Sweden. Next will be the green army, for Russia. I’ll hope to follow that with a more irregular force to represent the Ottomans/Mamelukes/Greeks/Tripolitans and so on. Then a Red force for Britain and maybe eventually white and black, too.

At this scale, I’d be hopeless at trying to represent either plausible uniform facings or flags, so each brigade has battalion flags of the same colour. Effectively the “battalions” are counters representing the current strength of the brigade, with attrition of the brigade represented by removal of a battalion. The idea is closer to a board game representation like Risk, rather than a true figure game.

In painting I took most of Curt’s always useful ideas, (thanks, Curt) though not delivered them nearly so well. I blame the figures I’m working with! Curt has beautiful, custom-printed 2mm figs, whereas mine are Irregular – perfectly serviceable, but rather undefined sculpts and somewhat variably cast, too. A little irregular, in fact. 

I shouldn’t complain, though – I was lucky enough to buy these at a show where the reseller was clearing them, and sold me several thousand figures for £30! This single army contains about 500 figures, for example, and takes up less room than a single battalion in 28mm so if you want the “mass look” and aren't looking for detail, there’s nothing better. Or cheaper.

As is usual for me, my final offering for the Challenge is quite large, but also a hotch-potch of bits and pieces. Lest you think I've had a sleepless week, I should point out that several of these pieces have been ongoing throughout the challenge, only completed in the last few days.

Going up a couple of scales, I finished the artillery for my 15mm French army for Minden. This is progressing slowly (2 years now, and counting) but slowly getting there. 8 guns of different calibres:

Moving to 28mm, I painted four resin walls that had been colonising the bottom of a terrain box, using a painting scheme I hadn’t tried before, looking for something like sandstone. And, actually, I’m quite pleased with how they’ve come out: basically an initial wash of slightly thinned Citadel Contrast, drybrushed with Vallejo’s Pale Sand. One thing that I think has improved these quite a bit is to paint and flock the bases in the same style as my 28mm figures.

Next, a Warbases Rolls-Royce armoured car, painted for the Western Desert. I found this model a bit of a pain to assemble correctly, partly because the apparently comprehensive online instructions aren’t perfectly clear about a couple of details, but mainly because of my awkward fingers. I shall rely on my wife for all future model building.

As this is my only contribution this time round to the Bolt Action side duel, it brings my total here to 785, so I defer once again to StuartL. Next Challenge, young man, I promise I will paint you into a corner!

Next, a Scorpion. That’s not another armoured car, but rather an actual stinging arachnid the Rolls Royce might accidentally run into in the desert. This, I think, is a Citadel figure possibly from their pre-slotta days and will join my D&D/Frostgrave monsters. (Look how good its camo is - you can hardly see there's any figure there!)

Moving on to human figures, I finished a few more for my Punic Wars collection. A herd of 21 Warlord Cisalpine Gauls:

and a contingent of 9 Carthaginian Citizens (Victrix):

My original plan had been to paint dozens of Ancients, for a side duel on ancients but these are all I’ve managed in the whole challenge – a mere 150 points, so apologies to all concerned. (Just noticed the bent spear, too, presumably happened during photography - so I need to replace that now. A general's work is never done...)

Another command base, this time Prince Rupert of the Rhine.

I’m not sure who sells this model, but it’s clearly a Copplestone sculpt – a beautiful piece of work. I’ve now two Ruperts, not being able to resist this second model, so one will probably double as Prince Maurice of the Palatinate.

And finally, a smattering of Italian Wars figures. Here is Niccolo da Tolentino:

and again with a few companions. 

Tolentino was a condottiero most famous for winning the Battle of San Romano (1432), immortalised in Paolo Uccello’s painting of that subject, from which the Perrys took the image for one of their Mounted Italian Command (from their European Armies range).

Together, this gives me imaginary points in this last post of 451 and takes me to a final tally filling 34 of my 46 rather over-ambitiously planned slots. Though some of these additions are rather less than I’d hoped, and the overall total of imaginary points for the Challenge as  whole is rather less than I’ve made in the non-Quarantine challenges, I’m still pretty pleased, as there's only 3 projects in my list of "projects I really ought to finish one day" which have not progressed through this Challenge. (Final details below).

Thanks to Curt, as always, for his hospitality, forbearance and brilliant contributions. Thanks to every one who has posted for some great painting and a fair haul of good ideas. Thanks to everyone who has given me comments - always uplifting, and often giving that necessary kick to motivation. 

That's it till November, I guess. It seems a long time to wait. I wonder if lockdown will be over? And, who knows, maybe I'll have painted my entire collection by then... (Excuse me, there's a knock at the door. A big black van and a couple of men in white coats. I wonder what they want...)


New Task
Old Task

US Butterfly
British 16 foot
Black Seas (1/700th)
2 merchants
25 2mm units
British in Egypt: 1801

de Rolls’ regiment
Cape Wars
12 infantry

21 Cisalpine Gauls
9 Citizens
Command group

4 walls
Prince Rupert
French in Egypt: 1801
Gun crew
3 Treemen
Italian Wars
Niccolo da Tolentino
4 miscellaneous infantry
Lord of the Rings
Swan Knights
Harad cavalry
Harad infantry
Minden (15mm)

8 artillery pieces and crew

Peninsular War

12 Spanish
Republican Romans

Sikh/Afghan Wars
Command stand
8 Irregulars
11 irregulars
1860s British IF
Command base
Union rebasing
1880s, the Sudan
18 British
6 landing craft
3 Civvies
6 zombies

Congreve rocket
WW2 Desert
3 trucks
39 Afrika Korps
Rolls Royce A/C
15 Italians
Zulu War
Frontier Horse
Natal Carbineers
Pearson & Chelmsford
4 foot