Monday, 25 March 2013

Forgot The Italians!

In listing who was doing what I forgot that, when I realised the French might actually end up outnumbered, I decided to do some... but not French as such, rather their Italian allies, who were at Leipzig.
They come from Italeri Early French, a very useful set. The grenadier officer is just a simple head swap. The pioneer will get an axe, of course.

Project Leipzig - What's It All About?

Into 54mm Napoleonic Battles

The French Right Flank
  Despite my always saying I never would get involved in the period, over the years I have been. We have done Peninsular games, for example and a couple of us in the Skirmish Wargames group toyed with doing games based on Waterloo. Andy Duff has a splendid, if somewhat eccentric, set-up to do the whole battle from start to finish. But it never really caught on with a wider audience within the group, so it faded away, despite my love of the Dutch-Belgians!

When the new HaT Napoleonic figures started coming out, the interest in them by various group members was a nice surprise. See examples at Go to ‘9000 Series figures – 1/32 scale’.
When we were chatting at Devizes a couple of years ago now, Adrian Britton produced a beautifully painted French infantry figure and confessed to being very taken with the set. Up stepped Ian, Pete, and Wayne to say the same. 

To cut to the chase, the idea of venturing as a group into the Napoleonic Period was given serious consideration and ideas as to where and when to focus kicked around. The end result was a consensus that  the Battle of Leipzig 1813 would make a great event to base our forces around.

I had a head start, as I have some Austro-Hungarians I did for a series of articles in Toy Soldier & Model Figure on which to build – so that clearly placed me in the Allied camp. The others were Bonapartists,  keen to raise the Grande Armée between them.
Allied Cavalry

Subsequently the Allies have had others join our ranks I am relieved to say, or it could have been a series of one-side games! Alan Goldingay, Gordon Herbert and Ian Chard have now waded in with Prussians, evening up the odds a little. Les Beilby Tipping has plumped for Bavarians, Adam Palmer Swedes, Leigh Jackson Poles, so the 'other' nations will be represented too. I also decided to do Russia, as I have a thing about the Russian army throughout the ages, and had lots of the excellent Black Cat figures (sadly no longer made).
Actually Alan, Gordon and Leigh all raised some French too, and it was as well they did, as otherwise the Allies would have outnumbered them 2:1!

Black Powder Rules

We are using the Black Powder rules, which seem ideally suited. They are flexible enough to cope with varying size units and multiple players,  and also they are very definitely 'battle' not 'skirmish' rules. This means they get away from any mechanisms based on single figures – everything is unit based. And there is no removal of casualty figures so multiple bases are fine. See more at

Building Games

Prussian Defend The Hill, The French Advance


Those already involved have been beavering away at painting some figures and we have had 4 games at 3 shows in the past 12 months, as build-up games for the main even at Colours this year. The games went well, though we struggled with the rules at times. Unfortunately we all have a tendency to leave it to someone else to get to grips with the rules! It's fine when Leigh is there because he picks rules so easily, and this helped enormously at Warfare/Reading.

Project Leipzig Book Review

Currently most of my modelling time is going into this group endeavour, aimed at a large battle game at Colours in July 2013. Here's review of an excellent book I read as part of the research I did.

Dominic Lieven. Russia Against Napoleon: The Battle for Europe, 1807 to 1814. London: Penguin, 2010

Whilst few in the group share my fascination with all things Russian-military, this book is worth mentioning for another reason. It is a model of how to convey complex issues and ideas in a simple and understandable way. It also manages to be interesting and exciting at the same time – no mean feat!

I bought it because of the current sub-group with a renewed interest in the Napoleonic period, Project Leipzig, in which I am an almost lone Allied supporter. Although I am fascinated by the Russian army and therefore have opted to produce some for the project, I confess to knowing virtually nothing about the Russian army of the period, nor about the role they played in the events which led up to Leipzig and Napoleon’s defeat. Reading a review of the book in the Sunday paper, the coincidence was too great and so I ordered a copy from a local bookshop.

It is a hefty tome, 600 pages of small print. There are some illustrations – prints of the personalities involved and some rather stilted computer generated colour uniforms plates, but these are really just window dressing. The text is what it is all about and, as I have said already, a damn fine text it is too. Whilst far from eulogising the army and its commanders, it does offer a more balanced view than the impression I have always had of the Russian forces of the time as being generally pretty hopeless. 

There are a number of items of information, like for example the outstanding performance of the Russian light cavalry, which I will be seeking to have reflected in our application of the Black Powder rules in games. I will summarise the various points and pass them around the Leipzigers.

The book covers the period of the short lived and unlikely Franco-Russian alliance, the invasion of Russia by the Grande Armee, the retreat and then the Russian Bear on the offensive. There are surprisingly (to me – this side of things has always seemed pretty boring but here it really comes to life) fascinating insights into the politics and diplomacy, and Alexander I comes across as much cleverer than I had imagined.

The Russian army is covered, very usefully for wargamers, in some depth, from the prepartion for war through to the planning and then performance in the field. 

The sweep is much greater than I was initially looking for – I just wanted to know more about the build up to and battel of Leipzig – but is so well done I found myself totally absorbed by it. There are lots of maps too, which means the action can be followed properly.

All in all a very good read and highly recommended coverage of the events of the period.


They have taken a disproportionate amount of my research time recently. I have been going methodically, and alphabetically, through every source I have, listing the various type and their variant spellings, then trying to pull the info together to make a coherent whole.

Good fun to start with but it all got a bit painful after a few days! So I put it aside for a break and tackled some other things, of which more later perhaps.