Monday, December 30, 2013

War of 1812 Black Powder Ideas

As my recent Painting Challenge entry shows, I'm dusting off my War of 1812 collections and plans.  Gaming wise, I like the simplicity and flexibility of the Black Powder system so will use this as my starting point.  One feature that really appeals is that a "unit" can represent a battalion for larger actions and a company or detachment for a small actions.

Most frustrations with BP deal with the orders and activation phase, which lead to all or nothing results that differ from command to command.  Perversely I think that this works for 1812 where nothing seemed to go according to plan.  However, I think I'll graft on the old chestnut of the Control Check from RossMac's With MacDuff to the Frontier rules.  Any command that fails it's Order rest rolls a d6 with results as follows.

  • 1-2 Unit may make a single move but may not advance
  • 3-4 Unit may make a single move as ordered.
  • 5-6 Unit continues its last move (e.g. units in a fire fight stand and shoot)
Once a commander fails an order test, any units without orders will also take a control check.

The other nice feature of BP is the "selection of useful rules" used to differentiate between unit qualities.  My first cut on applying this to 1812 goes as follows.

Redcoats:  By this I mean the numbered British regiments of foot who are acting as a collection of companies as a line infantry unit.  Basically, these are units who are trained to fight in the line of battle like Wellington's troops and include officers and NCOs with line of battle experience.  I don't include small detachments, composite units from several battalions, detached light companies, foreign and fencible regiments, royal marines or the Royal Veteran battalions.  The BP rules First Fire (extra fire dice on first contact)Reliable (+1 on command rolls), and Elite (may recover disorder on a 4+ without rallying) would apply to these units to give them an edge in fire fights and more likely to follow orders.  The BP  Mixed Formation (detached skirmishers)would not apply since they detached their light companies to skirmish.  Also the  Form Square (as a charge response) would not apply in North America - the one cavalry charge in the war was repulsed by fire from redcoats in line.

Regulars:  This includes most U.S. infantry regiments, US artillery serving as infantry, Canadian Fencible regiments, permanent Canadian (i.e. Incorporated and Select) militia units, marines acting as line infantry, Swiss and any British units not meeting the definition of redcoats.  These units are bog standard BP units who may used the Mixed Formation  (they frequently detached pickets) but can't use the Form Square rule.  US units trained by Winfield Scott prior to the 1814 Niagara campaign would get the First Fire bonus.

Regular Light Infantry: This includes detached British light companies, Canadian Fencible light infantry, US Rifle regiments, and infantry detachments acting as standalone roles.  They can Skirmish and have the Marauder (ignore distance penalties on command rolls) rule.  These would typically be small units.  Some units might get the Sharp Shooters rule (re-roll 1 missed shot) but I'd use this infrequently for flavour in particular scenarios.  The US Rifle regiments have rifles, but everyone else uses muskets.

Regular Light Cavalry: This includes British and US light dragoons, but not militia units.  They can Skirmish and have the Marauder (ignore distance penalties on command rolls) rule.  These would be small units.

Artillery: I would include not only regular artillerymen but also militia, sailors and marines manning guns.  No need for special rules here, although Crack and Stubborn could give morale bonuses for occasional scenario flavour.  There was a big range in gun calibre used (6-24 pounders) so pick your gun ranges to suit.  The smaller units mean that some howitzers (and mortars) can be used, and don't forget the marine rocket batteries.

Next time around we'll look at militia and irregular units...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

War of 1812 Trojan Greens

I signed up for Curt's 4th Painting Challenge, but was much later off the starting line than many others.  I plead an acute case of real life - 120 Stats papers, 30 Financial mathematics papers, swapping the furniture between two bedrooms in our house and the return of our daughter after a storm delayed flight home from University.  I swear that Curt sets the timing up to put me at a maximum disadvantage - really Curt I have both Final exams and Christmas to deal with.  

Anyway, this year I've decided to keep my submissions to bite sized morsels rather than full meals.  First up are these 8 members of the Trojan Greens, a War of 1812 Militia unit from upstate New York. Figures are kit bashed from the Perry 28mm plastic dismounted French Dragoons.  Construction wise I quite like the Perry plastics, but I am rather ham-fisted in my approach.  

In this case, the major bashing involved trimming the boot detail off of the rank and filers to represent trousers.  I left the officer in boots and breaches as this seems to be a unit composed of uppity upstate mucky-mucks, and I figured that the officers would be trumped up Johnnies who would dress like gentry.  Otherwise, I swapped in arms from the mounted figures for the trumpeter and officer.  I left them with the cavalry belts and cartage box, I'm sure a button counter will tell me that's not accurate but it works.  

I don't have a lot of info about the unit - they were rifled armed and from the Albany area.  They appear to have served along the St. Lawrence frontier and I believe that they were one of the volunteer units that existed pre-war - with the members providing their own uniforms and drilling on their own time.  I found a uniform plate here, and references here about an existing officer's coat.  The black belts on black facing and plastron always blurs details but I think that the yellow lace shows the difference well enough for my purposes.  I am not 100% happy with my lace work, but decided it was close enough and experience has told me that fussing about with yellow on black just makes things worse.  There is a similar black on black effect with the helmets and crests, but I find that a wash effect on the horse hair shows a difference in texture to get the effect reasonably.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A New Christmas CD Brings Out a Flood of Teenage Memories

If you are British and of a certain age with a certain taste in music, then you likely had a Nick Lowe LP or two.

I'm not really a Brit, OK half my DNA and my birth certificate are British but I've been west of the pond for 46 years.  However, I grew up in Halifax NS, a city that has always had ties with the UK and in the late 70s I was able to go to England quite often to get to know my dad.

So many memories wrapped up in this. I first woke up to new music that wasn't on the radio in 1978 and Nick Lowe was on my playlist a lot. The song was heavy on the family bonfire sing-a-long playlist. His new Christmas album is "Quality Street", a brand of chocolates that was always present at family gatherings. And Letterman's morning show had a direct impact on my attendance in first year English class…

Nick Lowe on Letterman

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Analogue Hobbies Challenge

So once again I've signed myself up for Curt's Painting Challenge.  Hopefully, I do better this year than the complete fizzle I achieved last year (I don't wanna talk about it….).  I've given myself a modest target of 500 points, with the following plans in hand.
  1. War of 1812 British/Canadian and US armies using Perry and Victrix plastics including some kit bashing head swaps and modeller's licence (and maybe some red wine).
  2. WW2 Naval odds and sods - 1:1200 planes and a few 1:2400 ships.
  3. El Cid era odds and sods 28mm.
  4. Other Naval (more to be revealed).
The start date for the Challenge is tomorrow (Dec 15th)….but the start date for me will be some what later (a week or two likely).  I could be jealous of those who are able to jump right in on the 15th but will try and placate myself with the lie that I have more of a life than they do.  Actually what i do have is two University classes writing final exams this week coming (the 17th and the 18th) and a daughter returning from her first year away at University.

So fellow challenges (sp?) - while you're happily painting away think of me slaving away at 130 first year STATs papers and have a glass of red wine for me. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Remembering the Halifax Explosion

My grandmother was a high school student in downtown Halifax that day.  She was saved because her school was protected by the near by Citadel Hill which deflected the blast above the school

Vintage Halifax Photos