Category Archives: Front Rank

Revisiting a spectacular Battle of Saratoga game


Some of the games I’ve played over the years really stand out in my memory. From time to time I’ll feature these old games here on my blog.  

This particular game stood out because of the amazing terrain and figures.  To my eye, this was a convention-grade game, but played in a garage! I never recorded the date this game as played, but it would be a good decade or two ago now.

This game impressed me so much at the time that I even put together a website about it, from which I’ve copied the following text and pictures.  Much to my surprise, the site still exists – thought my amateur hand-coded HTML doesn’t seem to have preserved the formatting too well.

Before the storm.

The year is 1777 – General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne’s expedition to cut off New England from the rest of the rebellious American states has reached the clearing of Freeman’s Farm. The lines of redcoats form up around the farmstead, whilst a redoubt has been rapidly thrown up on their right. They steadfastly await the Americans advancing from out of the woods in front of them.

Myself and two other New Zealand wargamers, Paul Crouch and Steve Sands, had recently bought a copy of the British Grenadier rules, and we were determined to try them out. One Sunday afternoon the three of us finally managed to get some time off together, and this is the game that ensued.

British lines around Freeman’s Farm.

This closer view of British redcoats from General James Inglis Hamilton’s brigade around the farmstead shows some of the amazingly detailed 28mm miniature soldiers and terrain owned by Paul.

British redoubt.

The scenario rules for this battle state that the troops of Brigadier-General Simon Fraser’s brigade can only leave the confines of their redoubt on the British right after a throw of double sixes. “I never get double sixes,” says Steve, throwing the very first dice of the game – you guessed it, double six!

So Fraser’s light infantry and an artillery piece emerge from the redoubt in the first move of the game, throwing the American plan into disarray before they even start moving.

Poor’s columns advance down the road towards the waiting British.

On the American side, Roly commands General Enoch Poor’s brigade of infantry and artillery. The scenario calls for them to enter by a road on the left of the American position. But instead of heading diagonally towards the British (visible in the distance in this photo), the threat of Fraser’s troops making their sortie out of the redoubt means that the Americans have to change their orders to make a right turn and form their lines more to the centre.

The American advance in the centre.

Poor’s brigade has now been joined by that of General Ebenezer Learned, played by Paul. Meanwhile, General Benedict Arnold and his aide can be seen in this photo, directing the commencement of the assault on the British line. Unfortunately, another double six means that Arnold is lightly wounded, and so has to temporarily leave the table.

You can also see the amazingly realistic ground-cloth that Paul inherited from the late Jim Shaw. Thrown over a piece of carpet underlay, which in turn is draped over strategically placed objects, it gives a realistic rolling ground effect.

advance the colors
The British line awaits the onslaught.

After moving their line back slightly to form a better defensive position around the farm, the British lines stolidly await the American attack, with some loyalists skirmishing to their front. The redcoats’ objective in this scenario is to hold the farm position.

All the figures used in this game belonged to Paul. They included castings from Front Rank, Foundry and Perry Miniatures. The exquisite flags were mainly by GMB Design.

The lines close.

Slowly, inexorably, the American lines advance towards the British. Because of the extended maneuvering that Poor’s brigade has had to do to avoid Fraser’s light infantry and artillery, it takes quite a while to reach this stage of the game, so we “fast-forward” at this point by doubling a few moves to bring the troops into action.

Movement distances in British Grenadier are randomised, and generally must be taken the full amount. This makes coordinating an attack quite difficult, but true to the period.


Finally the first regiments of the assault charge forward.

The mounted officer in the background is not just for show. These rules have an innovative system where units earn ‘disruption points’ from movement, firing and melee. The more such points, the harder it is to do anything. Generals can help units shake off these points, but only one unit per move, so they have to pick and choose. Thus mounted officers realistically gallop to and fro all over the battlefield.

The second American line in support.

American troops in hunting shirts form the second line.

Under these rules, an attack needs to be well supported, as the disruption points can cause havoc to the first line. On the other hand, you don’t want the second line too close, as they have to move their full distance, so can actually collide with the rear of the first line, causing even more disruption!

The British line holds.

The American regiment on the far left has defeated a British battalion and forced it back. But the British battalion on the right holds out valiantly, whilst General Burgoyne dashes up to bolster its defence. Here yet another double six is thrown, but Burgoyne survives and it is his ADC who is killed.

In the foreground are Colonel Daniel Morgan’s riflemen and light infantry, who have been in front needling the British lines all during the big American assault. Now they can pull back out of the way to let the line infantry do their job.

The Hessians arrive.

The Americans have only succeeded in pushing back one British unit, when to their right they hear the beating of drums as Baron von Riedesel’s Hessians arrive on the battlefield, thus extinguishing any hope of the Americans forcing the British out of the Freeman’s Farm position.

So in our game the British win. This would possibly have had a major effect had this happened in the real battle. It was the British surrender at Saratoga that finally induced the French to take part in the American War of Independence. In our game, this might not have happened ….!


Map of the battlefield.

This overview of the battle shows how the game progressed. You can see where Fraser’s men issued out of the redoubt at the very start of the game, and how they forced Poor’s brigade to make some complicated manouevres instead of directly attacking Hamilton’s position. Meanwhile, the British backstepped to form a better defensive line closer to the farm, and then the subsequent huge American assault on the centre took place. Right at the end of the battle, the Hessians arrived on the British left to cement their victory.


The players – Paul Crouch (Generals Learned and Arnold), Roly Hermans (General Poor) and Steve Sands (British/Hessian), all members of the [then] Kapiti Fusiliers Historic Gaming Club in Paraparaumu, New Zealand.


Paul’s son Rylan enjoyed the game too!




Filed under American War of Independence, Foundry, Front Rank, GMB Design flags, Kapiti Fusiliers, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized

Doodling with Napoleonic figures


In a wargaming version of mindless doodling, I recently frittered away an hour or so arranging some of my 28mm Napoleonic figures onto my small wargaming table.

My Napoleonic armies haven’t seen the light of day for a number of years now. So on an impulse, I just decided to set them out for fun in a static set-up.

The figures are arranged to depict a vaguely Peninsular War skirmish. Though I’m not actually sure if all the troops shown here really fought in the Peninsular War – I just pulled out the units that were the easiest to reach in my cupboard!

This is only a fraction of my Napoleonic armies, but you can only fit so many 28mm figures on a 4’x4′ board!

The buildings, by the way are all scratch-built. The trees are cheap Chinese architectural/ model railway decorations. The roads and rivers are by an Australian company called Miniature World Makers. Figures are mainly Front Rank and Perry Miniatures, but with some other makes thrown in.

So, for your enjoyment and edification, may I present the results of my doodling (you can click on each picture to take a closer look).












Filed under Front Rank, Napoleonics, Uncategorized

‘Sharp Practice’ game report – Fondler’s Colonel

British infantry in town

“With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies felt it should be he, not that guttersnipe Captain Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles), who should be the one to rescue (sorry, wescue) the beautiful spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (and no doubt weap whatever wewards were on offer).” 

Back in May 2009, the now-defunct Kapiti Fusiliers website published the following game report of our first game of the Too Fat Lardies’ Sharp Practice rules for skirmish battles in the age of black powder. As this was our first game with these rules, we got a few things wrong. But overall the rules worked, and a story emerged from the chaos.

I thought it was such a fun game report, that it’s worth re-publishing here for your entertainment.

The scenario we played was Fondler’s Colonel from the The Compleat Fondler scenario book, also by the Too Fat Lardies. Captain Richard Fondler, of course, is a take-off of that well-known mullet-wearing 95th Rifles officer, Richard Sharpe.


The premise of the game is that the British are to pick up a Spanish spy, the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, who is currently under the care of Abbott Costello at a local monastery. At the same time, they are to deliver a cart-load of gold to a Spanish guerilla chieftain, El Cascanueces. Meanwhile, Colonel Daniel Laroux of the French Imperial Intelligence Service is setting a dastardly trap to capture his hated nemesis, Captain Richard Fondler.

Before you continue reading this game report, you might like to scroll to the bottom of this page to read the scenario notes leading up to this battle. Spoiler alert: if you intend to play this scenario, be aware that there are some spoilers contained in the scenario notes.


(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies, the new commander of the South-East Essex, leads the column to rescue the Marquesa.

With his ‘extensive’ Militia (sorry, Miwitia) background, Grabbe-Ghoullies feels he should be the one to rescue the beautiful spy (and no doubt reap whatever rewards are on offer), not Fondler and his Rifles (sorry, Fondwer and his Wifles). No low-born guttersnipe who has become an officer out of the ranks (sorry, wanks) will outshine him. So he orders Fondler’s Rifles to a lowly wagon-guard role. The scenario rules state that the Rifles can’t do anything major until they are either fired upon or the redcoats suffer three or more casualties.


(above) French voltiguers under the command of Caporal-Bugler Petain (don’t ask – I just didn’t have enough ordinary French NCO figures, so used a bugler instead!) open fire on the British column from their eyrie amongst the rocky outcrops.

Lieutenant Harry Cost peels his company of redcoats away from the column to chase off these pesky skirmishers.


(above) Oh dear, the skirmishers score a kill on Lieutenant Cost’s company. Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley of the Rifles look on helplessly, still being under Grabbe-Ghoullies’ orders to stay out of the fight and guard the wagon.


(above) Caporal-Bugler Petain’s cornet catches the sunlight, making a perfect target for the redcoats. A bullet flies right down the cornet’s tube, badly wounding the caporal-bugler. His voltiguers obviously don’t think too much of him, because he is left lying in the hot sun for the remainder of the game, instead of being carried to the rear.

Shortly after, Sergeant Ducrot, another French NCO, runs up the hill to take over command (not in this picture yet), so no major damage is done (other than to poor Petain and his cornet, of course).


(above) Harry Cost’s men blaze away furiously, while Fondler grits his teeth and wishes they would just get up there into the outcrops and weed those Crapauds out – or send in the Rifles to do the job. Even his wagon has been taken away from him now.


(above) Grabbe-Ghoullies finally gets his column moving – or inching- along the road, taking the gold cart with him, ordering Fondler to deal with the skirmishers at last.


(above) But hark, what is this? Do you hear the sound of drums coming from up the side road?


(above) Four companies of French infantry, lead by the Colonel Visage de Vache, hasten towards the battle. They were supposed to close the trap after the British passed the intersection, but their attack is launched prematurely and they march steadily towards the intersection before the British get there. Meanwhile, Sergeant Ducrot and his voltiguers continue peppering the British from the rocky outcrops.


(above) Colonel Visage de Vache proudly leads his column out. The grenadier company takes the lead.


(above) “Hop to it, mes amis, form line, and let’s give zese Ros Bifs some French dressing!” roars Colonel Visage de Vache to his men. The four companies swing into line with well-drilled precision.


(above) Colonel Grabbe-Ghoullies looks around wildly. A Fwench line in fwont of him, skirmishers to his left … maybe he should’ve stayed in the compfowtable miwiltia officers mess back in Bwighty.


(above) A pall of smoke drifts between the two formations, as the British column is decimated by the disciplined fire from the French line. The British companies suffer so much shock that after two volleys they begin to lose their bottle, and the game ends with a British surrender.

Oddly, it wasn’t till after I took the above photo that I noticed that Grabbe-Ghoullies, who had supposedly been badly wounded in front of his men by the French volleys, had not been wounded at all, but merely scarpered into cover (those sneaky British players!).

And so, what was the outcome?

Grabbe-Ghoullies, only his dignity harmed, will be captured by Colonel Visage de Vache. No beautiful Marquesa to entertain tonight, only a few wats in a locked woom behind the Fwench lines.

In the monastery, Colonel Daniel Laroux jumps up and down in frustration (then promptly falls over as he forgets he is tottering round on high heels). His carefully-laid plan to dress up as the Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca (who is safely closeted miles away in a prison cell) and so ensnare Fondler to finally get his revenge for the false teeth his arch-nemesis had smashed in an earlier encounter, has been foiled by the over-efficiency of the line infantry officers. “One day, Capitaine Dick Fondler … one day I’ll get you!”

El Cascanueces, however, is pleased. He had thrown in his lot with Laroux. But with the British surrender, he has got his gold without having to risk anything at all.

Abbott Costello sleeps blissfully on, happily drugged with several bottles of cheap French plonk provided by the beautiful (but rather hairy and with big hands, now that he comes to think of it) “Marquessa de Una Paloma Blanca”. He remains totally unaware of all that has happened today.

Meanwhile, Captain Fondler and Sergeant Paisley beat a hasty retreat to the British lines. Fondler will have to report to Wellington that he has lost the gold and not rescued the Marquesa. But the two riflemen are sure to march together again one day soon, and retrieve Fondler’s honour.

OK, probably not the best of games for the British players, but that wasn’t so much their fault as that of the game-master (er … me) who let the French fusilier battalions come into the battle far too soon, and thus prevented the latter stages of the scenario from playing out. However, it was our first time, so lesson learned!




Scenario Notes

Based almost entirely on the scenario Fondler’s Colonel in The Compleat Fondler scenario book by the Too Fat Lardies.


“I see, Captain Fondwer, that you and your men weah the uniform of the Wifles. Is there a weason why you do not wish to be a pawt of my wegiment?”

Whatever Captain Richard Fondler had expected of the newly appointed colonel of the 1st Battalion of the South-East Essex, Sir Henry Grabbe-Goullies was not it. After three years fighting in Portugal the British Army had weeded out most of the stuffed-shirts amongst its commanders; they either learnt to fight or had been replaced. But the Army must’ve missed Sir Henry.

“No, sir.” Fondler fixed his eyes on an imaginary mark some six inches above the colonel’s head. “I am proud to command the light company of the South-East Essex, but I and my men are also proud to be riflemen, and we continue to wear this uniform as a mark of that.”

The colonel paused, his knuckles turning white as he fought to control his anger. “I must say, Captain, that I disappwove of your attire and, sir, of your wifles. Why, you’ve even got some Portugwese with your wiflemen! I am a fiwm bewiever in discipwine. My expewiences in the Miwitia have taught me that a unit that has dissipwine fights well. Your wiflemen and Portugwese do not have dissipwine!”

Sir Henry paused to wipe the spittle from his chin. “It is my intention to wemove your wifles and weplace them with muskets so that your men may line up with the west and fight as men!”

The colonel paused and stared at the rifleman before him. He had heard much of Captain Fondler, and none of it he liked. Now he could see that the rifleman was fighting to control his anger, confirming Sir Henry’s suspicions that Fondler would not be a good man in battle, would not have the clear head and cold heart needed for command; traits that Sir Henry had, he was sure, in abundance. He stroked his moustaches and allowed his lip to curl into what was both a sneer and a smile of victory. Order would be maintained.

CRASH! The door did not so much open as erupt, and a large man with a mop of unruly red hair wearing the uniform of a major of engineers flooded into the room. “Top o’ the mornin’ to you!” the newcomer bellowed.

Major Michael O’Stereotype was well known to Fondler; as well as being a major of engineers, he was one of Sir Arthur Wellesley’s exploring officers, roaming through the Peninsula in an attempt to discover information that would harm the Corsican Tyrant and assist the cause of His Britannic Majesty King George.

“Tis a fine day to be meeting yourself, Colonel.” The big man had turned to address Sir Henry. “I am havin’ your orders from Sir Arthur with me here, to be sure. Gather round this map and I’ll tell all.”

Sir Henry was aghast. He had been told to expect the major, and knew that the man was one of Sir Arthur’s most trusted confidants. It seemed clear, however, that the army in the Peninsula had lost all sense of discipline and propriety. First a guttersnipe who had been promoted to a captain, and now this bog-trotting buffoon!

The buffoon spoke, and Sir Henry had the distinct feeling that Sir Arthur’s orders were being conveyed to Captain Fondler rather than himself.

“You’ll loike this, Dick, it’s a cracker! One of our main agents in Spain is the beautiful aristocratic Marquesa de Una Paloma Blanca, the wife of the suitably absent Marques who happens to be many thousands of miles away in South America, and is probably impotent anyway. Now, the Marquesa has, through her incredible beauty, sophistication and not entirely appropriate behaviour for a married woman, penetrated the French intelligence network headed by Colonel Laroux of the Imperial Guard, a truly evil man whose sadism knows no bounds – oh, I forget Dick, you and he have already met.”

Fondler looked grim. He and Laroux had indeed met, and on several occasions the rifleman had been instrumental in foiling Laroux’s dastardly plans. In an act of revenge that he now felt he may come to regret, he had smashed the Frenchman’s false teeth.

“Well, the Marquesa has been unmasked,” the big Irishman continued. “It seems that she was caught whilst getting her hands on a list of French spies in Lisbon and only just escaped with her life. In a desperate act the Marquesa made contact with one of Spain’s most notable guerrilla leaders, El Cascanueces. He is escorting her to the Monastery of Madre de Deus, where Abbott Costello, one of our agents, will protect her until we can arrive.

“The monastery is two days from here. Dick, I need you to deliver a consignment of gold and powder to El Cascanueces. I fear that he is an untrustworthy ally, little more than a bandit in fact, and we need a gift to ensure he fulfils his part of the deal. Ten thousand guineas in gold should do that.” He looked across the map at the two faces, grinned and reached towards the colonel’s brandy decanter. “Now, let’s drink to your success, Dick!”

The colonel spoke first. “Hold with that bottle, sir! You pwopose, Major, to send Captain Fondwer to undertake a mission of such import?”

“I do, Colonel, and what is more, I know that he will not let me down.”

Sir Henry spluttered in amazement. “You, Major, may be pwepared to leave matters such as this in Fondwer’s hands. I am not. I can see now that life on campaign has been too fwee and easy these past years, and that a lack of discipwine permeates nearly all stwata of our army. Order must pwevail!”

The engineer’s expression had changed, his drink now forgotten. “Colonel, I will not release the consignment of gold and powder to any man other than Captain Fondler. These are my orders from Sir Arthur himself.”

In the ensuing silence Fondler could almost hear Sir Henry’s brain at work, his discomfort and anger as clear as Fondler’s had been earlier in the conversation. Then the colonel spoke.

“Vewy well. Captain Fondwer and his wiflemen may escort the gold, but it is my intention to lead this wescue mission, and fwom that you may not divewt me, Major. The Captain may guard your pwecious wagon. I think, however, that you will find that it is my wedcoats and their muskets who do the gweatest service.”

The colonel turned to the rifleman. “Captain Fondwer, be weady to march at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.” Then, secure in the knowledge that he had out-manoeuvred both the captain and the major, he dismissed them from his presence.

O’Stereotype and Fondler walked together across the main square. “Mary, Mother of God,” the Irishman blasphemed, “you’ve got your work cut out with that eejit, so you do. You take care, Dick. Laroux has his men combing the mountains looking for the Marquesa. I can only pray that you get to her in time. Between you and me vital information is haemorrhaging out of Lisbon all the time and things look bleak for old Nosey. The sooner we get a list of Laroux’s agents the better things will be.”

Fondler’s face was troubled. “Aye Mick. If we fail we shall die at the hands of Laroux. If we succeed Sir Henry will claim a victory for the musket and we shall lose our rifles and, most likely, our green jackets too.”

British big men

Collated cards



Filed under Chiltern Miniatures, Front Rank, Kapiti Fusiliers, Napoleonics, Perry Miniatures, Uncategorized

Excellent national radio programme about Waterloo wargame


I’ve just been listening to one of the best media broadcasts I’ve ever heard about wargaming as a hobby. This excellent 40-minute programme was on Radio New Zealand National, and centred on the massive Waterloo wargame that took place in Wellington (where else?!) at the Wellesley Club (where else?!) last weekend.

All too often the media pokes fun at wargamers as a strange, nerdy bunch. But this broadcast is genuinely inquisitive and treats the gamers with respect. Those interviewed present themselves and the hobby in an impeccable manner.

This programme also lays to rest the canard that Napoleonic gamers are a crusty, argumentative and nit-picky clique. The broadcast includes lots of obviously knowledgeable people, but all enjoying the day in a friendly and light-hearted way.


Some nice sound effects and film audiotrack excerpts provide a feel of period ‘colour’ to the broadcast.

I thoroughly recommend listening to this programme. It’ll be 40 minutes well spent. You can download it from the National Radio New Zealand National website, where they also have some photos of the day, as well as a short YouTube clip.

Because of a family event last weekend, I couldn’t take part in this game. However, some of my miniature troops did, including my 28mm ‘Front Rank’ Nassauers and British Hussars.




Filed under Front Rank, Napoleonics

Tartanish and Thunderbirdish Napoleonics

dtl_BR_42nd Black Watch
Today one of my workmates told me he had seen some model soldiers wearing kilts. He was intrigued that tartan could be painted on such small figures.

I wanted to show him a photo to prove I too was capable of such miraculous feats, so I started sorting through a folder of photos of my older Napoleonic figures, which I knew included my battalion of the 42nd Black Watch. And, as you can see above, I found my nicely (if I may say so myself) painted tartans … but I also re-discovered my bad habit of painting my figures with huge Thunderbirds style eyes!  [click on the pics to see the figures blown up much bigger than real-life]

Anyway, browsing through this folder, I found a selection of photos of my earlier Napoleonic painting efforts, and thought I would share them here.  So enjoy (if you can bear those huge staring eyes) …

dtl_BR_33rd Yorkshire West Riding
Here’s some members of the British 33rd (West Riding) Regiment of Foot charging into a wood, led by their mounted colonel.

dtl_BR_87th Prince of Wales Own Irish
And here is the 87th, the Prince of Wales’ Own Irish. Not our current Prince of Wales, of course …

dtl_BR_95th Rifles
The famous British 95th Rifles skirmish ahead of the thin red line.  The 95th are well-known these days as the regiment to which the fictional Richard Sharpe and Patrick Harper belonged.  Thunderbird-eyes alert for the figure in brown!

dtl_BR_Scots Greys
The Scots Greys – so named after their grey horses, as depicted in Lady Butler’s famous painting of the Battle of Waterloo.

dtl_British infantry in town
Colonel Tracey, a particularly Thunderbird-eyed officer, leads his battalion into a quiet village somewhere in Spain, whilst a couple of exploring officers survey the streets ahead for any lurking enemy.

dtl_French 12th Dragoons
Now we turn to the French. These are the 12th Dragoons. The trumpeter figure on the right actually depicts my own great-great-great-great-grandfather, who really was a trumpeter in this regiment.

dtl_French Artillery
Napoleon’s artillery in action.

dtl_French Campscene
Even the busy Napoleonic soldier has some down-time …

dtl_French Imperial Guard
The Old Grumblers – Napoleon’s Old Guard, resplendent in their huge bearskins and full-dress uniforms.

dtl_French Light Infantry command
One of my most colourful units, the 9th Regiment of Light Infantry, or, to be exact, Le 9eme Régiment d’Infanterie Légère). I really like the drummer and the jingling johnny beside him, as well as the apron-wearing sapper.

dtl_French Light Infantry
Here is the 9eme Régiment d’Infanterie Légère again. I especially liked the way this photo turned out looking as if it was taken at night. You can even see the moon. This was entirely a fluke shot!

dtl_French Line Infantry
A rare rear view of a battalion of French line infantry wearing their distinctive cowhide backpacks.

dtl_Napoleon and Staff
And here’s the man the Napoleonic Wars were named after …

dtl_Nassau Battalion
Napoleon had many German allies in his armies. Here we see the green-coated Nassauers.

dtl_SP_Peninsular War mule train
An army marches on its stomach, once said a famous man. And the food to fill those stomachs might be part of the load carried by this mule train, somewhere in Spain.

dtl_Spanish Guerilla Ambush
A French infantry battalion is about to have a very bad day …

dtl_Spanish La Princessa
The Spanish Regimiento de la Princessa. Ornately attired (well, apart from some rather odd trousers), musicians and flags at the fore, ready to defend their land against the French invaders.

All of the above are 28mm metal figures, mostly made by Front Rank.  The exquisite paper flags come mainly from GMB Design.

That’s all for now.  I’ve found lots of other old photos too, but they can wait till another posting.


Filed under Front Rank, Napoleonics

Kapiti Fusiliers – ‘PRATZEN … DRATZEN! A Napoleonic game report’


This resurrected posting was one of the most popular on the old Kapiti Fusiliers website.  It describes a huge Command Piquet game that took place back in April 2005.  The article was originally written by Fusilier Brian Smaller (who now has his own fascinating Woolshed Wargamer blog) and the  dramatic pictures were taken by Fusilier Paul Crouch.


Above: Fusilier Greg Simmonds debuted several bases of Russian generals in this game. These are beautifully painted mini-dioramas, featuring various Front Rank and Foundry figures, many of them heavily converted.

The opportunity to play a Napoleonic war game on a 12’ by 6′ table with over a thousand painted figures doesn’t come along every day, so when Fusilier Greg Simmonds suggested such a game we jumped at the chance. The players who made it to the battle were Fusiliers Greg Simmonds, Peter Haldezos, Shane Saunders and of course, myself. The game was played in Greg’s lounge room, on a table suitably stabilized with six trestles. Given the weight of metal I think Greg’s field engineering was commendable.

The Scenario
The table was a scaled down section of the field of Austerlitz with, from the French perspective, a village on the right flank, a plateau in the centre and large expanses of open fields on the left. As this battle was a small part of a larger affair, the armies were deployed very close – in some cases infantry regiments were already in long musket range of the enemy.


Above:  Approximate positions an hour after hostilities commenced. Note that what appears to be an odd mixed cavalry/infantry formation in the right foreground is actually two cavalry units in the process of passing through the lines of an infantry battalion.

The Armies
The Allied army consisted of Greg’s Russians and Peter’s Austrians and Prussians. The French army consisted of everything I had painted, so was a bit of a grab bag of units that included two Italian, two Swiss and a Bavarian battalion. It was supported by a strong relief force of Fusilier-General Roly’s French, but the story of that command will be told later in this article.

Unfortunately, all our armies are uniformed for the later Napoleonic Wars, but we did not let that get in the way. Not only were they wearing these later uniforms, but we also rated them for the later Napoleonic Wars. We were therefore using 1813 armies to fight the Austerlitz situation.


Above: Russian general staff direct their formidable infantry forces forward. Greg’s Russians are Foundry and Front Rank figures, many with head-swaps and changed poses.

The Rules
The rules were Command Piquet which have already been reviewed on this site. Both Shane and I had played Piquet once or twice before, but never this variant. Greg and Peter managed to keep us on the straight and narrow.

The Game
The battle started with an immediate Austrian attack on the small village that anchored the French right flank. This position of honour was held by a crack brigade of Swiss with a battalion of Bavarians and a small Bavarian battery in support. Their mission was to hold until reinforcements arrived. For the entire duration of the battle the Austrians tried to break into the village and to cut it off from the French centre but were repeatedly repulsed.

4_done_a1Above:  The Prussians and Austrians march forward, supported by artillery. These are Peter’s Calpe and Front Rank figures with GMB Design flags.


Above: Austrian infantry attack the village.

6_done_f13Above:  Austrian artillery bombards the defenders of the village with close range artillery fire. More of Peter’s Front Rank figures.

In the centre, both sides battled for possession of the high plateau. Massed Russian infantry attacked the French centre but were beaten off by the 12-pounders of the Imperial Guard and repeated charges by the Grenadiers-a-Cheval and Gendarmerie d’Elite. Meanwhile, the French reserves climbed the plateau and took possession of the flat ground overlooking the enemy centre.


Above:  Russian infantry advance to the attack. These are some of Greg’s Foundry figures, whilst the flags are by GMB Design.

8_done_f5Above:  Grenadiers-a-Cheval and Gendarmerie d’Elite throw back the Russian advance in the centre.

9_done_f1Above:   Italian infantry march forward to consolidate the gains in the centre. These are Brian’s figures, which consist of a mixture of makes, including Connoisseur, Front Rank and Hotspur.

10_done_f4Above:  French reserve divisions advance. Again, these figures show the wonderful mixture of manufacturers in Brian’s French army.

On the left, the French attacked with great élan but despite some initial success with their dragoons and lancers, were stalled when their cavalry brigades were repulsed by concentrated Russian artillery fire and Austrian cavalry charges.


Above:   French Lancers charge to force back advancing Russian infantry.


Above:  But Russian artillery and Austrian cavalry are ready to repulse the French cavalry.

On the extreme left flank only the heroic actions of the 1st Battalion of 15th Legere managed to salvage what was becoming a serious problem for the French. A brigade of Austrian Dragoons and Hussars had broken the French dragoons and sent them scuttling backwards, but the feisty 15th Leger drove off the Austrian cavalry brigade with several well aimed volleys.

13_done_r9Above:   Austrian cavalry ready themselves to charge the French dragoons, before being themselves being driven off by the fire of a French light infantry battalion. Front Rank figures.

Late in the day the battle was going well for the French, or so it seemed. Their line was unbroken and they had possession of the high ground. The village was still in their hands and the serious position on the left flank had been stabilised. However, the repeated attacks had degraded the fighting capability of almost all brigades and looking across the field of battle the French commanders could see fresh divisions of uncommitted Russian troops and a huge cavalry reserve that had not yet entered the fray.


Above:  The Russian cavalry reserve awaits orders to advance.

The long hoped for French reserves had taken a wrong turn and in a prelude to the terrible events of 1815, had not marched to the sounds of the guns.

At the time we called a halt, I believe that nothing short of a miracle would have saved the French army. While most of the French army was intact, it had fought itself to a standstill. It is almost certain that one more push by the Allies would have seen the right flank collapse. If only the reserves had arrived……

We played about five or so hours at a fairly leisurely pace. I can only talk for myself of course, but I quite like the Command Piquet rules in that they give a fun game with a lot of surprises. What I don’t like about them is the all-or-nothing nature of combat. Shooting/Melee either does huge damage or virtually none. Still, you take what you can get, aye?


Above:  Fusilers Shane Saunders and Brian Smaller (French), Greg Simmonds and Peter Haldezos (Allied) holding a mascot in between them. Not in this photo are Fusiliers Paul Crouch (who took these superb pictures), and Roly Hermans (who failed to bring his French reinforcements to the game, but who designed this web-page).

PS: For the eagle-eyes, here’s a challenge – in one of the above photos, can you find the Seven Years War figure that had to be pressed into service for our game?!


Filed under Foundry, Front Rank, Kapiti Fusiliers, Napoleonics

¡¡¡28mm yellow-coated Spanish dragoons!!!


Finished at last, and not so Noddy-ish a uniform as I had initially feared … my Napoleonic Spanish dragoons. Click on the pictures for a closer view.

The figures are 28mm Front Rank Figurines.  I used Foundry’s triple paint-set of yellow shade, main and highlight, along with a coat of gryphonne sepia ink at the halfway-point.

The light blue facings (which combined with the red plumes and yellow uniforms had me initially worried about the Noddy effect) are of the Regimiento de Dragones de Almansa.  


The flag is somewhat generic, being copied out of a flag book, then flipped to make the reverse side.  So it doesn’t represent any real Spanish dragoon unit, but is near enough for my purposes.

The horses were painted using my usual oil-paint technique.  This entails spray-painting the horses with rust-coloured car primer, then painting on black or burnt sienna oil paint, and immediately rubbing it off again with a tissue so the rust primer shows through – quick and dirty, but effective!


The bases are also my usual technique – a mixture of  beach sands of various coarseness sprinkled over thickly applied  white glue.  There is no need to paint the sand – it looks perfectly natural as is.   The base is then landscaped with at least three types of flock or static grass added on  top of the sandy surface.  



Filed under Front Rank, Napoleonics