Chef de Bataillon game

We had a blast from the past in our latest game night. Petri demonstrated the semi-skirmish Napolenic ruleset Chef de Bataillon, published in 1995. We pitted one Austrian battalion (144 figures) against two French battalions (72 figs each). The rules are trying to simulate the role of the battalion commander. Which they do fairly well in my personal opinion. Unfortunately this means that the player has very little to do, apart from trying to roll the dice well enough to get his unit to do what he wants. Even shooting is not automatic, you have to get your unit to follow the order to “fire”. Very strange. Personally I think the rules are an interesting anomaly as I prefer grand tactical games, where troops actually set up far from each other, the player can decide where and how to attack and defend, and actually feel that he is fighting the opponent, not the game system. Anyway, in our tense three hour game the Austrian battalion was happily decimating the French troops until a stray bullet killed the Austrian officer. The Austrians then routed from the field. As the Austrian commander the decisions I made during the game were: 1) “Hmm.. I want to shoot the enemy into pieces, that shall be our plan.” 2) “The way to do that is to form in line and advance.” 3) “I will see if skirmishers are useful: Deploy, (not really, therefore) recall skirmishers.” 4) “Advance into close range and keep on shooting until someone breaks.” Not that exciting, but interesting as an... read more

Spanish Militia Uniforms in May 1808

This is a list of the uniform colours of Spanish Militia and Provincial Grenadier battalions in May 1808. It is based on a scan of a primary document I found on the website of the Ciudad Real tourist board, and I have translated (imperfectly, I’m sure) the main table here. Most of the battalions are dressed (at least temporarily) in brown uniforms, which at least to me came as a surprise, since I thought that the units would have had white (or the earlier blue) uniforms still at the start of the war. The “Old” uniform is white 1790s pattern, “Middle” refers to the blue coat of the 1802 pattern, and the “New” is the white 1806 pattern. All units had red cuffs, collars, lapels and turnbacks. All of the battalions were listed as being well armed. Battalion Province Location Strength Missing State of uniform 1. Gr.Bat. 1. Div. Portugal Setubal 864 42 New 2. Gr.Bat. 1. Div. Portugal Setubal 864 81 Middle 2. Gr.Div. Portugal Lisboa 1440 10 New 2. Gr.Bat. 4. Div. Portugal Porto 720 11 Old 3. Gr.Div. Andalucia Campo de Gibraltar 1440 27 Old Jaen Andalucia Alxeciras 600 16 New, provisional, brown Lorca Andalucia Alxeciras 600 38 New, provisional, brown Siguenza Andalucia Quartel de Buenabina 600 21 New Guadix Andalucia San Roque 600 12 Could not provide info Chinchilla Andalucia Estepona 600 42 Could not provide info Malaga Andalucia Los Barrios 600 199 Could not provide info Cuenca Andalucia Tarifa 600 4 New, provisional, brown Ecixa Andalucia Cadiz 600 11 New, provisional, brown Xerez Andalucia Cadiz 600 26 Could not provide info Cordova Andalucia Cadiz 600 16 Could not provide info Toledo Andalucia Cadiz 600 21 Could not provide info Ronda Andalucia Cadiz 600 26 New, provisional, brown cloth Ciudad-Real Andalucia Puerto de Sta Maria 600 25 Do not have uniforms Truxillo Andalucia Puerto de Sta Maria 600 33 New, provisional, brown Sevilla Andalucia Xerez de la Frontera 600 53 New, provisional, brown Burgos Andalucia Xerez de la Frontera 600 23 New, provisional, brown Alcazar Andalucia San Lucar de Barram 600 5 New, provisional, brown Buxalance Andalucia San Lucar de Barram 600 6 New, provisional, brown Granada Andalucia Isla de Leon 600 47 New, provisional, brown Toro Andalucia Isla de Leon 600 47 New, provisional, brown Logrono Andalucia Isla de Leon 600 42 Could not provide info Plasencia Andalucia Isla de Leon 600 7 Could not provide info Ciudad Rodrigo Andalucia Isla de Leon 600 15... read more

18th & 19th Century Finnish Buildings – Part VII: Church of Oravainen

The church of Oravainen was build in 1795-1797. It is a wooden cross-church with an octagon center tower ending on a cupola. The main entrance has Doric (Greek) style columns. The column effect has been modelled in the upper part of the tower with wood paneling. Simpler paneling has been used for decoration on the walls and corners. There is also a separate bell-tower next to the church (not visible in these pictures), but it was not build in this project. The text over the main entrance dedicates the church to the then king of Sweden, Gustaf IV Adolph in the year MDCCXCVI (1796). This diagonal photo gives a good impression of the complex nature of the roof. The backside of the church. As an interesting point of design is the lack of any windows on the main altar wall. The altar wing has side windows though, so the altar doesn’t dwell in darkness completely. Construction An octagonal cross church floor out of a 3mm card and then walls from balsa. The brown card on the  picture was only for sizing purposes and isn’t part of the actual model. In a way the model has three layers: wall, roof and tower layers. The roof layer is build around an octagonal frame, on to which the central roof panels lean on. The tower layer is yet another octagonal frame with the cupola on top of it. The roof was constructed from 1 mm card. Cutting and fitting an octagonal roof with decorative insets is quite laborious. It is better to build one wing at a time from custom cut pieces as there are so many angles and planes that any mass produced pieces are not going to fit together. The cupola was sculpted from modelling clay. The wood paneling in the corners was done with paper strips. The natural texture of balsa is sufficient enough to give the wood effect on the walls. Notice that no windows were added at this point. The church after painting. Smaller wood panel decorations were implemented by painting, e.g. in the tower. Windows are copied and printed pictures of the actual windows that have been glued to the model. Looks way better than any modelled & painted windows would. An angled picture from the... read more

18th & 19th Century Finnish Buildings – Part VI: Church of Lapua

As the selected battles of the Russo-Swedish War were reconstructed on custom boards, it was only natural to also have some local landmark standing on the board – even if it wasn’t actually involved in the battle. Churches  are often good such landmarks, them being unique and big. Therefore for the Battle of Lapua, the church of Lapua was to be constructed. The current church of Lapua is the 3rd church on the same spot and it was built in 1827, i.e. almost two decades after the Battle of Lapua. As only a crude drawing of the 2nd church was found, it was decided that we would field a model of  the newer church. The bell tower, however, was built already in 1730, so at least that is accurate. Church of Lapua and the bell tower in Spring 2005. As a type the church is an octagonal cross-church. Due to its shape, the church wasn’t the easiest model to put together. I proceeded from ground up, first cutting the basic shape from 3mm card and then gluing balsa and thin card as walls and roof. To ensure that parts fit, it’s best to cut them to size only when they are needed. Trying to cut all beforehand will result in lots of gaps & grief. In the above picture the roof has been roughly shaped for the next phase. The roof is curved so it cannot be made from balsa or card. I used paper mache based sculpture paste and filed it to final shape when it was dry. The cross at the top is detachable for storage and transportation. The base is made simply out of card. It’s a tight fit as the church and bell tower are in different scale compared to the base. The base fits its spot on the game table, but the church and bell tower were just made to be in proportion to the other buildings on the table. Notice that there are no windows at this phase, only the wood paneling has been textured to the balsa with a toothpick and corners have been modelled with paper. The whole model and base were primed black. Walls were dry-brushed first with medium gray and finally with white. The windows are prints of the actual church’s picture. Doing it this way was easy and the paper defines the window frame at the same time. Some fine sand was glued to the base and dry-brushed... read more

18th & 19th Century Finnish Buildings – Part V: Making yard bases

These bigger bases are used to line out a build-up area on the gaming table, so they may, depending on the scale, represent more buildings than there are models on that base. Here we have four yard-bases. Each base has a slot for a house, large utility building and a small utility building. This makes the buildings interchangeable between bases. My base making method is to take a card, line out the building places and roads, then glue fine sand to the roads and rougher sand to the grass areas. Leave building areas without sand. Finalize it with a wash of thinned glue. This makes the base strong enough to have it bend back into shape if it warps for some reason. Above and below are two examples of irregular shaped areas, made to fit an exact spot on a specific game table.   The from above picture shows what details can be added to the bases; gardens, bushes, rocks, fences, buildings under construction, etc. I recommend that these extra touches should be kept low as it helps with storage and prevents damage. Buildings and bases in action with 15mm... read more

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