Saturday, 15 October 2016

"Innocent" Bystanders

Hello again.

I have never really been interested in 18th Century warfare. I remember seeing a demo game probably 30 years ago in Stafford at some venue or other (it was not even a wargames show, but I also remember I first encountered live action role-playing there too...) which featured Austria's and Prussia's finest in the age of Frederick and Maria Theresa. I liked the colour, I liked the big units (I think they were using WRG 1685-1845 rules), but I had no knowledge of the period, had never heard of Charles Grant and had not at that time developed an interest in the Austrian Empire.

Fast forward 30 years and I have taken the plunge with my FIW forces, with "Muskets & Tomahawks" as the initial fuel and "Sharp Practice 2" the spark which ignited it. Not an Austrian in sight and nowhere near where I thought I would dip into this period, namely in India with Clive and Eyre Coote.

Yet, probably, this is exactly where I should be. Not only am I seriously inspired by the likes of the above rules sets, but I am also in "grand skirmish" mode and I can think of no better 18th Century conflict to fulfil that mode than the FIW (or "French & Indian Wars" for those who hate acronyms or simply don't know what this particular one stands for).

So far, I have painted around 70 figures and I have two "armies". I can certainly see the point of all those articles bemoaning the death of the "big game" in preference to these quick-to-table affairs, but I personally believe there is more than enough room for both. The FIW also gives me two very distinct-looking sides, lots of colour, varied troop types and the aforementioned quick entry to a new period. Whilst there might have been the odd big battle, I think the conflict is synonymous with small groups of protagonists sniping at each other from behind trees and rocks, raiding each other's villages and crawling around the primeval forests of the New World in search of profit or a scalp or two. My only grievance is that I have come to it so late.

And, the subject of this post, I get to play with some crud too! Civilians!!! The long-suffering commoner has been at the wrong end of various sharp sticks since time began and this war was no different. But this time they get to fight back! What better way to fend off a raiding party than to have your womenfolk load your muskets whilst you pop off the odd Frenchie/ Brit/ Native from behind the stout walls of your log cabin somewhere out in the Wilderness? So these particular civilians might not be quite the crud of legend, but they are not exactly staunch regulars either.

I bought these figures from the lost, lamented Stafford Games a few years ago when I first put this project on the "to do" list. I am not entirely sure that a couple of them are not more Gary Cooper than Fennimore Cooper. I have no idea what make they are either, but I had them, I liked the look of many of them and, therefore, painted them up to join the war for control of the New World.


The entire dozen - I hesitate to call them "dirty"...

And slightly closer in. I reckon the man on the far right (positionally rather than politically!) is more Wild West than FIW, but who cares. My usual group won't even notice anyway!!!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Citizens of New France

Hello again.

My on-going aim this year in the absence of a big project is to concentrate on one or two little ones instead. To that end, I have "done" my 10mm fantasy figures for the "Warband" rules by Pendraken Miniatures (see previous posts in the library), I have "done" my very long awaited Mordor Orcs (ditto on the posts bit) and, now, I am nearing the completion of my mini-French and Indian Wars set up.

Despite my interest in the Austrian Empire and general desire to collect something Austrian if they are present within a conflict, I have generally shied away from the eighteenth century, when Austrian armies are surely at their most common. Then, lo and behold, when I do venture into the Lace Wars period, I head off to the New World (will I ever fulfil my desire to "do" India???), where never an Austrian set foot - well, not in anger at any rate, at least not till the 1860's as far as I know.

It was "Muskets & Tomahawks" that first caught my eye, hot on the heels of my first forays into SAGA. The project sat on the back burner whilst I busied myself with other things for various show games, but then "Sharp Practice 2" arrived, a copy of which I bought at the Stafford show back in July. This was the catalyst to hold forth on my 10mm ACW, 54mm WW2, 15mm 1859/ 1866 and all the other projects I have in the wings and take my first, tentative steps into the wilderness of North America's eastern states.

I have long owned the various Ospreys on Louis XV's forces, so started with the French, well, after a brief (six months-ish for six figures!!!) affair with some Woodland Indians. My French are now all done, except basing, but I still need some more command for SP2 games. And then there's the Compagnies Franches de la Marine. And some more Milice Canadienne. And some more line infantry...

Here are the first of my French, then, in the form of Coureurs de Bois and Milice Canadienne. The figures are all AW Miniatures - large-ish 28mm, chunky and characterful, and easy enough to paint. I am indebted to a website I found when I typed "Milice Canadienne" into my search engine, the name of which escapes me now, but it was from a group of ere-enactors and had a detailed list of kit worn by these troops, as well as photos of the people in action to add to the words.

SP2 only allows for one unit of Coureurs de Bois, just six figures, so I was initially at a loss to what I should do with the other twelve figures I had bought from AW marketed as CdeB. The website was invaluable for this alone, as the figures looked identical to the Milice Canadienne re-enactors. So, the CdeB are painted in a rather less regular fashion than the MC to distinguish them on the tabletop.

To add to the goodies, a recent article by Diane Sutherland in "Miniature Wargames Battlegames" magazine covered building log cabins and one of the recent "Wargamers' Annuals" had a wonderful campaign set up fought out by the Grants, father and son.

What is not to like about inspiration of this nature??? Manna from Heaven I call it!


Coureurs de Bois. A unit of six is all "Sharp Practice 2" allows, but "Muskets & Tomahawks" allows for at least three. Were they really that good?

My Milice Canadienne, dressed mostly in regulation white shirts and red caps.

And a closer view. Not a tree in sight...