Napoleonic — Battle One at the Gun Bar

It was time – we’d had a couple of games of French-Indian Wars and a couple of games of Rapid Fire, now it was time to turn to something new. We decided to play with Anthony’s new Napoleonic French and his old but still being based British. We’d decided to do a mid-week as my weekends are a bit full just at the moment. Last night I trekked up to Anthony’s Gun Bar at The Dairy Farm. I felt a bit like the postman as I did, trekking bravely and gamely through rain and hail and sleet and snow to get to the game 1.

There are some pictures below. I was the British and decided to demonstrate with the light division in front of the rather extensive convent to the front of my right flank. My artillery was placed in two batteries on a hill where they could command the battlefield. For once the British had the advantage in cavalry and they provided my left flank – facing as they did the outnumbered French cavalry. My remaining divisions, one British and the other Portuguese held the centre. The plan was to let the French run  onto the bayonets of Allies. As a plan, it worked.

The only problem was that some of the bayonets were bent. The French Old Guard managed to slice through the Portuguese battalions facing them. The British Light Horse were severely handled by the French Dragoons although in a bright spot on the British left the Household Cavalry managed to catch a French Light Horse regiment and saw them from the field. Sunset was approaching and the French were taking casualties from the British muskets and although the French Guard was slicing its way through the British line there was a battalion of Highlanders who had managed to work their way around to the flank of the French battalions and were set to cause some strife. We agreed at this point that a draw seemed most seemly!

The game was played under the Rank and File rules. There were a number of odd things that turned up that I will discuss in a separate post but overall, a quick and satisfying game. Fish and Chips, Beer, and a Wargame – could there be a better way to spend a rainy Tuesday evening?


1. OK, so it is Singapore and we were missing the sleet and snow … and hail for that matter but it was raining and that made the traffic and the 300 metre walk at the end of the trip somewhat more challenging!

Finished – the WW1 French are launched … to the US

The fleet - set to sail - about 90 vessels in total
The fleet – set to sail – about 90 vessels in total

I finally finished painting, labelling and varnishing the 1/6000th scale French World War 1 fleet. These were being painted for John  in California. I opted for the simple French mid-grey scheme that the vessels were using in the later way period.

I also looked at “bronzing” one turret (A-turret or Z-turret), at least on the battleships and larger cruisers to account for the French disciplinary practice of having sailors paint a turret in used cooking oil when they were found guilty of a charge. I tried on one vessel and the result was that it was not really visible in this scale, so went just straight grey for the fleet.

The vessels come from Figurehead – from Noble Miniatures in the US and Magister Militum in the UK.

The detail on the vessels really is quite remarkable given their size. I would also recommend that when painting them, use a shade of grey two or three shades lighter than required and then use a black ink wash over the vessel to bring out that detail.

A close-up(ish) of some of the vessels.
A close-up(ish) of some of the vessels.

The close-up will give you an idea of the amount of detail present on the vessels.

You will notice that I opted for white canvas covers to the ships boats. The French used, as far as I can tell, a grey cover however I am assuming a sun-bleached grey that is white here. It is an aesthetic thing to bring out that extra detail and make it visible.

I do not have a sea surface to photograph on here in Singapore so the cutting mat has to do – the square are 1 cm square so yes, some of the vessels are less than 2cm long.

I know John has a US, British and German fleet still to paint up but after doing the French, Italians, Austrians, Turks, Greeks, Russians (both main fleets) and the Japanese Mediterranean Squadron, I’m not sure I want to paint any more 1/6000th ships. The feeling is compounded by knowing that the US was experimenting with dazzle patterns as a camouflage during the First World War. I’ll see how I feel in a few weeks time.

In the meantime, I will have a pleasant evening sitting in the man cave tonight, wireless on, air-con on, cup of tea in hand and starting to ponder what actually will be the next project!

All ahead full!

Painting Progress – the 1/6000th French – labels

2013-05-01 22.28.25I finally got some time yesterday, May Day, to start on labelling the vessels. I may have mentioned the process before but I’ll cover it again as someone asked me how I did them.

Using Microsoft Word (or any Word Processor really) create a table, in my case I make one 8 columns by 2 rows to start with. Then insert a couple of blank lines in the document and create a second 8 column by 2 row table.

Then a couple of blank lines and create a third table 8 columns by 2 rows.

In the second table, record the name of each of the vessels in the fleet. Record them in columns 2, 4, 6 and 8. Font and font size does not matter at this stage. You can then copy the table over table three (so that in both tables columns 1, 3, 5 and 7 are empty and columns 2, 4, 6 and 8 now contain all the ship names).

Now, to table three. In columns 1, 3, 5 and 7, next to the ship names, insert a code number for the vessel. For example, BB01 goes in column 1, next to the name Bretagne in column 2. DD03 goes next to the destroyer Epee and so on. Now you have two tables with some information in them, the second table with the ship names and the third table with a ships code number. I use the same code numbers between fleets so, for example, BB01 is Bretagne in the French, Hapsburg in the Austrian fleet, Tri Svititelia in the Russian fleet and so on. In the case where you are having a wargame with allied fleets fighting, well, I hope the paintwork will avoid confusion Smile

Highlight column 1 in table 3 (the ship codes). Now copy that and paste it into column 1 of table 1 and column 5 of table 1. Repeat this for column 3 table 3 (copy to columns 2 and 6 of table 1); column 5 of table 3 (copy to columns 3 and 7 of table 1); and column 7 of table 3 (copy to columns 4 and 8 of table 1).

Save the document.

Now there are three tables with only table 2 having empty columns. We now start formatting, Firstly, table 2. highlight the table (all columns) and select font “Calabri”, click on bold, change font size to 6 point or 8 point. The size of the font is something you will need to guess to make sure when finished the label will fit in the bottom of the ship base – so destroyers may need to be smaller than capital ships.

2013-05-01 22.40.25Next, search the internet and find the naval ensign for the World War 1 fleet you are painting (this is of course optional but adds a nice touch). Copy the image and paste it into cell 1, (row 1, column 1) of table 2. It will be very big but resize to until it is small and matches off with the text – you may need to adjust the column width here too. Play around a little and it will work out one way or another. Align the image either Center Left or Center in the cell. When it looks right, copy the image and paste it to each of the empty cells next to the ship names. Format the columns with the flags is to Center Left or Center alignment. Save the document.

Now comes the interesting part. The sea bases I have painted are coloured with a base coat of Prussian Blue then a light blue dry brush and a white dry brush. I have found that a background colour of dark blue works – the colour details are for R:G:B colour 23:54:93. This matches fairly closely with the Prussian blue as you can see in the photo to the right.

Now select all columns of table 1 and change the font to “Calabri”, the size to 6 point, select “bold”, select font colour “white” and then select fill colour –> more colours –> custom and use the R:G:B figures mentioned above. Your sea base labels should be starting to look good. Whilst the table is selected, go to design –> borders and turn borders off.

imageThe last step with the blue labels is to select columns 5, 6, 7 and 8 from table 1 and amend the character spacing, This is done so that the labels will fit the smaller label tabs on destroyers, torpedo boats and so on. Go to home –> font –> advanced and set scale on character spacing to 75%.

It does make the label a little harder to read, but not impossible but also ensures that it will fit most bases.

We have a sheet of labels. Save the document again and now it is ready for printing. Print on standard paper on a colour printer((OK, so I win a prize for stating the bleeding obvious but I needed the line in there for continuity)) and you are ready to stick on your models base.

Note that if you are using spray varnish, go right ahead and stick. If you are using varnish applied by a brush, then test first to see if the varnish will make the label run, especially if you have used an ink jet printer rather than a laser printer.

Simply cut the little blue label from the sheet with a sharp knife (I use one of the ones with a snap-off blade as it is best done with a very sharp knife and paper blunts the knife fairly quickly). I attach the blue labels with a dob of white glue (the stuff that dries clear) and then when the glue is dry varnish the vessels. They can then be separated from the tongue depressors I use to hold the vessels whilst painting.

Now you have labelled and varnished vessels. There is one final step. Using table three as a guide as it tells you which vessel is which code number, cut out and stick the vessel’s name label and ensign to the underside of the sea base. Voila! Finito!

Pick up the ship, look underneath and you know the vessels name. Use the code number on the sea base label to identify for damage and firing results during a game.

austrian_smaller russian_naval_jack italian_small japan_naval_ensign royal-navy-ensign_small sms_navy_ensign_small

Work in Process – the WW1 French Fleet

The second batch of World War 1 Ships - most of the battleships a some Armoured Cruisers - finished and just waiting their labels
The second batch of World War 1 Ships – most of the battleships a some Armoured Cruisers – finished and just waiting their labels

This is progressing nicely with 2/3rds of the vessels complete and a list of ships prepared ready for making labels for the navy. So, that is the destroyers complete and most of the battleships plus a few armoured cruisers.

The rest of the armoured cruisers, the protected cruisers and the Japanese cruisers (can’t remember why I have them) are almost complete – they are the ones shown in the picture below.

All that remains to be done on them is their lifeboat covers and the sooty funnels tops and such.

The remaining vessels that need two more coats of paint to compete
The remaining vessels that need two more coats of paint to compete

All vessels will be given a few days for the paint to really dry (well, the truth is I am off to Indonesia on Tuesday for a couple of days) and then I will glue the labels on the tab at the back of the base.

Vessels are then varnished – I use Vallejo Satin Varnish for ships as it gives them a nice moist appearance.

The vessels are then removed from the tongue depressors and a name tag stuck to the bottom. They should be ready for posting Monday of next week with a bit of luck and a good following wind!

Work in Progress

The French World War 1 fleet from Hallmark (with a few extra vessels)
The French World War 1 fleet from Hallmark (with a few extra vessels)

On the bench at the moment, John’s 1/6000 French World War 1 fleet.

Progress today has been good with the sea bases all finished and the ships having had their first wash.

The destroyers and torpedo boats have had paint as well. So have 13 battleships.

Currently there are 44 destroyers and torpedo boats that I expect to have finished tonight (well, finished except for the labels and final varnishing).

Also being worked on is 55 battleships and cruisers. I am hoping to have them finished except for labels tomorrow night, as I am off to Jakarta for a few days again on Tuesday.

For the curious, the squares on the mat on the painting table are 1cm square so that will give you an idea of the size of the vessels.