Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Lieven on "Russia & Napoleon"

One of the most interesting books I've read recently was Lieven's Russia Against Napoleon, and I was thrilled to see in von Peter's blog that there was a podcast available from the London School of Economics of a lecture given by Professor Lieven himself on the subject: "The Tsar Liberates Europe".

On thing I like is the fact that he addresses the paradox of 1812 being the celebrated campaign in Russia, when it was the 1813-14 campaign where they really made an impact.

This is great stuff to listen to while commuting or at the gym.  As Abraham Lincoln said, "People who like this kind of thing will find it the kind of thing they like".

Thoroughly recommended, and thanks to Peter in New Zealand to bringing it to our attention.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A redoubtable undertaking

A Russian redoubt for my artillery, inspired by-of all things- tofu tubs!

I had been wanting to make some terrain for our Napoleonic games for a while, but hadn't given it all that much thought until yesterday morning when the "Tsarina" was about to toss these into the recycling bin. Small tofu containers that are common in supermarkets here.


I thought that they might come in useful for something, so I rescued them.  Having recently finished the licorne, I found myself thinking of how cool it would be to have a small Russian two-gun redoubt ready in time for the next game.

That same evening she went off to an accounting seminar, so I was able to start cutting, planing, and sanding bases without hindrance. After some hot work with saw and glue gun, I was able to knock up the basic shape thus:


I  added foam-board chunks for the embrasures and to build up the final shape, and covered all the joints liberally with PVA to anchor everything down.  


I'll leave it a day or two to dry out thoroughly, and then cover it with strips of towelling soaked in PVA, filler, and sand. Once that is done I'll add the gabions and any planking, and then texture the whole thing with a coating of my trusty, home-made papier-mâché (a.k.a. "messy but effective gunk")  before painting it.

As is the way of such things, I had some substantial cutoffs left over from the MDF board, so I also prepared bases for both a row of houses which will have fenced-off back gardens (I had a bunch of Hovel buildings lying around), and a strip of trees with a hedgerow for pesky voltigeurs to hide behind while taking potshots at us.


I haven't worked much on terrain pieces since my Dolomite fortress, so this will make for a nice little project (and will be easier to store). I've already sent off an order to Front Rank for some more gabion sets.  I have a trench work from Kallistra that will make the basis of a much larger redoubt later, but this one will do fine given the number of figures we have ready to go at the moment.

As far as painting goes, I'm finishing up a French 6-pdr. gun and some infantry to clear table space.  Then it's on to more Russians, and an additional section of horse artillery (a 6-pdr. this time), so as to have two guns for the redoubt.    Not to mention the (tedious) task of removing the flash and casting lines from twenty-four Russian cavalry- the Kharkovski Dragoon Regiment!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Painted Russians!

I finally had some hobby time today, so here it is- a finished stand of Russians!

A 10 pdr. Licorne of Horse Battery #8 ready to do some GBH to the French.  Front Rank miniatures, and a joy they were indeed to paint. These are some of their best figures in my opinion.  

Notice that the Czar's representative, Count Anatoly Maximovitch Bricoloff, observes the proceedings along with the British liaison officer, Major Bartholomew Fetlock-Withers (MP),  3rd Lord Nosebridle.  

Seconded from His Britannic Majesty's 36th Regiment of Foot to serve on the staff of the Army of Silesia, the major is here to ensure that both King George and Parliament are getting the biggest "bang" for their subsidy guineas- and that the funds earmarked for outfitting the battery do not surreptitiously end up being channelled into cases of vodka. 

The brave (if rapacious) Count Bricoloff is a conversion- head of a Russian dragoon added to the body of a Prussian general officer from Front Rank's SYW Frederick the Great vignette.  I'm quite happy with it, and the cloak was a lot of fun to paint.
 Ready to dispense death and destruction on Bonaparte's hordes.

One gun model is fine for the Black Powder rules.  Only five more models to do, and I'll have a full battery for Republic to Empire!

The green coats are a little lighter than they should be.  The Russian green was a very dark shade.  But as with my French, I find that in 28mm I need to make allowances for scale colour, and to lighten the shade somewhat.  Otherwise the figures end up looking too dark on the tabletop.

The gun is already a veteran, as I fielded it (although with a "naked" base) for our first Black Powder game that we played last week.  It was a hard-fought encounter between the British and the French, and while the French were victorious in the end, it was extremely close- a bloodbath for both sides. But it must be said that it would have been much more of a walkover for les Crapauds had it not been for the excellent performance of the Russian Horse Artillery, in fact the only artillery piece in the game.

For the longest time, the beleaguered licorne passed all its break point rolls, and pretty much devastated what had been up to then a successful French attack on the centre of the British line. It halted one infantry battalion rendering it incapable of any further offensive action, and proceeded to savage another which promptly high-tailed it off the field.

To top things off, the gun then went on to destroy a regiment of Chasseurs au ChevalBy this time the French were desperate to take out the Russian battery, so the French commanding general ordered the cavalry to charge in what proved to be a suicidal frontal attack.  Les beaux sabreurs hurled themselves at the gun, only to be decimated and utterly broken in just one turn.  Urrah! 

The licorne finally met its end when it received a flanking volley from French infantry, but by then it had almost single-handedly plunged the French plans into ruins.*

The Tsar would have been well pleased with the performance of the 8th Horse Artillery. The Russians more than justified the British subsidy! 
* (Unfortunately, I was the commanding the French! )