In the previous entry in this series, I looked into what it would mean to expand from a skirmish Napoleonics army into an army suitable for fighting real battles. Now it's time to go from thought into action, as well as figuring out what this requires in practical terms.
Frenchmen Roll Call!
Not starting from scratch should give me an advantage. I've already painted Napoleonic French on and off for a few years. But how will that work translate into a useful foundation for a "big boy" Napoleonic army? It's time for a
I went to our gaming club and took out my French trays. Let's start with the important stuff:
Death on Hooves - Cavalry Check
The cavalry situation looks promising! If we're looking at about 12-14 cavalrymen per regiment, which seems a pretty common unit size, I can squeeze out about 7 or 8 regiments. That's at least half a cavalry corps! While I always like the idea of painting more cavalry it's clearly not a top priority for this project. Though, a few more chasseurs-a-cheval and maybe some dragoons and some more cuirassiers would be nice. And...
Adding Dignity to a Vulgar Brawl - Artillery
Here it looks worse. I only have one horse artillery and one foot artillery cannon with crew painted up. Preferrably I'd paint up at least one battery of three cannon for each type. I do have three unpainted cannon, but it would be nice to have some howitzers as well, as those were mixed into the batteries.
Now it gets messy. I've collected these without aiming for the proper proportions of the various kinds of companies, instead going for useful and interesting options in Sharp Practice. This means I have too many of some options, such as the specialist voltigeur skirmishers which are superb in SP2, and not enough of others, especially the poor old centre companies of fusiliers.
If I were to make battalions of 24 figures out of these they would have the same width as the 36 figure battalions that I aim for with my "real" army. Even without even proportions, that means that I could squeeze out about four or five battalions of line infantry and maybe two battalions of light infantry.
Once I had inventoried my collection I whisked away most of my voltigeurs in march attack poses that I always thought look strange to use as skirmishers in my SP2 games. They'll be press ganged into my new army, where they'll look far more normal when marching along the rest of the companies.
Batch Paint Plan
My initial plan is to be able to field about eight battalions of line infantry and four battalions of light infantry. After that I plan to gradually replace 24 minis battalions with 36 minis battalions, to get a more coherent look. I also plan to paint up a couple of artillery pieces.
This bread and butter routine will most likely be mixed up with some special regiments to keep me from getting bored of French infantrymen.
I set out with painting plan with five main parts:
After this Summer's painting, combined with some troops kidnapped from my SP2 army, this is how the Big Boy army is taking shape. You can see the two battalions that are almost ready: one of Victrix line infantry and one of Warlord's "Early French". The greatcoats are starting to form on the right, using leftover Perry's, and two new battalions in the background (more early Warlord as well as Perry's in Bardin uniforms).
With my painting strategy more or less decided, I needed some tactics for how to reach it. For Napoleonics I've always been a fan of batch painting, and that's how I plan to get this army done.
With each base having six miniatures it makes sense to divide the painting into factors of six. That's how I painted the figures above - out of my big pile of random minis, I'd take six guys in greatcoats, or twelve Early Warlord guys with shako covers, and so on. Most of these batches I paint in 18's. I glue them onto nails using wooden glue, and stick the nails into strips of wood that I've drilled holes into:
I start out with one colour at a time until I have basecoated every colour. Then I apply washes, and go over them again with the original paint and maybe a highlight. These are going to be tabletop standard after all, so no need to spend too much time on them. I've found 18 to be a reasonable number when I need to paint the full uniform, like above.
This is the batch I'm gearing up for afterwards. It's much larger, seven companies (or 42 minis), since most of them are wearing greatcoats. But I'm still working in factors of 6, so that I get nice and even bases out of each batch. It'll take two more batches like this to work through all my greatcoats - not counting the Guards!
Finally this inventory also makes is obvious what I'm missing, and will need to buy for my army. Unfortunately it's not flashy cavalrymen, but command groups! Of the new battalions I'm forming, I only have two (!) command groups. This means that I'll need to get at least four or five command groups to go with them. If I buy command groups from Perry, which comes in boxes of six, each one will also take up an entire company's worth in the battalions. This, of course, means that I can make even more battalions. Great!
I might also end up buying enough extra twoops in Bardin uniforms to at least form a whole battalion of them.
With all that said, I guess someone has to go back to painting line infantry. Wish me luck!
"Glory is fleeting,