"It´s too bad that the Lithuainian uhlans were not in the same brigade as the Soum hussars, as it would have looked nice with white czapacas besides the grey dolmans and white lace of the Soum hussar regiment... and when we are on the subject of hussar uniforms, do you combine yellow kiwer sash with red pom-pon on the Akhtyrsk hussar regiment? And how about the sash and pom-pon if they retained the 1809 shako (instead of getting the 1812 "kiwer" (witch also is a shako)) during the 1812 campaign? Should they be yellow and white then, even if we play 1812, as it came with the 1809 shako pattern?"
Finally, after more than 20 years of wargaming, I have reached the mature point of starting a Napoleonic project! Not a year to late I would say, even though I have not played a single battle yet. Apart from the great friends who venture with me I would like to thank Sam Mustafa of Honour Games, because if it wasn't for his games Lasalle and Blücher, I don´t think I would have been sucked into this! I have always thought of the various other Napoleonic rules as almost unplayable (correctly or not?), but I think that these games are very player friendly (we are gamers, aren't we?) and written with a design philosophy and level of detail that I like.
And then Sharp Practice 2 entered the scene, and as we like Chain of Command very much and they have much in common, there was a reason to start a skirmish project as well.
Now that fellow Napoleonic-venturer and club-mate Jonas has made a nice "5-steps to Napoleonics", I can't do anything but use it, even though it is a bit of a retrospective.
We initially decided to go for 6mm, but then concluded that it would be faster to build up a 28mm force for Sharp Practice instead, and let the 6mm wait for a while. The arrival of Sharp Practice 2 was instrumental in this, as I ain't building an entire army in 28mm (yet).
28mm miniatures are fun to paint so I am not sad about this. But I bide my time, and the massed battles of 6mm will come one day (for now they belong in the lead-pile).
Russians, of course! This would allow me to dive deeper in Russian history and culture. The French of this era would have made for a politically more interesting and progressive project than the Russians. But when I have the chance to field Russians, it has to be Russians.
Other armies to consider are Ottomans and Persians. But that would be a bit too far away from the main action and the French. So you could play Napoleonics without the French (Russians vs. Ottomans, Persians vs. Ottomans) - but honestly, it would not be quite as fun to start without the French! Maybe the first Ottoman project will be against the French as they fought it out during the Egyptian campaign?
I have seen Sergei Bondarchuks eight hour War and Peace drama three times and the parts about the 1812 invasion appeal to me (almost two hours of Borodino...). The epic scope of the 1812 invasion and retreat has always cought my mind as well. And waging a defensive war in 1812, you can have some sympathy for the Russians as well. To play the 1805 campaign with Russians however - monarchs paid to fight a war of aggression, it just doesn't have the same feel to it. I would just hope for my Russians to lose every time!
You can also then use your miniatures for the 1813 and 1814 campaigns in central Europe and France (Russian uniforms changed little from 1812 to 1814), a big bonus if you want to widen the scope further on!
After reading the Campaigns of Napoleon by David Chandler I think that the most scenario-friendly (for big battles and campaigns that is) part of the Napoleonic wars would be the campaign of 1809, when Austria attacks France. It would certainly be very funny to joke about what was said and done at the Hofs-kriegs-wurst-schnapps-Rath the night before battle ("Court-war-sausage-schnapps-Council", Prince Bolkonsky's contemptuous name for the Austrian Council of War, the Hofskriegsrath, where the part about the court was apparently no joke...). But when you consider the belligerents, the invasion of Russia is the choice period for me!
4. Unit types
After much reading and consideration I settled for Jaegers and Cossacks as my first troops for 28mm Napoleonics. This was due to several reasons:
Firstly, I liked the notion of not taking the most flashy uniformed men and starting with guard regiments and such, and the Russian infantry was composed of about 1/3 of Jaegers.
Secondly, Jaegers would be a good troop type to use in a skirmish game like Sharp Practice, with a force detached for some exciting smaller adventure, as you can imagine "light" troops were more often than infantry of the line.
As Jaeger batallions also had elite companies - Strelki (dedicated skimishers), and Carabinieris (Jaeger grenadiers) there is variation enough to field only jaegers as infantry.
Russian Jaeger officer and NCO, 1812 (from the Guard Jaegers - my Jaegers will be less showy, and not as easily overrun at Borodino). Easiest way to distinguish Jaegers from the line is that the former has black leather details and the latter white. The Jaegers have white trousers at summer and green at winter so this depicts the winter uniform.
Cossacks are a must when playing Russians in the Napoleonic wars! I like cavalry, and in Sharp Practice the Cossacks have the option to dismount and fight on foot. Cossacks will be an good supplement to my Jaegers, sent on different special missions, for foraging, delaying actions, ambushes and reconnaissance!
Then of course I need to add hussars, because of their splendid uniforms (they often cooperated with cossacks as well, cossacks masking the hussar's attacks, so it's a little bit extra "historically approved"). And I want curassiers because of their big white gloves and armor. Of course this list of units you would like to have really has no limit. As you play Russians you also need some guns... probably almost a battery.
For the Jaegers I decided to field the 1st company, 3rd battalion (thats the "2nd field batallion" - most regiments had three battalions, the proper 2nd being at depot... so you need to avoid to confuse the 2nd field battalion for the 2nd battalion... you learn along the way!) from the 21 Jaeger Regiment, Prince Chakoffskis Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, 1st Army of the West!
These fellows was with the main army facing Napoleon, and have a, from a wargaming perspective, interesting role in one of my favorite battles of the campaign - Valutina Gora, as well as standing in the first line at Borodino.
My first Sharp practice unit of eight Jaegers and a NCO (Perry miniatures). There are a lot of details, but they are easier to paint than I thought - they have exactly the same uniform after all! I made some experiments with white base-colour (green bases) and Army Painter Shade (marked AP) but it did not turn out to my liking. My Russians will be done by layering over black base-colour. Hardest was the white trousers, and I need to change the way the shako-cords were done (white on black gave to much contrast, I will go for white on light gray instead).
As for the Cossacks, I´ll go with a motley crew. Probably a unit from Don but with many of the men in uniforms from when their colonel decided the facing colors of their uniforms by themselves... you hardly can't go wrong here. I have heard that pink and red mach up neatly.
"Glory is fleeting,