Thursday, January 22, 2009

In search of: recent Gå På rules review

I swear I just read it yesterday: an excellent review of Gå På, the rule set dedicated to the War of Spanish Succession and the Great Northern War by Thomas Arnfelts of Acedia Press. Some of you, or some of the bloggers you link to, bought and read the booklet over the holidays, and posted a very well-done review. I want to share it with a friend, but I didn't bookmark it, and of course now I am going crazy because I cannot track it down. Can anyone help? Thanks in advance!

UPDATE 1-24-2009. Found!

Monday, January 19, 2009

WSS/SYW cavalry - a question, and a special sale

Question to my very knowledgeable readers: are there SYW cavalry units that, properly painted, could pass muster as WSS cavalry units?

The question follows not only from my precedent threads on "cheating", but by the excellent special sale now advertised by Old Glory 15 (which I learned by a mail they sent tonight to their customers: nice touch!)

For those of you into miniatures by OG15, BattleHonors, and Rank &File: for orders of $100+, you get a 30% discount... how could YOU resist?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cheating - a continuing series...

Since, ehm ehm, I decided to spell the beans about a few, despicable wargaming practices I decided to engage in, I will confess another questionable course of action I recently resolved to follow.

The astute reader may have notice, in previous posts about my WSS project, a unresolved tension about the size of the units. I know and I wholeheartedly agree that 24-figure units look much better than 12-figure units. On the other side, all I have is a 4' by 6' table, and I plan on using a few different rulesets, some of which can be played with 12-figure units. Not that I plan on fighting Blenheim, but it would be nice to have the flexibility, depending by the scenario, to play larger scale battles with 12-figure units or enjoy smaller scale engagements with 24-figure battalions in full display. As many wargamers, I also suffer from a certain bulimia in planning for my armies. Seriously: with so many colorful regiments, how do I decided what to paint, and what not.

So, how to reconcile these opposite aspirations? And how to accommodate for 12- and 24-figure battalions, without too much redundancy but enough variety?

Once again, an attentive exploration of online sources came to help (I already pointed to this fabulous and inspiring website.) Let's look to a few examples.

On the left, we have a sample of the uniform of the Regiment Normandie; on the right, the Regiment Piemont. They look almost the same, but for a little detail: the lining on the tricorne is yellow in the former case, white in the latter. Subtle difference, which does not go unnoticed by my anal retentive self: but how noticeable would be on 15mm miniatures from 3ft away? You may have already guess where I am going with this... IF I paint ONE 24-figure units, where half of the miniatures have a yellow lining, and the other half a white one, I can cheat a bit and actually have TWO different 12-figure units when playing larger encounters. Again, cheating is cheating, but functional to an end. The difference is minuscule enough not too be too disturbing when Normandie and Piemont will be bunched together, but fully satisfying when I will play Age of Reason, or Piquet, or GaPa, as written.

If you can tolerate this shortcut, the possibilities to diversify your armies on the cheap become endless. Two more examples.

In this case, the two regiments are Anjou, left, and Berry, right. Here's the difference is in the intensity of the blue. Almost impossible to detect, unless you watch closely and in the right light. And the same difference in the intensity of the blue color on collar, cuffs and waistcoat is what set apart the uniforms of the next two regiments, Stuppa on the left (Suisse unit in French pay) and Dorrington on the right (an Irish battalion also in French pay.)

Bottomline. I understand I have just shocked and outraged the purists. But I believe that I found a decent trick to achieve a few goals: I can afford to have several different units on a 12-figure per unit, and at the same time I can combine these in pair and, with little and tolerable differences, deploy 24-figure units when the fancy strikes. A shortcut to enjoying the best of the two possible worlds!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


A.k.a. converting figures.

As I noticed in the previous post, uniforms in the early XVIII century seem to share several common traits, so that national differences are mostly ( mostly: not entirely) confined to the color of coats, cuffs, waistcoats, collars. This realization spurred some thinking about one of my persisting, sore issue: what to do with a very large amount of unpainted lead I bought years ago from Old Glory: assorted 15mm Prussian and Austrian for the SYW, a period I decided, after all, to overlook in favor of the earlier war of Spanish Succession. My readers will be familiar with my headaches about these miniatures, as occasionally I return on the sour topic.

Having resolved against a SYW project, the question about what to do with these figures still stand. My last, tentative answer: to attempt some conversion to the early period. After consulting several plates, I realized that, at a 15mm scale (and thinking in terms of painting outcomes at a 3ft distance on the tabletop), WSS and SYW uniforms differ in three respects:

A. SYW coats are shorter and more fitting; WSS coats are longer to the knee;
B. SYW uniforms show elaborate and colorful turnbacks, and several details in terms of pockets, bottoms, etc. WSS are plain and simple;
C. SYW belts tend to be white, whereas WSS belts are mostly buff or brownish.

There is nothing I can do about A., but converting B. and C. from SYW to WSS only require a proper painting job; to some extend, at a 3ft distance view, a proper painting job may also help to artificially make coats longer than they are cast.

Hence my plan: I brought back on my table some Prussian musketeers and Austrian infantry units in tricorne, and I painted the upper section of the pants in the same color of the coat: dark blue for the Prussian, soon-to-be turned into Palatine Leibregiment, obviously white for the Austrian, soon-to-become the French Luxemburg regiment. A heavy layer of paint help in tricking the sight. I will NOT paint most of the details, just leaving to the final dip to highlight some of them. Finally, all the belts will be painted brown. We'll see what the final result will be. And no: do not expect to see any large picture of these miniatures. I know I am cheating!

But it the plan will work, I might finally find a solution for all those neglected and not really loved OG miniatures sitting in the closet! Austrian and Prussian musketeers will become French, Austrian and minor states WSS units; part of Austrian cuirassiers will become the Palatine's Venningen Gendarmes, and the artillery will be liberally distributed on a as-needed basis. I still have a few doubts about Prussian grenadiers and fusiliers, so if you could make recommendations for suitable WSS counterparts I will sincerely appreciated!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I just replied to a comment by Steve to the previous post, and I realized that some of this information might be of interest to a broader audience (if you are like me, you probably skip the comments section, or get distracted at the second one...)

Steve guessed, correctly, that the figures shown in the pictures had been "dipped." Correct! If you look through some my old posts in the "Painting" category, you will find more examples about my dipping technique. I use MinWax Polyshade, a product to treat wood,easily available in American hardware stores. Depending by the effect I want to create, I use either the "Tudor Satin" finish, which is basically black (although MinWax has now a new shade which is officially 'Classic Black"), or the "Royal Walnut", which is more brownish-reddish (it works very well for natives in the colonial period; I once tried "Honey Pine" to create a sandy effect on bedouins, though, but it was a complete disappointment.) In the case of my WSS miniatures, it was "Tudor Satin."
Strictly speaking, I actually do not "dip", but I apply the finish with a brush, as I like to control the final effect. In particular, as a matter of personal taste, I like white to remain white, rather then turning "dirty grey" as it may happen in case of too heavy dipping. Occasionally, I leave the figures to drip upside-down on some support of sort to get rid of the excess dip. As a general pattern, results are excellent on miniatures primed in white and painted in bright colors; the effects are barely noticeable on dark colors (check the Palatine infantry, in dark blue, in the previous post.) And on miniatures primed in black, a dark dipping may result in figures excessively dark, at least for my taste -- as documented here.

In general, I am a fan of dipping. While it does not shorten my painting time, as I tend to detail my miniatures quite a bit anyway, it really add that special shading that, to my eyes, turns a painting job from B- (here) into an A- (here).
But again, as we say in Italy, "ogni scarrafone e' bello a mamma sua": every cockroach is beautiful to his mommy's eye, thus I tend to have a weak spot in grading my own figures...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A project gains traction

Belated Happy New Year!

By a quick look at my blog roll on the side bar, it is apparent I am the last one coming back to blogging after the holidays break. As now usual, a variety of circumstances have delayed my updates, but that doesn't mean that no wargaming activity took place chez DestoFante. Under my Christmas tree I found a new ruleset, "Cartouche 2" - the Piquet module for WSS, WAS, SYW and AWI. It is an excellent addition to an already excellent line of products, and I will come back soon with more thoughts about it.

I also persisted in my slow, but steady progress on the WSS project, and I am now glad to share some previews of the finally mounted miniatures that you have already seen at different stages of preparation in the past. We are getting very close to the final christening! At the present time, I have completed four 12-figure units, two French and two for Electoral Palatine. And, more importantly, I can show you the pictures!

The clever and knowledgeable reader will recognize, top to bottom, a Palatine unit from Edition Brokaw, a first French unit from Minifigs - the Regiment de Perche - and a second French unit from Minifigs, the Regiment d'Enghien. Flags are from Warflag and Palatine and Perche, and from this site for the Enghien.

A few words for commentary. These are my first XVIII century units officially completed. (Almost completed, to be precise: I still need to do some green painting on the bases, although I do not plan any flocking.) There was a lot of learning involved in the process; as in the case for new figures and new periods, at first things look more complex than they really are. I experimented a bit with colors, learning a lesson or two. I wish the French "grey" could be more greyish: it almost look light-blueish in the pics, under less than ideal light. The choice of the two specific regiments, Perche and Enghien, was more driven by the experimenting with the colors than by gaming purposes or historical interest. In the case of the Palatine units, I learned that it makes a huge difference to apply Vallejo dark blue over a black or white primer. Discerning eyes will recognize, in the back of the Palatine unit, the attached grenadiers with brighter coats - these were the figures primed in white, while the main body of the unit went through a black priming in an early batch.

But now some good news. WSS uniforms seem to be remarkably similar across armies: it is not uncommon for some miniature manufacturers (Dixon, Essex, Irregular) to actually offer generic types to cover all nationalities. In terms of painting, it means that once I went through the learning curve once, I now feel confident to be able to quickly add additional units at a relative fast pace. In the making, I already have another 24-figure (or two 12-figure, depending...) Palatine unit, plus the Palatine Leibregiment, plus a converted French battalion (Anjou or Luxemburg), plus a Palatine cavalry unit... and a long queue of French (including Suisse & Irish) and Spanish (including Savoy) figures heading for priming soon, plus some Brandenburg-Ansbach Austrian grenadiers already on the bench... stay tuned!