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!


Bluebear Jeff said...

I'm not bothered by this . . . but I do have a couple of things to mention.

One, if you do this I heartily suggest that you paint the bottom of the stands differently for the two "halves" (yellow and white, for example). This will make it easier to separate them.

The other item has to do with the unit standards (flags). Unless you do something clever like use magnets for switching out figures, the unit's standards may cause a problem for you.

But I certainly wish you well with this solution to your dilemma.

-- Jeff

Roby said...

Mi piacerebbe essere così bravo!!!

Der Alte Fritz said...

If you base the soldiers in two ranks, a 24 figure unit doesn't take up any more frontage than a 12 figure unit. The extra depth is so marginal as to really not be an issue.

Andy Mitchell said...

I'd paint 'regiments' of 24 instead of 'battalions' of 12. This way you can arrange units in larger (ie. better looking) formations where possible, but still be able to manouvre as smaller units where this is necessary.

Add a second rank (as Der Alte Fritz suggests) and you can have Grantian units of 48 men.