Saturday, 3 April 2021

The Oddity of TMP, and alternative Napoleonic Forums

I hesitated somewhat in making this post, but decided it was worth doing on the chance it might save others from a similar experience!

As readers may or may not know, TMP (The Miniatures Page) has been a central location for Napoleonic wargaming discussion in the past, though today there are many more options of course. Even though the TMP forum software is poor by today's standards and a relic of the 90's (e.g. it shuts down for an hour each day, which annoyingly happens mid-evening here in NZ/Australia!), they have been around for a long time and so have accumulated members and posts for that reason alone.

Recently the TMP owner and editor Bill implemented a new policy stating one cannot make announcements about new products, though you are still able to write reviews on them. This has caused much controversy and somewhat reduced the usefulness of the site. However, I can perfectly well understand the position he took, wanting advertisers to pay rather than getting free advertising.

The policy is written like this:

Can I announce my new wargaming product on the forum?
No – please see the News of the Hobby FAQ section.
I'm a fan. Can I promote a new release from my favorite hobby company?
Please don't. If we allow that, it incentivizes non-advertisers to get their fans to post on our forum and get unpaid advertising. Of course, you can still post a review or a game report.


Fair enough perhaps, but also unclear. For example, I have just recieved a large order of Napoleonic Gringo40 figures (and will post about them on this blog shortly!).  Thus I wanted to know if these would count as a new product announcement given some have been released in the last couple of years I believe. And if I do a review, is it enough to just give them a Amazon style rating out of five stars, or is something more substantial than this needed?  

So to help clarify, I asked for more information on the following two questions:

  1. How new does a product have to be, in order that one shouldn't post about it as a new release (e.g. new release this month, within this quarter, or this year?).
  2. What is sufficient as a review? E.g. is a rating out of five like an Amazon review ok, or would that be that against the spirit of this rule?
In other words, I wanted to make sure I was supporting TMP by only posting appropriately according to the intention of the guidelines. 

I suggested even 3-4 more words of clarification would be very helpful, but strangely the editor Bill refused to offer even the smallest guidance on these two questions. Instead he said he liked to keep things "simple". This approach seems simplistic rather than simple to me, not to mention an odd statement given he has the most complex and detailed FAQ I've seen on any website. Confused I queried whether his response was helpful or somewhat obtuse, and I returned to find my message deleted and my account locked!  I was surprised the editor would have such a thin skin over such innocuous questions, and questions too that were aimed at trying to understand how to appropriately support TMP with posting. Perhaps cultural differences are at play... or he was just having a bad day?

Sadly a quick google reveals my experience here is hardly a unique one. The editor Bill seems to have an art for dramatic reactions like this to perceived slights. An odd way to do business, and create and support community. Though I now have some greater insight into why multiple advertisers, bloggers and wargamers have blacklisted TMP. I'd wondered about this previously and also the paranoid sounding comments from Bill about all these people trying to "KILL" his site (he says it in capitals!). I suspect his own self-sabotage is likely contributing to this, whatever other factors might be at play. 

Good luck to TMP and its staff, but in light of this bizarre encounter, I doubt I will be visiting it anymore (except perhaps the back catalogue of Napoleonic posts if they come up in google searches!). I do hope they manage to turn things around somehow. Ironically my blog will likely still be advertised on TMP because a certain "Tango" there seems to post more links from my site than even I bothered to!

Helpful Napoleonic Wargaming Forums


Anyway, to end this tale more productively and positively, I thought it was also a good opportunity to share other Napoleonic community sites where I have had more agreeable experiences, both in terms of interactions, and in terms of the forum technology itself being less archaic. 

Facebooks Groups

The Napoleonic Wargamer Facebook Group (10'000 members).

Napoleonic Miniature Wargaming (6000 members)

Black Powder Era Wargaming  (8000 members)

Black Powder 28mm Gaming (4000 members)

These sites really have taken over for me as sources for quicker expert opinion and support. For example, the prolific historian and author Dr Stephen Summerfield is a regular and valued contributer to the first group, as are numerous wargames authors and publishers.

There are many other smaller Facebook groups dealing with different aspects, e.g. battlefields, uniforms, scales, solo gaming, and many for specific rulesets. For example, for rules I have reviewed or mentioned so far on this site there are groups for General d'Armee, and Lasalle and language specific ones for Bataille Empire, But the above are more general sites where you could ask for further specific information about groups if that is what you are after. 


Forums

Forums are perhaps not as favoured these days due to people making more use of Facebook, but here are some useful ones:

The Wargames Website - Napoleonic Section  (Has Napoleonics sections in news and on the forum)

Lead Adventure - Black Powder Forum

The Napoleonic Wars Forum

Lastly I should say that the blogging community itself is very positive with comments, feedback and information sharing. :)


I'll end this tale here and I hope that is helpful to someone out there! In the next few days I willl try and add a post detailing my newly arrived Gringo 40 Napoleonics and my thoughts on them. Another big Perry order is also in transit, and I have a load of Eagle's newish Wurttemburgers to do this year too.

Thursday, 11 March 2021

Battlereport: French Guard vs Russian Guard

Having just painted up a unit of Gardes d'Honneur, Matt suggested using all the French Guard Cavalry in a game, and I thought I would give it a try. However, the points for all the Guard Cavalry was such a large amount (600 points), that I thought I would expand the numbers by using a load of conscript infantry (and not overly patriotic conscripts, but the less willing kind so I could afford more of them!) The idea of the Elite Guard Cavalry riding to the rescue of conscripts also appealed so off we went with a 1000 point game against his Russian Guard.


Rules used were 321 Fast Play Napoleonic Rules again (with some 5.1 test amendments).


Armies used were as follows, with all units being Regular unless otherwise noted.

French Forces, Competent Commander (25 units, breakpoint 9)
  • Cautious: 4 Raw Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmisher
  • Cautious: 4 Raw Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmisher
  • Cautious: 3 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmisher
  • Strategist: 1 Elite Dragoon, 1 Veteran Dragoon, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery (Guard)
  • Strategist: 1 Elite Light Cavalry, 1 Veteran Light Cavalry, 1 Elite Lancer, 1 Veteran Lancer, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery (Guard)
Russian Forces, Competent Commander (21 units, breakpoint 7)
  • Competent: 2 Elite Russian Line, 1 Veteran Russian Line, 1 Heavy Artillery (Guard)
  • Competent: 2 Veteran Russian Line, 1 Veteran Light Infantry, 1 Foot Artillery (Guard)
  • Competent: 5 Russian Line, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Competent: 2 Light Infantry
  • Competent: 1 Veteran Large Cuirassier, 1 Veteran Cuirassier, 1 Horse Artillery (Guard)
  • Competent: 1 Veteran Lancer, 1 Lancer 

The Battle

We once again rolled up an Encounter battle (1/3 of forces in reserve, arriving from turn 1 for attacker which was me, and turn 3 for defender). Terrain turned out to be minimal, just a ridge on the right and some woods and a town on the left flank.

French concentrating for attack on the right.

Russian Defenders.

Everything concentrated on one flank!

Guard Horse Artillery and Lancers press the attack.

Red Lancers retire and Chasseurs take their place as Russian Guard Cuirassiers move to oppose (Lance bonus is lost against Cuirass in rules used). Grenadiers and Empress Dragoons support the Chasseurs ready to deal with Cuirassiers if Chasseurs are forced to retire (or heaven forbid - broken!).


Both Russian Cuirassier units take some minor disruption from Guard Horse Artillery, then the Russian Chevalier Guard Cuirassiers charge the Chasseurs.

In a two round combat, the Chasseurs inflict three disorder on the Chevaliers, and take two, and so heroically beat off the Russian heavies despite being at a disadvantage here. The Chevaliers retire.

On comes the good French infantry reserves (meaning regular rather than raw infantry!). I throw them all in to try and crush the Russian right. 

Meanwhile on my left, the Raw French Line are being hard pressed, the first unit falls back almost broken after being bombarded by artillery, it's place taken by a reserve. Garde's d'Honneur charge Russian infantry to force them into square and break up their attack.

And my Lancers prevent the assault by any of the other Russian columns.

In the centre the other Russian Cuirassier unit charges the Polish Lancers but is intercepted by the Empress Dragoons who break them. The Empress Dragoons fail to restrain and pursue towards the rear of the Russian force towards the retreated Chevalier Guard (off screen to right below).

Grenadiers run down an exposed Russian Horse Battery without losing order (its withdrawal prevented by the Dragoons to its rear). I also exhaust one of my disordered Guard Horse Artillery batteries trying to bombard the Chevaliers though and it is removed.




Over on the left the Russians break through the conscripts, as my cavalry has had to ride over to my left to intercept incoming Russian Lancers.

And the Chevalier Guard make up for their poor perfomance against the Chasseurs, by forcing back both the Grenadiers and Empress Dragoons, despite being in a state of much exhaustion themselves!


The Chevalier Guard retire very much blown.

My cavalry is also becoming increasingly fatigued, but I push the attack again with both infantry and artillery support against the Russian Guard infantry (including some reinforcements that have just arrived - note two Prussian Guard units subbing in here as Matt ran out of Russians to paint).  The Grenadiers inflict two disorder against a square but do not break it and my cavalry retires but stays close enough to trap the infantry in squares.

Over on the left, the opposing Light cavalry units dance around each other, neither side really wanting to commit to combat!


My Conscripts are hard pressed, and the first brigade breaks under the Russian attack. A fresh Conscript unit routs, while a highly disordered and thus almost useless Conscript unit decides to stay!

Attacking the next Conscript Brigade, Veteran Russian Jagers charge and break another Conscript unit...

...but charging on they are broken by the next Conscript unit they run into!



Over on the right, multiple Russian infantry units finally break under the sustained assault of combined cavalry, artillery and infantry attack, and the Russian Army also breaks. 



Conclusion

A hard contest, with the superior French numbers paying off against the smaller but overall better quality Russian army.  Conscripts are a risky venture, able to boost numbers and the army break point and hold the line briefly. But also able to lose those numbers and open a hole in your line just as easily!

The French Guard Cavalry didn't lose a single unit despite repeated action, though it was very much fatigued by the end of the battle.  They were also very busy trying to save the conscripts in the centre, prevent the Russian Lancer attack on the left, as well as press the main attack on the right! I ended up losing command control of the lights on one flank or the other due to them being so dispersed, despite their extra range for command. But overall an excellent preformance for this first outing of all the Guard Cavalry.

This game also took a relatively long time to play (about 4 hours I think), due to both of us agonising on the critical decisions and hard choices!


Saturday, 6 March 2021

French Imperial Guard Cavalry Corps - 28mm Perry

Bit of a monster post this one. A detailed look at my French Guard Cavalry Corps project for the 1813 era, which with recent addition of the Gardes d'Honneur is now complete. I had uploaded some pictures of some of these units 4 years ago(!), but thought I'd take some more consistent ones here, plus there are some changes. Note I haven't included the Horse Artillery or Generals in these pictures, but they are completed too, except for Murat.


This force is designed for a Leipzig refight at an approximate 1:100 scale. So these 72 cavalry represent the major formations of the 7357 cavalry of the Imperial Guard at the Battle of Leipzig:
Front row: Chasseurs a Cheval, Grenadiers a Cheval, Polish Lancers
Back row: Gardes d'Honneur, Empress Dragoons, Dutch Lancers


The squadrons of these regiments were mixed up in different ways in 1813, and to be strict these numbers would also include a few Berg Lancers, a couple of Mameluke figures and others scattered about. However for reasons of sanity this is my first attempt at an impression of this Corp that is more aesthetically pleasing, and less confusing in a refight that will already be large and confusing enough!

Following are detailed photos of each regiment. All the models are from Perry Miniatures.

Grenadiers a Cheval

The "Gods" or "Big Boots", and "Old Guard" of the Guard Cavalry. Heavy cavalry riding big black horses.






Empress Dragoons

Similar equipment to the Grenadiers but with green coats and metal helmets instead of bearskins.







Chasseurs a Cheval

Light Cavalry, "Guides" of the Guard and escort to Napoleon and other Generals. I've added a bit more detailing to piping and lacework of these, while I was painting the Gardes d'Honneur, and also redid the green with Vallejo Deep Green rather than Uniform Green to give it a richer hue.


See my previous post on these for commentary on the pelisses on these figures, which were extras supplied by Alan Perry (the figures don't come with them, but I wanted to brighten up this regiment so it looked more guard like!).


The top of the Colpack should also be black, unless they had removed the cover to the flamme which I'm saying they have...

(Edit: An update on this from 'Tassie' on TMP that I'll include here as some interesting information about this, he says: "I'm afraid that's not correct. The flamme / bag was completely detachable. It did not tuck inside the colpack or sit under a cover. Only the vertical sides of the colpack were covered in bearskin. The top of the colpack had a black leather surface and rim, practically identical to that of a shako. The flamme / bag was held in place and/or detachable by means of three fairly large iron hooks and eyes, ish 14mm long. If the flamme / bag wasn't fixed onto the colpack by these hooks and eyes, the black leather top of the colpack would be exposed, although as the bearskin rolled over the top of the leather rim, it all but obscured the leather surface, leaving only the middle portion visible. There's a photograph of a good, original First Empire other ranks' colpack, clearly showing the hooks and eyes, on page 230 of the book, Les Tresors de l'Emperi, by Vincent Bourgeot.").




Gardes d' Honneur

A newly painted unit. Four regiments of Gardes d'Honneur were raised in 1813 as an emergency measure due to the lack of cavalry after the Russian disaster. They were raised from the nobility who could supply their own equipment and horses.  The uniform differed from normal Hussar dress only in that the flounders of the cords on the shako were on the left rather than right side.  I've painted these as the second regiment, but the only difference in uniform between the four regiments was the plume tip, which was red (1st regiment), blue (second regiment), yellow (third regiment), and white (4th regiment).


This unit is a bit of a disaster story, which is why I've taken so long to paint them! The problem may not be immediately noticeable, but observant Napoleonic experts may realise what is wrong! See if you can guess what it is before reading onwards... ;)

I tend to assemble and paint quite a few models at any one time, and these I got and assembled along with many others. As noted above, I had some extra Pelisses supplied by Alan Perry and thought I'd add them to these figures as for the Chasseurs above.  I dutifully did so....

Only when I started to paint them did I realise the error. The models were already wearing their pelisses rather than having them slung over the shoulder, so they now had TWO pelisses! Aaagh. With epoxy glue there was no way these were budging.

And so rather demoralised by this, they sat in a box for quite some time...

But then I decided, actually with some clever paintwork I can mostly hide this mistake, and they didn't turn out too badly in the end I think.  They will also be very warm in winter. :)

Polish Lancers

The famous Polish Lancers. As mentioned in this previous post  I used a more pinky crimson colour over the red to try and clearly distinguish the colour from the red of the Red Lancers below.








Dutch Lancers

And lastly, here are the Red Lancers of the Guard.  Very bright colours in this uniform!






Phew and done, thanks for looking, all that now remains for the 1813 Guard is two more units of Young Guard to bring those up to 8 units, plus some specific Guard Generals.