Sunday 26 January 2020

Prussians - Yorck's Corps

The first of my Prussian Corps for Spring 1813 is complete. It's actually the 2nd Corps under Yorck.

There are two brigades of regular infantry with attached hussars. There's a single base of dragoons, one of horse artillery and one of foot artillery

I'm already hard at work on the next Corps, Blücher's 1st Corps.

Saturday 25 January 2020

Kings of War 3rd Edition - The Wiltfather

I've decided I will play a bit more Kings of War this year. Last year I decided to wait until 3rd edition came out and so had loads of time for Blücher. Now 3rd edition Kings of War is out I want to get back into that.

There are lots of new units to choose from in the new books. It really is like being a kid in a sweet shop. You want to have a bit of everything. But for once I'm going to concentrate my efforts on just one army and not even a new one for me really.

I've plumped for Sylvan Kin. It provides a theme I really like for my existing Elf army. This army is already well rounded and so I won't be looking to add much to it. I want to make use of what I already have in new ways. I don't really need new Kings of War models as I do have a heck of a lot stuff already!

So, I took Sylvan Kin to the Wild Charge tournament last weekend. In the games I didn't do that great, 2 losses and 2 wins. But I did get Judge's Choice for Best Painted. Which is great!

Discussing with other players the special Treeherder upgrade, "The Wiltfather" kept on coming up as a recommendation. This is a particularly sad/angry Treeherder who brings death to those that deserve it. Also in the rules it gives the Elite rule to all friendly Verdant units within 6", which sounds well worth it! I'll try it out for the first time on Monday night.

So I've spent a little bit of time modifying one of my existing Treeherder models to fit. The new paint-job is inspired by the Weirwood trees from Game of Thrones. It was suggested to me to add skulls to the branches, but instead I've gone with a Warlord Games Skeleton that the Wiltfather is looking sadly at. Has he just killed it? Why is it black? Has he burned it? Was it undead or alive before he got it? There's a story there...

I also added a few more old GW Dryads to my unit of Hunters of the Wild to make them up to a regiment.

Friday 3 January 2020

Basing the Prussians

Now on to the final stage. The basing of the minis.

I first stripped off the minis from one of the sets of 3 temporary bases and remove the double-sided tape from those. That can be thrown away as it's useless now.

I used to go through a rather laborious process of gluing the minis to the bases with Aleene's Tacky glue and then carefully putting pre-mixed filler all over the base, waiting to dry and painting with the Burnt Umber Crafter's Acrylic, but I've found a much quicker and actually much cheaper way.

I use Brown Acrylic Frame Sealant from Screwfix. If you go down this route make sure you don't get Silicone as that won't take paint! I slavered a thin layer of this onto the base and it acts as all three of the stages above, glue, filler and paint! You do get a bit of shrinkage as it dries, but not enough to cause a problem.

So first into the brown goo was the rear rank, mounted officer and drummer. You'll notice I've had to move the officer from his planned central position to the edge because he just would not fit in the middle.

Anyway, after pushing the models in with my sculpting tool I reversed the tool and pushed the goo around to merge in with the bases. Goo is the correct term with this stuff, it's sticky, soft and, if you're not careful, can get everywhere. It sticks to fingers and tools. Luckily it also is relatively easy to wipe off and is water-based. Still you don't want to get it on the models if you can help it hence using one end of the tool for pushing the models around and the other for the goo itself, trying to keep the former end as clean as possible.

After getting those in the right place I applied the front rank and standard bearer and then after more adjustment the skirmishers.

Then a small rectangle was scraped off one of the rear corners. That will be where I put the unit identifying marks. 

You will also notice the bit I have hanging off the front. The base is quite messy whilst this is wet and that can be cut off a lot more easily when it's dried.

So I did this with all three bases and then left them overnight to dry.

Tonight I finished them off. First I tidied up the edges with a sharp knife.

Then a heavy dry brush with Beasty Brown and also painting the edge and the unit marking area with the same.

Then a lighter dry brush with Pale Sand mixed 50/50 with the Beasty Brown.

The last dry brush is just Pale Sand on it's own.

The dry brushing will mess up the edges and unit marking area, so that needs tidying back up with Beasty Brown. This also is a second coat which is often needed around the edges anyway.

The various markings are then added. I outlined them with black, which is the colour I have chosen to help distinguish the nation of this army. French I did with blue, British with red and Russian with green.

The markings themselves are II for the Corps number and the small 1 next to it is to signify the 1st Brigade of that in case I need that detail. The 6 is the Elan of the unit and a small S for the Skirmish Trait. I have various letter codes for the different traits. Most are just the obvious initials. All except Shock and Steady, which become A (for attack) and D (for defence) as otherwise there are too many S's.

There is also a white mark on the front middle. I don't bother with arc markings on the base as I use an arc of fire template for that.

After this the static grass is applied. These are home-made self adhesive tufts of 2mm spring meadow static grass. I use something like this to make those in bulk from time-to-time. (Edit: See here for how I make them.) They are just pulled off the backing paper with tweezers and put where needed. They can even be moved if I'm not happy with them. Even months after being stuck in place.

And here they are all done. Just a quick spray with matt varnish and they're ready for battle.


In the comments I was asked what sculpting tool I used. It's actually a wax carving tool that I obtained years ago.  I found them still available on ebay. Anyway here's a photo along with some more casualty markers that I am making right now using much the same techniques as above.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Painting Prussians!

Having prepared the 6mm Heroics and Ros Prussians it's time to start painting.

In the following I'm just going to show a single temporary base from the nine I will actually be painting. These, as I mentioned, will become three regiment bases on 60mm x 30mm MDF bases. Each representing a Combined Infantry Regiment from Hunnerbein's brigade in Yorck's Corps.

Each of those Combined Infantry Regiments is actually composed of a mixture of battalions from different Line Regiments in the Prussian army. In the case of the one I'll show in the photos it'll be the 2nd Combined Infantry Regiment which contains the 1st Battalion of the 3rd East Prussian Infantry Regiment and the 1st and Fusilier Battalions of the 4th East Prussian Regiment. I'm going to choose just one of those battalions to represent whole Combined Infantry Regiment. In this case it will be the 1st Battalion of the 4th East Prussian Regiment.

When painting these I used a 000 Windsor and Newton Series 7 brush and a head magnifier over my reading glasses. My eyes really are not that great and magnification is key. There's also a very bright LED lamp set to as close to sunlight colour as possible and a home-made wet-palette. Many of the paints used have been chosen because they are just ones I have to hand.

To start with I have applied the coat colour as a base. I've used Vallejo Prussian Blue. Some might say this is too bright for the dark Prussian coats, but with 6mm I've found it pays to paint with bright colours and anyway if you look around in various sources you will find a large range of shades represented. It seemed right to use a colour named after the nation I'm painting an army for.

Next I painted the trousers Light Grey. This seems to be the right colour for 1813 from what I can tell. It did occur whilst painting this that it is so close to the primer colour that if I'd taken more care with the Prussian Blue then I'd not have to do this stage. Maybe I'll try that next time!

Next is all the Black bits. Shako, which I will be leaving plain black to represent the commonly seen oil-skin cover, boots, bayonet and sword sheath, and ammo pouch.

Next will be the cross straps in Off-White. Though actually it's just cross strap, singular as the greatcoat strap covers the other one. I also start the first of several coats of Off-White on the flag since I need a white background for my transparent home-made transfers.

Now the backpack in Cavalry Brown. Just a bit peaks out of the top above the greatcoat roll on the back.

And then the greatcoat roll itself in London Grey.

Now it's on to brighter colours. The turnbacks will be red or Vermillion, the 4th East Prussian had light blue shoulder straps and brick-red or dull orange collars and cuffs. I've used Deep Sky Blue and Clear Orange for these.

You'll note I've painted little markings in those colours and marked the base with the infantry regiment number. This helps keep track of it whilst painting all the different units.

Now the muskets and bayonets. Musket stocks first in Beige Brown, the colour I pretty much always use for wood. Bayonets and Swords in Oily Steel, which is my go-to steel colour. You'll note I actually painted the standard staff white at this point after an extra bit of research.

I always used to paint the faces first on 28mm minis, but on 6mm they're right near the end. Hands and faces in Dwarf Flesh as I always feel it looks nicer than the paler alternatives often proposed and various details in Old Gold, finial on the standard, sword hilts, sheath chapes.

Now its on to fine and miscellaneous details: the horse, drum and anything else I might have missed.

Of note here is the horse blanket for the officer. According to a source I found all Prussian officer's horse blankets were made from black bear skins.

Next the standard transfer is added. This I've made myself with my inkjet printer and the images from The transfer is coated with Vallejo Matt Varnish and the edges of the image tidied up with appropriate coloured paint.

Here's a photo of my complete transfer sheet. I've learned from experience to have plenty of spares, though I didn't need any for this work!

The last thing needed is to paint the bases. This is a colour I use a lot on my terrain. Burnt Umber from Crafter's Choice. It's available from The Works as well as, I assume, other places.

And the whole lot ready for basing, which will be the next blog post.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Preparing for Prussians...

My next army for Blücher is the Prussians, specifically in 1813.

Working from the order of battle for the first battle in Spring 1813, Mockern, I've decided that Yorck's II Corps is a good place to start with Bülow and Borstell being the next ones after.

Yorck's II Corps has 2 infantry brigades and a cavalry and artillery reserve. Unlike brigades in the other armies I've done these are actually far too large to be represented by a single base. In fact they are the size of divisions in other armies. This is the norm for the Prussian army.

The first brigade under Hünerbein is split into three Combined Infantry Regiments, one Combined Hussar Regiment and three artillery batteries. The three infantry regiments are each about the right size for a Blücher unit being 2403 men strong on paper. So that's easy!

The cavalry however is just 801 with only 200 horses being available at the start of 1813. I don't have numbers for later, but I expect until the armistice things didn't get much better. So that unit will have to be represented by the mixed brigade trait being added to one of the infantry regiments, which is suggested in the Blucher rule book. I plan to do this with three cavalry models mounted on a 20mm x 20mm base placed next to one of the infantry regiments. I might even allow the marker to be moved to infantry units within the brigade as would happen with a sub-commander marker in Blücher.

As for artillery, there's enough batteries to make a full massed unit in the Blücher rules or I might base some up for attachment like the cavalry. Whichever way it works out fine.

I'm going to concentrate first on the Infantry. The Late War Prussian lists in Blücher consist of four types of infantry: Guards/Elite, Line, Reserve and Landwehr. I shall ignore the Guards/Elite for now, since there seem to be none in Yorck's Corps and the Landwehr only start to appear after the armistice. The Reserve and Line are more interesting.

What we have at this point is actually Line. The reserve did exist but were mixed in with the Line before the armistice, only being pulled out into their own regiments after that. The Blücher rules differentiate between them only in that the Reserve don't have skirmishers.

With my early armies, French and British, I didn't really put much thought into the arrangement of my units except to remember that British tended to fight in lines 2 deep rather than the 3 of the other armies. The French I organised very much in the way 28mm scale battalions are organised. They had the officer, standard bearer and drummer models, in a group in the centre of the front line. As I looked more into the tactics of the wars I realised this was not right at all. For a start the standard would be protected and the officer would be on the end of the line. Putting all these on the front really wasn't that sensible or realistic.

So when I looked at the Russians I did a bit more investigation and came up with something based very loosely on a battalion organisation. Effectively there were 2 columns 3 deep with 5 men in each row. Five being a convenient number as that's the number of models on a Heroics and Ros strip. Then the mounted officers and standards were in the middle, the foot officer and drummer on the end of one of the lines in one of the column.

This same thing sort of works for Prussians with a couple of changes. I found the Osprey book Prussian Napoleonic Tactics 1792-1815 to be very helpful with this. There's loads of excellent diagrams. Here is a sample of what I've come up with. All the models below are from pack MPN1.

Front of the unit is at the bottom. The standard is at the front in the middle of the two columns with drummer and mounted officer behind, the foot officer is on the end of the front right rank.

The three strips look both like a column and a line 3 deep. Works for me at this scale. Remember these 34 models are representing 2403 men even at 6mm scale! That's 1:70 scale.

This works well for Reserve Infantry. For Line I want to represent the Skirmish trait and to do that I want to have some skirmishers at the front. Conveniently the Prussians sent their 3rd rank forward to use as skirmishers! So I can drop that third rank and have this.

(Edit: When it came to actually putting the models on the base this didn't quite work. There was not enough depth for skirmishers, standard, drummer and mounted officer to line up in column. As a result I've had to put the mounted officer at the side of the rear rank like I've done with French and British. I'm not sure yet whether I will do that or put him in the middle when I do the Reserve Infantry as I think there should be space without the skirmishers present.)

The skirmisher models are from pack MPN2. With the others I'm basically using half an MPN1. One of those has 9 strips of infantry with 2 foot officers, 2 drummers and 1 mounted officer. This is the normal mix in a pack of H&R models. It means one pack will make two of these bases with the addition of a spare mounted officer of which there are plenty in the artillery packs.

So with that decided I can start work!

I will be able to paint all three of those regiments for the brigade in one go. They'll be based temporarily on three 60mm x 30mm bases, one of which will end up being their final base. I've been sticking them to the base with double-sided sticky pads which I found at great value in The Works. Then they get a spray of Halfords grey primer. What I end up with is three of this:

In my next blog post I'll start painting these...