With the Cub shipped back to his mom's for school, and a slowly dawning realization of how much work piled up over the holidays, life is moving back into something approaching routine. We're now 6 days in to the new year, and so far, I've managed not to violate my resolution not to pick up anything new for an existing, but unpainted project, though this has not been the result of a lack of temptation.
Rules have been catching my eye of late, notably Osprey's Dux Bellorum, Hail Caesar, and Beneath the Lilly Banners 2. I've managed not to pull the trigger on any of them yet, but it's been close a few times. Anyone out there with a cautionary tale, feel free to share.
|Probably a worse idea than buying Hail Caesar.|
I've also caught myself toying with the idea of grand shift to 28mm. I'm not sure where this is coming from, although it may be a combination of getting a look at some of Warlord's plastic phalangites, some of the new Aventine stuff, and a recent knock around on the club forums about the relative merits of various scales of miniatures and rules for Napoleonics. My intervention into the latter follows:
I think this more or less sums up my current take on 28mm in general. I really like the idea of it, especially for Black Powder era gaming, but it imposes significant restrictions. You need big tables, lots of storage, big terrain, plenty of time, and a willingness, I think, to game at a smaller scale of engagement. These restrictions, I think, explain a fair bit of the controversy around the Black Powder rules, especially among the Napoleonic grognards out there. The game makes deliberate sacrifices in terms of "simulation" to enable games with lots of figs."If you want to fight Napoleonic battles, you need a command-focused game at corps +, generally with one unit = 1 brigade. It's the only way to handle the sheer size of the thing. Formations are irrelevant to game play, since they'd be handled by subordinate commanders, and the player takes on the role of army commander, concerned with coordinating the army. You re-fight Talavera, or Leipzig, or Waterloo. In this kind of game, units are basically scaled up counters, rather than a collection of toy soldiers. 6mm works well for this kind of game, and FYI, it's my preference for Napoleonic gaming, and likely for ACW as well, which is basically Napoleonics with rifles. You can make your counters look 3D and awesome, but you are fundamentally playing a board game with miniatures. The modelling appeal is making your unit of tiny Polish lancers recognizable as Polish lancers (my all time favorite painting compliment was "Holy shit! Is that plaid?"), rather than having to squint at the frigging label on the counter. The gaming appeal is getting to wear a bicorne crossways and stick your hand in your waistcoat, while kicking ass across most of Europe.The alternative is to fight actions, ie., parts of a larger battle. This has the game unit as a battalion, or maybe a company. This is concerned with issues like formations, as the tactical deployment of troops is one of the recurring command choices that need to be made. Games are goal centred (take the hill, fight a delaying action, seize the guns, capture la Haiye Sainte). Unlike grand scale gaming, units are collections of toy soldiers. If you've got lots of time, money, and space, you do this in 28mm a la Black Powder. Otherwise, you do it in 15mm a la Lasalle. The modelling appeal of this is getting the lace right, and getting into fights on TMP with the grognards. The gaming appeal is about shouting "merde!" at your opponent, and giving the attacking cavalry the finger when you bully your boys into square in time.So what do you want to do? Paint uniforms, or make units recognizable on the table-top? Fight Austerlitz, or seize the Pratzen heights? Get into pissing contests with TMP wankers, or wonder why you're fighting for the farmhouse when you could be fighting for an empire? There's trade-offs either way, but there are two very different experiences, and I'm not aware of any option that offers both."
Occasionally I'll see some spectacularly painted figure(s), and I'll think "I want an army that looks like that". It usually takes a couple of days, and several dunks of my head in cold water, before I remember the reason I don't have that is a) I'm a glacially slow painter, b) when it comes to hobby stuff, I'm more easily distracted than an otter on meth, and c) I live in a smallish apartment with, depending on the time of year, 2-3 other peolple, two of them under the age of 7. In theory, I could have a fantastic looking napoleonic army in 28mm, but it's all I'd ever paint, and I'd get to use the damn thing around the same time I ended up dead.
The idea remains compelling, however. It's probably why I've been looking at 28mm successors of late. Doing something like this (elephants in 28mm?) would look awesome, but round about my 50th phalangite, I'd lose my mind. What makes it especially daffy is that to play this, I'd more or less have to give up a game I love in favour of something designed around playing games with big figures (Impetus can be played at 28mm, but needs a much bigger table to keep the dynamics of 15mm on a 6x4 table).
Some of this might simply be from me struggling a little with the Ayyubids. While I love the figs, they're very much a diversion from the stuff I want to be painting right now. Maybe I'll feel better with a painted unit; should have these done by mid-week. In totally unrelated news, it looks like new life's being breathed into the Maurice campaign, so good odds of a game there in the next few weeks.