Thursday, August 2, 2018

15mm Napoleonics: I am a Heretic

I now declare myself a heretic to the Doctrines and Traditions of the Church of 28mm Miniature Gaming.  I cast down your iconography of Perry sculpts and giant table size requirements.  Here me and shake with fear you evangelical TV preacher casting magnates in your papal-like halls of power in Nottingham.

Ok that may be a bit over the top....

Don't worry I still love 28mm and worship daily in my secret chapel dedicated to Saints Michael and Alan.  I just need a hobby break from 28's for a bit so have decided that the new convention game project will be a giant 15mm Napoleonic themed game and I'm targeting to have close to 2,500 to 3,000 mini's on the table.

Why the change?  Several reasons really

1) 15's are fun to paint
During last year's Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I painted up a large number of 15mm ancients - specifically 415 infantry and 136 cavalry for two armies - Imperial Romans and Sassinids.  I really enjoyed painting the 15's and wanted to do more.  Don't worry, I'll still do some 28mm projects but the next 12 months will see a lot 15mm work.

Can I paint 3K+ figures in 12 months? - maybe but I'm not.  There are a lot of sources of nicely painted nappies on the market today and I'll be purchasing the bulk of the armies on that basis.  I'm targeting to paint about a 1,000 figures my self - ship crews, marines, artillery limbers and teams and some basic infantry and cavalry units.  Last year it took me three weeks of concentrated effort to paint up the Romans and Sassanids and they were essentially half my 1K figure target so I think it's doable.

Another inspiration for 15's is last December I was fortunate enough to play a game with Posties Rejects in 15mm.  The game was Crimean War themed and I was blown away by the playability and overall look of the game.  So when my wife finally figures out what I'm up to, I'm throwing Ray under the bus!

2) Ships Rock!
I really like incorporating ships into my convention games - they're great eye candy to attract attention and provide command alternatives for players who may not want to move a giant number of troops across a table.  Plus I really like building boats - a lot.  I also like the challenge of balancing the ability to detail a naval model vs making it both practical and durable for table top use.  Here are a few shots of some of the ship models I've used for prior convention games.  Lets see if anyone spots the problem with them....

 ACW ironclads - both have detailed interior sections!
28mm War of 1812 ships and gunboats.
(sorry for the pile of casualty stands in the "water")

What's the problem?  These models are freaking huge which makes them hard to maneuver and maneuvering is one of the key aspects for tabletop naval gaming.  The larger ships like the ironclads of the 36" long Wasp essentially become really nice terrain features / objective and that's not what I'm looking for.

Dropping down to 15mm reduces the length of the wasp for 36" long and 25" high to just 14 inches in length and 12: in height - making them much more playable on a 6 ft wide table.  Plus it allows me to finally get wonderful line of 15mm ships from Thorougbred Miniatures (Sea Eagles) onto the table top.

3) It's time to return to Historicals.
The past two Historicons I've run a rather silly fantasy game DAK & Dragons which was well received and a lot of fun to play and put on.  I'd like to return to a more historical format for next year and there's nothing more proper than Napleonics.  I did feel a little guilty about re-running the DAK & Dragons game this year but health challenges and work conspired to limit my hobby time.

4) New Terrain
Switching to 15's creates some exciting new terrain challenges - I love building terrain and think I'm up for the challenge of creating 15mm scale gaming terrain that looks as good as 28 for eye candy purposes (as mentioned earlier).

5) Practicality
Putting on a participation convention game is a lot of fun but it is a pain-in-the-*** to transport all the stuff one needs.  Given the scale of the battle I'm proposing, I'd have to rent a van to move everything and that's just silly - dropping down to 15mm makes the transporting so much easier.  It will be a challenge to make the 15's look as grand as 28's from an eye candy perspective but I think I'm up for that challenge

There are still a lot of decisions to be made

Rules - which set to use or, more specifically which book of Napoleonic rule book is:

the one book to rule them all, the one book to find them
One book to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of basement man-caves where the shadows lie

To be honest, while I have been thinking about which rule set to use, I've felt some regret for the first time about my being banned from TMP.  Where else could one go to have a reasoned, thoughtful and balanced discussion on the merits of different rules sets?


There are 4 sets in contention for these games

Et Sans Resultant (ESR)
General D'Armee
Age of Eagles (Fire and Fury Brigade for Nappies)
Grand Battles Napoleon

I'll be running some test games over the next few months as the figures are completed / purchased.  I've played Fire and Fury a lot so feel confident about running a game with their Napoleonic derivate but I'm really smitten with both ESR and Grand Battles Napoleon.  If any of you have strong feelings about Napoleonic rules sets, let me know.  If you want to have some fun - start a thread for me on TMP.  Just let me know so I can get some popcorn ready.

As an aside - what was my grave offense to get me banned from TMP?  I posted the sites google stats (which are publicly available) which showed materially declining traffic over the past few years.

Scenarios - rather than run the same game over and over, I think I'll run different scenarios every day with one of them actually being historical and the others "what-if's".  All of the games will have a naval component.  The leading Historical scenario is the Battle of Corunna but no decisions have been made.

One last point - some of you may be asking - "Doesn't this idiot already have a fairly large collection of 28mm Napoleonics?"  The answer is yes I do - French, Brits and US War of 1812.  Probably close to 1,300 figures and I love them dearly.  Surely your follow-on question would be "isn't a bit redundant to collect the same armies in different scales?"  The answer to that question is a resounding NO! - there are lots of perfectly reasonable reasons why it makes sense to collect the same forces in different scales.  Yes I'm sure there are many reasons.

What's mine?  I just want too.

Besides, I looked up in a psychological text book and determined that I would only have a "problem" if I collected the same armies in three different scales, so I'm safe for now.....



Grenzer John said...

15mm is my drug... er, scale of choice, too. I have some 25mm for the War of 1812 and ACW, but I love the look and vast scale of 15mm armies.

john de terre neuve said...

well..........I remember all the grief i got when I sold my 28mm!

i have to say esr look interesting but i think i will be sticking to gda.

the only thing i can recommend is that you sort out a basing scheme that is generic which works for a lot of sets.

since you are transporting troops i would strongly recommend metal bases.

i suppose i must have around 2000 ab napoleonics now and the space they take is nothing compared to what the 28mm took.

corunna is one battle that i want to do just never got around to it.

good luck

jmilesr said...

John - I was a beneficiary of your change from 28's as some of your french found refuge in my display case and they have performed well on the tabletop ever since!

I'll still keep the 28's for War of 1812 stuff and the occasional big nappy battle but I am very excited about the flexibility 15's will provide. I suspect somewhere in Saskatchewan there is a certain snow lord snorting derisively at me right now

Oh the slings and arrows of gaming fortune.....

Dave S. said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how your project develops, since I really like the idea of mixing ships and land stuff.

I really like the Thoroughbred ships too. You might want to check the Laser Dream Works 18mm ships too, for a little variety. A link to their page is:

Martin Cooke said...

Doing the same myself. In the middle of painting a far too big 15mm Pontic army. Loving it

Domesticated Bill said...

I want to is not going to work as an excuse when your wife catches up with what's going on. Postie made me might be a better option.

jmilesr said...

You might be right Bill

Come on has anyone started a thread on TMP?

Gary said...

If anyone is wondering about the TMP stats. You can find them here.

It doesn't look good for the site. Sorry you got Banned... Glad you are booked on my blog.

Clarence Harrison said...

"To be honest, while I have been thinking about which rule set to use, I've felt some regret for the first time about my being banned from TMP. Where else could one go to have a reasoned, thoughtful and balanced discussion on the merits of different rules sets?"


Michael Mills said...

Have you considered Shako II as a rule set? We love it.

roma912 said...

If I could start the hobby all over I would go for 6 & 15mm for large format battles and 28mm for skirmish games. If only...

Good luck with the painting of 1000 figures.

Cheers, Ross

jmilesr said...

Mr Mills - I'll take a look at Shacko II - thanks very much for the suggestion. One's bookshelves can never really have too many Napoleonic rules versions, can they?

Ross: I'm leaning the same way with 28's for skirmish gaming with the one caveat of ACW. Ive got too big a collection to reset and I really like look and feel of 28mm ACW. It's funny how irrational some of my scale decisions are.

Mr Harrison - I would think as a game publisher TMP would be an invaluable source of cereberial feedback for your rules. Of course that assumes you have paid Tango01 to start a thread as I think he drives about 70% of the content

DeanM said...

Traitor! :) just kidding, Miles. I sometimes wonder how it would've been for me to start out in 15/18mm. Certainly better for maneuvering larger armies. I was surprised to read that you were banned from TMP. I've only visited the site when Googling for stuff. Still a decent source of gaming/miniature info.

Stew said...

I think this is a grand plan. Good luck with the figures! I do a lot of gaming in 15/18mm and I think it looks great. Especially when you have massive amounts of troops on the table. 15 is also easier to store and takes less room on a game table so you get more mileage for the space if you know what I mean... 😀

Jonathan Freitag said...

Mad? I think not! 15/18mm is a terrific size for large scale Napoleonic battles. I have Napoleonics in both 15/18mm and 28mm. Each serves a different purpose. Well, they both have one purpose in common; they keep me busy at the painting table!

Good luck in your new project!

Lee Hadley said...

15mm is cool...but 6mm is cooler :)

jmilesr said...

Hey none of your 6mm miniature hooliganism over here

"Bad boys, bad boys
Watcha going do
When Baccus comes for you?"

Ray Rousell said...

I'm so glad you moved over to the cool side of gaming.....15mm rules!!!