Friday, 28 February 2014

Death of Colonel Christian von Ompteda

Last week the next deadline on Curt's painting challenge occured: Casualties.
There are many excellent entries and I cannot encourage you enough to have a look at the dedicated website. My entry was...
The Death of Colonel Christian von Ompteda at Waterloo
Christian Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Ompteda was a Hanoverian officer who served as brigade commander during the battle of Waterloo. He was born in Ahlden an der Alster in Lower Saxonia. After becoming a lieutenant of the Hanoverian foot guards he was badly wounded during the French Revolutionary Wars. When Hannover's army was dissolved after the Convention of Artlenburg he emigrated to England and was one of the first to join the King's German Legion. During the following years Von Ompteda served in several campaigns in Denmark, Spain and France. In 1815 he was colonel and commander of the 2nd Brigade KGL in Charles von Alten's 3rd Infantry Division at Waterloo. He found his heroic death during a daring but desperate attack in line formation with the 5th KGL Line Battalion by the order of the questionable Prince of Orange.
Allessandro Barbero describes Ompteda's final moments as follows in his excellent re-narration of the battle of Waterloo:
"Suddenly, the order came to deploy in line and advance at a walk; when his men were some sixty yards away from the enemy, Ompteda had the bugler sound the charge and urged his horse into the midst of the thick line of French skirmishers. The tirailleurs scattered. [...] Colonel von Ompteda was encircled by enemy infantry, and the French officers, amazed by his courage, shouted to their men to take him alive; but Ompteda, who was by then [...] beside himself, started aiming sabre-strokes at the heads of the men surrounding him, and someone lost patience. When lieutenant Weatherly regained consciousness, the colonel lay dead two steps away from him, with his mouth open and a hole in his throat."
(Allessandro Barbero "The Battle", pp. 312 - 313)

I was deeply impressed when I read those lines for the first time and they inspired me for this vignette. It shall represent the fallen colonel dragged away from his fallen horse by a comrade from the 5th Line Battalion KGL. Maybe the scene differs slightly from Barbero’s portrayal but I wanted to have it a bit vivid and the Perrys offer such an amazing British officer casualty. Actually all the figures are from Perry miniatures. Three from the British Napoleonic casualties set and a slightly converted horse which I found on a rummage table at Crisis last year. 
As usual I painted the figures with Vallejo Model Colours and employed different types of foliage, static grass and modelling flowers to add some fauna to the scene. As a little trick I didn’t glue on the single British casualty yet because I’m thinking of replacing him by one or two Frenchmen which Ompteda killed with his final blows.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Sledge for reatreat from Moscow "1812 - White Death"

As one of the final piece for our participation game at Tactica convention in Hamburg I assembled and painted a sledge. It shall represent a sledge which the Grande Armée seized during their retreat from Moscow in 1812. It’s drawn by a single horse and provides enough space for three or four soldiers or some goods. I decided to put a single French soldier in the sledge who is defending its load against some marauding Cossacks. Luckily he has a second loaded musket at his side…
The sledge model itself is a kit from small but excellent Westfalia Miniatures. Kawe and his fellows offer awesome and unique kits and figures for French, British, Russian and Saxon Napoleonic miniatures as well as some fine vehicle kits. The soldier on the coachman’s seat is a conversion from a Victrix plastic Old Guard grenadier. I removed the epaulettes and changed the had to have him represent a simple soldier from a line infantry regiment. The barrels are actually two halves of a Renedra plastic barrel and the blankets are made of soaked tissues. For painting I used Vallejo model colours as usual and prepared the base with corundum sand, some snow covered grass tufts by Mininatur and some cork bits as rocks. I tried to plough the centre of the base a bit to represent the snow well-trodden by the horse.
As special feature I left the load of the sledge unglued and mounted it on a thin base itself. For the future I’m planning to make some substitute loads: wounded French, seated officers or just goods.
Fortunately at Tactica the sledge performed very well. He was part of the retreat column which played a major roll in the scenario I directed during the convention. I didn't finish looking through all the pictures now but during the next days I'll show you some impressions from this nice event.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

1812 - White Death on Tactica 2014

Only two days to go... From Friday to Sunday Tactica 2014 takes place in Hamburg at the Wilhelmsdorf Community Centre. It's Germany's largest wargaming fair and there are gathering a lot of clubs, traders and authors from all over country and from our neighbours. Unfortunately the British wargaming society and edpecilly the traders are a bit underrepresented but at least Dave Thomas, Wargames Foundry and Magister  Militum do themselves the honour of appearing. In addition the Perry twins will visit Tactica for the second time after 2013. They'll bring an excellent and exclusive miniatures of Saladin which can only be bought at the event.

More about Tactica on their homepage here.

Anyway our club keeps to the old tradition of presenting a game at Tactica. This year we'll proudly bring a game with us which some guys from the club developed:

White Death is set in Russia 1812. Napoleon failed to overcome Russia and is forced to retreat from the burning city of Moscow. His Grande Armée turned into a ragged crowd of vagabonds seeking their way home. Chased by Russian troops, starving, freezing and at the end of their tether they try to survive Russia's merciless winter, marauding cossacks and other perils...

For this background we created a skirmish game which makes those dangers graspable. It's designed for up to four players and a Game Master. It's his function to direct the scenario and guide the players through the story of the game. White Death has a lot of narrative elements rather known from roleplaying games. It's rather a cooperative game of the players against the game itself than against the Game Master.
After one and a half years of development, pondering, testing and editing we finished a presentable version of the rules. For the Tactica event we prepared around 50 character cards, 150 counters and about 100 playing cards in German and English. Additionally of course all the stuff needed for the gaming boards: Board tiles, figures, buildings, scenery stuff all covered with snow. But most notably we prepared a leaflet to deliver a impression of the game.
In Hamburg we'll be able to offer two scenarios simultaneously for up to three players each. Bernhard the intellectual father of the game and me will serve as Game Masters and several other guys of the club will be there to talk and play with interested visitors.

We hope for many interested wargamers. I any case you'll see a unique board and a unique way of wargaming there.

For further information about White Death or our wargaming club please have a look at the homepage of the Team for historical simulations, the special White Death subcategory, the threat in the Lead Adventure Forum or the related articles here on Monty's Caravan.

See you at Tactica !

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Conversion day

The last two days I had varnshied or quickshaded some figures so I didn't have too much to paint and so I seized some older plans of figures I wanted to convert. Here are my humble results:

1.) Major Baring, take 1:
I've been deeply impressed by the defense of La Haye Sainte during the battle of Waterloo ever since I soaked myself into the happenings there. Especially those heroic men of the 2nd Light Battalion KGL impressed me. So one part of my Waterloo army had to be Major Baring and his brave companions. 
What has been inspiring me most is Adolph Northens well known pictures of him:

Major Baring in detail:

Therefore my goal was to create a conversion paying him homage.

I went for Perry Miniatures set of British / KGL mounted light infanry officers and wanted to a simple head swap and some adjustments with green stuff. Eagerly I started yesterday and after I finished the conversion I realized that I chose the wrong miniature. Having taking the officer with the pelisse and the dress of the 95th / 60th rifles I was completely on the wrong track.

So I chopped off the bicorne hat again and gave him a simple bare head:
Actually I didn't want this guy but I'm rather happy with him. He looks somehow daring and so he'll command a detachment of 60th Rifles one day. Or 95th... Actually I didn't plan to paint this regiment but he resembles a well known officer from this regiment I think:

 2.) Major Baring. take 2:
Anyway for Major Baring I had to make a second try. Correct figure chosen, beheaded, details of the busby cord removed, jacket resculpted, mustache added... Here we go:
Never ever would I call me a good or talented sculptor but I like the way Baring turned out very much. To be honest it worked much better than I feared when I took green stuff and sculpting tools. As you see I chose a head with a covered bicorne because I didn't have one with a plume and I thought it might be reasonable that Baring wore a cover during the battle because of the bad weather. Anyway I think he's recognizable. As you see I didn't dare to reposition his arm, but I didn't want to press my luck too much.

3.) A sleigh, a sleight, my kingdom for a sleigh!
Tactica is coming nearer and so it didn't leave me even today. During the past weeks I've been working on many retreaters and from time to time on Westfalia's excellent sleigh. Today I prepared the load for it:
Sometime this will represent a French soldier fighting for the last supplies of his company. After priming I'll a blanket and a tarpaulin over his legs and partly the barrels so the sculpting hadn't to be too good thanfully. I'll make the blankets out of soaked tissues so I want the potential gaps black in advance.
I hope to have it finished until Tactica and maybe some of you will see the sleigh there. I would be happy to welcome you at our table.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Will they leave Russia? - More 1812 Frenchmen...

Still Tactica rules my workbench and so here come a couple of Perrys' excellent 1812 Frenchmen and allies once again. This time I chose a couple of figures from their infantry and cavalry sets. Actually they were meant to be a group of heroes for the last bonus round in Curt's painting challenge but unfortunately I wasn't able to finish them on time.
Actually I tried to paint them slightly unusual. More precisely I wanted to represent as many soldiers as possible from my home area: The Grand Duchy of Cleve-Berg and the Kingdom of Westphalia.

These are my humble the results:

An officer from some kind of cavalry unit. Actually all of his clothing besides the coat is civilian. But this coat is the pattern usually worn by cavalrymen of the Grande Armée. On the table he'll represent an officer from the 1st Regiment of Dragoons from the Grand Duchy of Cleve-Berg.

An artillerymen from the French or allied foot artillery. Actually he is from the infantry set but the greatcoat is hidden enough to resemble the double-breasted version which was worn by the artillery as well. His shoulders are covered with a civilian blanked which I painted in a checked pattern so his epaulettes aren’t visible. Actually he might be from my home the Grand Duchy of Berg as well…

Another infantrymen with rather average equipment. He’s wearing an army greatcoat and a civilian jacket and cap. Once again this guy could be used as a soldier from every regiment of line infantry or any other unit. In Hamburg he'll serve as Fusilier Albert Bordelaise from the 72e Régiment d'Infanterie de Ligne which was part of famous Ney's IIIrd Corps.

A soldier from Napoleon’s Légion Portuguese. Clearly recognizable from the very special hat. In addition he’s wearing an army greatcoat and a couple of civilian scarves. For playing reasons I christened him Frederico Gonzales.
A very nice figure of a hussar having lost parts of his kit and wearing a kind of blanket. I chose to paint him greenish since he should represent a soldier from the 1st Westphalian Hussars. Who ever will visit us at Tactica will see this guy in the roll of Segeant Florian vom Bocketal.

Just a grenadier from a line infantry regiment. He’s wearing a combination of mostly civilian clothing and an army greatcoat. Therefore special characteristics aren't recognizable and so I like the idea that he is from a unit from the Grand Duchy of Berg. Just as Grenadier Carl Lautermann from the 1. Bergisches Linieninfanterieregiment which served with Napoleon's Grande Armée in Russia and with in Hamburg.

Cavalryman from the 1st Carabiniers. This regiment served with four squadrons in the 4th Cavalry Division under General de Division Jean-Marie Defrance at Borodino. This guy here seems to wear a rather full kit under his greatcoat although he obtained some civilian clothing as well. Anyway he looks fierce wielding his two pistols and therefore I use to call him “Django” in a friendly way.
Most difficult part was of course his face behind the scarf. I didn't want to underline it too much but I got eager to paint the eyes. To me they turned out well...

As usual I employed Vallejo model colours. It was great joy to paint these figures since they are as excellently sculpted as the other miniatures I know from that range. Especially the hussar general (the heroe entry) and the hussar with the blanket have extraordinarily detailed faces. 
But when I varnished the minis great havoc came over me. Carelessly I used Army Painter Anti-Shine for the final layer and stuff partly dissolved the paint and caused it to wrinkle partly. Fortunately most defects are rather small but the Portuguese infantryman and the Frenchman with the purple cap are rather filthy. I was so angry yesterday because Anti-Shine caused me to repaint a dozen horses two years ago (reports here and here) so I should have known better than using it again. But in between I used it on some other miniatures and it worked well. Anyway that stuff will never touch my miniatures again!
 I hope you like the results nonetheless. Up to this point I couldn't bring myself to decolour them because some of them are just the best painting standard I'm able to produce…

Friday, 7 February 2014

Painting challenge bonus theme "Heroe" - General Jean-Jacques Desvaux de Saint-Maurice for White Death 1812

Our preparations for Tactica convention are going on and so is the painting challenge. So my last entry for the bonus round "Heroes" was a figure that connects both topics:

General Jean-Jacques Desvaux de Saint-Maurice
Saint-Maurice's front...
Jean-Jacques Desvaux de Saint-Maurice was a French general and artillery commander during the Napoleonic wars. During Napoleon's Russia campaign in 1812 he held command of the horse artillery of the Imperial Guard. Presumably he was one of Napoleon's best artillery commanders although he wasn't able to avert disaster in Russia. After Napoleon's return from Elba Desvaux stayed loyal to the Emperor and died on the fields of Waterloo.
..and his back.
To represent this able and brave officer I used one of the retreat 1812 figures by Perry Miniatures. Actually the miniatures depicts a hussar but it fits perfectly for an officer of the Artiellerie à Cheval de la Garde Impériale because the shape of the busby and the style of the pelisse was similar. So I loved the idea to do something special with the figure and followed an idea which a friend of mine planted in my brain shamelessly.
Excellently sculpted face by Alan Perry
Once again I must underline the excellence of the miniatures. It is extremely well detailed and everything is crisp and clear. The face is full of expression and it was extremely nice to paint. I enjoyed each and every brushstroke on him and I hope to have transported that into the result of my humble work.
As all the figures I presented for 1812 Saint-Maurice will be present at Tactica in Hamburg in two weeks. He'll be one of the playable characters in our 1812 skirmish game White Death which we'll present there.