Saturday, 13 February 2010


Some pictures from a game with British and Dutch facing French.
French skirmishers cover teh farm in face of Allied advance.
French columns rush to occupy the farm.

French seek to enter Bad Gugheim as Dutch defend.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010


Voltiguers annoy Horse Artillery

To use many card units requires concise rules. I am working on an idea I had years ago to do with the RISK dice combat mechanism.

In Napoleonic confrontations there seem to be a series of events as the two units confronted each other:
  1. Approach with intent to fight. As opposed to manoeuvre or skirmishing.
  2. If one side was less aggressive it would commence firing at a distance.
  3. Even under distant fire a column could deploy to line in order to press an attack home.
  4. After closing to reliable death-dealing distance volleys are exchanged.
  5. A short rush with the bayonet is then enought to set the enemy flying or lead to melee.
At each of these stages one side could be overawed or panicked and turn tail.

I rationalise these stages into 3:
  1. Approach to combat
  2. Musketry exchange
  3. Rush to contact and melee.
Mounted troops could technically also shoot but would tend to omit phase 2.

With this model on a ground scale of 1mm to the yard units can be halted at 100mm for the approach check, 50mm for the musketry exchange and contact for the melee.

So now to the dice...

Each unit uses an appropriate dice for its quality rating. d10 for Guard, 8 for vets, 6 for 'spirited' and 4 for 'dispirited' or irregular.

A column of Imperial Guard aproach a line of Spanish regulars. At 100mm both roll a dice. The Guard get d10 Dons get d4. IG roll 6 Spanske roll 2. This means the Spanish take to their heels before shooting or melee. And so on....

Now if we test for each phase it could get long-winded. Instead, throw 3 dice at the same time and pair them off in order of decreasing score. If the Guard win the first pair they proceed to musketry dice - still winning then the last 2 dice show the outcome of the melee.

This way we know who won, at what stage of the engagement they were victorious and what the margin of victory was if we compare the two scores. All from throwing 3 dice simultaneously and with no tables consulted.

More details to be worked out. What if the IG lose, do they rout, stop etc ?

Monday, 1 February 2010


Remains of the last French Imperial Guardsman have been found in a lake in Denmark.
Along with a diminuitive cannon and some unstable-looking ammunition.

Archaeologists Sirid and Edith said it was just as if they were frozen in time. 'Snow problem to understand what finished him off. It could be he was from the Mint Imperial Guard , known for their all-white uniform. His equipment is modified for the low temperatures with an Isbjørnskin and a wooden musket so his hands would not freeze to the metal in low temperatures.


There are downsides to paper warfare. The thin cellulose-based troops are vulnerable to all kinds of hazards. Not least are the large furry collossi that are want to deprade over the cardboard landscape wreaking havoc. Bases are ripped-off, troops punctured by fangs, trees rolled over and buildings crushed. Perhaps I should not have covered my wargame table with carpet, making it attractively comfortable to feline giants and of course, paper bayonets cannot prod the soft underbelly of the aggressor so effectively as their metallic comrades.

Friday, 29 January 2010


The pull of paper soldiers is many units, fast. There is thus no point in going for reduced-scale attempts to mount big battles in a small space or with very many troops. The ideal of my early wargaming could be realised...many troops in 25mm scale.

A scale to carry this out is needed. I plucked a scale of 1mm to a yard out of the air and found it works quite well. With this scale a card unit can be 50mm or 50 yards wide. This allows an British battalion in line to be 4 units wide, a French battalion at 3 bases is an Ok representation. Cavalry squadrons at 50mm wide work well.

The important thing her is that I could divorce any idea of figure-to-men ratios. The only factor to decide is a linear scale for frontages and ranges. After that one just decides on a format for making a base or unit look good. The number of men per base is decided by frontage. It works out at roughly 150. A British battalion coming to 600 and a French one with 3 bases to 450.
I have decided on infantrymen standing shoulder-to-shoulder for close formation or two men looking active for skirmishers. Cavalry are mounted individually at two per base which stands for 100-150 riders. Commanders stand alone as do messengers.

Artillery are a little more difficult but a solution is to use a 25mm frontage for one model. This gives the frontage for 3 real guns. Two model guns are therefore a real battery of 6. Howitzers I decided not to represent- indirect shooting would be allowed at a suitable rate to avoid fielding individual pieces. Of course entire batteries of howitzers could be fielded. With a limber for each gun which must be fielded to add clutter and a crew of 4 figures this gives a nice representation of a real gun battery.

The Waterloo battlefield is doable with a 2m deep table on this scale. A 12pdr is shooting 2 metres at extreme range.

Thursday, 28 January 2010


Mention you are interested in paper soldiers and you will meet incredulity, scepticism or ridicule.

Most wargamers have not considered paper soldiers because they have never seen them or never considered them serious model soldiers for serious wargaming. After all wargaming is much more than playing with toy soldiers.

Actually, in the final analysis it is not. Wargaming is playing with toy soldiers. There, I said it.

Not that playing is to be sneered-at. Play is a serious psycho-social-motor training exercise for Homo Sapiens sapiens to keep his/ the more sensible female kind life skills up to scratch.

But lead figures ? Or plastic(infinitely superior)? A three-dimensional model is better? Well one can only see them from one angle at a time anyway. Also they have to be painted. What about the scale reductions down to 6 or even 2mm. What is there to see there ? If the larger figures are used we see problems of cost cause a shrinking effect where battalions of 8 or 10 models are deployed. And some of these figures have odd proportions. Scale them up to real life and it would create some very odd humans indeed.

If we accept that the model soldier is a token in an abstract game then a paper soldier is actually equally valid as a lead figure. To argue against this is to argue for increasing the detail and realism of figures towards little cyber-men ? Little cyber-men one can buy clothes for ?

However, the issue is always clouded by those who do not realise they are playing dolls' houses in a masculine mode. Having god-like command of a lot of men you have dressed and can send to their doom as you will is the male version of setting up a little family in a house with all relevant clothes and domestic objects. YES IT IS! Wargaming started with blocks of wood. It is the game which mattered most. Subsequently the blocks of wood have got in the way as they have transformed into a myriad highly detailed little men.

What of two armies that meet where both have figures from widley different manufacturers. The figures are different sizes and 'styles'. Then they are based in different styles and to differentiate them further one is painted by an impatient long-sighted player, the other by a gifted micro-artist. Is there nothing to be said for both sides having exactly the same presentation aesthetic?

If one considers that paper soldiers are a step back from the obsession with building better little men, back towards the game, back towards using 'good enough' gaming pieces then one's perspective can alter somewhat.

We are not jumping so far from the doll's house as to return to the flat-earth world of map and board wargaming (nice thoiugh it is on occasion) but paper soldiers allow one to retain the unconfined possibilities of the wargame table and the megalomaniacal delights of seeing one's massed forces take on the enemy hordes in their sunday best whilst at the same time having saved much time, effort and money in fielding the little sods.


Glue is a major consideration for Paper Generals.

I have found white wood-worker glue is great for sticking folded units together. Smear one side thinly. Clamp the folded unit for a few minutes with a cheap spring clamp or clothes pegs. Wipe oozes away from the edges and let the dry 15 minutes before fixing to the base.

A bigger problem is how to fix the buggers to a base. I did not want plastic clips. I tried slitted paper-backed styrene. Not good. I tried cork with slots sawn in it. Great but a lot of work.

FINAL SOLUTION is an isocyanate one. Superglue is wonderful stuff in some cases. I discovered superglue will allow a folded unit to be securely glued to a base in an upright position that is tough enough to rely on. So now I glue units to ready-painted bases with a thin application of superglue along the bottom edge, hold themk in place a few seconds and Robert's your mother's brother.

WARNING ! Use this devil's brew in a well-ventilated area. Do not use it for more than a few minutes at a time. Keep your face away from the work if possible. This stuff causes eye-burning, headaches and can destroy your sense of smell. I had two days of headache from a long session!