The Napoleonic Epic project concerns the building of two small ‘Pocket Armies’ (French & Prussian) From the Warlord Games Epic range and a creating a trio of scenarios escalating in scope, to match the collection as it grows. There is a link to the initial post that describes this in the Resource Section below.
The initial starter armies are based around six units each. First up onto the painting cubes went four strips of Prussian line infantry. They will be based in pairs to give a two base unit.
My previous experience of painting these strips has been that they take quite a while to do, probably because there is quite a bit of detail that one feels compelled to paint.
I had decided that to get through these figures, a faster technique of painting was needed as the truth is that when these figures are held up to the face to paint, all the detail is there, but once on the table it largely disappears, so on the face of it, from a practical point of view, a quick and dirty job or at least impressionistic might be the best way to go - much easier said than done!
So, some new speed painting strategies;
Firstly, I would not wear my usual head visor with magnifiers to paint, but rather just rely on my reading glasses, that might give a more impressionistic result.
Secondly, the painting blocks would be marked to show which strips would end up in the front rank and which would be in the second rank. The ranks are mounted so close together that you can’t really see the front of the rear rank or the rear of the front rank and so it makes sense to give these ‘harder to see’ parts less attention.
Thirdly, I would just ignore some parts such as collar colours, chin straps and straps that tie the blanket rolls and moustaches etc.
The first intention was a disaster. Just over halfway through, I put the visor lenses on to deal with some white strapping and I was shocked to see just how messy the figure looked. It was interesting to note that the MK I eyeball thought they were okay and so in truth, they would look fine on the table, but the closer look, which is exactly what the cruel medium of digital photography does, made me see something that I didn’t want to even own - so a bit of a tidy up was done with the visor ON!
The Second intention, by contrast could have been prosecuted more vigorously. My idea was that on the rear rank, anything from the chest down would be just block painted and then would not receive any of the tidy up process and would not get highlighted after washing and same goes for the back side of the front rank. I think with hindsight, I could have got away with an even cruder job than that, as long as the figures on the ends of the strip got a proper treatment as their interior is more visible.
As a case in point, I couldn’t remember what colour the turnings on the tail of the leaders coat were, so I got out another test unit that I painted a few months ago to check ….. I couldn’t even see the tails on the front rank on that base because the rear rank are mounted so closely. It makes me wonder whether these parts of the figures need any paint at all, but it is hard to apply that common logic in practice - things just demand to be painted! Anyway, it works fine and this speed technique could be strengthened.
The Third intention was actually not such a big deal, the parts left untouched were so few that it didn’t really liberate much time from the painters brush, though it did reduce the risk of overspill of paint / accidents and therefore I suppose it does reduce potential tidy up time later.
For this first unit, a running log of painting time was kept. This didn’t included the time spend on rescuing the strips after the visor thing and yet it still came in at almost 6 hours for the unit!
I can’t help feeling that this is simply too long, yet I wonder whether I am being too harsh and just imagining that these figures should be a quick fix, after all it is likely the case that anyone painting say four bases of ordinary 15mm figures might end up with a similar painting time anyway. Perhaps it just is what it is.
One thing that I am now sure about is that it is not worth doing a bad job just to save 30 - 50 minutes. Years ago, I did a speed paint job on some small scale ACW and their crudity just caught my eye every time I got them out on the table and that is not what putting figures on a table should be about.
If I am going to invest money in buying the figures and then spending a fair amount of time painting anyway, then I may as well go the extra mile and make them look right - to my eye at least.
Note - my basing to 55mm (MDF) instead of the supplied 60mm plastic bases, significantly reduces that apparent gap between the individual strips of figures.
Breaking down the start to finish process of a two rank two base Epic unit, I come out with these painting times.
Prepping and priming (hand brushed black) - 19 mins
White dry brush and block paint - 4 hours 23 mins
Shade wash and one coat of brushed Vallejo matt varnish - 13 minutes
Flag and basing - 55 mins
This gives a total of 5 hours and 50 minutes ….
Note, after shading but before varnishing, I would normally highlight, but these didn’t need it, perhaps because the wash was thin.
Anyway, the first unit is done. They have been given white facings and flagged as the 2nd Infantry Regiment (Pomeranian) 1st Battalion.
I find the prospect of 6 hours a little disheartening and I know other painters are coming in well under this figure. I know that I probably went a bit too carefully on them rather than dab, dab, dab, dash etc and also I add stages such as doing basing paste before flocking to hide the step of the unit base, but something needs to be done here about that painting time.
Don’t forget, I hope to aspire to 3 base units eventually (that might have to change to 2), which my newly painted unit of 2 bases would extrapolate out to 9 hours per unit with 3 bases and since I can get a 28mm unit done in around 13 hours, that gap between my Epic and 28mm paint speeds needs some closer scrutiny and thought.
One thing, I am happy to game with the unpainted stuff alongside painted while it all gets painted up and this takes pressure off it being a tedious chore of a race to get it all painted up before a first game.
Please chime in here with your own painting time experience on painting these sort of things.
If you can halve the project with a friend or a group - do that. Buy a box each and that will have a massive impact on getting the project done - this is a lot for one person, yet I know others are doing both sides solo.
Next up will be another line infantry unit (the 2nd Battalion), just to break into the infantry formations and then a switch across to either the jägers or the artillery, just for a change.
Onto other Epic Napoleonic Project news.
The three scenarios for St. Amand are now fully drafted out. I have played the first one face-to-face and am about to enter a round of playing all three, each with a force escalator, so that the scenarios can be matched against growing forces. They are Black Powder friendly.
Of course as already discussed in the previous post, there will be a lot of raw unpainted plastic in these games, but no doubt my newly painted Prussian 1st Battalion will perform heroic deeds!
My Eagles at Quatre Bras rules have been printed off again as a further draft leaves the keyboard. What is interesting is that since these evolved from my ACW set for the Horse and Musket core rules, during play you come across moments that the ACW rules were never asked to cater for.
Two examples from our recent play. I had given the Prussians a couple of independent jäger companies, which the rules as written gave too much fire power to, these ‘tiny’ units needed some deliberate recognition in my rules (as they already get in Black Powder).
The second example was a farmhouse that was a bit of a stronghold, rather like the Waterloo farmhouses. My problem was that in my rules, when a unit suffers a HIT, it takes a capability test and if failed, the unit retires and takes disorder. So units were too easily ‘pushed’ out of what in reality were ‘defiantly’ defended locations.
What to do? I didn’t want to add to the strength of the cover to reduce the number of hits and I didn’t want a sort of hold fast rule. In the end, a +1 modifier for strongholds was added to the Capability Test after suffering casualties.
On the bell curve of 2D6, this strikes a good balance of ‘tending’ to help the defenders, without making them too difficult to shift and it remains the case that the better quality troops will stand a better chance of holding out (they have better capability ratings), so it becomes more a question of a units resolve to stand and fight rather than an intrinsic defensive value of a building doing all of the work.
The second St. Amand scenario has a farm complex that gets stronghold status, so we will just have to see how that all comes out in the wash it its first playing.
The next post in this series will likely look at the three St. Amand scenarios once they have been played through and assessed.
Though first, I have a strong hankering to get the OST campaign (boardgame) from the recent Red Blitz module, to the table for a big battle of 4 linked games.
The initial Epic Project post - LINK
Part III of the project looks at the three scenarios for fighting at St. Amand 1815, developed for this project. LINK
My sister webspace ‘COMMANDERS’ is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and gives a flavour of where current projects are up to. Link.