Friday, 26 October 2007

My Napoleonic Journey


I am a keen Napoleonic history buff and War Gamer. I have been interested in the period for near 30 years now and can see no sign of my interest waning in this part of world history which fascinates me so much.

I began playing Napoleonic's way back in 1981 while deeply interested in WWII gaming. One of my friends introduced me to Napoleonic's with a couple of local Library books (ospreys) and I and my friends quickly became interested. The more I read the more I desired to learn more and before long I had a copy of Bruce Quarrie's old Airfix book he wrote on Napoleonic's War Gaming.

The level of detail and accuracy shown in the book engrossed me so much in the period I began to purchase every book on the subject and began painting up all the old Airfix figures into armies which soon became very large. We all played many great battles with these rules before purchasing he second more advanced book on Napoleonic War Gaming which only fed the fire even more.

A local shop in my home town was also an inspirational place to visit and the owner also with a deep interest in the period encouraged me to sit in his shop for hours if I desired and read his books. He did not seem to mind if I failed to purchase many of these books because I did eventually purchase every every book on Napoleonic's he had. I eagerly awaited each pay day every week to race back to his shop and grab the newest book that had arrived, he often greeted me with a smile of approval for I guessed he felt a sense of satisfaction that he had converted me with his books on the period of history we both loved so much. Sadly he has passed away now but I remember him fondly for his advice and enthusiastic explanations of columns and lines and musketry, great cavalry charges and cannons.

One day while in his book shop I stumbled upon a set of rules called, "Voltiguer" written by David Millward back in 1977. The rules were much simpler than Bruce Quarrie's system to the point of seeming too simple, but some of the guys in my group were looking for a change and something fresh. I showed them the book and the ease of the system and its simple flow allowed us all to enjoy a refreshing look at Napoleonic battles while leaving some of the more intense aspects of Bruce's rules behind.

The system was used by our group for many years during the 80's very successfully and much enjoyment was had playing them. We did add in and modify many aspects of the rules til eventually you did not really recognise the original system anymore. I assume many players can testify to this with house rules which eventually take over the core of the original system used. Eventually by 1990 we had our own complete system of our own which has been the base of what we still play today except that with the advent of good home computers and programmes I was eventually able to data input the entire system on my PC and print them off. Any and all adjustments were a simple case of going to the page, modifying or correcting it and printing the particular page and replacing it in our printed copies. This, for the last 10 or so years has been our format development of our system.

While this was all going on I also managed to put in some time to painting my armies of which my speciality is the French and her Allies. I have built a very large plastics army as I stated but eventually by around 1994-96 we had made the switch to metal 15's. As much as it was a very hard decision to make for us it was a matter of need, the variety back in those days of plastics was pathetic and conversions were not so easy to accomplish. We steamrolled along very rapidly in the new scale and very quickly we all noticed large French, Russian, Austrian, British and Prussian forces were beginning to get fielded in our battles. Include this with an influx of already painted armies we had purchased from other players we could begin to play battles like Waterloo etc easily.

Over the years I had become a fairly competent painter and enjoyed seeing the finished product very much, the more positive feedback I gained the more encouragement and confidence I gained to tackle harder jobs and eventually I was in demand to paint by many other people. Over a period of 5 years I had made a good living painting for others but this took a great deal of my time and my own painting suffered. I eventually put a stop to it and over the last several years only paint for myself unless it is a critical request to paint a specific regiment such as Guards or commander figures etc.

I paint just about any manufactures figures and enjoy painting most of them, some more than others. I, as most of us do, admire AB figures but I also have a soft spot for a good part of the OG range and in some cases prefer painting them, one reason for the price but also for the detail and range of poses available within a bag of 30, 50 or 100 figures. I have painted figures most of my adult life and much of my teen years for that matter and have developed my own style. Many people have commented very favourably on my completed works to the point where I held painting classes for others to teach them my method, although if is methodical I feel, as do many others the completed work is worth the almost ritualistic way I approach the painting of these silver tin figures.

I hope soon the explain my painting methods and style in a later post.


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