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"Some advice on starting a Napoleonic project please" Topic


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Prince Rupert of the Rhine22 Nov 2022 11:19 p.m. PST

I'm a long time wargamer and currently heavily into my colonial gaming but I've decided I want to start a new project next year. I've settled on a small Napoleonic project in 28mm which will be Austrians vs French. I've never dabbled in the era so I'd like a bit of advice on how to get started and I have few queries on how to get the most flexibility for fighting different theaters and campaigns as possible out of the project.

1) What do people think is a better way to go? Find a historical order of battle, for say a division, and collect and paint the units that formed that division or build a more generic force just picking units you like the look of?

2) Uniforms. From what I can tell there are roughly three eras of uniform the early era up to 1806ish a middle period up to 1812 and late period after 1812. What offers the most bang for your buck in terms of use. Am I right to assume older uniforms wouldn't get replaced straight away and could end up still in use after new regulations. For example as I understand it in 1809 some Austrian units were still using the older (and much cooler) helmet instead of the shako so you wouldn't be horribly unhistorical if you used some helmeted Austrians in 1809?

3) Campaign dress or parade uniform what are peoples take? I quite like the ragged campaign dress style I see on some miniatures and I imagine that it is probably a lot closer to what soldiers really looked like after a lot of marching and a battle or two but on the other hand the smart uniforms is part of the appeal of the Napoleonic era which is kind of lost of all your miniatures are wearing great coats and shako covers/ what are peoples preference?

Thanks Jon

Travellera22 Nov 2022 11:52 p.m. PST

I am in the same spot as you but with the Swedish Army vs the French. I am doing as per below:

1. Find a historical order of battle, for say a division, and collect and paint the units that formed that division

2. middle period up to 1812

3. Campaign dress

Whirlwind23 Nov 2022 1:20 a.m. PST

Prince Rupert,

1 – I think building generic forces is the way to go unless you are making a game of a specific battle for a demonstration.

2 – You would not be horribly unhistorical using helmeted Austrians in 1809. My tolerances are quite high for toy soldiers wearing one-year out headgear but YMMV: if so, for the Austrians, there are a lot more smaller/non-multinational wargame-friendly actions in the Revolutionary Wars and upto 1809, so if you are bothered, pick one of the early or middle-period base uniforms.

Cavcmdr23 Nov 2022 3:02 a.m. PST

My French are First Empire.
My Austrians can be used from 2nd Coalition plus.

Austrian helmets remained in use with the German regiments in 1809. Hungarian regiments wore shakos at this time with any helmets still in reasonable condition sent to "German" depots.

Have fun.

BillyNM23 Nov 2022 4:14 a.m. PST

The key is to do the French and Austrians for te period that most interests you. No-one will mind slightly out of period uniforms if you match your armies against theirs. 1809 (with some helmeted Austraian, Hungarians were pretty much all in shako by then) would probably match most opponents. However, as you're intending to do both sides some of the earlier, Revolutionary periods offer a lot of interesting scenario and some very differnt troop types if doing the very early revolutionary armies. The War of the Second Coalition is ideal as all the big names area away in Egypt for much of it and until Napoleon's reurn the hours, in terms of actions won were largely equal. The range of troop types / uniforms is also more limited in this period so no tendency to always need another unit to repesent something.
Bottom line is – do the period armies for the period that interest you the most and don't worry about other people's armies as scale and rules / basing are far more likely to be a compatibility issue than uniform.

Stosstruppen23 Nov 2022 5:14 a.m. PST

I am doing three different scales for three different uses, 6mm for the titanic battles, 15mm for Spain and the 100 days, and 28mm for skirmish, particularly the Tyrolean Rebellion. So number one really depends on what your are doing with the project IMO.

2 – I tend to pick aa period and use that for all. The Tyrol I'll use period specific stuff, but for general gaming I'm not that picky.

3 – I like the dress uniforms myself, but I have painted both and I can see the appeal of either, so more personal preference there.

Good luck on your project and enjoy!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2022 6:09 a.m. PST

1) Generic for me.

2) No sense in doing Austrians if you are not going to have helmets.

3) Depends on what I feel like. I tend to avoid overcoats, except for when I wanted to get a lot of Russians painted for 1812.

cavcrazy23 Nov 2022 7:03 a.m. PST

You my friend have just entered the Twilight zone.
Napoleonics can gets little overwhelming. Have you thought about Revolutionary France against Austria?
Beautiful uniforms and plenty of variety on both sides.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian23 Nov 2022 8:28 a.m. PST

1809 is a great year to use.

Campaigns in Bavaria, Austria and Spain.

Allied Armies are starting to get better

Lots of small French allies (Confederation of the Rhine) for painting variety

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2022 9:58 a.m. PST

I agree with most of the comments.
1. Try for a balanced force. Especially with Austrians, you'll need elements not contained in a standard infantry division.

2. You can't possibly paint every uniform issue--let alone regimental distinction--of the Napoleonic Wars, so pick ones you enjoy, and don't worry that a given uniform is not spot on for the date of the battle.

3. Order of dress is very much a matter of taste, but you do want to be sure you can tell sides and troop types apart, which suggests a seemly moderation in the use of overcoats and shako covers. I've been known to put my Old Guard in their classic dark blue overcoats, or a Hanoverian regiment--uniform not known--in their distinctive red. But if I wanted a battlefield full of gray and brown castings, I'd play WWII.

Cerdic23 Nov 2022 11:06 a.m. PST

I usually pick ‘middle period' uniforms and use them for the whole Napoleonic Wars. Heresy for some, but stuff ‘em…

Stoppage23 Nov 2022 3:31 p.m. PST
Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2022 5:06 p.m. PST

..small Napoleonic project.

No such thing.

La Fleche23 Nov 2022 6:33 p.m. PST

Here's my take:

"Small Napoleonic Project" + "Austrians v French"

1) Generic or OOB?
Unless you're wanting to field the most colourful and/or exotic troops from the respective armies I'd go for an actual division with supporting troops (cavalry and artillery) from that division's parent corps.
From the OOBs I'd select the division and corps which saw the most action during the period you select.

2) Period?
To me "Small" and "Austrians v French" suggest 1796-98 or 1814 campaigns. Personally I have a thing for Consular and Directory-period French flags so would choose that period, but the uniforms of the 1814 canmpaign are also good for the 1812 and 1813 campaigns (so a good excuse to raise a Russian force later, when the madness takes hold; then, when you're completely potty, there's Bavarians, Saxons, Swedes etc etc).

3) Campaign dress or Full dress?
Never in all my years of interest in this period of the hobby have I ever encountered the comment "I got hooked on Napeolenics because I fell in love with the spectacle of serried ranks of troops all dressed like sacks of potatoes!"

I hope this helps.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine23 Nov 2022 10:40 p.m. PST

Thanks for all the feedback people plenty to ponder.

Currently I'm being drawn to 1809 and the sideshow in Bohemis and Saxony where there seem to have been plenty of smaller actions and quite the mix of smaller nations as well. I could be wrong but a battle like Gefrees, which seems tiny by Napoleonic standards, would be a good fit for someone, like myself, doing both armies in 28mm.

14Bore24 Nov 2022 1:57 p.m. PST

No French or Austrian but long time only a Napoleonic era collector
Middle of road in uniforms is suggestion, good enough for any year
Find a oob to work from, took me years of random units until I did this and was a mistake
Following a oob will keep you honest from getting favorite or just guard or grenadiers

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