Monday, 7 August 2017

Big Summer Napoleonic Game 2017

The big summer game, August 2017

Battle of Mateitna (aka Tranchantville by the French)
between the French under Napoleon and the Russian/Prussian Army of Kutuzov

From Generalissimo Kutuzov
Commander of the Allied Forces

April 1, 1813

While Napoleon’s forces far outnumber ours, we have forced him to retreat with his back against the Danube,  Now we can push him across and back to his home.

Our battle plan is simple.  Using successive blows to his one flank then the other, we shall weaken him so a final thrust up the centre will collapse his lines.

Each Corps will be assigned a time for their attack in a well coordinated sequence which will confuse and disorientate Napoleon and his underlings!

For our homelands, Victory! God willing.

Yeah, it is, of course, Antietam, the well-known American Civil War battle
( Mateitna spelt backwards, or Tranchant {sharp} ville {town} in French).

For the big summer Napoleonic game, I like to use the scenario from a real battle, not necessarily of the era, to offer a bit of fog of war for the players and explore the dynamics of that historical military engagement.

Building this scenario proved to be taxing, as the Union commander, McClellan - our Kutuzov - submitted his corps in a piecemeal fashion. Not very wargame like.  I countered this by having the Union/Allied player play only one corps at the start, with “activation” at the historical time and unknown to all,  together with a single roll needed of a 3+ on a d6 chance for that turn and each after, to give the effect of player control and unknown attack timing.

Of the Confederates/French, the scenario was easier to allocate.  With essentially only two commanders (Jackson=Oudinot, and Friant=Longstreet) the battlefield could be controlled as per the actual affair.
With a slightly lesser ratio of  1:1500  and  1 artillery pip = 4 batteries, I placed the commands historically adding a light cavalry element to each command  and in equal amounts to each side.  While cavalry was not present in most ACW commands, it hardly feels Napoleonic without some cavalry to give it that flavour!
The Union Allied reserves of Sumner Bulow and Franklin Wurttemberg

The commander names were obviously changed but with no real rhyme or reason but only if I had enough labels already completed!  The use of either Russian or Prussian was also only with consideration of availability.  It even surprised me somewhat that I had enough Prussians and Russians alone to provide the entire Union Army.
"Burnside's Bridge" with DaveB's hand moving adjusting the French forces.

All the players arrived on time, PeterM from this region, with DaveB coming in from Vancouver Island, Seth driving from Seattle that morning, a good two hour drive;  and JamesC and his friend Shawn making the trip from Portland, some 300miles / 470km !!  
The Confederate French commanders of Dave, Shawn, James and two Union Allied players of Peter and Seth (l-r)

Well, did the game follow history despite using Napoleonic troops and rules??  It did!  And closely I might add.  Hooker(Krafft) - PeterM -, and Mansfield(Tolstoy) -Seth- did finally take the Cornfield together with the West and East Woods after some heavy fighting forcing a French withdrawal to tighter defensive line.  This line was anchored by fortifications - aka the Sunken Road - unknown to the Allied commanders.  Like the real Kutuzov at Borodino, our “Little Mac”  in the guise of Kutuzov, was the only spot from which line of sight is adjudicated and like his historical counterpart would not move from his distance location. Also in the pre-battle briefing, I indicated the water was “deemed to be” unfordable.  I didn’t say they weren’t but like the Union troops that day only the bridges would be used.  The bridges, like the real battle, funnelled the Allied attacks. Sumner(Bulow) -Seth- and reinforcements under Franklin(Wurtttemberg) -myself- had no choice but to ‘go up the gut’ and the French held the line.  Barely.
Allies move through the Cornfield and East Woods as the French fell back to their defensive position.
The masses of Sumner's Corps await their orders to advance
the game-table looking from the southwest with Sharpsburg in the foreground and Antietam Creek along the top with the uncommitted Union corps 
Sumner finally has his marching orders

Likewise to the south, Burnside(Pirch) -PeterM-  finally activated at 10:30am game time (each of our turns being a half hour historically and which proved, once again, in all our historical scenarios to be very accurate time frame) to get across ‘his bridge’ but up against much more opposition than his historical counterpart.  From the moment of his activation, he tried to get across the bridge.  Finally, early in the afternoon, it looked like he would finally push DaveB/Friant off the hill, but, like the timing of D.H. Hill at Antietam, Drouot - JamesC- arrives (at his 3:30pm allocated time and place) to arrive and march up in position just in time to prevent any breakthrough!
The French right holding the high hill in front of Burnside's bridge with artillery support.  The defensive ring anchored on the Sunken Lane can be seen right.
The French centre with the fortifications standing in for the Sunken Lane.

The French under the capable guidance of JamesC as Jackson, his wargaming newbie friend doing well with the sub-command of McLaw and our veteran DaveB as Longstreet, somehow holding on to a thinning defensive line.  A couple of lucky, ’Southern Grit’ inspired? command morale die rolls with commands at the breaking point were made, and the game went on for 28 turns or until 8pm game time, well pass the actual battle’s end (just because we were having fun and to see if ANYONE would break first!)
Franklin's corps (Wurttemberg's Russians) move up over the maneuver restricting bridge.  As you may notice, one of Bulow's Prussian guns has been left behind as a result of the traffic jam.

As the French are on their last legs, so too are the Allies, with attacks repulsed, the battle as like the real event, petered out.  Even R.E. Lee would think it a near defeat but the French held on and were not forced to retreat over the Potomac or destroyed and the Allies would not win this day.
Just as Peter's Burnside in the guise of Pirch, thought the taking of the bridge possible, the historic occurrence of D.H.Hill arriving at the nick of time recreated itself in our game with Drouot arriving with his Guardsmen to save the day!

And like McClellan, I would not use Porter’s corps - who I had in the guise of the Russian Imperial Guard! - or Pleasonton’s cavalry (Prussian Cuirassiers) as this would tip the scales too much and more to the point not be historically accurate. In any event, it was doubtful they would arrive in the action before the end of the day.

I find that the behaviour of the real commanders and occurrences of the historic battle are certainly now understandable based on the events of our tabletop affair.  Interesting to witness, which is why for my Napoleonic collection we have only done historic battles thus far and I am quite willing to continue the "research".

Win or lose, the boys indicated they had a good time.  The historic result for me was satisfying suggesting the scenario was good, the rules again producing a realistic effect, and the rules themselves working well and fluid.
My newly painted French Field Ambulance indicating the LOC/ line of retreat for the French (Perry Miniatures)

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Wide Bridges

Ah, those little terrain pieces for our miniatures games.  Some think them a chore, some just buy what is required, others - and yes for those, like me, who are a bit old school (read: been doing this for a long time!) - enjoy the process.
Take inexpensive materials, do a bit of creative construction, a bit of time, to create fun terrain and, frankly, necessary decoration for the tabletop.

In this case, the large bases used for our Napoleonics games, don't normally require special terrain features.  With the exception of bridges. Yes, those normal ones could do, but placing a large base precariously on top and the inaccuracy of placement upon the table affecting the gameplay, suggest much wider examples.
The 'earth' surface of the bridge is still wet!

So we need wide and we want cheap so I made some with both criteria satisfied.
the wide one in the rear, already with a coating of the slurry

These 'stone bridges' ( I made both wide and "normal" at the same time ) by using pieces of hardboard of appropriate width, placing strips of foamcore on each side.  Then came the rather tedious gluing of lentil beans - being the 'stones'.  A slurry of plaster was, well.... plastered over all.  Once hardened, it was painted and the approach ends flocked.

both now covered.
Painted and in place.  

As you may have noticed, they are flat and not arched over the 'water' but replace one of the river segments.  However the lack of this realism is not apparent and makes the construction much simpler!

I needed these new wide bridges for the upcoming big summer game. Lots of water crossings for this one.
A wood one I made using inexpensive long BBQ matchsticks.

Oh, for us wargamers and especially we old school guys, the cost of these (other than time - which I needed to fill in any case) was virtually nil.  Heck, I have been meaning to use these beans for a task like this for at least ten years!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Palestine 1917

Yes, not all World War One battles must be in the mud and cold of the Western Front but can be in the dust and heat of the Middle East.  My "Palestine 1917" collection is one which I really have forgotten how/when/why I have the figures.  But as they are 1:72 (20mm) plastics, I changed my usual method of painting to a white primer, basic colours without much worry about "keeping inside the lines" and finished with a wash/dip. One of my very quick doings.  Not good by any measure but fine for this minor diversion.
Australian Mounted Infantry in the desert

In keeping with my current interest in Dan Mercey's series of "Rampant" rules, I thought to use his "The Men Who Would Be Kings" colonial rules for this campaign.  Not historical for sure, but it should give a reasonable game and is malleable enough.  I want to use airplanes (and tanks?) but I think even that is conceivable within the framework.

The organization of the units was the most difficult point, trying to decide, based on the numbers I had, and the suggested sizes of the rules; what would 'feel' best for the scale of game I wish to portray.  To be honest it is more the former than the latter which dictated the result.

An infantry unit (company?) will have 12 bases (of two figures each), an artillery unit (section or battery?) of four guns equating to the 4 crew in the rules and 4 machine guns again matching the number of crew within the TMWWBK rules. A gun is removed rather than any figures. The doctrine of the day had machine guns generally operating in whole units than independently as part of an infantry command; so the use of groups of machine guns is not strange and fits with their effect within the rules.
Ottoman Turk Infantry
Turkish machine gun unit
Turkish artillery.  Not well served in this game through rather poor dice rolling for them.
Turkish cavalry. Did give them the lance advantage in combat but were destroyed before able to use them!

The Australian mounted infantry would have been a challenge but surprisingly the HaT box contains 12 mounted versions, 9 on foot (in nice kneeling and firing poses, rather than some of the silly poses one often gets from the manufacturers in this scale of plastics) and 3 horse holders (actually looking the part!).  As the rules do not make a distinction between mounted and dismounted and suggests a mix of ‘operations’ a benefit, the box nicely fits within the scheme. Therefore each unit has a mix of poses.  One certainly could divide up the poses as so to replace the mounted version on the tabletop with the dismounted version should the unit dismount on the tabletop but the mix allows a doubling of the number of units.
Sample of the mounted infantry basing
my two units of mounted infantry. 

The morning before club night I made a spur of the moment decision to probably put on the game and thus a day of frantic cutting of bases, gluing of figures, quickly painting of bases, and making terrain occurred. Newly purchased hills at the last convention B&B made their debut as did some rocks I picked up along the way!

Still don’t know about the final terrain on the bases; whether I leave them as is , sort of old school,  or try to match with the mat better.  Simple is good sometimes.

During lunch I was quick reading the rules as this would be my first go at them. (lots of page flipping during the game unfortunately)

While the rules are certainly designed for the Hollywood version of colonial warfare, they adapt easily for this era.  However I did not give gone-to-ground or close order, etc. as these are not applicable to this era.

With modern warfare is less ‘personable’ , I did not use any leadership traits and leaders and simply gave all the Aussies 6+ and the Turks 7+ leadership - a historical reflection I consider (the rules range from superior 5+ or abysmal 9+)  Both have modern rifles but the Turks are downgraded in most categories.  Just means more of them on the tabletop!

 As the game was ad hoc, I gave the players (FrancisM as the Australians and DennisC as the Turks) a brief scenario and even briefer descriptions of their troops.    The Australian Mounted Infantry, as befitting their excellent war record, were significantly upgraded, while the poor Turks historically were seconded in this campaign and so downgraded with the result they have more units on the table including large numbers of machine guns and cannon.  The points were approximately the same for this game but much of the Turkish units could not redeploy against the Aussie attack on the flank of their hasty defence.
Start of the game. The Turkish wide deployment result of not sure the direction of the Australian attack as theirs was a desperate rear guard action.

I do have Australian infantry painted but they did not participate in this campaign, having been sent to the Western Front after Gallipoli.
FrancisM ever the comedian offered that:  “You know how the Aussies are. After a night of heavy drinking, they forgot the horses!”  So mounted infantry but without the mounts?, I reply.  “Exactly!”, he beamed.   Yeah, OK, I guess that works for me, I concluded.  I rated them as infantry nonetheless.

A significant action in the battle happened as I gave the beleaguered Turks a unit of horse; but as they came into the battle, the fortunate die rolling of Aussie firepower destroyed them.
The Turkish cavalry (bottom) already at half strength and pinned, would not make it through another turn unfortunately.
The rules have infantry and cavalry units with 360 degree arc of fire.

The effectiveness of the mounted infantry was certainly evident.  With future additions of heavy weapons they will be a potent force. But I think with a more historical use of defensive positions, well placed machine gun and artillery, should allow the Turks a better go of it.  

Monday, 3 July 2017

a Tercey Campaign battle - St Sullivan's Church

We enter our second season of fictional campaigning along the Tercey during the times of the English Civil War.  I am using my very old collection of Foundry figures painted almost 30 years ago rebased and now using the new The Pikemen’s Lament rule  This is a record of my solo play.

Battle of St. Sullivan’s

Nathaniel (with eyeglass) and Archibald Wiser, the latest 'Tawney' commander (mounted),  in conversation


“So, Nathaniel, they cometh? You see them in your eyeglass?”

“Afraid so, Archibald. Looks to be Hampden’s Regiment.  They look good in their green tunics and red breeches”

“Yes, yes leave you sartorial comments til late! Who else? “

“Commanded by the mystery man himself. I see his sedan chair “

“ The Earl?“

“Sir Howard Hewes himself it would appear.  There is a unit of horse moving into the field yon. And a unit of dragoons I think.  Nerne’s poor lads? “

“Probably.  Hopefully their martial abilities have not yet improved for our sake. “

“They still outnumber us.“

“Unless our own Browne’s dragoons got the call “

“There is that; but Ballard’s lads both Shoote and Pike have proven worthy and Blare’s troopers are up to a good fight. “

“Yes, but the damned gun!  With its current…injuries…we cannot afford to be forced to retreat! “

“Ah, poor ‘Sister Margaret’.  She is old and here axle is worn out.  The gunners are trying to repair her mind you.

“Can she be fired? “

“Oh, I doubt it.  It would take a miracle I would think.  Divine dice from above “

“Well, I shall warn Ballard of the danger of the approaching enemy.  I shall have his shotte, who currently reside in the woods to move to its western edge and give fire to the Earl’s horse.  His pike will move up to protect the gun from assault and I rather think Blare would enjoy doing injury to the enemy. From whereth would Browne and his dragoons cometh? “

“ From the north I would think but when is only God’s knowledge“

“Well have the gunners make haste upon the repairs “

Still looking through his eyeglass, Sir Nathaniel Drake muttered to himself: “I would think they would have liked another few hours…. “

The Narrative so far

After their victory at Armoury Hill (previous post) the ‘Tawny’ army moved with “Sister Margaret”  the only cannon large enough to be effective in the siege towards the Earl’s Manor;  but it had broken down near “the old Saxon graveyard” at St. Sullivan’s Church (itself dating from the Anglo-Saxon era).

The Earl of Rockforth, Howard Hewes, not to be trapped in his manor, now leads a small contingent to try again to gain possession of the important artillery piece.
His ‘army’ of 16 points for The Pikeman’s Lament rules advances upon Archibald Wiser’s ‘Tawny’forces
The Earl's advance.  St Sullivan's church in the distance

The Battle

Hampden’s Pike rapidly moved up the road and formed close order upon seeing Ballard’s pikemen deployed on the crossroad.  Hampden’s Shotte moved to their right into the open field of haystacks, followed by Narne’s Dragoons (who surprisingly had yet to fail activation!)
Hampden's Pike

Nerne's Dragoons (lower) and Hampden's Shotte ( middle) move through the hay stacks while Hamden's pike move on the road (upper) 

This was not the case for poor Wingate whose order to move through the wheat field protecting the left flank was met with many activation failures no doubt due to, in large part, by his horses up to their fetlocks in mud which made his transit lengthy. 
[ the Earl…well OK me, as this IS a solo game…obviously failed to remember that rough ground of the wheat field filled with clawing mud from the recent days of rain, caused half movement ]

With six failed activations and counting, Browne’s Dragoons have yet to make an appearance leaving Wiser’s ‘Tawnys’ with only 12 points.  The gun could not be counted upon.
Ballard's Pike at the crossroads.  Their rout will change the battle.
In the middle, with both pike units formed in close order for the inevitable clash and Hampden’s
Shoote and Nerne’s Dragoons moving to the graveyard to flank Ballard’s grey clad pikemen, it came to their shock as Blare’s wild charging horse burst around the corner of the church and galloped against Nerne’s startled mounted infantrymen. Half of Nerne’s lads were casualties in the first round of fighting. The follow up charge had the rest of Nerne’s dragoons fall.  Two of Blare’s troopers were casualties.  Nerne did fight back however causing two casualties on Blare.
Blare's charge against Nerne's dragoons

On the Earl’s turn, the shock of Blare’s attack seemed evident as Hampden’s Shotte failed their activation which did not allow fire upon the close by enemy horse but any response to the attack. It looked grim for the Earl’s army.

However….Blare also held up any attacks as his troopers regrouped. [ They also failed their activation! ]  The stalemate continued for many minutes — as my die rolling again failed both sides for two turns! 

Hampden’s men finally shot upon Blare’s horse causing no hits however!. As they fumbled with their muskets, their regimental counterparts fell upon Ballard’s in a furious push of pike. 
Push of Pike

Casualties were even and so , as the attacker, Hampden fell back but was shocked to observe his enemy stuck with sudden shock and bolt from the field!  [ I rolled double ones for their morale!  Can I NOT roll such dice at critical times in this campaign?! ]

Ballard’s frightened pikemen shoved through the busy artillery men repairing the gun who did not seem the notice the pikemen engrossed in their task  {No doubt as I then rolled 10 for their morale so they ignored the rout through them.  Rather than the 3" rule, if a unit crashes into another, it must take a morale test as usual with the results applied.}

Blare’s horse now charged into Hampden’s Shotte causing 7 casualties after the obligatory pursuit. While battered, the shotte held together, Temporarily.  Obviously the Earl’s reproachful voice from inside the sedan had them feel as they failed their rally roll in ‘dramatic form’ (my poor dice once again!)

Well, Browne’s Dragoons finally arrive on the battlefield but hearing the gunfire halt to take stock of the situation. [ my famous double ones again (!) preventing activation ]. 

Wingate relieved to be finally clear of the muddy field was startled as musket fire fire erupted from the woods on the other side of the road before him. Only one of his troopers fell but the morale of his tired troopers barely passed the test (one less pip and ….)
Wingate's Horse facing Browne's Dragoons (left) and Ballard's musketeers (centre back) just before Ballard's desultory fire.

 With this Wingate was faced with Browne’s unit now rapidly upon his left, Ballard’s musketeers ensconced along the edge of the rough ground of the woods, but looking around calmly (no wild charge rule for him!)  he observed Blare’s depleted horse approaching the rear of Hampden’s pike.  He must try to block their way allowing the pikemen to take the gun. Ordering the charge (passing the Attack activation) he advances and wins the melee and so defeating the last chance for the Tawny to save their gun.

While the Earl of Rockforth’s fled with remnants of Hampden’s shotte , Wingate’s quick action to defeat Blare’s final charge did not save the gun for the Earl.
In a bid to disrupt the Earl’s plans, a brave artilleryman wields an axe and breaks the axle and destroys the touch hole rendering the old cannon dead. In addition the gunpowder went up in a huge explosion.
[ I rolled a 9 passing ‘activation’ of 9+ to have the artillery not repair but destroy the old gun.  The act of blowing up the gunpowder stores also succeeded in might blast of double fives! ]
the axeman destroying "Sister Margaret"
preparing for the explosion

So damaged and without ammunition, the Earl’s confidant and new military commander, Sir Stanley Primrose, remarked,  “Sister Margaret is no more”

The Earl and Primrose

Saturday, 1 July 2017

an Italian late Medieval/ Early Renaissance retinue

This contingent has been one of my 'bus projects' being painted recently within the confines of a school bus while I wait for my passengers to complete their field trip.  While not very comfortable, I have gotten the 'logistics' of having paints, brushes, water, lap tray and the figures packed for transport in a small carry bag, to a well organized degree helps the process.
The six 2-crew unit of gunners
Depending upon the type of figures, I will paint only the "basics", that is to say, the pants, tunic, pack etc.; or more should the detailing be less sophisticated, such as these figures, I can do more details as I did with these including much of the basing.
The head-swaps and different paint schemes and figure-positions give more variety than would normally be the case.
While this retinue is created from many different manufacturers, the handgonne units were composed of very old Citadel fantasy types which certainly show a less fantasy and more historical if not entirely accurate look.  These were picked up very cheaply years ago and finally have a home in this collection. While only two sets of two crew each, with some head swaps and different paint jobs, I can create enough variety to not make them too boring. A few of the heads I have modelled early Renaissance headdresses for more variety and era identification.
The separate stand allows for casualties to be removed for each unit.

The color scheme is very basic with a red/white livery placed on tunic or leggings and the other clothing in various shades of green. (to mimic the modern Italian flag!).  A late medieval mix of clothing but at the same time, an appealing consistency.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

WW1 Balloons

The game "Canvas Eagles" is very popular at the local wargames club - The Trumpeter Tabletop Gaming Society - in Burnaby/Vancouver BC Canada, using 1:72 scale plastic model WW1 planes.

For one of the organizers of the gaming, DaveMc., I have made some 'ground' terrain for him in the past - to make the game a little more attractive you see - and while I think the games fun but always lacking a bit of variety.

So when I saw the the remnants of the nephew's birthday candy pinnate left on the ground, I offered to help clean up, pocketing a couple of the plastic egg shaped containers that once had held candy but now were garbage..... but to a wargamer such as I and what I saw as a clever modelling scheme.....

Balloon busting fun!   The balloons are on temporary stands for the photo shoot but you can see my 3D terrain for my plane's base. 

I cutout prices of card to match the curve of the egg as the fins, glued pieces of thin cord around the model to hide the seam and to give the model some "texture".  The fins were then given cords of 'green stuff' modelling epoxy; after which, the whole was painted a metallic color.
awaiting the paint....

The two plastic eggs were attached to telescoping antennas from an old defective Ikea lamp to give the ability for the balloons to be a different altitudes.
Green painters tape, easily removed, covered the metal antennas from misplaced primer and paint.

These will certainly not win any modelling awards of course but it would be fun
to see DaveMc get them into the action someday.

here is a picture of them in action

As a aside the illustrator/writer of Canvas Eagles, Eric Hotz, (of HotzMats) is a member and often participates.  Don't know if balloon attacks are in the rules but many of the players have used the rules for years and I am sure they will come up with some method.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Been a while...

While I blog only to keep a record of my wargaming activities, I am aware that, to my utter astonishment to be honest, that people follow said activities.  OK, I do try to make the entries somewhat interesting and write in a style, I hope, which are entertaining to read - if only for myself.
The long span in between has been a result of a computer problem, now fixed, and a dearth of anything to write about.  Personally I find this distressing as my hobby is an important part of my activities regardless of its priorities in life.  Or in other words, I rather paint than mow the lawn.  However, being also a rational man (I think so?) I must do the latter before the former.  That being the case, work and life has prevented me from much in the way of hobby activity.  Thus the dearth of posts.
However, last night, I participated in a "Dragon Rampant" game.  Regular readers will no doubt be aware of my current love of the Dan Mersey series of "Rampant" rules having resurrected many of my dormant collections to feasible "armies" of the tabletop.  While I know the basics of the game, the fantasy troop types are beyond my comprehension and so I had a tough time trying to decide "is it better to attack that unit or this one?" or "how tough are those things?"
But the system is fun, if not frustrating if you can't activate, or in my case often, throw my 12 die to get only one hit etc.(the majority of rolls being of the 1 or 2 category!)  But quick and entertaining.  Which is the point.

As I did not bring a camera ( I am that out of practice!) I had the GM forward a couple of shots
ChrisO's figures.  Very well painted I might add.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Chocolate tents

Well, OK, perhaps more accurately stated,....tents created from packaging of chocolate.
 In this case, Toblerone Chocolate as it comes in quite the handy triangular box.  Great for easy-to-make card tents!
With some paint and a terrain work on the base they should look fine on the tabletop.
I am thinking for my 20mm WW1 Palestine project.  The sizing should be about right.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Wurttemberg Light Infantry

The big game at this year's Enfilade Convention this month is the Battle of Eggmuhl 1809 in which Wurttemberg  provided a division of troops including light infantry.
While having this information in the back of my brain having recently looked upon the OOB for the game, I came across my stash of Prussian Jagers collected from the many plastic Perry Prussian Napoleonic infantry boxes I purchased.
While not perfect for the Wurttemberg uniform and equipment, I am a not precise "rivet counter" so I could employ them with the following changes:
- scrape off the cuff flaps
- added fur backpacks [differing from the Prussian types]
- used Austrian shakos after scraping off all the Austrian details and painting on the gold bits
- of course applying the appropriate uniform colours.
I used a different arm - modified French in this case - to have an NCO pointing as a focal point for variation rather than the whole unit in a rather unique, and rather unalterable pose .

The advantage of plastics is the "scape-off or glue-on" ease.