Saturday, 13 June 2009

2mm English Civil War: Depicting the Units

Turning, now, to have a look at how I go about depicting the various units that might make up a Renaissance-Era army using 2mm miniatures. Being a firm believer in the phrase 'more is more', I have always seen the cost and relative ease of painting as an excuse to deploy 2mm in large numbers, and if I had to define it, tend toward the regimental end of the scale of things in terms of the units and their bases. 
Now if you wanted to look at later periods in history, particularly the Napoleonic, you could of course use single blocks as regiments and combine them on bases as divisions, corps or even armies, but I feel for the ECW, it is better to put together a number of blocks to act as the constituents of what tended to be relatively modest units, that were then grouped into Tertia or Batallia.

You can see above then, on 50x30mm sized bases, eight troops of Horse, (3 ranks of eight 'figures' representing each one), with some command figures, which might be used to depict the eight troops of Rupert's Regiment present at Naseby.  Irregular do combined blocks of Horse in multiples of close order ranks (RBG 17,19,21), which are nice sculpts, and obviously quick to paint, but I like the visual oomph that is provided by the individual RBG 16, 18 and 20 blocks.

This brings me on to the subject of figure to man ratios. Unlike the owners of those giant 28mm minis, these ratios tend to be a bit more of an abstraction for us dabblers in 2mm, as often a block from Irregular on the tabletop looks like a large group of men, rather than necessarily being a specific number. 
That is not to say, however, that individual figures are not well depicted in the blocks, to the contrary, the company is particular in cataloguing the exact number of figures per rank or file, and on close inspection, they are immediately obvious as individuals within a line. Furthermore, some blocks, particularly the RBG 11, dismounted Dragoons, is quite plainly a single rank of five distinct individuals. You are quite capable therefore, of turning to the actual number of men per base, and due to the cost savings on such small figures, produce some very decent figure ratios; not for us the classic 1:33 of so many wargames, here we can go down as far as 1:6, or even 1:3. Take the example of the Horse in the photo above; 50 visible figures per base, 4 bases, that's 200 men - Symond's diary records Rupert's Horse at the time of the storming of Leicester at 400, so that's  a figure ratio of 1:2 - now that really looks like the real thing on the tabletop! 

That's not to say, however, that I'm a real stickler for producing the exact amount of men as such; it is, after all, a game we are playing, rather than producing some historical model, so it is easy enough to 'abstract' somewhat without losing the desired visual impact. A good example is the Dragoon units, being too lazy to produce bases of mounted, deploying and deployed, I use a combined base to represent the whole, with a single mounted Dragoon block, RBG22, 3 blocks of Horse Holders, RBG35, and three RBG11 dismounted blocks as the firing line:

It is this combination of the various blocks on a base which gives you more flexibility in depicting particular units, after all, no manufacturer is going to produce everything us wargamers need.... so next we see a pair of late or weak Royalist ECW regiments, naturally with few pikes on show, and the tactical formation favouring the use of the musket or firelock. RBG7, a combined block of 15 pike and 30 shot figures is flanked by a pair of three rank, twenty four figure blocks borrowed from the Horse and Musket range, i.e. BG2. Some dismounted Dragoons step forward at the front to represent 'firing by extraduction', and the base is topped off by a three horse BG7 block to act as officers. 
(I realise that probably officers of Foot at this period were almost always dismounted amongst their regiments, and it is possible to clip individual figures from an RBG11 block to do this, but I just prefer the aesthetic of the mounted commanders.)

This use of various multiple blocks reaches its zenith in a regiment or brigade of commanded shot, where the pikes have been left twiddling their fingers back at the garrison, and those sprightly musketeers have put their best foot forward, again intending to fire by extraduction on a 60x30mm base as below:

Not forgetting that rather depressingly titled and characteristic formation of the ECW, Ye Forlorn Hope (never volunteer son, never volunteer!) on a 50x30mm sized base, showing groups detailed from different regiments, hence the varying coat colours:

Moving on to the actual Foot regiments themselves, I favour two sizes, in order to differentiate weaker and stronger units; no regiment was ever likely at full strength in this Civil War, and also in order to give the opportunity to say that one has a larger shot to pike ratio than the other. The smaller unit has an RBG9 stand-alone pike block flanked by four BG15 30 man, three rank blocks, whilst the larger blue-coated regiment has musket sleeves made up of the 39 man three rank BG16.

In terms of figure ratios, we might therefore see 120 musketeers against the Pike, which is ostensibly 40 figures, but the sculpt definitely seems to suggest more pikes, so if we posit 60 in the block, we have 2:1 Shot to Pike, or in the larger regiment 156 firearms to give something resembling nearer  to 3:1, whilst giving a nice en masse feel. 
These are always topped of with the excellent RBG24 command block, which is very well sculpted, and balances well with the large foot blocks.

The rear regiment here is made using the evocative variant of the RBG9 block, with the pikes leaning forward, and those colours flying in the wind:

Finally, on a 60x30mm base, we see a formation probably unique to the Royalist armies of the time; that is, a 'brigade of horse', in that often small units or remnants of others were combined to form a larger whole, resulting in odd shaped groupings. Note the variously coloured troop standards from all those disparate parent regiments; a right lot of rough-looking 'Reformados' if ever I saw one:

So then, in general terms, these are my weapons of choice, not perhaps, to everyone's taste, and they might give those who are committed to a particular ruleset with strict basing requirements some headaches, but to me, these are a good shot at producing the size, shape and feel of those romantic wood-block prints or engravings of the battles of this era.

Tomorrow, the fourteenth of June, look out for the King's Army at Naseby re-created!

No comments:

Post a Comment