Saturday, May 29, 2010

Troop choices

For the mass battles of the Half Continent, I am going to use 15mm miniatures. A decision on specific minis to use is still in the future, but I have thought a bit on the general classes that I would like to see on the table, and the general minis that should be suitable.

Line units - These are your regulars, trained for their part in the line of battle. In MBT, there are several names for these troops: fusileers, musketeers, haubardiers. But the differences between these are not visible at 15mm sizes, so the minis are virtually interchangeable. My choice for these units will be early 18th century musketeers, from the Great Northern War (GNW) or the War of Spanish Succession (WSS) (or both!). These minis typically wear a long platoon coat, with no turnbacks, largish cuffs, and a tricorn.

Assault units - There are units of heavily armored foot troops known as troubardiers. They do not carry muskets; instead they are equipped with metal armor, bascinets, and heavy two-handed weapons like halberds. I am not certain, but some type of War of the Roses halberdiers would work.

Light units - Skirmishers, in loose formations. In MBT, these are called ambuscadiers. If they are available, I would like to use riflemen from either a French & Indian War (FIW) or a American War of Independence (AWI) range.

Artillery - WSS or GNW artillery and crews should be usable. Limbers would be drawn by oxen, or maybe even mules for very light pieces. Horses are not a common sight beyond the confines of a major city as the monsters find them to be very tasty. From what little description there is of a major battle in the MBT series, I think that there are no battalion guns; artillery are organized into batteries more akin to Napoleonics.

Cavalry - Despite the fact that horses are a favorite snack of the nickers, there are a few mounted units in the Half Continent, called equiteers. Once again, WSS units should fit the bill.

Mercenaries - Mercenary units are fairly common in the Half Continent due to the Imperial limitations on the sizes of armies. The best of these sellswords are called lesquins. Known for their flamboyant hats and clothing, the best minis to represent them would be Landsknechts, preferably late 16th-century. There are also lesser quality merc units called foedermen. As they are not so well dressed, I think that late 15th or early 16th century Italian or even Swiss minis would fit. Although there is no direct mention of them, I would expect that there are a few, very few, mounted lesquin units. For these, I would use English Civil War or Thirty Years War cuirassiers.

Well, that is quite a selection, but where to begin? I would think that some line troops and artillery would be the best. Now, to find suitable mini manufacturers...


abdul666 said...

Inspirational - yet don't you fear some heterogeneity when mixing easily recognizeable* troops typs from different centuries?
What about late 17th C. Eastern European / Ottoman types, perhaps with tricorns -or lLandsknechts berets for the lesquins- thanks to headswapping? Was not the 'western european' coat derived during the second half of the 17th C. from 'Eastern' models?

abdul666 said...

For possible ambuscadiers and foedermen, in addition to FIW / AWI rangers & LI, what about FIW French Marines in Canada -campaign dress, fatigue cap & waistcoat (specially fitting for foedermen?); and / or Spanish Fusilieros de Montana -they exist in 15mm, 'Soldadets' uses him for his WSS Catalan army...
The Grassin are quite 'exotic'-looking and glamorous, but perhaps too easily identifiable as such; now, with a greenstuff Landsknecht featherd beret and an appropriate paintjob they could made 18th C. lesquins... But are they available in 15mm?

In his 'Reveries' Maurice de Saxe recommends to use oxen rather than horses to pull the artillery -actually, for the whole army train. They don't slow down the army pace (the meat supply of it being mostly herds of cattle, so the whole walkks at cattle pace), are less prone to illness than horses, more easily fed (no grain required) and replaced, and the soldiers are more willing to eat them in case of need!

El Grego said...

Excellent ideas, thank you!

After seeing some artwork of the troubardiers, you are probably correct in saying that they will need conversions. Not head swaps, though, probably at the torso! I am still researching this.

There are many realms in the Half-Continent, and the Ottomans will make an appearance sometime after I get the first groups of minis settled.

Your suggestions for the ambuscadiers and foedermen are well noted, thanks!

abdul666 said...

According to an illustration on DM Cornish's art site, haubardiers are granted an unconventional headgear (not dissimilar to a mirliton without the flame, or a Grenzer hat): does this mean they are a kind of grenadiers -not as 'grenade-throwers' but as elite troops?

For troubardiers, 'articulated' late 16th C.- early 17th C. armor ('lobster armour') would probably look more '18th C. - compatible' than War of the Roses plate armor: by WAS times it was still worn -for official portraits- by kings and marshals. Unfortunately I doubt men in such armor -specially on foot- are available as wargame minis...
Perhaps another possibilty could be modern police riot armor (with greenstuff ornamentation on the helmet): but again, while 'SAS in black kit' are available as minis because of their wargaming potential, I doubt riot squads are?

On his blog DM Cornish give a brief description of battles in the Half-Continent: obviously offensive battlefield magic is quite efficient. Reminds me of proposals for 'fantasy' extra to Ancient - Medieval rules, where sorcerers 'counted as' a multiple rocketlauncher model or a squad of infantrymen throwing incendiary grenades with staffslings!

El Grego said...

Haubardiers would be considered to be akin to standing grenadier battalions, not converged if I understand the sentiments in the books properly. No grenades though.

You are correct in your statement that the troubardiers are not going to be easy to find!

And the comment about staffslings is very perceptive - some of the monster-hunters, scourges, use staffslings to hurl alchemical potives in their attacks.

abdul666 said...

he troubardiers are totally deprived of shooting ability? I know the setting belongs to Fantasy (well, to Science-Fiction, actually) but it seems a little 'extreme' for the 18th C.? Reputedly even the Highlanders shot a single volley before launching their wild 'celtic charge'.
Now there was an early 17th C. (unsuccessful but historical) proposal for a weapon suitable for such hand-to-hand specialists: a halberd with the barrel and firelock of a pistol set on each side of the blade socket; the twin-linked firearms were triggered together with a string running in a groove along the pole.
Belonging to the same 'philosophy', there are also a few examples of 'left hand' secondary weapons combining the working parts of one or two pistols with a hunting dagger (for troubardiers officers?)....

PS: could you provide a link to an illustration of troubardiers?

El Grego said...

Troubardiers can be equipped with pistols, but they are mostly an armored hand-to-hand assault unit.

Your description of the combined halberd-firelock matches perfectly with the description of the weapons used by lesquins.