Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It Truly Is The End Times: Sylvain Attacked - 6mm Battle of Corunna

The French advancing down the ridge towards the British lines near Corunna.
As many of you know, according to a bunch of ancient Mayan guys (whose claim to fame seems to be designing the heaviest desktop calendar in history and their unquenchable appetite for human hearts) we're apparently mere hours away from snuffing it. I have to say that I've been a little skeptical of this prediction for a variety of reasons, a few being: it's not even the end of the tax year, the NHL is still in lockout, George R.R. Martin has not finished the Game of Thrones series... and we've not even started the Painting Challenge!

But my conviction regarding the safety of the human race was severely shaken the other week when during a game an omen appeared before my very eyes. The unthinkable happened. 

Sylvain attacked.

For those who do not know Sylvain you have to realize that this man is the master of caution, moderation and consideration. To his credit he is as tenacious as a tick when on the defensive - notoriously difficult to dislodge and fights like a outraged French waiter when pressed. But he is not the poster child for the 'Attaque a Outrance'. 

The table at the beginning of the game, before deployment.
But that night the world wobbled on its axis as Sylvain ordered the 'attaque'. As background I put on a 'Fast Play Grande Armee' game which focused on the British rearguard on the outskirts of Corunna, 1809. Stacy took the British and Peter and Sylvain commanded the French. It was a fairly close-run affair for the majority of the game but then, all in one turn, the French were either pushed back in combat or where falling back from bad command rolls. 

My storm-swept craft paper 'River del Burgo'
Ships ferrying the British off the Spanish mainland.
The seemingly solid British line.

The British still occupy the villages, push back the French and the battle hangs in the balance.
At this point Peter lost his bottle and wanted to throw in the towel (to his credit most of us were nodding in agreement at this point), but Sylvain quietly chirped-in, saying, 'No, we have a fresh reserve.  We will attack.' The room went silent and in the back of my mind I was wondering when I had last called my mother and if we had any prayer beads in the house.

British reinforcements arrive in an attempt to stem the tide.
So Sylvain duely launched his attack, the dice were cast and just like the Seventh Seal, Stacy's British broke and a fatal hole was punched in their lines. We called it at that point as it was late and some of us were thinking we needed to get home to arrange our private affairs.

Sylvain's French (top right) break through the British lines!
So, forget the black holes, alien landing sites and rogue asteroids. Sylvain has determined our fate. If you have anything on your bucket list you want to get sorted before the 21st you best get to it...

A Christmas Gift for Max - 40mm French Fusilier, La Sarre Infantrie Regiment

My general dislike of children is legend to those who know me. The muted loathing I have of the little creatures is only exceeded by the dread certainty of what they'll become: teenagers (shudder). Not that I can claim innocence by any means. Quite the contrary; I'm sure I was a perfectly horrific child, even though my mother swears that angels tipped their halos in deference to me - I suspect otherwise. (Mothers are blessedly and  wonderfully myopic when it comes to memories of their own children.)

Anyway, there is an exception to every rule and the point is proven here in my nephew Max. Truth be told I've not spent a lot of time with Max (he and his parents live across the country from us), but in the time we've hung out he demonstrated to be a thoroughgoingly nice little chap: smart, clean, well behaved and yet suitably precocious.

A face even I can't deny.
Max is now 6 years old and I thought it high time he be introduced to the wonderful world of toy soldiers. We have to be clear now: This is not the plastic rubbish that passes for toy soldiers today, but the proper you-could-get-quite-ill-if-you-chewed-on-this toy soldiers made from nasty toxin-saturated, slag-heap lead. So with this in mind I turned to the great Old School models sculpted and cast by my friend John Bertolini.

Below is a figure from his 40mm Horse & Musket range (apologies for the slightly blurry shots - it was late). The sculpts are semi-round (or 'demi-ronde' for those anorak-wearing pedants out there) and have been purposefully designed to be generic in their uniform and kit. This way they can be easily adapted to fit pretty much any army of the period. I decided to paint this fellow as a fusilier of the La Sarre Infantrie regiment which saw hard service on Montcalm's right wing at the First Battle of Quebec (Plains of Abraham) in 1759. 

If he likes this fellow I'll follow up in the New Year with another eleven so he has a battalion. Just as insurance I'm also sending along a good stout Dwarf, as I suspect he'll have seen 'The Hobbit' by the 25th...

Max's birthday is in July so my thinking is that I'll keep sending him toy soldiers like this twice a year until he discovers cars, girls and becomes one of those vile teenagers that I shake my fist at.