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Retreat From Moscow

Retreat From Moscow

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Project Blog by scribbs Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

Building a small collection of 28mm Napoleonics based around the Retreat from Moscow for skirmish gaming, and with a view to having something ready for when the Silver Bayonet is released.

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The Plan

Tutoring 15
Skill 17
Idea 17
No Comments

Back in March, there were some previews of an upcoming Joseph McCullough game – The Silver Bayonet, a game of Napoleonic Gothic horror. Details were (and still are) relatively sparse, but the idea captured me immediately. Although I’m busy collecting some Peninsula Napoleonics in 15/18mm, there are some fantastic 28mm models, and a small skirmish game is a perfect excuse to pick some up.

First consideration was that Napoleonic models tend to (understandably) be sold as packs of relatively similar models in terms of posing (i.e. marching in formation etc.), so it can be tricky to build a group of more distinctive models without picking up a lot of spares (although worth noting that Front Rank sell individual models for some nations). The more characterful/dynamic poses are typical from groups of skirmishers, so I started to browse around various ranges with that in mind.

What caught my eye was the Perrys Retreat from Moscow French. This range has a lot of very individual and characterful models that are quite distinct from one another, perfect for a skirmish warband style game. The range has models representing a lot of different units, with dismounted cavalry alongside foot, which again adds to the variety and allows for a lot of different uniforms to be painted whilst still sticking to a theme. A bonus is that as the models are dressed in a lot of coats, rags and blankets, there’s more liberties that can be taken in painting up accurate uniforms.

To my mind, the Retreat from Russia seems a perfect backdrop for narrative skirmish games, whilst also explores a different sphere of the Napoleonic wars from what I’m already collecting in 15mm, so I won’t be cursing myself by essentially repeating models in different scales.

Finally, the models just seem completely suited for a game of Gothic Horror – a bunch of desperate ragged stragglers faced with additional horrors as they struggle through the winter in a hostile landscape.

I grabbed a couple of packs of skirmishing French (dismounted cavalry and infantry) to form a starting point. From there I’ll look to both add in figures for historical skirmishes (Russians and Cossacks as opposition, some Poles to compliment the French), and other models for leaning towards the more supernatural (kit bashing some zombies for example). So although this has been tagged as a ‘Historical ‘ project, it may at times lean towards more pulp/horror.

There’s a lot of very vivid artwork relating to the Retreat from Moscow, so lots to draw inspiration from. For painting up the French, I’ve been looking at coloured prints by Faber du Faur in particular. He was an artillery officer who served in the army of Wurttemberg, and participated in the 1812 campaign as part of the Grande Armee. He produced a number of sketches throughout the campaign, which were later collected and colourised in the 1830s. Some of the Perry sculpts are directly influenced by Faber du Faur’s work, so it makes sense to use them as a starting point for reference.

The Plan
The Plan
Some of Faber du Faur's prints to give an idea of the images I'm using as a starting reference point. So lots of ragged brown and grey coats, but some splashes of colour here and there.Some of Faber du Faur's prints to give an idea of the images I'm using as a starting reference point. So lots of ragged brown and grey coats, but some splashes of colour here and there.

Test Model

Tutoring 19
Skill 19
Idea 19
2 Comments

First model for this project was a quick test to try out how I wanted to base the models. I went for an Old Guard Grenadier, partly because the uniform is very easy to find reference for, partly because I like the figure a lot. This model by the Perrys is clearly based on Faber du Faur’s work too.

Pretty happy with how the base turned out. I used Vallejo’s Dark Earth Texture followed by a light brush brush of Vallejo’s Off-White, and then added some Battlefield Snow by Army Painter.

Test Model
Test Model

Carabinier and Friends

Tutoring 17
Skill 19
Idea 20
5 Comments
Carabinier and Friends

The first model of these three is a Carabinier facing off with a pair of pistols. This model in particular really hooked my imagination with respects to how this Retreat to Moscow range seemed suited for the Silver Bayonet. He definitely looks like he’d fit into a band of irregular monster hunters.

The other two demonstrate the variety in colours that are historically appropriate, yet a long way from the traditional uniform appearance of a Napoleonic force.

Dismounted Cavalry

Tutoring 16
Skill 16
Idea 17
2 Comments
Dismounted Cavalry

Four more dismounted cavalry. The dragoon and chasseur à cheval are good examples of how you don’t need much knowledge of uniforms when tackling these models, as bar helmets, there’s just greatcoats and cloaks.

Napoleon’s Russian adventure had a drastic impact on his cavalry strength, with huge losses of both horses and men that were difficult to replace for the campaigns of 1813 and 1814. Whilst infantry can be relatively easily formed by conscription and handing out muskets, cavalry troopers require a degree of training and experience, not to mention the time required to source and train suitable mounts. The severe reduction in the French cavalry meant they were often on the backfoot after 1812, unable to outscout the allies or mask their own armies movements.

Future problems for these four though; first they have to survive the march home from Moscow, battling the freezing temperatures, pursuing Russians and whatever else might be hunting them through the wilds.

French Infantry

Tutoring 11
Skill 13
Idea 13
No Comments
French Infantry

Four infantry in varying degrees of shabby clothing. More very characterful sculpts by the Perrys.

Ragged Survivors of the Grand Armee

Tutoring 13
Skill 15
Idea 15
No Comments
Ragged Survivors of the Grand Armee

So I’ve completed the first models that will form the core of my French warband. No idea how compatible they will be with the troop choices in a Silver Bayonet, but I’m certain that they’ll at least be a good starting point.

These will also serve for other low model count Napoleonic skirmish games (Forager, 5km from Leipzig), and if I continue to increase their numbers, games like Sharpe Practice.

Time to start working on some foes for them face.

Unquiet Dead

Tutoring 14
Skill 15
Idea 15
No Comments
Unquiet Dead

I’ve no idea whether the Silver Bayonet will feature zombies, but I couldn’t resist the idea of kitbashing a few together. These were made using a couple of sprues of Perry French Napoleonic infantry mixed with arms and heads from plastic WW2 German zombies by Studio Miniatures, and the odd bit of green stuff and a spare Viking axe.

Few little mistakes with the build, mismatching the bodies and backpacks with the French, so a couple of models are sporting dual water canteens and/or bayonets. Lesson learnt to pay more attention when building multipart plastics.

However, I’m pretty happy with the end result. Regardless of whether there’s any zombies within the rules, these might make suitable proxies for something else, or I’ll pencil up some suitable stats.

 

Unquiet Dead
Unquiet Dead
Unquiet Dead

Since the Grand Armee suffered a huge rate of attrition on the way to Moscow thanks to desertion,  hunger, illness and disease, not to mention the odd battle, it seemed suitable for the dead to be in summer uniform rather than winter greatcoats. By the time Napoleon finally decided his position in Moscow was untenable, the Russians had moved to block his escape, and forced the French to retreat back along his line of previous advance. The land had already been stripped of supplies during the advance, making the retreat even more dismal. I imagine these zombies are some of those that perished on the advance, stumbling into the path of the stragglers to add to the horror of the retreat.

Scythe Spectres

Tutoring 13
Skill 13
Idea 14
3 Comments
Scythe Spectres

Three scythe spectres by CP Models. I really like the versatility of these models, as they could be used as cultists, or maybe demons in addition to ghosts depending on requirements.

Super fast to paint, although I could have gone for brighter highlights. I decided green would be a suitable colour for the robes. In the midst if a snow storm, the French see some movement ahead, a flash of green colour. “Russian infantry ahead!” They prepare their muskets for a mortal foe, but something far more terrifying stalks them in the blizzard.

Duchy of Warsaw

Tutoring 12
Skill 13
Idea 14
2 Comments
Duchy of Warsaw

A few Poles from the Duchy of Warsaw to join their French allies on the trudge through the harsh winter.

These models are by Murawski Miniatures, and are sculpted by Paul Hicks. Murawski have a great range of Napoleonic Poles, both Duchy of Warsaw and Vistula Legion, and I couldn’t resist picking up a few to after seeing their retreat from Moscow models. They aren’t quite as dishevelled as the Perry range, which is somewhat suitable. Although they suffered horrendous casualties, the Duchy of Warsaw managed to retain all their colours and guns during the retreat from Russia.

Duchy of Warsaw
Duchy of Warsaw

This group contains an officer to lead my stragglers, a Grenadier and Voltigeur, plus a number of Fusiliers to give a few options to mix with my French for the Silver Bayonet. They’ll probably also form the core of expanding the historical side of this project.

Nosferatu

Tutoring 11
Skill 14
Idea 14
5 Comments
Nosferatu

Finally found a vampire miniature that I think works with the aesthetics and theme I’m going for. I particularly like the little rat minions gathered around his feet.

The model is by Reaper Miniatures (specifically Anselmo, Nosferatu Vampire).

Wolf Pack

Tutoring 13
Skill 14
Idea 14
4 Comments

I picked up a set of wolves from Otherworld Miniatures, mainly because I liked the models, but also because they are fairly large, standing around 20mm high to the shoulder. These are intimidating beasts when placed next to a 28mm Napoleonic Perry model, which works out well to my mind. In a black powder era, a normal wolf is not going to be much of a threat, and would avoid humans anyway. These big wolves look threatening and I imagine them being drawn out from the Russian wilderness by other forces.

These were painted with a super quick method, using a series of three washes over a white base coat, and then dry brushed to finish.

Wolf Pack
Wolf Pack

I should have my copy of the Silver Bayonet arriving soon, which will give me a chance to reconcile my random collection of models with what’s actually in the game rules. North Star have mentioned that the second wave of releases will be in January, with units for the three remaining nations (Austrians, Russians and Prussians). The third wave will be in Feb, and will have some specific monsters, including goblins, revenants, scarecrows and vampires. There’s a preview of the vampires sculpted by Mark Copplestone on North Star’s Facebook page, and they look great. North Star are also releasing models for a Retreat from Moscow range to support Shakos and Bayonets, so I’m expecting for this project to continue to grow in the New Year.

Next up on the painting desk will be some armed Russian peasants to act as bandits, and a Cantinière to add to my French.

Brigands

Tutoring 9
Skill 10
Idea 10
No Comments
Brigands

The Silver Bayonet calls for some brigands in a few games, so I picked up some armed Russian peasants by the Perrys. These are again some very characterful models, and seemed to be an ideal choice. From a French perspective, I can easily imagine Russian peasants defending their homeland being described as ‘brigands’ in official dispatches.

Having read over the various scenarios in the rulebook I probably need at least another couple of models, but I figure I can simply use some spare French to represent deserters until I paint up some more Russians.

I particularly like the figure on the left. He would make a good option as a Veteran Monster hunter tooI particularly like the figure on the left. He would make a good option as a Veteran Monster hunter too
Brigands

Vivandiere

Tutoring 11
Skill 12
Idea 11
No Comments
Vivandiere

Vivandiere or Cantiniere were woman who were attached to the French army to act as sutlers or canteen keepers, and acted as vendors of food and drink to their attached regiment to complement their rations. They were not soldiers, officially serving alongside their husbands, (although the rule that vivandières had to be the wives of soldiers in their regiments was not always strictly enforced).

They fought in every campaign of the Napoleonic Wars,  and it was common for cantinières to provide food and drink to the troops while under fire (generally at no charge on days of battle), nurse the wounded, and generally stiffen morale. Some cantinières reportedly carried muskets and fought in the ranks.

A Vivandiere is a recruitment option for a French unit in the Silver Bayonet. This model comes from Black Hussar Miniatures, a small indie company in Germany, who have a small range but very interesting Napoleonic figures and accessories like wagons, field kitchens and bakeries. They also have some FIW and Saxons for the 7 years war.

The French Unit

Tutoring 12
Skill 13
Idea 12
3 Comments
Going L-R, models were from Murawski, Black Hussar, Murawski, Perry, Perry, Perry, Murawski, MurawskiGoing L-R, models were from Murawski, Black Hussar, Murawski, Perry, Perry, Perry, Murawski, Murawski

The Silver Bayonet rulebook arrived a few days ago and was very quickly read cover to cover. The rules very much follow from McCollough’s other games, but with an interesting switch to using 2d10s rather than d20s, and having a pool of fate dice for re-rolls. Very excited to give the game a try soon.

With the rules finally in hand, I’ve been able to assemble my French unit. There’s a cap on 8 models per unit, with recruitment points to spend on different soldier types, with each nationality having a slightly adjusted pool of soldier options. It is advised that more models is better than taking a small band of elites.

I decided that the Carabinier with the dual pistols would be Officer for my French unit, mainly because I love the model so much. I had an idea in my head that this would be a team of some experienced soldiers who have had previous encounters with the supernatural before, supplemented by raw recruits who have fallen in with them during the chaos of the retreat from Moscow. I decided that I would have a young Polish officer with a few men to represent the rawer part of the unit – in game terms a Junior Officer, accompanied by two Infantrymen and a Grendier.

A veteran of the Old Guard, my Vivandiere and another French infantryman completed the unit roster.

The French - Infantryman, Officer, Vivandiere, GuardThe French - Infantryman, Officer, Vivandiere, Guard
The Polish - Grenadier, Junior Officer, two Infantrymen The Polish - Grenadier, Junior Officer, two Infantrymen

I’ve got a fair bit of work ahead of me still, as one disadvantage of the Retreat from Moscow theme is my distinct lack of winter terrain, something that I’ll be trying to address over the next couple of months, along with continuing to build up the bestiary and making some thematic clue markers.

Werewolf

Tutoring 13
Skill 15
Idea 15
3 Comments
Werewolf

I was a little undecided what colour scheme to go for, but decided that since I enjoyed the fast painting and end effect on my other wolves, I would replicate the scheme on my werewolf and see how it looked. Quite happy with the end result.

The model is by Otherworld Miniatures.

A quick painting guide for the wolves (more for my own reference)

  • White base coat
  • Grey wash all over
  • Sepia wash targeting mid-tone and darkest fur
  • Black wash on darkest fur only
  • Drybrush white all over, lighter in the darker areas
  • Re-wash with sepia if necessary (i.e. too heavy drybrush)
  • Re-wash with umber on darkest fur if necessary

Black Dog

Tutoring 12
Skill 15
Idea 15
No Comments
Black Dog

Another quick and simple painting effort for this one. The model is again from Otherworld Miniatures, a Hellhound from their dungeon encounters. I love the stalking pose and the uncanny human looking face.

Clue Markers & Gravestones

Tutoring 11
Skill 13
Idea 12
No Comments

Like Rangers of Shadow Deep, Silver Bayonet uses clue markers and a deck of cards to drive the game scenarios.

The artwork in the Silver Bayonet rulebook is fantastic and very thematic, and it inspired me to bash together half a dozen clue markers rather than just using plain tokens.

Clue Markers & Gravestones
Clue Markers & Gravestones
Clue Markers & Gravestones

So there’s an odd stone circle with blooming flowers surrounded by snow, an odd ritual, a skull hidden away, a lost shako and bloody drag marks, some bloody footprints and a broken and bloody fence with claw marks. Some worked out better than others, but I’m pretty happy considering these were all put together using things I had lying around with pretty low effort.

A couple of scenarios also call for grave markers, so I roughly made some from lollipop sticks. The graves can also act as clue markers if a scenario calls for more than 6 markers.

Clue Markers & Gravestones
I've also started making some winter scenery - a rock outcrop for line of sight blockingI've also started making some winter scenery - a rock outcrop for line of sight blocking

Hobgoblins

Tutoring 12
Skill 13
Idea 13
2 Comments
Hobgoblins

A trio of hobgoblins, one obvious leader accompanied by a pair of lackeys.

These are actually Formorians by Alternative Armies, coming from their Erin Celtic Myth range. I thought the models were very characterful, and could also be used as fairly generic monsters for lots of miniature agnostic games.

Russian Jaegers

Tutoring 14
Skill 15
Idea 15
2 Comments
Russian Jaegers

Back to the more historical part of this project with half a dozen Russian Jaegers. These skirmishing troops in their forage caps are probably going to act as Infantrymen for a Russian Silver Bayonet unit. Models are more Perrys.

I’ll admit that I struggled with how dark these turned out – dark grey greatcoats, black crossbelts, backpacks, hats, gaiters, boots and dark green for the rest of the uniform… the white crossbelts for British and French Napoleonics do a lot to lift the colours.

Pixie

Tutoring 13
Skill 14
Idea 14
No Comments
A pixie for the bestiary. Model by Otherworld Miniatures. Really quickly done, colours chosen to be a bit wintery, and to be a lot lighter than the jaegers I had been painting!A pixie for the bestiary. Model by Otherworld Miniatures. Really quickly done, colours chosen to be a bit wintery, and to be a lot lighter than the jaegers I had been painting!

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