I didn't realise when I set out on this venture just how many skirmishers would be needed. They often seem to be incidental to the drive towards more battalions, batteries and regiments of cavalry but you soon notice if there's not enough available.
I was extremely fortunate to get hold of the figures pictured here. These along with a couple of dozen others were, believe it or not destined for the dustbin. I was up at Scarborough when Steve Scott brought along about a hundred new skirmishers painted by Neil Sheardown and based by himself. Of course wargaming is done on a more industrial scale at the WHC and Gerry Elliott had nowhere for the old ones to go and no further use for them. To cut a long story short these lads were rescued, rebased and will hopefully see years more service in the garage.
I don't know what make the figures are (Chris any ideas?), but I do know that they were converted and painted in enamels by Doug Mason. I've never met Doug but I've come across lots of his excellent work over the years and heard many stories of his abilities with a soldering iron. Having only ever used modern water based paints I take my hat off to all those stalwarts who for years struggled with enamels. I could never get used to them and it's one of the main reasons that I only recently started painting figures myself. I know there are some that still swear by them but the idea of thoroughly stirring each pot, the odour of paint and white spirit permeating the house and their sheer unforgiving nature compared to acrylics was just too much hassle.
Anyway on to the main reason for this particular blog entry, tonight is game night and it's my turn to devise a scenario. So I've decided to use the new skirmish battalion rules which have been in use for some games at the WHC for a while now. Basically for those familiar with "In the Grand Manner" this allows for the use of specific light battalions, normally one per division, which fire and manoeuvre as skirmishers but operate as a single unit. There are several rule amendments which accompany their use, for instance they are the only troops which remain formed in woods but they do add different challenges and opportunities to the normal game. To be honest I'm not yet absoloutely sold on them as they seem to lend themselves to gimickry a little too easily. For instance each time I've seen them used each army's light battalions go haring forward into the nearest wood where they become embroiled in a firefight with each other. I've rarely seen them used as a screen for advancing infantry. This may or may not be historically correct and I'm not saying that I don't do exactly the same myself, but I think there is still a little room for improvement in the rules which govern them, possibly in the area of command and control.
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