Friday, September 1, 2017

Pas De Charge - Building a French Napoleonics Force for Sharp Practice

I previously showed my British troops for the Peninsular campaign and now I'm almost done assembling my French troops. I am aiming to have everything painted by the first weekend in February when we have FlintCon.

I have planned out a force here that will hopefully be somewhat equal to the British force, but also provide a fun experience that makes players feel like they're fighting a skirmish in the Napoleonic Peninsular War.

The first thing I noticed was how much worse French regulars are in the Sharp Practice book - not having Sharp Practice, Drill, or Controlled Volley, and having a Crashing Volley of three, plus they're Conscripts & Volunteers. After conversing with some other players, that reflects the poorer quality of troops sent to Spain and the overall better trained British regular.

A group of eight French regulars costs four points, while a group of eight British regulars costs 6, so the British will definitely be outnumbered if I'm using straight points to balance. I'm aiming for a somewhat close total for each side.

I actually haven't used a Sharp Practice force with formations this large, so it'll be interesting to see how it works. Perhaps the players will choose to break off a formation of two groups with an officer to counter a different threat.

You can see here the main force - two formations of four groups each in an attack column. These are line infantry who will form the bulk of the force. I've attached a level IV leader and a level I leader to one formation with a level III leader and a level I leader to the other. The level IV leader is the overall commander, and the level Is will help pull shock off or break off groups to fight elsewhere if necessary.

The models are Warlord Games late French infantry. I really like the greatcoat look as its quite a bit different from the regular uniformed look. I am not a huge fan of so many guys all at support arms, but I'll add in some different looks with other models. My goal is to eventually have a Black Powder or General D'Armee force as well, so I'll need a lot of guys and plastics fill it well. They're easy to assemble, the rifles and bayonets are durable, and they look great.

The sabot bases are a bit of a rough mix which I'll rectify with an order coming in from Warbases.

I included some extra officers in the back just in case - Sharp Practice is very officer-driven and once I paint them if I find I don't like one I'll switch it out for a different model. I also have two deployment points which I'll focus on later once they're painted, but one is a light infantry group resting and the other is an adjutant signing orders and sending them out.

Here you can see my light infantry voltigeurs in the front - they're my skirmishers. They are a mix of models from Brigade Games and, both groups looking great. They'll add some different poses to the force in general.

Originally I was going to include some Lancers and some artillery, however I've gone back on that as the horses take longer to paint and the differences in rules between artillery and cavalry and regular infantry. I want to keep it easy for the players. I've also been told that cavalry are harder to use effectively with just one group.

Here you can see the names of my officers. I used a French name generator. I have a lot more officers here than I've used in the past, but perhaps more officers for the same amount of groups will help the players keep the gaming moving forward and troops shooting at each other more.

This guy is one of my favorite troops - he's going to be a sergeant. The model is from Gringo40s.

French Old Guard Grenadiers

The last part of the force I need to get and put together are the grenadiers, which I ordered from Warlord Games. They have a different pose from the line infantry, which will again help the line infantry blend in a bit and look different. They're also a better match for the British because they're regulars and have some better stats. And of course they'll be great models to paint with the huge bearskin hats. The color will stand out quite a bit vs the drab greatcoats as well.

The last thing I'm really excited about is the Pas De Charge ability. I hope the players really understand this and it helps them get into combat. It allows a French player to play two command cards and remove two shock points from a group or formation, while moving that group or formation forward with three dice. This is a pretty amazing way to get into combat and I think it helps shore up the overall poorer French infantry as well as show how the troops operated.

Check back next week, I'll have a few more things to show for this project - I'm excited!


  1. A solid start! I'm looking forward to see how it'll play out.

    If I were to leave some feedback about the unit selection, it would be that as a French player I really appreciate my skirmishers. It's possible that the regulars can manage to overwhelm the Brits, but keep in mind that Pas de Charge might not be as useful as you think. Getting into close range against an enemy that has Sharp Practice and Aggressive is not always that fun! That's why I prefer to have a lot of skirmishers, as they can pour lead on the Brits at ranges where they are not better than you, and even the odds a bit.

    I'm looking forward to see how the first battles turn out, and how the French do. If they end up having trouble, keep in mind that adding more skirmishers is a great way to add some flexibility to the army.

  2. Sorry to be late on this, but those grenadiers pictured are Napoleon's Imperial Guard. They never served in Spain and are a completely different animal to the grenadier companies that each French Ligne battalion had. Those tended to be the bigger guys in the battalion and were uniformed the same as the fusiliers but with red plumes, epaulettes, etc.

  3. Thanks, that is very helpful! I'll save them for Waterloo.