Sunday, December 2, 2012

Austerlitz 1805 207th Anniversary Project

 207th Anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz 1805

Today is the 207th Anniversary of the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, December 2. This was considered one of Napoleon's best in any list of his bloody masterpieces.

I have been working towards a new project because of the anniversary to use the small shipment of some 1500 new 3mm Napoleonic figures I ordered about a month ago, to make a very small miniature setup based on Austerlitz, as near as can be ascertained with the books I have on hand.

I don't intend to use more than about ten percent of those figures on this project, which is meant to be extremely compact, if not minimalist.

This post is only to update readers; I don't have really dramatic progress such as pics this time, for viewing, but have done the preparation research so I could start now, if I weren't writing this. To me that part is the more important part and always has been. The rest of the hobby is a good way to use the information. Other gamers I know are content to let someone else figure it all out, but I prefer to do that myself.

About Those 3mm Figures

They are very quick to paint up. The artillery I showed last time only had a few swipes of the brush and were pretty much ready to use, in maybe three minutes' work plus modest drying time, and the same applies to the other types. After just a few colors are applied they are about as good as they are going to get, except for any obvious slop-overs.

They are kind of tricky because they are so very small, on the one hand a very quick few strokes makes them more or less ready to go, but when you look closely especially with magnification you actually can see more details, that you are then tempted to try to paint. But the trouble is your finest brush will then look like a baseball bat under the magnification and it will appear to move ten feet when you try to even make the slightest move.

And then after all sorts of delays for corrections of seemingly massive slop-over, where even 1 millimeter equals two feet on the man, it turns out that when you set them on the table 1 foot from your eyes they are so small that you can hardly tell which are blue and which are gray. You also cannot see the slopovers that seemed so bad a minute ago.

Over at the 3mm group some have started to be posted as enthusiasts have been getting their pieces painted over the past couple of weeks, and I don't think their standard is much better than mine. People so far have been skipping details such as cuffs. If there is any way to get them on, they would look better with them, so I will soon see about that. On a 6mm figure that is what makes the uniform come to life in periods when they were used, but this is rather smaller than that, and is a very tiny area. I am curious to see whether tey will be visible even if done.

Painting has not been the holdup. Rules have been. And specifically which scale of representation to commit to before painting. I was talking about using 1 figure = 312.5 men a month ago. Now I have gone even further towards the far out there scale by going to 1 figure = 500 men.

At this scale a battalion of 500 men would be just one figure, and a whole army could easily deploy on an area the size of a mousepad. The ground scale is 1:50,000, which directly corresponds with military and other topographical maps, notably those used by NATO and others.

I have talked about this sort of arrangement before. I don't think anyone actually does it but me, as far as I can tell. If anyone else does try to play at a scale like this I would love to hear about it.

Talking About Austerlitz Books in This Section

There are two sets of rules that lend themselves to the army level of play that I have referred to here before.
One is Napoleonic Wargaming for Fun, by Paddy Griffith.

The next one is Charlie Wesencraft's Practical Wargaming.

Griffith has Army level rules in that book among other sets of rules, and Wesencraft has what he calls the Army Corps in Action rules. These last ones predate and resemble the systems of DBA closely.

Both of these books have been recently republished by John Curry, who is at

The problem I am having with these is that they are element-based, where the elements are all of some uniform size, so as to compare with one another one-on-one, whereas I am making units of the correct size, within the nearest 500 at least.So I can't just say a brigade is 2000 men; some may be but many are not. Uniform elements are not good enough for me, they'd seem a ghastly abstraction.

So I am probably going to see what I can use from these rules, once the figures are painted up, but at the same time I am about halfway through just making my own rules anyway, since the scale is radically different from what we normally see. At 1:50,000 scale, 20mm is 1000 meters. The huge expanse of Leipzig would be only about 20 inches of battlefield, and other battles would be smaller still.

But Austerlitz takes up a wide expanse, if one includes Brno (Bruenn) the nearby fortress town, and the map I am looking at takes in 24 km by 18 km, which is a pretty large area. That translates to about 14 by 19 inches, a foot to a foot and a half, and could easily be played on a coffee table sized area.

Also the armies are quite small at this scale, only around 150 figures or so on each side. They could all be assembled on the same mouse pad. So I think they will be ready soon, sometime this season. I have been figuring out how many to use,

Then another influence is the famous game with the greats of British and American wargaming who did Borodino at 1 figure = 500 men. That can be read about on the Vintage Wargaming blog (see Blogroll.)

So far I have been reading in Robert Goetz, 1805 Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition, Greenhill Books, 2005. This book came out after the earlier Scott Bowden book on Austerlitz, that there was some controversy over because some critics were accusing Bowden of making citations he had not really researched properly. The consensus IIRC among the critics, if there was any consensus that is, was that he did read the French sources, and analyzed well from them, but probably not the Austrian and Russian ones, even though he cited them, so that was the basis of the criticism.

You could find these type arguments at TMP and at Amazon reviews, and maybe some of the other specifically Napoleonic sites, if you wanted to follow up on that.

And the Goetz book came out later, with another adjustment to the OB, which Bowden himself had been correcting in his book, from the received wisdom one quoted in Christopher Duffy's Austerlitz 1805 book much earlier, that one came out in 1977. Goetz comes up with about 82,000.

The idea is that Napoleon's Bulletin lied like a bulletin, and exaggerated the Allied army to 90,000, and did this to make the victory look even more amazing and great than it was, for propaganda value. So the modern revisionist might doubt that they were all present, and say there were many less than we thought, due to attrition, etc, and surely so many less that it is easier to see why they would lose.  But Goetz seems not quite so ready as some others to take away all the strength of the Allies, and gives some back, in a process of applying what is known and projected and guessed at.

I find this kind of adjustment to the OB fascinating to follow through different authors and books.

There is also an Osprey title, Campaign 101, by Ian Castle, Austerlitz 1805: The Fate of Empires, 2002, which I have been using. That one has some parts written by David Chandler. Now this is a replacement at Osprey for an earlier number actually written  by David Chandler, which I would like to get, even if some parts of the analysis may seem to be dated.

Another book I have here is a thicker one, not just on the battle but the whole war situation of 1805, in 700 pages, talking about the overall situation for 500 pages before arriving at the battle of Austerlitz. This one is by Frederick W. Kagan, The End of the Old Order: Napoleon and Europe 1801-1805. So it takes in a wider picture and isn't only about the battle and military aspects. It puts a perspective on the situation though. There are readers' impressions of these books at TMP as well as at places like Amazon reviews.

Kagan has several unflattering footnotes aimed at Bowden and some at Duffy.

Trying Out Skimlinks on the Blog
Besides the fact that I have been using these books to come up with a painting plan, I am trying to do something completely different at the same time by citing their titles. With the Christmas season well underway I am trying to launch skimlinks on the blog as a belated replacement for amazon links, which I used to have here.

The governor of this state made a highly misguided tax deal (extreme increase) that caused all 9,000 amazon associates in Illinois to be kicked out, and become unemployed, over a year ago, reducing our income to zero. We have been near destitute since then, eating beans and rice sometimes to eke out an existence. Even my figures are now the size of rice grains themselves.

Skimlinks is a British-based, London, UK,  middleman company who themselves would serve as a non-Illinois amazon associate, that would allow me to resume the sales through them back to amazon, at least until I can get to a better state. They have a lot more than just amazon however, about 12,000 retailers, so it could be that if I mention things they may pop into links whether I planned it or not. So this post is also an experiment to see whether I can get the links working, and if not I will try making adjustments later, so the scene may change a bit, and that explains why. For example it may change much earlier links from a couple years ago. I don't know yet what it'll look like; if it gets too carried away I can reduce it.

When someone follows a link for a certain book, they are not committed to buying that or any book or other item, but can get whatever they then decide they do want after all. For instance once when I was talking about Wesencraft's book, the best customer was buying Civil War books unrelated to what I was talking about, but it was good anyway. I have also followed those links and found forty dollar books for two dollars, or even less, sometimes. It turns out to be a better deal than I could have imagined.

I might also consider adding google affiliate ads as well, the ones currently displayed off on the corners are called adsense, this would expand on that program.

Join skimlinks here: