The Road to Yorktown – A monologue on miniature size and compatibility

Although I don’t want to make this blog too emphasized on painting, I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss miniature sizes and compatibility between ranges by showing off my WIP thus far. I’ve decided to start my AWI collection by painting up the armies from the Philadelphia campaign in 1777. Although there are more generic ways to depict the conflicts, I’ve found it enjoyable to organize regiments and research uniforms. 

With it comes to miniatures in the 25mm/28mm spectrum in the AWI, there are a plethora of choices one can make with new ranges and expansions popping up all the time. For instance, the fairly recent Brigade Games Kickstarter release comes to mind. Then there are more established ranges, like Old Glory. However, without a doubt the most extensive and comprehensive range on the market is by Perry Miniatures, who have recently begun adding the Spanish to their AWI (currently done by no other major 28mm manufacturer). For a long while, Perry was also the only major manufacturer with a 28mm Saratoga range, and even now they have fairly unique offerings like the Volunteers of Ireland and southern/hot-weather troops in Shirt Sleeve order.

However, I feel it would be remiss not to mention Fife & Drum Miniatures. A quick aside, however, is that technically Fife & Drum are 1/56 scaled, not 28mm. 25/28mm is an arbitrary height usually defined as measured from the bottom of the miniature’s feet to the eyeline. 1/56 are proportionally and realistically scaled at 1/56 the size of their real life counterparts. 28mm figures are often not proportionally scaled, and can have unrealistic sized features  (hands, heads, etc.) or equipment. However, 1/56 figures are roughly the same height as 28mm, and so for our purposes they will do. 

The Fife & Drum range has been praised for its realistic proportions and beautiful sculpting and comes highly recommended. Though the range is not not as extensive as Perry or some older ranges, it is still expanding, having just begun a release of its own Saratoga campaign figures. Like Perry, it also boasts some unique offerings in the British Brigade of Guards’ flank and hat companies. 

When I started looking into beginning an AWI collection a year ago, I came across consistent recommendations for both Fife and Drum and Perry (in one peculiar case for the latter, I remember at my first Historicon being told “Perry. Nothing. But. Perry.”). Now, there are other ranges that have piqued my interest and I plan to add to my collection (For example, King’s Mountain Miniatures with its unique head sculpt options, Eureka for their awesome looking Ragged Continentals, and Foundry, Front Rank, and Old Glory for some of their personality options as well). But when it came to actually start collecting, I decided to go with Perry and Fife & Drum to start with.

However, with all the ranges a question that is consistently posed is compatibility. Are the miniatures of different ranges in such different proportions that they look alien and out of place when next to one another on the tabletop? While the answer is subjective, I thought I would take the opportunity to compare Fife & Drum to Perry in what I feel is very apples to apples comparison.

Other comparisons exist but since one of the purchases I made included American officers from both ranges, I thought I would take advantage of two similar looking sculpts for a comparison

I’ve started by ordering some plastic Continental Sets and American officers from Perry Miniatures as well as the Lord Cornwallis, British Mounted Officer, and two American general officers from Fife & Drum. So these are an example of American generals in uniform from each range. I had already painted the Perry one, so for reference the Perry figure is the one already painted.

Perry on the left, Fife & Drum on the Right
Ditto.

Since I am doing the 1777 Philadelphia Campaign, I’ve started with Greene’s First Division of Virginia Continentals, starting withe 1st Virginia Continentals as they would have appeared in 1777 – Blue faced scarlet regimental coats, dyed hunting shirts trimmed with scarlet, and the round hats that were popular with Virginia troops. Here are Fife and Drum generals with Perry rank & file of the 1st Virginia. 

So the Fife & Drum figures are narrower, thinner, and have more realistic hand sizes than the Perry figures. The Perry figures are more… prosperous and corpulent (maybe not as much as other ranges, but still). 

This doesn’t include infantry from Fife & Drum, whose 1/56 muskets are apparently longer than the 28mm ranges. This may look awkward as a mix infantry group from ranges, but separately may appear fine. I would say cavalry figures and personalities mixed together are fine for several reasons – one, horses and people come in different sizes. In fact, I plan on using one of the Fife & Drum American generals as a staff officer to a Perry Washington sculpt command base. 

I plan on reviewing additional ranges as I add to my collection, but I’ll leave some final notes on each range:

Fife & Drum:

  • The sculpts had no flash or mold lines. This is the first time I’ve encountered this with metal miniatures. Either the mold is of high quality or Fife & Drum has pretty amazing quality assurance in making sure figures don’t have these blemishes. I appreciate this. It saves a step in the painting process and frankly should be a step taken by other manufacturers. 
  • The miniatures are finely detailed.
  • While finely detailed, the sculpts are delicate. An American General officer with a cockade feather in his hat had the feather broken. While I was able to remedy this with Green Stuff without issue, it is something to look out for. 
  • The officers, while thinner and on smaller horses, mix with Perry officers and plastics with no appreciable difference in scale. 

Perry:

  • Good detail. 
  • Pose variation with figures representing dynamic actions. Not only with Plastics, but in their metal ranges too. 
  • Range variety
  • Mold lines and flash were commonplace. To be expected, but one American officer had his face ruined by a mold line that deformed his nose when it was removed.

The Road to Yorktown: British Grenadier – A First Impression of the rulebook

When I initially envisioned this review, I had anticipated this would be a comparison between British Grenadier and Black Powder with its Rebellion supplement as a ruleset for wargaming battles in the American War of Independence. These were the two most recommended rulesets on miniature boards such as TMP, with the consensus typically being that British Grenadier is a more authentic ruleset but more complex and takes longer to play, whereas Black Powder is the more accessible (popular) game and quicker to play but also a more generic set of rules. 


But then the COVID 19 Pandemic happened. I’ve ordered Black Powder and its Rebellion supplement, but as of today, Warlord Games (publisher of Black Powder) is currently shut down for shipping out physical orders. I in no way fault Warlord for an act of nature (exacerbated as it might have been by incompetent authorities and careless people in numerous countries, but I digress) but it has put my planned comparison on hold for the foreseeable future.

However, I was able to get a hold of the deluxe edition of British Grenadier from On Military Matters. I would like to give a special thanks to Dennis at On Military Matters, who was prompt, communicative, and shipped the order in a timely manner. 

So instead of a comparative review, I thought I would leave my first impressions of the rules. I have yet to take to the tabletop to play out a game with fully painted figures, but I have messed around with the rules by proxy. 

The book is beautifully bound and very well illustrated. The set I received included a beautifully crafted player sheet. 

The book is informative and the rules for the most part are well written and seem to emphasize a historical basis. Certain mechanics often include first hand accounts to illustrate the basis for said mechanic. As someone who is interested in the period, I think this was a great way to go about mechanic justification. For example, on page 66, for rules concerning the firing artillery overhead of friendly infantry, Continental Private Joseph Martin’s account is quoted about acting as an artillery covering party and how the uphill Continental artillery fired over the heads of Martin and his comrades at the Battle of Monmouth. 

The rule system is derived from the Napoleonic system General de Brigade though it is far more than just an AWI sticker slapped on a Napoleonic format. At its heart, British Grenadier’s raison d’etre is the concept of a disruption point system. Disruption Points (DP) represent the friction of war, and represent the manifestations of the difficulties of leading formations of troops in rough terrain and under fire. Incurred by either movement or combat, DPs can be rallied off but require a unit not to move in that turn. Additionally, a unit cannot take casualties unless it has incurred 3 DPs. This requires commanders to either take time to rally off DPs or to risk casualties to keep momentum in attacks going. I think this is a very realistic system, but I have yet to try it out against another player. 

Additionally, the AWI setting and scholarship has lent to the rules’s focus on the use of open and skirmish order. Like Loose Files and American Scramble, in British Grenadier, certain troops can march and fight in open order and skirmish order. Far from the shoulder-to-shoulder depictions of artistic license and Hollywood, it was a common place practice (especially in the British Army) to use open order (with spaces between each file of soldiers). This was a tactic necessitated by the heavily wooded and less developed terrain of North America. This is reflected in the rules with an emphasis on this type of fighting. 

This was a ruleset written to accurately reflect combat of the period and it shows. 

However, there are several surprising flaws with the book. Like most rulesets, there are certain sections that could benefit from clarifying language. I personally found the section about line infantry formations confusing, as several types of columns and squares are illustrated but not line infantry in close order. Information about close order line formations is present but in the section under open order infantry and there are no accompanying illustrations. Your experience may differ, but it took a careful rereading of this section for me to how to understand these line infantry formations are depicted in games.

 Yet what was the most surprising negative for me was a major omission involving one of the game’s key mechanics. DPs are a key mechanic in the game. And a common way DPs are incurred is by a poor movement result, with a movement roll of a 1 or 2 (2 only for better units such as elite units on an AvD dice) incurring a DP for the unit. This, however, is omitted in the Deluxe Edition of the rules. (I had to look up a separate Errata sheet published on the General de Brigade website for the correction). While the reasons for such errors and omissions of this nature are understandable, what makes this particular exclusion puzzling is that this was not a mistake made in the original publication of the rules and that somehow this important tidbit was deleted in the process of making the Deluxe Edition. Furthermore, this omission was repeated on the playsheet included with the book. 


That said, the existence of the Errata sheet covers most of the similar types of miscues I encountered in the book. 

Additionally, the books include some historical scenarios – Sainte Foy from the Seven Years War/French & Indian War, Bunker Hill, Freeman’s Farm, and the Battle of Chippawa from the War of 1812. The inclusion of non-AWI scenarios is a positive bonus which is meant to demonstrate the flexibility of the rules for gaming conflicts outside of the scope of the AWI. However, the original rules included Guilford Courthouse, which was dropped for the Deluxe Edition. A new version of Guilford Courthouse, as well as additional scenarios, are available in supplementary scenario books. 

To surmise, these are a ruleset that set out to capture battles as they were fought in the AWI. I still have yet to play a full game to give my full opinion, but overall I would say my first impressions are mostly positive.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. What on earth does OFITG History stand for?

A. OFITG stands for “One Foot in the Grave.” This is not because I am a fan of the British television series, but because of an injury that left me an amputee. I find the reference to be appropriate, given my interests in history and the fact that I literally have a foot that transcended the plains of our existence.

Q. We have seen your miniature painting and hobby stuff. But when in the history coming?

A. To paraphrase the caricature of a popular fantasy author, “It’s coming.”