Impression of Foundry Paints

Thanks to the unsolicited kindness of RogerB from the Fife & Drum Minis forum, I was able to try out a set of Foundry triads. He ordered and mailed these to me at his own expense, to which I am very grateful. Roger was also generous enough to include two pots of Coat d’arms paint. He reached out to me after my original post and ordered a Foundry triad of my choosing from Badger Games. They arrived in the mail yesterday, and I do want to say how much I am obliged to Roger. 

Since I am about halfway through painting a Southern Campaigns 1st Maryland Continental Regiment (ca. 1781), I figured I would request the French Blue triad (65A, 65B, and 65C) for the regimental coats. I figured I would compare this to the dark blue recipe I currently use for dyed uniform coats. I chose this set for a couple of reasons. The first is that I can do an apples-to-apples comparison with my current recipe from my paints of choice (Scale75 and Vallejo). The second is that dark blue can be a difficult color. If you over-highlight this color, then you end up with an inaccurate medium blue or sky blue. If you under-highlight, then details on the miniature can be too nuanced and not easily visible. 

So some caveats before I begin with my initial impressions: This is just a single triad set of three paints from the whole Foundry range. I have been a painter long enough to know that judging an entire paint range from a limited sample is like attempting to judge a book from a single paragraph or page. So rather than call this a review, I’ll call it a first impression. 

So Foundry offers historically based acrylic based around the concept of a triad painting system. It isn’t the only miniature manufacturer to do so, as Reaper and P3 base their ranges along a similar concept as well. This is based around painting 28mm miniatures in three colors, usually over a black undercoat. You start with your shadow color, then highlight with your midtone, and then you have a final highlight color that you highlight the utmost raised areas. This is a painting method that was evangelized by Kevin Dallimore (who actually worked with Foundry) and Javier Gómez Valero (who uses Vallejo Model Color). When I first started seriously painting, I actually used this method as prescribed by Javier Gómez Valero. I then evolved in my painting skills to include more highlights, more transition colors, and more advanced techniques like glazing. 

So now the actual impressions. Foundry paints come in pots. These are the same pots that P3 and Cote d’arms paints come in. While I have previously given my opinion that dropper bottles are superior to pots, at least these pots are not as obnoxious as Citadel ones.  I added hematite agitators to the pots, shook them to mix the paint, and I painted over zenithal primed work-in-progress 28mm Ragged Continentals from Eureka. I find zenithal priming to be superior to a purely black or white primed figure. 

Foundry Paints use the same pots as P3 and Coat d’arms.

Currently for the dark blue as featured on many Continental regimental coats, I use the following recipe: 

My current paints used for dark blue uniform coats.

Base coat: Scale75 Scalecolor Abyssal Blue SC-08.

Several Highlights: Abyssal Blue with progressively more Vallejo Model Color Oxford Blue 70.807 mixed in. 

Final highlight: Scale75 Scalecolor War Front Shadow Blue SW-57

If I want to smooth out any out of place highlight, I glaze over with an Abyssal Blue and Oxford Blue mix. 

So I tried the Foundry triad as advertised. I haven’t tried anything like glazes, just a straight layering from the pots after being thinned on a wet palette. 

The first thing I noticed was the paint was glossy. Scalecolor paints tend to be ultra matte, and most other miniature paints tend to be matte or slightly satin. The Foundry color, however, looked like it had been hit with a coat of glossy varnish. Suspecting the paint hadn’t been properly mixed the first time, I vigorously shook the paint pots for several minutes and tried again. This paint was still glossy. 

I did some quick checking on the internet and found that Foundry paints are supposed to be matte, but found several postings where there had been batches of Foundry paints that users reported as glossy, including someone who reported that their French Blue set was glossy as well. This indicates that there may have been quality control problems or I may just unluckily have gotten a triad from a problematic batch of paints. 

While the final finish of a paint is a matter of personal preference, (and some like the “toy soldier” look that a gloss varnish tends to leave) and you can always apply a coat of matte varnish afterwards, I prefer a matte finish during the painting process because glossy coats can hide mistakes. This way, I can make corrections without after to go and apply paint on a figure that has already been varnished. In the end, a coat of AK Interactive Ultra Matte Varnish was able to fix it. 

The Foundry paints had a glossy finish that required a matte coat to correct.

The paints thin fairly well on the palette and the colors did blend rather well on the figure (as opposed to the more stark transitions using a triad system from Vallejo Model Color ala Valero’s method). Surprisingly, the triad colors seem to closely match the Scalecolor/Vallejo Model Color mix that I currently use, though the extra transitions and in my current method and layers add slightly more of a contrast. 

Work-in-progress 28mm Eureka Ragged Continentals. Coat in Foundry French Blue triad on the left and the Scalecolor/Vallejo Model Color mix on the right.
Upclose of Scalecolor/Vallejo Model Color mix.
Upclose of Foundry French Blue triad.
Foundry French Blue triad on the left, Scale75 and Vallejo mix on the right.
From the side.
From behind.

Pros:

  • Triad system of colors seem to complement each other
  • Paint is smooth, thins nicely, and blends well with the other colors in the triad.
  • Relying on a triad system is simple yet effective way to paint and remember color recipes

Cons:

  • Pots
  • The paints of this triad were glossy. 

On Paint Brands

I’ve been a miniature painter for six years and a commission painter for the last two. While I don’t have as much experience as others, I thought I would share my opinions on various paint brands that I’ve worked with.

Some caveats to start: I’m an American who lives in the Upper South. This limits my brand availability somewhat (even with the internet) and there are certain brands I’ve not had the pleasure of working with. This includes some more notable ones like Warcolours from the UK, Andrea from Spain, and even some American brands like Reaper. I started collecting paints from what was available at my local Hobby Lobby (stocking mainly Vallejo Model Color) and my FLGS (stocking Citadel from GW and some Army Painter – mainly peripherals for the latter).

My initial painting foray was with my first tabletop wargame, By Fire and Sword, a 15mm Pike-and-Shot era wargame set in Eastern Europe. I soon expanded to Flames of War (to appease my wife, who enjoys replaying the eastern front fighting between Soviets and Germans), and then made the jump to God’s Own Scale (28mm) to pursue my passion for American Revolutionary War gaming. As a commission painter, I’ve painted miniatures for Bolt Action, Warhammer 40,000, Warhammer Fantasy, Age of Sigmar, Conflikt 47, D.U.S.T., Flames of War, and Black Powder.

I primarily use acrylic paints. While I appreciate the beauty of well painted miniatures painted with oil paints, I have not mustered the gumption to attempt using oils in miniature painting yet.

So with that out of the way –

Craft Acrylic Paints:

These are typically going to be found at your local hobby store or big box store. Some of the more notable brands include Apple Barrel or Americana. You can paint miniatures with these paints, however, the pigments in the paint are generally going to be larger than paints that are specifically for miniature painting or modelling. Conversely they also may not be as richly pigmented as artist acrylics and certain miniature brands. They are however usually cheaper and a budget way to get started painting. These paints tend to have a satin finish and can range to glossy.

Pros:

+ Cheap

+ Usually a wide variety of colors available

Cons:

– Need to be heavily thinned for miniature use

– Don’t really thin that well and break down too much for uses such as glazes or washes.

– Usually comes in pots, which are not optimal in my opinion.

– Quality control issues

If you can afford better paint, then I can’t really recommend these.

Artists Acrylics: Also available from local hobby and arts stores, these are typically going to be brands like Liquitex and Winsor & Newton. These are going to be of a higher quality than Craft Store paints with finer pigments and thicker mediums. Typically cheaper than miniature paints, these are going to require thinning for applications on miniatures. Once you are familiar with how much you need to thin them, they typically work fine. These typically come in tubes that will provide an adequate supply for hobby use. Tend to be more satin in finish than purpose made miniature paints. Your mileage may vary based on brand, however.

Citadel:

Games Workshop’s brand. These are fairly well known and available easily online, and locally in GW and FLG stores. GW is a controversial company, but the paint is usually of a good quality in and of itself. They have a diverse range of paints that support the games that they field (mainly Warhammer 40,000 and Age of Sigmar). Most Citadel paints have a slight satin finish. They also have divided their range into several types based on application and method intended for the paint – layer, drybrush, shades, glazes, textures, and the fairly recent Contrast line. Their shades are in particular a superb tool and one I find indispensable. This is especially true if you don’t make your own washes. I believe Nuln Oil and Agrax Earthshade to be useful for every miniature painter’s toolset. Contrasts paints (basically staining paints) are also useful as a time saving step. They work well as a base and shade combined to be built up with further highlights, rather than just “glop it on once then you are done” as advertised. Non-Contrast Citadel paints are fairly thin out of the pot, but require additional thinning with a little water or a wet palette for optimal use with miniatures. With mediums or even water, they can easily be turned into glazes and washes for more advanced painting techniques.

However, there are drawbacks to Citadel. The first is the use of a paint pot that has issues sealing when opened, leading to dried out paints, gummed up pot lids, and catastrophic spills. You can transfer these paints to dropper bottles, however, that is an additional hassle and expense. That brings me to my second issue. Citadel paints are fairly expensive. Excepting Contrasts, most Citadel paints come in 12ml pots (Contrast paints are in 18ml pots). At the time of writing this a 12ml pot will set you back $4.55 MSRP (ca. 38 cents per ml) and a 18ml pot of Contrast will cost you $7.80 (ca. 43 cents per ml). Additionally, Citadel has a habit of revamping color lines or changing color names once a generation or so. This can make keeping a consistent favorite color stocked a problem.

Pros:

+Diverse range catering to a variety of techniques and painting styles

+Quality paint, usually well mixed

+Some of the best pre-made shades and washes of any miniature paint manufacturer currently.

+Well supported and widely available

Cons:

-Terrible pots that are prone to spilling, gumming, and paint drying

– Fairly expensive compared to some other brands

Although I no longer use Citadel paints (washes and some contrast paints excepted) and would generally recommend other brands first, I would say they are okay if you don’t mind the GW premium and the poor pots.  

Vallejo


Vallejo has numerous sub-ranges of paints (Model Color, Air Color, Game Color, Panzer Aces) with different target audiences in mind. 

For the purposes of my review I will divide these ranges into parts – Model/Metal/Air/Panzer Aces and Game Color 

Model/Metal/Air/Panzer Aces:

As the main brand carried by my local hobby store, this was the primary brand of paint I used for the first several years of miniature painting. For the most part this was Model Color, but I supplemented my collection with a few Air and Panzer Aces paint sets as well. These paints were intended for model painters. They tend to be based on realistically researched colors with mostly matte finishes. That said, being one of the most widely available hobby ranges as well as being of a good quality, these quickly became a favorite of many miniature painters.

The paints are of a good quality, tend to be more muted (especially Panzer Aces paints), and can be fairly thinned to support a variety of blending and glazing techniques. Vallejo Model Colors’s realistic tones are not as vibrant as Citadel’s or P3’s range, but are perfect for depicting miniatures in historical conflicts such as World War 2. 

However, these paints were originally formulated for modelers and diorama makers with displays and not for miniatures that were meant to be handled and pushed around tabletop battlefields. This becomes especially evident when using these paints on metal miniatures. Without varnishing, Vallejo Model Color paints tend to chip very easily when touched or handled compared to other brands. When using Vallejo Model Color (or Air/Panzer Aces, etc.), varnishing is an absolute must if you intend to use your miniatures for gameplay.*

Most of the Model Color and Game Color paints are designed for layering. They are fairly thin out of the bottle, but need to be thinned a little bit with water, a thinner, or a wet palette for optimal use. They can be thinned to glaze and wash consistency without issue. Vallejo also makes texture paints for terrain that are much better in terms of price than their Citadel counterparts. 

However, Model Color generally does not have an acrylic wash set. And while Game Color does have a wash set, the washes tend to be much more color altering than Citadel’s and tend to dry glossy with more coffee stains and discolorations than Citadel. Vallejo also has a fairly comprehensive ink set. 

Vallejo Game Color:

In response to the popularity of Vallejo Model Color in the miniature paint market, Vallejo came up with the more fantasy inspired color range to present a paint that was better formulated for miniatures (including resin in the formula). The colors are more vibrant than Model Color but are better resistant to chipping. Additionally, Game Color paints tend to be more satin in finish than their Model Color counterparts. 

Both Model Color/Air Color/Panzer Aces and Game Color come in 17ml dropper bottles. My current supplier charges $3.30 for a Model or Game Color bottle (ca. 19 cents per ml) or $3.69 for Panzer Aces (ca. 22 cents per ml). 

Pros: 

+Widely available

+Exhaustive range of colors with a realistic emphasis (Model Color in particular)

+Middling price

+Paints thin easily and support a variety of techniques, including layering and glazing. 

Cons:

-More prone to chipping (Model Color)

-Washes are inferior to Citadel (Game Color)

Though I’ve shifted away to other brands in my own painting, Vallejo paints still make up the majority of my paint toolbox. They work well with a variety of painting methods and styles. You can’t really go wrong with using Vallejo. 

The Army Painter

I will preface this by saying that while I like what The Army Painter is attempting to do, I think that their quality control is their own worst enemy. The first time I ever used Army Painter, I was a fairly new painter and I picked up a bottle of Skeleton Bone at a convention because I needed a buff color and couldn’t find a Vallejo equivalent at the time. I went to use this paint for the first time and the color came out runny and partially watery on the palette as pigment and medium came out of the bottle. While I had encountered separated paint from Vallejo and Citadel before, a brief vigorous shake usually remixed the paint. Not this bottle. I shook. And I shook. And I shook. After about ten minutes, I gave up. This pigment and medium would not remix. I was so disappointed in Army Painter that I swore them off for a while. 

It wasn’t a few years later when I purchased agitators for ScaleColor’s Scale75 paint set did I try this color again, this time with agitators. Although it took me much longer to mix than with other brands and agitators, I was able to get the color to mix properly. The paint was mostly matte (slight satin) and of a fair quality. If the paint wasn’t so badly separated, I may have been more inclined to purchase more Army Painter paints instead of Vallejo. While you might say that this was a one off, I’ve encountered bad cases of separation in other Army Painter paints, including newly purchased sets directly from Army Painter. If you use Army Painter, you will need agitators and it probably wouldn’t hurt to purchase a miniature paint mixer while you are at it. 

They have a fairly comprehensive painting range, including matching spray primers. These colors compare favorably at price-to-performance with Citadel. When well mixed, the Army Painter has painted that compare well to other hobby brand paints.

The Army Painter emphasizes the so-called “dip” system where miniatures are base coated and then dipped into a pigmented wood polish-like varnish that is followed with a matt varnish for depth and shadows in a speed painting method. I don’t recommend this method as it is messy and I don’t like the results. However, their products can be used for other methods, such as traditional layering. 

These paints are relatively thin out of the bottle, and don’t require that much thinning for optimal use. That said, I’ve not had much luck with thinning to glaze consistency as the paint tends to break up. The paint is matte in finish (slightly satin).

That said, the Army Painter washes “Quickshades” are pretty well done. They are a close second to Citadel’s washes and outperform Vallejo. Army Painter paint comes in 18ml bottles. My current supplier charges $3.25 per bottle (ca. 18 cents per ml), so they are way more cost effective than Citadel and just edge out Vallejo in pricing. 

Pros:
+Wide range with matching color primer sprays

+Fairly cost effective, especially compared with Citadel

+Good Washes in their Quickshade lineup

Cons: 

– Plagued by separation, requiring agitators and nearly requiring a mixing or vortex machine for optimal experience

– Paint is suited mainly for layering but doesn’t thin evenly for techniques such as glazes or washes

If you are aware of Army Painter’s limitations and mitigate them, then they are an excellent alternative to more expensive paint brands like Citadel. I’ve avoided them largely because of the issues I had initially with them. 

Scale75


Scale75 is currently my primary brand that I use and one of my favorites. In particular, I use their ScaleColor range, finding them to be some of the best miniature paints that I have ever used. But before I give a full throated endorsement, I do have some important caveats to note here. Scale75 paints are targeted at bust and commission painters and have the assumption that you are an experienced painter when you start using them. I would not recommend them for beginners. 

So starting with why I think they are some of the best miniature paints I’ve ever used: They dry perfectly matte. Most of the paints I’ve listed here have the slightest satin tone. These have a perfect matte finish. These paints are formulated with a gel medium so that they take longer to dry than other acrylic paints. This allows you to more easily develop techniques like wet blending and feathering. Additionally, they dry slightly transparently, blending into the layer of paint below them. This allows for beautiful transitions between colors and highlights. They also thin down beautifully into washes and glazes. Of all of the metallic colors from miniature brands that I’ve worked with, I say that Scale75’s are my favorite. 

Conversely, the thin drying layers mean that they take several coats to properly form a base coat, and depending on how thin your paint is, may take up to five or more layers. This is time consuming and potentially disheartening for a beginner to do properly, and if not done properly (if the beginner just slapped one coat on) would look patchy with the undercoat showing through. This often means that to save time that it is best to use another brand for base coating and then build up highlights and shadows.

Secondly, the gel medium can be fussy if not mixed properly and tends to separate fairly quickly after opening. Just like with The Army Painter, this is a brand where you will need to include agitators to help ensure proper mixing (unless you want to spend a significant portion of your paint time shaking bottles).   

Finally, though not as expensive as Citadel, Scale75 tends to be more expensive than say Vallejo or the Army Painter. The paint comes in 17ml bottles and currently costs $4.49 a bottle (or ca. 26 cents a ml).

I am looking forward to trying their newly released stain painting line, called Instant Colors. 

Pros:

+Beautiful paints with smooth matte finish

+Support diverse range of painting techniques, including blending, glazing, and layering

+Gel medium formulation to increase drying times, allowing for blending techniques without the use of a retarder medium

+Excellent metallics 

+/- The way the paint dries almost transparently supports smoother transitions and blending, but makes base coating take longer and require more layers.  

Cons:

-Not a beginner friendly range.

-Requires agitators for optimal experience

-On the more expensive side of miniature paint brands (not as expensive as Citadel)

I love Scale75’s Scalecolor paint range, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners. If you are experienced and comfortable painting however, I say that they are worth checking out. Using this brand led me to improve my blending technique and I love the final finish. 

P3

Privateer Press’s house paint range for Warmachines and Hordes, this paint range is noted for its rich pigments and vibrant colors. I only have a few pots of these paints (yes they come in pots, but the pots are superior to Citadel’s). The paint itself is of a high quality, thins beautifully, and supports a wide variety of painting styles and techniques. 


The main issue with Privateer Press is (cost aside) availability. Attempting to purchase individual pots on Privateer Press’s website leads to 404 errors (not found). No links exist on their site to purchase box sets. I’ve seen individual pots marketed by Privateer Press on Amazon, but unfortunately not every color is available this way. This also leads me to a second point of cost. A Privateer Press pot is MSRP of $3.50 for a 18ml pot (a remarkable ca. 19 cents a ml). However, some pots on Amazon are currently listed for $11.23 (a not so remarkable ca. 62 cents a ml, more expensive than Citadel).

Pros:
+High quality paint

+Vibrant colors

Cons:
-Availability issues and pricing.

-Pots

These are good paints, if you can find them. 

Pro Acryl

A fairly recent range by Monument Hobbies (formerly marketed by Creature Caster), Pro Acryl paints started as an attempt to make a white color that provided better coverage than other brands. After releasing a well received Titanium White, they soon expanded to make the rest of their present range.

 The paints are of a high quality, come in unique dropper bottles (with an Elmer’s glue-like twistable cap), and furthermore the bottles come with agitators already included. The paints cover fairly well and also thin beautifully. I would say they are the most versatile of any paints that I’ve worked with currently. They have a matte finish, but are not as matte as Scale75’s Scalecolor range.

That said, I’m hard pressed to find any negatives about this range. This includes cost. East Pro Acryl dropper bottles are 22ml and cost $4.00 a bottle (or ca. 18 cents per ml, on par with Army Painter). 

Pros:

+High Quality paint that supports a variety of painting techniques

+One of the most affordable miniature brand paints on the market

+Agitators for mixing are already included in the bottle.

If you are looking to try a paint range, replace an older set of paints, or if you are just starting out in the hobby, then I recommend taking a look at Pro Acryl. 

Other Brands:

AK Interactive: A line aimed at modelers and diorama creators, I’ve only used their Ultra Matte Varnish.

Foundry: Based on a triad painting system (they are paints that are focused on three color painting – shadow, main color, and highlight).

Reaper: Also uses a triad system.

Warcolours: On my “to try list,” including their new stain color line called “Antithesis.” 

Coat D’Arms: Pot based paints, but I’ve had no experience with them. 

*Chipping is not unique to Vallejo Model Color, just more prevalent. Other factors play a role in chipping, such as the quality and application of a primer. Generally I recommend varnishing. Some painters however do not prefer to varnish as the varnish can change the final appearance and vibrancy of the paint. 

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.”