Phil Olley's blog raised the issue of army planning and I admit that although I try to plan, my armies just grow like “Topsy”. So I thought it was time to explain my own approach having passed 22k figures.
The origin of my lack of discipline stems from my use of the Springwood plastic Napoleonic figures. At this early stage of my wargaming life I had two small Napoleonic armies based on Airfix figures, but I decided to widen my scope to cover the Prussians and Russians. Springwood offered packs of 48 figures, 12 each of British, French, Russian and Prussian line infantry and I bought enough for 12 units of each. It also linked with the bath Wargames club plan to refight Borodino. Of course Springwood didn’t stop at one set but both upgraded the quality and increased the range of figures, the current size of my Napoleonic armies reflects this. Also given the wide number of Napoleonic armies I now have, any new figures for the period have an instant attraction such as the Strelets Eclaireurs
A long time back I decided that (a) I would stick to plastic 20mm (b) I would always build at least two sides to a conflict and (c) The army should fit on an 8 x 6 table
My SYW army is still the best example of my approach to army planning and one where I have not subsequently made any changes to it. My major constraint was using just he plastic figures available, but Revell had provided enough to cover most of those needed. Like many of my armies I worked on the premises of twelve 24 figure infantry units, in the period would give me twelve 8 figure cavalry units for a 3:1 ratio typical of the period. For the horse this worked out simply into equal thirds of hussars, dragoons and cuirassiers. I kept the Prussians to 12 units, but these were 8 Line, 2 Grenadier, 1 Frei Korps and 1 Jaeger. The Austrian foot was larger (to compensate for the quality?) with 8 Line, 2 grenadier and 4 Grenz. It meets all of my three criteria
Another pair of armies was for the Anglo-Zulu war, once Esci released the figures I estimated the rough numbers required and for most games these are what I stick with, however I did subsequently buy a small number of extra (metal) figures to enhance the army. Again it meets my criteria.
I’ve also had failures, like the Crimean war, where Esci released Russian infantry/artillery and some British cavalry, so I have subsequently been wary of starting a new period until sufficient figures are available. Btw, Strelets now have some excellent figures for the period, but…
Along with the Naps WW2 is the other period that just grows it seems that every scenario needs some additional vehicle that is not in my collection, and there is the constant flow of new figures for the period. Having a large number of armies, I am still managing to resist the allure of Poland 1940 and the Far East campaigns. The one constraint that has helped here is my attempt to use 1/76 scale wherever possible for the vehicles
My ACW armies have very much stabilised as I have more than enough to fill a table and luckily there are not that many “pretty” units you can add.
Ancients/Medievals are a lot easier as I just have to produce enough figures to meet the requirements of the army list.
Linking back to Phil Olley’s post, my TYW armies started out as a simple project, once Revell produced the figures, but gradually grew once I became committed to a demo game for the Pike & Shot Society at Triples in 1997 (I think). This was Lutzen in 1632 and I built my armies to give a scaled down representation of the forces involved while not representing every unit involved. Since them with a few minor exceptions the armies have stayed unchanged until now when Phil is tempting me on his blog and the spare figures in my stash seem to demand to be used!!