Rhys Pogson Hughes Emanuel is a prolific and extremely active member of the Black Powder Epic Battles community. Some of you may recognise him from the lively Epic Battles Facebook movement where he has been supporting the game across the Epic WarlordsWarlords Epic Battles ACWEpic Battles Warlord GamesWarlord Games Epic Battles Napoleonic and Warlord Games Black Powder Epic Battles groups. Be sure to check out these groups and join the conversation.

Rhys has previously showcased his Epic Battles: American Civil War collections here on Warlord Games Community – the Forming the Federals (Union collection article) can be found here and Raising the Rebels (Confederacy collection article) can be found here.

Rhys: Happy New Year, I hope you find yourself surrounded by new Hobby Goodies! As part of my planning for 2023, I found myself taking stock of both my French and Allied Epic Battles Napoleonic armies. Looking them over, it seemed as good a time as ever to write a follow-up to my ACW conversion articles. I decided to start with the French and although I have only finished just over half of what I plan to add eventually, I thought there were enough complete units to be of interest. It also gives me an excuse to write a follow-up, probably in the summer.

I tackled my Napoleonic French a little differently to the way I approached units of the American Civil War. I felt that there wasn’t a pressing need to inject as much variety into each individual unit – this force was going to be bigger, and column upon column of blue jackets would play into the feel of a uniform Napoleonic army, if you know what I mean? I did, however, want to make sure my units had some individual character where possible – and as ever I just enjoy experimenting with the Epic Battles sprues to see how flexible they can be. It just needed a little imagination.

Drawing from my experiences converting the ACW range, I have identified that there are two distinct methods for adding individuality to my units.

The first exploits subtle changes using painting or kit-bashing. The following units all show examples of this.

Below you can see I have simply painted the greatcoats of the two units a slightly different hue, which instantly stands them out as different units. I have found doing similar with shako covers also has the same effect whilst retaining historical accuracy.

Another variation of this method is to alter the sprues themselves. Below the front unit has full-plumed flank coys, whilst the rear unit has them trimmed down to pom-poms; a subtle effect, but it stands them apart.

This is not a full head swap, but rather snipping a head off, turning it in place, and glueing it back on. This lifts the overall effect of the figures a little, but really stands out if you have several similar units.

It also works really well with the Artillery and saves having to try and snip individual figures from the wheels on the frames. Another simple trick with the artillery is to add different inanimate objects to each base, giving each variation but also imbuing each stand with the feel of a diorama.

Simply thinking about how you position each infantry line can give you a decent effect. Below I have simply separated those in greatcoat to those without to form two distinct units. This is something I have seen widely done across the Epic Battles community.

One of my most extensive conversions is the dragoons. For this, I used a combination of kitbashing and distinct uniform techniques (which I explain below). Here I used a range of spare heads, Prussian torsos, skirmishers’ bodies and green stuff to create long boots. Fiddly in places, but so worth it.

The second of my methods is to look at the models with a historian’s eye. There was a lot of variety in the uniforms between units, historically, and replicating these differences on the miniatures is both very rewarding and generates bespoke character, though it does involve doing a little research and academically informed guesswork. As I wanted my forces to cover the whole Hundred Days campaign and not just the Battle of Waterloo, it really opened up the possibilities as I had a much wider pool of units from which to pick.

Napoleon militarised many of the public services, and most saw action after Waterloo in the defence of Paris. Below are the Firemen and Sappers of Paris, making use of spare sappers of the guard strips (found on the Middle & Old Guard sprues).

Here I have used a little artistic licence. The 1st Voltigeurs of the Imperial Guard were formed from the Elban Chasseurs, they probably didn’t get their new uniform, but I have mixed them both together as if part issued – which helps the unit stand out from the other skirmishers.

Foreign units remained a part of Napoleon’s armies, the Swiss in red below, made it to Waterloo, and the Irish in green were on garrison duties. But their differing uniforms give me two distinct units from exactly the same strips of figures.

Doing a little research will inevitably bring up some more varied images of units. This gave me the inspiration to add a little more character to the uniforms, without having to do much work. The striped trousers below are a good example (to attempt this in Epic scale is perhaps a sign of lunacy – top work! -ed.).

This also led me to one of my favourite conversions so far, La Garde de Paris (Guards of Paris). For these, I used Prussian Landwehr bodies, with a mix of any and all spare heads I could find that were appropriate, even some taken from the ACW range that could pass for civilian hats. This conversion would work equally well for La Garde Nationale (National Guard), and Levée en masse (conscripted forces) units too. I painted this unit in mostly drab brown blouses with red neckerchiefs as if they are attempting a uniform look. I intend to do another with the more likely off-white coat, but with an early beret-style headdress that I have seen for the more provincial Militia units.

Last of all I have taken the time to benefit from the hard work of others. There are no monopolies on good ideas. The spare heads provided on the Middle & Old Guard sprues really work well. I love how they turned out. So much so that I have been swapping like crazy all over the Epic community to get all the spare heads people are not using. You will see the bonnet de police appear throughout my units adding a little flair here and there. And I have some plans for the bicornes and shakos too…

The special figures created by Warlord can also be a source of inspiration. Here you can see I have augmented the front rank of a légère unit using the Sous-lieutenant Legros limited-edition figure, and further supplemented it with some skirmishers as well.

I also created a diorama-type command base in a similar vein. This really shows the versatility of the Epic Battles figures. There is only one head in here that isn’t from the Epic range. The first and last rider stem from exactly the same base figure, and the General is nothing more than a green-stuff-enhanced Carabinier.

Well, that’s my French so far. I am still having fun converting and am constantly being inspired to try new ideas. Having completed about thirty units thus far I have about fifteen more planned. It’s roughly the same for the allies, and I will follow this piece up with an article showcasing these in a few weeks. I hope this was of some inspiration and really do encourage you to do a little research and experiment with the Epic Battles range.

Collecting French in Black Powder Epic Battles: Waterloo

The Bonaparte’s French Army starter set provides a solid core of a French army fighting in the Hundred Days campaign – 10 units of line/light infantry, 3 units of skirmishing voltigeurs, units of each type of heavy cavalry (Cuirassiers, Dragoons and Carabiniers) and light cavalry (Hussars, Chasseurs à Cheval and Lancers), supported by 16 pieces of artillery and brigade commanders. Also included is an MDF building of the Decoster House and a bespoke A5 softback rulebook with Napoleonic-specific content.

Expand your collection with additional brigades of infantry, light cavalry and heavy cavalry, or add in some of the greatest military units to ever take to the field of battles, the French Imperial Guard.

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