The Alternative Armies Blog

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Wednesday 11 April 2018

Article 9 A whiff of Grapeshotte in the morning by Andy Jefcoate

Big Guns! The ninth in a series of linked Flintloque articles by Andy Jefcoate about his forays in the Witchlands and in Flintloque. If you want to catch up on the first to eighth articles where he got his starter set and then tried it out followed by a nail biter of a scenario and then get his Pug Dogs marching plus more Cavalry and Witchlands forays plus Converting Marshal Ney and more then you can read them on our blog HERE. In this article he gets to grips with Grapeshotte! With pictures of his own painted collection. Read on and enjoy. GBS

A Whiff of Grapeshotte in the Morning

As I mentioned at the end of my last article I ordered the 5027 Grapeshotte expansion book as I wanted to add artillery to my games of Flintloque. I will also need artillery pieces in the future to build combined arms forces for Slaughterloo, and to be honest what self respecting Napoleonique General would go to war without any cannon!

What's in the Grapeshotte book?
Firstly the Grapeshotte book is impressive in itself, as well as full rules for using artillery in regular Flintloque games, it includes information on all Firelocks and Artillery pieces available to all of the races of Valon across all the theatres of war. It would therefore be useful to have whichever Flintloque army you collect.

If that were not enough there is so much more included in this book. There are rules for siege warfare which includes advanced rules for using artillery, so if you've ever fancied making a breach in a fortress wall and leading a Forlorn Hope into it then this book is also for you. 

As well as rules for Gunners there are plenty of other new troop types including Engineers, Sappers, Guard Infantry, Mounted Infantry and Cavalry on foot (as a temporary troop type if they find themselves on foot during a game). 

There are also the sterling Appendices which are short articles giving advanced rules and mechanics for special units and characters that are fun and inspiring for scenarios. I can't tell you about all of these now or the whole article will just be a review of the book! Needless to say if you are a fan of Flintloque I think you should pick up a copy if you haven't already.  It is a fantastic resources for all the other books and it is a great read in its own right too.

My first artillery piece
This sounds like something you would buy a pre-School child and who knows there could be exactly that sort of thing available in Valon! For me though, I decided on a Ferach Elf artillery piece in the form of 59527 a Howitzer along with crew from pack 51035 9eme Artillerie de Ligne (Witchlands). I also picked up a limber and two horses to pull it, pack 5101LT

I purchased only the one gun to try out the rules before deciding what additional artillery I needed. The crew figures can be allocated to whichever artillery piece you want to field so will always be useful and the limber was purchased so that I have a full artillery piece for Flintloque or Slaughterloo with all scenario options covered.

Assembling the models
As with all models in the Flintloque ranges there was very little in the way of flash to be removed from the models and they fit together nicely. This is always worth mentioning as I appreciate it as a model maker and it shows that the manufacturer cares about supplying a good quality product.  The metal used is a high quality white metal too.

For the Howitzer itself, the wheels fit snugly to the gun carriage and the barrel slots nicely into place, very quick to do all round. I didn't base the gun as I won't need a base for Flintloque, but I have prepared a 50mm x 50mm base for the gun to loosely sit on if I use it for Slaughterloo which is what many mass battle players seem to do.

The limber went together just as easily, but unlike the cannon I decided to base it to make a sturdy playing one piece. I used a 50mm x 75mm base which will work for Flintloque or Slaughterloo. I initially glued the limber and one horse to the base for ease of painting with the other horse temporarily glued to a piece of card. As you can see from the pictures I drilled through the limber pole so that I could pin it to the horses and make the whole thing more solid. 

Painting the artillery piece and crew
Being a Ferach artillery piece the gun carriage and limber were painted green, with any metal painted in a dark gunmetal colour. The barrel of the Howitzer was painted in a gold which dulls down nicely once a black ink wash was put over the whole model.  It is a brass cannon.

The horses were both painted in a mid brown with blue saddle cloths, and a lighter brown used for their harnesses. 

As these crew models are similar in style to the Ferach Elf Witchlands line infantry and all wrapped up against the cold, I used similar colours to the infantry so that they all match in together. These also had an ink wash before a dry brush of mud to make them look equally grubby!

The continuing narrative
It was only a matter of time before Saindoux picked up an artillery piece. Many have been lost in the Witchlands as the speed of the retreat and the terrain have taken their toll on the limbers and horses, but as a Howitzer is pretty light (as  cannons go) it's been less prone to getting bogged down and can move relatively quickly. It's currently used to guard Saindoux's mobile headquarters but is also available to give a counter-attack a bit more punch if required!

The advantage of the speed of the Ferach retreat is that the Undead haven't been able to bring any of their own artillery forward as yet. As Saindoux's force grows and slows down this cannot continue indefinitely though!

Using a Howitzer in Flintloque
This model can be used as either a 3.5 Inch or 5.5 Inch Howitzer, but I've been using it as the 3.5 Inch version for the following reasons.
  •  It's a medium sized artillery piece so it needs 4 crew which is exactly the number I have.
  • The 3.5 Inch Howitzer in my opinion better matches the narrative listed above being lighter and more manoeuvrable.
  • It only costs 75 points for the Howitzer plus the cost of the crew.
  • I didn't want an artillery piece that was too powerful in a small game.

My initial experiences have been good and while I am still learning I have found the following to be useful. 

A Howitzer fires indirectly so it can be hidden behind terrain avoiding the crew being shot at but still being able to bombard the enemy (beware the minimum range of 39cm though). The Howitzer can also fire Caseshotte which is devastating at shorter ranges but needs line of sight to do this. 

When building a force with an artillery piece I would always recommend adding infantry, especially light infantry to help protect the gun and crew who are vulnerable on their own.  The cannon is a mighty one shot monster but it is really slow and takes time to load...protect it!

I wouldn't put the gun in the middle of your battle line, as by putting it towards one end (but not actually on the end to avoid it being flanked) you can angle it to target the enemy as they get closer to your own troops but while still being over 39cm from the gun. This obviously comes at a risk and how close to your own soldiers you do this depends on how much of a risk you want to take.  The only way the enemy can avoid this fire is to get nearer to the Howitzer which can be rather dangerous if it fires Caseshotte their way!   

What's next 
As mentioned in an earlier article I would like some heavy cavalry for both sides but I am also very interested in the expansion to the 5024 Escape from the Dark Czar set. Captain Preserovitch's force are Cuirassiers but while the original six figures are all on foot having lost their horses they are now getting reinforcements from their regiment both on foot and mounted with the new release Cuirassiers and Colour Party. I'll let you know how I get on.

Thank you for reading.



  1. Wonderful and atmospheric job, very evocative...

    1. Andy will be pleased to hear that. He loves Flintloque and puts a lot of effort into his set ups and photos. It is all his own work in the assembly, painting, writing. Glad you enjoyed it. GBS