Sunday 17 September 2017

Showcase: 6mm Napoleonic French


Recently, there was someone asking on The Miniatures Page for pictures of painted Heroics & Ros 6mm Napoleonic figures.  There was very little response to the question and it occurred to me that there are indeed very few such images around.  It's a pity, as 6mm models work very well for the type of massed battles which occurred throughout the "Horse and Musket"/"Black Powder" period.

With that in mind, I thought it would be worth while documenting my relatively small 1809-ish French force.  Here goes...

The Infantry

"Vive L'Empereur!"  3 Line regiments, each in attack column formation and with skirmishers deployed forwards
 My forces are based for use with the Black Powder rules.  A standard infantry or cavalry unit has 4 bases; each base has a 40mm frontage, but the depth varies for different troop types.  Infantry depth is 20mm, cavalry is 30mm and artillery is 40mm.

Closeup of a Line regiment
Line infantry have 30 figures per base, in 3 ranks of 10, whereas light infantry (Légère) are in 2 ranks of 10.

The Heroics & Ros packs come with a goodly proportion of command figures.  I'm not particularly expert on the Napoleonic period, so I allow 1 flag per regiment.  However, many of the other, non-flag bases have an extra officer and/or drummer in the front rank.  Some bases have the colonel (on horseback) alongside the standard; to fit the horse I need to remove 1 figure from the 2nd rank.

A Légère unit in line formation, also with a skirmish screen deployed.
 I use extra bases with rounded ends to denote skirmishers, rather than trying to use bases from the main body of the regiment.  These skirmish markers have a small number of figures dispersed over a relatively large area.  Typically the skirmisher models are positioned in pairs rather than being completely random, as I have a vague memory of being told that at least one Napoleonic army's doctrine was for each skirmisher to operate with a buddy so that one man could fire whilst his mate reloaded.

The Cavalry

French Carabiniers: heavy cavalry knee-to-knee in a single line on each base, but with a few officers & standards out front.
Unlike the infantry, my French cavalry is composed of the less common types.  Rather than the ubiquitous Cuirassiers and Chevaux-léger, I have a single regiment each of Carabiniers and Hussars.  Oh, well - it gives me expansion possibilities, doesn't it?

French Hussars: light cavalry in a slightly more dispersed line, but still with officers, buglers and standards in advance.

The Artillery

I mount my guns 2 to a base; this gives plenty of room for the various crew and officers to be positioned.  For Black Powder, we would normally use a single base to represent a battery, though I suppose there is no reason why we couldn't be more generous and use 2 or even 3 bases.


Many games require commanders to be based separately; Black Powder certainly does.  With 6mm there is plenty of room for several figures, even on a 20mm base.  I typically use 2 models for a 20mm diameter brigade command stand and 3 models on a 25mm base for the division commander.

As well as the general himself and any aides, I often include a standard bearer.  This may not be entirely historical, but it serves 2 useful purposes:

  1. It allows the identification of nationality more easily in the heat of battle.  After all, one 6mm guy riding a horse and wearing a bicorne hat looks much the same as another - and I wouldn't wish to confuse my generals with the enemy's, would I?
  2. It makes use of some of the excess standard bearer models from the H&R infantry packs!


I've got a fair number of other bases for my French army, from the days when I had it set up for DBN.  That game used far fewer models than Black Powder and so these miscellaneous bases aren't enough of any one type to form a regiment.  Still, they would provide a useful foundation when expanding this force.  One day, one day...

Lots of 6mm H&R Napoleonic French!


  1. Not a scale I'm good with mostly because I can't focus that well but a great scale for napoleonics and the mass battles of the era

    1. It is indeed a very suitable scale for massed battles - and not nearly as difficult to paint as many people think!

  2. That a great looking little force!

  3. I was saying only yesterday that 6mm for Naps looked so much better than any other scale. Units look like units and not half a dozen men.

    Terrific. It may even encourage me to paint my 6mm ACW. You never know.

    1. This mass appearance is the real strength of the 6mm scale.
      It's difficult to imagine how good it looks without seeing examples.

      Another strength (don't tell anybody) is that you don't need to paint a while lot of detail.
      That is a bonus for a guy like me who lacks the precision to do justice to the 28mm scale.

    2. I agree entirely; calling 24 figures a "battalion" just doesn't seem right.

  4. You've done a cracking job on those, and seeing them has been a welcome "nostalgia trip" (Now, does anyone remember the old Minifigs 5mm blocks??)
    I've often thought about how well 6mm armies would suite modern examples of Napoleonic rules, and you've convinced me with this post that it'd be the way to go! :-)

    1. For modern rules (leaving skirmishes aside), it's the size of the bases that usually matter rather than the size of figures on those bases. That being so, 6mm allows many more figures than larger scales.

  5. I too have quite ta collection of 6mm figures specifically for "horse and musket" large scale engagements and approve wholeheartedly of all your comments regaring this.

    1. Thanks, Joe. I might have suspected that you had 6mm Horse & Musket figures :-) ...

  6. These look great dude. Bring back fond memories from our schools wargames club :)

    1. Hmm, I can only dream of what a school wargames club might have done for me!

  7. I've been so accustomed to fighting your Austrians that I forgot you had a French contingent from the DBN days.

    I've seen many ways of basing 6mm figures, but I think our 4 elements of DBA bases is almost perfect for infantry of the period.
    120 men is almost exactly the strength of a Napoleonic French company so the ratio is close to 6:1.

    The single rank of cavalry isn't perfect, but 2 ranks looks awfully crowded unless the horses are stood still. 40 odd horsemen is about right for a half-company (One of several manoeuvre units).

    I'm coming to the conclusion that 2 elements of guns would be a better representation of a battery, but I don't have enough pieces to implement that representation with m own Russian force.

    1. Don't forget my Bavarians and fledgling Confederation of the Rhine forces as well...

      I'm open to suggestions about the number of bases per unit, especially for artillery.

  8. Another ruleset worth looking at (They're quite different to all the others) are 2x2 Napoleonics:

    Very quick, very simple - but taking a completely different approach to the DBA family.

  9. When arrayed in what I presume to be battle formation, the army looks mightily impressive.

    1. They do, don't they :-) . Of course, this is quite a small force for a Napoleonic grand battle!