Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)
Friday, May 17, 2019
Review - The Napoleonic Wars (Wargames Terrain & Building) - The Napoleonic Wars by Tony Harwood
Make no mistake about it I am a big Tony Harwood fan. I have all three of his self-published books and I have been eagerly awaiting his newest book from Pen & Sword Books. News had hit the streets that the book was out but it apparently has not arrived, physically, in the US yet. Its still showing as a pre-order on Amazon, however, there was an option for a Kindle version and after a little internal debate I decided to get the e-book now and pick up the printed version later.
I sat down with this book and read it from cover to cover in a single sitting. The book is broken into three sections; Section 1;Working in Different Scales, Section 2; Quick and Easy and Section 3; Detailed Step-by-Step Tutorials. If you have any of (and I'm sure enjoyed) Tony's self-published books then you still need this book. While there isn't a ton of new material for us veteran fans there are a couple of interesting variations that are worth the price of admission.
Tony covers 9 different buildings in this book 3 in each section. Section one features a Russian Windmill in 15mm, A two story French House in 28mm, La Belle Alliance in 20mm. Section 2 features a French Pigeonnier, a Stone Built Well and a Russian Granary. Section 3 features a small bakery (Die Kleine Backerei), a Hungarian Chapel and a Peninsular Diorama.
If you are new to Tony's work then you will appreciate his straight forward approach to building anything from just about everything at hand. Be warned you will need a good supply of corrugated cardboard, DAS clay, balsa wood, green foam (Tony uses a lot of green foam, I haven't really found a good substitute for it in the US other than blue or pink insulation foam, if you have found something out there let me know) and glue for your hot glue gun. If you have never built a wargaming building before never fear Tony will make it easy and fun.
For the veteran reader there are a couple of very interesting projects in the book. The first is the La Belle Alliance which is a modification of Sarissa Precision kit as opposed to a straight up scratch build. I found his observations very interesting as I build a lot of lasercut MDF kits myself and they all require extra detailing to get away from that flat look. The other two that feature something a bit different are the Hungarian Chapel as it is one of the few projects I have seen from Tony utilizing foamboard and the Peninsular Diorama which is built almost entirely out of foam (solid blocks of foam no less).
A few criticisms I have are there are not enough pictures. I'm probably spoiled from the self-published books which have a ton of pictures but publishing houses have different philosophies. Pen & Sword could have easily doubled the number of pictures and made a better presentation of Tony's work. I do feel that an introductory chapter going over tools and materials would have been a nice addition along with a quick explanation of some of his techniques (like wet water). Granted many of these are covered in the glossary at the end but I think some of this material would be better presented in the beginning with a bit more detail. Tony's writing style has changed a bit with this book as well and there are several instances of a repeated phrasing that made the book feel a bit disjointed. While I understand that each building is unique, I don't need to be told what wet water is each time. But really these criticisms are pretty nit-picky on my part. I was expecting something closer to the self-published books and this one didn't quite slot in with them. Enjoyable none the less.
That being said, this an excellent book of building techniques and tutorials that will have anyone building quality wargame buildings pretty quickly. Once you have built two or three of these you will be able to strike out on your own and create good looking buildings and terrain for your gaming table. I highly recommend this book for your library whether you are a model building, a wargamer or both!