This article is meant to help those who would like to build an Austrian Army in miniatures, but might not know where to begin.
First of all, you should ask yourself if the Austrian Army is the army you want. Heck, you will paint such a large numbers of troops, might as well be sure this is the one you want! Here is a few points you might think about :
- The Austrian army is more often than not the underdog in most battles, as most ruleset rate them lower than say, a french or british army. If what you like is winning, this may not be your best choice.
- The Austrian army is notoriously slow in almost all rulesets. If you are an agressive type of player, then again the french might be better suited.
- Do you hate painting white? Might seem like a bizarre question, but most of your army will be made up of white uniformed troops (line infantry, cuirassiers, dragoons, etc). If you already detest painting whites, you are in for a long ride.
- Are you in it for the guards? The Austrian army has no real unité d'élites, except for their combined Grenadiers battalions (which do look great but...). You have to rely on your line infantry because you have no super unit.
If this has not discourage you, the Austrian army does have many qualities.
- From an aesthically point of view, it is in my opinion the best looking force of the era. The line infantry regiments, magnificent with their different facings and unique helmets or the hungarian infantry in their light blue trousers, the Jagers and Grenz are superb and colourful light infantry, the Hussars are magnificent in stricking colours. The first time I saw a numerous Austrian army in the now defunct website The Wargamer's Tavern, I knew I had to field this army.
- Austria waged war on France more often than any other nation of the era. With an Austrian army, you can recreate a lot of campaigns against the french; from Austerlitz to Wagram to Dresden, and many more.
- Great personnalities : The Archduke Charles, fascinating personnage; Liechstenstein, dashing & loyal cavalry general; Schwartzenberg, superb diplomat.
- 1809 : In my opinion by far the best campaign of the era to game. Two great empires going at it, no coalition, lots of battles in different sizes, lots of colour on the french side, lots of Landwher on the Austrian side, Charles vs Napoleon, Napoleon's first defeat (Aspern-Essling).
Ok, still with me?
Before you begin buying and painting your figures, take the time to plan what you really want. Here is a few questions you have to answer before going further :
- What scale do I want to represent? The two most popular are Tactical (each unit represents a battalion) or Grand Tactical (each unit represents a regiment or brigade). If you want to show the organization of an army, Tactical will be better suited for you (you can show how many battalions are in each regiments, etc). Grand Tactical however should allow for more variety from one unit to another. I chose the latter mainly because I wanted to show each unit with different facings, and I like the idea of one unit = one regiment. You could of course represent your units one way and play another; I intend to play tactical, in which case my regiments will simply become battallions.
- For determining which units will be part of your army, you can either pick an historic corps from an order of battle (see OOB section foe some example of 1809) or you can reflect the army of the time. Choosing a corps is historically more satisfying, while reflecting the army of the time offer more choices to the gamer. At first, I tried to choose a Corps I wanted, but after a lot of reaseach, I could not find a corps that had everything I wanted, so I decided to go the other way. After all, I prefer to paint units that I find visually appealing instead of having to paint some units that I don't really care about. But, really it is a mater of personnal preferences.
- Which figure scale you want? While the most popular are 15mm and 28mm, the bigger 40mm or the mini 6mm also have a strong following. If you lack time, space or money, the 15mm or smaller is probably the way to go. If however you have room, enjoy painting and place a premium on individual units and cameo figures, the larger scales might be better for you. Nothing beats the display of numerous well painted 28mm on the battlefield. With the choices now available, in my opinions 28mm is the way to go, and all the miniatures on this site are at this scale. But again it is a matter of personnal preferences. For informations on 28mm manufacturer, see the links section of this website. My army is composed of mainly Foundry with some Sash & Saber figures.
- How to base your mini? This should depend on the ruleset you want to use. I based my units so that they could be compatible with many rulesets, including Grande Armée, Huzzah!, Elan Deluxe & even Napoleon's battle. I highly recommend Litko bases, a company that produces high-quality wood bases, for all your bases. However others use plasticards, Games Workshop plastic bases, cardboard, etc. without any problems. Unless you plan on gaming skirmishes, do not base your figures individually. It is much, much easier to move units when they are made of 4 bases instead of 16 or 24, it looks better and allows for small diorama-type units.
- Do you intend to play solitaire or with a group? If you have to provide both armies, then consider building both a French and Austrian\allied army. If you plan to play with the same group, then you can build one army in depth while allowing your regular opponents to provide the other.
- Research, research, research...uniform info can be pretty complex at time. Your best sources are librairies and the Internet, as well as Osprey's books. See the links sections for uniform website links. This is probably one the most satisfying aspect of this era; you have TONS of material easily available to you (contrarily to older periods such as Ancients).