Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Papelotte: My Mini Waterloo Begins

Image c/- Hovels - the completed Papelotte
I had made my first purchase of figures for 1815 maybe even as long as ten years ago and always knew I'd get there. As a 1/20 troop scale player, I was never considering taking on the whole battle - I have a mate who is - so I have taken to recreating the fight for Papelotte in 28mm. Several things attracted me to this part of the Waterloo battle. It was largely defended by 'Allied' units rather than British. As I have been playing the British in my Peninsular armies for years, I fancied a uniform change and on the eastern flank the large British element was less in evidence. Papelotte was and remains very much the forgotten and largely ignored stronghold. It is also like La Haie Sainte and Hougemont, a battle within a battle.

Hovels also make a ripping looking resin model of the farm complex which is next on my list. I have seen many a Waterloo game this year but I want to represent the ground as accurately as I can. I have really locked onto the desire to recreate the ground and now that I have mastered the intricacies of synthetic fur and spray guns, there's no stopping me.

Scanned image taken from Adkin's incomparable Waterloo Companion
First stop was my trusty Adkin's Waterloo Companion to select the topographical area I wanted to fight over. I have half developed an involved scenario for the game (to be published on-line at a later date) which takes into account the rest of the battle ranging around Papelotte with likelihood and consequences affecting play on the Papelotte table-top. With this in mind, I have revisited an initial selection and have now determined the field.

Calculating the dimensions of the Hovel's Papelotte model 290x736mm) as my starting point. The farmhouse footprint on the map is 3mm wide so using 1mm = 100mm I drew what will be 900x900mm squares on Adkin's map in an arrangement to best capture the features of my scenario. I then up-scaled them to 5mm grid paper. At this time I only want the contours to cover the rise and fall of the ground. My next step will be getting medium thickness ply board cut to measure and purchasing the Styrofoam sheets, working on 8-10mm thickness.
The contour-only sketch map of my table-top to be

I learnt from my Lewes foam terrain that I have to be mindful to build into the stepped levels to achieve the even flow of the slopes. I will use cans of expanding spray foam to in-fill the rise and fall. After that, I will carve in the roads and then cover (glue) the surface in as thin a gauze as I can find before adding synthetic fur where appropriate as well as numerous crops and features to represent an area under heavy cultivation. 

Total calculated area taken from the breakdown dimensions provided on-line


  1. The Adkin book is a wonderful resource. I used it for my game, but I had a different source for the map. As I went with printed terrain, when I come to revise it, I will study the Adkin's maps carefully - in my scale, 1 infantry figure represents 120 men and 1" a 100 yards, it pays to keep the terrain simple.

  2. Yes, I reckon simplicity is a compromise needed otherwise the table-top might get too cluttered to play on.

  3. By the way, the numbers on the squares represent the minimum level of foam and the circled numbers represent the average thickness. Not sure if this will help me later or not. I suspect not.

  4. Like your precision Greg. Will certainly follow closely mate.