When doing the previous post on the Russians, I recalled a conversation I had with a fellow gamer many years ago at the Claymore show in Edinburgh.
I was at the bring-and-buy stall and picked up a box of painted 15mm Napoleonic French figures. Reasonable painting if I recall, but very expensive for what was there. Essentially the box contained Napoleon and several generals, a few guns, old guard infantry and polish lancers.
A chap appeared at my side and said, "What do you think?"
"Painting's OK," I replied, "But it's expensive for what's there."
"I agree," said the chap. "There's no line infantry or cavalry."
The conversation continued for a bit like this, but unknow to us the owner / seller had come up behind us and got a bit huffy (put-out, upset, etc.) at our comments.
"It's a nice set of figures," the seller claimed, "And well painted."
"That may be so," said the chap at my side, "But it's not worth it."
He then went to to tell the seller that every Napoleonic gamer with a French army would have figures of Napoleon and Ney and other marshals, they would have old guard and polish lancers, and that to most napoleonic gamers, these type of figures were virtually worthless. What Napoleonic gamers really needed, he claimed, were painted line infantry and lots of it. Everyone paints the 'special' units but never has enough basic line infantry.
The seller remained in the huff and walked off muttering, and we put the figures back on the stall. The chap and myself continued out conversation for a bit, essentially in agreement, then went our separate ways.
But it made me think for a bit, and I've tried ever since, with mixed success, to have lots of line infantry in my armies. But I still think that on any given game day round the world, there will be more figures of Scots Greys, Rifles, Old Guard and Polish lancers on tables than ever existed. But hey-ho, that's Napoleonic gaming. We all want the special units and I'm no exception - I still have more old guard figures to paint, and I'll get them finished someday.