I looked for 10mm Pioneer units on the web for purchase, and only came up with Pendraken French pioneers. I guess I could order those for Austrian and Russian forces and file away and paint them accordingly, but really how importance is this? I know by their very nature they only modify outcomes, being companies, but are they used in actual battle scenarios?
I looked for 10mm Pioneer units on the web for purchase, and only came up with Pendraken French pioneers.
By French pioneers I am guessing you mean sappers? The Austrians had both pioneers and sappers, and frankly I believe the French bad both too, but for the purpose of game play in ESR French sappers would be the operative troop type to be used as Specialist Companies. There is a dearth of them on the market, and it is something we are aiming so solve, just haven't gotten there yet.
but really how importance is this? I know by their very nature they only modify outcomes, being companies, but are they used in actual battle scenarios?
Not sure I exactly follow the question so please let me know if this isn't a helpful answer, but I can tell you that 1) French sapper companies are present in at least some of the scenarios in nearly every ESR Campaign Guide, and 2) some of the historical scenarios do depend on their use for special tasks.
Could you represent them in some other way until miniatures are more readily available? I suppose one could, and it wouldn't be terribly difficult since they are generally just an attached bonus to another Unit.
Pioneers vary by Army and nation. In the French Army there are sappers who act as sorta sudo-combat engineers, they set mines on bridges, they repair bridges, they build bridges (in conjunction with pioneer and bridging teams who lead such efforts), they literally break down barricades and doors, they loophole buildings and build makeshift barricades. While in the Russian Army pioneers perform the fortification duties as well as supplement artillery crews. So it is all a little variable. Your question seemed to be about what miniatures to use to represent engineering Specialist Companies in ESR – which really ends up being a question of which uniform is most appropriate on the sculpt of miniature. Russian pioneers looked like regular Russian infantry but carried a variation of kit. Austrian pioneers looked largely like Austrian jägers in Corsican hats – but again with different kit. French sappers look vary different from either of these with bearskins and aprons. Meanwhile French engineers sometimes wore helmets. So there is a lot of visual variation.