Monday, June 24, 2013

Those Blood-Red Desert Sands

I have spent the past few days quietly re-painting the basing on my Sudan collection. It's been built up over the past 8 years or so, and over time as my style and paint stocks have varied, they have taken on a pretty motley appearance.

In working on them, I have decided to undertake a small Sudan campaign.

It's not terribly historical and telescopes the events of the Mahdi Revolt into 20 campaign moves. Still, I hope it reflects some of the flavour of the period.

The campaign system is that Steve Winter published on his old "The Colonial Angle" wesbiste.

I'll be preparing and putting up my materials over the rest of this week and hopefully kick things off this time next week.

If you are at all interested, please come and walk with me over those Blood Red Desert Sands.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A brief diversion

On my front doorstep (which we never use and hence what follows) a few weeks back was a parcel that had come to me from the UK. I opened it and it turned out to be the copy of Duncan Head's "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars". I had ordered it in February and promptly forgotten about it. I am sure it arrived with all despatch and had waitied there patiently for me to notice it.

A pleasant surprise you may say, and indeed it was. Even more surprising was the fact that the snails had deigned merely to nibble lightly upon the envelope before nicking off in search of some lettuce instead.

 Well, I was flicking through it today - these books are extremely flick-friendly, you understand - and what a treat it is. Three-paragraph battle descriptions, sections on the composition and descriptions of the Armies and so on.

Then you come to Ian Heath's illustrations. There are 188 of them.

Fair use, yeah Ian?
I invite you to admire them and then ask yourself why no-one seems (that I can see) to have picked up on their "look" to do a range of 30mm miniatures. The only thing with which I can compare them is the work of the German flat engravers. Such clean lines. Such nice anatomy. Such uncluttered simplicity.

UPDATE - OK there are these from Garrison:
Rose Prestige Greek - buy them in huge quantities, they are gorgeous.
But that's about it so far as I can tell. Someone... anyone.. please!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weekends' Output

Fifer, Poseur and Spanish Pikeman
Dreadful lighting for photography and thus my apologies.

The collection is building apace. Apart from these, I dug out and renovated a half dozen cavalry. It will be time quite soon to examine the question of basing.
Spanish Lancer
Converted from the Willie mounted Arquebusier that they never seem to supply an arquebus for!

Sword and buckler guy and a few whores and powder monkeys.
From the current 1565 collection, L-R, a sword and buckler man, the baby-eating Bishop af Bath and Wells and Pizzaro.

Friday, June 14, 2013

A few new recruits

Landsknecht Pride Marchers
 Obviously the Herr Obrist has been out shaking the can for the Fähnleins!
Spanish Pike
More on the painting table.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How Much is Enough?

I was home with a nasty head cold yesterday, so after Amy had taken the kids off to creche, I slept most of the morning. Rising at lunchtime (oh, how bohemian of me) I decided to make good use of my time and get some more painting done.

I ran through the next five Landknechts and Spanish then prepped up the next three figures for painting. What fun.

Later in the day I bought a Me 109E-4, one of the lovely new-tooled Airfix kits. No good reason for it - I was just in a Battle of Britain sort of mood.

Looking for a place to start building it on my workbench led me to try to clear things up.

Oh dear.

No room.

And my storage spaces are pretty well fully utilised.

Now, this ghastly situation has resolved* a looming cloud of gloom.

No further major projects?

Perhaps. I could see a time where I'd dabbled with most things that interest me. I have WAS/7YW armies for Europe and North America. I have fair sized WW2 forces for North Africs and Barbarossa (and aren't the new Miniairons T-26s nice?). I have the various incarnations of the Duchy of Alzheims' armies for the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. There are Warhammer Dwarves, Melniboneans, Pan Tangians, Riders of Rohan, High Elves of the First Age. There are huge numbers of Egyptians (160 and counting) and Mahdists (300?). There are various odds and sods of British Colonials in Home and Foreign Service Dress. There are a few dozen Britains 1914 French. There is a large chest of drawers stuffed with plastic model kits - were I an honest man I would also admit to the plastic tubs stacked in the car port filled with various kits and bits. I forgot the 25mm Tradition ACW collection. You klnow, the one I actually have the odd game with!

There is even a largeish stash of Napoleonic lead for the eventuality that I ever go to the Iberian peninsula.

Do I need to add to all this? Will I ever paint those Xyston galleys? Or the dozen or so Langdon ships that I have in baggies to go with the HMS Agamemnon (74) and the HMS Lydia (26)?

Can it be that I cannot conceive at this time of adding any new projects to this lot? Sure, some projects may gain an extra branch - most likely the 7YW Brits getting some Jacobites to brawl against at Prestonpans - but entirely new growths? I'm starting to wonder.

So there you go - perhaps my Slovaks and Landsknechts are the end of the road for me. Nothing is ever certain in life, and I feel that there are Ancients lurking there somewhere, but I feel that this may yet come to be.

*In the sense of brought into focus.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Test Figures

Alzheimer Landsknecht Officers
 I've spent a little time this weekend painting a few test figures. In the inevitable blue are "die Blauen" of Alzheim. All painting has been done with acrylic colour washes on a white, sprayed-on, undercoat. My main inspirations for this method are Richard Marsh's "wash-and-line" technique and the excellent work of Doug Crowther. Everything old is new again!
Spanish Pike
I took a leaf out of the GW playbook for painting large units of non-uniformed troops so they look fairly unified. I chose red and yellow-ochre as a tip of the hat to the Spanish flag. These are likewise Willie Landsknecht figures, but wearing Pluderhosen.

Comments are always welcome.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Setting a First Milestone

As you may have realised, I like to set myself milestones in assembling a collection.

Ross has kindly put forth the germ of a scenario and considering that I know little enough about the period and what may or may not be plausible I have decided to go with it.

Why not?

So then:

Company of 8 Arquebusiers
Company of 8 Sword and Bucklermen
24 Pike
Troop of 8 Mounted Arquebusiers

Company of 8 Arquebusiers
24 Pike
Troop of 8 Gens d'Armes
1 Cannon and 6 crew

This talk of Spanish troops leads me to thinking about my "Great Siege" collection such as it is. The figures that went into it would feed this project quite nicely and vice versa. Plenty of whores and powder monkeys there for Stokes, too. Monks, bishops, all the usual lovely clutter.

Friday, June 07, 2013


So, the next step of the project is costing it all out.

What am I committing to buy here?

Totting things up, I can see I am looking at 160 Landsknechts, 72 cavalry, half a dozen guns and about 20-30 gunners to service them. Then there are the stray command vignettes, assorted whores and powder monkeys, the odd casualty figure and so on; say another 20 or so. Half a dozen artillery pieces.

Costing up the foot figures - there are in the region of  210 figures. Thats GBP315 at GBP1.50 each.  Here though I am in the happy position of already having about 20 in hand already, so that lessens the pain somewhat. 30-odd pounds worth of pain relief, in fact. So lets say about 285 pounds for the Foot.

The cavalry - 24 are Willie "specials" from Tradition of London and will set me back somewhere in the region of GBP90. Hell. Although on the bright side, the first 8 have already been bought and paid for, so another 60 to spend. The remaining 40 will set me back another GBP116.

Lets say another 25 pounds for artillery.

Potentially a few buildings, items of fortification and so on, but some can be drawn from stock and others will not be needed immediately, so that can be put aside for now.

So what are we looking at at this point? If we total it all up we find we are at about GBP486.

Considering I'll be buying all this in dribs and drabs over the next year and a half to two years, I probably won't be getting any postage discounts, so add another 30%. GBP631.80.

Converting this to Australian dollars at todays' prices, we see that the project will come out at something in the order of $1036.01.

This seems like a lot of money and to tell the truth it is - about half a new hot water service. It is also about half of my annual hobby budget, at a guess, especially if I take into account what I spend going up to CanCon for our demo games. Still spread over two years it's not so bad, about a quarter of my annual spend, and amortised over the lifetime of the pleasure I shall get from them the price starts to seem less and less.

Policy Framework Document

Without adding an extra 16 figures per unit at this stage (notwithstanding a permanently open option on doing so in the future...) I think I have an outline for a "Landsknecht Project".

Something like this:

The Good Duke Sigismund von Alzheim
One 80-strong Landsknecht "Regiment". Die Blauen. For hire. Reasonable rates, satisfaction proffered. Mostly. Looting? Well, if pay is sufficiently in arrears.

The not so Good Freiherr von Herkheim
One 80-strong Landsknecht "Regiment". The Black Band of black-hearted knaves.For hire. Reasonable rates, satisfaction proffered. Under the right circumstances. Looting optional.

Ritter von Gaustadt, a man who enjoys a good time (ein geiler Bock* in the common tongue).
One 24-strong Gens d'Armes Regiment. "die Unaussprechlichen". Ahem.

Franz das Kamel.
Master of the Esoteric Order of the Artillery. A captured town's church bells are his, by ancient right.
An amazing medley of gimcrack cannon of all kinds.

*OK, yes, I did just find a German slang glossary online. Happy days.

UPDATE: Since my last go at this post, I've taken another close look at the Willie Catalogue and it seems to me that the ECW Cuirassier might also do as either a Reiter or as a ... Cuirassier - ie, a chap in 3/4 armour with a fully-enclosed helmet. Also, the Spanish Mounted Arquebusier from the Conquistador range has uses both as a mounted arquebusier and  as a light, lance armed cavalryman. A dozen of each type perhaps? Is that another four units of medium and light horse? Hm. Hm. Hm.

Thursday, June 06, 2013



Let's say we build a regiment of 50 of them. Going on Ross's ratios (sounds pretty official, eh?), that's 5 guys with two-handed swords and halberds; 10 with arquebuses and 35 with pikes. Seems a bit - to borrow a word - fecky to me.

What about 60 figures? 6 with two-handers and halberds, a dozen arquebusiers and 42 pikes. That seems a bit better, especially the arquebusiers. But it could be better for our close-quarter specialists.

Moving into danger territory, now. 80 figures. 8 guys with two-handed swords and halberds, 16 arquebusiers and 56 pikemen.

It might look a little like this:



P=pike, H=halberd, S= two-handed sword, C="command" and A=arquebus.

Even more dangerously, I'm starting to look at figure poses. Common sense would dictate having the pikes more or less in the vertical position. But then I saw this:

Pinched fron the Tradition of London catalogue.
Life can be just so damned cruel, can't it?

Meanwhile, I've a thought bubble that I'll inflict upon you all. If wargamers strive for realism in their games, do fantasy gamers strive towards (whilst admitting that it's a chimera, a will o' the wisp, even) magical realism?

I'll stop bothering you now.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


I've been redeveloping some interest in my Willie Landsknechts.

I painted up a couple of them ages ago and rediscovered them only yesterday. I think I have the enthusiasm to paint some more when the current mini leadpile of Slovaks dries up over the next few days.

Whether this turns into an army or just an itch scratcher, I don't know. I do recall that Phil Olley had an army made from older GW figures which looked very nice and that's probably my primary inspiration. I would think that a couple of "regiments" and some of the David Wilson "Willie" Gens d'Armes would do as a minimum with some converted pikemen as artillerists. There were a couple of nice looking "Renaissance" guns in the Tradition range, too as I recall.

Now, apart from having the appropriate Osprey, I know nothing about them organisationally. Can one of the more learned members point me in the right direction as to what proportions of figures I ought to get? Pikes, arquebuses, halberds and great swords?

Monday, June 03, 2013

A Confusion of Cannon

I am building in fits and starts the Slovak Rapid Brigade from the Rapid Fire! Second Supplement for the Russian Front. Slovak figures and equipment are not all that hard to come by in these times of wargaming plenty, however, the artillery is a bit of a mixed bag.
A mixed bag of Heavy Metal
For the lighter guns, you can go to HaT for the 75mm mountain guns the Slovaks used as infantry guns. Skytrex and Raventhorpe both do a Skoda 100mm field gun; I am informed that the Skytrex is the better option, and looking at the Raventhorpe ones I'm inclined to agree!

Now, curiously, in addition Mr Marsh requires us to have a couple of 105mm guns to fill out the Slovak TO&E. There was in the Raventhorpe catalogue a GV19 Skoda 105mmgun for $12.95. I duly bought it and assembled the cumbersome beast, replacing the thin and too-breakable trunnions and axles with brass wire drilled and glued in place. Undercoat, paint, gingerly dry-brush (all that superglue...) and ink-wash and the jobs a good 'un.

What's going on there though? A 100 and a 105 mm gun in the one unit? What the..? That makes little sense. And the 105 looks markedly more beefy that the 100mm gun.

Now though, I noticed that the Raventhorpe catalogue has been changed to read:

"GV19 Skoda 152 mm gun 12.95"

Ahh, I thought, that's it. Just a typo in the catalogue. And the close relationship between Messers Chadburn and March (prolific designer in his own right) might explain what was going on in the RF! Blue Book.

But no. Online searches found little resembling it. Indeed, the Czech 150mm Howitzer for the period was the vz 37 (also known as the K4). Indeed, most Czech artillery was very modern for the period, so what the heck is it? Not the cumbersome beast that Raventhorpe are selling.
Skoda vz.37
The answer came unexpectedly as I was leafing through the second volume from the Arms and Uniforms series on the Great War last night. I was engaged in a vain search for colour information on German artillery projectiles. Yet serendipity strikes us when we least expct.

Top marks to Fred and Liliane Funcken:

15cm Autocannone M15/16
And to Wikipedia
In Czech service