Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Wars of the Roses: mounted knights (1) and stake defences

My Xmas present arrived recently from Front Rank in the form of enough figures for two units of mounted knights and one of light horse. I decided to start off with the daunting task of painting the first unit of mounted knights. Painting cavalry is not my favourite part of the hobby but luckily my quest to continue on this project using primarily GW contrast paints was helpful.

Mounted knights with various weapons (Front Rank figures).
I painted a few of the helmets in various colours, although probably a few too many (but who really knows how prevalent this was at the time?).

In the recent Front Rank order, I also included some archers at work on their stake defences and some casualty figures. From these, I created three stake defence stands with various figures pounding in and sharpening stakes  with an occasional casualty scattered about. The stakes are shishkebob skewers drilled and glued into spare sabot base bottoms with the usual ground covering.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Wars of the Roses: new units and an end to the foot troops (for now)

I recently received another order from Front Rank to complete the foot troops of the Wars of the Roses project. So far, my painting and ordering schedule has worked well. For this project at least, I have begun painting as soon as an order arrives and also immediately order another batch. This way, there are always figures on the way while I'm beavering away at the current stock. One may question why I don't just order it all up front and take advantage of Front Rank discounts but there are a few legitimate reasons: first, I have a monthly hobby budget to which I try to adhere (with varying levels of success); second, Front Rank has had a limit on sizes of orders during the current apocalypse; and third, a mountain of unpainted figures can be a daunting sight. Much better for my hobby mental health to go about it in smaller increments.

So, on to the latest additions (and these complete the current plans for foot troops... I have ordered a Xmas present for myself, composed of mounted Knights and light horse).

A second unit of men-at-arms of no particular affiliation. As with all my units, livery colours and banners are based primarily (if not exclusively) on whichever colours and livery badges catch my eye at the time).
Front Rank figures.

A fourth unit of billmen. In this case, I utilized a few HYW figures with what would be, in the WotR, outdated kit. I envisioned this unit as a town militia, equipping the men with fairly standard livery colours but finding whatever equipment might be available from old stocks.
Front Rank figures.

Two units of crossbowmen, hired from the continent.
Front Rank figures.

An extra retinue command stand, in case someone decides to field a fourth ward in their army.
Front Rank figures.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Wars of the Roses: terrain pieces

Alongside all the WotR painting over the last few months, I decided to putter away at some terrain pieces...

the start of a small village with chapel...

Medieval Chapel from Tabletop Workshop.
This is a beautifully rendered plastic model that took painting well. I'd like to get more of the collection but they are rather expensive (and difficult to find).

Renedra medieval cottage and outbuilding

Renedra outbuildings and wattle-fenced enclosure.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Wars of the Roses: Irish & other bits & pieces

Earlier this week, I received my order from Antediluvian Miniatures to flesh out my Irish contingent. I have high praise for AM... ordering to receipt, just over two weeks from the UK! Besides the AM figures, I have the previously-completed Gripping Beast kern and another 12 gallóglaich from Crusader Miniatures (currently on the painting table).

Irish Gallóglaich from Antediluvian Miniatures.
These are lovely figures though somewhat slimmer than Front Rank. This presents no issues as they will be in their own units and, in fact, their own retinue. In Never Mind the Billhooks, gallóglaich (often seen as "gallowglas")  fight as men-at-arms (i.e. with nasty weapons) but save as billmen (i.e. medium-ish armour).

Bow-armed kern from Antediluvian Miniatures.

Irish command from Antediluvian Miniatures... 
currently flag-less but standards on their way from Pete's Flags.

The Irish contingent/retinue so far... with Gripping Beast kern with pointy sticks.

Front Ranks four-wheeled wagon... 
not an in-game combat unit (obviously) but a nice piece of colour for the table.

Front Rank two-wheeled wagon. 
I've added a pile of hay cropped from a floor mat and glued to an appropriately-sized block of blue foam.

I whipped up a couple of "field defences" out of various bits & pieces over blue foam mounted on a spare mdf unit base.

Never Mind the Billhooks has a special event called "hidden ditch." Using another spare mdf unit stand, I added low level blue foam banks and some gloss varnish for the water effect. I deliberately kept this simple and relatively clutter-free.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Wars of the Roses: project overview

A quick overview of my progress on the Wars of the Roses project. I've painted all of the figures below since the beginning of September and it has been one of the most enjoyable painting experiences of my hobby life. I still have several units to add. Winging my way from the UK are more Front Rank billmen and MaA figures and Irish from Crusader Miniatures and Antediluvian Miniatures.

The collection as a whole... 
four wards/retinues and a collection of extras (artillery, kern, etc).

Ward/Retinue #1: 
2 x archers; 1 x billmen
(Front Rank figures)

Ward/Retinue #2:
1 x archers; 2 x billmen 
(Front Rank figures)

Ward/Retinue #3:
1 x archers; 1 x men-at-arms; 2 CinCs... one Yorkist, one Lancastrian
(Front Rank figures)

Ward/Retinue #4:
2 x pikemen; 1 x handgunners (I've since added another unit of handgunners)
(Front Rank figures)

2 x artillery; 1 x archers; 2 x kern
(Front Rank & Gripping Beast figures)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Bespoke... what does that really mean?

Amongst our group, the term bespoke has been cropping up with some frequency of late in reference to new projects and collections. But what does bespoke even mean? A quick look in my handy Oxford shows that bespoke is something that is "made for a particular customer or user." Well, that could apply to almost anything I build. It's built for me particularly, surely. But I do understand the intent of using the term in wargaming terms. And this has had me thinking about how I plan projects and what I look for in a new project.

So, an admittedly non-exhaustive list of things I think about and try to incorporate into a new project...

1) Historical Genre/Period: Horse & Musket

If I'd considered this question a couple of years ago, I would have answered differently. At that time, WWII was a major project for us and took a lot of my time and focus. But a quick calculation shows that we haven't gamed any WWII for at least 18 months! That isn't to say that we won't return to WWII (another quick calculation shows 534 28mm figures spread over eight different armies - not including vehicles) but my life-long passion in the hobby has always been Horse & Musket genres, specifically Napoleonics. Looking at the new Wars of the Roses project, this just barely scrapes the edge of Horse & Musket for me.... horses, pointy sticks and some early handguns and artillery. But my Sharp Practice and ImagiNation collections fall into the heart of the Horse & Musket period. While it's true that I like the more modern periods (WWII numbers above support that) but no matter how much effort and time I put into khaki, I always return to my first love.

2) Figure size: 28mm

I have dabbled in various scales/figure sizes over my gaming life (coming up on 47 years in the hobby) but always I've returned to 28mm (or 25mm, or heroic 28mm, whatever....). And with advancing age and deteriorating eyesight, I will stick with God's Own Scale. There is a lot of appeal to the smaller scales such as 10mm (and I have a few samples from Pendraken in my pile) but the truth is my painting style fits 28mm the best and I'm too lazy to modify or re-learn techniques.

3) Project Size: semi-skirmish

What size do I want the games to be? What level of command do I want to represent in the games. Some will argue that the command level of a game is based on the basic maneuver element, be it a battalion, a company, or a section. I think the command level is based on the tabletop commander whose persona the gamer is trying to inhabit. For instance, in Chain of Command, the highest level of command is the platoon commander and the gamer is playing that part in the drama. The basic maneuver element in the game is the section or team but the command level is the platoon. In Sharp Practice, the command level is a bit more nebulous. The figure scale is not particularly defined but I've settled on one 8-figure group representing a company. Thus, most of our games include multiple "companies" and this places the command level closer to the battalion level in Napoleonic terms. Both SP & CoC I consider to be semi-skirmish games (knowing full well the somewhat ambiguous nature of the term). And this is the level I prefer the most... for the level of command decisions but also the relatively low figure count (my ImagiNations project, fielding about 1200 figures, falls squarely outside this usual preference... no defense here).

4) Colour

This relates directly to #1 above. One of the reasons I like Horse & Musket gaming so much is the colour (something that is absent in WWII etc... although it has a colour appeal all of it's own, I suppose). I like a colourful looking game, be it figures, terrain, or table surface (this last also has a side benefit in adding light and clarity to the figures and buildings placed on top of it).

5) Figure Basing: single-based

Now this is a tough one. Most of my projects the last few years have been built using single-based figures placed in sabot movement trays (the notable exception to this is the ImagiNations project, which in truth began with single-based figures but grew out of control and was converted to large multi-based figure stands). Single-based figures provide rule-set flexibility, allow for placement amongst confined table spaces, and figure/casualty removal (depending upon the rules). Another bespoke aspect related to basing is making the basing material match the chosen table covering. This is something I've never achieved completely, although for some reason it never seems to be at the top of mind when I start a project. So, strictly-speaking, the "perfect" bespoke project would ensure matching tabletops and figure bases. I also have a penchant for round bases and/or rounded corners on sabot bases. I like how the rounded-ness(?) gives a more organic feel and look (knowing, of course, that they are basically toy soldiers floating above the ground surface).

6) Game Paraphernalia - minimal as possible

As much as I've aspired to the "no markers/tokens" state, I know that this is practically impossible (at least for me). So what I look for now is a project that will have minimal markers/tokens on the table or tokens that are as innocuous as possible. Can the tokens be coloured or based to match the figure and terrain collection? If dice are required to track status (i.e. in SP  or CoC), can we use less gaudy-coloured dice? Instead of the standard yellow, white or red dice, can we use muted greens, and blacks? Can dice cells be incorporated into the figure bases or sabots? This is a category of bespoke-ness that I am admittedly poor at executing even if it is something I often consider.

7) Labels

How to add labels to figure, sabot, or unit bases.? This one I haven't quite worked out but am actively considering. There are many options but none which appeal completely to me. More of this anon...

8) Figure Style - consistency

Consistency is the key here. I try to use one manufacturer for a project and barring that, sculptors with similar styles. Thus, with the War of the Roses project, I'm using primarily Front Rank figures. For the Irish contingent, I'll be using a mixture of Crusader, Antediluvian, and Saga/Gripping Beast miniatures. out of necessity. Yes, I know Perry Miniatures have all of these in the same range and with consistent style but I have my issues with Perry figures (see here).

9) Storage & Transportation

Ah, the bane of my gaming existence. There was a time when I had a large house with a dedicated gaming space. I had a 12' x 6' table and had little need for considering transportation issues. I hosted most games and needed only to consider figure and terrain storage (unless I was foolish enough to run a game at a convention).  Unfortunately, those days are long gone. I currently have a good painting and building space but no room for a gaming table. Thus, my gaming takes place usually in one of two other venues (thanks to Michael & Vidal) and this means transporting figures and terrain back and forth. Years ago, I decided on figure bases with stick on magnets (usually from Litko) stored in metal tool boxes. Some gamers go the opposite route... metal bases on magnet sheets on the bottom of the storage boxes. Generally, my choice works well (unless, of course, you drop the damn tool boxes or have someone ahead of of you in traffic brake unexpectedly). With the new Wars of the Roses project, I will be experimenting with flexible steel sheets on the bottom of the sabot bases to avoid figures falling out during movement on the table. The point here is to think through potential storage and transportation issues before starting a new project. This also includes ensuring any planned terrain pieces will fit inside my existing terrain boxes (large plastic bins). I've consistently forgotten this when getting stuck in to new terrain projects.

Driving disaster!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Wars of the Roses: artillery

Who doesn't love some medieval cannons and bombards? I've added two Front Rank artillery pieces to the collection as optional units. I hummed and hawed about basing for these pieces: separate bases for the artillery pieces and the crew or all-in-one bases. I was persuaded to go for the latter...