Men at Arms on the March

I finally managed to get my first Wars of the Roses units done. Here we have the Men at Arms getting ready to go up against fellow club member Stephen. For my units in this army I wanted a real mixed up, unevenly distributed look. I’ve never liked the standard number of figures evenly spaced DBA style units. Despite 35 years in this hobby this is my first historical army and I’m clearly not a purist! But I’ve done some research, read several books and listened to a podcast on the history of England during this period, so I’m definitely putting the effort in.To get a good mix for the units I used miniatures from Peter Pig, Lancashire Games and Essex Miniatures (plus some others I’ve forgotten). I even chose some miniatures from the early 15th century to represent a few of the less wealthy lords and knights, still using their grandfathers armour.
Another thing I decided to do was not to  chose a side in the conflict. It was clearly a messy affair with allegiances changing as the conflict went on (or even during a battle!). Add that to the fact the armies had identical troop types I went for removable flags for the units and commanders. In the first picture the units are representing Sir Thomas Neville but after a quick swap they are now in the service of Lord Dudley.I think this system will work quite well and I intend on making a collection of flags, so regardless of who my opponent turns up supporting, I’ll be able to pick an opposing lord!

Let’s Get Medieval

Stephen gives us an end-of-year Medieval treat…

I’ve a couple of bits on the go at the moment, one more or less complete and the other just starting.

First up is a 15mm Wars Of The Roses army to give that young upstart, Earl Jeremey ‘Hotspur’ Claridge a run for his money. These will be for Sword & Spear. I bought a few test packs of Essex archers (since I knew I’d need lots of archers) to get my juices flowing. I have it on good authority that I’ve been a good boy this year (well, good enough) and that Santa is going to be bringing me the rest of the army. We’re really enjoying Sword & Spear and I’m looking forward to re-fighting some battles from the WotR.

Archers

The other thing I’ve been popping away at over the last year is a medieval Irish army for Lion Rampant. These are suitable for the 13th and 14th century. I’ve now got 24 points worth with two units of Gallowglaichs (dismounted men at arms), two units of Bonnachts (light foot with javelins) and two units of Kerns (scouts with bows). I plan to add another unit of bonnachts and kerns during the year to give more flexibility and for some bigger games. These are destined for a game at 2019’s Open Day with an Irish round tower build in the offing as well.

Irish Army

Whither Shall I Wander

We had a game of Lord of The Rings Battle Game on Saturday and Tony had made some terrain pieces that just add that little bit extra to a games table.

So with that in mind, and a wet and miserable Sunday to fill, I decided to make one as well. Only I was a little bit more ambitious. Rather than just a sign post on its own I decided to make it a bit more comprehensive and to theme it to a medieval setting since road junctions in medieval times were important boundaries and points for outsiders.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any work-in-progress shots, but it was surprisingly quick to make. I thought it would draw out over several days. But no. Got it all done in a day!

The gibbet cage was made from styrene strip. It was a straightforward build, but fiddly whilst waiting for the glue to dry. The posts were made from balsa and the stones around the base made from milliput. Most of the time was spent waiting for the milliput to set – put it in the boiler cupboard where it’s warm and then off to Sainsburys to do the shopping whilst it cures. The water trough and parish boundary stone were also made from milliput.

Painting was simple as well. Both wood and stone were from the same colours – a mix of khaki and medium grey. But more medium grey in the stone and more khaki in the wood. I decided to keep the destinations on the signpost generic. Then add some ballast on the base, then add some static grass. And finish off with some clump foliage. The water in the trough is from epoxy resin (the Wickes’ home brand one is nice and cheap). The skull was from GW’s excellent (and splendidly OTT) ‘Box Of Skulls’.

And there we have it – a signpost with gibbet cage, boundary marker, and water trough for tired animals.

Mine all Mine

For some time now I’ve thought that a mining community would make a good place for a medieval skirmish game. Control of resources is a vital part of any warlord’s secure hold and a mine would make a particularly valuable resource.

Carts on tracks going into hillsides is a bit Hollywood. In reality, a lot of early mines (and mines even today) are really about digging holes straight down into the ground and then lowering yourself down them somehow, whether by rope and winch, or electric lifts. It all adds up to the same.

I decided that I’d make several mineheads with different contraptions to lower miners and raise the ore. They are, of course, variations on a theme.

The main winch was made from dowelling.

Thick linen thread was used for the ropes to lash it all together. Brass rod was used to make hooks and metal work (actually, the winch handle was made from a thin nail), and the bucket was a resin item out of the spares box.

I had to make a decision about the basing of the winch. In reality this would be pegged to the ground. But I wanted to give an impression of depth, that the shaft was going somewhere. So I decided to mount them on a raised area that I would then texture. This would give some suggestion of depth and I could argue the mound was a spoil heap. This was made from a half-inch donut of expanded polystyrene.

The winch was then glued on to this and once this had all dried the styrene was then shaped. And when that was done it was all covered with some filler.

I made up a special rubble scatter mix from sand and broken up pieces of dried filler. I then slapped PVA glue generously to the mound and poured the rubble scatter over it, pressing it down firmly before pouring off the excess.

Then on to painting. It was always going to be a drab model – brown on brown. But once painted I thought I’d put a bit of static grass on it, especially around the edges, so that the piece blends in with the table.

And finally something to set the scene.

These mineheads were very simple to make and took surprisingly little time.

This mining colony will make a good, and different, setting for a raid scenario. Although these pieces were made to a medieval style, they are pretty universal well into the early modern period. Only with the industrial revolution did things change. They were actually made for an upcoming game of Dragon Rampant, so if you fancy having a go at some ransacking and looting then come along to the club and have a go.

Rampant Lions

Stephen has written the following report on his Open Day game.

At the Open Day we got in three games of Lion Rampant, all based around the idea that the English were raiding the town of Sluys in Flanders.

The first game saw the English having to burn the town! In Lion Rampant you win the game by getting the most Glory, and you gain Glory by achieving your objectives and by also making Boasts. The English managed to set light to some of the buildings, which they gained Glory for, and also by achieving their Boasts – on this occasion that the English leader would challenge the French leader to a duel.
First game went to the English.

The second game was based around ransacking the town and getting away with as much loot as possible. In this game the English moved up quickly, but the French moved up their Genoese crossbowmen mercenaries who loosed their quarrels to devastating effect. The English had a poor time of it. Some longbowmen tried to make off with some loot but found the way to the ships blocked by some angry French knights.
Second game went to the French.

The third game was a decider. We re-played the ‘burning’ scenario with Mark and Alan from the Milton club taking command of the two sides. The English were slow to advance, which meant the French managed to move forward enough to protect the town. The English leader challenged the French leader to a duel, but it was ill-advised – the English lord was slain!

Third and final game went to the French, meaning the day had been a French victory.

The Call to Arms

​Open Day update from Stephen

With barely a week to go until the Open Day I thought I would introduce my Lion Rampant game and some of the levies who will be fighting it out.

The game is set in 1370AD. The background to the game is real but the actual encounter is fictional. Flanders had remained neutral during the early part of the Hundred Years War, with a preference to the English. But in 1369 the Count of Flanders, who had no male heir, married his daughter, Margaret, off to the Duke of Burgundy which meant that Flanders fell under French control.

So the game is a hypothetical raid by the English on the Flemish town of Sluys, where a great naval battle had been fought in 1340AD at the outbreak of the war.

The game will have the English raiding the town on several missions with the French trying to stop them.

Here are some of the retinues that will taking part.

First up we have a band of brigands in the pay of the French. They are led by Sir Leopold Von Starkenberg, a disgraced ex-Teutonic knight, who now scours the Low Countries looking for a fight and someone to pay them. They call themselves ‘God’s Bloody Hooks’ and go into battle with the war cry ‘Gadzooks!’

Next is a contingent of Irish from Cork in the pay of the English. They are from the O’Driscoll clan and we can see that Niall O’Driscoll himself is leading his kerns on this raid.

No English army would be complete without longbowmen! These are two companies of archers from the East Riding Levy. These are experienced men – good yeoman from the shires and the backbone of the English forces.

The French garrison is made up of a lot of continental troops and this next lot are no different. They call themselves the Compagnia di Santa Maria and hail from Genoa. These are also grizzled veterans who have spent good time fighting in various battles.

This last retinue of English have a bit of a funny history. Sir Anthony D’Archer of Ambridge received his summons from King Edward but with harvest troubles on his estate he decided he had to stay and instead paid for his son, Thomas, to answer the King’s call. So Sir Thomas D’Archer is now in charge of the English forces.

To see how these retinues fair, plus many more beside, come along to the Open Day and join in the fun.

Medieval Metropolis

Open Day update from Stephen:

For my Open Day game I am going to need a lot of buildings because the game is set in a medieval town. Fortunately, I already have plenty, but a few more wouldn’t do any harm because I want it to be crammed to give the idea of an enclosed town with narrow streets..

So this post is about how I go about making buildings.

To be honest, I don’t start with a clear plan and impression of what it’s going to look like. I know how big I will want it and I know what size footprint it must have (after all, I’ve got to store it) but I don’t start the building process with some end image in mind. I think that’s how it should be for a medieval building – make it up as you go. That way you stand more chance of recreating that higgledy-piggledy medieval look.

For this building I did know I wanted it to be made of stone with a tile roof. So I got some Wills Scenic embossed styrene sheets and made some boxes. I decided I wanted some different elevations as well. So one tall box and one not so tall box.

The windows were previous castings I had made. I had enough spare so I didn’t have to cast any more. You can check a previous article about how I make windows for buildings.

You will notice I decided to have a second floor doorway. This means I can add a wooden stairway and platform so there will be a different surface and texture which also adds to the medieval look. Likewise I decided to include a wattle and daub lean to – again, this will provide another texture. The wooden beams on the roof ends and lean to are simply card strips. Then the area in between the beams is given a coating of PVA glue and sand is sprinkled on.

At this point it gets left over night for everything to dry. Where the styrene cladding meets on the corners there are often gaps. This is remedied with a bead of milliput. Since that could obscure some of the stone pattern I then go back with a cocktail stick to scribe it back in and take it to the edges to make the stone work look continuous. Now to tile the roof – I make tiles from heavy paper/card. The stuff used by water-colourists is good because it is textured. I cut strips of card then snip it almost to the edge to make the tiles rather than cut individual tiles. You then stick the tiles on in strips, starting at the bottom, and making sure they overlap. You can cut out the odd individual tile and stick it on a bit wonky to make it look like a slipped tile. When the glue has dried you just trim the edges.

Once construction is complete I give the model a spray of a single flat colour. This helps tie it all together and you can see if anything is needed. What I forgot to do on this model is add a chimney! I usually add the chimney before the tiles but on this occasion I had to add the chimney afterwards. The pot is made from the end of an old felt tip pen.

Whilst that was all drying I made the stairs. Nothing special about this, just out with the balsa. Originally I was going to keep the area under the stairs open and put a barrel or log pile under it. But it didn’t look right and so I decided to enclose the stairs in the final model. Again, I think this suits this particular building better.

With construction complete it’s time to slap some paint on it. I’m not a fan of stark black/grey for stone. It just looks wrong. Very few stones are actually grey. Limestone was a popular building material in the middle ages and limestone is not grey. I kept the grey undercoat and then added a dark brown wash (I actually used GW Agrax Earthshade). When that had dried I gave it a heavy dry brush with khaki. I then gave it three of four lighter dry brushes using a mix of khaki, light grey, and finally a barely off white. The tiles were done using a terracotta/rust colour. The wooden stairs and gantry were given a basic coat of khaki and then washed with the Agrax Earthshade. It is then dry brushed with khaki and succeeding dry brushed coats have a bit of grey (but not as much as the stone work) added.

Weathering is done using a dark green (I used Tamiya XF5). Pay attention to the base, where it could be mold and damp rising, and to areas that could be sheltered and stay wet (under the eaves, in crevices, etc). I then also gave it some more weathering and shading using the Agrax Earthshade just to reinforce corners. And that’s about it, really, apart from basing using a mix of various model railway ballasts and a bit of static grass.