Da Vinci Condotta

John looks back at a Dragon Rampant Warband he built for a past club campaign…

Some time ago Stephen hosted a Dragon Rampant Campaign where my Da Vinci Condotta warband was narrowly beaten into second place by Tony Gibb’s army. With some WIP Wednesday painting articles centred on this ruleset, I thought I’d dust off the army and explain how I went about making it.

Prior to the campaign, we’d had a few trial games where my Dark Age force fared badly and I decided I’d have to change if I was going to be competitive. I’d never been a fantasy gamer so had no Orcs, Elves or Dwarves so decided to go with a human based theme at minimum cost.

Research

I came up with the idea of a warband which would include some of Leonardo da Vinci’s war machines with some Italian Renaissance figures. Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan sponsored Leonardo who created a number of sketches of war machines and a TV programme entitled ‘Doing Da Vinci’ used these sketches to reproduce the machines. I thought with some plasticard to make the machines and a box of Perry Plastic Late Medieval Mercenaries and a box of Late Medieval Mounted Knights I could make a suitable warband.

Humans

The Leader had to be Ludovico Sforza himself leading a unit of knights.

Elite riders

These would be the shock melee unit, best used against damaged and disrupted units to deliver the ‘Coup de Grace’. I gave them an ability to prevent wild charges, they needed to be in control.

Next up I needed the Bulwark of the Warband and chose to make these Milanese Militia pikemen, which I painted with combinations of white, red and green hose. I needed to add a magic element and picked up a Sorceress at Cavalier. I found that Caterina Sforza (Ed: Ludovico’s illegitimate niece). was a noted Alchemist so she would have the ability to confuse an opponent’s unit, to heal a unit and to provide a long range powerbolt.

Heavy foot with Wizardling

I needed more shooting potential and decided on a unit of scouts. For these I used Handgunners and gave them the invisible ability (due to gunsmoke). This meant they could only be targeted in melee or via magic. If I placed them in difficult ground they would be a handy irritant.

Scouts

On to the machines.

My first build over a weekend was the Armoured Car. I mocked up the conical design using paper templates, then drew them out onto 20 thou Plastikard and scribed on the planking. I painted the planks individually then washed with brown mixed with Flow Enhancer, producing a wood grain effect. The vehicle is fitted with a number of small calibre guns to provide all round fire, for which I used plastic tubing. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’, the vehicle produced from the plans could move but firing all guns simultaneously would result in deafness for the crew. I decided mine would be propelled by captured Turkish Galley slaves. I gave the crew a fearful ability as I reasoned that they would be as afraid as their opponent of this machine. I mounted the model on a landscaped foiled cake base. This would prove to be a good flank guard.

Heavy riders with missiles

The second build was an Airscrew. I wanted this to be like a Helicopter gunship, flying over a terrain item to deliver a lethal volley of crossbow bolts before retreating to safety. This proved to be a more difficult build as I had to get the sail pattern right. I found a ‘how to’ rubber band powered model video and plan on the internet and used this as a basis. The central spindle was plastic tube and the fighting platform was plasticard. The crew were modified Perry plastics. I gave them the fearful ability, who wouldn’t be scared, and added a sharpshooter ability to provide a lethal hit. The Airscrew fits onto a bolt on a cake stand base.

Light Riders Flyers

So this was my starter warband and as the campaign progressed I was able to add additional units.

Human Reinforcements

I added a unit of Light infantry in which I mixed javelin armed troops with blade armed ones. I used Gripping Beast Dark age Infantry javelin figures cut off at the wrist and glued onto the arm of the Perry figures. I scratchbuilt the large oval shields from plastic card with a Milanese design and I repeated the white, red and green hose patterns I’d used on the Militia Pike.

Light Foot

Next I needed some Mercenaries. There would also be English Bills and Bows – Dogs of War that had survived the Wars of the Roses.

English Bills
English Bows

Finally, I added a unit of Elite Foot Knights, probably German Mercenaries.

German Knights

More Machines

The next machine I made was a 33 barrelled organ gun. On ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this machine really worked well with an 11 shot salvo firing shot the size of a tennis ball, with devastating effect.

Organ Gun

I made the guns using plastic tubing. The design has a rotating centre section so that after firing, the barrels rotate for the next salvo. This was a complete plasticard scratch build and the crew come from Perry plastics, all mounted on a cd.

Finally, I made a War Chariot. Here, a geared mechanism controls rotating blades like a food processor. In ‘Doing Da Vinci’ this was another lethal weapon.

Assault Chariot

This was another complete scratchbuild and I decided to paint the horses and horse armour in black again mounted on a cd.

Well that’s it, though I’m still thinking of adding a unit of three Ornithopters as another scout unit.