Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Stanley Retinue and a Scenic Interlude

In this post I have a bit of a mixed bag to present. First off, some Tudor Archers that I've been working on for a while, well not that much actual work but it's taken me about 6 weeks as life has got in the way which it does from time to time !

Since having the Tudor dollies cast I was wondering if with some further conversion work whether I could create some standing poses for use as archers and it turns out that it's not too hard to do.

The method I used was to simply saw the legs off and carefully replace them with some standing poses from the Perry plastics sets or some of the Warlord Landsknecht plastics, the latter of which gave some pleasing results.

I used a Perry plastic standing figure as my guide to get the height right and it was a bit fiddly to glue the legs, especially in the drying but with some propping up I had some pleasing results. 

Note the third figure from the left is just a straight up assembly using one of the dollies.

While I was at it I also had a go with some of the Warlord and Perry mercenary arms;

Not bad at all, I particularly liked the marching pikeman and the purses and daggers in the Warlord sprues were really handy additions. 

Here are the painted archers with eagles claw livery badges of the Stanley retinue. Suitable for Flodden under Sir Edward Stanley or the French campaign under Thomas, Earl of Derby.

These are 3 of the dollies shown above after painting, the little bits of kit really help them to stand out. Below are two additional figures with Warlord legs and additional bits.

I also had a go at making a quiver which I painted in Stanley livery colours.

These were really easy to paint and though a relatively minor change the Warlord legs really help to complete the early 16c feel of the figures. 

If you're interested to have a go yourself I have some dollies in stock at £6 plus postage and Paypal fee for a pack of 6, just send an email stating your address and how many you'd like to have and I'll reply with a postage inclusive price.

I laboured over how to base these, whether all in base coats or intermingled with a few figures without and the latter gave a more convincing feel. With that in mind I re-based some existing figures and blended them in so for painting five new figures I achieved 12, that's win win for me !

What was doubly satisfying was that I now have a fully completed retinue in the early Tudor image with livery badges, coats and bonnets. This achievement has been 9 years in the making from starting from using figures that weren't quite suitable to simple conversions then self taught sculpting and finally casting figures. It's been quite a journey and I also had a child in that time (which took a lot less time to make !)

Also in the photographs above is the debut of a scenic backdrop that I painted this weekend. I have a collection of small railway modelling backdrops for photographing staged vignettes but since seeing the pleasing results that a large backdrop can bring during gaming I've really wanted to have something suitable.

I used to paint Landscapes for the noble task of creating of beer money whilst studying for an art degree and had a few solo exhibitions along the way but it's been quite a while since I dusted off the larger brushes. I do love a challenge so I thought I'd see if I still had it.

I bought a 24x48 inch MDF board and used acrylic paint, household brushes and my hands and a rag for blending. Owing to the size of the board and general mess I painted outside - though it was a bright day I soon found that cold temperature really focuses the mind !

It really brings almost a fourth dimension to my terrain collection, particularly the way different light conditions can enhance the colour in it and almost give the appearance of different weather. I got the chance to use it in some games of Lion Rampant this weekend and as the day's gaming went on the natural and artificial light in the room made for interesting effects;

Dark clouds gathering in the afternoon

A spring day

Gendarmes charge as sun breaks through the clouds

Assault on Tudor lines in the August heat of Henry's French campaign

Looks like rain is coming

The rain has arrived.

That's all for now, I'm not sure what will be next as there's a few things on the desk at the moment so I'll leave you guessing whether it'll be Valois or Tudor.



Sunday, 12 November 2017

French Cavalry Part 2 - with added content !

Quite a treat for you all today and very much so for me, I'm pleased to say that I have completed 2 lances of French Cavalry for my Louis XII army.

Edit, and with a day of decent light (and the family out shopping ) I've now taken some more photographs and added more information.

This has been quite a while in the making as I had a few figures languishing on the painting desk looking forlorn but they're now done.

I began this project with one lance of cavalry in my collection which comprised 2 bases of Gendarmes, 2 bases of Men at Arms and 2 bases of Ordonnance Archers, the brief was simply to double this.

I began with the men at arms for which you can read more about here.

This left the Gendarmes and Archers to do which I worked upon in tandem. The archers required sculpting and converting and whilst this was ongoing I'd slowly be working upon the Gendarmes. It worked rather well as the sculpting was often a welcome break from the painting and vice versa.

For the Archer cavalry I decided that these would be mounted on metal horses to fall in with the rest of the cavalry figures for scale and overall appearance. I had toyed with using the Perry Plastic horses but they were on the large side in comparison to the old 25mm Wargames Foundry Gendarmes so this was the compromise. I used riders from the Perry Light Cavalry boxed set as dollies and then raided my collection for their horses which were almost exclusively those from the Perry WOTR ranges.

The bodies were filed at the waist and upper leg, attached to the horse and sculpted in stages of usually left coat and front, right coat and back then the sleeves in one, here are some photographs of this finished process and the painting thereafter;

For the belt I pressed a groove into the coat and then added the belt afterward so it didn't look like it was sitting too flush on the coat. Also for the same reason the arrow bag and cased bow was pressed into the coat during drying.

I painted the archers in red and yellow livery which for my collection can represent Louis XII, The town of Therouanne or the livery of Antoine de Crequy a powerful Picard noble. Note also the fleur de lys on the arrow bags which I thought was a nice touch.

For the standard bearer I wanted a bit more flair so I added a pair of gauntlets hanging from the saddle and some fine plumes.

Here's another archer for whom I have returned to my now tried and tested method of cutting down a head from the Perry Ansar box then adding a sculpted cap and hair, they're such expressive faces.

I was keen to have a bit of variety in the unit so here's a straight up build with an Ansar head and cap;

Here's the completed unit of archers. All but the base on the far left are new, in fact I was going to convert these as well but I was fond of them as they were the first figures that I converted and painted for the French army so they had a stay of execution.

The banner is from Pete's Flags.

I'm really pleased with the way these have turned out, I've wanted to create this unit for a very long time and have had fun using them in recent games.

On to the Gendarmes, here are the two new bases;

It may sound odd but these were a nice break for me and whilst they were very intricate I really had a lot of fun painting them. I won't lie, they took ages but it was very much a labour of love, lets have a look at each base in some more detail.

For this base there were two points of reference that influenced the figures, the first for the figure on the right was a Gendarme that caught my eye in the David et Bethsabee tapestry. I liked the simple fringed design of his coat as well as the colours. The addition of a cross of St Denis on the chest really set the figure off.

For the Gendarme in barding as with my existing Gendarmes I really wanted to spend some time on the painting and do my best to create a really stunning piece.

I was keen for the armour to look brilliantly polished so I painted it as follows;
  1. paint the shade armour (foundry metal 35A) colour onto a black undercoat
  2. wash with black ink
  3. re-apply the shade colour then mid tone and highlight
  4. wash with 1pt grey 2pt dark blue 1 pt water
  5. re-apply the highlight

The influence for the barding is from a painting of the Battle of The Spurs, note the positioning of the crosses of St Denis and the bordering of each part of the barding on the French Gendarmes, this positioning and general theme features in most of my Gendarme figures it's almost a formula I suppose.

On to the second base and for this I wanted to experiment with a couple more points of reference.

In the first instance 2 of the Gendarmes are in fairly simple coats of 2 to 3 colours though red yellow and white is a bit of a theme on Louis XII's livery. The addition of a cross of St. Denis on the chest focuses the figure and along with the armour it just really adds something to the overall look and indeed they're undoubtedly French. You can see this on a variety of contemporary sources. The Figure in Yellow on the left has had a plume from the Steel Fist Renaissance Gendarmes added to his helmet for a bit of extra variety.

As with the previous base I wanted to create something that would test my abilities for the Gendarme with horse barding;

I applied the same principle of the aforementioned bordering of the horse armour alongside a weave pattern which features fairly regularly in depictions of heavy cavalry of the era. The image in particular that inspired this figure is a woodcut depicting the opposing forces at the Battle of Ravenna 1512 which also serves as a demonstration of the St Denis field sign;

Note the weave pattern on the Gendarme on the left.

It was a bit tricky to get right but the key was simplicity; I used a size 2 brush for the pattern, it's width was that of the weave so there was uniformity. Once the cross hatch pattern was painted it was highlighted and 'weaved', I found myself saying 'over and under' a lot whilst I was doing it.

These two bases of Gendarmes now perfectly complement those already in my collection. Note that I opted to not have any banners in the new bases, I think it makes for a more convincing unit of heavy cavalry as after all the lance was the whole point (pun intended !). They certainly have an air of lethality and arrogance about them.

The Gendarmerie is now looking to be a force to be reckoned with and hopefully an artistic and historically sensitive depiction of their troop type and roles on the battlefield. It's a period of change in the development of the French cavalry arm but I really think the mix of the Gendarmes in their finery, bow armed ordonnance archers and men at arms in their mix of arms and armour really pins the unit to the campaigns of 1510-1520.

Here the Gendarmes are lined en haye (in a single line) all jostling for position with the Men at arms forming the second rank, off in the distance are the archers in support.

Here's another take on the battle line with support from some of my collection.

Finally, here's a nod to the tapestries that continue to inspire me;

There's still much more to come for my French army but I feel a return to the Tudors is likely to be the next project.

Bye for now


Saturday, 21 October 2017

Battle Report; the raid on Ardes

A couple of weeks back my local wargaming support group (myself Keith & Jeff) met with Simon at Firestorm Games in Cardiff. We're all separated by distance and time to a greater or lesser extent and this, certainly for me at least was a try at a game without taking over the kitchen for the day. I must say it proved to be a winning formula for a good catch up as well as some introductions and there was a rather good shop on site and a bar - what's not to like ?

We'd agreed in advance that I would host / umpire a game of Lion Rampant using my Renaissance adaptions which I loosely based upon the 1513 raid on Ardes. I had previously gamed this scenario with another Renaissance man Oli during a weekend of gaming in the summer and this was our stand out favourite. You can see how we got on in his blog posting here. In fact, this turned out to be quite a different result !

Here's the history part;

Within days of Marching from Calais to Therouanne Henry VIII soon became aware of the trouble with hiring Landsknechts when they came upon the friendly town of Ardes as an advance party of the Germans soon accompanied by some English began to pillage and burn the town. Henry was furious and decreed that anyone participating in the pillage would be hanged and should leave the town within the hour but this fell on deaf ears and it was only when he personally led a body of his heavy cavalry against them and hanged the ringleaders that the mayhem ceased.

There’s lots of ways you could play this out but one particularly memorable adaptation with a little bit of license was the following;

An English / German raiding force of 30 points attacks the town through an undefended gate, with the town defended by a 20 point garrison. The raiding party must loot and burn 4 prominent buildings in the town and make their escape. When the first building is fired the smoke attracts the attention of both a 30 point French patrol and a 20 point detachment from the English army who arrive on a 1-2 following the turn of the first fire, a 3-4 then 5-6 thereafter.
This makes for a prolonged almost two-part skirmish game in and outside the walls with even yet uneven forces, it’s also a great opportunity for four players to cover a day's gaming.
Unfortunately I neglected to take my camera so all of the photos are from our phones but hopefully that doesn't detract too much.
Here's the set up, essentially a board of two halves, town and rolling country.
The terrain boards, most of the figures and some of the buildings are mine, the majority of the town is made from Simon's collection.

For the initial clash the English deploy at the SW outside table edge and the Garrison deploy in the NE inside table edge.

The forces for the game are as follows:

The French Garrison
Foot Knights (the Garrison Leader) 6 points
2 Units of Aventuriers with Crossbows 3 points each

2 Units of Picard Infantry 3 points each
Culverin and crew 3 points
21 points

English Raiders
2 Units of Shire Bill, one of these is the English Leaders Unit. 5 points each
3 Units of Shire Bow 4 points each
2 Units of Landsknecht Shot 4 points
30 points

When they arrive the English relief force deploys in the Eastern edge in front of the town and the French on the Western edge.
French relief force

2 Gendarmes Units (the Leader) 12 points
1 Unit of Ordonnance Mounted Archers 4 points
2 Unit of Men at Arms 10 points
1 Unit of Stradiots 4 points

30 Points

English relief force

2 Unit of Demilancers (the Leader) 5 points each
2 Units of Border Horse 5 points each

20 Points
Special Rules
See the sausages & mustard scenario for rules for burning the objectives. Once an objective has been set alight each player roles every turn to see if their relief force will arrive.

This will be on a 9+ on two dice for the first turn, 6+ the second, 3+ if they still don't arrive on the third and then automatically if no relief has arrived by the fourth turn. 
The French relief force arrives in the NW and the English relief force will arrive in the SE zone. Both relief forces are entirely separate retinues in the game, this means they have their own Leader and work as their own retinue for the purposes of morale and activations. 
To arrive the relief forces simply make a move activation for each unit that wishes to move onto the board. Units can only enter making a move activation - they cannot charge a unit directly from off table for example.
The aim of the French Garrison is to prevent buildings from being burned, the relief force is to either prevent more of the town being destroyed or prevent the English from escaping if this has already been done. 
The aim of the English raiders is to burn and loot the objectives and escape, the relief force must contact a friendly unit in the town to cease the destruction or if this is too late to aid the escape of the English forces. 
On with the game.

For the first engagement Jeff took command of the Anglo German raiding party with Keith in defence of the French Garrison. Here we are a few turns in with Jeff's force reaching the gate and Keith awaiting with a welcome party. We agreed that Jeff could enter the town by the gate and the breach in the wall.

The Landsknecht arquebusiers were first to break in for which Keith had some initial difficulty beating back with bolt and guisarme. 

The arquebusiers made their presence felt with an initial salvo of shot at point blank range which pushed the Picard infantry back in disarray, this opened up a crucial gap with which to pour men into the town but the street was also clear for a brief moment, long enough for the French gunners who made their presence felt with a nasty blast from their culverin.

This shock sent the Landsknechts reeling back into the gatehouse archway in shock, bumbling into the English Longbowmen who were trying to push through. The English then fanned out as quickly as possible to get out of the killing zone. The Longbowmen punished the adventuriers facing them and the Landsknechts managed to rally and engage in some further sporadic fire at the Picards, reducing them to a man.

I took a lot of photographs of this, being somewhat impressed with the effect of cotton wool and an LED tea light !

Over on the French left things were hotting up with the English managing to pour billmen through the breach into the jaws of some more Picards in schiltron.

There was a lot of back and forth with some Adventuriers adding their bolts at each opportunity but the steady grit of the English bill managed to push their adversaries back in disarray

Keith managed to beat off the troublesome Landsknechts with another murderous blast from the culverin and some positively hostile treatment from his unit of foot knights who he then manoeuvred to the threat at the breach.

The English pushed more men through the breach and into the streets as quickly as possible to get out of the reach of the knights and the culverins murderous gaze for which Keith was having extraordinary luck with the dice.

A point of note on the artillery, here are the rules which myself and Oli fashioned though play testing;

  • Use 1 artillery model plus 4 crew (Your Leader can't be part of this unit).
  • May be operated so long as 1 crewman is still alive.
  • Points cost: 4 points (maximum of 1 artillery piece per Retinue).
  • Range: Culverins 24”
  • Movement 3”, cannot move and fire and a pivot greater than 45 requires a move
  • Shoot value: 7+.
  • Damage: 
Short range, up to 6”, roll 12 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)

Mid Range, up to 16”, roll 8 dice hitting on 5+ (4+ if target unit is in schiltron)
Long Range, roll 4 dice hitting on 6+

The target receives -1 armour if fired from half range or less & must take a courage test regardless of casualties.

If 5 or more 1’s are rolled the gun is out of action for the rest of the game. This represents lack of ammunition, poor powder, travel damage or badly trained crew.

Once the crew has taken half casualties the above number of dice are halved
  • Reload value: After firing the artillery may not be fired again until a successful Reload action has taken place. This is carried out as a normal, ordered fire activation and gets more difficult after each firing, to begin on 7+ then 8+9+10+ and so on each turn with no reload once 12 is reached. 
  • If contacted, shot at, and for Courage tests, the crew count as Serfs at their current strength 
  • The crew must maintain cohesion around the artillery model (not moving more than 3” beyond it).
Back to the fighting, the foot knights worked their way through the town....

and with the dice skill of a Casino ringer, that bloody gun kept on firing

This didn't sway the plucky Longbowmen who scurried across the streets but sadly it was to no avail as they just couldn't get their tinder box going to fire a building, Jeff's dice in this task was proving to be the opposite of Keith's. We retired for a bit of lunch and shopping at the venue.

Refreshed and with lighter pockets we put round 2 into action. Regrettably, being somewhat distracted in defeating the garrison and with some ill luck no buildings had managed to be fired to signal the relief forces but we agreed the noise of the murderous culverin would surely have served the same purpose - I was really looking forward to setting Simon's collection alight.

Myself and Simon took command of the relief force with myself as the Tudor cavalry.

hmmm, a little bit one sided owing to the raiders being annihilated, then to ad insult to injury Keith was still in the game and eager to add the remainder of the garrison to the fray, and their blood was up.

My task was simple, get across that board as quickly as possible and with a comparatively nimble force I reckoned I had at the very least a tiny speck of a chance.

I managed a good run of movement activations and sent the Border Horse out to screen the advance of the Demilancers, I was counting upon their skill at skirmishing to generally annoy Simon and the chance that the Gendarmes may fail some activations being that little bit more difficult to move.

My plan seemed to be working, for a short while at least....hope is important.

The Borderers bravely or perhaps recklessly skirmished with the Gendarmes and men at arms while one unit of Demilancers sneaked round the back. I manoeuvred the second unit of Demilancers with my leader to Simon's Gendarmes who were engaged with some pesky Borderers, they performed an evade action and then I pulled my trump card and challenged his leader to a duel.

Simon refused, the Earl of Essex was no Brandon or Henry, he was simply too low born and looked a little dirty. This caused a morale check for the French relief force with a reasonable amount of success which gave me a tight window to push my cavalry past them.

Then, with the end in sight, it went horribly wrong and I too was annihilated.

Defeat seemed to be clear but I thought I'd see how we compared;

Victory Conditions

The English;

2 points per objective destroyed. 
3 points if the relief force manage to cease the destruction.
1 point per unit to escape.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel..

The French;

2 points per objective unharmed.
3 points if they stop the English from leaving.
1 point per enemy unit destroyed.
2 points per enemy leader slain and a bonus point if in a duel.

A marginal 26-0 to the French !!!

Did I mention there was a bar on site ?

LtoR; Me, Keith, Jeff and Simon

We discussed the day's game

The street fighting was definitely a hit, it was so much fun and made for some great moments and some pretty good photographs too. Following that the contrast of swirling cavalry battle was also fun and a great spectacle, we had quite a lot of interest throughout the day from onlookers.

In hindsight there were a few things that I'd recommend changing, the English should deploy almost in front of the town and/or the French should not be able to react until this is reached. The idea being that the garrison were not aware of the impending danger. Alternatively you could possibly roll during each English movement up to the walls to see if they are spotted.

That would definitely have made a difference I think. Also though Jeff had a lot of bad luck with the dice I wonder if he could have done with a few more in his force I'm not sure, I think speed was the key here and it was lost by starting at the other edge of the table. Or possibly was it that the English just had too much to do? There's definitely scope for a re-fight.

This also served to remind me that I must get a few more French, particularly some with polearms and ideally some Franc archers too. 

The use of the venue was a great success I must say, I think we'll be there again.

The keen eyed of you in this and the previous post may have noticed quite a lot of new Gendarmes and mounted archers, more on them very soon (I've got 2 figures to complete and I'm in the middle of a painting drought - why do we do this hobby ?!!)

Bye for now