Saturday, January 30, 2016

More Italians With Pole Arms

A small post this week, as January is what passes for my busy time of the year work wise. Still nothing like when I was a pension consultant but I tend to slow down in many ways this time of year.

These are another 8 Italians to "complete" the unit I had posted part of last week.  They now stand as a block of 16, but will I will likely increase my pike and halberd blocks to 24 at some point.  Pictures are below, including the full set of 16 and close ups of the new group of 8.  These are all Perry's. A pack of 6 Italian Heavy Infantry, a Plastic Foot Knight and a drummer from the Italian command set.  I have based them to match the first set of 8, but I'll try different combinations for the next unit.

These guys, along with the rest of my Italian Wars collection and Curt's troops say action last night. A full AAR will appear on the Single Handed Admiral later but two shots featuring these guys. Curt's fire disordered them in the advance so they fell behind the rest of their Battalia. You can see their flag in the background.

Speaking of seeing action, here's a group of four guys who aren't likely to modelling the latest in tinfoil hat designs.

Challenge entrants: PeterD, CurtC, Sylvain and JeremyM (left to right)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pike and Shoote AAR

Last week we met at Curt's place for a game of Pike and Shotte using Italian Wars Figures from my collection and Curt's.  The scenario was based on the "Reinforcements on the Table" scenario  by C. S. Grant with forces taken from the scenario in One Hour Wargames which Neil Thomas based on the Grant scenario.

Curt took a mostly French force with crossbowmen, Swiss halbardiers and a heavy gun on the hill.  His reinforcements included two pike units, plus single crossbow, Gendarme, "Archers" (heavy cavalry) units and a light gun.  Sylvain and Jeremy took an Italian force of 2 swordsmen, 2 arquebusier, halberdier, crossbows, Gendarmes and Mounted Crossbows and two medium guns. 

The key to this scenario is getting the balance right between the distance the attackers need to cross versus the distance the reinforcements need to cross.  I went with Grant's suggest 2:3 ratio, but the P&S variable moves could set that on it's ear.

Curt's reinforcements en route.
Painting Challenge fans may recognize many of the figures.  And yes that does appear to be a tin foil hat in the background.
The Attackers enroute.

As it turned out, Curt rolled up and led his Cavalry in a bold counter offensive.  In the process he took the risk of leaving his infantry to toddle on behind the horse boys.  Meanwhile, Sylvain and Jeremy had universally poor die rolls and their attack took ages to get going.  Fire from the hill disordered several of Jeremy's units causing further delays.
Cavalry melee in process.  In the background blackpowder weapons at work.

C'mon lads, you wanna live forever?

Getting to the crunch time on the ridge

The Swiss are looking outnumbered, but what is going on the background?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Epic Fail Charles le Temeraire

My Epic Fail is Charles the Bold aka Charles le Temeraire aka Chuck the idiot, last of the Valois Dukes of Burgundy.  The figure is Perry Charles the Bold figure that comes with their Burgundian Cavalry Wing army deal, which was my birthday present last year from my wife.  He has been kicking around in my lead pile since then, because I was loathe to paint up such a complete doofus.  However, Epic Fail seems to about cover it.

In picking a subject for this theme I was reminded of the scene in the film the "Producers" where Zero Mostel discards the idea of a broadway musical based on Kafka's Metamorphosis as being "not weird enough".  OK let's cover off the Epicness of Charles' Fail, to see if it's epic enough.

  1. Charles inherited the third most powerful European country, the Duchy of Burgundy.  It was a patchwork quilt of fiefs from the Upper Rhine to the Low Countries, and it was fabulously wealthy.
  2. He put together what is considered the first Renaissance Army using a combination of shot, shock and foot and hiring the best mercenaries from across Europe.
  3. This army as WRG puts it, remains popular with warmers despite losing 100% of it battles.  Yes that right it's an 0-fer army.
  4. He picked a territorial battle with the Swiss, who roughed every other power up badly.
  5. The way he failed on the field of battle.  Battle reports speak of poor reconnaissance, overly complex battle plans and failing to consider what happens is the enemy does something different that you expect.
  6. His cavalry strong army got surprised by massed pike columns three times in a row.
  7. He died in the final battle.
  8. For extra points he left no heir but an infant daughter.  Now in Scottish history this is a regular rite of passage, but the Scots have a national identify where us the Duchy of Burgundy had none.
  9. As a result the third most powerful European country simply ceased to exist.  Yep, the French got the actual Duchy of Burgundy and the Empire got the Netherlands and "poof" it was gone.

So let's sum this up.  Builds the "killer" army, designs the "can't fail battle plan" and then goes about losing every fight badly by failing to get the basics right.  Yep he was a wargamer and we've all seen him on the table, or possibly been him on the table.

Ok back to the mini.  Charles is a Perry specialty metal, his standard bearer is a combo of a Plastic Knight and the Plastic "light" cavalry set.  I wanted to avoid the standard "Blue and white with red cross" look that screams "Burgundian Ordinance" so that I could use the figure as a French commander in the Italian Wars.  Swiss illustrations show Charles in Gilded Armour with Red surcoat so I went with that.

And I found a livery for Burgundian Guardsmen that was 1/2 black and purple with a white cross for his standard bearer.  The flag is paper, printed at home and a standard Burgundian banner.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Painting Challenge Italians With Polearms

A small post this week.  I've got two projects half way along, but got slowed down by Epic Fail, initial resource gathering for Defensive Terrain and .... well life.

These are 8 Italian men at arms with pole arms (a mix of pole axes and Lucerne hammers) from the Perry Renaissance range.  There are 6 from a the pack labelled Italian Heavy Infantry, a standard bearer from the Italian command pack and a plastic dismounted knight. 

The standard reference for these guys is of course Renaissance art and there is a background figure in Carpaccio's Legend of St Ursula (this period gets the best reference links) that shows up in Ospreys and the like.

The dude with the Lucerne hammer and the red pants by the water.  Note that he is left handed apparently - how sinister.

The heavies figures come with the lovely oval shields that appear in artwork, but it's not clear that you could use an oval shield and poleaxe so I have left them off.  My wife (a fabric junkie) questioned the bright scarlet and yellow hose, but I went with them on the basis of "that's the colour set Raphael used".  I think that she is right, but I want my figs to have the same pop as a Mantegna or a Bellini.

Nicely illustrating the colour palette, that stairclimbers were not needed in the 15th century and why I won't be joining a reenactment group any time soon.

The big change for me is the basing.  I have taken the group's advice and used a Liquidtex Gel medium.   The mix used was the medium, plus small "rocks" plus Raw Umber (which is after all coloured after Renaissance Italian mud).  The Umber looked dark so I dry brushed it with Burnt Sienna (more Italian mud).

The tufts are GW Mordheim turf which looks like dried out grass and weeds to me, and thus suitable for a hot Tuscan summer.

Favourable feedback on my basing is always welcome, constructive criticism will initially be met by curling up in a fetal position and whimpering and then be welcome.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Painting Challenge Two Condotierri

My next posting is two command stands for my Italian Wars Project.  I have based these on real Italian families of note from the period, assuming that minor or wayward members have gone off soldiering as Condotierri.  These two may have some resemblance to local gamers participating in the challenge...

The Aleramici family ruled varous small Northwestern Italian fiefdoms (in modern Piedmont).   The family were Frankish in origin and often sided with the French in the Italian Wars.  Silvano Aleramici  is a product of an obscure branch and fights for who ever will pay him.  Silvano is renowned for his umm prudent and careful approach to battle and boasts of a large library of military manuals and histories.  His comrades in arms question whether he has read any of these military works as he seems more interested in books with lots of pictures and only a few words.  He also claims to be have literary intensions himself.

Silvano believes in the value of upgrade equipment and rides into battle in full Milanese plate for both himself and his mount.  The flag is historical, but I reversed the order of the colours for Silvano's horse trappings, as it seemed to work better than a thin band of red along the top of the horse.  This figure comes from the Perry mounted Italian command and the standard bearer is from the plastic command sprue from the War of the Roses bills and bows set.

In contrast Cambino Barbarigo cuts a dashing figure on the battle field and is known for his quick and decisive approach.  The Barbarino's were a prominent Venetian family and members of the family were elected as Doge during this period.  They don't talk much about Cambino however....Cambino loves flashy new clothes and equipment and rides into battle on a fine new German charger wearing an embroidered red cap because Silvano's gilded barbette is sooo 1478.  It has been noted that Cambino might conquer all if he settled down to one plan of action instead of chasing new shiny prospects every time one appeared.

This figure is also from the Perry Italian Mounted Command pack and is based on the famous painting by Paolo Uccello,  the one with the 3D horses hooves.  His standard bearer comes from the Perry Mounted Knights plastic box set (have I mention how much I like this set), and is the first figure that i have completed with the barding.  The barding is a little fussy but after some trial and error I found that masking tape can hold the bits in place while the glue sets.

The flags involved are historical and were downloaded from the excellent site  I resized them and printed them on our home laser printer using regular paper.  I choose the Barbarigo family for Cambino because of the beards on the family crest, which matches our UberLord's facial fur.  Also apparently in his wild youth, Curt spent some time as a nomadic hair stylist wandering about Northern Italy and other European locales....

So by my count that's 3 mounted figure and one foot figure = 35 points.  How many of you can avoid the Beach Boys "Barbara Ann" ear worm using the Barbarigo family name?

Monday, January 11, 2016

Painting Challenge Renaissance Artillery

Next up for me is a pair of light artillery pieces with crews for my Italian Wars project.  These are two different Perry Miniatures packs, both representing wrought iron breach loaders.  I have seen pieces like these referred to as culverins, and falconets among others, but will stick with falconets as it has a nice ring and avoids confusion with later culverins.

The technology on these is outdated by the Italian Wars but old tech stayed in use for quite a while.  For instance similar pieces were carried on the topsides of the ships of the Armada in 1588, referred to as versos at that time.  While somewhat crude, the breech loading design allowed for rapid fire in an antipersonnel role since multiple breech chambers could be loaded in advance.  To wit each pack comes with half the crew loading or carrying breech chambers which pretty much scuppered my plan to repurpose the crew for other weapons.

The single arc piece went together nicely and was very nice to work with.  The gun is loaded and the captain is about to touch it off.  The crews are nice figures and actually look to be working the pieces not just standing around watching.  The clothes are perhaps a little too early and a little too Northern European for the Italian Wars, but they will work for my purposes.  They ended up being more muted and dull than some of my other figures but this was smoky work!

The double arc piece looks beautiful in the online catalogue but it is fussy to put together and was a royal pain in the tush.  The bits are fine and easily bent and it pushed my modelling skills envelope.  The double arc is still not right but it'll have to do.  On this piece the crew are just about to place a new breech block in place, and one crewman has a ready charge set to go.  The breech block was set in place then wedged in using wedge and a heavy mallet (lovely brute force tech).

 I like the pose of the captain who seems to be trying to explain orders to a rather dense set of crewmen.
Ok pay attention lads, here's the plan.  Ray, I need you to focus over here.  Ray....

I waffle back and forth on texturing my bases, as I am normally too impatient and want to get on with the next unit.  This time I added texture in the form of glued on railway ballast before painting the base and adding foliage.  Not sure if it was worth the extra time or not.

Two guns plus a total of 8 crewmen gives me 60 points methinks.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Painting Challenge Nostalgia Round

For my entry into the Nostalgia theme run over at the Painting Challenge,  I've gone way back to the land of counterpane and the pioneers of wargaming.  We're going right back to HG Wells and RL Stevenson here.

I have a gun plus two crews in 40mm flats produced from Prince August moulds (but not by me).  I have painted them as English Royal Artillery from the Nine Years War using info from the League of Augsburg forum.

There is a piece of me that would seriously love to game with figures like this but it would require home casting.  The noxious fumes would lead to my banishment from the house, and no-one trusts me with motel metal. Sigh........

The figures were fun to paint, but took more work than I expected to bring out the detail being well..flat.  I like the results even if the wheels on the cannon look wonky in retrospect.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Italian Condottiero Montefeltro

When my Italian Wars figures have fought on the table for the first time, they were missing command stands.  So I thought I would fix this deficit and have finished Piero da Montefeltro.  I have based this figure on the historical Frederico da Montefeltro, who was the very model of a modern major general in the 15th century. 

This believe it or not is his good side.
You may not know the name, but I bet you know his face as he possessed one of the most well know noses in art history.   The beak was not a natural event but resulted from a jousting accident, which cost him an eye and left him permanently disfigured.  Frederick then had the bridge of his nose surgically removed to improve his field of vision both on the battle field and to spot potential assassins.  (Yeah, hack off half my nose so that I can see the bastards trying to kill me).

Frederico predates the Italian Wars and I couldn't bring myself to intentional disfigure a Perry figure, so I opted for a fictional scion of the Montefeltri (according to Michael Mallet the official plural of Montefeltro).  The normal bastard son option doesn't appear to hold as Frederico was supposedly exceedingly faithful to his Sforza bride (obviously he liked his women fiesty), so I am assuming Piero is a nephew, cousin or similar.

The figure comes from the Perry Miniatures Italian Mounted Command stand.  I have added a stradiot standard bearer, on the assumption that Piero spent time in Venetian pay, from the Perry Stradiot command pack.  The flag is home printed based on a Montefeltro banner,  and the Stradiot's shield is hand painted based on historical examples (dated back to Thracian times).    The figures were a joy to paint and I am quite happy with the results.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Painting Challenge: Renaissance Churchmen

I have entered Curt's Annual Painting Challenge, including a side duel with Curt himself to paint the most points of Italian Wars Figures.  I set my bar at 800 points before the end date of March 20th (the spring solstice).  That works out to 160 28mm foot figures or 80 cavalry figures in the next 3 months, so I've got my work cut out for me.

With final exams and Christmas out of the way, I've finally been able to put paintbrush to figure for this year's challenge.  First up for me is this set of 4 clergy for my Italian Wars Duel with Curt, using metal figures from the Perry's.  These are lovely figures with lots of character and detail, two mounted and two figures on foot.  The mounted figures are one piece castings. Interestingly while the priest gets a fine piece of horseflesh, the Cardinal gets a lowly mule to ride, albeit a very well dressed mule.

I had to do a bit of online research re costumes here, and hope I got things right.  I could have delved deeper into Catholic regalia but feared I might be drawn to the Darkside (mandatory snarky Anglican comment now out of the way).  Renaissance art is a great source of reference material, as were these guys.

I bet you didn't see that coming did you?
English parents have been scaring their kids to sleep with images like this since 1588!

Paint wise, the challenge was the rather unicolour clothing.  I wanted it to look like lush fabric with deep folds and went with multiple washes over a base coat, followed up by highlighting on the ridges.    For instance, the black robes have a base coat of Paynes Grey (actually a deep indigo blue, almost black), washed with Carbon Black.  The reds are scarlet washes first with Deep Red, then with Burnt Umber and the highlighted in scarlet.  I use Liquidtex acrylics, I am sure that there are GW paints named for bodily functions in similar hues.  I suggest that Arterial Bloodspray, Bloody Booger and Troll Poop should do the trick.

I expect that my army commanders will be happy to see the back of this lot!

Period images show the hood with and without the white fur lining, so I added it to the mounted figure.  It gave the Cardinal on foot too much of a Santa Claus look so I removed it.

You can't do Renaissance Italy without conniving Churchmen, and these four should come in handy for scenarios as messengers, objects for kidnapping, unwelcome "assistance" etc.