Category Archives: English Civil War/Thirty Years War

A category for historical and swashbuckling goings-on in the English Civil War, Thirty Years War and similar eras!

Stable Genius

After finishing the three little cottages on Saturday, I decided to do something slightly different on Sunday and made a building that could serve as a stable or other outbuilding for a manor farm on my ECW/English pulp tables.

It’s 3″ deep and 4″ wide, so actually larger in footprint than the little hovels. Horse need their space, tenant farmers not so much! Same construction, 1/16th mattboard (picture framing card) with wooden coffee stir sticks for the timbering. The roof is assymetric, with the peak closer to the front of the building instead of down the centreline, for no other reason than it looked more interesting and on a gaming table, people spend a lot of time looking down at rooftops!

Stable “blank” assembled, with window and horse both from Warbases. Click for larger.

A roof with a pitch like this should probably be shakes or slate or something, because a steep pitch is part of what helps keep a thatch roof watertight, but towel thatch is a heck of a lot faster to assemble than a shingled roof, even with Warbases’ nifty lasercut tile cards available! Perhaps I’ll go back and rebuild this roof with tile card in the future, when I’m not under a pre-convention time crunch… but don’t hold your breath!

All the half-timbering complete and unthatched roof in place. Click for larger.
Roof off, showing the card “beams” to give it some strength. Click for larger.
Towel thatch in place, including an extra strip across the top ridge. Paint to follow! Click for larger.

I’ll add open doors on the big doorway on the front; the doors are built but not installed yet. I might whip up a couple of horse stall walls to put in the interior, but honestly that seems like a post-Trumpeter addition to me…

Hovels & Gardens

With the clock running on toward Trumpeter Salute 2018, I need to get serious about producing the new scenery the linked pair of games I’m running there need!

I’ve got more than enough hedges, dirt roads, and other greenery bits from previous scenery projects, but the farmhouse/manor, dovecote, and barn I’ve built previously need more buildings to hit the table along with them if I want to do a 17th Century English hamlet up properly.

This weekend I sat down and cranked out a trio of little (tiny, really!) thatched and half-timbered cottages or hovels, along with a pair of fenced gardens.

Three cottages underway. 28mm Warlord officer on a 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

These are simple little buildings of 1/16th” mattboard with half-timbering from wooden coffee stirrers and thatch from towel. The windows are lasercut from Warbases in the UK. For a bit more bulk the roofs have a substructure of corrugated cardboard with the towel hot-glued to that and then further stiffened with white glue. All three roofs are removable.

Towel thatch roofs in place. Click for larger.

For the gardens I started with 1/8th” foamed PVC board as a base, then used some of the 3-d printed wattle fencing from Thingiverse that Corey has run off from me the new 3d printer he’s also using for the tricycle truck project.

Large fenced garden with a tree. 28mm Warlord officer on 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

The tree has a core of paperclip wire, bulked out with soft iron craft wire, then covered in hot glue to fill in between the wires. The garden beds are also just hot glue “sculpted” into place with the hot tip of the glue gun.

Painted cottages and painted and flocked garden. Click for larger.

I’ve also done a second garden piece, slightly smaller, but haven’t gotten a photo of it yet. The cottage roofs need one more drybrush to really pop the thatch texture, but the cottages themselves are all done, and the gardens are fully painted and flocked outside the fence. The tree needs some foliage, and the gardens inside the fences need greenery and detail, but not bad for part of a weekend’s focused effort!

Colourful Cavalry, Part Two

Horses in colours other than brown!

Armour in colours other than silver!

Dogs and cats living together! Chaos and disorder!

Well, something like that. Horses and armour, at least.

I realized that all twelve horses for my regular ECW cavalry are all brown. Every last one of them. There’s a bunch of variation in tone, mane colour, stuff like that, but they’re all bay, which is horse-speak for brown. Well, some of them might be chestnut, which is horse-speak for “lighter reddish brown”, more or less. For the six horses I needed for the current batch of cuirassier I decided to mix it up a lot. There’s a white horse, two different shades of grey, two different bay, and one black horse.

All six cuirassier horse. Hair, mane, and tail all done. Hooves, tack, and some details still to do. Click for larger.

Unfortunately I totally forgot to write down any of the paint mixes or layers I used for this batch of painting, so I’ll have to re-invent the wheel, or at least the horse paint, next time I do horses!

For the armour, I put pins up into the backsides of all six cuirassier, making them extra-long to make painting easier. Then I used a scrap CD, two lengths of scrap wood, and my hot glue gun to create a very useful little painting stand, seen in the photo below.

All six riders got all their armour basecoated bright silver (Reaper’s True Silver), then various inks and washes were layered over to try for a treated-metal appearance as discussed in my last post on coloured armour.

GW’s washes don’t work as a base layer for this, I discovered right away. They’re not designed to stay on flat surfaces particularly well, although they shade crevices and lower areas of a surface very nicely. I used India ink for the three blacked armour sets, Reaper’s Red Ink for the russeted armour, and FW Artist’s Acrylic Inks for most of the rest of the colour.

The three blacked armour riders were basically done after one coat of thinned India ink, and then I went back in with metallic paint to do some of the edges and highlights, especially on the rider in the foreground of the photo with the hammer and plume.

Armoured riders. Front right blacked with silver edging, rightmost russet, two background guys both blacked, blued armour on the far left, then the second russet armour guy foreground centre. Click for larger.

The two russetted armour guys and the one blued rider (far left) got at least a couple of more layers, including either very, very thin India ink or GW’s Nuln Oil to darken the bright initial ink coat. The blue guy especially looked incredibly bright and weird after his first coat of just blue ink – my girlfriend saw him and said, “Seventeenth Century Power Ranger!” and damned if she wasn’t right…

I’ve also discovered that these guys are nearly impossible to get a decent photo of in their current setup, the above blown out and fairly crap photo is less crap than all the rest. I’ll try for better pictures once the riders and horses are all attached to each other. Still to do is boots, saddles, faces, and weapons.

I’m really pleased with how these guys are turning out so far, and I think they’ll look great on the tabletop once they’re all finished. Ink over silver is definitely a win for doing coloured armour!

Colourful Cavalry: Armour as well as horses!

I’ve posted links to horse painting articles and tutorials before, including the exhaustive “horse of a different colour” series over at Trouble at t’Mill. Mike even gives you some rough math on what colours any given troop/regiment/herd/group of horses should be: “One tip – if you’re batch painting, the maths works out roughly that you should pick out your hero horses that are going to be fancy colours, then split about a quarter of the rest off and earmark them for chestnuts, split a quarter of the leftovers from those off and earmark them as blacks, and paint the rest (which should be a bit over half) bay. The further back in history you go, the fewer chestnuts you’ll probably have.”

But what about the riders? Unarmoured or mostly unarmoured riders provide obvious opportunity for colour, depending on the army or era you’re modelling, but if it’s knights or early 17th Century cuirassier in full plate it’s all going to be silver/grey metal armour, right?

Armour can, in fact, be lots of colours than just “shiny metal”. It probably should be, in fact. Blacking, russeting, or even painting seems to have been fairly common. Keeping armour “white” (shiny) was a lot of work on an ongoing basis so a lot of munition-grade ordinary armour was finished in some way.

A lot of the armour in museums that’s shiny these days probably shouldn’t be. As the Wallace Collection says on their website about one partial suit of 17th C armour, “Like the others of its group, this one originally had a ‘black-from-the-hammer’ finish, but was polished bright comparatively recently, almost certainly in the 19th century.” Another thing we can blame the Victorian era for!

Russeting, blacking, and other forms of surface finish are done with various oils, acids, and other chemicals along with heat to seal the surface of the metal and protect it from rust and other corrosion. An interesting and informative thread over on My Armory (an arms/armour collector and creator forum) talks about various historic and modern treatments and the various shades that can be achieved. One essay on russeting I found uses modern Clorox bleach and baby oil!

There’s a great essay on the Met about decoration and surface treatment of armour. From that essay:

Heating metal produces a coloration of the surface, which changes from yellow to purple to deep blue as the heat increases. When taken out of the fire at a particular temperature, the metal retains this color. Considerable skill is required to achieve a consistent and even heat-patination of large areas (e.g., a breastplate) or groups of objects (e.g., a complete armor, 32.130.6
). The favored color for armor, edged weapons, and firearm barrels was a deep blue, in a process is referred to as “bluing.” A range of colors could also be produced chemically, using a variety of different recipes, such as a rich brown color that was popular on firearm barrels in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century. Besides being attractive, patination and painting also inhibit rust on metal surfaces.

This gorget is contemporary with the English Civil War (c. 1640) and is blued with gilt edging. Image off the Wallace Collection website. Click image to see the listing there.

The entire Wallace Collection website is well worth looking through, by the way. It includes a huge collection of arms and armour through the ages, and a really well organized Advanced Search function to make things (slightly!) easier to find.

Also from the Wallace Collection is a “black and white” set of cavalry armour, almost certainly from an officer, with distinctive polished/silver bands around the edges of otherwise blackened armour. The Wallace writeup say, “Most military armours worn by lower-ranking troopers or infantrymen were left ‘black from the hammer’, that is, the metal was worked only up to the point when the armour would function as required. The surface finish was left black and hammer-marked. Bodies of cavalry wearing such armour were therefore often described as ‘Schwarze Reiter’- black riders. The armours of officers commanding groups of men armed in this way often had the bands and borders of their armour polished bright, producing the distinctive visual effect characteristic of ‘black and white’ armours.

For a straight-up painted helmet, this one is 15th C, much earlier than the period I’m currently concerned with, but had red and white (now discoloured almost to yellow) paint that is still colourful and must have been spectacular when it was new. I don’t think, from what I’ve seen, that full on painted armour was still current by the mid-17th C, but blacked, blued, russeted, and even gilded surface treatments were certainly in regular use.

When it comes to miniature painting and armour, I’m thinking that the best way to represent coloured armour would be a metallic base coat and then inks or washes over that. I’m going to do some experimenting on the six cuirassier current on my painting bench and will report back!

Incidentally, if someone managed to save a copy of the Games Workshop article from back in 2011 I once linked to here I’d love to have it. I recall it opened with joking about how the author just painted all horses brown until his daughter told him his horses were boring, or similar!

Finished English Civil War Figures

Not the greatest photographs going, but so far the only ones I’ve gotten of all of my recently completed 28mm ECW figures all together!

Every figure finished recently! See text for details, and click for larger.

Starting top left, the dark yellow coats belong to six firelock musketeers (in Pikeman’s Lament terms, either a Forlorn Hope or Commanded Shot). Clockwise we have two troops of regular horse, six per troop. One unit is brand-new and the other had most of it’s painting done years ago but have been touched up and re-based just recently. Somewhere in amongst the other horsemen is the mounted commander as well, finally finished and based.

The bottom centre infantry unit is a dozen muskets in green, then a dozen pike in green, and finally a dozen muskets in blue. There’s a couple of extra officer/sergeant figures in there as well.

The only unit not on the tray in the photo above is the twelve pike in blue I finished back in July 2017.

All these figures are from Warlord Games.

The new horse, with blue and white horse blankets, as well as some of the older horse with blue and yellow on the horses. Click for larger.

Finally, for fun and extra colour, I’ve been painting up the farm animals I got from Warbases early in 2017.

Geese and sheep, all from Warbases. See text for details, click for larger.

The geese are on a 40mm round styrene base, while the two sets of sheep are on roughly rectangular bases about 1″x2″. They’ll mostly be just scenery, or objectives in games that need loot tokens, but I’m also planning on using the flock of geese as a hazard in games of Pulp Alley, because big geese can be scary psycho critters!

Still in progress on the farm animal side are five or six ducks to go in and around the ponds I made in 2017, two big cart horses, and a couple of goats. I’ll probably get a few more animals on my next Warbases order, they’re fun to paint and provide great extra detail and colour on the tabletop.

On the ECW figure side of things the first six cuirassier heavy horse are in progress, and I’ll be doing up at least one more unit of firelock muskets. There’s also six officer/sergeant/character figures in progress – more on them in another post!

Happy New Year!

Slightly belated Happy New Year to all!

After months of doing absolutely zilch on the gaming front I saw the year out in some style, at least, with a whole bunch of English Civil War 28mm figures pushed through from “almost done” to actually finished in my time off between Christmas and New Years.

Two units of musket, one of pike, one of firelocks, all DONE! Click for larger, see text for details.

This means that all of the regular soldier figures seen on the workbench back in June are now finished and ready to game with, just the four officer/character figures seen there still to finish off.

The cavalry on the table now include five figures that I “finished” for the Lead Painter’s League way, way back in early 2011 (!) that have sat around ever since. I had thought these ECW figures had sat around for four or five years, but apparently it’s been more like seven. Yikes. “Finished” is in scare quotes in here because I was never happy with some of the details and finish on the riders, having put most of the effort in the horses. They’re back on the painting table for touchups, as are the other seven cavalry figures from that box of 12, and the first six heavy Cuirassiers for extra cavalry punch.

Cavalry of various flavours in various stages of completion, and the four officer figures. Click for larger.

Finally, I pulled out a bunch of farm animals from my Warbases order of early 2017 and cleaned up and based six sheep, two cart horses, and a flock of geese, just for fun and extra flavour in games. They can act as loot markers in Pikeman’s Lament, just as scenery, or (especially the geese, geese are evil!) as unique hazards in Pulp Alley games!

Cavalry, sheep, geese, and some barrels. The unpainted horse on the far left are for the cuirassiers. Click for larger.

Looking forward to a bit more gaming in 2018 than 2017 had to offer, including more Infinity and some games at Trumpeter Salute 2018 in a few months!

Back To Painting, Finally

I’m fairly sure the last time I touched a paintbrush was back in July. Maybe August. As posts here will show, all wargaming activity of any sort coasted to a stop sometime in the first week or so of September, mostly due to a brain- and free-time-destroying family health crisis and associated astronomical levels of stress.

Most of that is sorted and past now, thankfully, and I did some fun non-wargaming creative stuff before Christmas so I’m finally sitting back down at the painting desk and getting stuff moving again.

I’ve committed to running at least two games at Trumpeter Salute 2018, as I mentioned last post, so I need a bunch of my ongoing English Civil War figures and scenery done by March. To that end, I’ve started cranking through the long-neglected ECW figures, most of the plastic Warlord figures.

I finished the last details and added flocking to a unit of six firelock musketeers, half a unit of regular musketeers, a full unit of a dozen pike, and a dog.

I’ve since moved on to another dozen mostly-finished musketeers and four more officer/character figures. The officer/character types are a chance to bust out some fun colours, as officers rarely wore uniforms in this period and often dressed like the gaudy wealthy gentlemen they were.

Finished figures – six firelock musketeers in mustard yellow, six regular musketeers in blue, and a full dozen pike in blue. And a dog. Click for larger.
Four colourful officers in the background and part of a unit of a dozen muskets in blue in the foreground. Click for larger.

I have this week between Christmas and New Years off, so before the end of 2017 I might actually get a usable 24 point Pikeman’s Lament force finished by forcing myself to deal with a lot of the mostly-painted figures!

The Assault Group ECW Artillery

The Assault Group (TAG) has a huge range of Thirty Year’s War/English Civil War/general Renaissance figures that I’d heard good things about, including that they were fairly compatible in size and style to the Warlord figures that make up the entirety of my TYW/ECW collection so far.

The only major piece missing from my 17th C forces so far are guns, so I ordered TAG’s English Battery Builder pack which has a culverin, eight crew, and accessories. To give me some game options I also picked up a falconette light gun on it’s own. That gives me a light gun, a heavier field gun, enough crew to do a full six man gun crew per the Pikeman’s Lament rules for either of them, and some nice extra bits for base decoration – gunpowder barrels, piles of shot, that sort of thing.

Then I waited.

And waited some more.

Then I got an email apologizing for the wait.

This wasn’t a surprise by this point, because a significant number of posts on the TAG blog are, in fact, posts explaining how backlogged their orders are.

Then I waited a while longer.

My initial order was made on June 22nd. The “we’re backed up” email came through on August 4th. My order was apparently “completed” on August 11th. It showed up in Canada on September 11th.

Nearly three months wait for this! The culverin, both crew packs, and the gabions are part of the Battery Deal; the falconette was separate; and the praying cavalryman is, as the sticker says, the ECW/TYW Bonus Figure, apparently. Click for larger.

That’s… goddamn glacial. In nearly two decades of ordering stuff from overseas for wargaming I don’t think I’ve ever had an order take so long from initial order to the toys actually showing up, even back in the late 1990s when I was just starting out and an order to the UK or the States meant snail mail, paper order forms filled out by hand, and an International Money Order.

So, don’t order from TAG if you’re in any sort of hurry for your toys. I have a generous backlog of painting and loads of scenery projects to distract me, thankfully.

Eight figures, two guns, and accessories. Click for larger.

Now that they’re finally here, what about the figures themselves? I quite like them, the casts are very clean, the sculpting is well proportioned and nicely detailed, and while they’re mostly a little bit smaller than the Warlord figures they’ll look fine in adjacent units on the table!

Warlord’s plastic figures are actually slightly bigger than most of their metal figures; their metal ones are a pretty close match for TAG’s while Warlord plastics are bigger. Odd that Warlord has that difference between the two materials they produce figures in…

Left to right: Warlord Firelock officer (metal), TAG artillery officer (metal), and Warlord musician (plastic). The two metal figures are a pretty good match, the plastic guy is half or one-third of a head taller than either. Click for larger.

The two guns are four parts, two wheels, the stock (carriage?), and the barrel, and fit together easily. Mold lines and flash are minimal, just a few minutes cleanup for the whole lot.

The two crew packs are available separately as English Artillery crew loading and English Artillery crew sighting, each consisting of an officer/sergeant figure and three crew. The loaders have a powder scoop, rammer, and swab; the sighting crew have two with large timber levers to adjust the gun’s wheels and a gunner doing the actual sighting.

Both guns and most of the extra bits they come with. Click for larger.

The culverin is also available separately; it comes with the gun, a powder barrel, a water bucket, and a small pile of cannon balls. The falconette has the gun, a wedge, water bucket, and a bucket of small shot.

I still haven’t quite settled on how I’m going to base the guns and their crew, but I’m looking forward to assembling and painting them up; the whole unit should be pretty quick to paint up, and while I usually base figures before painting them, I might well tack these guys down to craft sticks to get them painted before I make any basing decisions. Basing might involve a custom movement tray of some sort ordered from Warbases that can fit six crew on 25mm bases and the unbased gun, to match the 2mm MDF movement trays I’ve already got.

I’ll probably order from TAG again; they have some different figures that Warlord don’t offer, I like their sculpting style, and variety is always useful, but the insanely long order times are offputting.

Modular River, Part Three: Paint & Sand

Last time we saw the river modules, they were bare white plastic with clay banks. I’m happy to report that progress has been made!

Sand and paint on the river modules, and paint on the bridge. Click for larger.

Nothing fancy, just a coat of black paint mixed with some white glue, then sand shaken over while everything was still wet. I’ll put another coat of paint and glue over the sand to fully secure it, then get on with the rest.

As seen in the photo above, the bridge is also fully painted. Over the black primer (mixed, as usual, with white glue) I blobbed two different green shades and some rust brown, then started drybrushing with a dark grey, a bit of tan, then lighter grey and finally just a bit of pure white on the edges and upper surfaces.

Black primer coat with blotches of other colours. Click for larger.
Drybrushing in progress, starting the greys. 28mm Warlord pikeman on the 25mm base to the right for scale. Click for larger.
Bridge all painted, being guarded by a trio of Warlord 28mm musketeers. Click for larger.

I’ll do the river banks alongside the bridge next, then paint and sand so all ten river segments are at the same stage, then it’s off to doing water effects, probably with epoxy resin.

Modular River, Part Two: The Bridge Begun

Realized I forgot to include the photo of the river modules with the air drying clay banks in place, so let’s start off with that! I rolled clay snakes out, mushed them into place, and left everything to dry.

Clay banks in place on some of the river modules. Click for larger.

On to the actual subject of this post, the bridge! This river project is initially intended to go along with my English Civil War pike & shot project I’m painting figures for, so I started with a classic stone arch bridge. The base module is one of the two short river modules, so it’s 6″ long and 6″ wide. I decided to make the roadway portion of the bridge 50mm wide, which will fit at least two foot or cavalry figures side-by-side, or a wagon or vehicle. The whole bridge is roughly 5.5″ long, more or less.

The roadway is three layers of light card (90lbs or so) laminated together with white glue and left to dry under a couple of heavy books. After that dried overnight I cut it to length to form the arch, then glued more small rectangles of light card to it for the flagstone bridge surface. While that was drying I superglued two little strips of card in place on the styrene base to hold the arch in place – you can see them at either end of the roadway in the picture below. These gave the roadway something to be braced against while I superglued it into place.

The inner arch was formed similarly, although I only used a single layer of card as it won’t be exposed in the final model.

For the sides I started with an offcut of one inch thick pink styrofoam insulation. I marked the roadway and inside arches on the side of the piece with a pencil, then carefully cut the curves and the end pillars with a brand-new Xacto blade before slicing the entire piece in half lengthwise to get both sides of the bridge. They were glued into place with white glue – you can’t use superglue on styrofoam, it melts! – and braced with various heavy things overnight so they dried in place.

The bridge with sides held in place while the white glue dries, top-down view. The figure on left is on a 25mm wide base. Click for larger.

After the whole assembly had dried for about six hours or so I started carving the stone sides, using my usual combination of an Xacto knife and a pencil. Cut patterns with the knife, then open up the cuts with the pencil for a nice easy stone effect. I also used a ball of tin foil to add a bit of stone texture to the sytrofoam; I might yet go back and add more to the parts that are still too smooth.

Carving started on the walls of the bridge. Horseman is on a 20mm by 40mm base. Click for larger.

After doing the carving I decided to put a row of capping stones across the tops of the arches and pillars. Making them out of heavier matt board (picture framing card, one of my favourite building materials) means they’ll protect the styrofoam sides of the bridge, much the same way a harder stone like slate is often used to protect a more carveable stone! I cut a strip of matt board then chopped slightly different sizes rectangles from it, to make the result more varied and interesting.

Cap stones in place on the arches and pillars. Click for larger.

To add texture, especially to the card, and to help protect the whole structure a bit more, I put a coat of GW Liquid Greenstuff over most of the bridge and, for now at least, declared construction finished! I still need to do the river banks, obviously, and might yet add some small buttresses to the sides of the end pillars of the bridge. The stonework might need more texture, too, but I’ll wait until I get a primer coat of paint on it before making that decision.

Liquid Greenstuff applied, bridge construction basically done. Click for larger.

Finally, here’s a miniature eye shot (more or less!) of one end of the bridge looking up the roadway. This shows the flagstones of the roadway nicely; I’m really pleased with how they turned out. Individual little rectangles of light card is a painful way to do flagstones, but it does look good! You can also see the card strip I glued down to brace the road arch in place; I’ll eventually cover that in clay or putty to disguise it as flagstones or hide it.

Low level view across the bridge! Click for larger.

The main river modules are also proceeding, all the clay banks are straightened and glued down, so I might be able to get texture on them in the next few days, although we’re going to have a house guest in our spare room (usually my workspace/man cave) for all of this coming week!