Category Archives: Historicals

Historical and quasi-historical gaming of various sorts. English Civil War and Thirty Years War, the Great War (World War One), the Russian Civil War and other interwar conflicts, and whatever else we wander into!

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.

Pike In Blue

First unit of foot for my English Civil War project is done!

28mm pike from Warlord on 25mm wide bases. Click for larger.

Ten pikemen, an officer, and a flag ensign all lined up ready for battle.

I’m plugging away at the shot in blue to go along with these guys… the musketeers have a lot more equipment hanging off them and are a lot slower to paint than pikemen!

There’s also a second unit of pike almost finished, these ones in green uniforms, as well as six firelock musketeers for a forlorn hope or commanded shot unit. The mounted commander from my last post has also had a few more details completed and is inching toward the finish line. Lots of assembly line style painting currently, which makes for really boring photos to share here until a unit is suddenly done…

Onward!

Warbases Skirmish Movement Trays

I picked up a batch of simple lasercut MDF trays sized for 25mm bases on one of my recent Warbases order. Pikeman’s Lament uses either six or twelve figures per unit as standard, so I bought a batch of six-base skirmish trays (listed on Warbases’ site as “Dux Brit/Zombie Trays“) and a pair of twelve-base three by four regiment trays for when a PL pike unit is in Close Order, both cut for the 25mm MDF bases I’m using for my English Civil War/Pikeman’s Lament project.

Each tray is two layers of 2mm MDF, lasercut and with the two layers already glued together straight from Warbases. I’d been thinking of replacing the bottom solid layer of 2mm MDF with something thinner (probably .030 plastic card) as I am not a huge fan of big thick bases, so having them arrive pre-assembled forced me to consider different options.

As an aside, if you really did want un-glued movement trays, or even just the tops so you could do your own base layers, I’m fairly sure Martin and Warbases crew can set you up that way. Chuck them an email and ask!

I finally broke out my grossly underused Dremel tool, poured a pint of excellent beer, and sat down on the back patio with this unwise combination to modify my movement trays to my liking!

Beer and power tools, an excellent combination! Also pictured, grumpy cat wondering why it’s so damn hot and why her human servant is insane. Click for larger.

A Note Of Warning: Power tools capable of 30,000 RPM and alcohol is not a recommended combination. Sanding MDF without wearing some sort of filter mask is also not recommended. Even though I was outside while doing this, I can still taste MDF dust on the back of my mouth over a day later. Wear a dust mask of some sort. Don’t combine power tools and beer, even very good beer. Dear readers, be smarter than me. Thank you. Also, should you not be smarter than me, don’t send lawyers after me. They’re scary. Thank you again.

Anyway…

A couple of minutes with a sanding drum on the Dremel per base rounded the top edges off nicely, and the corners of the regiment bases. I touched up a few scuffs from the Dremel by hand with regular sandpaper, knocked the nasty MDF dust off, and then brought everything – including the beer – inside to my workbench to add a bit of sand here and there to the trays.

First two bases done on the right, untouched ones on the left. Click for larger.

With that done, I put the Dremel away, poured another pint of beer, and put a bit of sand around the edges of the trays, being careful to keep it out of the holes. Dark brown base paint followed, then some drybrushing after that was dry, and finally some of my usual flock/turf mix here and there to help blend everything together.

Sand, base paint, and drybrush done, starting flock. Click for larger.
Flock all done. I might add some tufts or other detail bits eventually, but this will do nicely for now! Click for larger.
The bases in use with Warlord pike in various stages of completion. Click for larger.

These movement trays are a great value and will make “big” skirmish games a bit easier to manage! I’ll definitely be getting more, especially of the six-base irregular trays, and might contact Warbases about some custom irregular trays for my cavalry, who are mostly on 20mm by 40mm rectangular bases, or my artillery, when I add some guns to my Pikeman’s Lament forces. Having the entire force on similar movement trays would look really sharp and make games a bit more streamlined, especially if I’m running convention games for other people.

Links of Interest, 22 June 2017

A handful of links I thought were worth sharing this week.

Historical Enterprises, Inc are a historical reenactors garb/costuming company with all sorts of great articles on their website. If you need plausible colours for your Medieval, Renaissance, ECW, etc figures, this article on fabric, dyes, and colours is based on practice up to the 14th or 15th C but almost certainly applicable before and after that.

John Bond created a great looking pond from teddy bear fur. I’d never considered using fake fur for water features, but it looks pretty good!

I’m considering creating an imaginary English shire to set my ongoing English Civil War project in. There’s a long tradition of “imagi-nations” in wargaming, especially Seven Year’s War or Napoleonic gaming, so an imagi-shire seems like a reasonable thing! In that vein, I found a couple of English place/village name generators to help populate an imagi-shire with plausible-sounding names; The English Village Name Generator and English Place Names Generator being two among many!

A Small Stone Circle

Not every stone circle is a gigantic trilithon monument like Stonehenge. Some of them might be barely recognizable as stone circles, in fact, until you realize that plants grown in strange patterns around the stones, or you wander past on certain very specific nights of the year…

This little project started out as a way to use up leftover putty; whenever I had excess greenstuff or Milliput I’d squish it into a rough stone shape and let it dry on one corner of my bench. This weekend I wanted a quick project as a distraction, so I grabbed four of these stones, hot-glued them to a scrap CD, and added sand. That got left to dry overnight, then I basecoated it dark brown, let that dry a few hours, and drybrushed the sand to bring up the texture with various shades of pale brown, tan, and very pale grey.

The stones got a black basecoat, the drybrushed with various shades of grey, tan, and finally white.

The flocked areas are my usual mix of ground foam and static grass, and then I added various tufts from Army Painter and the flowers from Rain City Hobbies. The flowers form a ring around the outside of the stones, and I kept the foliage inside the stones to a minimum.

Stone circle, overhead view, with a 28mm Warlord pike & shot officer for scale on a 25mm base. Click for larger.
The circle from something close to model eye level or just above, with the same Warlord officer. Click for larger.

My ongoing English Civil War project might well shade over into some sort of gunpowder fantasy version of the ECW or TYW, in which case the circle will be right at home, and in the meantime it can add a little touch of strangeness to some lonely corner of my tabletops… who meets in the centre of this flower’d circle, with it’s well-trodden paths? Be ye for King, Parliament… or some far older Power?!

The Workbench This Week, 12 June 2017

Much chaos in my non-gaming life, so time and brainpower to actually paint is kind of hard to come by, but this weekend I sat down and organized my pike & shot foot figures for Pikeman’s Lament and other English Civil War or Thirty Year’s War gaming.

I now have exactly 60 figures assembled, based, and in progress for this project; I know it’s exactly 60 because the 4Ground 25mm bases I’m using come in batches of 60 and I just finished the first batch of two that I’ve bought!

All the pike & shot foot so far. See text for details, and click for larger.

Starting from the far left, there’s a unit of musketeers in blue uniforms, then a pike unit in blue (on the close-order base from Warbases). To the right off the back edge of the cutting mat is another dozen musketeers, this time in green. In front of them is six foot characters/officers/leaders and one mounted officer, and on the skirmish base to the right is the first six forlorn hope firelock musketeers. Finally in the front right corner is another dozen pikemen, in green uniforms. All the figures are from the Warlord Games Pike & Shotte range, all plastic from their infantry regiment box. This is one full infantry regiment box plus a couple of extra sprues picked up separately, except for the firelock/forlorn hope figures who are the first of the Forlorn Hope/Firelock Storming Party box I’ve assembled.

The blue pikes are closest to being done, and a few of the green musketeers got finished as part of LPL11 recently. Most of the bare grey plastic figures were assembled just this weekend to fill out various units and add some more leader/officer/character figures to fill out some units.

Unassembled, I’ve got another 14 musketeers, enough for a second full unit of “blue” musketeers. That will give me a “full” pike and shot unit of 2:1 shot:pike ratio, which will look good on the table! There’s also another 12 firelock musketeers, and a dozen cuirassier heavy cavalry. Finally I’ve got another dozen regular cavalry fully assembled but not shown above; six of them are fully painted and the other six have been almost finished for… about four years now, or maybe longer…

Four new foot characters, and some finished ones behind. Click for larger.

The four new officer/character figures are made with arms from the Warlord plastic pike & shot infantry command sprue, and a mix of pikeman bodies and bodies from the command sprue. The two on the left are pike bodies; the two on the right are command sprue bodies. The two completely finished and based figures in back alongside the mounted officer are also made the same way, with two spare pike bodies. I have more command or character type figures than I’m ever likely to need for Pikeman’s Lament, but they’re fun to assemble and there’s lots of single-figure small skirmish games out there like Pulp Alley that I could see tweaking for an ECW setting!

As soon as I saw how the figure on the far right came together I thought about cutting the head of the halberd off and turning it into a magic-user’s staff of some sort! Hmmm, mix and match the fantasy Dragon Rampant with Pikeman’s Lament? Dragon’s Lament? Pikeman Rampant? The two games use the same basic core rules, so it might be possible, and gunpowder/Renaissance fantasy (vs more standard medieval fantasy) has always been an interest of mine!

I haven’t actually sat down with the Pikeman’s Lament rules to put together some companies, but the figures assembled and based here are enough for a full size 24pt force with some different build options. I’m going to try to get one or two of the almost-finished units actually pushed through to completion this week, and hopefully get a PL game of some sort in next Sunday, but we shall see…

Review: Warbases MDF Vehicles

Warbases started doing vehicles in lasercut MDF and cardboard (greyboard) a few years ago and I was intruiged right away; a lot of 28mm vehicles are fairly expensive or (especially for World War One, Russian Civil War, or other early 20th C gaming) simply don’t exist.

It took me a while to get around to ordering any of the vehicles, but I now have a Pierce Arrow truck and an Albion truck that I’ve built, and I’m pleased to say these are really nice kits, great value for their cost, and quite easy to build!

The Peasant Cart

I also picked up Warbases’ Peasant Cart 2, which is part of their Carts & Wagons line, listed separately from the Vehicles line. This is a straightforward little model, about 20 pieces including the wheels, and produces a nice solid piece of wargaming scenery. It’s called a cart, but it is a full four wheel wagon.

Assembly and painting didn’t take much time at all, maybe half an hour. I used a random grubby wash of green-grey over the whole wagon, added a bit of pale grey for the insides of the wagon, then did a bit of edge highlighting with a grey-white mix just to pop some of the edges a bit. I’ll probably glue some straw (cut from manila cord) down to the inside of the wagon just for a bit more easy detailing.

Assembled and painted wagon, resting on top of a paint jar. Click for larger.

The wagon is big enough that two or three figures on 20mm bases could fit in the bed of it, although it’s too narrow for 25mm or larger bases to fit flat.

The Trucks

The Pierce Arrow is a relatively small truck, with room for two or three figures in the truck bed. The Albion is quite a bit larger, with room for 6 figures on 20mm bases or 3-4 figures on 25mm bases in the bed.

Albion truck under construction in the foreground, Pierce Arrow in the background. The figure is a 28mm Pulp Figures mechanic on a 20mm base. Click for larger.

Each truck comes as a couple of small sheets of MDF and an even smaller (business-card sized, roughly) sheet of greyboard card, with roughly 30 or so parts per vehicle. The instructions are photo-illustrated PDFs on the Warbases website, which does mean you can check them out before purchase. It sometimes takes a bit of peering at some of the photos to figure out which part is being fitted where, and as always I highly, highly recommend carefully dryfitting everything before you start adding glue!

One thing I noticed and appreciated about both trucks and the wagon is that any part that isn’t unique is actually identical to any corresponding part – the sides of the truck beds are identical and interchangeable, for example. Most parts aren’t labelled or numbered, but this nice design touch makes it hard to screw up the build process. Warbases has also put on-sprue/on-sheet photos of the parts of all three of these kits on their website, which helps sometimes with keeping track of parts.

The Pierce Arrow truck took me maybe an hour to assemble and paint to the point you can see in these photos; it’s got a bit of detail painting and cleanup left to do, and maybe some more weathering, so these are fast kits to assemble and get onto the table. I stopped assembling the Albion at the point you see in these photos so that I could paint the undercarriage before adding the wheels and fenders, as the Pierce got a bit cramped to paint with the wheels in place and the Albion has fenders on all four wheels, not just the front. I’ve also skipped putting the cab roof on the Albion for now to make painting the inside of the cab less painful.

Top view of both trucks with figures on 20mm bases in both. Six fit easily in the Albion (left) while three only just fit in the Pierce Arrow (right) with the third one overlapping. Figures all by Bob Murch/Pulp Figures. Click for larger.

The Pierce Arrow has been basecoated dark green with a black roof; I’ll do a round of highlighting (mostly of the edges) and there’s some detail areas like the wheels, headlight, and front grille left to paint. I haven’t decided what colour to do the bigger Albion; possibly dark grey or tan. Both colour schemes will do for either military or civilian vehicles of the era, especially in the chaos of the Russian Civil War!

The fenders, incidentally, are the only really fiddly bit of these kits. They’re lasercut card (greyboard) that you have to bend gently and then glue to an MDF inside piece to get them to hold the needed curve. Neither fender on the Pierce Arrow is quite right, although both are acceptable given the battering such fenders would take on the real vehicles! The instructions from Warbases say to bend the fenders over a pen or the handle of an Xacto, but doing this caused the greyboard to crease for me. I had better luck gently pressing the pieces against the pad of my thumb with another finger and gently flexing the card into a sort of curve that way.

That quibble aside, these are great kits and I’m sure I’ll get more eventually. They’re very sturdy once assembled, well designed for easy assembly, and it’s nice to have such an inexpensive source of vehicles for Early 20th C gaming!

Stone Outbuilding Finished

Glued down the towel thatching, slapped a coat of paint over the small stone building, added the door, and declared it done!

The towel got cut into a rough rectangle, big enough to hang an inch or so over the edges of the cardboard roof on all sides. I used a hot glue gun to glue the towel over the cardboard roof, including wrapping it around the edges and underside of the sides of the roof. This gave the roof the nice thick edge you see on a lot of thatch roofs. To fit the roof around the curve at the rear of the building I cut up to the peak of the curved part and layered the towel over itself further down, trimming a bit away so the overlap wasn’t too large.

Adding black paint and glue to the roof. Click for larger.

The first layer of painting was actually a mix of paint and white glue, generously applied with a fairly large brush, with a bit of water to help move the paint around. Towel soaks liquid up like, well, towel, so expect to use more paint and more glue than you first thing you’ll need! After this mix has dried overnight it’s really solid and gamer-proof. One of the reasons I usually use a tan or off-white towel for thatch, even though I always paint over it, is that any bits of towel that don’t get painted still look reasonable, which wouldn’t be the case if I used a colourful towel &mdhas; thatch ain’t usually blue or red…

Basecoat on the thatch, with the farmhouse in the background and a 28mm Warlord pikeman for scale. Click for larger.

After the black paint has dried overnight I drybrushed various shades of brown and tan over the thatch, ending with a fairly bright yellow-tan colour mixed with a bit of white, applied mostly along the ridgeline and edges of the roof, just to make them pop a little. As with the base coat, don’t bother using a small brush for this, I used a 3/4″ wide cheap house painting brush for all of this work!

The stonework had also been based black. I put a few blotches of green and brown down here and there, and then drybrushed a dark grey, a pale grey, and finally a mix of pale grey and white over the stones.

I didn’t get a photo of the door, but it was done on a rectangle of light card with narrow pieces of scrap wood from coffee stir sticks, glued down with hot glue, then hit with a heavy dark wash (mostly GW Nuln Oil) so it looked like heavily weathered wood.

Painting all done, just the door left to install. Click for larger.

Stonework from styrofoam is a lot of fun and fast to do; I might do a few more stone cottages or something eventually. Maybe a ruined abbey or something suitable for pulp/English Civil War crossover gaming? We shall see!

Stone Outbuilding/Hovel

With the farmhouse and dovecote progressing well, I wanted to move on to a few smaller buildings to the mix.

This little stone outbuilding is the first of those. It’s a few random scrap pieces of pink insulation styrofoam, hot glue, and a chunk of corrugated cardboard so far. Footprint is about 2″ wide by 3″ long, and it’s about 2.5″ tall or so.

Stone outbuilding from scrap styrofoam insulation. The roof will get towel over it for thatch. Click for larger.

The four wall pieces were glued together with hot glue and the curve across the back cut after everything was assembled. I didn’t get a photo before I put the cardboard roof on, but there’s another couple of bits of scrap styrofoam under it to reinforce the roof.

Underside of the stone outbuilding. Four bits of styrofoam for the walls, with the curve of the back wall cut freehand after everything was assembled. Click for larger.

The gap in the front wall will get a door from scrap cardstock after the stonework is all painted up.

This one might be finished tonight, if I get time to glue the towel thatch down and slap a bit of paint around. It’s nice to have some quick little projects sometimes!

Half-Timber Farmhouse, Part One

After getting the dovecote constructed (although not yet painted) I decided the next building would be a bit more substantial, and that a farmhouse would be the obvious counterpart to the dovecote.

It’s not quite a manor house, except maybe in some rather backwoods shire, but it’s a substantial two storey building with a big chimney rambling up one end. The main structure is all 1/16th matt board, the stonework is pink styrofoam insulation, and the timbering is thin wooden coffee stir sticks, mostly split lengthwise into thinner pieces.

The dimensions, roughly, are 5″ long, 3″ wide, and about 5″ tall to the top of the chimney, which is about where the roof peak will fall too once that’s done. The walls are 40mm high; the total base is about 7″ long and 5″ wide or so.

The earliest construction photo I remembered to take. Walls all up, foam stonework in progress, started the half-timbering on the back wall and one long wall. Second floor off to the left. Click for larger.
The other end, early in construction. Stonework in place and half-timbering just begun on the first floor. Click for larger.

For the cobblestone patches outside each door and the bricks up the chimney, I used two different old paintbrushes that I yanked the worn-out bristles from and then re-shaped the metal ferrule with a pair of needle nose pliers and a small file. The smallest brush became the brick press tool, and a slightly larger round one became the cobblestone tool. There’s also a larger rectangular one that doesn’t appear on this project but will at some point in the near future. I’ll get a photo of the press tools for a future post, they’re a great easy way to do bricks, cobbles, and other semi-regular or regular masonry patterns.

Upper floor in place; it’s basically a three-sided tray held in place by the horizontal half-timbering along the sides. Click for larger.

The second floor is three-sided to make building the big chimney down the back wall easier, rather than splitting the chimney into two or three pieces. The second floor is held in place by the half-timbering horizontal beams along the two long sides of the house, and the beams overlap at the back corners so the join between the floors and walls is nearly invisible when the house is all assembled.

Close up of the end wall, with brick patterning all done on the chimney. The pink foam has been coated in GW Liquid Greenstuff for strength and texture. Click for larger.
Wider view of the chimney end of the farmhouse, with 28mm Warlord pikeman on a 25mm base for scale. Click for larger.

The top cap of the chimney is a scrap of matt board and two little segments of styrene tube, all coated in more GW Liquid Greenstuff for texture.

Timbering all complete and roof structure started. Click for larger.

The roof will be thatch, once I get around to picking up another cheap handtowel to chop up for thatching. The understructure is a mix of 1/16th matt board and lighter card, and will all be buried under towel in due course.

In the background of the last photo you can see the current state of the dovecote, all black primered with yet more GW Liquid Greenstuff to add texture to the wattle & daub panels between the timbering.

I’ll probably paint both buildings together, now that they’re both at the primered stage. More on that soon!