Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Generals and Majors

and Matthias Corvinus himself! In keeping with the theme of the Black Army, I painted the King's breastplate black with a glaze over the top. I painted 3 figures per base but after experimenting with the arrangement, I decided it was too crowded and downsized to 2 figures per command base. I also did faces as best I could and eyes on the king.  I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon...maybe once per army!

With that, the Medieval Hungarian army is complete and ready for the tabletop.  I'll order and paint up some cannons so I can port this army into Field of Glory Renaissance.

In celebration of this milestone, I'll extro the Hungarian Army project with one of my favorite musical bits by XTC.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bad spot for a flat tire!

Hungarian camp is finished and the end of this project is in sight!  I had two early ideas for this camp, neither of which came to fruition. I wanted to do something that fit thematically with a medieval Hungarian army. My first idea was to build an elevated camp that looked like it was situated on a mountain cliff.  I worked over a couple of  pieces of Styrofoam but I could not get it to look proper so I discarded the mountain cliff idea.

For my second idea, I found a wagon and hand gunners in my pile of unpainted figures.  Corvinus' Black Army employed protected battlewagons so decided to use Green Stuff to turn an ordinary wagon into a protected battle wagon. This required me to build a very thin wooden wall onto one side of the wagon from which the handgunners would have protection while loading and firing. Try as I might, my skills with Green Stuff modelling putty are not sufficient to convert a wagon into a Hussite-like fortress on wheels.

In the process of this failed conversion, I snapped a wheel off of the wagon.  My first inclination was to curse my ineptitude.  My second was to use the busted wagon as the centerpiece of  my camp.  BINGO!!!!

I'm not much of an ideas guy and I mostly follow in the footsteps of painters and hobbyists more talented than I.  This time though, I managed to come up with a good theme for the camp AND I tried something new in painting the tent. I blocked in the base colors. Then I put in ocher wash over the top of it. Then I put the highlights on in thick rivulets so that when they dried, they formed a ridge/shadow to simulate the shadowing on a fabric tent.  Last step, I brought in Devlon Mud wash in with a very thin brush to create a line between the two colors.   I think it works!  It looks good from 3 feet away but of course, photos aren't shot from 3 feet away.

I'm just happy that I've been able to incorporate an Impetus-like diorama into Field of Glory!  Here's a shot that incorporates a dime to show the 15mm scale for nonmodellers.  The medieval tent is by Baueda and it is spectacular.  I'll be using Baueda for all of my tents  in the future!  Figures and wagon are by Essex and quite excellent themselves.  

The rarely seen "dime" pavis. 
Last is the work in progress pic. It is true that posting a "work in progress" pic at the end of a post is out of order but blogging requires you to start with your best picture first to (hopefully) draw readers in.

It occurred to on me that I need some fortifications to my Ottoman Turks army so I got about building them.  These were made with Durhams Water Putty thickly mixed and slapped on Litko bases. Woodland Scenic Fine Ballast over the top with glue/water mix. Fortifications will give my Janissary foot an assist when fighting on wide open Knight-centric battlefields. And as a bonus, having the Janissary fight from behind fortifications is also historically correct!
When Accident became Providence!
No, you can't eat them

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hungarian Knights!

Hungarian knights in the 14-15th century were equipped much like their western counterparts.  Unlike their western counterparts, Hungarian knights didn't routinely charge everything that moved on the battlefield.  Repeatedly facing Ottoman Turk light horse tactics must have taught them to be cautious.  These knights are the core troops around which Matthias Corvinus' Black Army was built.  Much like a game of high stakes poker, you are "all in" when the knights go in! 

These are all Essex figures and they were a joy to paint.  Essex horses are just fantastic with a great variety of poses and figures.  I would say these figures represent my best work to date.  I took the time to black line the tack on the horses and I think it was worth the extra effort.  I also tried painting faces for the first time.  Not so easy with old eyes but its a start!  Forgive me for the number of photos but I'm pretty pleased with these 3 battlegroups.  I need to savor my painting victory before moving on to the command stands and camp.  The end of the Hungarian project is in sight! I'm really interested to see how they do against the Ottoman Turks. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hungarian Lights

Matthias Corvinus' Black Army contained Hungarian Light Horse, Serbian Hussars, Szekely, Cumans, Wallachians and Moldavians.  The two battlegroups below represent Hungarian Light Horse.  Their role was to skirmish and chase away the Ottoman Akinji Light Horse to prevent them from interfering with the deployment and charge of the Hungarian knights. I plan to pair each unit of Light Horse with a unit of Serbian Hussars in my Field of Glory games.  This will give the Hungarians a powerful one-two punch that the Ottomans don't have an answer for.  

These Essex figures are quite lively and I mounted a couple of bases with the "shoot and scoot" scheme of two figures facing in opposite directions.  I think it works but I'll leave it to viewers to decide for themselves.  I think using a limited palette of colors paid dividends here as well. 
Last up are my Hungarian handgunners.  Medieval gunpowder was very expensive and the firearms of the day were of limited effectiveness due to being inaccurate, slow to load  and sometimes self-exploding. Even so, they  provided a kind of shock and awe on the battlefield.  Corvinus utilized the defensive tactics of the Hussites by placing his  infantry behind  pavises or wagons while his cavalry  harassed the enemy and I plan to do the same when I field these troops.  Handgunners need to operate from behind the safety of a shield wall, wagons or cover.  If they're caught unsupported in open, they'll be obliterated in hand-to-hand fighting.  These figures also appear to be a bit on the plump side so I'm not sure they'll be able to run away from a determined charge!  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Clipeati & Armati heavy infantry

The Clipeati were armored footmen equipped with huge shields known as pavises.  The Clipeati formed a shield wall from which the Hungarian infantry could fight. Crossbowmen and handgunners probably operated behind the safety of their shield wall. 

The Armati were the armored footmen who fought alongside the Clipeati. It is not clear what the Armati were armed with but it is reasonable to assume that they utilized pole arms for fighting from, over and around the Clipeati pavises.

I sometimes think I should paint every army twice.  The first time through would be for researching, profiling, choosing figures and color combinations.  In the second pass, I like to imagine that I’d get just the right figures with the perfect color combinations.  If I were to paint the Clipeati & Armati battlegroup a second time, I’d look for different figures for the 2nd rank.  The first rank looks good with the pavise shields but the second rank would ideally be pole armed figures with no shields.

I'm a little unhappy with the faces on these figures so maybe its time to try a new technique.  My face painting technique is very simple.  I put down brown for the base on skin, then flesh and then bring it down with an Ogryn Flesh wash.  The wash didn't take well here for some reason.  I'll have to give it a 2nd wash and maybe when I finish my knights, I'll change my technique.

64 shields in two battlegroups.  A tough looking bunch but I wonder if they can withstand a charge by knights?  I'll have to answer that question on the field of battle.  And I'm sure Al will be happy to run the other side of that experiment!

Monday, December 5, 2011

There's no place like my workspace

When I returned to miniature painting a few years ago, I didn't have a dedicated workspace. Instead,  I'd have to pull my supplies from a hall closet and set up on the kitchen table every time I wanted to paint. I'd drag my work light up from the basement and then set out my water cups, brushes, paints and miniatures. 20 - 30 minutes would pass and I'd not even wet a brush! Setting up and taking down was so time-consuming that I'd let months pass without painting.  That apparently was why I could only manage to paint 2 Warhammer armies in 2 years. 

The single best recommendation I can make to a new painter is to create a dedicated workspace for your hobby.  My productivity skyrocketed once I dragged an old table up to my bedroom and set up my painting station.  Some nights, I only have an hour to myself but with my dedicated workspace, I can put 2 minutes into prepping and 58 minutes into painting.  By having my paint station next to my bed, painting is sometimes the first AND last thing I do in a day!

A couple of notes:

1.  I need a lot of light to paint, 500-1000 watts via a halogen work light to be specific. I've tried working with other lights but I don't like the results.  The benefit to working with 1000 watts of light is that my room is the warmest place in the house in the winter. Unfortunately, it's also the warmest room in the summer as well.  
2.  To alleviate stiff neck syndrome, I stack a box on the tabletop to create a painting platform that puts the minis closer to eye level.
3.  If you paint with reading glasses, buy a pair that's a couple of steps higher than what you use to read the newspaper.  Last week I bought a pair of 1.75s on a whim and the knights I painted recently looked extra sharp because I could actually see. 
3.  The Robart Hobby paint shaker is a must have for me and my Vallejo paints. 
5.  Lastly, here's proof that I was destined to paint ancients.  It's a lamp my son made for me for Father's Day 2006 in his 6th grade wood shop. That was 3 years before I started painting ancients.  Good boy!  Now if only he had time to game with his old man.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Szekler cavalry

The Szekely were a semi-nomadic people who played a key role in the defense of the Kingdom of Hungary against the Ottoman Empire.  As a subgroup of Hungarian people, they believed they were descendants of the Huns. Their lands were outside of traditional Hungarian law and their only obligation to the Crown was to supply troops for military service. The Szeklers were regarded as some of the finest horsemen in Hungary.
Szekler cavalry are rated in the Field of Glory rules as superior and armed with bow and sword. In my Later Hungarian army, they can go toe to toe with the best cavalry in the Sultan's army.  I don't want to put too much pressure on these boys but I expect great things from them on the tabletop!

And just to change things up a bit, here's a shot of them in the early stages. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Sultan steps up

I finally got my Later Ottoman Turks on the tabletop against Al's Later Serbian army today.  Al's girlfriend Genna was co-running the Serbs and they made a great team! I couldn't help but notice more people approached us about our game than usual.  Coincidence?  I don't think so!

The Serbian army was knight heavy with cavalry, loads of lancer armed light horse and a single foot unit of medium archers.  My army was built around Janissary with a good deal of foot troops in support. I knew that if I didn't play this carefully, Al would roll me right off the table. My first break came when I won initiative and was able to select Hilly as my terrain choice.  I put down 2 brush and 3 steep hills to give my foot troops somewhere to hide from Al's knights. 
My Serbian Ally knights getting ready to go against...Serbs. 

Al put his knights down in the center.  I knew I'd get overpowered there so I deployed heavily on the flanks and left a screening force in the center.  In the early game, all the action was on the flanks while the knight block contemplated its options.   I pushed my Janissary up to secure the brush on the left flank and the steep hill on the right.  I was hoping that the difficult terrain would make it impossible for Al and Genna to send  knights in against them.  I hoped to pour archer fire down into the center of the board or in the alternate, support my left and right flanking maneuvers.

One of the great things about this Ottoman army is that everything except the Serbian Knights and the camp shoots.  For the first half of the game, I couldn't hit anything.  I did make good progress pushing both the left and right flanks out.  I realized if I ventured too far out, the Serbian knight block would crush me.  That's why I was content to stand pat on my left flank with a defensive line built in the brush.
On my right, I pushed forward into his Al's Light Horse. With my knights in tow, it was slow going.  Even worse, lance armed Serbian Lights chewed through a battlegroup of Akinjis in a single turn and then sacked my camp. Ouch!  4 quick points to my opponent!
Al saw an opportunity and pitched into my left flank in the brush.  His lance armed Serbian Lights went into my Janissary Handgunners and a block of knights went into the Janissary medium foot (in blue). The poor terrain and some good dicing on my part resulted in a flurry of disrupted markers for the Serbians.  While I could not hit a thing in the first half of the game, my archery fire was accurate in the second half.
The game was decided in a place I'll call the "Bloody Angle." The Serbs had me in a pinch, literally and figuratively.  If the Serbian Lights broke my handgunners, they'd sweep in on the flank of my Jannisary.  If the Serbian Knights broke the janissary, they'd sweep the handgunners. This melee ground on out over 3 or 4 turns. 
At a crucial point, my Janissary wavered and went disrupted. I then lost badly in melee and had to make a morale check with a death roll.  I needed a good roll with higher being better.  
Yes!  At turns end, the Jannisary rallied back from disruption.  The knights were neutralized and the Lights broke. On the far right flank, I'd pushed through the light cavalry screen and was a turn away from sacking the camp. Game called with my very first win with the Turks! 
This fast-paced game was a complete change of pace from running my Gallic or Carthaginian heavy foot armies.  It was interesting enough that a couple of people pulled up chairs and watched the second half.  It was also by far the best game I've played and of course it didn't hurt that I made some good rolls.  I'm really looking forward to throwing my Turks against Scott's Mongol horde and eventually, my in-progress Hungarian army as well. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Mid-Republican Romans


Old Glory figures on Litko bases for Field of Glory (FoG). Finished with a GW Purity Seal.  I've built this to comply with the MRR ratio requirements between the Velites, Hastati, Principes and Triarii.  It's painted and organized so it can be played as a Late Republican Roman army of 5 Legionaries - 8 bases each.

Hastati and Principes: 32 bases, 128 figures
Triarii: 8 bases, 32 figures
Italian Allies: 12 bases, 48 figures
Velites: 16 bases , 32 figures
Cretan Archers:  6 bases , 12 figures 
Cavalry:  8 bases, 24 figures
Command Stands: 4 bases, 16 figures
1 Camp
If you're interested, we can buff this army out further with Spanish Scutarii, Gallic Medium foot or Numidian Light Horse.