Tuesday, July 22, 2014


My old hometown of Tucson, Arizona sits in the Sonoran Desert.  Thanks to time spent there, I knew right out of the box that these figures were inspired by Apache warriors.  Apaches wore a shirt, breechclout, and moccasins up to the knees.  They fought guerrilla wars against the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans. Pursuers rarely found an Apache camp until they turned Apache against Apache, utilizing them as scouts. 

General George Cook described his Apache foes as "the tigers of the human species." Lieutenant Marion Maus described them by saying:  "For more than a year they made a running fight through the most rugged and barren portions of the Sierras, without subsistence of any kind except what they could rapidly snatch from the valleys as they swept from mountain to mountain, alternately scorched by the midsummer sun and chilled by the frost of snow clad peaks. At last, broken in spirit and worn in body, they buried the hatchet at the feet of their gallant pursuers. If the strategical skill and physical force manifested against the government by these outlaws can be directed to its advantage, no portion of our military establishment could be more efficient."
While a good parent cannot name favorites, a good painter can.  These renegades are my favorite of the 4 new factions for Dead Man's Hand.  Using historical photos, I sourced the simple face painting and also confirmed loinclouts were generally off white. I painted a couple red anyway just for variety. From start to finish, these were a joy to paint.
From Major John Cremony's book, Life Among the Apaches, here's a fabulous account of their ability to hide. 

"While crossing an extensive prairie, dotted here and there by a few shrubs and diminutive bushes, Quick Killer volunteered to show me with what dexterity an Apache could conceal himself, even where no special opportunity existed for such concealment. The offer was readily accepted, and we proceeded a short distance until we came to a small bush, hardly sufficient to hide a hare. Taking his stand behind this bush, he said: "Turn your back and wait until I give the signal." This proposition did not exactly suit my ideas of Apache character, and I said: "No, I will walk forward until you tell me to stop."

This was agreed upon, and quietly drawing my pistol, keeping a furtive glance over my shoulder, I advanced; but had not gone ten steps, when Quick Killer hailed me to stop and find him. I returned to the bush, went around it three or four times, looked in every direction--there was no possible covert in sight; the prairie was smooth and unbroken, and it seemed as if the earth had opened and swallowed up the man. Being unable to discover him, I called and bade him come forth, when, to my extreme surprise, he arose laughing and rejoiced, within two feet of the position I then occupied. With incredible activity and skill he had completely buried himself under the thick grama grass, within six feet of the bush, and had covered himself with such dexterity that one might have trodden upon him without discovering his person. I took no pains to conceal my astonishment and admiration, which delighted him exceedingly, and he informed me that their children were practiced regularly in this game of "hide and seek," until they became perfect adepts."
Geronimo and 2 of his sons
Apache scouts used to track renegade Apache clans. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

7th Cavalry

This faction for Dead Man's Hand was inspired by the US 7th Cavalry Regiment.  The 7th Cavalry was formed in 1866 and nicknamed "Garryowen" on account of the Irish ditty they adopted as a marching tune. These fellows are mostly carbine armed, leading to a very different style of play in the game. Their gang rule and cards reflect their disciplined and drilled character.  

With a common color scheme leveraged over 6 of the 7 figures, painting was fast and pleasant. The bright yellow popped quite nicely on the blue and I'm pleased with how the guide turned out.  

The 7th is famous for fighting at the Battle of Little Bighorn where 5 of their 12 companies were wiped out. Battlefield archaeology suggests that Custer split his force of 210 cavalry troopers on that fateful day, with his right wing assembling on Calhoun Hill.   

The troopers' Springfield carbine was superior to anything the Indians could field.  The Springfield had a range of 600-700 yards, stopping power and accuracy. To even the fight, the Indians needed to close within 200 yards, the effective range of their repeater rifles.  Archaeological evidence suggests the troopers lost Calhoun Hill due to tactical disintegration and a failure to concentrate their long range firepower.  The Indians were able to close within 200 yards and employ their repeating rifles to good effect.  The troopers bunched up and then panicked.  Indian accounts describe the the troopers' flight from Calhoun Hill to Last Stand Hill as a buffalo stampede. Of the 120 men deployed on the hill, only 20 made it to Custer's position.  

Greatly depleted, Custer was limited to defensive action from this point forward.  Evidence confirms that the Indians put the captured Springfields to use against the troopers on Last Stand Hill.  Indian accounts report that 40 men rushed south off the hill but none made it off the battlefield.  

The archaeological evidence does not support the myth of a heroic last stand on Last Stand Hill.  Few Springfield cartridge cases have been found on the hill.  It appears the final struggle was brief and that 28 troopers made a break from the hill and fled into Deep Ravine. They were quickly overwhelmed and dispatched.  

I'll close with the account of Captain Frederick Benteen, recalling his observations on the Custer Battlefield, June 27, 1876:

"I went over the battlefield carefully with a view to determine how the battle was fought. I arrived at the conclusion that it was a rout, a panic, until the last man was killed. There was no line formed on the battlefield. You can take a handful of corn and scatter the kernels over the floor, and make just such lines. The only approach to a line was where 5 or 6 dead horses found at equal distances, like skirmishers. That was the only approach to a line on the field. There were more than 20 killed [in one group]; there were [more often] four or five at one place, all within a space of 20 to 30 yards of each other…I counted 70 dead cavalry horses and 2 Indian ponies.

I think, in all probability, that the men turned their horses loose without any orders to do so. Many orders might have been given, but few obeyed. I think that they were panic stricken; it was a rout, as I said before.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pinkerton agents

In 1855, Allan Pinkerton created the North-Western Police Agency, later known as the Pinkerton Agency. From humble beginnings in Chicago, it was to become the largest private law enforcement organization in the world. 

In 1862, Pinkerton was hired as Lincoln's bodyguard. He broke up a scheme to assassinate the President on the way to his inauguration. By the end of the Civil War, the agency's reputation was well-established. The railroads and post office became two of Pinkerton's most lucrative clients. His agents gained a reputation for toughness, thoroughness and professionalism. They kept files on suspects and were credited with creating the first rogue's gallery, using photographs to identify criminals. Agents kept case journals and documentation, cracking cases through research, undercover work and surveillance.

Pinkertons were hired to track outlaws like Jesse James, the Reno Gang, the Dalton Gang, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They were also hired for more mundane tasks such as transporting money and high quality merchandise between cities and towns. As a result, Pinkerton agents were well armed and well paid. 

These agents will be used as a faction in Dead Man's Hand.  Pinkertons get a better than average "nerve" score in the game and their activation cards reflect their ability to relentlessly pursue and get their man.   
You best finish our basing, painter man!
I went for a darker look with the dusters to hint at moral ambiguity. Uniform dusters give them an orderly, professional look, I think. The only downside to this bunch was the flatness of the dusters.  That made them a bit of challenge to bring to life and my subtle triad didn't help.
Below is a picture of the Mr. Pinkerton and two of his agents.  They do look dead serious and well-armed. As good as he is with a gun, I'd advise against asking him to give you a headcount on the Army of Northern Virginia.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wagons Ho!

This Old West wagon is a Great Escape Games product for Dead Man's Hand.  The kit went together with the ease and precision we expect from 4Ground.  There's an option to build the wagon with ribs up for a different look. I primed it black and hit it with a light overspray of gray to get the look of weathered wood. A bit of drybrushing and mudsplatter sealed the deal.

The wagon lacks the Old West appeal of a Gatling gun, saloon gals or the Treasure of the Sierra Madres. Even so, the crusty old driver says that his conestoga wagon was how the West was won.

The wagon is a warmup for a big run of Old West painting for Dead Man's Hand.  With summer in full swing, my painting has slowed to the speed of a desert tortoise.  Last weekend, I didn't even get 1 minute of painting in! The gang is getting restless so I better get back to the brushes.