Our little group of wargamers recently put together a game for Alumwell Wargames Show, the theme being a fictional siege set during the English Civil War. It was a combined effort by the five members of our group and we had over 1200 28mm figures on a 14ft by 6ft table along with lots of terrain and a fortified manor with surrounding earthworks. Fortunately a few of the guys remembered to take some photo's and here they are.
I acquired this interesting little set of figures recently from my son, not sure about the make but a nice change from painting endless pike & shot units. The figures themselves are not the great sculpts that you would expect from companies such as Warlord Games, Foundry and suchlike they are a little crude and rough around the edges but nonetheless they are quite novel and looked like they would paint up well enough.
I decided to make them into one vignette and as such wanted to make the figures appear to be from a common regiment albeit that one of them was a cavalryman. I painted them up quite simply and then used some acrylic washes to emphasise some of the detail. At this point I could have over-painted some of the detail but decided against it as I was happy enough with how they had turned out. I varnished them and set about devising a context for the figure base which obviously enough was the parting of the soldiers and their loved ones.
I cut a round base that seemed the right size and first glued down some wallpaper to simulate a paved road, making it slightly offset as I wanted space for the cavalryman on one side of the base. Next I painted the road and once the figures were dry I decided the position each one was to take up on the base. The three figures that were not on the road I glued in place and textured the base around them. The figures that were on the road I decided to paint the bases to perfectly match the road and then they were glued into place. Once the base was dry I drybrushed the dirt areas and glued down some rocks and bushes for effect and that was it all finished and ready to be put on the wargames table.
While writing this my final thoughts are that I should have put some scatter flock on the base here and there, and that it would be nice to give this set a gaming context being a set of rules that would add interest to a scenario etc. If I do actually figure something out I will add the rules to my list Pike & Shotte Characters as a free to download PDF.
I have had these figures painted for a good while now, but due to other projects taking up my time I hadn't finished the basing or attached the flag. This was remedied just before Xmas and happily they turned out fine, as I was expecting anyway as they are Warlord Games figures and really easy to paint. As I am the only flag making company that do the Gentlemen Pensioners flag I thought it only appropriate to ensure that I had a small unit of them in my army, as to whether or not they had cuirassier armour is open to debate but it doesn't take much persuading to field Warlord Games cuirassiers even in such small amounts as this.
I had to do a slight amount of conversion work on the lance as for some reason there are no tassles on the metal lance like there is on the lances with their plastic cavalry. This was a simple fix by cutting off the tassles off a plastic lance and gluing them on to the matal lance once the flag had been fixed in place.
As part of my continuing reorganising project for my 28mm ECW collection I decided to add some more personalities and this was one of them. Originally I painted this figure as King Charles I and probably the model itself was supposed to be him, but as I already had a couple of version of Charles I decided to repainted the hair & beard a brownish blonde as appropriate for the Marquis of Newcastle. The overly luxurious clothing was befitting the wealthiest man in the kingdom and all I needed was a fitting standard bearer and personal standard. The standard itself I based around the coat of arms of The Marquis and kept with the black & white effect for the tails and border once happy with the design I committed to printing it and adding it to the flagpole and model. The Marquis of Newcastle figure & horse are from Essex Miniatures and the standard bearer is a from Wargames Foundry.
Since the start of the year I have been reorganising my entire 28mm ECW collection and also adding extra regiments & personalities. This vignette of King Charles I and his standard bearers I finished a couple of days ago and very happy I am with how it turned out. The model of Charles is a Wargames Foundry figure with a Warlord Games plastic sword attached and he is seated upon an Old Glory horse with some additional modelling work to add length to the mane, all of which was inspired by the Sir Anthony van Dyck painting. The Royal Standard Bearer is an Old Glory cuirassier and horse with the addition of a metal arm and plastic flag pole from Warlord Games. The King's Gentlemen Pensioners Standard Bearer is another Old Glory cuirassier and horse with the addition of a plastic flag pole from Warlord Games. The flags of course are from my own Wargames Designs collection.
This Royalist army I painted during the summer for a customer using Lancashire Games figures. They paint up really well looking great on the table considering they work out at around half the price of most other 15mm ranges if bought in battle packs. They also mix in really well with other larger makes of 15mm figures and they have a lot of character. Here some pics with flags from my own extensive range of ECW flags.
I made this model church a while ago and recently sold it to someone in the USA as unfortunately it was surplus to my requirements as I am in the process of making another church using stone effect wallpaper. This one was made in the usual time honoured fashion using card, plaster, sand and glue which for me at least was the only way to make buildings until I converted to making models with printed paper with stone, brick or tile effect.
I have been making a fair few ECW buildings for my 28mm collection for a while now and decided that I needed some small generic buildings that could be used for anything from small cottages to stables and workshops.
With that in mind I decided that some small stone buildings would be good as a starting point and as it happened I had 6 small blocks of polystyrene ready cut in the shape of buildings. I wrapped these with stone effect paper and glued them with PVA and then glued on the roof sections which were wrapped with tile or thatch effect paper. Once dried the the widows and doors were glued in place and chimneys made from polystyrene carefully wrapped with stone effect paper were also glued on.
This completed the basic building stage and I then cut out some hardboard bases of various sizes rounding off and sanding the edges in the process. The building were glued in place and courtyards and paths were also glued down. The buildings were all left to dry thoroughly and then varnished with acrylic varnish to protect them from wear and tear. Again they were left to dry and the bases were scattered and finally some small bushes added for effect.
All in all a really easy build which took only an afternoon to complete and cost next to nothing to make.
With the cavalry all sorted I had to turn to the infantry next and I had 120 of them in the Scots Battalia box set, in fact there are actually 126 Infantry in the box set as some are spares and for some reason they don't count them. Obviously I decided not to retain the 40 strong infantry regiments as mine were to be arranged as 20 figure regiments and there were to be 8 of them in total, so I would need around 40 extra figures including a fair few extra command figures. Fortunately I already had a load of extra figures from English battalia boxed sets so the extras that I needed were made up from those as they were essentially the same figures as the Scots. The only thing that I could be short of was the Scots bonnets, but again I had a fair few of these and I also used some helmets for the pikemen as well.
For each 20 figure regiment I need 10 musketeers, 7 pikemen, 1 officer, 1 sergeant and 1 musician, so I needed an extra 8 musketeers, 20 pikemen, 5 musicians and 2 officers to add to the Scots battalia box set to complete my 8 regiment army. All very easily managed from my spare pile of figures and I had loads of extra plastic Scots bonnets too. Incidentally one of the pikemen from each regiment was going to double as a standard bearer which is why I needed 7 pikemen.
In the batalia set there was also a frame gun, so I wanted an extra couple of guns and again I looked to my large pile of spares English figures and decided that a couple of light/medium guns and some crew figures fitted with bonnets would serve me well to make up the artillery I wanted. At this stage I also took a suitable looking Sniper figure and added him to the Preacher that I had with the box set and again it was looking good.
As mentioned before I had some spare Moss Troopers from the cavalry sets that I could use as generals, but I wanted the Earl of Leven so I bought that from Warlord games for £5.00 and that was the the army essentially finished in terms of all the purchases. Now all that was left to do was start to assemble and paint the figures, more of which next time.
It is fair to say that being a full time figure painter has its ups and downs in terms of my own actual wargaming experience. Although on one hand I have the ability to paint all my own armies I find that this time is greatly reduced due to customer painting commitments. I am envious to say the least when I hand over a beautifully painted army to one of my customers knowing that my own army of that period (if indeed I actually have one like that) is probably still unpainted or half finished. I remember well the feeling I had when handing over one particular 15mm Landsknect army to a customer and actually telling him how envious I was of him for owning such an army.
I love the English Civil War period and I am really happy that I have actually convinced my gaming buddies to invest in 28mm English Civil War figures and build up small armies that when brought together we can play large battles with. This has not been an easy task and several of the armies (okay all of them) aren't finished yet and to make matters worse there were quite a few issues issues over basing, organisation and rules that had to be resolved. After months of play testing etc. we were finally able to say that we had got the rules and base sizes sorted which meant that the figures and units could be finished off.
Okay, well having set the background for the project I now will get on with the how and where part of actually building up a Scots Covenanter army in 28mm. The obvious place to start was looking at what is out there in 28mm for the period and there are many different manufacturers of wargames figures for this period that I could have gone for, but for several reasons I chose the Warlord Games Scots Covenanters. Best reason of all was cost, they are extremely cheap, next reason was I wanted more of their plastic horses as I just love them, next reason was they are actually really nice figures, and last reason was I really like plastic figures both in terms of the variety you can get from them and the fun of building them up. Okay, with Warlord Games in mind I proceeded to look at the buying options and the army I actually wanted.
The army I wanted was as follows:
Some Generals, based as vignettes on round bases, maybe 3 or 4 bases in total.
2 regiments each of 10 lance armed cavalry
2 regiments each of 10 pistol armed cavalry
1 regiment of 10 Dragoons both mounted and dismounted versions
8 regiments each of 20 pike & shot infantry
Some artillery, maybe 2 or 3 pieces and crews
Some characters, maybe a minister and a sniper etc.
I must point out at this stage that although I use Pike & Shotte by Warlord Games as my rules preference my English Civil War armies are organised in regiments of both pike & shot combined rather than as separate units of pike & shot as defined in the rules. My cavalry regiments are really squadrons and based in one rank. The Dragoons are always in a 10 man regiment whether on foot or mounted. You may have guessed by now that I do not strictly follow the basing suggestions within the rules, rather I use the Pike & Shotte amendments that I covered in separate posts.
So, having identified what I would like to have in my army I decided to buy as much of it as I could in one fell swoop, first stop ebay! My first purchase was 12 Scots lancers from Maelstrom Games for £16.20 and yet another box from another seller for £16.50 both including the postage in the cost, and both saving me almost £6.00 each on the full price from Warlord Games. Next was a Scots Battalia boxed set from Warlord Games as there were none available on ebay and this cost me £60.00 which I picked from from the wargames show in Derby. To these purchases I added 12 dragoons from an earlier ebay purchase that cost me £21.00 including postage, and for a cost £7.70 I had 12 cavalry from an ECW Battalia Starter Army set that I had previously purchased from ebay.
Total cost so far was a staggering £121.40, but for this I did get one hell of a lot of figures and I saved £72.10 on the normal price of buying them all separately direct from Warlord Games. This was a good start and I did know that I would have a few bits and pieces still to add to this before I had the exact amount I wanted, but I also knew that I had these already from my vast unfinished amount of unpainted ECW figures in my collection.
Okay, I had the figures and now it came to sorting them into their respective units for painting and basing, for this I started with the mounted part of the army including the dragoons. The dragoons were pretty straight forward as there are 12 mounted and 12 dismounted versions to play around with but as I only need 10 of each I put the surplus into my extras box as they could be used for other units or vignette bases. Most would have bonnets but not all of them as I liked the variety of head wear that was included in the Warlord Games box sets and it did make them look all the more irregular in appearance.
Now the figures were absolutely fine but my only concern was with the horses, they too were fine, but they were way too big for a dragoon mount and strangely even in the blurb accompanying the box set they mention the small nags that dragoons would have ridden. So the horses had to go, which was no problem to me at all as I simply exchanged them with smaller horses that I already had from Old Glory and Wargames Foundry ECW cavalry. Both their horses again being fine, but a bit small (a lot smaller than Warlord's horses) for ECW heavy cavalry. So an easy fix really, except that the Old Glory horses don't have saddle cloths so they would be made with green stuff.
Now the Cavalry proper, that being the Scots Lancers and normal ECW cavalry that I had bought. Again the horses had to go as again the horses were way too big to be the type of horse or pony that the Scots would have used. Again the answer being to use Old Glory and Foundry horses that I had already and whose riders would be remounted with the plastic horses. Now the thing is about the Warlord Games Scots lancers is that they are essentially the same as the normal ECW cavalry except they have extra metal arms with lances or pistols, some bits of extra equipment and 3 metal riders which are supposed to be the command figures. So in effect you get 15 riders and 12 horses, which is pretty neat really.
The metal riders I decided to put to one side as generals etc. and so with 3 boxes of cavalry I had 9 of these in total, easily enough for my command vignettes. There are only 6 lances in each box set, which although there is some debate as to whether or not the Scots lancer regiments were fully equipped with lances I have to say that I like the idea of my lancer regiments being fully equipped. Fortunately I had 3 boxes of lancers which meant 18 lances, enough to equip 2 units of 10 fully leaving the musician with a trumpet. The pistol armed cavalry were no problem at all and had a choice of swords or pistols at random. The headgear would be a choice of helmets, hats and bonnets, with most having a bonnet, some re-sculpting of the hair would be necessary, but this I had already tried out on a similar figure and can be done very easily with a hot needle shaped tool, more of which in another post.
Stephen Wylde BA (hons)