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)