Thursday 13 June 2024

Refurbishing the collection

In an earlier post, I described plans to reorganise the late medieval collection reducing the number of armies by half while increasing the number of commands for each. On completion of the project, I would have double size armies for the Yorkist, Lancastrian (both IV/83a), French Ordonnance (IV/82b), Medieval German (IV/13d), Italian Condotta (IV/61) and Burgundian (IV/85b). 

First phase of the project places the English armies on the work bench; each have at its core 1 x general (4Bd), 1 x currours (Cv), 4 x billmen (4Bd), 4 x archers (4Lb, 1 x guns (Art), 1 x Welsh (3Pk). The optional mounted knights, Irish and mercenaries will be added later. 


Very pleased that the exact number of figures to make 16 x 4Lb and 20 x 4Bd (commander included) were collected, in some cases this meant cannibalising no longer active armies. The French Ordonnance (/82a) surrendered its longbow, but will see an upgrade to the “b” sub-list.


Figures in livery are kept to a maximum of two per element, giving them a ‘rough and ready’ appearance. As both armies have a similar composition and appearance, the standards and banners they carry will be the sole means to differentiate the two. These are interchangeable, as needed to play a particular scenario. Using the collision course option for deployment, the third column can represent an “allied” contingent making their non-appearance deemed treacherous.  

Standards and Banners

The boardgame “Kingmaker” will be used to drive the campaigns diplomacy and politics, this may result in a non-historical alignment of nobles. Sourcing information standards and banners is not difficult and the boardgame supplies the heraldry for 24 nobles, making this a good start. Long tailed standards will identify the commanders and, in the case, when fewer nobles appear in the armies, then generic flags with the white or red rose can be used.


Recommended viewing:

The Causes of the Wars of the Roses (History Hit)

Tuesday 28 May 2024

A Clash of arms - Theodoric II and Childeric I

The Visigothic northward expansion by Theodoric II caught an unprepared Childeric I of the Franks. Undeterred by the superior numbers of Visigothic cavalry, the Franks advanced their line. Eager to clash with the Frankish infantry, the Visigothic cavalry outpaced their infantry centre to strike at the vulnerable flanks of the Franks.

The fight that ensued proved no easy task as the gardingi (Cv) were repulsed leaving the Visigothic nobles (3Kn) isolated as they broke through. This was followed by the crashing of both army’s centre. 

The battle was brief and hard fought, but the Franks prevailed to gain a narrow victory (4 - 3).

A rematch found the Franks deployed with both flanks protected by wood and its rear protected by a river. Visigothic cavalry formed on the flanks of a strong infantry centre with tribal warriors on the right and city militia on the left.

This time, the Visigothic infantry moved forward to engage the Franks leaving the cavalry to be held back in support.

Seeing the Franks heavily engaged, the Visigothic cavalry struck home to turn the Frankish flanks. Suffering heavy losses, the Franks fled the field (5 – 1).


Seemingly a mis-match, an infantry force against a mobile one, the Franks played an aggressive game one.  were fortunate to have won the first battle. Facing the cavalry wings, the Franks extended their line knowing the Visigothic cavalry could run the down. 

Luck served the Franks well repelling the cavalry leaving the knight isolated. Although a slight advantage, the Franks kept one step ahead of the Visigoths.

This was not the case in game two as the both centres clashed first while the Visigothic cavalry waited for the right moment to attack.   

Friday 24 May 2024

Late Medieval buldings

Re-organising the late medieval collection, I will add a few terrain pieces appropriate for the period. Enclosures were made earlier, requiring little time to complete, however, townhouses will require a few weeks at least. Newer models will replace the older models; construction will use the same material but will be covered with Milliput (white) suitable for detail work. This differs from the original buildings, being sculpted pressed foam board, then painted and based. Being all of equal height, they were based in pairs with simple vegetation and trees added to fill the gaps between structures. In the end, they were rarely used and most likely will be disposed of.   

The new structures will vary in height and covered with Milliput, this will allow windows, doors and timber supports to be sculpted. Applying the Milliput was a long process, longer than I anticipated, as the process was done in stages. Half of the building was covered, when allowed to dry, before finishing the entire surface. This avoided leaving finger prints or accidental impressions made while scoring the Milliput.

It was during this process I thought about salvaging the older buildings. These are fixed firmly to their bases and cutting close to the base as possible eight buildings were salvaged. Trimming the underside, the buildings varied in height improving their look. Rather than covering these with Milliput, I decided to save time, and repainted the timber supports, stone walls, doors and window to match the newer pieces. Roofs were added using embossed sheeting produced by Vollmer, available where trains sets are sold.

Pictured in foreground are the new buildings and the row to their rear, the restored older models. Before fixing them to bases, I will explore different combinations to maximise their use.  

Recommended Reading

Germany in the Later Middle Ages by F. Du Boulay (re. chapter about towns)

29-05-2024     Additional Medieval buildings

Two gatehouses, a tower and bridge were added to the project list. In the photo, the four pieces have been cut and shaped ready for an application of Milliput (white). Like the townhouses, the Milliput will be applied in stages. Doing so will necessitate extra time to complete but will avoid mistakes.

Thoroughly hardened, the structures are ready to be painted in a similar style, darker first coat, then highlighted a light shade. All structures are mostly finished stonework with the exception of the tower having an added floor.

At the moment, there are no plans for a wall as this could represent a city’s growth beyond the old city. The pieces will remain unbased until I find ideal combinations to fit within a BUA size. 

Thursday 23 May 2024

Aegidius confronts Armorica

Aegidius, magister militum per Gallias, held one of the remaining fragments of the Western Roman Empire. Following the assassination of Majorian and the placement of Libius Severus as emperor prompted Aegidius to rebel and declare an independent kingdom of Soissons. It would not be long before rival kingdoms would seek to expand their own territories. 

First to invade the kingdom of Soissons, Armorica found the army of Aegidius prepared and deployed for battle. The field, flanked by wood and a river forced Armorica to deploy its infantry in deep columns with the majority of its cavalry on the left facing the Gallo-Roman infantry.

Sensing an opportunity, Aegidius launched an attack to catch the Armorican as they exited the bottleneck created by terrain.

The nearby wood, flanking the field, soon became hotly contested forcing Aegidius to send mercenaries from his reserve line. Unfortunately, their departure left Aegidius with fewer troops to staunch the breakthrough made by the enemy. To salvage the situation, Aegidius led his own guard into the breach only to find himself surrounded. Seeing their commander fall, the Gallo-Romans lost heart and fled the field (3+gen – 1). 

A second battle was played but deployment areas were exchanged.   

Advancing forward, the Gallo-Roman line wheeled its entire line, seemingly to invite the enemy cavalry to attacks its exposed right flank. In response, Armorica repositioned the infantry to meet the approaching line and, in that moment, the Gallo-Roman line struck.

Caught off-balance, Armorican light horse could make no impression on the open flank as they were soon ambushed by troops hidden in the wood. Elsewhere, the legion and auxilia crashed into the Armorican line, The carnage that followed crushed the entire Armorican right forcing them to flee (4 – 0). 


Both games ended quickly, four turns were needed to reach a decision. Both sides made use of the restricted terrain and avoided the temptation to place troops on the opposite bank, the distance between river and wood was less than 7BW. 

Game one, Rome planned to catch a disadvantaged Armorica before their light horse could move onto the open plain, Roman troops however, were not ideally placed to make an effective assault and Armorica easily countered to break through part of the Roman line.  

Tuesday 7 May 2024

A busy few weeks.

The Armenian (II/28c) were recently completed and make a useful addition to the Late Roman-Patrician collection. In this period, the Kingdom of Armenia became divided and annexed by Rome and Persia, eventually fostering civil conflict or rebellion against their overseers. Two commands were made to play out a possible civil conflict, however pairing them would create a fine game against Rome, Persia, the Alans or Huns.

A number of 5th century armies used proxy figures to fill the Roman style or citizen militia options for the Bosporans (II/25), the Armorican (II/81c), Later Visigoths (II/83a) and the Merovingian Franks (III/5a, b). The last order of Old Glory included two packs of Roman auxilia (revised figures). These were painted in a variety of clothing colour and have uniform shield patterns to identify them as “Gallo-Roman”. Still undecided as which will serve as militia or auxilia as half have helmets, others are bare-headed.

The eighteen elements represent Western European and Muslim mobile baggage and camp followers.  The collision course game is a favourite here and mobile baggage were made specifically for the medieval period. Figures are from Donnington Miniatures.

Thursday 2 May 2024

War of the Roses (project)

Last year, the revised board game Kingmaker was purchased with a plan to combine a campaign system with DBA battles, however, other priorities postponed the start of that project.  It was during recent paint projects I began listening to a number of audio-books centred on the War of the Roses that interest for the project was rekindled. The first step was taken, a complete inventory of the late medieval collection and a list of items that would need construction. 

The goal is to build six-double size armies, beginning with the Yorkist and Lancastrians. A similar project for the Muslim collection was done, taking six months to complete. This project should require less time to as no figures need purchasing. There will be rebasing and repainting, but that is to be expected.

Lancaster and York

Longbowmen and billmen account for two-thirds of each force and these will be handled first. They will eventually have a generic look with a sprinkling of figures in livery placed on each element. Generals (mounted and on foot), currours and artillery will follow and each division (vanguard, main and rear) will be recognisable by their painted flags and banners. These will be made interchangeable, offering nobles an equal opportunity for shame and fortune.

Optional elements and baggage   

The DBMM lists have proven a useful in identifying when and for which side the Welsh, levies, handgunners, border staves and the Irish were aligned. The final step is the addition of mobile baggage, needed for the collision course option.

More terrain features

Enclosures are completed and can be viewed in a previous post though more may be added. Further construction projects will remake plough, more road sections to include road junctions and river crossings. I do have thatched roof buildings, but more structures will be made, such as town houses, inns, bridges and a watermill.

The other armies

Of the 24 armies in the collection, half will be affected by the project, the others are eastern armies and quite distinct. After completing the Yorkist and Lancastrian armies, the following are listed in their priority:

French Ordonnance (IV/82b)

German Medieval (IV/13d)

Scots Common (IV/16)

Italian Condotta (IV/61)

The above exist as standard size commands, but all will be increased with an additional command and in the case of the French and German armies, will need upgrading to a later sub-list. The French Ordonnance “a” sub-list will be remade to the “b” sub-list, freeing 24 longbowmen for the English.

Thursday 25 April 2024

A Burgundian Civil War – collision course

The current project will be completed soon and preparations are underway for next, a return to the late medieval period with a focus on the War of the Roses. Details will be posted in a future post.

In the spirit of things to come, this late medieval test brings two Burgundian armies on a collision course. Both vanguards have made a wrong turn and view one another across a road. (Royalist forces on the right and rebel forces approach from the left).

Note, in this manner both hamlet and enclosure are better seen, call it artistic licence.  

The Royalist third division arrives shortly and takes a position to the left of the line, both wings await with patience, the placement of the artillery. The cannonade will announce the start of the battle.

Rebel forces anxious for the arrival of their third division bring forward their cavalry to extend the battle line to match that of the Royalist. Meanwhile, Royalist artillery moves into range.

An anxious rebel commander sensing the third division will not arrive on time, employs a little-known tactic called the “Burgundian shuffle”. The left takes steps back to bring them out of artillery range followed by the right leaping forward to attack.

Performed on the dance floor, the ladies fall flat on their back in shock, here, the result is similar as the hooves of the rebel cavalry trample over the ranks of Royalist infantry. Their sudden destruction prompts the Royalist commander to sound a retreat. After a long afternoon (13 turns) the rebel troops enjoy a 4 – 1 victory. The whereabouts of the third division remains a mystery.

Remodelled enclosures.

The segments used to construct an enclosure have been remodelled with Milliput. The created embankment is then covered with white glue, sand, painted and flocked.

The segments can also enhance the look of a hamlet.