Sunday 30 July 2017

Improving the campaign system – insubordination.

For those readers who have chimed in late, over the past year and a half I have been developing various models of campaign rules for use with DBA 3.0. Some featured flexible time periods, some offered stratagems for use before battle and recently I experimented with unequal size forces. This now brings me to my latest experiment; insubordinate commanders. 

Recalling the Italian campaign of Belisarius, the Byzantine general had frequent clashes with subordinate commanders; Ian Hughes covers this well in his biography of ‘Belisarius, the Last Roman General’. The situation is not unique as history records ample examples of insubordination and you will find examples in books I, II and III of Frontinius’ Stratagems.

For campaign purposes, one can imagine an insubordinate commander disrupting carefully laid plans until his superiors deem his removal a wise step, however, during battle the presence of such behaviour can have disastrous results.


In a previous experiment with uneven sides, I demonstrated how a smaller force could have a reasonable chance of success against an army with superior numbers and if designing scenarios based on historical encounters you will find many such examples.

Take the Battle of Manzikert (1071) as an example. Andronikos Doukas was at odds with Romanos IV and during a pivotal point in the battle either ignored orders and marched off the field.

To duplicate this example, the Byzantines should have roughly double the number of elements to that the Seljuk, say 18 Byzantine elements vs. 9 or 10 for the Seljuk. Using the previous experiment with uneven sides, divide the Byzantine force into three groups with Doukas having a nominal command over one group. Both sides use one die for their pip score, but any elements under the command of Doukas would require an extra pip to make a tactical move.

Here is a situation similar to a command losing its general early in the game and to make and tactical moves this would require an extra pip. In our example of Manzikert, the insubordinate Doukas and his group are literally ‘lost’ for Romanos IV and therefore require the extra pip cost to move. 

Each group in the Byzantine army would reach 'demoralisation' and flee the battlefield if it losses two elements. With a high pip score, Romanos IV may elect to hold Doukas in position. If the Byzantine player elects not to do so, then Doukas flees first followed by the rest of his group. 

It is not known if the Seljuk commander was aware of the friction among the Byzantine commanders, the identity of the insubordinate group should remain unknown to the Seljuk player. 

Illustration: Aftermath of the Battle of Manzikert. Diorama at the Istanbul Military Museum.

In the coming weeks this feature will be tested with different armies and those results will be posted here. 


Saturday 29 July 2017

The Witcher Project - The Kingdom of Redania

Redania is the third largest of the northern kingdoms. Economically, it is one of the richest kingdoms, a result from a thriving  industry and its agriculture. It is also described as the granary of the continent from its fields which stretch from the Kestrel Mountains in the east to the sea. Redania held a long history of trade wars with her primary rival, Temeria, but placed these issues aside during the Nilfgaard invasions. 

The Redanian political position changed after the assassination of King Vizimir II, during the second Nilfgaard-Nordling war, from a pillar of resistance among the Northern Kingdoms to initiating open aggression against its allies; seizing the Kingdom of Kaedwen after King Henselt's death. 

At the Witcher Wikia, readers can find more information about the Redanian army, its strengths, notable units and known battles. With ample loans, the king of Redania was able to increase his troop strength four fold. Not only invading the Kingdom of Kaedwen, Redania invaded Temeria after the assassination of King Foltest; surprising Nilfgaard as she would no longer be facing four kingdoms by one strong power to rival her own.  

Coat of Arms of Redania (Witcher Wikia)

Redania (revised 14-09-2017)
In the Witcher game series, the Redanian troops are depicted carrying banners nearly identical to Medieval Poland; the white eagle on red background. However, further reading in the books describes  Redania as not being unlike Medieval Denmark; an agrarian based economy and maintaining a modest sized Royal army; during emergencies their numbers could be increased with additional levies and mercenaries.

1 x General (3Kn),
1 x noble knights (3Kn),
0 - 1 crossbow cavalry (Cv),
0 - 1  mercenary knights (3Kn),
2 x swordsmen (3Bd),
0 - 2 crossbowmen (3/4Cb),
2 - 4 militia spearmen (Sp),
0 - 2 archer or crossbow (Ps).  

Redanian Free Company (the Wild Ones)
Raised by the Redanian Noble family von Everecs the Free Company supported the Redanian Royal Army during the Third Northern War. Their appearance in “Hearts of Stone”, the Free Company have a similar appearance to Polish Cossacks and most likely would be classed as light horse (LH).

Painting the Redanian army.
In the Witcher series, Redanian military fashion makes use of red and white colour for their uniforms. This theme appears for both mounted and foot units.

Friday 28 July 2017

The Witcher Project - The Kingdom of Temeria

Temeria is often referred to as the “Pearl of the North” in the books and Witcher game; the second largest of the Northern Kingdoms after Kaedwen has a rich economy based on agriculture and various industries. Temeria is bordered on the north and south by the two largest rivers, the Pontar and the Yaruga. To the east are the Mahakam Mountains, home of the Dwarves and Brokilon forest to the west. During the First Nilfgaard-Nordling Wars, Temeria played a key part in beating back the “Black Ones” of Nilfgaard. 

Map: Witcher Wikia.

Coat of Arms of Temeria 

Of the Northern Kingdoms, Temeria outpaced its neighbours by developing a strong military and during the Nilfgaard Wars Temeria forms a number of elite units in addition to the already growing number of troops.

One such elite body are the Knights of the White Rose, a military order which took on a more religious bearing and later became the Knights of the Flaming Rose. This unit serves directly under the King.

The Witcher Wikia lists more troop types and among the infantry the most famous were those titled Landsknechts; the latter being heavily armoured units wielding pike, halberd and crossbow. 

Temeria (revised 14-09-2017)
Following the death of King Foltest, the quality and composition of the Temerian army would rapidly decline as each of the noble houses seek to secure their own holdings. In this respect we may find the Temerian army regressing from a strong Medieval French ‘c’ sub-list to weakened ‘b’ list. The rebellious Temerian population would have similarities to the Jacquerie and the Voulgiers and Scots archers would come from the volunteers of Cintra or similar oppressed provinces.

1 x General (3Kn/4Bd)
0 – 1 rich nobles (3Kn)
2 - 4 men-at-arms (3Kn/4Bd)
0 – 2 archers (3Bw)
1 - 3 spearmen (Sp)
1 - 2 crossbowmen (4Cb)
0 – 1 halberdiers (Bd)
0 – 1 crossbow cavalry (3Cv) or archers (4Bw)
0 - 3 marauding peasants (5Hd)
1 - 2 javelinmen (Ps) or peasant levy (7Hd). 

Rangers (Guardians of the Forest)
The Rangers first appear in the book “Sword of Destiny” and are volunteers whose sole mission is to eradicate the forest regions of Elves and other non-humans.

Predominantly bow armed and are classed as “fast” troops (3Bw/Ps) these did not appear at any of the major battles against Nilfgaard, but will be used for the scenarios involving the guerrilla conflicts against the Elves.

Thursday 27 July 2017

The Witcher Project - the Kingdom of Kaedwen

After Nilfgaard, the Kingdom of Kaedwen is the second largest kingdom on the continent. Bordered on the east by the Blue Mountains and the Kestrel Mountains in the west, the domain is heavily forested and in ages long ago were inhabited by the Elves. Through many conflicts with the humans the Elves slowly migrated to the lands south of Kaedwen known as Dol Blathanna. 

Map: Witcher Wikia.

Kaedwen has a long history of conflict with the neighbouring kingdoms of Temeria and Redania and this continues in the Witcher series. This animosity is quickly placed aside to fend off the Nilfgaard invasions, but would resume again when peace with the Black Ones is resolved. The fierce rivalry among the three would definitely add spice to a campaign as during the uneasy periods of peace each would exercise small incursions of smaller neighbouring kingdoms.

Kaedwen Coat of Arms (Witcher Wikia)

More than any other kingdom of the north, Kaedwen communities are a mix of human and non-human inhabitants, such as elves, dwarves, gnomes and Halflings, all of which will be covered later as a separate topic.

I have included a photo of the recently completed army of Kaedwen and in the background you will see the light horse of the Dun Brigade.

Kaedwen (revised 14-09-2017)
Book V, the Lady of the Lake, does reveal more information about the armies and particular units at the Battle of Brenna. While cavalry units in wedge formation are seen on the Nilfgaard side, no such formation is mentioned as being used by any of the Northern cavalry. For this reason, I would use the nobles in place of the Armigeri. Collectively, the horse archers and hussars make an ideal Dun Banner brigade, characterized by their beaver fur caps. The spearmen, crossbowmen, pikemen or archers would accompany the army when fighting outside the realm. For the defense of the realm during the invasion by Redania (Winter War), the marauding peasants and war wagons should be present.

1 x General (3Kn),
2 x Kaedwen nobles (3Kn),
2 - 3 Dun Banner brigade (LH)
1 x Armati (4Bd),
0 - 2 spearmen (Sp)
0 – 2 marauding peasants (5Hd),
0 - 1 crossbowmen (Ps),
0 - 2 pikemen (4Pk) or Bosnian archers (3/4Bw)

0 - 2  war wagon (WWg). 

Tuesday 25 July 2017

The Witcher Project - the Northern Kingdoms

An Introduction.
North of the Yaruga River are the realms known throughout the Witcher series as the Northern Kingdoms. Of these, Redania, Temeria and Kaedwen are largest and are also the focus for the next phase of this project.

The troops of the Northern Kingdoms are similarly equipped as Nilfgaard and if you have seen any of the game movies you will have noted the small badges to signify the allegiance of a particular character or soldier. The badges are actually too small to paint on a figure but the colour preferences of each kingdom can be used. Generally, the colour of tunic and breeches are less sombre than those of Nilfgaard with some combining multiple colour schemes and stripes.

Each of the kingdoms also makes use of mercenaries which have been displaced by the wars prior to the First Nilfgaard-Nordling War. The years of incessant warfare among the Northern Kingdoms have produced many roving bands of mercenaries offering their services to the highest bidder; these can be distinguished by their motley appearance. Dwarf units also appear as allies for a number of kingdoms. 

When not allied to fight off the Nilfgaard invasions, the Northern Kingdoms were at war among themselves. Redania meddled in the affairs of Temeria and Kaedwen sought expansion among the smaller kingdoms along the Pontar River, therefore, plenty of material for a campaign. Collecting all the minor kingdoms is outside the scope of the project, but I will focus on the three largest kingdoms, Redania, Temeria and Kaedwen.

As most of the Witcher game series takes place north of the Yaruga River, there is an abundance of information to be found at the Witcher Wikia covering each of the kingdoms and their military arm.

Next post: Kaedwen.

Saturday 22 July 2017

The Witcher Project – White Orchard

The village of White Orchard is featured predominately in the game three of the Witcher game series and although not mentioned in the novels, it is illustrated in the comic book series. My interest in the location was to model this for the project and so added it to my 'to do' list. That was one and a half years ago. 

As misfortune (delayed delivery of miniatures) opened an opportunity for good fortune, I decided to start construction of the village. 

Each structure has a foam core which is cut and shaped to size. For DBA use (BUA, hamlet), the number of structures was kept to three houses and the tavern. With the blocks roughly shaped, I used Milliput to cover first the walls and after curing added the thatched roofs. 

Beginning with the walls, these were first given doors and windows, and then scored to simulate logs. The following day, the corners pieces were then added and the thatched roofs a day or two later. I made sure there was enough Milliput to create sufficient thatching hanging over the walls.

The tavern is constructed in four sections; a tower, two wings and a covered area for the patron’s horses. The latter section is held in place with brass wire to form upright posts; later, fencing would be added which was made from card stock (120 gram).

Bases are triplex basswood, cut and sanded. The structures are now glued into place as this will make handling easier as you begin painting and dry-brushing. Brass wire posts and fencing are set in place.The base is covered with a mix of white glue and sand. This is later painted and dry-brushed with ‘greenery’ added as the final touch.

In the Witcher 3, the Wild Hunt, there is a Nilfgaard garrison deployed at White Orchard, so the presence of a camp and a few watch posts placed at river crossing points would not be out of place. The region is known for its fruit bearing orchards and ample pasture for sheep and cattle, but as the war progressed and left its mark on the land it attracted its share of monsters. 

Thursday 20 July 2017

The Witcher Project - The Southern Conquest of 1239

The Southern Conquest of 1239 is the first of a series of scenarios written for the Witcher Project. This particular one focuses on the campaign of conquest conceived by the emperor known as the ‘Usurper’; actual name is not mentioned in either the books or the games.

In the year 1239, Nilfgaard armies are poised on her northern frontier and their aim is the gradual annexation of the three major kingdoms to the north and a number of minor provinces. Together with his military advisors, the emperor planned a five year campaign that would terminate with Nilfgaard forces occupying the banks of the Pontar River.

It was calculated that each of the kingdoms of Ebbing, Metinna and Nazair would require less than a campaign season to conquer, but to consolidate and integrate each domain within the empire would require an additional year. The latter would require the assignment of governors for each territory and key positions  would be filled by loyal functionaries. Care would also be taken so as not to disrupt the economic situation of newly annexed territory as each would serve as a stepping stone for the next phase of the campaign. 

Aside from the military operations of the campaign, the emperor would utilise the resources of Nilfgaard’s sorcerers and its trade guilds; the latter would help 'squeeze' economically each realm into accepting its place within the empire.

The campaign rules draw similarities to the Ancient Campaign System but with further additional features to accommodate the use sorcerers and the trade guilds.

The campaign will be play tested next week with periodic reports and photos will be posted here.  

Tuesday 18 July 2017

The Witcher Project - the Kingdom of Nazair

The annexation of Nazair is the closing chapter to the Southern Conquest campaign. There is little information to be found at Witcher Wikia about the actual campaign, but my impression is after the fall of Ebbing and Metinna, Nazair nobles quietly accepted the inevitable and opened her gates to Nilfgaard.  Further inducement to seek the wiser option was supported by the college of Mages and the Trade Corporations. 

Nazair (Witcher Wikia)

In the books there is no further mention of events following the campaigns of annexation with the one exception of an uprising in Nazair necessitating a punitive expedition to the Amell Mountains and the eastern region of the country.  

Nazair Coat of Arms (Witcher Wikia)
This is a speculative design based on the famed blue rose of Nazair which is mentioned in the books. 

The scenario, the Southern Conquest 1239 will feature the uprising in Nazair and therefore the army list presented here include rebel forces that may be used after the occupation by Nilfgaard. This will offer players a preview of guerrilla activity which becomes a frequent occurrence in the Nordling Wars.  

1-2 Nobles (3Kn)
0-1 Men-at-arms (Cv)
2-6 Spearmen (Sp) or rebels (3Ax)
0-1 Halberdiers (4Bd) or rebels (3Bd)
1-3 Crossbow (4Cb) or rebels (3Cb) or (Ps)

Sunday 16 July 2017

The Witcher Project - the Kingdom of Metinna

Metinna lies north of Ebbing and like her neighbor there are a number of rivers which course their way through the land to empty in the great sea. Two of the towns and cities, Neureuth and Forgeham, are described as merchant cities and most likely would have fortified walls. Further, Metinna is describes as having one-third of its realm as a plain bordered on two sides by the Yelena and Sylte Rivers. 

Metinna Coat of Arms (Witcher Wikia)

During the Southern Conquest, Metinna with her greater resources could field a much larger army than Ebbing. For this reason, the maximum number of each troop type listed below is increased to reflect this. The colour green features in the Metinna coat of arms and this is used as a theme colour for the troops. The coat of arms, illustrated above reflects the transition from an independent realm to a member of the Nilfgaard Empire.

Those of you who have read the books will note that Nilfgaard adapts a different strategy for the annexation of Metinna as sorcery and the influence over the trade guilds have as great an importance than columns of troops marching across the landscape. This will also be treated in the Southern Conquest scenario.

1-3 Nobles (3Kn)
0-1 Men-at-arms (Cv)
2-6 Spearmen (Sp) or Pikemen (4Pk)
0-1 Halberdiers (4Bd)
1-3 Crossbows (4Cb)

Friday 14 July 2017

The Witcher Project - the Kingdom of Ebbing

Ebbing is one of the four large realms to the north of Nilfgaard and is the first to become annexed after the period known as the Southern Conquest.

At the Witcher Wikia, is an artist's concept of the Ebbing armorial based on descriptions in the book. The blue lines on a white background presumably signify the four major rivers that course through the province. Ebbing banners would later be replaced with the Nilfgaard blazon sharing half of the field.

Aside from the banners, the blue tunics are the only means by which Ebbing troops are to be recognised apart from Nilfgaard. 

Ebbing Coat of Arms (Witcher Wikia)

The maps found at Witcher Wikia show Ebbing with one major city and two towns. They are Claremont, Fano, and Tegamo  which will be featured on the campaign map. Further, Clermont seems to be only one featured with stout walls and a citadel. The other two, Fano and Tegamo, are classed as towns so may have defences not quite up to standard.

The Witcher Wikia mentions very little of castles or noble houses therefore the army reflects a reduced number of knights and men at arms with foot troops, presumably the militia and city garrisons predominating.

1-2 Nobles (3Kn)
0-1 Men-at-arms (Cv)
2-6 Spearmen (Sp) or pikemen (4Pk)
0-1 Halberdiers (4Bd)
1-3 Crossbows (4Cb)

Troops for the province of Ebbing are done. Next are those of Metinna.

Thursday 13 July 2017

The Witcher Project - The Nilfgaard Empire

Researching the history of Nilfgaard I decided to pre-date the period of the Great War with the Northern Kingdoms and begin the campaign scenarios with the consolidation of the Empire known as the Southern Conquests of 1239. 

This offers an advantage of gradually building up the Nilfgaard collection as most of its troops would come from the annexed kingdoms. As the individual armies are completed, I can conduct tests of scenarios and the siege rules as time permits. 

The Southern Conquests of 1239.
In 1239, the emperor, known as the “Usurper”  as his actual name is nowhere mentioned in the novels, needed to secure his position and deal with the recalcitrant kingdoms before considering an invasion of the Northern lands beyond the Yaruga River. The long campaign involves a series of methodical invasions and annexation of Ebbing. Maecht, Metinna and Nazair.  All, fall in rapid succession to the mighty armies of Nilfgaard; only Nazair continues its resistance well after the occupation of its lands.

Map: Nilfgaard Empire (Witcher Wikia)

Nilfgaard troops are described in the books as the “Black ones”; this may be a reference to the dark uniforms they wore or describing their evil behaviour toward the people they conquered. Aside from the uniform colour, the sun emblem is seen on their flags, badges, shields and emblazoned on the armour of the elite units. 

The Sun Emblem (Witcher Wikia)

Nilfgaard (revised 14-09-2017)
At the Battle of Brenna, Nilfgaard forces meet the infantry of the Northern Kingdoms and formed their cavalry units in wedge formation. Merging the two lists as one list would offer the Nilfgaard commander a degree of flexibility before deploying his troops. Horse archers should appear as part of an elfin allied contingent. Feudal retainers would represent the vassal contingents of Ebbing and Metinna and mercenaries could form up to half the infantry. Artillery was not found on the battlefield but would be present for sieges. War wagons can be used if Nilfgaard is defender; these can replace up to 2 crossbowmen.

Nilfgaard Army
1 x General (3Kn/6Kn)
2 – 3 knights (3Kn/6Kn)
1 x crossbow cavalry (3Cv)
1 - 3 crossbowmen (4Cb)
1 – 2 feudal retainers (7Hd)
0 – 2 militia spearmen (Sp)
0 – 2 mercenary pikemen (Pk)
0 – 2 mercenary halberd (4Bd)
1 – 2 archers (Ps)

Allies: Vrihedd Brigade (Elves)

The first twelve elements are ready to take the field. Additional figures will represent the vassal kingdoms of Ebbing and Metinna. At the moment of writing all the armies lack flags, but these will be added this week. Based on the latest book, new troops will be added to cover the options added to the army list. As these are completed they will be added to this page. 

Wednesday 12 July 2017

The Witcher Project

As a result of a policy change by Photobucket, many of my photos which used this service are no longer viewable at a number of forums, such as DBA Fanaticus and TMP (The Miniatures Page). This is an inconvenience as all the photos for the Witcher Project are now gone. Therefore, rather than create a third blog dedicated to the world of fantasy, I have decided to take a pragmatic approach and add the Witcher Project to the Storm Within the Empire; after all it is centred around an empire, does use the DBA system and is medieval in appearance .

In the coming weeks there will be an influx of fantasy related posts covering the armies of the Empire, the Northern Kingdoms, the campaign rules which are now revised, the scenarios and of course building projects. These will appear in rapid succession, but readers will be able to track earlier postings by using the ‘index’ located on the right hand side of the page.


The Witcher.

The Witcher is set in a Late Medieval early Renaissance world with a powerful empire waging war against rival kingdoms. The stories abound with ample political intrigue assisted by mages and sorcerers and add to this a variety of races, a diversity of monsters and monster slayers known as Witchers. The game movies, which are available at YouTube are The Witcher, The Witcher: Assassins of Kings and The Witcher 3: the Wild Hunt. The quality of the graphics greatly improves throughout the series as does the complexity of the stories filled with sub-plots and active characters. The recent game movies, “Hearts of Stone” followed by "Blood and Wine" offer further excellent reference material.

As a project, I found the background events which take place in the books of greater interest than developing something based around the characters. For instance, there are three major wars between the Nilfgaard Empire and the Northern Kingdoms. During the course of these campaigns, both the Empire and the Northern Kingdoms are trying to contain their own internal struggles with varying degrees of success while waging a major war. The thrust of this project will then focus on the major participants, the collecting of the armies and of course the construction of rural villages, walled cities, harbour settings, and ships will not be overlooked. The architecture although medieval does evoke an East European style, while the ships of the fleets are a combination of galleys and cogs using lateen sails emblazoned with symbols of their kingdom.

Fans of the game series and of the books, written by Andrzej Sapkowski, have created a Witcher Wikia which bundles all the needed information for this project, such as maps, historical background of the kingdoms, the wars, and character profiles. Also covered are uniforms, weapons and banners which offer a solid start for this project.

Nilfgaard crossing the Yaruga

Wednesday 5 July 2017

Improving the Campaign System – cavalry armies

Using the tribal grouping system does work well for the many nomadic nations throughout history. One can imagine leadership rivalries or territorial disputes between sub-tribes that will invariably lead to a major clash and for this exercise, I selected the Parthian Empire. 

In 10 AD, the Parthian nobility were split between those who backed the newly enthroned King Vonones I and others who supported the rival claimant, Artabanus III. Artabanus, who lived among the Dahae in the northeast of the empire gathered the support of nearby satraps to march on the capital. In response, King Vonones marshals the royal troops, nobles and their retinues to head Artabanus in the highland regions south of the Caspian Sea.

Both armies have a similar composition of cataphract nobles and tribal light horse, but King Vonones can field the larger army (18 elements) to meet the usurper’s rebel army of 12 elements. The terrain is for the most part ‘dry’ but ideal country for cavalry.

Test one
The King’s forces are deployed over a wide front with the Royal household troops in centre flanked by the noble houses and their retinues. Artabanus has placed the majority of his force in the centre with each wing holding a small number of horse archers.

Mixed signals resulted in little forward movement among the Royalist troops (low pip score) and here Artabanus took the initiative to concentrate his assault on Vonones’ centre and right wing.

The Royalist forces were successful at repulsing the attack and pushed their left wing to take out the horse archers and attack Artabanus from his rear. The horse archers simply drew back frustrating the Royalist column; it was decided to leave a holding force and ride to help the King in his battle against Artabanus.

The situation took a desperate turn as both the centre and right wing of the Royalist army were breaking. In a gamble, a column of Royalist horse archers attacked Artabanus in an attempt to retrieve the battle (note 1).

[1]. at this moment, Artabanus was down two casualties and his death would mean a victory for the Royalist side. Fate decided otherwise bringing the score of 8 – 2 for Artabanus.

Test two
The Royalist, deployed in three divisions, moved the left wing to roll up that enemy’s side. Artabanus obliged by withdrawing the horse archers to support the main attack now developing

The ferocity of the assault caught the Royalist troops off guard by smashing their right wing.

Rather than pursue the routed units, Artabanus wheeled his noble cavalry to catch the King in a pincer move.

The loss of the King sent the Royalist forces fleeing the battlefield ending the game with a score of 7 – 1 for Artabanus.

Test three
Artabanus changed his strategy by deploying in a defensive formation. Facing this, the Royalist formed up as before with the King’s division in centre flanked by the nobles and their retinues. The location of the hills and rough ground left a small plain for both sides to manoeuvre in.

The Royalist troops moved quickly forward to catch part of Artabanus’ screening horse archers. This forced Artabanus to launch an earlier than planned attack. This unfortunately lacked the momentum of the previous battles giving the Royalist an opportunity to destroy key units and earn their first victory. Score 4 – 0 for Vonones.