Tag Archives: historicals

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Norman Archer Levies

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

You ever paint a model that you kind of hate, but you need to run it so you just power on through it, hoping it’ll be over with?

Yeah, I had to do that 24 times with these bastards.

I don’t like these models.  I just don’t.

The flash was crazy town on these guys.  Not quite so bad as with the Crossbowmen, but certainly in the same neighborhood.

There are too many of them, and they’re too mediocre to sink a lot of effort into, and I feel like it really shows.

There’s also a weird sculpting choices here that probably wouldn’t bother a lot of folks, but I’m a fussy pain in the ass so they bother me.  The greatest of these are the eyes: I ended up painting the eyes on half of them and not on on the other half.  The result: half of them look like they’re insanely constipated and the other half look like they’ve been stung by bees.  Bees.

Anyway, I had to get two units (12×2) painted.  It is accomplished.  That was a lot of painting, so they’re going up here, by gum.

Norman Archers 1

Norman Archers 2

Norman Archers 3

Norman Archers 4

Norman Archers 6

Norman Archers 5

Next: to paint 8 mounted warriors so I can swap them in for either the foot warriors or one of the levies.  Then, I begin waiting for Fireforge to release their Mongols, which look holycrapamazing.

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Norman Warlord

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

Before/after/during painting the dragons, I’d been working on wrapping up my Norman warband for Saga.  I painted this dude in late October, but didn’t get around to photographing him until now.

Although I’m very happy with the horses I painted for the Hearthguard, horses aren’t quite so uniform.  I especially wanted to do something different for my Warlord, who should naturally stand out as much as possible (despite my having him on a normal cavalry base).

Somehow, I ended up settling on this coloration:

Dorian Gray Conformation

Not a huge departure from the horses I’d been painting, but enough of one.  He’s lighter, and has some color transitions on his tail.

Norman Warlord 1

Norman Warlord 2

Norman Warlord 3

Norman Warlord 4

Norman Warlord 5

I actually did some wet-blending on the tail and mane that I’m pretty satisfied with.  My wife though the mane looked odd: I painted it to match the tail (because it’s not shown in the reference picture I was using).  She pointed out that there’s probably a very good reason that the tip of the tail was brown, and that mane probably wouldn’t have that problem.  I told her that was horseshit. :rimshot:

She’s not wrong, but I remain content with the results.

Norman Warband – Fully Painted

Norman Warband

I can now play Saga fully painted.

(Or rather, I’ve been able to play Saga fully painted for a month, but only just now got the chance to take pictures.)

Norman Cavalry

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

I mentioned the other day that I was kind of intimidated by the fact that I’d have to paint a fair amount of cavalry for this warband.  I’ve never painted horses before, and I know that they’re one of those things that, when painted badly, looks really bad.

After looking around for some approaches, the one really key piece of advice I got boiled down to “get reference material; horses don’t actually look the way we picture them in our heads.” Which is to say, there’s (almost) no such thing as a single-color horse: there are always spots,  socks, transitions, etc. So, that’s what I did.

I settled on this picture: mostly chestnut, with a white stripe on her forehead, white stockings, a black mane and tail, and grey around the muzzle and knees.

Horse Sample

If I felt more adventurous or confident, I’d have done a few different variations… but this was my first attempt.

All of these are Conquest Games Norman Knights, which share the clever design of the Norman Infantry and are still pretty cheap (15/$32)… but do require some determined green-stuffing around the neck and along the rump.

So, here’s the horse:

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I’m pleased with how the horses turned out. They’re not perfect, but they’re perfectly acceptable.  They painted up super-fast, too, which is never a bad thing.

Here’s the whole unit of Hearthguard/Knights:

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The technique I used on the horses was:


  • GW Rhinox Hide basecoat
  • GW Mournfang Brown heavy overbrush
  • GW Mournfang Brown very thin layer touch-up
  • GW XV-88 drybrush
  • GW XV-88 very thin layer touch-up
  • Wash
    • 3 : GW Agrax Earthshade
    • 2 : Water
    • 2 : Matte Medium
  • GW XV-88 very thin highlight

When I say “very thin” here, I ain’t kiddding around.  The paint’s nearly translucent, and I might do a couple of passes.

White (spots, stockings)

  • GW Zandri Dust basecoat
  • GW Tallarn Sand layer
  • P3 Menoth White Highlight thin highlight

Grey (muzzle, stockings)

  • P3 Cryx Bane Base basecoat
  • P3 Cryx Bane Highlight layer

Black (mane, tail)

  • P3 Thamar Black basecoat
  • GW Dark Reaper drybrush
  • GW Russ Grey drybrush


  • GW Steel Legion Drab basecoat
  • GW Tallarn  Sand layer
  • GW Zandri Dust highlight

Norman Crossbowmen, Flemish Mercenaries

Bayeux for the Bayeux God!

I’ve made excellent progress on painting these Normans: this past long weekend (opportunity) + the need to distract myself from shutdown/furlough stress (focus) went a long way towards checking boxes and getting minis ready for varnish.

For context, when I started painting these guys, the list was:

  • Warlord – Mounted
  • Hearthguard x8 – Mounted
  • Warriors x8 – Crossbows
  • Flemish Mercenaries x8
  • Levies x12 – Bows
  • Levies x12 – Bows

Now that I’ve played the game a bit, I’m swapping out those Flems for mounted Warriors… but I’ll need to pick up the models, etc, so they’ll be the absolute last thing I do with the warband. In the interim, the Flems are being used as regular Norman Warriors, split into two units of 4.

The backbone of the models I’m using are from Conquest Games, with missile troops coming from Perry Miniatures. I’ve also got a couple of Gripping Beast figures in there, too, but just a few.


The first models I worked on were the Crossbowmen.  These are Perry Miniatures Crusades Mailed Crossbowmen (CU23) I’m not crazy about them; overall, I’ve been kind of disappointed with the Perry metals: insane amounts of flash, detailed where I want simple, and simple where I want detailed.

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Flemish Mercenaries

Reading the kind-of-woeful Saga forums, I got the impression that I had to run Flemish Mercenaries.  They’re hard as balls to kill and provide much-needed foot troops for some of the scenarios (because the Norman battleboard strongly encourages mounted troops).

I’m no longer convinced that they’re quite right for me: they don’t generate Saga dice and with two units of levies and one unit of crossbowmen… I can’t swing it.  I have to drop either archers, crossbowmen, or flems to get a unit of warriors I can get dice out of: and the battleboard tells me that’s these guys.

Anyway: I painted them differently.  Normans will be red and yellow (like this guy), levies will be drab… these guys are from somewhere else. I felt like doing this dark, rich blue with grey and white.  I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Most of these are Conquest Games Norman Infantry, which I cannot say enough nice things about. They’re cheap as balls (44 for $32!?!), have just the right amount of detail, and are very cleverly designed.  (Gripping Beast’s plastics have arms that attach at the shoulder, which that requires green-stuffing; Conquest’s Normans have an unusual design that attach midway up the bicep… or just where the arm pokes out of the mail shirtsleeve.  It’s inconvenient for indiscriminate kitbashing, but makes for very clever gap avoidance.)

Two of these guys are from the Gripping Beast Flemish Mercenaries pack, ordered before I learned that I could download the rules for the unit from the forum.  I hate these figures, and am only using two because I ran out of Conquest Normans with spears held up and not thrusting. They’ve got terrible proportion, are ugly as sin, and have worse flash than the Perry figures.  (There’s less flash, but what’s there is sooooo much worse.)

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SAGA – Rambling


Back at Historicon, I picked up some stuff for Saga (I almost don’t even want to link to the Studio Tomahawk site, it’s so bad).  Somehow along the way, I managed to get some figures assembled for it (it’s really only been two and a half months?) and have gotten in a few games for it with Casey.

Directionless rambling about the game follows.

Bayeux of the Bayeux God

We’ve played through all of the two-player scenarios (except the wagon-based one) at this point, and although I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the game in any way, I do think I’ve gotten a good feel for it.  

Although I don’t think I love the game, I definitely like it a good amount.  Since I’ve been trying to find a skirmish game I don’t hate, that’s definitely a victory.

If you’re unfamiliar with the game, I won’t try to summarize the rules: you can find overviews at The Wargamer, Boardgame Geek, and RPG.net.  For me, it’s attractive because of the relatively low model count and the fact that the rules are simple, but have some depth.  Yes, there are lists of fiddly damn rules like the ones Warmachine and Malifaux use to turn me off, but they’re scoped to the entire army rather than specific models… and in practice they end up guiding the way the different armies play rather than being building blocks for combos (if that makes any sense).

And the game plays really pretty fast: we’ve done games in 30-60 minutes with extensive digressions into how The Shield is one of the greatest American TV shows produced and how the finale of Breaking Bad didn’t quite deliver.  As 40K games seem to take longer and longer with every new book, “fast” is a value.

Almost all of our games have been unbelievably close, too.  Like, down to a final roll of the dice. It’s very swingy.  When we started, at 4 points, I asserted that it was a game about who could roll dice better… though at 6 points (where it’s actually  supposed to be played) I don’t think that’s the case.

Model count is fairly low: there’s effectively a hard window of between 25 and 73 models (and that 73 models would come in a wildly impractical list).   I’m putting together a list that’s two of each choice: 2x Hearthguard (4 each), 2x Warriors (8 each), 2x Levies (12 each).  My Warlord puts it at 49 models.

This, combined with the relatively low overall cost of historical miniatures, means the game is kind of bullshit cheap.  The rulebook’s almost as expensive as an army.  The Tapestry has a great article about to get several armies out of just a couple of purchases.

I’ve turned to Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Stories for motivation and focus with a great deal of success: despite the books basically being about Saxon Conan the Barbarian (UHTRED OF BEBBANBURG) who rampages across Britain screaming “KILL! KILL! KILL!” (seriously; I think those are actually his first words in Sword Song), the books portray a people (Vikings and Danes) much more believable and interesting than what you get if you start and end with “The Immigrant Song.”  I’ve really enjoyed them.

11th Century Norman Knight

I initially put together some Anglo-Danes, but swiftly ended up putting together a Norman warband. I’m not sure I remember why I made the shift, but I’m glad I did.  Now that I’m digging in on painting them, I’m finding that all that chainmail paints very quickly, and I feel like I can get away with a more regimented, standard paint scheme with Normans than I could with a less organized force.  I’m probably wrong here: as far as I can tell, none of these people had uniforms, but I’m more comfortable painting models uniformly.

The game came up on RPG.net OGO, and someone brought up a photo from a Viking reenactment group’s website as an example of the sorts of colors used during the Dark Ages.


I’ve used this as a bit of a guide in painting: colorful, but not bright and colorful,  I don’t think I’ve gotten specific colors 100% on this, but what I’ve got is close they’re close (I think), and believable.

Also significant: horses. I can’t say that I’ve ever painted a horse before, which is a little surprising to me. I can probably attribute that to loathsome ratmen and all their vile kin not really having much of a use for them beyond eating.  I’ve done some research, though, and I am pleased with the results.  They’re not perfect by any stretch, but for a first-timer they’re absolutely sufficient.

Anyway, I’ve made really great headway into painting up those Normans: I’ll post some photos in the next couple of days.

Medieval Man-at-Arms

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I picked up Saga back at Historicon, and I’ve been looking forward to putting it on the table and rolling them fancy dice around it.   The plan was, initially, to use Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns as Hearthguard, Gripping Beast Dark Ages Warriors as, um, Warriors, and one of those sweet Aenglish models I got from one of Tre Manor’s Red Box Games Kickstarters as my Warlord. (Worrying about Levies later.)

I’ve had some Saxon Thegns on my workbench basically ever since.  

When one of my several August trips was postponed, I jumped on the chance to power through converting and painting a new unit for the NoVA Open.  When I finished that with time to spare, I chugged some crazy juice and decided to paint a model specifically for the Capital Palette. I’d had Captain Whistlelock prepped, so it was on.

The plan for him early on was to paint him up using Rush heraldry.

1-Rush Banner

It’s anachronistic: unless I’m turned around (possible), this is Tudor-era, quite some time after Normans and Vikings were stabbing each other over rule of England.. but who cares?

He came together quite quickly.  Because I was doing him for competition, I went with more and thinner layers of everything. I also gave into the impulse to keep highlighting lighter and lighter basically everywhere.

The metallics are my usual lazy drek, but fortunately there’s not much metal, so it’s tough to spot.

The only stumbling block I hit was with the shield. I’d printed out some decals with the horses from the above image at ~4mm wide, hoping to use them as a guide to get the shapes roughly the same. Well, that didn’t work out at all… so, after a moment of panic, I put on my big boy painter pants, did a couple of test freehands, and then did them on the shield.

I’ve never really done much in the way of freehanding before: mostly just fake text on books; never shapes like this. They’re not perfect (and boy does it show up close, like in these pictures) but they’re really, really good for a first try. I’m super-proud of them.

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It was worth the effort: not only was I pleased with him, he was able to place Silver in his category (Historical – Small).  It wasn’t the most competitive Historical category (single figure / small is usually the most competitive category, but there was so much amazing 54mm figures, especially in the historical group), but still: that’s a huge achievement.  This is probably the biggest win I’ve had, yet.

(I think he looks best in the lighting in that picture immediately above.)

I’ve had some difficulty getting a good HDR glamshot, however. This is thwarting my using him as a permanent Facebook profile pic.

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This also means that I’m pretty leery of carting him around to game with: particularly because that dang sword’s broken off twice. Just means I’ll have to build and paint another one.  I’ll get over it.  (In fact, I’ve already done the first half of that.)

I will say that this means dire things about how quickly I expect to bang out Hell Dorado minis.

Historicon 2013

Historicon was this past weekend!

This was my first historics convention.  Although I’d originally planned on making it down for the bulk of the event but ended up only making it down for the Saturday.  In retrospect, that’s a bit of a shame, because I had an amazing time.  I’ll definitely be going back next year, likely for more than the one day, and am eyeballing both Fall In! and Cold Wars.

I got there early, despite traffic on 95 being unusually 95-like for the early hour.  I kicked around the exhibition hall, checking out the club tables being set up.  When it opened, I cruised through the vendor hall, which was pretty cool, and dropped off my painting competition entries.

I did have to dash off mid-conversation, though, because I’d signed up for a 10AM game (“Stow on the Wold” a 28mm English Civil War game).  Since that’s a period I’ve really wanted to get into, I expected it to be the highlight of the day.  Unfortunately, 20 minutes after the event was intended to start, I found out that it’d been cancelled; the organizer had had a death in the family and was (totally understandably) dealing with that.  So, I can’t complain… but somehow it hadn’t gotten onto the list of cancelled events (which I’d made a point of checking a couple of times that morning), which meant that not only did I miss out on the event I’d been looking forward too, I wasn’t able to sign up for another event in its place. That was vexing.

On the bright side, it did open up my morning to touch base and spend most of the day with friends Ashley, Casey, and JC.

I got to sit in on a Bolt Action demo game (technically, I played it, but I was content to roll dice the once and spend the rest of the time letting a kid play the game while I grokked what was going on mechanically) that was surprisingly a lot of fun.

Also, there is a special joy to be found when looking at the face of someone who clearly has renounced Games Workshop and all its works as they explain a rule and you go, “Oh, so exactly like 40k!”  Because really: Bolt Action is soooo much like 40K.

Then, after lunch, I was off to the other event I’d signed up for (“Black Death at Leningrad” a Bolt Action game, conveniently enough).  This was a lot of fun: Soviets defending a railyard against Germans; 3 people per team; I was on Team USSR.  We got lucky early on and seized sente, and Team Bad Guys were never able to overcome that.

On reflection, I really should have taken some pictures of the game.

Although I’ve long maintained a discomfort about playing certain periods (of which WWII is second only to ACW), I really enjoyed the way the game plays; enough so to really overcome that.  So, I ended up picking up the rulebook, the Armies of the USA book, and a US Army Starter.  No clue what I’m going to do with them: the family I know the most about served in the Pacific (in the USN and USMC), but I’ll come up with something.

I might have to reread some Alan Furst books (oh, darn!) and see if I can’t come up with something rad out of one of those; I dunno.  (Likely not using anything from the USA box, though, given that all of his stuff is well before US involvement.)

On that subject, I also successfully talked myself into picking up Saga (which has the worst webpage I’ve ever seen).  I grabbed the rulebook, a box of Saxon Thegns, and splitting a box of Dark Ages Warriors (a kajillion decent-to-good minis in each box); no dice, though: all of the Saxon dice were sold out.  I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about this game, and I’m looking forward to playing it: not a lot of minis involved, and everything should paint up relatively quickly if I can get a free moment.  Heck, I’m about halfway through assembling them.

When I dropped by to collect my entries to the painting competition, I was more than pleasantly surprised: of my four entries (which I literally expected nothing of: I only brought them to help contribute to the competition being successful), one was a finalist and two took second place!

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That was a delightful surprise!

(And, so I can remember what the entries were six months from now: they were the Deathwing Techmarine, Dark Angels Dreanought (2nd Place), Skaven Warlock Engineer w/ Warlock-Engineered Weapon and Ruby Ring of Ruin (Finalist), and Skaven Warlord on War-Litter (2nd Place).)

Anyway, I had an excellent time at Historicon, and I’m absolutely down for more.

(I suppose this means I’ll finally have to trek up to Huzzah Hobbies.)