In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Emperor Sigismund

When I want to field a German Imperial army by dropping all the longbowmen and adding more pikes and crossbows, this fellow is the commander. Essex king with falcon, (another!) Citadel standard bearer  and Ral Partha dwarf.

I painted him a long time ago. I remember the package arriving at the bookstore I was managing at the time, so that must have been at least 19 years or so.

Hmmmm.... I seem to like commanders with birds of prey.

BBC Book List

This is one of those games people play on FaceBook. Since it doesn't involve allowing a strange program to have access to my personal data and friends list, and it involves books, I opted to play.

But it's a strange list of books:

BBC 100 Books List
Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.
Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES.

" Bold those books you've read in their entirety.

" Italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read only an excerpt.

Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses! (Or not, after all reading is not a competition! I'm betting that we're all well over 6 books, and I am curious to see the common ground).

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I was pleased to come in with a tally of 29 and except for the the Complete Shakespeare, I've completed everything I started. Of course a few of these I haven't read since high school and working on a Master's in English Literature certainly helped with a few others.

But it's a wierd list. Why is Hamlet listed separate from the Complete Shakespeare? or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a separate entry from the Chronicles of Narnia?

It is also a bizarre mix of the heavy and the banal. The sublime and the grossly commercial. The obscure and the truly great works of Western Civilization. I'd like to know how the list got chosen. Jane Austen and Dickens are on the list a lot. If I could include movie adaptations I've seen then I'd have many more of the Dickens and Austen ticked off among others.

Of course one of my very bookish friends has read 53 of the list. This list is another reminder that I some how managed to miss Lord of the Flies in high school, and to my youngest daughter's grave disappointment I still haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

York and Lancaster

Before I continue on I have to direct  you to a really GORGEOUS Burgundian army here.

Right. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, here's the other most common incarnation of my Late Medieval collection; English Wars of the Roses. Change the banners, change the flavour.

 In the array shown below you can see both some of my oldest and newest figures. Many of the longbowmen are from my Burgundian Ordonnance Army. I also add in mercenary pikemen, handgunners and crossbowmen from the Burgundian army. Swiss halberdiers will bulk out the ranks of billmen and the Burgundian coustiliers do double duty as English hobilars.

Some commanders with hand painted, fictitious banners. Mostly Citadel figures.

Some commanders on foot. Again mostly Citadel with hand painted banners. The banner on the left is actually a German Duchy, but I did a nice job on it so it's on the table a lot. The command figure on the left is my oldest figure which I showed you in an earlier posting.

Since the troops from my Burgundian array have a lot of blue on them, newer companies have more red liveries to try and break things up a bit. These are some Old Glory troops that I first showed you way back in the winter. A second company of archers has been added (you can see it in the big army picture at the top). Shire levy billmen and archers are in the works, plus more dismounted knights, crossbows, handguns, pikes, a third cannon and cavalry. Even a few more command groups. One can never have too many banners in a Medieval army I think.

In spite of all the unpainted stuff in my lead pile, I am of course excited by the new stuff from the Perry's, and if they ever release mounted Men-at-Arms in Gothic armour a lot of my cavalry are going to the Bring & Buy!

A Long-Expected party

As mentioned in earlier posts it's been very hard to get my friends together for games these past few years. Everyone has moved away or gotten busy. So last year I was sitting in one of my Knight's of Columbus meetings and looking around the hall, realized This would make a really good gaming venue. The meeting hall can be rented by members for the paltry sum of $100 which means it's usually booked solid for birthday and anniversary parties, not to mention the monthly Euchre Tournament. But by planning over a year ahead I got it booked and by making it an event, most of my friends were able to set the day aside and plan for it.

Eventually it was referred to as Cold Steel, to play off our spring convention Hotlead. I've been asked to plan a fall convention for a few years now, but frankly, I'm not up to it. One convention a year is more than enough. A light and casual games day with potluck for both games and food was easier. So I'm going to leave the fall gaming convention scene to MIGSCON and Council Fires.

All told about 30 people showed up with food and games from as far away as Wisconsin, North Bay and Ottawa. I added in some pizza and fried chicken and we had a gaming party. The games ran the gamut from big to small. A lot of horse and musket, but also 50s pulp War Rockets, WW2 air combat and Vietnam.

Perry snapped a bunch of pictures. Because of the large numbers of pictures I've reduced them all to small thumbnails for your pageloading ease. Click for larger views.

15mm ACW Fire and Fury game

25mm Victorian Science Fiction steam contraptions

The big tank is a converted GI Joe toy.

German jets vs. P47s and Mustangs.

War Rockets battle for the Unobtanium crystals. Or is it merely Mediocrite?

Don brought his 25mm SYW French army looking for an opponent.

25mm Napoleonic action too.

And Dave (him with the VSF Dutch army) also snapped a few pictures.

Rico's 20mm Vietnam game.

VSF flyer made by a very small girl.

Steam tank made by another youngster.

More steam tech. A locomotive cab on a Star Wars walker.

The Prussian's uberwaffen.

Which requires wearing goggles.

Four Musketeers versus the Cardinal's Guard.

There's always time to chat up a pretty tavern wench.

The tavern is a Dwarven Forge product and the figures are from Blue Moon. Loverly set up.I didn't get a chance to play, I was busy chasing the Scot's Greys around. But perhaps the owners of the game will bring it to Hotlead next year?

I had brought my WW2 stuff hoping to blood my German Fallschirmjaegers, but some others wanted to run their games and by the time we'd had dinner I was beat.

But despite the slight disorganiation and intestinal distress caused by too much greasy food and carbonation, it was good day all around. I even bought some toys from a dealer friend who was blowing out some old stock (100 bags of Lancashire Games 15mm SYW figures for $25), plus I recieved delivery of the stuff found for me at Fall-In by Peter and Brian. Some scouring of the flea market there got a trio of Battlefront 15cwt CMP trucks for my Canadians, plus Brian is trading me a nice die cast Typhoon, two Humber armoured cars and 4 more Bren carriers to paint some more German Fallschirmjaegers. Others were also buying, selling or trading too, so it was sort of a miniconvention.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Some Remembrance Day Reading

I've started this week reading Mark Zuehlke's latest book On To Victory, covering the Canadian efforts to cross the Rhine and liberate Holland at the end of World War 2.

I've enjoyed all his other books; Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily), Ortona, Gothic Line and Liri Valley (the Italian campaign), Holding Juno (Normandy battles) and Terrible Victory (Scheldt Estuary campaign).

He has a good grasp of the political and strategic considerations that influenced each campaign but he can also shift the focus very deftly from Churchill and Eisenhower down to the squaddies in their slit trenches. His style is immensely readable.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Well the Great Rebasing has progressed somewhat. At least to the point where I've got enough to show off. I started with late Medieval figures many years ago. Since I couldn't focus and 15th century armour was pretty much the same across Europe, I started trying to make my army morphable. By changing the flags and swapping out certain core units I wanted to be able to field Swiss, Burgundians, German Imperial, Hussites, Wars of the Roses English, Hundred Years War English and HYW French.

Like all compromises it hasn't been totally satisfying. I never got a Hussite wagonburg built. And my selection of French cavalry has been fairly crappy. It's also resulted in having an awful lot of pikemen and dismounted knights. I think sometimes, too many.

But here are some pictures of their first incarnation, the Burgundian Ordonnance Company army of Charles the Bold (1433-1477).

Minifigs longbowmen painted by my wife many years ago!

My favourite unit. Essex WotR Retinue longbowmen.

The manufacture of figures runs from some old Minifigs archers, quite a few Essex and Citadel, Hotspur crossbowmen (Hotspur were apprently bought by Old Glory to start their Revenge Medieval line), Naismith and I'm not sure of the make of the guns. I got the gens d'armes second hand and had to re-equip them with new lances made from cocktail skewers.

The tentage is a mix of resin and some card from an old issue of White Dwarf magazine.

The banners are all handpainted on foil scavenged from old toothpaste tubes. Sadly that source of material has been replaced by plastic. I`d like it if the army had more banners.

There are some other units not pictured that I add in to grow the army; some assorted Medieval chivalry to represent low grade Feudal troops, two companies of pavised crossbowmen and some halberdiers. They`ll also borrow more of my Wars of the Roses longbowmen too if required.

Here are some shots of Charles himself, newly rebased with his ducal banner.

Charles is I think, an old RAFM figure but is now out of production. He used to be wielding an axe, but it broke off recently and had to be replaced with a sword cut from a fantasy figure. Charles won me Best Historical Single Figure at MIGSCON way back in 1990 (which tells you something about the improvement in painting standards over the last few decades). The knight carrying the banner is a Citadel figure.

Mercenary pike mostly made by Naismith. I first showed them to you here, but they`ve been rebased. The ensign is another Citadel figure and I don't know who made the captain, but I put him in because his helmet matched the rest. They're from the Naismith Italian Wars range, but because of a picture in an Osprey I think of them as being Flemish. The pikes are lead and I'm always straightening them.

A couple of commanders with their personal banners. More Citadel figures with made up heraldry.

Finally a preview of the Swiss! These are mostly Old Glory with some Essex command in the middle. I`ve got over 2 dozen stands waiting to be painted and flocked. About half are OG and the other half a mix of Essex and unknown second hand figures. The army is brutally simple but the cantonal colours are visually pleasing.

Not quite the mighty Hedgehogs of Doom that gave the Germans and Burgundians such a hard time in the 14th and 15th centuries. They need more of everything; more pikes, more halberdiers, more skirmishers and their own artillery and cavalry. But they`re closing in and already have had a pretty decent record of pushing Charles off the table edge.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Some More Early Medieval Figures

Since Mike has loaned me his camera for the weekend I'm getting caught up on some picture taking. Here are a few more pieces from my fuedal army that I blogged about here.

Duke Raymond

Fulk the Bastard

Duke Raymond is from the Old Glory Crusader Command pack. Fulk is from the Norman Command pack. Fulk is, I think, supposed to be gesturing towards William the Conqueror as he doffs his helm at the crisis of the Battle of Hastings like this:

But it looked kinda dumb and flat unless you were going to make a diorama. So my terribly talented friend Dan took him away and converted him to have the falcon on his outstretched arm which mirrors the bird of prey banner that he uses.

Giving moral support to the Good Duke are a bishop and abbess. Both are Reaper miniatures. I've tried to show the illuminations I painted in the book the Abbess is reading from, but one can only zoom in so close.

Of course, Fulk is getting some otherworldly support too:
I'm trying to add some toadstools and a big standing stone to the base too. I'm not sure who makes these lovelies. Reaper I think.
Some more characters and command figures with their personal banners:
Henry the Lion

Peter the hermit, the White Knight and the Red Knight

The 'Golden' Knight and his Fool.
The White Knight is from Gripping Beast. The troubador knight is from the Old Glory Norman Command pack. The Fool is from Games Workshop and now out of production. The others are from the OG Crusader Command pack.

Finally some more infantry. First up a bag of OG unarmoured Norman spearmen with an extra Foundry foot sergeant to lead them. I replaced the spear held by one to give him a flag. I thought the boar was suitably ferocious, yet ignoble.

Lastly, one of my companies of OG armoured Crusades infantry. I've got three 20 figure companies of these fellows.