Thursday, 3 October 2019

New Paint, New Fur and New Research

I have been having a bit of a hobby hiatus over the summer as I prepared for the next big project.  This blog post describes some of the things I have been experimenting with and some of the research for the Swedish-Polish war.

Contrast Paint


Games Workshop remains a behemoth in the wargames industry and so their 2019 release of a new wonder paint has been on every conceivable wargames media channel.  Even I, who has only just discovered acrylics, was intrigued. I decided to buy a few select colours and try them out.  I also bought a spray can of the special primer recommended by GW for us with the Contrast paint.  As I'm sure you will have already seen  these new paints are designed to provide a base colour and initial shade by replicating a heavy wash over a light undercoat.  I had two hopes.  First was that these paints would provide a means to paint a lot of yellow uniformed troops for the Swedish Yellow Brigade which is planned. Secondly, that these paints would speed up painting the horses for the many cavalry units planned.

I prepared a cross section of spare figures from the lead pile.  Mounted and foot figures, using plastic and metals.

Warlord Pike and Shotte 28mm cavalry from their plastic box set.
28mm Pike and Shote infantry from (left to right): Avanpost, Warlord plastic (x2), Warlord metal and Perry metal (x2).
Undercoated with GW Wraith Bone primer.
Undercoated with GW Wraith Bone primer.
I was pleasantly surprised with the primer.  It went on very nicely and gave a smooth, even coat.  It was a bit of a shock for someone who has been undercoating in black for decades to see first hand what figures looked like in off-white.  I was amazed how much the details of the figure standout like this.

Just primer in the back rank, and primer washed with GW Agrax Earthshade in the front rank.

I had seen a YouTube video by a very good painter (see Sonic Sledgehammer Studio) where he had tried giving figures a wash of dark brown (GW Agrax Earthsahde) after priming and before base coats.  I decided to give this a go on some of the figures.

Then I was ready to start slopping on a heavy coat (as advised by GW) of the Contrast paints.  I must admit that I found this bit very hard!  It is a completely different approach to starting dark and building up to the light that I normally do with black undercoated figures.  I had also forgotten how much more difficult it is when you can't just miss a tricky-to-get-to bit and leave it black / primer coloured.

I was disappointed by the effect that I could get to with the horses.  I couldn't get the paint to work so well on the broader surfaces of a 28mm horse.  It also feels like the paint requires you to get it right first time. A second coat will often over darken and loose any shading effect.  I found the pre washed figures easier to work with, and I like the slightly more dingy look (see the left hand of each of the two sets musketeers below for the pre-washed figures.)  In most cases I was left wanting to do a further highlight to get to the level of contrast I wanted to get to.

"Table Ready"

The verdict.  I don't expect to change my basic approach because of these new paints.  I am going to stick with black undercoating and regular paint built up in layers.  However, just this very small experiment has got me to relook at my basic approach.  These new paints have resulted in me looking at a lot of other people's work and approaches, and reading a lot of paint / painting reviews.  So, while I was at first a bit disappointed that I hadn't discovered a quick route to painting Nirvana, I have come away with some smaller improvements to my approach due to the research:

  • The near white undercoat does make looking at what you've got to paint so much easier.  I saw a lot of people talking about "zenithal highlighting" which seemed an interesting compromise between black and white undercoats.   I then read (on Twitter) Matt from Glenbrook Games writing about an approach he uses with an initial Vallejo Flat Brown dry brush over a black undercoat.  I have now used this a couple of times and it is great at showing the details on the figure, and for the very brown 17th century, getting figures closer to their table ready state.  Thanks, Matt!
  • You don't have to use the Contrast paints over white, just over lighter colours.  The black (Black Templar) when thinned a bit is great for black horses and black armour, when used over brown or steel.
  • I can get really good reds and yellows when starting over lighter colours.  I always struggle with these two colours with a black undercoat.  Even though I still don't use a whole white undercoat, I have started to do a base coat for these colours on the figure with a pale colour first.  Then adding the red or yellow.  
  • The Contrast paints are a useful addition to the painters arsenal.  I am sure that I will find more uses over the coming months.

In closing on Contrast paints, I must say that several of my gaming buddies have had absolutely stunning results with the paints, and knocked out vast quantities of table ready figures in accelerated timescales.  Just like everything else, it is horses for courses.  I would recommend people have a play with a pot or two.  A bit of experimenting can throw up some interesting results, even if its not what you were expecting!

New Fur


My next big project is looking at the Battle of Dirschau 1627 between the Swedes and the Poles.  It has an interesting battlefield with, amongst other things, a lot of small streams and marshes.  I am looking at doing another teddy-bear fur mat for the terrain, but I haven't tackled streams and marsh yet.  I have some off-cuts from my last foray into fur and so I decided to experiment.

Antelope Brown short faux-fur.

Early stages were straightforward and followed my earlier approach (see earlier post, Fun With Fur).  My cheapo Amazon dog trimmer does sterling work on shaving all the way down to the backing material for the roads / streams etc., or just a light trim with the depth guards on.  Sharpie marker is a handy way to draw out designs before shaving.

A messy outdoor job.

Lots of combing required to get rid of shaved fur and a job best done outdoors.  Small scissors are useful for making more subtle trims to the mat.  Here I was trying to represent a marshy area


Careful snipping.

My last mat was coloured using a range of acrylic paints I had around the house: house paints, children's paints, and artists paints.  This works ok, but it requires an awful lot of combing to stop the fur getting matted by the paint.  I decided to try some alternatives.  First of all inks.  My logic was that these shouldn't clog in the same way as the thicker paint, but should still dye the fur.   I tried Windsor and Newton inks, some other artist inks (one in a handy spray applicator!), and normal model washes / inks.   These all worked in a similar way.  Not as opaque / strong colours as the paint, and you couldn't lighten a dark fur with this approach, but much less clogging.

Paint below the stream and inks above the stream.

After some internet investigation on the dress making, and teddy bear making, forums, I discovered there is such a thing as "Material Paint".  It is typically used to change the colour of all sorts of sewn material.   This still seems to be water based and acrylic, so I'm not sure what the difference is to, say, house paint.  This stuff was great in that it didn't clog like the other paint, and covered better than the ink.  A result!  It is more expensive than house paint, and not as easily available.  Full scale trials are planned for the future.

I then need to work out the streams and other wet bits.  I want to build these in to the mat in the same way that I have for the roads.  The roads I did previously were a mixture of paint, sand a PVA applied to the bits of the matt shaved down to the backing material.  When dry this was dry brushed, and remained flexible enough to roll the mat up.  For the wet areas I want something that I can apply to the backing material, and will give a smooth surface that will be painted and take a coat of gloss varnish or similar.  After studying many Terrain Tutor videos I have been experimenting with decorators caulk, both neat for the streams, and with added sand for the roads.

Filler, glue, paint and sand.

Results so far suggest that I stick with the original approach for there roads, and that the neat decorators caulk will be best for streams, and wet areas of marsh.  I also think the marshy bits need more open areas of water, rather than the polka dot effect I have ended up with here.

Sand, paint, glue and filler

So, still some way to go on the fur experiments.  I have sourced some new fur material so that I can start in green this time.  I have  bought two 7' x 5' fur mats from Killing Fields, supplied in the UK by Company D Miniatures.   You can see Pappenheim and escort having a test ride across the new fur below.

Killing Field's Fur Mat.


Project Research - Dirschau / Tczew 1627


My next big 17th century project is going to be refighting the battle of Dirsahau (to the Swedes/Germans) and Tczew (to the Poles) which took place in 1627.  I have done a sweep of the internet material available, and picked up some books to start reading about the battle.  I have amassed so much material so far that I have started a separate page on the blog (here) to record all of the material.  Partly this is in case it is useful to anyone else, and also to help me remember what I have already found!  

The page linked to above explains why I have chosen this battle, but in summary, I chose Dirschau / Tczew 1627 as it seemed to have the most interesting forces and terrain of the late 1620s battles, and it also had Gustav Adolf, and the top Polish general of the period Stanisław Koniecpolski, in command of their respective armies.  I think this is an interesting period to look at as it is Gustav Adolf and the Swedish army evolving,  and developing tactics, that will provide so decisive when translated to the main German theatre of war.

Broadly the project will fall in to these streams of activity.

  1. Making the battlefield in teddy-bear fur, with integrated streams, roads and marshes.
  2. Large Swedish camp behind extensive earthworks, and the walled town of Dirschau/Tczew.  
  3. Polish camp, and several small Polish villages.
  4. Increase my existing Swedish forces with more cavalry, and for the foot, the Yellow Regiment.
  5. A whole new Polish force, with a good helping of Winged Hussars, of course!

You will therefore see that I have plenty to be getting on with!  I hope to share the progress on the blog here.  I may allow myself an out of period distraction at some point, but at the moment the painting table has artillery limbers on it, and next in the queue is more Croats.

Until next time!

Andy @ FOGH.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Bloody Clash At Lutzen - again!

"for had not our foote stoode like a wall, there had not a man of us come off alyve
Letter from George Fleetwood to his father, giving an account of the battle of Lutzen

Warlord Game Open Day - 20th July 2019

In a reprieve of the game at Salute this year, the Friends of General Haig (FOGH) put on the Lutzen 1632 game at this year’s Warlord Games Open Day.  This blog post is a description of the days action. 
The game set up and ready to start.
It was a warm and sunny morning as three intrepid members of the FOGH arrived at Lenton Business Centre in Nottingham, also known as Warlord Games HQ.  We have a couple of hours until the start of the open day at 1000, and so we got on with unloading the figures, terrain and other paraphernalia for the Lutzen game.  The Warlord chaps had set up tables etc. in the Marcus Garvey hall already for all of the games, and so we were soon busy deploying figures for the game of Pike and Shotte.
Game under way - Swedish Green brigade attacking Imperial centre.
With the games set up we had just enough time for breakfast, and a pre game briefing.  We headed for the splendid on site caterers who were starting to turn out all sorts of hearty breakfast fare.  In the bacon butty queue we bumped in to Warlord supremo, John Stallard, and Black Powder author, Rick Priestly, mentally preparing themselves for the day’s first presentation session.

Breakfast consumed we agreed who was doing what for the game.  The plan was to run the game in a participation style, allowing visitors to the open day to investigate the world of Pike and Shotte by playing a turn or two, in between them checking all of the other cool things going on.  So we had one commander for the Imperial forces, one as the Swedish commander, and a third to umpire / generally talk to people.  This allowed us to keep the game going throughout the day, and also to ensure that any participating players had someone on hand to advise them on what was going on, and how the rules worked.  We had also cut down the forces slightly from the game at Salute to try and simplify the game for anybody joining in, and to ensure we got to a conclusion in the day.   We also set definite objectives for the day.  Gustav Adolph and the Swedish led Protestant alliance (hence ‘the Swedes’) needed to take Wallenstein’s two Imperial batteries to win the game.  If the Imperial forces held these at the end of the day then it was a defeat for the Swedes.

I have uploaded the Orders of Battle to Google Drive here.

We had various people join in and roll some dice through the day, and of course lots more who wanted to come and talk about the game, figures and terrain.  Dan from Wargames Illustrated popped by for a quick interview with video shoot.  Also Guy from Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, and Mel the Terrain Tutor, stopped by to take some photos.  It was great to talk to so many people about the battle and wargaming this period, including some people who had seen the game at Salute.

See the Wargames Illustrated coverage of the whole event here on YouTube, we start at 4:57.

See the Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy pictures of the game here on their Facebook page.

How did the game play?  


Well, it started in a similar way to the previous run out.  Gustav Adolph set off with the right wing cavalry to try and overwhelm the opposing Imperial left wing.  Before the arrival of the Imperial reinforcements, under Pappenheim, the Swedes have an advantage in numbers here.   Unfortunately, also as usual, the Swedish commanded shot were left behind as their mounted brethren hurried to chase off the Croat light horse.  Chasing the fleet of foot Croats led the Swedish cavalry to crash in to   the supporting Imperial Cuirassiers and Arquebusiers.
Gustav Adolph encouraging forward his horse and commanded shot.
On the Swedish left wing it was a slower start and the Commanded shot here were sensibly detailed off to neutralise the Imperial commanded shot hiding in the gardens outside burning Lutzen.  This inactivity tempted forward the Imperial right wing Croats who started sniping at the Swedish horse, supported by long range fire from the Imperial ‘windmill’ artillery battery.
Lutzen on fire in the foreground, with the two armies stretched out in the background.  Imperial on the left, Swedish on the right.
Imperial Commanded shot in the gardens outside Lutzen under attack by Swedish commanded shot with a light gun.
In the centre the Swedish shifted two brigades, Old Blue and Duke Wilhelm’s, across to the right to support the right wing cavalry, and also to lead an assault on the smaller Imperial battery which sat at the junction of the Imperial left wing and centre.  Progress in the centre was general slow for the Swedes throughout the day.
Imperial 'small' battery on the left of the Imperial Centre.  Preparing for the Swedish onslaught.
The Imperial forces hunkered down to weather the initial storm of the Swedish attack, and waited for Pappenheim.
Imperial foot in the centre.
Despite having the advantage of numbers, command, and initiative, the Swedish right wing horse couldn’t break through the Imperial left wing opposite them, and started losing units to the ‘men in black’, the Imperial cuirassiers.   Knyphausen, who was the overall commander for the Swedish centre and reserve, brought across the single regiment of reserve horse to try and force a decision on the Swedish right.  It was nail biting stuff.  Wallenstein, Imperial Generalissimo, was anxiously looking behind for any sign of Pappenheim’s reinforcements.  Where had they got to?!
Imperial left wing under attack
Holk, commanding the Imperial left, was starting to withdraw his forces under the constant pressure from the Swedes when Pappenheim finally arrived.  Pappenheim, true to form, rode straight at the Swedish right flank, supported by the reinvigorated Holk.  A desperate see-saw clash of cavalry ensued between Gustav and Knyphausen, against Pappenheim and Holk.  The Swedish commanded shot were thrown in to the swirling melee to try and bring down the Imperial Cuirassiers with their musket and light gun fire.
Swedish right wing and Imperial left wing, reinforced by Pappenheim, heavily engaged.
At the same time Wilhelm’s and the Old Blue foot brigades were attacking the small Imperial battery and the supporting Imperial Infantry.  The Swedish attacks were somewhat uncoordinated but bravely undertaken.  Wilhelm’s foot stormed the smaller battery but just couldn’t dislodge the gunners.  The Old Blue brigade charged the Imperial foot but couldn’t make any impression.
Add Imperial 'small' battery under assault.
The Swedish left wing and centre were encouraged in to action seeing this bloody combat to their right.  The Swedish left wing cavalry threw themselves at the Imperial cavalry in the restricted area between Lutzen and the Windmill battery, while the Green brigade foot traded shots with the Imperial troops in the Miller’s house and the Windmill battery itself.  In the restricted space the Swedish cavalry couldn’t make the most of their numbers and casualties mounted as they hurled themselves at the Imperial defenders.
Swedish left wing pressing home their attack.
Swedish Green Brigade, supported by Thurn's brigade, assault the 'windmill' battery.
It was the Swedish right wing that broke first.  Pappenheim’s Cuirassiers had proved decisive routing two squadrons of Swedish horse before also riding down the now isolated Swedish commanded shot.  At the same time Wilhelm’s foot were finally repulsed from the small battery, and the Old Blue brigade had to also fall back.  The final straw was the Swedish left wing also breaking.  The Swedish centre accepted defeat and started to pull back.  The Imperial batteries were safe in Imperial hands, and so the game was declared an Imperial victory.  Students of history will be interested to know that Gustav and Pappenheim both survived the day (unlike the real battle in which they were killed)!
Imperial left wing victorious.
Imperial 'small' redoubt and left-centre victorious as Swedish Infantry are thrown back.
This turn of events was well timed as it was now the end of the Open Day and time to pack up, retire to one of Nottingham’s fine hostelries, and discuss the battle.  Although the Swedes had some unlucky melee dice, and also struggled with their command dice on occasions, the major problem had been trying to defeat the Imperial Cavalry without using their commanded shot to soften up the enemy first.  Similarly their infantry attacks had not been able to take advantage of their superior firepower and salvo firing.  The experience from the two big run throughs we have had of Lutzen (see here for Salute battle report) has shown us that Gustav’s war machine is powerful, but takes some expertise to use to full advantage.  Most importantly the game felt right for us, taking in to account the troops used, and how they were handled.  We had played through to a conclusion in a day, introduced some new people to big battles with Pike and Shotte, and had a great day.  Who could ask for more? :-)

We did manage to work in a few breaks to take a look at the other things going on at the Open Day.  There was an awesome Black Powder Crimea game next to us, with the Russians taking a battering form a combined British and French force.  There was an interesting French Indian War game, led by another of the FOGH, Pete Brown, who was demoing his new Black Powder supplement, Dark and Bloody Ground.  The British forces had lost the wagon train to the French and their Indian allies in each run through - what a disaster, but lots of fun!  I was very interested to see Black Seas in action with some lovely new Napoleonic ships.  The SPQR demo tables seemed busy all day with people trying out the new Ancient skirmish rules.    There was a lot to look at.  In the glass cabinets of forthcoming figures I loved the MASH unit available for the new Korean Bolt Action supplement.  They looked very familiar for some reason!

Warlord have produced a video reviewing the open day here (you can see us just behind John Stallard's left shoulder!).

To finish, many thanks to everyone at Warlord Games for looking after us on the day.  We had fun, and everyone we spoke to seemed to be really in to the games and wargaming in general.  There was a very positive ‘vibe’ about the whole event.  If you like Warlord Games’ products, or are interested in any of their games, then this event should definitely be in your plans for next year.  I wonder what will be on the table in 2020?

Until next time!

Andy from FOGH.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Fury of Lions

"With the fury of lions the Upland, Smaland, Finland, East and West Gothland regiments rushed a second time upon the left wing of the enemy ..." from Friedrich Schiller's History of the Thirty Years War.

This passage from Schiller's history describes the second, revenge attack, supposedly mounted by the Swedish right wing of cavalry at Lutzen following the death of King Gustav Adolf.  The King's cavalry were certainly his main strike force, intended to defeat the opposing enemy cavalry before turning in on the now undefended flank of the enemy infantry.  


At Lutzen, while most of Gustav Adolf's cavalry were German, his lead, strike, squadrons were made up from his own Swedish horse.  I have chosen to model this unit as one of these Swedish regiments, the Uppland regiment, led by Overstelojtnant Isaak Axelsson 'Silfversparre'. 

When the Gustav Adolf became king he inherited an uninspiring mounted force.  The cavalry were poorly mounted and equipped.  In his first campaigns, Gustav Adolf's cavalry were also were facing, in the Baltic, some of the most impressive cavalry at that time, the dreaded Polish Winged Hussars.  Gustav set about improving the cavalry as he did with the rest of the army.  He supplemented them with experienced mercenaries, improved their equipment, and mounts, and tried to give them an edge over their opponents by deploying blocks of commanded muskets with the cavalry.  When the Swedes landed in Northern Germany and joined the Thirty Years Wars the cavalry were still seen as inferior to the Imperial cavalry, especially the mighty cuirassiers.  At Breitenfeld in 1631 Gustav Adolf proved that, with their commanded muskets, organised reserves, and aggressive charges, the Swedish and Protestant cavalry could defeat their Imperial counter-parts. 


By the time of Lutzen the Swedish cavalry had no doubt further improved their mounts, but were still more lightly equipped than the best of the Imperial cavalry.  They had tough day at Lutzen and on the Swedish right wing ultimately failed to break the opposing Imperial Cavalry, and despite Schiller's inspiring prose, were themselves eventually thrown back exposing their own infantry.
 
This unit is, unusually for me, made up entirely of figures from a single manufacturer.  In this case I have used the Warlord Games Swedish Cavalry box set (link).  The Warlord plastic cavalry sprues allow a nice variety of equipment, and in this box are accompanied by two metal mounted command figures, a cornet strapped to his standard, and an officer.  The cavalry are nicely mounted on good, large horses, probably acquired since landing in Germany the year before! 


Even by Lutzen the Swedish horse were still apparently short of armour and the King suggested that at least the front rank should have metal back and breast plates.  I therefore have most of the armour concentrated in the front rank of figures.  A few have managed to acquire sleeveless buffcoats, but most have only their long, woolen, riding coats.  Their is also a mixture of helmets and soft hats.  I have chosen blue coats, but a mixture of blues, representing the troopers having been re-clothed at various times with various shades of cloth. 

The unit is finished off with an Uppland regiment cavalry standard from Flags of War, and are based on trusty Warbases 50x60mm laser cut MDF 2mm thick bases. 
b

I hope that they will perform well at the Warlord Games Open day, this Saturday, in Nottingham (link), where they will be re-fighting Lutzen.  Will they be like furious lions, or like lambs to the slaughter?  I hope you'll be able to come along and see for yourself.

Until next time.

Andy @FOGH

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Can the Empire Strike Back?


In this post I will talk about the upcoming re-run of the Battle of Lutzen at this year's Warlord Games Open Day, on the 20th July.



Warlord Games Open Day is a regular event where the company throws open its doors for the day at its Nottingham headquarters.  If you are interested in Warlord Games' products or games then it is well worth a day out. This link is to a video on YouTube where Warlord supremo, John Stallard, gives a run down of the day.

I've been to the open days in previous years, as both a punter and a demonstrator, and I think they are a great idea.  If you are interested in any of the Warlord games then you will find most of them on show, and you will also be able to try your hand at them, or just ask questions of the experts.  A sort of "try before you buy".  Warlord make an awful lot of games now, and so there is plenty to chose from.  So whether you want to try out the old stalwarts like Black Powder and Pike and Shotte, or if you want to investigate the new games like SPQR and Black Seas, the choice is yours. 

There are also talks by some of the game designers, so you can hear about how games were put together, and perhaps hints on plans for the future.  You can take tours of the HQ and see how Warlord operates, including the fascinating process of turning base metals in to shining white metal figures; magic in deed!  The icing on the cake is to pick up some goodies from Warlord, and there are normally some very good special offers.

Figures from Warlord Games, painted by Matt Slade at Glenbrook Games.
Its not just Warlord there on the day.  There will be other members of the Wargaming glitterati in attendance, and some other manufacturers from the East Midlands 'Lead Belt'.

Wallenstein, ready to battle against the Protestant Alliance.
Figures from Warlord Games, painted by Matt Slade at Glenbrook Games.


So what will the Friends of General Haig be doing there?  Well, to followers of the blog it will come as no surprise that we are running the Battle of Lutzen, 1632, using Warlord Games' Pike and Shotte rules.  This will be a slightly modified version of the game run at Salute.  We have changed things slightly to enable us to let people at the open day join the game for a turn or two, so they can try their hand at Pike and Shotte and get a feel for how the rules work.

Figures from Warlord Games, painted by Matt Slade at Glenbrook Games.

This proved popular last year when we ran the Battle of Auldearn, 1645 (link).  There were a number of people, interested in Pike and Shotte, who wanted to get a better understanding of the rules, and see how things really operate in practice.  Some were happy to just watch the action and ask questions.  Others took up dice and tape measure, and tried their hands at 17th century battling.

So, visitors on the day will be able to take part as either the King of Sweden, Gustav Adolf with his protestant alliance, or the Holy Roman Empire striking back under Imperial Generalissimo Albrecht Wallenstein.  We will have two big, 28mm armies thundering in to one another across the table top, ensuring there will be plenty of action.  The Friends of General Haig team will be on hand to discuss the game and rules with visitors, and also to help people take a a turn or two as a 17th century general.  There will be every weight of cannon, lots of pike, loads of shot, terrifying black-clad cuirassiers, and devilish Croat light horse.  Who could ask for anything more? 

The Open Day takes place here:
Warlord HQ Nottingham
The Howitt Building, 
Lenton Business Centre, 
Lenton Boulevard
Nottingham, 
 NG7 2BD  
United Kingdom
Tickets are available from the Warlord webstore here:
https://store.warlordgames.com/products/warlord-games-open-day-ticket-20th-july-2019

I hope very much to see you in Nottingham on the 20th July.  Just look for our battle sign.

By Andy @ FOGH.

P.S. Throughout this post, the lovely Imperial command groups are made up from Warlord Games Thirty Years War range, all expertly brought to life by the talented brush of hMatt Slade at Glenbrook Games (link).

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

We march for plunder!

"God save us from famine, plague and the Croats!"
German prayer during the Thirty Years War

This blog post describes the latest unit for my Thirty Years War collection, based on the armies at Lutzen, 1632; the Croats.

Surely the most colourful troops that fought during the Thirty Years War were the Imperial Croat cavalry.  These light horse men were recruited from the Imperial lands that bordered on the Ottoman Turkish empire. Originally made up of Croatians, as time went on their ranks were filled from many ethnic groups from the South East of the Empire, such as Hungarians, Wallachians, and even Cossacks.  All experienced in the frequent minor border clashes with the Turks.  What ever their origin, they became collectively know as the Croat horsemen, and became feared wherever the Imperial armies campaigned.

A Croat horseman
On the battlefield they were perhaps no match for heavier horse in a straight fight, but in scouting, plundering, and the general 'beating up of quarters' there were none better.  They had a fearsome reputation for plundering and were feared by the civilian population on both sides.  The Croats became the 'bogey men' of which parents warned their children, and contemporary pamphleteers horrified their readers


The Croats were classic light cavalry.  Unarmoured, and riding hardy but nimble ponies, they would skirmish with their carbines and pistols, before closing with their sabres when they had found an advantage, or sufficiently weakened an enemy.  They were famed for their canny ability to lay or avoid ambushes, after many years learning from the wily Turks and their Tartar allies.   Even rivers were no obstacle, as they were able to cross bodies of water thanks to their strong swimming mounts.


I have been looking forward to collecting and painting the Croats since I started this period.  They are something quite exotic compared to the more regular pistol armed horsemen of Central and Northern Europe.  Warlord Games make Croats for the Thirty Years War (here), and The Assault Group (TAG)  also have Croats (here) as well as covering Poles, Cossacks and Tartars that can be used for Croats.  Wargames Foundry have a set of Cossacks (here) in their Severn Years War range, including mounted Cossacks that I think also can work as Croats. They are riding really characterful ponies, and have a great range of poses.



This unit is made up of the Wargames Foundry figures, with the addition of a TAG Croat trumpeter.  They carry a banner of a shape peculiar to the Croats, made by Flags of War (here).  The figures reflect the typical clothing and equipment of the Croats; brighter shades of red, blue and green, the long eastern style of coat, sometimes worn as a cloak, often braided, knee boots, fur trimmed hats, curved sabres, pistols and carbines.  I think they look like a fearsome bunch, and my Swedish baggage train had better look out!

All of these figures were a real joy to paint.  This range from Foundry have real character, with each pack and figure named.  It was easy to imagine a story building around the unit and its piratical members as I painted the figures.  I can't wait to get them on to the battlefield so that they can start bringing some of those stories to life.

Until next time!

Andy @ FOGH.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Generalmajor Count Nils Brahe

" ... it was so long since they had beene last beaten, 
that they had by this time forgotten how to runne away."  
William Watts, The Swedish Intelligencer, Part 3. 

Yellow Brigade attacking at Lützen wargame.  (Photo by Alan and Elaine Daniels)

A quote from Watts describing the destruction of the Old Blue Yellow regiments at Lutzen, 1632.  This blog post covers my command base for the commander of the Yellow regiment, Nils Brahe.  This is another command base for my Swedish Thirty Years War (TYW) army focused on the Lützen campaign.

The Yellow regiment is probably one of the most famous Swedish TYW regiments.  Dressed in their yellow jackets they make a very striking appearance on the battlefield.  This was the King's Guard and Court regiment, with the first two companies forming his Life Guard.  At Lutzen they were commanded by Generalmajor Count Nils Brahe.

Count Nils Brahe was Colonel of the Swedish Yellow Regiment at Lutzen (1632).  He was made Generalmajor of infantry in 1632, and at Lützen probably commanded the four leading brigades, which included the Yellow regiment which made up one brigade on its own.

Count Nils Brahe
The Yellow regiment was part of the Swedish attack at the start of the battle.  The King had ordered Brahe to attack the imperial infantry to his front, not giving fire until the Imperial troops had fired first.  This tactic expected the enemy to fire early, and then allow the Swedes to march up before discharging their own devastating volley at point blank range.  This seems to have gone disastrously wrong on the day, the Yellow regiment meeting veteran Imperial infantry who also held their fire.  The Imperial infantry did fire first, but at such close range that this initial volley cut down many of the Yellow regiment's officers.  With key officers, including Nils Brahe, out of action, the Yellow regiment was paralysed, and blown apart where it stood.

The Osprey Men-At-Arms on The Army of Gustavus Adolphus (1) Infantry (link) has a great picture of The Yellow Regiment in action, with Nils Brahe receiving the leg wound that would prove fatal.  (He died two weeks after the battle from this wound.). Nils Brahe was a rising star in the Swedish army. He had risen through the senior ranks quickly, being Generalmajor by the age of 28, and was a favourite of the King.


I have chosen to show Nils Brahe dismounted, leading his regiment forward. He is followed by two ensigns from the Yellow Regiment. I like the way that the ensigns are braced as if advancing in to heavy fire, which at Lutzen it is likely they were. Nils Brahe on the other hand is leading by example, bolt upright, coaxing his men forward.  He is finely attired, in a red suit, wearing a sleeveless buffcoat which was the fashion amongst wealthy officers on the continent.  His followers are clothed in yellow suits, as befits their regiment, and one is also wearing a grey cassock like those issued to the lifeguard  companies.


The figures are metal figures from Warlord Games.  Nils Brahe and the cassock-ed ensign are both from the Swedish infantry box set. I think these are both cracking command figures, and it’s a pity they are only available in the boxed set. The other ensign is actually from the Warlord Scottish gun crew.  His pose fitted well with the other ensign, and with a quick hat swap and hand change he was a perfect fit.


The colours are from Flags of War, of course!

I put all of my command on round bases, to differentiate from the troops on square bases. 2mm thick 6cm round from Warbases.


Until next time!

By Andy Mk1 @ FOGH.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

The Men That Will Undo Us

'As for those fellowes (meaning the Crabats) I care not for them', saies the King: 'but charge me those blacke fellowes soundly: for they are the men that will undoe us.'  
William Watts, The Swedish Intelligencer, London 1633

The "black fellowes"
According to this quote by Watts, of all of the enemy troops, Gustav Adolf was most concerned about the Imperial Cuirassiers at Lutzen.  In their three-quarter armour, blackened to protect the metal, on large, dark coloured horses, they must have been an imposing sight.  The Imperial Cuirassiers were Wallenstein's heavy strike force.  Very expensive to raise and maintain, but also very hard hitting on the battlefield.

I need more of these armoured cavalry for my own Thirty Years War (TYW) collection, so the first thing on the painting table post Salute has been a unit of Imperial Cuirassiers.  I like a variety of figures in my units; if I can get every figure to be different, then so much the better.  I like this more 'hotch-potch' look because TYW troops were supplied from different sources at different times and would seldom have a very uniform look.  Add on to this that men, and certainly horses, will rarely have been all doing exactly the same thing, and I think some variety looks good.   One of the ways I achieve this variety is by making up my units with figures from different manufacturers.   For example, perhaps manufacturer A makes three TYW cuirassier figures and manufacturer B also makes three.  By using both manufacturers I get 6 different figures.   Obviously a bit of care needs to be taken.  Different manufactures can make 28mm figures which do not always look right when standing next to one another.  Fortunately some do.

The 'raw' figures
Here is my selection used for this particular unit, that I think fit nicely together.  The riders are from Warlord Games (link), Perry Miniatures (link) Avanpost Miniatures (link), Foundry (link) and Horcata (link).  The horses are from Perry Miniatures, Foundry and Front Rank (link).  Horcata don't make horses themselves but make their riders to fit on Front Rank horses.  This is interesting as Front Rank do a nice selection of stationary, or near stationary, horses.  I wanted to give this unit the look of cavalry in reserve, waiting for the order to attack, so standing horses are ideal.  Although I like some variety in the figures of a unit, I like them to look as if they are all following the same order.  So all of the rank and file here have one of their two wheel-lock pistols at the ready.

Undercoated and fixed on plastic bottle tops to make handling easier.  
Next came painting.  I am definitely not an expert at this step and so will leave it to the very many gifted painters out there to provide painting tutorials.  There were two things that I did differently for this unit.  First was that I copied some brown triads (sets of three paints that work together as shade, base and highlight) from the Loki's Great Hall Site (link).  (Loki has some great Vallejo triads on his site.)  He also has some handy YouTube videos on horse painting (link).  We are always learning and so I'm always happy to look at new techniques and ideas.

The second new painting technique was trying to get blackened armour to come out as I wanted.  This is a key feature of the Imperial cuirassiers in this period.  I have struggled to get the effect to still look like metal armour, while also not looking too mid grey.  This time I gave the figures a relatively heavy dry brush with Natural Steel from Vallejo.  I then washed this in Nuln Oil from GW.  This gave me a very black finish, with just the hint that the surface was metal.  I like the result, so this will be my new method for this type of armour.

Varnished and based.
Here is the unit varnished and based.  I under Winsor and Newton Gloss varnish (for protection), followed by Daler Rowney Matt varnish to matt things down at the end of the process. Bases from Warbases (link).   The cornet (i.e. flag carried by cavalry units) is from Flags of War (link).  It is based on Ottavio Piccolomini's coat of arms.  Piccolomini is one of the larger than life characters of the TYW who, over the course of the war, rose from the rank of Captain to the the highest rank in the Imperial forces, that of Generalissimo.  At Lutzen he was the Colonel of a regiment of Arquebusiers.  They were supposedly so well equipped that they were better armoured then some of the titled cuirassier regiments.  Due to his stellar performance at the battle he was given many rewards by the Emperor, including his regiment being changed to a cuirassier unit.  I have therefore based my unit on this later full cuirassier version of Piccolomini's regiment.

The final step is basing.  I followed my normal formula of PVA, filler, sharp sand, and Humbrol Matt 29 Dark Earth, with a light dry brush of Cream/Beige.  Tufts and static grass added to taste.

The final 12 figure unit.
Here are some further shots from different angles.






Riding off!
As Piccolomini's Cuirassiers ride off in to the sunset, I am about to start the next unit on the painting table; more cuirassiers, this time with swords rather than pistols.

Until next time!

Andy mk1 @ FOGH.