Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bases & Stuff...

Just a quick update, on something which I've meant to get for some time to help with the Wars of the Roses figures.  I have bought myself a stack of movement trays, like the ones shown below:  

I had some MDF bases already to act as movement-trays but they were never really satisfactory as, of course, all the individually-based models just slid around unless you lifted them and kept it precisely level at all times.  

The new ones in the above photo have got regularly spaces indents designed to let you slot a 1p-coin or a similarly-sized washer into them, so your figures stay in place and don't shuffle around!  

I bought them from warbases and thought I would recommend them, given how well they've done the job.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Recruiting Retinues - Again!

As mentioned by my previous posts, I'm heading in my 'Wars of the Roses' re-fight towards my own little 'Towton' climactic battle of mass-destruction.  I want to do it justice, and I think the one thing that has become instantly and undeniably obvious is that I need the maximum number of figures I can get!  After totting up lists and accounting for odd types like mercenaries, cavalry, skirmishers etc. I have ultimately come up short from my existing supplies.  This has led me to only one conclusion: I need to bite the bullet and buy more.

After the long months and years of painting the mammoth pile of my last WOTR figures, I came away swearing that I would never again buy more and put myself through all that again.  Well, that's gone up in smoke now, as I was at Carronade 2013 the other week and have bought the two extra boxes of Perry Miniatures I think I need.  I believe I now have a grand-total of something like 475 figures for WOTR - alarming!  

For the battle coming up I will field one 'Bloody Barons' unit (eight figures, taking each figure as a 'base') per 1cv of strength-points in the campaign game 'Richard III', so this means I should actually only need about 350-odd figures.  The need for more is still there because of the varying livery colours I've got (Warwick, for example, isn't present so all his lads will sit this one out in a box!)  I think it's one of the drawbacks of starting out in the Medieval period, in that once figs are painted you are kind of landed with the consequences of whatever livery combination you picked.  Thankfully I'm now building up a collection to the stage where I can basically stage a major battle like this one, fill my available table pretty much to capacity with correctly-painted miniatures, and still have some unused spares.  

For what it's worth, my 'work in progress' list looks something like this:

Edward of York
1 Household & 2 Retinue units (Blue & Murrey liveries)
Duke of Clarence
3 Retinue units (Blue & Murrey)
Lord Herbert
3 Retinue units (Blue & Red)
Earl of Rutland
1 Retinue unit (Blue & Murrey)
Henry VI
1 Mounted Unit ('white armour' - no liveries)
1 Household & 2 Retinue units (Blue & White liveries)
Duke of Somerset
3 Retinue units (Blue & White)
Earl of Salisbury
2 Retinue units (Red & Yellow)
Duke of Norfolk
1 Retinue unit (Blue & Yellow)
Edward of Lancaster
1 Household & 2 Retinue units (Red & Black)
Duke of Buckingham
3 Retinue units (Red & Black)
French Mercenaries
2 Mounted units (None), 1 Crossbow unit (French), 1 Retinue unit (Blue & White or None)
Newcastle Levies
2 Levy units, all Longbowmen (None)
Scottish Mercenaries
2 Levy units, all Spearmen (None)
Burgundian Mercenaries
1 Handgunner unit, 2 Pike units (Burgundian)
Irish Levies
2 Unarmoured units, Kerns (None)
2 Levy units, all Spearmen (None)
Norfolk Levy
3 Levy units, all Longbowmen (None)

A 'typical' unit is one captain/Man-at-Arms, three Billmen, and four Longbowmen.
A mounted unit is six models. (Or possibly eight - I haven't decided yet.) 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ACW Painting

I have finished my Union army!  Also, in an even more incredible achievement, I did it in record time!  

The slightly smaller Confederate army was bought in February 2012 and completed in December 2012, meaning it covered a grand total of 10 months.  The larger Union army was  bought in February 2013, and have finished it in May 2013 - barely three months!  Have I undergone a three-fold increase in painting speed?  Sadly no, but the experiment has provoked a few thoughts on painting, and here are some of my 'insights', as I might grandly call them:

  • The Type of Figure matters!  The rag-tag nature of the Confederates meant I spent a lot of time hemming and hawwing about them - 'does this brown coat go with those grey trousers?  Do those blue trousers go with a black hat?  Is this figure too close a copy of that one?'  All these variations created a bit of a pain, which didn't happen with the union: blue, blue, and more blue!  Bang - job done!  Admittedly some armies like medieval ones or irregular forces will always have a variety, but a generally 'uniform' force in the literal sense will have advantages - worth considering at the planning stage, anyway.  
  • Real Life Matters (but not as much as you might think!)  While painting the Confederates, I put my flat on the market, sold it, and moved into a new house - it's fair to say that a lot was going on!  However, I don't think that I can really hide behind all that.  It had an effect, but overall I think if I'm honest I still had a lot of free time in evenings and so on, but I was put off by the idea I would 'only' get an hour or so to do anything, so I did nothing.  I think that even a minor bit of grit and determination would have greatly slashed my painting time.
  • Go for Mass!  In my Confederate painting I did a base here, then one there, etc.  It seemed to go nowhere, even as I progressed!  With the Union army, I forced myself to do the whole lot as a big, indigestible lump.  Everybody got their shoes painted, and until everybody had that done nobody - but nobody! - got anything else, like their belts, even so much as started.  Tedious?  Oh god, yes - but I resisted the temptation to split the force up into smaller batches, as I was certain that once I'd done one batch I'd never be able to face a second. The tenacity paid off, as although painting belts or shoes and nothing else was dull, I managed to finish each 'part' before the boredom got too much, and then I was spurred on by the knowledge that I would never have to do it again.
  • Focus!  Basically, don't get distracted with other things.  While the Union army was getting painted, I had my Wars of the Roses campaign, my remaining Anglo-Allied Waterloo army, a potential new WW2 Bolt Action army, and two new Ancients armies swirling around as either 'in progress', 'bought' or 'under consideration.'  However, I stuck with the Union 100% through my painting without any deviation - because I knew if I stopped, I'd not restart fr a long time.
  • In a word: Momentum!  If I was to sum all of the above up in one entry, this would be the central idea.  Momentum, or the sensation that a project is 'underway' and making progress rather than 'on standby' and gathering dust, is critical.  It's also a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way, for it did indeed conform to how I planned things, with even a little investment in willpower.  Now I have the rewards of it all, as I can knock off the Union ACW project off my to do list, and get more done with other things.  A real example of how a bit of self-discipline isn't just good as an abstract concept, but genuinely and immediately bears fruit! 

Photos to follow shortly.  (Right - now to base them up and get to the games table!)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Order of Battle, 1461

[Transcription from scrolls found in the alternate-history records:]

Roll of those magnates and nobles of declared loyalty to the house of Lancaster, and the anointed king:

The army VAWARD, under the leadership of PRINCE of WALES, EDWARD of Lancaster, heir to the throne of England, and a boy of some seven years of age.  Assisting him in overseeing all practical aspects of warfare is Humphrey Stafford, Duke of BUCKINGHAM.  Also present to advise is Sir Andrew Trollope, lately master of the king's garrison at Calais.  In combination, these nobles bring some 6,000 men to the field.

The MAIN, under the leadership of his Majesty KING HENRY, sixth of his name, crowned king of England and France, Lord of Ireland.  Somewhat reticent in matters military, he is assisted by his advisor Sir Edmund Beaufort, Duke of SOMERSET and erstwhile rival of the pretender's late father, Richard Plantagenet.  Ably assisted by many mercenaries and volunteer troops supplied from FRANCE, the King commands some 8,000 men.

The REARWARD of the host, led by Sir Henry Beaufort, son of Edmund and heir to the Dukedom of SOMERSET, whose warlike disposition sees him lead the family's retainers in the field.  In addition there are many levies from the loyal city of NEWCASTLE under the leadership of Baron POYNINGS and also many mercenary soldiers for hire lately of SCOTLAND, under many worthy captains.  The Rearward force of 7,000 men raises the strength of the ROYAL ARMY to 21,000 loyal men.

Those Magnates and Nobles who profess loyalty to the house of York, claimants to the throne of England:

The VAWARD of those followers of George Plantagenet, Duke of CLARENCE and younger brother to the pretender and youth of twelve years, guided by Sir Walter DEVEREUX.  Richard Neville, 5th Earl of SALISBURY, and noted Welsh Lord William HERBERT - who, between them field 8,000 men for battle.

The MAIN is under the bellicose Edward Plantagenet, 4th Duke of YORK and PRETENDER to the crown, either traitor or rightful heir, as persuasion guides.  Ably assisted by many men of loyalty to his house from IRELAND under Sir Roger VAUGHAN and other mercenaries dispatched from BURGUNDY under captains of war, of good reputation.  This host numbers some 10,000 souls.

The REARWARD is under the direction of the pretenders' other brother Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of RUTLAND.  He is accompanied by John DeMowbray, 3rd Duke of NORFOLK and many diverse levies from NORWICH under the Baron HOWARD.  Much depleted by campaigns in the north, the Rear numbers only 5,000.  The full Yorkist host of the Pretender numbers some 23,000 soldiers and captains.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Wars of the Roses Campaign - 1461

After much other stuff to keep my attention, I have found myself leaving my WOTR campaign for a while - well, no longer!  Things have moved on again and the looming confrontation is a rather spectacular one.  

Last time we hit the tabletop, it was for another attempt by the Yorkists to put down the Lancastrian rebellion in the north of England.  This plan ran adrift at Holmewood, where some timely reinforcements and a highly aggressive performance by the Duke of Somerset saw the Lancastrians triumph.  The Yorkists had to retreat away and lost all the advantages of their earlier victory at Thoroton.  The stalemate resumed, and the northern armies had now racked up three clashes without one side decisively defeating the other.  

This was another example of something that has become a strange feature of my little re-fight campaign: the lack of any high-profile deaths for a while!  Not since Northumberland was beheaded have we seen the loss of a major figure - Warwick & Co. managed to flee en-masse from Gerrard's Cross to Calais, through sheer luck more than anything else.  Similarly, the nobles Rutland, Salisbury & Norfolk all put in a swift escape from Holmewood when things went against them.  Surely this can't go on!  

The short answer is: no, it can't.  I've gone back to the RIII board to progress the campaign.  It's the early winter months of 1461, and the remaining armies are all closing in on each other.  The Northern armies face each other across the River Trent; the Lancastrians hold London; while Edward of York has now moved to Gloucester.  They are all close enough now to combine for a decisive battle.  Whoever moves first can decide things in their favour.  

It's the Lancastrians, in the end, who make the decisive move.  Leaving the dead Earl of Wiltshire's men to hold the capital, Queen Margaret (with Henry VI and the seven-year-old Prince Edward in tow) lead their army west, seeking to destroy York.  Simultaneously, Somerset leads his army south over the Trent and the Severn to join with them for the final confrontation.  The Yorkists see the climactic battle is near, and their own northern army under Salisbury shadows Somerset's move south, so the armies all converge in Gloucestershire.  Warwick, isolated in Calais, forwards Mercenaries from Burgundy to assist.

From the 'Richard III' game rules, the armies have been nosing slowly closer to each other to try and unify, but also to avoid being caught in a two-against-one attack from the enemy.  Now, all have at last closed in enough for one side to launch an attack and also for the attacked to call in their other army as reinforcements.  Various lords are uncommitted or declaring for one side or another across the land, but the decisive make-or-break battle is finally here.

The size of the forces are certainly impressive - the maximum combination of each side has produced a startling total of 21,000 Lancastrians combining to take on a force of 23,000 Yorkists.  This, including also the time of the event (early in the winter/spring of 1461) means the 'Richard III' game has contrived what is practically a direct imitation of Towton - except in this case it is taking place in the south-west of England, rather than in the north.  

What a massive clash this promises to be!  Certainly the biggest yet in the refight (Gerrard's Cross was the next-largest, and saw about 14,000 a side)  and as befits a decisive clash of arms, it seems impossible to believe that all the Nobles converging on the field will leave it alive.  Most are fully committed and willing - although not all.  

In the Lancastrian camp, Buckingham's doubts have clearly been on the rise after a few weeks in London with the triumphalist Lancastrian die-hards for company.  Although he oversaw Warwick's rout at Gerrard's Cross, it seems that the prospect of a flat-out triumph by the Beaufort family in the king's name might not be entirely okay in his mind...  

Likewise over in the Yorkist camp Edward's younger brother George Plantagenet, the Duke of Clarence, might just be getting a severe case of cold feet at the idea of lining up against the Royal Standard on a battlefield and committing what is technically high treason.  Surely he won't betray two of his own brothers that are also on the field, though?

So - a massive battle in the offing, near-certain destruction by death and attainder for many noble families, possible treachery - and a sharp, decisive end to the first campaign with nothing less than the crown of England up for grabs!