Saturday, 23 September 2017

Battle Report; The last Apostle Revisited

This week I visited Michael & Alan Perry to play a different approach to 'The Last Apostle' skirmish scenario. With troops from my own collection bolstered by those from Michael's, Aly Morrison and Simon Chick we were able to use the scenario as a backdrop for a much larger engagement, I'll let Michael tell the rest;

The rescue of St John the Evangelist 28th July 1513

'Yesterday we had the great pleasure of hosting a game with Stuart Mulligan, Simon Chick, Aly Morrison and Rick Priestly. Stuart, over the last eight years, has amassed a large and extremely impressive Henrician army as well as the better part of a French one. Most of these he has converted from our Wars of the Roses range, the old Foundry range and a few Steel Fist miniatures plus some of his own sculpted base coated manikins (available from Stuart at he hasn't run out!). Simon bought along a beautifully painted Burgundian cavalry wing to flesh out the French forces while Aly brought along three units of untested French foot, and Rick was there for...decoration:) The game was set up by Michael and we used Rick's Wars of the Roses adaptation of Hail Ceasar for the rules.

The game was set during Henry VIII's inavsion of France in 1513 and based on the recovery of one of Henry's beloved twelve large bombards, known as 'the apostles' which was heading, with the English army, to besiege the French held town of Therouanne. After leaving Tournehem, the Middle Ward of the army with Henry out paced the artillery accompanying it and gradually the big guns were left behind. Somehow, the three ton gun called 'St John the Evangelist' slipped into a river leading to a hundred carpenters detailed with the job of rescuing it. A large French force had been watching and swooped on the defenseless labourers, all were killed or captured but the French left the St John where it was. Henry was not amused and sent back the Earl of Essex to recover it.

That was real story behind the game but Michael tweaked the facts to produce a workable scenario. In the game Henry's Middle Ward has turned back as soon as it was known the the St John was in trouble and also in time to possibly stop the French getting there first. Stuart, Simon and Aly asked to be French as there were a lot of their newly painted figures as yet to see battle. Aly took the one infantry 'division' in the centre of the French set up zone, with Stuart and Simon on the flanks with wings of cavalry. A second infantry 'division' would eventually arrive behind the first. Rick had control of Henry's large infantry 'division' with Michael taking the English cavalry plus a small 'division' of German Landsknechts while Alan controlled the guard around the St John and a small 'division' of infantry. A dice was alternately rolled at the end of each turn, on a 6 the bombard had been lifted from the river.'

'We rolled to see who would place the first 'division' in their set up area and then alternated until all units had diced to come 6" on. As it was the only one to fail was the second French infantry 'division'. Then we rolled to see who moved first. The English won and Michael rolled to move his cavalry as fast as possible to the river to protect the gun, however, he threw a double 6, a blunder, sending the small elite of the army careering straight towards a mass of French Gendarmes!

Luckily, Stuart's heavies, opposite, failed their command and didn't move in the first turn, although Aly's infantry did and managed to get a couple of long range shots off at the English horse, but to no avail. Rick and Alan's infantry made a slow advance, Alan heading towards the river and Rick's straight ahead. Michael's infantry remained where they were.

On the French right flank Simon's heavy cavalry casually sauntered down the slope heading for the gun and it's guard of Landsknechts. The next turn everything moved slowly apart from Rick's 'division' that started to form a battle line.

Michael's heavy cavalry halted their unintentional charge and veered off to the left while receiving more bolts from Aly's crossbows, but no harm done. Alan's English infantry headed for the St John, occupying the farm on the way. The French, now reserve, infantry still hadn't made an appearance. Simon's cavalry were having problems picking up the pace in order to reach the submerged gun before the English and, apart from the small mounted units of archers and Stradiots, Stuart wasn't making any headway to move his gendarmerie.'

The Demilancers & Border Horse deploy

The English Centre deploy

The Demilancers make an unsupported headlong charge toward the French Gendarmes

Another shot of the Demilancer's wild charge with German cavalry attempting to keep up. This was a perturbing start the game !

The Gendarmes with supporting Men at Arms and Mounted Archers deploy and uncharacteristically remain calm and aloof .....for 3 turns thanks to my dice rolling. This was the first time seeing these all together as a completed unit, having worked all summer to reach this with the game as an unofficial deadline it was a delight to have met it and see them arrayed.

Simon's cavalry on the move with Aly's French to their rear

Aly's French Infantry. These looked great and this was their first outing, they performed really well throughout the game checking the English advance with determination for several turns almost completely unsupported due to the failure of our reserve to show up for 4 turns. Aly painted these for the Ordonnance of Charles VIII and they look great, really colourful in their livery jackets, it served to remind me that I must get some Franc Archer bowmen and infantry with polearms done for my own collection.

Aly's centre out on a limb, the reserve were to deploy to their rear in the woods but were remaining somewhat reluctant.

Simon's Burgundian Cavalry (masquerading as French for the game) begin to form into a wing to engage the approaching English relief force. This against the backdrop of his newly commissioned Flemish Manor House which was making its first outing in this game. 
Another view of the Manor complex built by David Marshall of TM Terrain, it really is a sight to behold with eye watering detail.

Back to the game;

'Turn three and four saw the English form into a recognizable battle line with Michael's cavalry spurring their horses to close the gap and joining up with Alan's Landsknechts guarding the gun and Alan's infantry spreading themselves either side of the farm.

Rick had arrayed his infantry and was advancing on the weak French centre taking out one of Aly's crossbow units. Michael's Landsknechts of the right flank moved in unison with Rick although turning to cover the flank that was being threatened by Stuart's light cavalry. Rick sent his Gentleman Pensioners to confront the Albanian Stradiots.

Stuart also had a sudden burst of activity and sent his Gendarmes in a parallel chase up the board towards the St John. Simon approached Alan's gun guard and started peppering them with bolts from his mounted crossbows. The French reserve infantry finally turned up and headed to bolster up Aly's beleagued centre and left flank. As Stuart's cavalry came within striking distance Simon charged in one of his heavy cavalry units supported by his mounted crossbows. Michael counter charged with a demi lancer unit with Alan's Landsknects and an English bow and bills in support, both fell back with maximum casualties.

Then Stuart struck, crashing into Michael's two cavalry units with his Gendarmes taking fire from artillery and bow on the way in. Stuart lost a freshly painted unit of Gendarmes in the melee and his 'divisional' commander and his other unit disengaged. Michael's cavalry 'division' was now broken and fell back behind the infantry.'

The French reserve finally arrive !

The Landsknechts on the English Right Flank move into the fray after being harassed by Stradiots and Mounted Archers. I'll never tire of looking at these figures they're amongst the favourites in my collection.

The aforementioned mounted archers making their debut in this game, they harried and generally irritated the enemy with vigour. These are converted plastic light cavalry on metal horses from the WOTR range, as usual with converted Ansar heads. I'll do a separate post on these soon.

French Men at Arms with Gendarmes behind race to plug the gap in the line and check the English cavalry advancing to the Gun.

Failing to meet up with Simon's heavy cavalry which had now disenagaged with heavy casualties my Gendarmes thundered in in an attempt to break the Tudor brigade for good. Receiving artillery, arquebus and Longbow fire as they went in they crashed into their opposite number causing further casualties. Alas they first rank Gendarmes (newly painted for the game) succumbed to their wounds and left the field. I'll do a post on these soon too.

The English centre forming in line

'With two cavalry units battered on the French side and a brigade in retreat that side of the board had an uneasy stand off but to top things off Stuart rolled a 6 and the Bombard was lifted from the river. The Tudor right flank then moved to the ridge and prepared to charge, firing volleys from the organ guns with arquebus and bows joining the din.

The French returned fire to less effect with the culverins unlimbering and missing at point blank range in the final turn. There was also the distracting stradiots and mounted archers in the extreme flank which checked the landsknecht pike for a few turns until the Pensioners saw them off.

The pub then seemed to be the best option. So, an English victory in that they rescued St John the Evangelist but equal damage was done to each side'

The Bombard is loaded ! without a second to lose

The English Cavalry division make a hasty retreat with the Bombard in tow

The Organ Guns deliver their deadly fire with Longbows in support, I really must get more of these as they looked great.

The French reserve form up in front of the English.

Their culverines with Lansquenet arquebusiers and crossbowmen form up to release a volley to their opposite number but it was innefective. At this point we ran out of time and the pub was calling.

a couple more shots from the game 

The Culprits, Left to Right; Rick Priestly, Aly Morrison, Simon Chick, Me, Alan Perry, Michael Perry.

Bye for now


Friday, 1 September 2017

French cavalry part 1

Over the last 6 weeks I have focused my efforts on doubling the cavalry in my French Army, an ambitious target (for me) of 20 figures was set and this was to be my summer project.

You can view my existing French cavalry here

I've had a number of opportunities and natural pauses with which to present my progress but I decided to push on while the impetus was there. I'm not sure if I'm alone in this but I often get a dip in enthusiasm after presenting my efforts but at the moment I'm so close to the end I think I'm safe !

I wanted to add a complete lance to my existing cavalry so 2 bases of Gendarmes / Men at arms, 2 bases of Ordonnance Archers with demilances / Coustillers and 2 bases of Ordonnance Archers with bows.

I arrived upon this composition after reading up on the subject and drawing a collective conclusion from the sources available to me, you can read my thoughts on this here

I began with the lance armed Ordonnance Archers as I quite fancied the challenge of creating a convincing look both in terms of their equipment and appearance. As ever my prime source for this was the David & Bethsabee series of tapestries which depict mixed formations of Heavy to Light cavalry, snapshots of the medium cavalry are at the top of the post.

Essentially the medium Archer cavalry were either poorer horsemen or young nobles starting out to become Gendarmes. As such they wore older and/or lighter armour whilst the Coustillers within their ranks were lighter still and armed with javelins / light lance.

Here's my interpretation

To achieve this appearance I used the Perry WOTR metal cavalry along with their plastic Men at Arms and Light Cavalry sets as a start. I then added further parts to them to add a Renaissance flair in the case of the armoured figures and for the Coustillers I converted them completely.

Here they are alongside my first interpretation (central 2 bases) from 2 years ago;

As the first effort was almost entirely command I was keen to have these as rank and file. In some ways I prefer this second batch but I think that's just the advance in my painting and converting over the intervening period.

In their composition I wanted these to form the outer ranks so that this appearance in line could be achieved to represent the French preference for charging en haye in a single line.

I did consider giving each new base a banner but I wasn't sure if the whole unit would then be a bit flag heavy. I teeter between this notion and 'you can never have too many flags !'

Here they are mustering for a charge;

So that they could blend well with my existing figures I used metal horses rather than the Perry plastics as these are noticeably larger. In this case I used the Perry metal horses as they have a bit more character and life to them than the Foundry ones.

Out of the two new bases this is my favourite as I'm really pleased with the conversion work on the Coustiller and the central figure. For the latter I added a Plume from the Steel Fist Renaissance Knights and sculpted a bevor and visor on to the kettle helm which is apparent in the source below. I also quite like the Kettle helm generally as a French thing, I'm not sure if there was a preference for that but it works well to help to underpin the unit identity.

Also apparent in the source below was my primary inspiration for the Coustiller.

This called for a rather ambitious conversion for which this was the second attempt. I began with one of the bodies from the light cavalry set and filed away about 1-2mm from below the waist down to just above the knee before gluing the figure to the horse. I then sculpted a rough base which established the basic proportion of the skirt as shown in this (different) figure;

This base needs to be as thin as possible as it's merely a surface to sculpt the main skirt onto (the base needs to dry before the skirt is sculpted on top). If you don't do this the folds and spread of the skirt can't be achieved. If the base is too thick the skirt will look rather voluminous as I've found in some attempts. If it doesn't work just let it dry then peel it off to start again.

The folds were then added, left and right with drying between each, you could try both but there's a risk in damaging one side while you sculpt the other.

Next came the arms and body, the right arm was a bit tricky as you're not really pushing against anything and particularly on the body side it's hard to get to.

As ever the head is a converted head from the Ansar set, basically hair and a cap is added, some are easier than others to do.

On to the next base, these had less work with the exception of the Coustiller. I'm not particularly happy with the pose but I think that might be down to the choice of horse.

Another point of note for these is that I've changed the way I do armour. I used to start with a black undercoat then dry brush in the base colour then highlight in the mid tone and highlight but I found this to be a bit hit and miss.

I now use a black undercoat with the shade colour and a wash of black ink. I then highlight in the mid and highlight colour then apply a wash of 2 parts deep blue and 1 part grey after which I re-highlight the highlight colour. This gives a brilliance and slight bluing to the armour. It takes a bit longer than previously but I'm pleased with the results. The starting point for this was again the tapestries which use blue grey as a shade.

Here's all of the medium cavalry supporting some Gendarmes;

Finally, here's an advance preview of how the latest lance will look, Gendarmes supported by Ordonnance archers with lance and bow;

Depending upon which is finished first and whether I get painting fatigue the next instalment will be a new unit of either Gendarmes or Mounted Archers, hopefully not too long.

Also making their debut in these pictures are some rather lovely twisted wire trees from The Model Tree Shop, I love them and can't seem to spend my pocket money fast enough on new instalments.

Bye for now


Sunday, 30 July 2017

Tudor Great Bombard Part 2

Tudor soldiers and pioneers arrive upon the aftermath of an ambush and hurriedly set to work limbering a mired gun.

Following the creation of the Tudor Great Bombard I was keen to create a vignette to illustrate the events of 27-28 July 1513;

'The (King's) middle ward once outside the English territory of the Pale were subject to repeated harassment on its way to join those already besieging Therouanne. On this day a force comprising troops from Bolougne and Montreuil under the command of Bayard and de Piennes engaged the English, apparently with a view to capture or kill Henry himself. 

The ward stood its ground and whilst Henry took safe haven among the ranks of his mercenary Landsknechts the attackers were engaged with artillery, with none of their own to reply the French left the field. When the ward moved on again some of the guns began to fall behind, one of the heaviest pieces, cast with the image of St. John the Evangelist, came to grief and slipped from its limber into a stream. This was a brand new gun and had hitherto not fired a shot, she weighed 3 tons and it was clearly going to take some effort to recover her. 

George Buckemer, a master carpenter from Calais reckoned he could get the gun out, the ward pressed on and he and a hundred workmen and a skeleton guard set to work but a powerful French force had been waiting from a safe distance and fell upon the scene with lance, crossbow and arquebus. The party were mostly slaughtered or taken prisoner but the gun remained mired, the carpenter was later blamed for his over confidence as one 'who would work all of his own head without counsel'.

Henry was somewhat annoyed at the loss of his beloved Apostle, sending Henry Bourchier, the Earl of Essex and Sir Rhys ap Thomas back to see if they could rescue the stricken piece. Lord Berners, master gunner was able to secure the gun to a limber but before they could make off a large French force appeared attacking the rear of the party as it moved off. The English responded with great spirit and forced the French to retreat leaving St John to nobly return to Henry's arsenal.'

I used this event previously as a Lion Rampant scenario, a most entertaining game and one that I've been keen to re-visit ever since.  I had this in mind when I built the bombard so I made a press mould from the original piece prior to painting, here they are together;

Despite a few attempts I couldn't quite get the end of the barrel to mould properly which was a shame but the cut down version on the mired cart still looks good.

The other catalyst for doing this piece was the Tudor dollies, they were ripe for conversion so I set about cutting them up to represent wading in the river and interacting around the Artillery hoist, a chance find from the League of Augsburg site.

The terrain board with a bend and ford in the river was also commissioned with this in mind so it's been very much a slow burning project which lends itself to a few variations on a theme.

Bye for now


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Tudor Dollies Update

I'm very pleased to say that the first order of Tudor Dollies has sold out, thanks all for your support and interest, it's been good to see where these have gone and to learn what you plan to do with them. 

I've ordered a further batch and will aim to keep these in stock permanently, from today there will be a delay of about 2-3 weeks but thereafter they should be easy to get yourself some. The price remains the same at £6 per set of 6 figures plus postage and Paypal fee. If you're interested just send an email stating how many you'd like and your address, I'll respond with a total price and arrange payment. My email address is

Note that the dollies are just that, they are supplied without heads and arms. I have put together a sculpting guide via this link which shows you step by step how to sculpt the sleeves of a base coat.

The dollies were designed to be early Tudor infantry advancing / attacking with bills and halberds using the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses plastics set from which you can easily create a satisfying unit such as this;

The next step for these would naturally be some Longbowmen to support their bill armed colleagues. I've found that with the use of a hacksaw you can easily create some static poses with satisfying results;

As with the bill these just need the sleeves to be added but they are good. Here you can see that one of the dollies lends itself to a straight up assembly without further work for a good nocking pose whilst the others just need their legs sawn off and new ones added, 2 from the Perry boxed set and one from the new Warlord Landsknecht set. The latter is particularly good as they have the bear paw shoes as well as ribbons and some slashing visible at the knee. When doing this conversion you just need to get the height right so use another figure as a reference.

As well as archers you can also create handgunners, crossbowmen and pike using the Perry Mercenaries and Warlord Landsknecht plastic sets;

I do intend to create possibly one more pack of standing figures but I cannot commit to when this will be, it could be quite a while but I hope this shows the versatility that can be achieved with the existing pack.

Bye for now, several projects on the go as usual hopefully I'll have something to display soon.