Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Yusuf ibn Tashfin's Black Guard Beginning to Take Shape

I'm pleased to announce that I have finished painting and the first 12 (Gulp! A long way to go as of yet!!) miniatures of Yusuf ibn Tashfin's Black Guard have been rolled out. I went for quite a plain black colour scheme highlighted by a deep blue as I wanted the Black Guard to look quite menacing on the tabletop. 

I've went for a mix of Artizan Designs, Footsore (actually Musketeer) and Saxon Miniatures (now sold by Warlord Games). In the main these will be the manufacturers of choice but with the (obvious!) addition of Gripping beast, Doyens of the Dark Ages, superb "El Cid" range. The miniatures have been blue tacked into position on the bases as I want the composition to be flexible should I change my mind about positioning as more figures are added.

I've gone more for a sort of Sudanese look with darker skin tones than I plan to paint the 'Berber' and Andalusian units in the army. I'm not sure I'm 100% happy with the paint scheme on the Black Guard but considering I have not done any painting for roughly five years I should probably not be so harsh on myself. Ohmmmmm..... just breathe! 

Having recently done some research on the hippo shields carried by many 'Berber' tribes what I discovered was quite interesting. The existing examples of hippopotamus hide shields in various collections and museums around the globe show signs that the shield significantly blackened as the object aged. I've gone for a much lighter 'brown' and have layered the paint in such a way as to suggest the ridges that occurred during construction that one tends to find on the surviving examples. My lighter shields are not realistic in tone. The brown is matched to be reasonably complimentary to the blue in order to create some degree of colour balance. You can't take the fine art college education out of the man- apparently!

Ethiopian Hippo Hide Shield
(slightly 'blackened' with age)

Beja Shield from the 19th Century

Here are a couple of quick snaps of the unit as it takes shape from the right and the left which should give some idea of the dynamic that I am hoping to create; that of a unit in combat and not the static unit of spearmen one sometimes finds in armies of the period. I want all my units to have some sort of vignette as a minor focal point but also to show that this is a fighting force. This has always been a theme in all of my armies including my old WAB armies! Not so easy to to with a one mini- one base type of army as one found in most WAB armies.

For the spears I've gone with a cane type affair as exemplified in the El Cid WAB Supplement written by James Morris. They are referred to as bamboo in the El Cid book but as someone on LAF pointed out in my first post covering this game, it is unlikely to have been bamboo as the materiel would have had to travel several thousands of miles if that were so! If you are interested in the Spanish Reconquista and you have not got a copy of this great book then I suggest that you try your utmost to get a copy! It's filled with a wealth of information, ideas and general military history. Really. It's a gem of a book. As Warhammer historical are no longer with us you will have to look online to buy a copy. I'm sure there will be plenty of them floating about if you look in the right places. The Wanted section of the Bazaar in the Lead Adventure Forum would be a great place to start.

As you will no doubt have noticed the miniatures need another coat of matte varnish as a few bits were missed after giving them the coat of gloss. This is inevitable when varnishing with a Matte Spray over a first layer of gloss as when you apply the varnish the matte looks as glossy as the gloss! Fun, fun, fun! The gloss I'm currently using is Humbrol Enamel Varnish Spray. This is not typical as I  would normally have given the miniatures a brush on coat of Humbrol Gloss thinned with a little white spirit. I find that this gives a much tougher coat then the gloss spray and it also allows for better control of any 'pooling'. Unfortunately, I cannot find my tin of brush on Humbrol Gloss at present but I'm certain that it is safe and sound in the many boxes that I put my painting gear in! One of the fun parts of packing everything away and unpacking..... not!

This was intended to be a quick post. Not only to show that the armies were beginning to take shape but somehow to give me some impetus into getting stuck into getting the units modelled and painted.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Spanish Reconquista Literature Arrives!

The postman must have good timing! Three books on the Spanish Reconquista and a nice book authored by Mike Ingram, The Battle of Northampton 1460, from the Northamptonshire Battlefield Society arrived simultaneously through my letter box!

Before I talk briefly (having not read the Reconquista books) I will mention the Battle of Northampton 1460 book. Mike is a long time protagonist for the preservation of the battlefield and has written a book that reflects his passion. The book is perhaps the most in depth at the violent dispute between the Houses of Lancaster and York just outside the town of Northampton. It has some nice illustrations throughout including maps of the action; but, perhaps of most interest to wargamers the book contains artwork by Matthew Ryan, a medieval illustrator of renown.

Of the three books arriving today the most War in the Iberian Peninsular 700-1600 , Francisco Garcia Fitz and Joao Gouveia Monteiro looks to be the most comprehensive with details of the conflict throughout as well as cultural and social surroundings. It covers the three main battles that I'm beginning my focus is moving toward, those being the Battle of Zalaca/Sagrajas 1086, the Battle of Fraga 1134 and the Battle of Las Navas De Tolosa 1212

The period of 1086 and 1212 saw gradual improvements in the armours of the soldier, particularly the upper echelons of society and this will be reflected in my choice of miniatures for each battle. For Sagrajas I'm looking mainly at Gripping Beast's El Cid: The moors And the Spanish range along with Crusader Miniature's El Cid range ans well as their Normans. 

For Las Navas de Tolosa 1212, at least for the Christian nobility I'm looking to use Footsore Miniatures Baron's War range which was part of a Kickstarter project but will be on general release by Footsore sometime next year. I've seen many of the miniatures for the range and they most certainly are a real treat, being the only comprehensive range of miniatures I can think of that accurately represents the armours and weapons of the time.

War in the Iberian Peninsular is top of my list followed by The Quest for El Cid, Richard Fletcher, Chronicles of the Spanish Reconquest a general narrative from 1110 to 1157 then The Ques for El Cid, which is written in more, well, understandable English.

Before my lunch hour is over I should add that the first of the Black Guard infantry models have been glossed and having allowed this to thoroughly dry they will be getting a coat of Mat Varnish tomorrow before being based. In other words there should be some eye candy available very soon!

Friday, 8 November 2019

Very Interesting Gate Fulford 1066 Videos on YouTube!

I've just dug up these videos on YouTube pertaining to the Battle of Fulford Gate.

Usually this sort of thing is a fairly inane and barely scratches the surface but this guy has a real passion for trying to save the battlefield and has had made /or has made a great little model that most wargamers will appreciate more than a topographical map.

I find it very inspiring. A nice find after I had managed to dig out those photo's of the Forgotten Battle of Fulford Gate 1066 game we put on at Claymore all those years ago.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Spanish Reconquista Game, Partizan 2020- 191 Days and Counting!

So, with Partizan 2020 and my Spanish Reconquista game not so far away I'm going to be taking stock of what I have accomplished to get the game ready from day to day.

This may make for quite boring reading but I've decided just to include the number of days left in the title of my posts so as to not leave you all with a bemused look and possibly a well deserved gaping yawn to boot!

So, thus far:

1/40 Black Guard Infantry, cleaned, filed and undercoated- 20 of which are being painted- pics posted ASAP.

2/12 Hasham Black Guard Cavalry, cleaned, primed and undercoated.

3/1 Vignette (all hush hush until completion)

I have left you with a picture of a statue of Alfonso I of Aragon. It is very tempting to try to do some sort of conversion to try to achieve the same level of poise and drama as in the statue that stands in the Parade Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta, Zaragoza. We shall see!

Alfonso I of Aragon, "The Battler"

A Real Blast From the Past.

I know that a lot of the pics of late have been stuff that I've already shown on the Internet a few years ago but the latest instalment is a real blast from 2007. It was in that year that Gripping Beast ran their last Beyond the Golden Gate Campaign in Nottingham at Games Workshop. I had decided that I would speed paint a Justinian Byzantine army for the event us and gave myself three weeks to complete the task. Using a mix of Gripping Beast Late Romans, Sassanids and Early Welsh (What? I hear you say!) made the deadline too with one last spurt of painting that kept me up all throughout the night before the event!! So armed with my army I headed off down to Notts only to discover that I had left the cavalry men for the last unit in Edinburgh and only managed to bring the horse flesh!! Embarrassed but also somewhat amused I had to turn to the Beast and borrow a unit of cavalry for the Campaign :O)

As I remember it the campaign was full of the usual fun and frolics that one is usually immersed in, though once again my generalship was to let me down with no wins to five losses recorded for the Justinians!!

Anyway, here are a few snaps of a couple of units included in the army. As the army was speed painted it's not up to my usual painting standards as many a old trick was used to get the army complete. Having said that, the army does look good and has actually won a painting prize or two. Sadly the army has now been sold to Big Jim Sweeney and now resides in Ripon.

First up is the Comitatus:

                               Unit as a whole (sans standard bearer!)


Army Standard Bearer:


Army General

Unit of Hun Horse Archers:

Horse Archer:

Another Horse Archer- Fond of Heads


Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that little sojourn down memory lane?

Bedford's Battle


Back again! I know it's been a long time since I updated this blog and some of you may be wondering what happenned to me(?). For the past six or seven months or so I've been quite seriously ill and to be honest wargaming was really the last thing on my mind. It's been a very traumatic experience but I am certainly now over the worst and am getting back into the swing of painting mini's and planning games etc.

OK, explanation over with.

Here's a few snaps of Bedford's Battle that featured in the Battle of Verneuil game at Salute last year. I decided to go all out for Impetus style basing as this gives the maximum space to create drama and tension which can only serve to imrpove the vignettes on the bases.

If you want to read about my choices for miniatures, painting, heraldry etc you can pop over here, which will explain well, everything really.

I intend to photograph each base and say a little about why I chose to make certain choices as I put the models together etc. I hope to do one base a day but perhaps one every three is more realsitic with my current work load.

Please enjoy the images:

First Ships of Glory Game