DBA Army I/2a: Early Egyptians

Apparently it has been a while since I posted last. I finished my Early Egyptian army shortly after my previous post, but haven’t had a chance to get pictures up until now.

DBA Army I/2a: Early Egyptians.  Essex Miniatures.
Early Egyptian horde and Pharoah. Essex Miniatures.

As seen in my previous installment, the archers were all painted identically, and different ink washes were applied for comparison purposes.  Everything else was flat-painted with Army Painter strong tone dip applied.  This provides a passable look for the army without a lot of effort, which is just about right for my current level of painting inspiration (low).

Early Egyptian blades and raiders. Essex Miniatures.

Nobody makes an Early/Middle Kingdom Egyptian Pharoah on a litter in 15mm, as far as I can tell.  So I had to settle with the 4Bd option instead.  I used the Pharoah on Mule figure from Essex, but I had to use a deeper base to fit everything.

I used a different basing technique than I’ve used in the past for dry armies.  This time I painted the laser-cut masonite bases with sand colored paint, glued sandbox sand directly to the base, and left it unpainted.  It gives a “good enough” look without as much effort as painting and drybrushing the sand as I have with some other armies.

There isn’t much else interesting to say about this army, so I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Early Egyptian Archers. Essex Miniatures.

Early Egyptian psiloi. Essex Miniatures.

Ink Wash Comparison

Devlan Mud is Dead! Long Live Devlan Mud!

Games Workshop’s Devlan Mud wash has been a commonly used weapon in my painting arsenal since I got back into painting miniatures 3 years ago.  It works well straight out of the bottle, and produces reasonable results in areas where I’m not that interested in painting in highlights and shadows, but when I also don’t want to dip the whole figure.

Unfortuantely, Devlan Mud is no longer available, since Games Workshop recently completely revamped their paint line.  When I was at Legions for Stoogecon, I picked up 3 possible replacements to try out:

  • Games Workshop’s Agrax Earthshade wash, which seems to be their replacement for Devlan Mud
  • Army Painter Dark Tone Ink (not the Quickshade dip)
  • Reaper Master Series Paints Brown Wash

I meant to get Army Painter’s Strong Tone Ink for a better direct comparison with the Quickshade.  Oops! That will have to wait for now.

I was painting a DBA Early Egyptian army, so on one stick of archers, I painted all of the figures identically but applied different washes to each.  On another stick, I used Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade.  These figures are almost entirely flesh and white.  I liked this for comparison purposes because white is notoriously difficult to shade well, and it doesn’t disguise the color of the ink wash at all.

I also used these inks and washes that I had on hand for more comparison:

  • Didi’s Magic Ink, Brown
  • Games Workshop Gryphone Sepia wash
  • Games Workshop Ogryn Flesh wash
  • An old Reaper flesh ink with water added

Here is a comparison shot detailing the results.

Ink Wasy Comparison: Essex Early Egyptians. Army Painter Strong Quickshade on top, washes below.

And here are the results, left to right.

First, a comparison between Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade.  I think Devlan Mud is a bit less red/orange than Agrax Earthshade, but they’re both very neutral.  My Devlan Mud was old, and probably doesn’t work as well as it did when it was new, but the Agrax is doing a better job of staying in the cracks and not coloring the high spots and flat surfaces as much.  As seen on the red feathers, the overall tone of the Agrax-shaded figure is lighter than the Devlan-shaded figure.

Agrax Earthshade is also a much better direct replacement for the Army Painter Strong Tone Quickshade dip.  Overall, if it were my only choice, I’d be happy to replace Devlan Mud with Agrax.

Unfortunately, some of Devlan Mud’s flaws are still apparent in Agrax Earthshade.  It still smells like a combination of distilled bong water and moldy coffee grounds.  It’s still really expensive and comes in tiny bottles that let the liquid evaporate too much.  I’ve also found that all of the GW washes behave badly if they either dry out, or if you add water or just about anything else to them to thin them out.  This shortens their effective shelf life even further.

The new bottles prevent your local store’s in-house painters from using the wash and then putting it back on the shelf, but I didn’t find the new “keep your lid open” feature any better than their previous attempt several bottle designs ago.

Army Painter’s Dark Tone Ink seems to work as well as their Quickshade does, but I bought the wrong color so I can’t effectively compare colors with the Agrax.

The Reaper Brown Wash seems closer to the old Reaper inks than to GW’s washes.  It looks more opaque in the bottle, and doesn’t stay in the cracks as well as the other modern Wash products do.

I’ve been using Didi’s Magic Ink for almost as long as the GW washes. It has two major benefits over the GW products: it comes in much larger, less expensive dropper bottles, and it smells nice.  Brown is a very good direct replacement for GW’s Gryphone Sepia, but it’s too light to replace Devlan/Agrax.  Didi’s ink is much thinner than the GW washes, more of the consistency of water.  It stays in the cracks well, but it is hard to get it to darken things as much as you might like to.

Games Workshop’s Gryphone Sepia and Ogryn Flesh wash are also no longer available in GW’s new paint line.  They work just like Devlan Mud and Agrax Earthshade, but they’re different colors.  I would be interested in testing their new replacement versions, but I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, and I might not since I don’t run out of these colors as quickly.

The old Reaper Flesh Ink is not a modern wash.  My bottle is probably about 10 years old, and may not be available anymore, I’m not sure.  It requires thinning with water and your favorite additives to flow properly and fill in the cracks.  Here, I applied it using only water to thin it out, and it worked fairly well.  However, at this point I wouldn’t bother using this product unless I was doing something like airbrushing.

Overall, Agrax Earthshade is the clear winner of this exercise, with one caveat.  If Army Painter Strong Tone Ink works as well as the Dark Tone, I would probably prefer it due to its superior dropper bottle and price point.

I hope this helps someone else in the market for a replacement for their precious supply of Devlan Mud.  In the future, I’ll try to do some more comparisons including Army Painter Strong Tone, as well as various black/almost-black washes.

Tournament Report: Stoogecon 2012

Stoogecon was last month, but I haven’t found time to post a report until now.  I didn’t bring my camera this year, so I only have results and no pictures.

The first event was a DBA 2.2 Open tournament, with 8 players.  I brought my Italian Condotta, IV/61.  I plan to use it at the NICT at Historicon, but I had never used it in straight 2.2, so I thought I’d give it a try.  Overall, I really enjoy playing this army a lot more than I think I ought to.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton, who fielded the only other Medieval knight army in the tournament: Teutonic Orders (IV/30).  I beat him 2G-1.

The second game was a tight contest against Jim Naughton’s Middle Imperial Romans (East).  I ended up losing 3-4 after we each had several opportunities to break the 3-3 stalemate with a good combat roll.  This was the first loss for my previously undefeated Condotta.

In the last round, I faced Rob Torres and his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-2.

Jim Naughton won the tournament with no losses.

The second event was Matched Pairs, using the February 14th DBA 2.2+ Beta rules.  We hoped to play 4 rounds, but unfortunately some players dropped out to play DBM, so we only ended up with 6 players and 3 rounds.

Just like last year, I brought Later Achaemenid Persians with the Auxilia and Psiloi options, and Early Bedouin.  After last year’s experience with these armies, I decided the pair wasn’t actually very well matched.  However, I think DBA 2.2+ has improved the matchup in several ways.

In 2.2, the Bedouin camels suffered against the Persian foot, but was a bit better against its cavalry.  Their ability to play in the dunes was minimized by their high aggression, and not very useful because of the camel’s deficit against enemy foot.

In 2.2+, Camels are now 3/2 and don’t recoil against Cavalry (but quick-flee them).  This gives them at least even odds against Persian Auxilia, and works fairly well against enemy Cavalry.  Also, the Bedouin’s greater number of Psiloi benefit from 2.2+’s Psiloi group move through bad going.

Overall, I expected the matchup to be much closer than it was in 2.2.  In practice, I only really played one game with this army, and it didn’t provide any corroborating evidence.

In the first round, I faced Mike Naughton again, using a Matched Pair I’ve seen him play before: Scots Irish versus Picts.  I chose the Picts with their new Light Spears, and lost 3-4.  Mike went on to win the tournament.

Next, Frank Popecki chose to use my Persians against my Bedouins.  He beat me 1G-0 in the first few turns of combat, so we decided to play it out for fun.  In the rest of the play through, he beat me 4-1.  So, score one more for Persians against my Bedouins.  I won’t believe the Persians are truly better in this matchup for several more games.  With this many low-factor troops, a few winning combats early on can cascade into a quick win.

In the final round, I fought Rob Torres again.  I chose his Palmyrians, with lots of Cataphracts, against his Later Pre-Islamic Arabs.  I beat him 4-0.  I remember really liking the look of the Palmyrians and enjoying playing with Cataphracts.  Since I don’t have a Cataphract army yet, I may have to look into picking up the figures for these guys.

Over the course of the day I won as many games as I lost, which is pretty good for me across multiple events.  More importantly, I enjoyed playing DBA.  I still prefer 2.2+ over 2.2, which is good since it’s the future. 

Cold Wars 2012: Saturday

Matched pairs, 15mm games

JM and I volunteered to run a DBA Matched Pairs event on Saturday morning.  Neither of us got a lot of sleep the night before, so when I woke up I just let JM sleep in and started the event without him.

I posted details on Fanaticus, but here’s a summary of the results.   We had 16 players in two brackets.  4 players used “hybrid” basing, which uses 15mm figures with the 25mm base sizes for more visual appeal.  One player had 6mm figures on 15mm bases, and the rest brought straight 15mm figures.

Since each player provides two armies that will play against each other, any scale can be used as long as they’re compatible.

Jason Bostwick won group A with 71 points (3 wins, 1 loss), and Ted Furey went undefeated in group B with 89 points.

May the Beer be With You: Rick Wynn, HOTT matched pairs.

Next was Hordes of the Things matched pairs.  I brought my Battle of Endor “matched” pair built from Star Wars collectible miniatures.  This was not an even match, but it produced historical results.  I need to work on the army composition before bringing it out again.

In the first round, I faced Alex Bostwick using my army.  He chose the Rebels and Ewoks, and I played the Imperial side.  He crushed me quickly, I believe it was 6g-0.  Shooter generals are feeble, but it was too late to change my mind.

Next I played against Jeff Franz using his Perseus vs. Medusa Greek armies in 15mm scale.  I  had Perseus fly behind his line with a harpy to strike his harpy in the rear and kill it.  Unfortunately, in response Medusa turned around and shot Perseus down, recoiling him into his own harpy and killing him. I lost 6g-2 after 2 rounds of combat.

In the third round, Rick Wynn also chose to play the role of the Ewoks.  This game lasted a bit longer, but ended the same way: my shooter general was crushed and the Empire fell.  It was approximately 8g-0 at the end.  Hmm, I have a problem losing generals, apparently.

Finally, I faced Greek Alex who was borrowing a pair of “Arabian Nights” armies from Rick.  They were identical: a Magician general, flyer, dragon, behemoth, and warbands.  These are PIP intense forces, but it evens out when they face each other.  Alex whittled me away, got his dragon on the board, and finally ended up winning 14-0.

Once again, I felt a need to learn how to play HOTT effectively.  The troop interactions are fun, but also new and different, and not what I’m used to.  I ended up picking up prepainted Mechwarrior figures for another HOTT matched pair of armies, so I’ll have more armies to choose from if I ever find the time to play.

Finally, the event we’ve all been waiting for: Condotta Chaos!  As usual, the Two Davids campaign event was the highlight of the convention.

Jeff Franz, looking down.

By the time this event started, I had been running on too little sleep for a long time.  I was basically on autopilot by now.  Luckily the event was run using the DBA 2.2+ rules, which I seem to be more familiar with these days.

I originally intended to take Pike and Artillery as my army options, but then I learned none of the Condotta armies were allowed to take pike.  Since I needed to take spears, I took psiloi to provide support for them. My other options were an additional Light Horse, and of course the pavisiers.

In this event, all knights were allowed to dismount as blades at deployment.  I painted blades for this, so I hoped to get a chance to use them.

In the first round, I drew a high numbered chit, and defended against Jeff Franz’s Condotta.  I placed terrain, and used a road curved around a hill and a wood.  I deployed with two Knights dismounted as Blades near the bad going to act as bad going troops.  He very helpfully placed his Artillery on the same flank, and I sensed an opportunity.

This was the only game when I took advantage of a 2.2+ rule that I remembered but the enemy forgot.  He kinked his line, so I contacted his ungrouped Artillery and caused it to conform to my column of blades so I could fight it without an overlap.  It wasn’t without risk: I had to survive one round of combat against a knight before I could get back into bad going.  With the threat from his artillery neutralized, our lines clashed and I eventually crushed him and killed his general: 4g-2.

In this campaign, losing a general meant rolling on a table to see whether the general escaped (no effect), was captured (the only way for a winning defender to gain a vassal), or killed (causing the army to lose their vassals).  Jeff’s general escaped alive but embarrassed.  Fooey, I could use a good vassal!

Jan Spoor, looking down.

In the next round, I got to choose between two high numbered tiles and so I was attacked again.  This time I faced Jan Spoor and his… wait for it…  Condotta!  He used the same composition that I had.

I rolled as the defender and placed similar terrain: minimal bad going with enough room between them to play, and a bent road.  I deployed all my knights mounted, and left two elements of bait to the left of the woods.  He deployed three elements on that flank and took the bait!  Oh wait, he also brought his General with him so he wouldn’t be out of command.  That wasn’t part of my plan…

In the end, it was a very close, hard fought battle.  He had superiority on the left flank, but I managed to kill enough in the center that I pulled off a 4-3 victory before I died.  Once again, since I was defending, I didn’t gain any vassals.

Rick Wynn, looking down.

In round 3, I drew two tiles again since I won, and once again my numbers were too high to attack with.  Rick Wynn attacked me with his Medieval Germans.

I defended, placed very similar terrain again, and once again placed two elements of bait on the left flank. This time they were on a road, making them look extra fancy in their steel stirrups and poofy sleeves.  I deployed one knight dismounted, since Rick had more heavy foot than I did.  He also took the bait, but he took an entire spear quad to counter it.  This was great news.  As long as I could threaten them enough not to move back to the center, I was confident I’d never need to face them.

It was either this game or the previous one when I finally figured out how to wheel my army into advantageous matchups effectively. In this game it really clicked and worked well.  I swapped my elements into place so that it was in Rick’s benefit to walk forward, and in my interest to wheel into a better position, and it just worked really well.

But Rick is a good player, and he did a very good job of protecting his flank with the woods on his side.  I managed to hit his line hard enough to do some damage, but after my initial combat advantage I started taking casualties.  Pretty soon I was only one element from dying, but I managed to kill his general and win 4g-3.  In the end, two of my elements and one of his had done a 180 in the middle of the board, it was a real mess.

This game demonstrated the difference it makes when you don’t lose rear support when a front rank dies in 2.2+.  My psiloi support survived at least 2 rounds of combat against his knight, but eventually lost a 2-2 mutual quick kill roll. A Knight killing spears and following up into a Psiloi with double overlaps is not necessarily a good deal for the Knight… it’s certainly dangerous, possibly too dangerous.

Since Rick lost his General, he had to roll on the CMAT table as well, and I captured him.  A vassal at last!

Mark Pozniak, looking down.

In the final round, I drew the 1 and 2 tiles.  Finally I got to attack, and so did Rick.  I had a tiny vassal tree compared to other players, but they did look like juicy targets.  I hadn’t played against Poz yet, and he had a big vassal tree that I could reach easily, so I attacked him.

Mark had Condotta, and I think he took Artillery.  He defended and placed terrain.  It looked similar to mine, but with the bad going farther apart and larger.  He also placed two elements of light horse on a flank, and I mirrored his deployment there.

Again this game, I was able to wheel into good matchups with the main line.  I struck his light horse with mine at just about the time our lines met, but it was a minor mistake: I should’ve waited for him to come to me so he’d be out of command radius.

I killed one of his light horse immediately, and this time I didn’t lose my early combat advantage. I won combats all down the line and fairly quickly killed him 4-0.  It was a much faster game, but much less tense than the previous ones.

This win netted me a large vassal tree, and Rick added to it with his attack as well.  In the end, first place was a three way tie between me, Mark, and Rich Baier.  We had a roll-off to break the tie before Dave Schlanger had a chance to tell us who was actually eligible, but everyone else had so many plaques they just let me take it anyway.

So finally, I started winning!  I guess it was better that it was all in one event; now I’m qualified for the NICT and have a measurable reason to try to get to Historicon in July.  We’ll see if my schedule allows it.

Saturday night, we stayed up until 4:30am after the Daylight Savings clock change, playing Red Dragon Inn.  This was quite a fun little Take That! game, with a good theme.  But as with most of these games, it is nothing without its theme and the right players to make the most of it.  It’s not a good choice for our gaming group in Pittsburgh, but it was a lot of fun to play with the rowdier convention crowd.

Those games produced my favorite quote of the convention, courtesy of Alex Bostwick: “Hey guys! Alan is secretly 40!”  Well, just because you don’t tell anyone something, that doesn’t necessarily make it a secret, but I’m old enough to appreciate it when someone thinks I’m in my 20’s.

Thanks to everyone for running these excellent events!  I had fun, as always, and look forward to seeing everyone again.

Cold Wars 2012: Thursday, Friday

Another Cold Wars has come and gone.  It was a lot of fun, as usual, and it has renewed my enthusiasm for going to conventions.  My friendships with friends I rarely see grow stronger, and I look forward to seeing everyone in person again soon.

I did a lot of losing this past weekend, so I’m not going to spend a lot of time dwelling on it.  There are other newer, more interesting things to talk about instead.

Thursday

JM and I rode out with Larry and Rich and set up camp in a second room the hotel accidentally reserved in Larry’s name.  Thanks for the mistake, no other rooms were available!

On Thursday night was Larry’s element-based theme game: Horde Wars.  Armies were required to contain at least one horde, so I took Post-Mongol Samurai with four hordes.  As usual, despite being a “Horde Wars” event, the metagame turned it into “Horde Killers Wars.”  I usually take advantage of the opportunity to try to learn how to use the themed element type, instead of trying to learn how to kill it.  This time, I’m not sure it worked, because I don’t think Hordes are as useful in large numbers as in smaller numbers.

My losses were against Ron Giampapa’s Feudal English, 2-4; Mark Bumala’s medieval army (I forget which one, but it had more Knights), 6-0; and Jason Bostwick’s Sarmations, maybe 4g-0.  Basically I was crushed, and the only elements I killed in the event were Ron’s psiloi rush.

Friday

I actually got sleep Thursday night.. no wait… no, I didn’t.  I had Thai iced tea and a Kahlua drink and couldn’t get to sleep at all, but JM confirmed I was snoring so I must’ve slept a little bit.

Friday morning was the first Big Event: BBDBA Doubles.  JM and I took Hittite Empire (I/24a) with a Mitanni ally (I/19).  This is hopefully the last time this army will be a straight spear line.  Starting with Historicon, we’ll be using the DBA 2.2+ rules for BBDBA, which will convert all the Hittite 3Sp into Light Spears.  This will make them weaker, but more maneuverable.  I’m not sure if I’d be as willing to take Hittites to BBDBA, but I’d be more willing to play a Hittite/Mitanni matched pair.

vs. Two Davids: New Kingdom Egyptians

In the first round, we faced Two Davids with their New Kingdom Egyptians. They placed a mandatory waterway on one edge, and marshes mucking up the deployment zone on the other edge. After protracted discussion, we chose the board edge behind the marshes, and they deployed half their army.  They reserved not only their last command, but a landing party from their CinC command, giving them maximum flexibility in deploying their final forces.  This won’t be legal in 2.2+.

We deployed defensively behind the marshes, with our mounted almost entirely on the right flank.  This gave us a good size bad going force to fight in the marsh while our spears sat behind to prevent breakthroughs.  JM refused their slowed left flank while we attacked aggressively on the right.

We won the bad going, and eventually broke one of their commands, but it wasn’t their CinC.  Unfortunately, it went more slowly than we preferred, and Dave Schlanger was strictly enforcing 2.5 hour rounds this time. We couldn’t seal the deal in time, so we ended up with an unfinished game, 29-10 in our favor.  This is as well as we’ve done against the Davids in person, which is good, but it is no fun to leave a game unfinished.

vs. Greek’s Greeks: Syracusan with Carthaginian ally

In fact, we disliked it so much that we decided to do it again in the next round.  We faced “Greek” Alex and Mark Pozniak playing Syracusans with a Carthaginian ally.  They defended again, but placed their mandatory waterway on the flank instead.  Heavy bad going bogged up the other flank, so we were destined to stick to the coast on our right flank again.

This game went very similarly to the first one, at the start.  We deployed on the right flank with the intent to attack heavily with chariots and support in adjacent bad going, while refusing the left.  The two games were similar enough that they get mixed up in my head.  In this game, we both broke one of the enemy’s commands before time was called, and the game ended 25-22 in their favor.

vs. Hans and Franz: Alex and the Classics

These two unfinished games pretty much spoiled the bracket and meant that someone could advance to the finals with only two wins.  That turned out to be Hans and Franz, who we faced in our final round: Rich Gause and Jeff Franz playing Alexandrian Imperial with Classical Indian ally.

Oh boy, did we end up sucking this game. But at least we finished it.  We placed terrain and deployed centrally and symmetrically.  I deployed Mitanni on the right flank.

I really don’t like blaming the dice, and it felt like we made a lot of mistakes this game; but in some cases we really didn’t have the PIPs required to do what we knew we should have done.  The first turn started with a PIP roll of 1, 1, 1, which just wasn’t enough; and it didn’t get better until it was too late.  Rich was able to push his attack down the road on our left flank unopposed, and I wasn’t able to mount any coordinated attack on the right.

Jeff and Rich both played very well and definitely deserved their 100-0 victory.  But that doesn’t mean I have to like it!  They went on to the finals and won their final game, taking victory in BBDBA doubles.  Congratulations!

In the end, we failed our goal of getting at least 100 points.  Next time we’ll have to take a faster army… hopefully one that we can win with.

After BBDBA Doubles was the Pyramid Pyramid.  This was a Two Davids pyramid format event using biblical era armies and the DBA 2.2+ modifications.

Dave Schlanger ran the pyramid format a bit differently than it’s done out in Ohio.  Instead of carrying our losses each round, the losing players all lose 2 elements and the winners lose nothing.  This provides some strategic attrition to reduce the size of the armies in play, while maintaining the same size army on both sides and rewarding winning instead of playing conservatively.  It worked very well, I’d like to see this form of attrition used more widely.

I had Early Libyans, which looked quite fun in this era: Warband, Bow, Psiloi.  I lost my first game to Jan Spoor’s Sea Peoples, 5-2.  Playing together in the second round, Jan and I crushed Jeff Franz’s Hebrews and Larry Chaban’s New Kingdom Egyptians.  In the third round, the four of us lost to Alex Bostwick, Mark Pozniak, Rich Gause, and JM Seman.  The highlight of that game was my demoralized bow shooting Alex’s general (the CinC) and recoiling it to its death… but we only demoralized one of their commands before they crushed us under their unrelenting boot of progress.

Instead of playing the Midnight Madness event, which would have provided some chance of going to bed at a reasonable hour, 7 of us stayed up until 2:30am playing Arkham Horror.  We had more devoured investigators than I’ve ever seen before, let alone all in the same game.  In Soviet Russia, you don’t finish the game, the game finishes you.  We quit while we were ahead and got some sleep… not enough, just “some.”

Stay tuned for Saturday…

DBA Army IV/59: Post-Mongol Samurai

I traded my Baueda Emishi army pack for a Post-Mongol Samurai army pack from Jeff Franz.  I didn’t think I’d ever get around to painting the Samurai, but then the Stooges planned a Horde Wars event at Cold Wars 2012.  Samurai were the only way I could get 4 elements of horde on one army, so I painted it quickly and brought it to the convention.

DBA IV/59: Post-Mongol Samurai; Essex Miniatures.

The figures are by Essex Miniatures.  The Essex Samurai range is quite odd, I’ve found.  They sell Ashigaru and horde/peasant figures that are only appropriate for the later (Post-Mongol) periods, but their mounted and foot Samurai seem to be using early Samurai armor and equipment.  I’m not that happy with the accuracy of the figures for this period, based on my limited knowledge.

The sculpting is also a bit of a mixed bag.  The armor has small details that are finely carved, which makes it difficult to paint effectively using either highlighting or ink washes.  Jeff traded these away because they were a pain in the butt to paint, and I see what he means.

4 Hordes. Washed with Army Painter strong tone dip.

I did a bit of a rush job on the painting, but the figures really didn’t inspire me very much.  The greatest inspiration I had was to get better Samurai figures to paint a second army with. Unfortunately this would force me to paint a third army for BBDBA, because what can you do with only 2 armies?

2x3Sp.  These are Light Spear in DBA 2.2+.

This army has three optional sections: 4x3Sp, 4x5Wb, or 4x7Hd.  15 figures for each of 4 stands?  Ugh!  That’s like 2 armies worth of figures right there.   Luckily, Jeff had already painted the warbands, so I was off the hook for those.  The only reason I was painting the army was to get the hordes, so I decided on a very basic color scheme and technique for these four elements.  I just flat painted them using a limited palette, and dipped them all using Army Painter strong tone.  It’s a very utilitarian look, with any variety and visual interest coming from the large number of guys rather than their paint job.

I painted the one mandatory 3Sp element, and one additional element that I primed along with it. I like the way the back flags look.  The Triforce symbol was used by the Late Hōjō Clan in the 15-16th century long before it was used by Nintendo in the Legend of Zelda series.

Cavalry and Cavalry general. Essex miniatures.

Although I like the way these flags look, I hate them!  What a nuisance.  They’re molded separately and need to be glued to the figures, with a tiny surface area for gluing and no room to add pins.  Two of the flags came off before I even had a chance to photograph the elements, and two more fell off during the first tournament I used the elements in.  Back flags are the one thing that would prevent me from getting a second PMS army, because an accurate later Samurai force would have far more flags than this army does.

6x4Bd, Essex Miniatures.

To paint the Samurai armor, I decided on another simple but somewhat effective technique.  I flat painted the armor, added a few contrasting stripes on the lacing, and then used a thin, black ink (Didi’s Magic Ink) to darken the armor between the raised lacing pattern.  Unfortunately, the carving is shallow enough that it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.  It looks better than flat colors without shading, and it’s far easier than painting highlights, but it didn’t turn out as well as I think it would with more deeply carved figures.  It’s good enough, but not great.

The cloth was all painted with brushed-on highlights.  I didn’t use any patterns on the cloth except on one figure, though I expect technically there should be more.

This is not one of my better painted armies, but at least it’s not in the “unpainted” pile anymore.  I still have 3x3Sp to paint, as well as a camp, but those will have to wait until I have another opportunity to play with the army again. Maybe next year at Cold Wars?

I really like the look of Samurai and their armies, but DBA just isn’t very nice to them.  It’s a difficult army use out of its historical period.

DBA III/78: Early Russians; German Knights

German knights for III/78: Early Russians; Essex Miniatures, 15mm

When I first painted my Early Russian DBA army, I didn’t finish the knight element.  This is a “3/6Kn” which represents German knights fighting for the Russians.  3Kn would be a bit earlier, and 6Kn a bit later.

I came so very close to basing a 6Kn element, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, when 2x3Kn elements are so much more useful.

For heraldry or shield designs, I looked in the Zurich Roll for some authentic German heraldic designs that caught my eye as looking at home in the East.  They are totally anachronistic for knights of this period; I’d hardly expect heraldry on kite shields.  And I have no evidence that these particular people were ever in Russia, let alone in the 12-13th century.

However, they look really good and fit with the rest of the Russian army, which are my main goals.

These are Essex figures from the III/78 army pack.

DBA 2.2+: Playtest Animations

JM and I have been playing some play-by-email games using the DBA 2.2+ rules modifications found on the WADBAG site.  The play by e-mail board is available on the Fanaticus forums and JM’s blog.  It’s intended for use with Inkscape, a free, open-source vector drawing application.

Since each game results in a series of .svg files representing each turn, it’s easy to automatically turn them into an animation.  I know that some people don’t prefer to see the turns go by so quickly without being able to pause the animation to look at the details, but I just think they look cool.  They also give an overall feel of the pace and flow of a battle, without diving down into the individual combats.

Here are the two animations I’ve done so far.  Click on the thumbnails to view the animated full scale versions.

Georgians (bottom) vs Konstantinian Byzantines (top).
Tibetans (bottom) vs. Hindu Indian c, other (top).

DBA Army IV/61: Italian Condotta

Here is my most recently completed DBA army: Italian Condotta, IV/61.

The army arrayed: DBA IV/61: Italian Condotta. Mirliton Figures.

The figures are Mirliton, 15mm. Most are from the DBA army box, but I supplemented this with extra packs for dismounted knights and gunners. The flags are also from Mirliton.

Condotta Knight general and four other knights.

25 stands for only one army, and I still don’t have the 3Bd and 4Ax stands done? Crazy talk.

JM and I decided the halberdiers provided by Mirliton weren’t appropriate for the Bd/Ax, so we bought sword-and-buckler men by Essex.  However, they arrived after most of the rest of my figures were painted, so I haven’t started them yet.

I’ve painted this army for the Two Davids campaign event at Cold Wars 2012: Condotta Chaos. I’ll be playing Verona in a series of battles stretching across Italy and beyond.  The red flag with white cross is Verona’s (among others), and the rest are Condotta banners.

Light Horse: mounted crossbows and light cavalry. 

The DBA army list has many options: 1x3Kn (Gen), 4x3Kn, 1x2LH, 2x8Cb or 2Ps, 2x4Sp or 4Pk, 1x4Cb or 4Ax or 3Bd or 2LH, 1x2Ps or Art.  In addition, the campaign allows all knights to dismount, requiring another 5x4Bd.   But there’s also a DBA-RRR event at Cold Wars, which I didn’t have a good army for, so I picked up 2x4Sh for that as well.

These are very nice figures, but they did require a bit more cleaning than I’m used to doing.  Some of the crossbowmen and hand gunners ended up with unsightly blemishes on their faces, but I’ll just blame the rats.

Pavisiers.

I chose red and white or red and yellow for militia forces, and green and yellow for Condotta troops (if they needed any color at all).  The army has color, but it doesn’t dominate over the neutral colored armor.  I much prefer the look of this period over earlier gaudy tabards and caparisons.

Before the campaign was announced, I knew nothing about the Condotta, and wasn’t very interested in the period. The first thing that triggered my interest was an opportunity to play with the new Pavisier rules the Davids came up with.  In DBA 2.2, these are treated identically to other bows, so it never seemed worth painting 6-8 figures when 3-4 would do.  But with different rules, I’d have to paint the larger element to try the rules, so why not now?

Condotta Artillery, manned by Curly, Larry, and Moe.

In playtesting play by e-mail games, I have enjoyed Pavisiers.  Their combat factors and combat results make them very different than other bows.  They’re more resilient in close combat, and actively want to close the ground when in a shoot out with ordinary bows.  They are also quite large and a bit cumbersome: they advance slowly if they’ve been forced to recoil in a previous combat.

Crossbowmen and gunners.

As usual, as I started to learn more about the Condotta in order to paint them, I became more interested in them. During the 14-16th centuries, Italy was in a very interesting military situation.  They disarmed the civilian population to reduce violence, and instead, every city-state hired its own mercenary army to supplement the local militias.  “Condotta” means “contract,” and refers to the complex binding contracts these mercenary forces engaged in when providing services.

Armies are expensive to hire and require a lot of food to maintain.  They also have a tendency to bother the local population.  All of the economic and social incentives at the time pushed Lords to keep their armies on campaign in enemy territory, so they ate the enemy’s food and fathered the enemy’s children.  This made for a long period of fighting between the Italian city states.

Psiloi: gunners and archers.

The colors aren’t based on any particular historical evidence, but choosing colors ahead of time was crucial to allowing me to finish the project at all.  Paints are all my standard selection: primarily Vallejo, with some GW for metals and Snakebite Leather, along with a few craft paints.

I’m glad I’ve finished with this army.  It was fun to paint, but the sense of  accomplishment that comes from completing a project definitely helps start the next one.  At this point, all the rest of my armies look small and easy, so I’m hoping to tackle Post-Mongol Samurai without butchering them too badly.

Italian Militia Pikes

Italian Militia Spears
Condotta Dismounted Knights (Blades)

DBA v2.2+ Movement Gauges

Here are the movement gauges I had made in support of the DBA 2.2+ rules effort.  They were custom laser cut by Laser Lab Studio in Pittsburgh for a very reasonable rate.

In the upper left is transparent acrylic, 1/16″ thick.  The engraving on the surface is much more visible in real life, but it can be emphasized by applying a very thin wash of acrylic paint and then wiping off the excess.  This is what I did for the tool in the lower left, which is black 1/16″ acrylic.

On the right is a 1/8″ plywood tool.  The engraving is much more visible, and this tool has the improved cutout shape to fit around some figures more easily.

DBA v2.2+ movement gauges