Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mustering the Tercio - Part 4

The Spanish Later Tercio shown above is now completed.  I like to spend a little extra time with the basing for a battle group, since I think this can elevate the quality of a wargame standard paint job with relatively little additional effort.  And if all the units in an army have similar finish basing, it can really tie the army together.  The technique that I use for basing uses lighter rather than darker colors - I had a friend point at to me once at Historicon that a light paint scheme on the bases can really make the figures pop, and ever since I have followed that advice, I've been very happy with the way my basing ends up looking.

The bases used here are the Gale Force 9 ones that are sold by the carton at any of the HMGS-East shows.  Every time that I attend Historicon, Cold Wars, or Fall-In, I make a point of making a carton of these bases my first purchase before they sell out.  After the figures are mounted with white glue, I then spread a layer of Liquidex Ceramic Stucco Texture Gel around the figures, and then lightly sprinkle on a little sand before the gel dries.

Once the gel has dried, I then paint it with a thinned coat of Americana Cocoa craft paint.

Next is a light drybrushing with Americana Sand craft paint to bring out the highlights.

Then I paint a little white glue on randomly around the figures and add a little green flocking.  To clean up the edges of the  base, I paint it with Delta Ceramcoat Burnt Umber, and then I call this complete.

So finally, this is the complete tercio.  I still may add a flag or banner to the front rank of pikes, but I'm still researching what I want to use for this.  Or I may choose to leave the flags off all together in order to be able to later morph these stands into other 17th armies that I hope to play in the future (such as Early Catholic TYW or Later TYW German).  I will also eventually magnetize the bases to assist in holding them in their boxes for transport and storage.

I hope readers of this blog have enjoyed this series on completing a Tercio, showing the techniques that I use to quickly get a battle group on the table as rapidly as possible, yet still being reasonably good looking.  In conclusion, here are a last couple of more photos of the completed tercio:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mustering the Tercio - Part 3

Now that my pike and shot figures have been block painted, it is now time to subject them to my version of the "dip".  I first started extensively using the dip several years ago, right around the time I switched to 15mm figures.  Although the dip is never going to result in award winning quality individual figures, I find that it is a very time effective way to quickly improve figures with basic paint jobs, and that for mass armies like Ancients, Medievals, or Napoleonics, the results can be very appealing.  In my opinion, if you are a wargamer who uses large armies instead of skirmish games, the dip is a technique that needs to be in your painting tool kit.

My first attempts dipping figures made use of Minwax Polyshades stains.  The results were alright, but a little dark for my taste, and the Polyshades stinks to high heaven in addition to requiring about 24 hours to completely dry.  Once the new GW washes, like Baddab Black were released, I then gave these a try.  Once again, okay results, if still a little dark, and being a GW product, in my opinion, non-sensibly overpriced.  Finally, I decided to switch to using Future floor wax as a clear fluid to mix my own colors of inks and paints into.  Future is available at almost any grocery store, and a single inexpensive bottle can last for a couple of years.  I do vary my recipe for dipping with Future frequently, depending on the effect I'm looking for, but for my new tercio, I used one part Liquitex Burnt Umber, one part Delta Ceramcoat Black, and probably about 10 parts of undiluted Future.  Above is a photo of the color and consistency I usually use.  Note that I do not actually dip the figures in the mixture, but I paint it on with a broad brush.  For the first five minutes or so of drying, you have to keep an eye on the figures to make sure you don't get thick pooling in recesses or on the lower portions of the figures (just wipe this excess away before it dries), but other than that, that's all there is to it.

Here is a photo of the pikemen, taken an hour or so after being dipped:

And the musketeers also:

After allowing the figures to dry overnight, I then mounted them using Elmers White Glue, three to a 40mm wide x 20mm deep base.  Once the glue dried, I then hit the figures with two spray coats of Testors Dullcote to protect them from handling and to dull the shine that the dip gives them.

Here is a photo of the completed figures:

Although the figures are now complete, the Tercio still isn't.  Finishing of the basing still needs to be done, and that will be the topic of the upcoming last "Mustering the Tercio" posting.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mustering the Tercio - Part 2

Now, step 2 of "Mustering the Tercio".  This just involves block painting all the different colors onto the primed figures.  I probably should have broken this posting into more segments than this single one, but as I was painting, I couldn't decide on a good stopping point until the figures were completely covered.  What I did though was to simply paint all the individual colors onto the different areas of the figures - no washes or highlighting used, simply coloring the figures in, just like a childhood coloring book.  Nothing fancy at all.  I did try to stay as neat as possible, but this was straight forward painting, staying within the lines, using a variety of Vallejo paints, craft paints, and even a couple of GW ones.

Although everything in step two is pretty much just block painting, I did resort to a couple of washes.  One was on the areas of exposed flesh, which were painted with a thinned Delta Ceramcoat Medium Flesh layer and then covered with GW's Ogre Flesh straight out of the bottle.  In addition, for the armor and helmets, I knew that these metals were commonly painted black during the 17th Century in ordering to combat corrosion, but I thought that if I simply used a black paint, it wouldn't look very realistic.  What I did was to paint the armor with Vallejo Game Color Gun Metal, and then applied two washes of Privateer Press's Armor Wash. I used this wash in order to try it out, and although I think it came out alright, its a little glossy for my taste - next time I will probably try GW's Baddab Black wash instead.

Here is a view of all the tercio's pikemen:

And a closeup of the figures that will comprise one pike stand:

Also, all the shot figures:

And a closeup of the same:

Watch for Part 3 soon, which I will post right after the figures have been "dipped".

Friday, October 8, 2010

Mustering the Tercio - Part 1

I finally decided on the Later Imperial Spanish for my Field of Glory Renaissance army.  The Later Tercio formation used by many Spanish units in the Army of Flanders up through the Battle of Nordlingen is in my opinion modeled very well by the rules.  And even though I have only read the first three books so far, I certainly enjoy the Captain Alatriste novels by Arturo Perez-Reverte (this guy REALLY does get what a swashbuckler is supposed to be).  There is also something sadly romantic and melancholic about the story of Perez-Reverte's mercenary career soldiers trudging on in the employ of a sunset empire that adds an extra dose of spice to playing the army of Spinola, Olivares, and the Cardinal-Infante.

Now that that decision has been made, I have commenced work on building my first Tercio with the Testudo miniatures I recently purchased.  For a FoG Later Tercio, a total of 9 stands are required, 3 pike ones and 6 musket ones.  My Testudo figures are on the large size, so I will be placing only 3 to a stand (also a money saver), for a total of 27 figures per battlegroup.  I'm still getting up to speed on the rules, but several advantages this formation has are that it is immune to flank (but not rear) charges, shoots with 3 dice to the side, the odd number of bases makes the tercio more difficult to auto-break, and it also starts out requiring a total of 3 shooting hits to be made on it to force a cohesion test.

What I am planning to do here is to document my progress in constructing the Tercio, along each step of my process in bringing it to a tabletop, wargame standard, ready to play with.  Up until now, I have cleaned and assembled the figures, white-glued them to Popsicle sticks, primed them with a flat, brown spray paint coat, and then given them a somewhat heavy white drybrush.  I like the combination of the brown paint and white drybrush because I think that it helps to keep shading in the figure recesses, highlights on the raised portions, and is forgiving of any small spots where a bit of painting gets missed.  In addition, the drybrush is an aid to my aging eyes for picking out details while painting.

Below is a photo of the pikemen in their primed and drybrushed condition:

And here is a photo of the musketeers:

Next I will block paint colors onto the figures, and once I finish that step, I will then post the results as "Mustering the Tercio - Part 2".

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dailami Completed

I just finished my last unit and command stands for my 800 point, Dailami, Field of Glory army.  This is the army that I will be playing at the upcoming New England Regional Tournament to be held this November 6 and 7 in the Boston area (see  I've been interested in playing this army for several reasons - some of historical interest and some from a gaming perspective only.

Historically, I haven't known that much about the history of the Middle East, starting with the Arab Conquests and extending through the Golden Age of Islam with the Ummayad and Abbasid Caliphates.  Recently I read "The Great Arab Conquests" by Hugh Kennedy, and that sparked an interest in finding out more about this period, especially in the light of current events.  I initially built a Syrian States army from the time of the Crusades, but it turned out that I didn't enjoy playing a shooty horse type cavalry army as much as I thought that I might.  That got me searching for something with a play style that would be more to my taste.

And why does it turn out that I like the Dailami?  Hard hitting and resilient infantry armies are something that I actually enjoy, and one of the things that I think that FoG doesn't have quite right is the dynamics of charges by irregular tribal warriors.  But although drilled, the Dailami are armored, medium infantry, sword fighting, impact foot - most of which can be rated superior - with the capacity for striking the way I imagine an impetuous foot charge to do.  And in their case, even if their charge doesn't work out as well as hoped for, then their armored, sword characteristics allow them to stand in melee against almost anything but lancers in the open.  To compensate for this weakness, the Dailami also get a smattering of light horse, lancers of their own, and elephants.  Being expensive, the army is small, but it is definitely hard hitting and forgiving.  I'm very excited about playing it.

From a historical perspective, the Dailami are also interesting to me because their Buwayid dynasty was the first indigenous state to rise up after the Arab Conquests that was not Arab, and they revived Persian culture in the Middle East.  In addition, they were long time protectors of remnant Zoroastrians, and besides never being conquered by the Arabs were one of the last Middle Eastern populations to accept Islam - this is fascinating to me in the same sense that the Lithuanians are, being the last European people to accept Christianity.  I guess I just have a soft spot for the last of the Pagans - from anywhere in the world.

Here are photos of the last few bits of my Dailamis, all painted up.  First, an eight stand unit of superior, light foot archers:

And here are two pictures of my last three general stands:

I'm really looking forward to the New England Regional FoG Tournament to play some games with these guys.  I can't wait to see how they will work out for me.