A tabletop gaming blog, with a vague bias towards Central/Eastern Europe and the Early Modern period.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Push of Pike

No computer at the moment... still getting the hang of blogging via phone. Here's a preview of my Swedish-style pike block in the grips of brutal mêlée.

Now to the best of my knowledge, no battles in Renaissance Eastern Europe even came to a push of pike; but the image is so evocative that I'd gladly be proven wrong.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

No Christmas For You!

Look out! The Puritan is back, and he brought some backup!

For while he was happy enough just to lecture you on Thanksgiving, he absolutely forbids you to celebrate Christmas. In fact, he had banned it as idolatry, both in America and England.

So the next time you hear some numpty complaining about a supposed "war on Christmas", remind him that Christmas is safe, because we don't live in a theocracy anymore. (My sympathies to any international reader who is living in a theocracy)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Gryphon Legion

Here are some winged lancers... not the historical kind, but a unit of plastics I converted to be Kislevites for Warhammer Fantasy. I mostly made them out of the Pistoliers/Outriders box, with wings from Dark Angels plastic bikes (generously provided by Joe, an awesome GW staffer). I've got lots more Kislev stuff, which I will post intermittently. Most of it is painted better than these guys, who were speedpainted to meet an event deadline.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

All the Tatars (so far at least)

I took several pictures of the unit in a block formation, then remembered that they're skirmishers, so I threw together a possible skirmish arrangement too.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

another helping of Tatars

It's the holiday season, so seconds are encouraged!

Constructed as before, except that the unit leader has an ACW sword-arm and a Conquest Games Norman body. I believe the Tatars did sometimes wear padded/quilted armor, but the pictures I've seen show a vertical stripe pattern, not diamonds like here. Also the sleeves on the padded coat probably ought to be full-length.

Like a doofus, I forgot to take a picture of all eight Tatars together. Ah well, maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What's "Tatars", precious?

Well, I'm glad you asked! The Tatars are an ethnic group found in various parts of Eastern Europe through Central Asia. They are the descendants of Genghis Khan's nomad armies, and in 17th-century Europe the Crimean Tatars were still a military force to be reckoned with, fighting mostly as skirmishing horse archers. They fought sometimes as mercenaries (as did other smaller Tatar enclaves elsewhere in Europe), or as raiders seeking loot and slaves, but they would also take to the field en masse under their Khan for major set-piece battles, usually aiding the underdog so as to preserve the regional balance of power.

I would suggest that you do not  boil 'em, mash'em, or stick 'em in a stew.

These Tatars are constructed from Wargames Factory bits... mostly the Celtic Cavalry kit, but Persian Infantry heads and archer arms, and War of Spanish Succession spears. Oh, and one Perry Zouave head for variety. I tried to keep them pretty generic... I don't think it would be too much of a stretch to use these for the original Mongal invaders of the Medieval Era. Maybe just in the back ranks?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here is a Puritan, lecturing you.
"We take nothing from the womb but pure filth. The seething spring of sin is so deep and abundant that vices are always bubbling up form it to bespatter and stain what is otherwise pure.... We should remember that we are not guilty of one offense only but are buried in innumerable impurities.... all human works, if judged according to their own worth, are nothing but filth and defilement.... they are always spattered and befouled with many stains.... it is certain that there is no one who is not covered with infinite filth."
some guy

pointy sticks and movement trays

Cossacks with pointy sticks.

Cossacks with movement trays.

I really need to get some banners done. Maybe with the holiday weekend...

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Horses comparison (version 2)

After some constructive criticism, I decided to redo the horse comparison. This time around I've limited myself to the ones that can be purchased on their own, without riders. I've also used scraps of cardboard to compensate for different base thicknesses. Prices in US dollars, unless unavailable.

GW medieval horse - $15.00 for 5 horses, available here

Warlord Pike & Shotte horse - $6.50 for 4 horses, available here

Conquest Games Norman horse - £3.50 for 3 horses, £10.00 for 9 horses, or £16.25 for 15 horses, available here

Wargames Factory "feral" horse - $3.60 for 12 horses (possibly limited time offer), available here. Note: no tack at all

Wargames Factory ancients pony - $3.95 for 3 horses, available here. Note: no saddles

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Cornucopia of Cossacks

Got some more Cossacks here...

Unpainted cavalry (including unit leader):

Painted infantry (using the WSS firing arms previously seen here). Warning: they're rather sloppily painted, even for me, so consider yourself warned.

Also, while I was at the laundromat today I flipped through the latest edition of Glamour, and was pleased to note that my Cossacks are totally on-trend for the upcoming winter season.

Horse comparisons

As I've been collecting this project, I've dealt with many different horse sculpts from a variety of manufacturers. It occurred to me that a quick overview might be handy for potential collectors. So, here is a selection of Games Workshop, Warlord Games and Wargames Factory miniatures, from biggest to smallest.

First off are the Games Workshop horses, because they are the biggest. The unpainted monstrosity is a Warhammer Empire Pistolier horse. It's big even by the heroic scale standards of the current Warhammer Fantasy range, and as you can see, it's downright monstrous compared to a typical historical miniature. This horse is only available as part of the pistoliers box, though bitz sellers or ebay might provide them without riders.

The painted horse is the "generic" Warhammer horse. They used to be nigh-ubiquitous throughout all the horse-riding races in the Warhammer World, but as ranges get updated they are more and more replaced by army-specific sculpts. They are, however, available for order without riders here. This horse is about as tall as the largest historical horses, but a bit beefier. Non-GW riders may not fit well.

The unpainted plastic one above is a Perry Miniatures ACW horse. It is definitely the biggest non-fantasy horse I've encountered. I do not know if all Perry horses are this big, the ACW kit is the only Perry cavalry I've gotten. The saddle-bags and bedrolls can interfere with rider sculpts, and also may not be period-appropriate, but the horse itself looks great. They share a sprue with their ACW riders, so are not available separately.

The painted horse here (with rider) is a Warlord Games plastic horse. These are provided with every plastic Pike & Shotte cavalry kit the company produces, and they also accompany the otherwise-metal dragoons. They are also available on their own here, and may be the most generically useful horse for the time period. Note that the sprue contains separate holstered pistols, which is handy.

The metal horse accompanies the new Warlord Games Winged Hussars. A bit slimmer than all the previous horses I've covered so far, it's the first creditable "warm-" or "hot-blooded" horse yet. They aren't available separately, but they're pretty enough that I figured I'd throw one in anyway.

The next three are all from Wargames Factory. The first is from the War of Spanish Succession cavalry box. They are not available separately, but the box is chock-full of 18th-century bits, and worth investigating if you like conversions.

The second horse is basically the same size and build, and it is available separately here. It's also super cheap, but the downside is that it has no saddle or bridle or anything sculpted on. Super handy if you want a herd of feral horses, or a base for a centaur kitbash, but probably not great for cavalry unless you have even more time on your hands than I do.

Finally, we have the Wargames Factory ancients pony. I got mine from the Celtic Cavalry box, but they are also available separately here. The tack might be a bit anachronistic, and they don't come with saddles when bought on their own, but for skirmishing light cavalry you could do worse.

In conclusion, here is the biggest horse next to the smallest horse, just for funzies. Also our faithful scale reference musketeer, who has probably had enough of horse butts for one day. Poor guy.

Hmm. I forgot to include an Assault Group horse or a Conquest Games horse. The former is equivalent to the naked WGF horse, the later is equivalent to the WG hussar horse.

Feel free to leave questions in the comments.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cossack Horse from ACW Cavalry (WiP)

Ok, I've been fiddling with the Perry Miniatures ACW cavalry set, and I think it's time to document these conversions before I go any further. It's not a difficult endeavor, but it's definitely a project.

The number one issue is headgear, and if you weren't feeling particularly energetic, you could probably just deal with that and call it a day. The original miniatures have bare heads with a fringe of hair. It looks like typical male-pattern baldness, but the idea is that you attach either the wide-brimmed hats or the forage caps (both are included in the kit) to determine whether your troops are Confederates or Winners. For our purpose, it's quite easy just to greenstuff a fur-lined Cossack cap over their heads instead. You can even use the hair fringe as the back part of the fur lining.

For variety, one of the riders is hatless. I cut off the hair fringe, and sculpted the traditional Cossack forelock on his scalp. Only slightly more work than the hats, and very distinctive. Which reminds me, only about half the riders are sculpted with mustaches, so you'll want to fix the rest of those.

I want my half-hearted historical accuracy to at least continue past the models' heads, so I extended some of the coats a bit. I sculpted the coat extensions before attaching the riders to the horses, which is a bad idea, since the greenstuff can easily end up conflicting with the canteens and bedrolls and such on the steeds. The ones without long coats are supposed to be in their shirts, though maybe I should trim off the buttons on the one. Also, one of them has had baggy pants added.

Weapons! The kit comes with enough swords for every rider, although the basket-hilts are not ideal for Cossacks (at least not in my era, Napoleonic-era Cossacks maybe different?). There are also revolvers, but those go straight into my bits box, obviously having no place in the 1600s. Finally, the box contains three banner-poles and matching arms, which could be used as lances in a pinch. For my lancers, though, I used Wargames Factory plastic bits - Persian infantry right arms and WSS infantry pikes.

A word on the horses - they are not small. I considered mounting these guys on smaller spare Wargames Factory or Warlord Games horses, but then I decided that the stowage sculpted onto these horses made more sense for Cossacks than any of the other cavalry at Berestechko. I'll just have to pretend they don't tower over the pancerny and hussars...

I think my next post here will be a size comparison of the various WGF, WG and GW horses I have on hand.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


So, one of the consequences of my solo battle a couple weeks ago was that I decided that eight miniatures is insufficient for a standard battle line unit in Pike & Shotte. I therefore resolved to increase every battle line unit from eight to twelve, every block unit from twelve to sixteen, and every cavalry unit from six to eight.

Here is my expanded Haiduk regiment. The four new minis are in a firing pose, thanks to the Wargames Factory WSS sprues I brought back from IL. Sadly, I slightly screwed up their chest lace both in sculpting and painting, but even so, I think this new version of the regiment is a net improvement.

Unfortunately (for my wallet) this means that my Berestechko project is now 1:250 instead of 1:400...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A Skirmish in Volhynia

I finally got around to actually trying out a game of Pike & Shotte. Nothing fancy, just a pretty basic solo game. One battalia per side, no terrain, no skirmishers or artillery or scenario rules.

I don't have a proper gaming table, but I do have a very large bedroom all to myself, so I marked out a 6' by 4' section of the floor to play the game on. The armies consist of everything I have painted and based, except that I held back one unit of German-style musketeers to keep the Polish-Lithuanian army from having more points than the Cossack army. Oh, and one of the Pancerny was actually a medieval Kievan noble.

The Polish-Lithuanian Army was:
Commander, random rating (henceforth, the Magnate)
1x Pancerny squadron
1x Rajtars squadron
1x Haiduks regiment
2x German Musketeers
Total 199 points

The Cossacks had:
Commander, random rating (henceforth, the Hetman)
4x Cossack Infantry (counts as Haiduks)
1x Cossack Pike (counts as Scots Pike from Montrose list)
1x Levy Infantry
Total 214 points

The Cossacks had a bit of a points advantage, but I think that was more than compensated for by their complete lack of cavalry.

The Poles deployed as follows with the haiduks dead center, flanked by German-style musketeers on each side, and then one squadron of cavalry on each wing (the pancerny in the place of honor on the Polish right, the rajtars on the left.) The Polish commander took his place just to the left of the haiduks.

The Cossacks deployment, from left to right, was musketeers - pikemen - musketeers - commander musketeers - levy infantry (peasants) -  musketeers. Note that Cossack musketeers are better in melee than German-style musketeers, and equivalent to haiduks.

Both commanders ended up being rated 8, and the Cossacks won the dice roll to go first. I chose to represent casualties with non-six-sided dice (red if possible), and disorder by positioning the unit leader just outside of the unit, facing inward, as if he is yelling at them to get their act together

Turn 1- The Hetman orders his whole battle-line forward as one... but, as one, they stay in place. Perhaps hungover still?

The Magnate has marginally better luck. Every order he gives is followed, albeit with no particular haste. The infantry lumber forward while the cavalry wings trot around the side of the battlefield in a leisurely attempt at a double-envelopment maneuver.

Turn 2 - Again, the Hetman gives the order for a general advance. Apparently his tone is much firmer this time around, because the whole army positively springs into action, practically sprinting towards their foes. At the end of the advance, the panting Cossacks level their muskets and fire at the Polish forces. The pancerny and the haiduks take casualties, and the haiduks are thrown into disorder by the volley as well.

Startled by the sudden eagerness in his foes, the Magnate immediately orders the pancerny to charge. Unfortunately for him, their distance thwarts his attempts to communicate. Unable to give any more orders, he angrily rides toward the pancerny with the intent to command them in person.

Meanwhile, his infantry fire on the Cossack line, damaging and disordering the Cossack pikemen and the peasant levy, and also causing a casualty on the Cossack unit to the Hetman's immediate right. As the Polish turn ends, the haiduks regain order.

Turn 3 - Extremely concerned by the disruption of his pike formation, and its subsequent inability to repel cavalry until order is re-established, the Hetman makes a risky request of the Cossacks just to his left. They comply aggressively, crossing the battlefield to menace the flank of the worrisome pancerny. In doing so, they draw the attention of the Polish Scots regiment, one of the German-style musketeer units. The Cossacks take traversing fire, which disorders them but causes no casualties.

The Hetman then attempts to order the peasants to charge the other German-style musketeers, but being disordered they are unable to respond.

The two units of Cossack infantry on the Cossack left catch the pancerny in a deadly crossfire. Even with one of the shooting units being disordered, the close range and enfiladed fire ensures that the glittering Polish horsemen are scythed down like ripe wheat. The few survivors scatter.

On the other side of the battlefield, Cossack musketry takes a light toll on the rajtars.

Horrified by the obliteration of his best troops mere moments before he would have arrived to take personal command, the Magnate orders the general attack. The Scots move up to shoot Cossacks at close range, while the Haiduks charge a different unit of Cossacks, and the German musketeers charge the peasants. The haiduks take closing fire, and are disordered but not injured. Finally, he attempts to order the rajtars into the fray, but they prove no less stubborn than the other cavalrymen were. He rides towards them, again intending to take personal command, hoping that this time the squadron will still be there when he gets there...

Despite their prime positioning, the Scots fail to damage the disordered cossacks with shooting.

The haiduks crash into their target, and since both haiduks and Cossacks are capable melee fighters, much violence is anticipated. Alas, it is not to be...only one casualty is inflicted by the haiduks, and none by the Cossacks. It's enough to force a break test though, which the Cossacks proceed to fail. They withdraw one move and become disordered, although the haiduks are unable to exploit the gap on account of their own disorder.

The Germans, despite being mediocre close-combat fighters, do much better, causing two casualties on the peasants for none in return. Flank support from a Cossack unit to the peasants' right is not enough to draw the combat, but apparently the priest leading the peasantry is quite an effective demagogue, because the hapless peasants pass their break test with flying colors.

Turn Four - Anxious to sort out his left flank, the Hetman orders the Cossack pikemen to charge the Scots musketeers. Grateful for the opportunity to actually participate in the battle for once, they get right to it, taking two casualties but no disorder from the closing fire. The Hetman's next concern is the rajtar cavalry loitering on the right. He orders the peasant-supporting cossacks to advance into position to enfilade, but they refuse to abandon their pitchfork-wielding brothers-in-arms.

Every Cossack unit that can shoot, does so, but perhaps they are starting to run low on powder, since no damage is dealt.

Despite the poor showing of musketry, the Hetman is pleased to observe the Cossack pike absolutely steamroll the Scots, destroying them utterly (albeit taking two casualties of their own). Next his attention turns to the German mercenaries battling the poor peasants. When the two sides deal equal damage to each other, the combat is decided by the flank support provided by the stubborn Cossacks. The losing Germans have to test, but suffer no penalty to the roll. Nevertheless, they fail spectacularly and scatter to the four winds.

Having lost three of his five units, the Magnate withdraws from the field and victory goes to the Cossacks.

Thoughts - Well, that was pretty close. If either of the Polish cavalry units had ever got stuck in, things would have gone quite differently. I have to say, this system is pretty easy to get the hang of, but small details can make all the difference. Command distance in particular made life difficult for the Polish commander, on account of his spread-out double envelopment ploy. The Cossack troops, on the other hand, were arranged close enough for battalia orders to be used to good effect.

I look forward to playing again, possibly against a real person some day.