Tuesday 13 June 2017


I have been slowly working through the Steel Fist 16th Century Foot Knights, having backed the Kickstarter last year. The idea is that each one will be the focus of their own base of supporting figures and I have already used two of them in this way as command bases. The chaps shown here are destined to lead bases of tightly packed attacking Landsknechts into battle but before I home them permanently on such bases I couldn't resist getting some shots of them dueling with each other.

When I first saw these figures the poses instantly reminded me of the prints from Maximilian's Freydal. His tournament book that painstakingly recreates all kinds of permutations of mounted and dismounted sporting combat in the early 16th Century. They also reminded me of the two scenes shown below from his Weisskunig (this blog can't go for a few months without some Weisskunig prints!). Maybe they aren't using longswords but one does have similarly bizarre pointed head attire to the miniature with a "grotesque" helmet. In the prints case I think they may be metal attachments rather than feathers. My scenes in miniature are hardly an exact replication but you get the idea. I bought the figures as part of a Kickstarter but they are now available here: http://www.steelfistminiatures.com/products/16th_century_knights.

Poleaxe Combat as depicted in Der Weisskunig c.1516

Spear Combat from Der Weisskunig c.1516

Historical European Martial Arts have never really been my thing but I have dabbled in a few "Fechtbücher" in the past. I can recommend the 15th Century works of Hans Talhoffer, https://www.amazon.co.uk/Medieval-Combat-Fifteenth-Century-Swordfighting-Close-Quarter/dp/1848327706/ref=pd_bxgy_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=05DHPK04H17EK5GR9P75, and Fiore dei Liberi (which is Italian so not really a fechtbuch!), https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Knightly-Art-Battle-Mondschein/1606060767/ref=pd_sim_14_5?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=9MRPJ3QBS8PWK5GVYV6W as worth a look if you do have a beginners interest. When I first encountered these works I found it quite an eye opener how different the armed combat of the later medieval period really was compared to what is seen in film and TV. Of course there are lots of caveats as to how you approach these works. Some fighting techniques are for specific judicial duels. Some are for armoured combat only. Even when these things are made clear you realise there was a whole culture of "martial arts" that has now long died. They were often extremely brutal and also more physical than the later styles of sword combat we are used to in the 21st century. It's surprising how much wrestling and grappling style moves feature, as well as surprises such as launching the sword at an opponent like a dart!

If you can get through the really tedious chapter that discusses how in later centuries they tried to apply maths to fencing techniques then the Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe is worth a read: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Martial-Arts-Renaissance-Europe/dp/0300083521/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1497380372&sr=1-1&keywords=renaissance+martial+arts. I was particularly amused by the jousting section. Fight Masters would go into great detail on how to hit an opponent in all sorts of locations and to demonstrate various levels of skill and flair with the lance. In contrast the advice for real war was always very simple: just aim for the other riders horse! I would also recommend the Scholagladiatoria channel on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/user/scholagladiatoria. This channel has lots of videos on renaissance weaponry and how it was used and what the symbolism of it was. There are some great videos on there in the Wallace Collection with Tobias Capwell as well as an in depth discussion of an early 15th Century Tomb effigy and the armour it represents: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tgLeMS30j8.

That's probably enough rambling for now. Hopefully I will get these Men at Arms based up with the Landsknechts soon, I am about half way through painting the halberdiers that will be supporting them. I am also working on a few more casualty bases, they may be a bit grisly but I have enjoyed working on them and they are very useful on the gaming table.

16th Century Men at Arms by Steel Fist Miniatures

Men at Arms in early 16th Century Harness, one with a "Grotesque" visor.

The Landsknechts look on as they duel

Saturday 3 June 2017

16th Century Casualty and Battered Markers

Following my games of Lion Rampant I have prepared a few gaming pieces that will, hopefully, encourage me to actually play some more games! Not perhaps the most exciting pieces but they will look much nicer on a gaming table than dice or other types of tokens.

First up are eight casualty bases. The bases themselves are from Warbases: http://war-bases.co.uk/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=944&search=casualty . I think they are a great idea for marking casualties on a unit. I am not a huge fan of removing casualties during games and these bases mean that you don't have to do that. Using these bases I may try some games of Lion Rampant with much larger units, probably 12 for cavalry and 24-36 for infantry but keep the same 6 or 12 points of damage per unit. It will simply allow me to fight larger scale skirmishes and get more of the collection on the table. That's what the games are all about at the end of the day!

The bases in the picture below are of fairly generic 16th century troop types. There is a fallen man at arms from the Perry Miniatures Wars of the Roses range. He is in a late 15th century harness but that is fine for the very early 1500s which much of my collection is for. Below him is an old Citadel Mordheim casualty who has been based up as a fallen arquebusier. Beside him is another Perry Miniatures figure who with the addition of a bit of green stuff and a plastic crossbow and quiver has been turned into an early 16th century crossbowman. Finally above him is another old Mordheim figure who has simply had enough and is burying his head in his hands.

16th Century Casualty Markers - From top right clockwise: a man at arms, an arquebusier, a crossbowman and a generic infantryman

The remaining four bases represent fallen Landsknechts. All the figures are from the Pro Gloria range that is now sold by Warlord Games. One has his hat next to him while another has dropped his halberd as he falls to the ground. I left the others without weapons as it means I can use them as fallen pike, arquebusiers or halberdiers. I may do some more with specific weaponry. The casualty bases are meant to be more representative than anything else. I wouldn't have an issue using a Landsknecht one for some french crossbowmen if I had run out of other markers for example. They are just a visually pleasing way of marking the damage. Having said that it is nice to have different markers representing different troop types. I still have a dozen more of these bases and some other casualty figures so will probably paint up some additional bases in the next few weeks.

Landsknecht Casualty Markers

The smaller counters in the next couple of pictures are used to represent when a unit has become "Battered" in Lion Rampant. They could be used in any game system where a token is required to mark the degradation of the morale of a unit. I quite enjoyed choosing all sorts of bits and pieces from my spares to make up the 24 markers below. There is a real mixture of debris from gun carriage wheels, arrows and broken lances through to a trumpet, an arquebus, an adarga and a warhammer. I may have pinched a fair few ideas from Stuarts counters here. Using these counters really adds to the tabletop appeal of a game by giving some extra 1500s flavour and also stopping the gaming table from becoming cluttered with lots of dice or other markers. Now I just have to make the effort to play some more games! This is easier said than done as I am much more of a painter by temperament than a gamer.

"Battered" Markers - an assortment of debris from a 16th Century battlefield

The Battered markers from above