After a quiet month in September on the hobby front (due to being very busy on the real life front), I’ve been making the most of November to partake in hobby activities. As well as finishing off the Qin and Chu armies, I got in two games with them using To the Strongest which was a lot of fun.
I have tested out the colour scheme of the next army on the Chinese Ancients list, the Han and quite happy with it.
This will be a unit of Han Crossbowmen at some point down the line, still needs a wash and a highlight, but I just wanted to paint up a few test models to try out the new colour and make sure it was right for when I come back to them.
With two usable armies done for the Chinese, I’ve decided to move onto my next furthest along project and brought the Aztecs down from the roofspace. I’ve been powering through the last few bits of it and have it 99% finished except for being a single base short for the command! Bases have been ordered, along with a small army pack for a new project…oops!
In the meantime, here’s a few of the Aztec bases done up. I’ll do a full army photo set when the last base is finished. I apologise for the quality of some of the pictures, lighting is poor and my photography poorer. One of these days I’ll get something better than my crappy phone camera… probably.
Green Leader (base pending…):
And the overall General of the army:
I’ve started adding their opponents, the Tarascan State, to painting sticks. In contrast to the melee focused Aztecs, the Tarascans will be a mostly bow armed force and I’m hopeful they’ll come together pretty quickly.
I’ve been enjoying painting these as take a bit more time over them to get the details in the suits and face paint rather than batch painting en mass like I did with the Chinese. Saying that, the bulk of the Tarascans will likely be a bit of a batch paint job.
Getting some opponents done is certainly my goal for the next month or two, though if I find myself burning out on them a little I may switch things up a bit.
After completing my Qin and Chu forces, it was time to get them on the table. I’ve been working on minimising games to a small playable area, the units being a 40mm frontage, on a 60mm grid table. For those unaware, TtS! is a grid based rule set driven by, normally, a few decks of playing cards. For the smaller scale of this game there would be no room for cards, so I played this using chits for activations and ten-sided dice for combat, etc.
I’ve gone for the “Late Warring States” list that I put together. I also have “Early Warring States” and “Early Imperial” lists, each with slightly different troop combinations. The Qin force here is smaller and more professional, built around flexible small commands, primarily of mixed infantry and crossbow. The Chu on the other hand consists of a core of conscript infantry and tribal troops supported by powerful cavalry wings.
I played two games. The first was a little rougher as I shook off the rust, got familiar with the new armies and remembered the nuances of the rules, the second went much faster and smoother.
The Qin army descends on the border of the Chu lands, striking through a valley flanked by dense forest and hilly terrain. The Chu ride out to meet the invaders on the field of battle.
With the invasion successful, the Qin push deeper into Chu territory. The Chu forces regroup and catch the Qin advance in more open terrain where the Chu cavalry can be more effective. A second battle ensues.
Two fun games and a good way to try out my new forces. Using the combination of the chits and dice with the smaller set up worked really well and I’m happy with how it’s turned out. In time I’ll hopefully make a better game mat but the cheap green paper tablecloth worked out grand and using green marker for the grid means it wasn’t too intrusive. I quite liked the complimentary use of Go tokens throughout the game for statuses. Given Go (or Weiqi in China) was invented in China just a little before this time period, using Go stones was a nice way to bring in some history. The ammo and disorder tokens are from a small travel set while (not pictured) I used full size Go stones as the victory tokens for each side. I did switch them round for the second game though as the white ammo was way too intrusive!
One concern I had with the rules was that Crossbowmen seemed underpowered for their cost. The difference between Bowmen and Crossbowmen in the rules is that Crossbowmen have a longer range, but Bowmen have a higher rate of fire while not disordered or in rough terrain. On face value the higher rate of fire is much better than the additional range, but the subtly of the “while not disordered or in rough terrain” does provide somewhat of a balance, since the crossbows keep their range advantage regardless of their status. It does require careful management to keep that range advantage, but it can potentially be powerful in the right circumstances. Infantry with attached crossbows can be pretty powerful as they can advance slowly, taking potshots at the enemy, and even pulling back to shoot if close combat looks too risky.
It was good to be able to play out two games. The first I was a bit rusty on the rules and new to the armies so took a little getting used to again, but the second fight flowed very smoothly. I did forget a few rules and modifiers in the first game, including the strategem cards, but I remember them all in the second, and even drew the same strategems again, which provide one time special abilities.
I was concerned after a fairly one sided victory in the first game that I’d made the Qin too powerful with their abundance of commanders, but the second battle shows that terrain and tactics can play a big part, and the strong infantry command of the Qin is balanced by their weaker cavalry. The other lists have different configurations of the troops so will be interesting to see how they fare with less command and more cavalry or chariots. This represents different stages of military technology and organisational reforms.
The Chu played very much as I had hoped, with their infantry providing quantity if not quality, and their cavalry proving the decisive hammer blow. The other Chu lists have similar configurations, but the earlier list relies on more chariots and the later list a better trained infantry core, so it’ll be interesting to see how those different combinations play out.
One sign of a good fight is thinking about what you would do differently next time. For the first battle, to give the Chu more of a fighting chance in the tighter terrain, they should perhaps have concentrated their attack more in a single area rather than across the whole line where they were worn down. The Chu General and his guard got pretty deep into Qin lines and almost overran their camp. If he’d been better supported by other troops that might have turned things around, as for most of the battle the Chu took a steady stream of losses while the Qin were unharmed. A few runs of poor numbers for the Chu didn’t help them either.
The second battle went the opposite direction, with the Qin losses mounting quickly and the Chu only losing a few troops. The attempt by the Qin to push out the two flank attacks ended up over stretching them when the Chu were able to advance quickly by leaving their infantry behind. A deeper Qin defense might have repelled the flank attacks and even killed their aggressive commanders, and left the Chu open for a counter attack.
I look forward to getting these troops out on the table again and trying out the different troop configurations. Hopefully it won’t be so long before the next game now I’ve a reasonably good small scale setup that can be put up, played and put away in a few hours.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these as much as I did and thanks for reading,
After completing the Qin forces recently I was inspired to push on and finish the Chu as an opponent to them.
The Chu were the largest and amongst the most powerful of the Warring States and would be the last to fall to the Qin conquest. When Qin Shi Huang, the first Qin Emperor died and his successor proved weak and incapable, in no small part through the treachery of a eunuch that resulted in the death of the true successor, it was the Chu that rose up in rebellion.
A large and wealthy kingdom, their rebellion would be ultimately successful, eventually led by the young, though ruthless, general Xiang Yu to overthrow the Qin. Declaring himself Hegemon King of Western Chu and re-establishing many of the former Kingdoms, he in turn would soon be overthrown by his once ally Liu Biang, who would go on to become the first Han Emperor. But that’s a story for another time.
The Chu were considered one of the core regions of Chinese culture and society, and were less militaristic than the Qin. As such I’ve represented them with a more mixed army, using tribal archers, conscript spearmen as well as the core infantry and crossbow, as well as chariots and heavy cavalry. While the Qin made heavy use of crossbows and infantry in combination, the Chu army is much more melee focused, with the nobles hoping to strike the final blow.
One of the projects followers of my recent updates will recognise is the Chinese ancients I’ve been working on. I’ve now completed one of the armies in this project, the Qin. This serves as my October update as my hobby supplies were all packed away for most of the month due to selling the house. I managed to tackle the last of this army in the past week now the house is sold and I’ve been able to unpack some of my supplies. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of painting again in the month to come, but things will be busy preparing for the move.
At this point I’ve gone for a reasonably minimalist approach with each unit being a 40mm frontage base. Long term I may expand these into larger frontages, but I’m reasonably happy with how the smaller bases have come out, and this way I can produce a wider range of armies. I have lists planned for the Warring States period, as well as the Early Imperial, so plenty of potential for variety.
The Qin were once just a small state on the fringes of Chinese society, thought of as little better than the barbarians they bordered. Through a series of sweeping social and military reforms known as Legalism, the state developed a centralised, meritocratic system of social order from the bottom to the top which propelled this uncultured upstart into becoming one of the most powerful states in the region, and eventually becoming the state that unified China into a single, centralised Empire. The name China comes from the Qin, as in English it sounds like “Chin”.
This army list gives me a variety of configurations to choose from to play out different periods from their rise to power, through to their rapid downfall after the death of the first Emperor.
I fear the light is against me these days, and the photos are taken with a camera phone just, so forgive the quality. One of these days I’ll get a proper camera (or better phone) and take a bit more care over the photos. Probably. The figures are all 10mm from Newline miniatures.
This has been quite a fun army to put together. They’re primarily built around some To the Strongest! army lists I put together, but I’m sure they’ll see action with other rulesets too. I’m actually considering trying them out with my feudal Japanese rules that followers of my blog will know I’ve been working on. While separated by over a millennia and a half, the mixed arms warfare might fit well as suitable proxies.
The next army in this project I’m working on are the main rivals of the Qin, the Chu. This large, cultured state will field a more diverse army than the Qin and is well underway with much of the core infantry units completed.
August was a busy month in real life so hobby progress has been slow. Been clearing the house and packing things away in preparation for putting the house on the market, as well as having a number of family events and a pleasant break with a few days away. Managed to get a few pieces done though.
Qin cavalry, fairly quick paint job on them.
No matter how often I brush them off there always manages to be a stray bit of static grass somewhere on the models when I photo!
Took another pass at the 15mm Tanuki archers to brighten them up a bit. Much happier with them now.
Over to the Valley of Mexico, these guys are the bodyguard of the Tlatoani (the king) and the mightiest warriors with the most captives under their belts:
Yes the basing was still wet when I took these pictures. I’ll be taking better ones when the whole army is finished, which shouldn’t be too long now.
2 Trojan War units next. This is a bit of a cheat, while I painted most of them in August, one or two figures were held up in the post before I could properly finish them so they were completed in September.
From the hollow lands and valleys of Lacedaemon:
And from the island of Salamis:
As with my other Trojan War ones, I’ll finish basing at the end so please ignore the bits of bluetac on the spearmen base as they would not stand up straight no matter how much I filed the bases!
That’s it for August. I have a few units done already for Septembers batch, but they’ll have to await the next update as depending how house clearing goes they may be all I have to show for this month!
Been able to keep things reasonably productive this month. Even got in a couple of games, some thinking around various projects and plenty of ideas for more projects in future. I’ve still been mostly using a dice roll to determine what my next piece of painting will be, though upped from a d6 to a d8 to include some bits that had been languishing unloved for a little too long. The two new additions came up during the month so that worked out well.
Ulster Protestant League Machine Gunner:
Civilian Militia – these will work as infantry for the socialist/communist factions as well as general militia defending their homes and maybe some guerilla fighters:
Figures all Pendraken.
I think these are 35mm. The zombies from the original Zombicide game were some of the first figures I painted as was easy to cover up all the mistakes with bloodstains! Don’t think I’ve ever photographed them, but definitely having an easier time with these now after a few years experience. One day I’ll get photos of the original ones done.
Not sure what to do with the bases, just gone with a sandy brown for now then will maybe do something with them once I’ve them all painted so it’s consistent.
Nine down, sixty two to go…
15mm Tanuki (Japanese Racoon Dog) Archers for a HotT army based around Japanese Folklore. Not entirely happy with these, they’re a little too dark still, and the colours aren’t quite popping like I want. Think I’ll maybe redo them with dark browns rather than the dark grey and add some patterns to the clothes. Figures from Alternative Armies.
Some more of Pendraken’s lovely Aztec range, this colourful unit is led by the warrior priests who had a whole different military and rank structure from the secular military forces. I already had some of these painted up previously but finished off the rest of the units and based them all.
The poor slinger at the front has a bit of grass in his face, but like a true warrior he’s still slinging away.
As this is a somewhat finite project (naivety I’m sure) being based around the combatants in the Trojan War I’ve gone with bigger bases with the aim of doing more diorama style, especially for some of the more famous characters and units. At 80×40 they’ll still fit comfortably on a dining table sized game but give a bit more space for laying out, especially when it comes to chariots, amazons and great heroes. Using them with TtS! to start with though may try with other rules too.
First up is a reasonably simple unit of bronze age axemen I’m using as Halizonian troops on the Trojan side, led by Odius and Epistrophus. They are from Alybe far away, where is the birth-place of silver thought to be somewhere on the Black Sea. Not much else is known of them but quite liked the idea of some axemen in the mix so seemed as good a fit as any.
The leader has an axe made of that strange metal that falls from the stars, or iron as we now know it. They did have iron in the bronze age, just didn’t know how to smelt it from ore so pure sources were rare and precious, usually from meteorites.
I’ll likely add some grass tufts and scene dressing to the base down the line, but want to do them all together for the project so it’s consistent. So just a basic sandy brown for now.
Also did up a unit of archers. Both sets of figures are from MM, though have some figures from Newline on order for a lot of the units.
Pyraechmes led the Paeonians with their curved bows, from distant Amydon and the banks of the Axius, its waters the loveliest that flow on earth.
These 2mm beauties have been in my procrastination pile for a while, mostly as I needed to get out the airbrush to prime them all. Glad I did. Russians all done for the Crimea, French next.
2mm really does look good for massed battles, and can paint up a load in one sitting.
Also made use of a few of them for a super mini game of Black Powder (about 20cm a side for the game mat):
This was start of turn 2, the reds hold the village and repulsed a cavalry charge by the browns at the hill.
The battle for the village intensifies.
End of game, remaining Browns circled as they break and retreat.
In my continued quest to pretty up my tables a bit with some terrain, I’ve put together a couple of hills, as well as painted up all of my 2mm terrain and building pieces.
And some 2mm terrain and building bits:
I have a pack of 2mm river sections (that should work okay as streams elsewhere) primed blue but not yet painted. I’ve also picked up a few 2mm pike and shot units which the above will work well with also.
Just in under the wire this month, got these two bases of Qin infantry done:
Plans for Next Month
Keep rolling the dice and see what comes up! I’ll continue painting through my collection mostly guided by the dice roll against 8 different projects. There are quite a few other projects I’d like to start but trying to resist the temptation until I can get a few of these ones done to a playable phase 1.
I also need to get varnishing, the weather has been pretty changeable so I’m about two months behind on varnishing.
I hope to get a game or two in as well. Some more mini games with the 2mm might be fun, though would be good to get a bigger game out as well and use the hills.
I’ve made some good progress on a few things this month. Switching to doing smaller units has kept up a better momentum and I’ve finally been getting a bit more time to do hobby stuff this month. I also did some sorting and reorganising of my hobby space, partly to make a bit of space for working from home that was a bit of a change from the kitchen table, partly because I was running out of space to put things!
First up, got the basing on my Crusader infantry all done, figures are mostly Pendraken/TB Line but I also repainted and rebased some of my MM bill men, which were some of the first 10mm figures I ever painted! These were over 200 figures that I’ve been painting over the past while and as the bases I needed arrived this month it was good to get them all based up and finished.
Some crossbowmen. These can be fielded as their own unit or attached to infantry. I probably need to do another couple of packs if these at some point.
Knights of Jerusalem (TB Line). So much lovely turquoise.
Yes I’m a mad fool who paints his flags. Easy enough when they’re crosses though. Adds a certain homeliness to it.
Also in the mix are some some rebased MM knights as Men-At-Arms. I painted these a year or two back, but part of my gradual rebasing of my old Crusader cavalry from the 50mm to 40mm squares.
Finally a few bits for camps and bases:
Think the tents are Irregular Miniatures. The buildings were resins off eBay I got ages ago.
In the rest of my crusades queue I’ve a pack of foot knights to paint up, some Eastern infantry as Armenians, more tents and civilians, a bunch more mounted knights and a handful of marker pieces. For now. I’m not too far off being able to do Arsuf either, my original plan for this project, though will likely do Dorylaeum first and write the accompanying Flippant History. I’ve also a TtS! game prepared with them and will be starting a Soldiers of God campaign in the near future too, so keep an eye out for battle reports.
A new project next, moving to ancient China for the late Warring States/Early Imperial period. These are based on a 40mm frontage initially, though long term hope to upgrade to 80mm frontage. Initially doing some Qin and Chu forces, though will be also doing a Han army and probably some rebel factions in the future. Figures are mostly from Newline, though a few (like the spearmen) are from MM’s range. The MM figures are a little more squat and cartoonish than the Newline ones but fit okay on separate bases.
First up Qin mixed infantry (Ji halberd and crossbow) needing a bit of static grass brushed off their shoulders:
And some more:
Qin Heavy Cavalry:
Then onto some Chu infantry (Ji halberd and swordsmen):
And from a different division of the army:
Some (un)impressed spearmen:
Some Chu crossbowmen:
The Chu will be organised into two large army divisions with a small detached overall command, hence the white and grey and white and purple colour schemes.
The Qin will have four smaller army divisions plus a command division.
This is to represent the difference between the more militaristic Qin who gave greater autonomy to their well trained troops and the largely poorly trained conscript armies of the Chu under often competing noble commanders.
My Han army lists are different still, to give each it’s own distinct flavour and play style. More on those in a future post.
I have been having a go at filling the biggest hole in my wargaming collection…terrain! The trees I got on eBay a while ago so they’ve been mounted on thick card and flocked.
I’ve also got two hills made of card and polystyrene to paint and flock but will hit them next time I’ve the airbrush out. Finally I’ll have terrain that isn’t just bits of card with colouring pencil terrain drawn on! I’ve also done some more experiments with the gridded battle board idea. Magnetic grid points make it pretty reusable for other things, but is a bit more fiddly to do. The tile spacers, doubled up for height then painted or flocked to fit in with the board are actually looking pretty decent and may be the way I go. Also need to think about the terrain style for the board, I’m thinking fairly lush and use for my Aztecs since I intend to keep them at a 40mm frontage and not double up to the 80mm like I do with some other projects. The 70mm grid that my foam board will allow will also suit them well, whereas it would be too small for many of my other projects which will need an 80-100mm grid.
I’ve also started working on a Trojan War project, though as it’ll be a reasonably “fixed size” project in terms of number of units I’m tempted to go for bigger bases for a more diorama look. I’ve a handful of figures painted but not based yet. I could go with my current basing style and use it as the seed of a broader bronze age project, but think it might be nice to do something a little more special for this epic conflict. I may make a battle board for this some point in the future too with fixed terrain, though that’ll be a while off yet.
Finally, I started working a project I got some samples for last year but haven’t done anything with yet. This is moving things into the 20th Century for a bit of alternative history based around the “A Very British Civil War” scenario, though in my own region of Northern Ireland/Ulster. I’ll have some more posts in the future about the back story and factions I’ve been thinking about but started with a unit of infantry for the Ulster Protestant League, a faction of extreme Protestant fascists. Black and purple have a strong link to Protestantism in the region along with the better known orange. As orange tends to be a bit more political associated and purple a bit more religious associated I’m saving the orange for a faction of government loyalists and using purple and black as the UPL faction.
The figures are Carlist Requetes from Pendraken’s Spanish Civil War range. I understand the historical troops were ultra-Catholic nationalists, so there’s a bit of delicious irony in them being used as ultra-Protestant nationalists. I didn’t realise this when I picked them, I had just envisioned these guys in berets and the figures seemed appropriate. The sashes were blankets for the original troops, but I felt the sash more thematically appropriate than a blanket.
I’ve a few more bases in progress from this project, but that’ll just have to wait until the July update.
I confess to being a complete novice when it comes to 20th-century warfare and equipment, having been more interested in history than hardware. I’ve a decent knowledge of the broad historical strokes but when people start talking about gillies vs boots and what helmet that division wore in that region and whether Mark III or Mark IV of the J-33 “Doddler” Tank was in use in a particular battle (yes I made that up…) I’m completely lost. So the alternative history mishmash of WW1, SCW and WW2 that AVBCW (or AVNICW – A Verry No’rn Ayrush Civul Warr*) offers is a nice gateway to the period without getting bogged down in the details. Though in truth it may evolve into an Ireland wide conflict given some of the alt-history I’ve been putting together! More on that in another post to come soon.
Hopefully, next month will be as much of a varied mix. I’ve taken to deciding what unit to paint next based on a dice roll against a table of potential projects, which is quite a nice way to keep the momentum going on different things. I doubt I’d have started the AVBCW project any time soon if it hadn’t come up on the dice and there are a few more unstarted or untouched projects on the list that may come up at the whim of the dice roll!
It’s also been some time since I played a game, so I’m hoping this month to get the Crusades forces out again for a game of To The Strongest! and possibly kick off a Soldiers of God campaign.
Until next time, thanks for reading.
* For those unfamiliar with N. Irish regional accents, this should be said quickly, somewhere between the back of the throat and the nasal passage, with proper emphasis put on the Rs at the end of words. I’m looking at you non-rhotic English speakers – excepting the Yanks, the Scottish, West Country folk, and pirates who all have a proper appreciation of the arr!