Dark Age Campaign Set – the Figures needed

Baccus Sudanese doubling as Andalusians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

I spent some time this week having a look at the figures needed to make up the Dark Age set. Recall in Dark Age Campaign Set I identified six Dark Age armies to build the set around, being Viking, Andalusian, Anglo-Saxon, West Frankish, East Frankish and Leidang.

First decision was the figure range and while both Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros have the same ranges available, the pricing of both companies is near enough to the same to just pick one range on appearance.

I do like Heroics and Ros, especially for World War 2 and Modern wargaming but for Ancients, Baccus is a very nice range of figures so I decided to build the set with the various Baccus ranges.

Baccus Goths doubling as Hairy Dark Age barbarians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

Some “repurposing” parts of the Baccus range was necessary to achieve the six desired armies (and to be honest I am thinking of adding a Slav army to round it all out … but not yet). For some of the East Franks and the Norse Leidang I am opting to use some Goths from the Roman range. The Andalusians are being drawn from the Saracens in the Crusades range – using mainly the Seljuqs and Sudanese.

I have calculated that to achieve the desired results here, I will need to purchase 30 packets of figures from Baccus. This will amount to around £152.00 not counting postage 😦

The figure count (and therefore the painting queue) will grow by about 1,500 foot figures and 300 mounted figures, plus/minus.

I think I may break the order up into chunks and will plan to develop this project over the coming 12 months. In the meantime, I have a lot of modern naval in 1/3000 scale to paint up (not to mention 1/3000 scale World War 2 and World War 1).

Time for another planning session I reckon – off to the pub!

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Dark Age Campaign Set

Having studied History at University (when I was supposed to be reading Economics) I always feel a little less than professional when I refer to the Dark Ages as the Dark Ages – but it fits. The glory days of Rome were well past and there were many years to go before the golden age of the Renaissance appeared. Even in China we had just come out of the Tang Dynasty and were heading into Five Dynasties. (907–960) and then Song Dynasty. The glory days of Yuan when the Mongols took over China were not until 1200 C.E. or so.

I have always had an interest in the Norsemen however, especially as I did study the Vikings in those misspent university years. The project Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start came as a result of reading some historical fiction around Erik Bloodave. I have been doing some research over a Tim Horton’s coffee or two and have settled on the following armies. I intend to purchase enough figures to build them so that they can be used for both DBA version 3 and Basic Impetus

Army Name DBA Army Basic Impetus
Viking Army III/40b Viking Army 850-1280 CE 14.8 Viking 789-1066 CE
Andalusian III/34b Andalusian 766-1172 CE 18.3 Later Andalusian 961-1072 CE
Anglo-Saxon III/24b Anglo-Saxon 701-1016 CE 14.9 Later Anglo-Saxon 789-1016 CE
West Frankish III/52 West Frankish/Normans 888-1072 CE 15.3 Normans in Normandy 900-1072 CE
East Frankish III/53 East Frankish 888-1106 CE 15.11 Eastern Franks & Ottonians 898-1125 CE
Leidang (Norse) III/40c Leidang 790-1070 CE Haven’t worked this one out yet 🙂

I had to do a bit of converting troop types and rules to work these together for two different sets of rules. Firstly there was base sizes. I did consider using 60mm base widths with 30mm depth for pretty much everything as both rules would work with that as they both use base widths for measuring ranges and move distances. However one thing I am very short on in the Philippines is space, so a 2′ x 2′ (or 60cm x 60cm) playing area was the first constraint. I then decided that I would use standard DBA/DBM bases of 40mm frontage. As both sets of rules use base width measures it would still work OK.

The second task was to determine a conversion between Basic Impetus and DBA trop types. I settled on the following conversions:

DBA Troop Type Basic Impetus Troop Type
4Bd FP
Sp FP
3Wb FL or S
Ps S
4Bw T
3Cb T
3Ax FL (Irish)
Cv CM
LH CL
3Kn CP2 or CP1
7Hd FB

I reckon by the time I finish I will have a few more to add to the list.

As for basing, as I am using 6mm figures, I am planning on  basing 4 x 6mm figures for what would be a single 15mm figure on a 40mm base for the likes of 4Bd (16 figures to the base). For loose order (3Ax etc) then 12 figures to the base (normally 3 x 15mm figures). Light troops will be 6 to 8 skirmishers. For mounted troops I will be using a ratio of nearly 3:1 for all except Light Horse. So 3Kn will have 9 or 10 figures on the base. LH will be 4 figures on the base.

It just so happens as well that I believe the next issue of Slingshot from the Society of Ancients (Slingshot 324, May/June 2019) will have an article about a Dark Age campaign using 6mm Viking figures, among other things. In fact, just checking their Twitter feed there will be DBA Danelaw Campaigns as well as Tweaking DBA 3. I’m looking forward to that issue (and joining the Society of Ancients is recommended for anyone interested in Ancient Wargaming).

As for figures, I really only have a choice between Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros. Both have good ranges of Dark Age figures. For the Andalusians I will need to trawl through the Crusader ranges. Most likely that will be Baccus who have a larger range of Saracens and Seljuqs. Goths (as a nice hairy barbarian type) will also make an appearance in these armies doubling for some of the Finns and Slavs or Rus.

And yes, just what a wargamer needs, another project and more figures. I think I will slip off now and start my modern Soviet fleets in 1/3000!

Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start

As if I did not have enough half finished and unstarted wargames project, I am about to add another one to the list. I really must get organised with more painting time though and start to clear some of these.

It has started with this book. A modern telling of the tale of Erik Haraldsson known as Bloodaxe. Erik Bloodaxe lived from the late 7th century until he was finally assassinated in 954 C.E.

The book has been (and still is) a ripping read and of course it has fired my interest in adding some Vikings to my wargame collection.

As I mentioned in Another Project – Vikings in 6mm, I have a fine collection of Two Dragons Vikings here in 15mm but I want to build the Vikings in 6mm. I originally started thinking about just two armies in 6mm and set them for DBA and/or Basic Impetus. That would have required about 400 figures all up using the basing scales I use of 15mm base sizes and 3 or 4 6mm figures for each 15mm figure.

Baccus 6mm – EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen. Image from http://www.baccus6mm.com web catalogue

Wargamer’s megalomania has now clicked in and I am thinking that 10 armies would make a nice collection. With those I could probably morph a few other traditional enemies if I wanted to.

So Baccus 6mm Vikings are nice and while the ones illustrated to the left from the Baccus website are based on a 60mm base, basing on 40mm will look similar, just 4 figures per rank less.

So, adding to the Vikings (DBA army III/40b) I am looking to add:

  • Northern Slav (III/1a)
  • Breton (III/18)
  • Anglo-Saxon (III/24b) – two of these 🙂
  • Andalusian (III/34b)
  • Leidang Army (III/40c)
  • Norse-Irish (III/46)
  • West Frankish (III/52)
  • East Frankish (III/53)

Thinking about a Pre-Feudal Scots as well – such is the megalomania!

So, I will need more than the original 400 digures considered and this will therefore go from being a nice little project to a big one.

The option other than Baccus is to use Heroics and Ros figures who also have their Vikings, Saxons and Normans and could therefore provide most of the figures here. This will lead, of course, to a few days pleasure planning and combing through catalogues.

I am also still considering the naval side with some additional bits, such as 6mm Snekke and Drakkar from Heroics and Ros. Another option is the 1/1200 scale Viking and Saxon vessels from Navwar.

Let the planning begin!

 

Another Project – Vikings in 6mm

So one thing that I have come to hate is the “Read Sample” option on Amazon Digital Books. You get about 30 pages at the start of a novel and then if you are hooked, you end up buying the whole book.

This was one. Many of the settings in this are found in the Trondelag which is where I spent most of my time in Norway. Familiar areas and towns such as Lade are included.

I find the description of the way of  life of the men of the Nor Way fits with the historical records (O.K., the sagas) as well as the archeological evidence that I studied at University.

So, after 30 pages of reading I decided that I needed to buy the book (in Kindle version) and it has become my lunchtime reading this week. The only problem is that now I am tempted to build some wargame armies … sigh, another project to add to the growing list!

I have a fine collection of Two Dragons Vikings here in 15mm, a gift from friend Lee but in keeping with my latest passions, I want to build the Vikings in 6mm. I would want to build two armies in 6mm and set them for DBA and/or Basic Impetus. I figure I would need about 12 elements of Vikings which would be 192 figures plus some extras. Need to build two sides so that is 384 figures. I would also need some opponents but I have not read far enough into the book to see who the enemies were in this story. It could be Normans although Erik bypasses the French lands of Hrolf, the brother of Harald Finehair (Erik’s father) and heads further south. I can see that I am going to buy to build a second force.

As for figures, around 400 Viking figures would give me two armies. Baccus 6mm have some lovely figures as well as a boxed set for £57.50 plus postage of Vikings. The set contains over 700 figures however (megalomania bubbling to the surface). Baccus also make Saxons and Normans which are likely to make up the basic figures for opponents.

It appears as though Andy at Heroics and Ros has finished his reorganisation after Heroics and Ros moved. They also produce Vikings (and Saxons and Normans). The also do some interesting additional bits, such as 6mm Snekke and Drakkar among others – plus crew for the vessels. There is an attraction in that along with the fact that I could get roughly the same number of Vikings from H&R as Baccus for about £57.60 plus postage.

Decisions, decisions. Curse you Amazon “Read Sample”!

P.S. Oh and the book is a ripping yarn to boot!

 

When Inspiration is Failing … along comes Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 97

Like all good wargamers I have about 30 half-started; half-completed; or part-planned projects either in the painting queue (that will be those boxes over there), or scratched as notes on a piece of paper as the planning sessions start (and the figures for those will be in those other boxes over there or manufacturers catalogues filed away in the file system here).

And then along came Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Issue 97 and I was saved – or at least project number 31 started to take shape in my mind’s eye.

The main theme of this issue is “Weird War”. Basically, alternate outcomes or what-if scenarios based around World War 2, and there are seven articles on that subject, articles such as a “What if?” assassination mission – Kill Stalin; Weird War II airborne operations – Operation Redrow; or Weird War II pulp adventures – Lieutenant Liberty and the Doom Platoon.

However, there were some other more mainstream articles included such as the perils of Ptolemaic Pachyderms – Elephant Archos; the Swedes vs. the Dutch in North America – The Battle at Fort Mosquito, 1655; and the one that caught my imagination, the Empress Matilda’s flight – Bitesize battle: escape from Oxford.

The article about Stephen and Mathilda caught my eye principally because several days before I had watched an historical piece on Netflix on the Empress Maud and Matilda. Coupled with that is a desire to have a reason to get some Normans (not that I ever really needed an excuse to buy more figures). The article discusses the escape of Mathilda from Oxford Castle in the winter when the castle was invested by Stephen’s forces. I am sure this provided the idea for Sansa’s escape from Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.

Anyway, I digress, and who doesn’t like a good digression? Mathilda and Stephen tilted for the English crown in the mid 12th century. Both were Normans and this period of Norman history makes a change from William’s Wars or the Normans in Sicily. Anyway, as the tale goes, Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, and was his sole legitimate child after the death of his son Prince William in the ‘White Ship’ disaster.

She was married to Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire (hence the title Empress), and then when he died in 1125, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.

She was supposed to be the heir to the English throne, however in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that Henry I had changed his mind on his deathbed and recognised Stephen as successor to the throne. The English barons backed this claim.

That is when the trouble started and a period known as The Anarchy commenced.

Stephen was more popular than Mathilda, as she was viewed as a foreigner and a woman who was married to one of the hated Angevin enemy. She was also proud and overbearing, arranging everything as she thought fit, according to her own whim.

Trouble started in 1141 when the Battle of Lincoln took place between Stephen and Matilda’s half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. After fighting bravely, Stephen was overcome and captured and taken before Matilda who immediately had him imprisoned in Bristol Castle. He was later released.

Both Stephen and Mathilda were captured at various stages and escaped (the escape from Oxford being one such).

Henry, Mathilda’s son by the Count of Anjou also got involved, bringing some knights to England but they were defeated by Stephen’s men.

In 1153 Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Westminster with Henry of Anjou. This stated that Stephen should remain king for life (in the event this was less than one more year) and then Henry should succeed him.

Upon Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry was crowned King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet line of kings.

So, what’s not to like about this period? A few armies of similar structure bouncing around England and a reason to expand the lead-pile … curse you Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy!

As for figures, well it will be 6mm scale for the space challenged and Normans of an appropriate ilk are available from:

  • Heroics and Ros – a range I remember from many years ago – Normans, Saxons, Vikings and a Medieval range
  • Baccus 6mm – a lovely range of 6mm Normans, Vikings and Saxons
  • Irregular Miniatures – a large range of figures but where the casts as not as clean or detailed as H&R or Baccus

For those interested, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy have a number of well known folks from the wargaming world writing regular columns in the magazine as well such as Rick Priestley and Henry Hyde.

The magazine is recommended … as are the Normans!

Another DBA Campaign – Byzantines

I’ve always had an interest in the Byzantines, ever since my Uni days. This interest has been reawakened recently after listening the Lars Brownworth’s Byzantine Rulers podcast.

I mentioned a new project the other day, the Tribal Mongol Campaign, where I was thinking of collecting a number of contemporary opponents built to the DBA rules. Mention of the Pecheneg and Cumans by Brownworth in his podcast dealing with Alexius set an idea off in my head. The result is another collection of armies to build.

The armies i decided on are all from book III of the lists, except for the Byzantines. I will hunt for these figures as I am for the Mongol collection. The armies I’m using are three enemies of the Byzantines, one “ally” and one army that was both ally and enemy … and the Byzantines as well, of course 😆

The armies are:

  • III/79 – Cuman (Kipchak) 1054-1394 CE
  • III/73a – Seljuk Turk (Rum) 1200-1243 CE
  • III/47 – Pecheneg 850-1122 CE
  • III/51 – West Frankish/Norman 881-1072 CE (Robert Guiscard and his son Bohemud)
  • III/52 – East Frankish 888-1106 CE (Alexius paid/persuaded Henry to attack the possessions of Robert Guiscard)
  • IV/1a – the Komnenan Byzantines 1071-1204 CE

These were selected as the Seljuk Turks along with the Pechenegs attacked the Byzantines. To counter this Alexius persuaded the Cumans to attack the Pechenegs and managed to persuade the Turks to revolt against the Sultan.

The Cumans started raiding and to counter that, Alexius had the Cuman leader assassinated.

The Normans under Robert Guiscard attacked the Byzantines. To counter this threat Alexius persuaded Henry (Heinrich), the ruler of the East Franks, to attack Guiscard’s possessions causing them to withdraw.

A most interesting period and one I am looking forward to considering the figures for this army and to organise and paint them over the coming year or two.