Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Mighty Empires Campaign

With my hobby time being extremely limited at the moment (you may have noticed the lack of blog activity...), my thoughts have turned to what I can do that isn't painting or gaming, neither of which are particularly practical  options while we are trying to sell our house and deal with all the trials of relocating to another part of the country. 

So I got thinking about setting up a Mighty Empires campaign. I can generate a map and convert it to hex paper so I can file it away easily. Everything can be marked on the map or tracked on notepaper for easy storage and minimal occupation of space. One of the good things about Mighty Empires is that it works as a stand alone game as well, so until things settle down, I can resolve battles using the game mechanics. Knowing me, progress might be slow, so by the time we've moved I might be able to focus my painting to what is going on in the campaign, especially my massive pile of Empire lead. 

I think I'll start with a 4 nation campaign. Bretonnia, Empire and Undead can be the first three as I'm collecting them already. A second ‘evil’ army would be good and Chaos should be fairly cheap to collect, given the high points value of a lot of their forces, so they can be the fourth. Sorted. In addition to that I could plan to have any neutral empires encountered themed to a specific race, such as Orcs, just to mix things up a little. 

Here's a picture of the map, as generated using the Mighty Empires tiles:

And here's my sketched version, which I will make prettier as I go (note it is rotated 90 degrees). The only difference is that I moved the Chaos capital a bit further away from the Undead. Tweaks like this are one of the benefits of converting to a paper map!

I've left space for expansion to the north in case I want to introduce new races later. 

Generating the initial empires has already seen some narrative elements suggest themselves to me. 

The Empire start with 3100 points. You can see form the map that their capital is well protected by surrounding mountains. I think they've probably encountered the undead before as they seem to have built two towers in the gaps that enemies could exploit. 

With the Empire being a buffer between them and the Undead, the Bretonnians have focused on the construction of a second city and villages have sprung up in the surrounding farm land. At present there exists an uneasy truce between Bretonnia and the Empire in this land. They start with 3000 points. 

The Undead gained a foothold here when previous settlers established a city near a huge swamp. The colonists soon succumbed to sickness and plague, leaving corpses ripe for the foul intentions of a powerful necromancer. He has recently waged a campaign against the Empire but was forced back. Since then, he has been biding  his time and recovering his power. The Undead begin with 4100 points. 

(Note: since taking the above picture I realised the swamp is impassible and should not have the village there. As a result I moved it to the hex above and to the left.)

Unknown to the other inhabitants, a rift has recently opened in the mountainous area to the north, spewing forth the foul servants of Chaos. They are starting off weak, with only 2500 points, but their location means they can bide their time and gather strength, striking at a moment of their choosing. 

So that's the background for the campaign. I don't know if I will draw up full army lists if I can't play out the battles on the tabletop at the moment, but it might be an interesting addition and add some flavour. 

Since writing the above, I've started the first turn and the Undead have just raised a 600 point force right on top of one of the Empire towers thank to some fortunate Equinox magic. I think the campaign will be an interesting one!

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Bretonnian Knights (Part 2)

The first part in this 'mini-series' saw be get somewhat distracted by the pictures and articles in White Dwarf. But now that is out of the way,  I can focus on what I am most interested in, which is identifying the heraldry of the knights used in the pictures so I can replicate them in 15mm. 

Knights from heraldry article in issue 136
If I trace things back far enough, it was this picture which is in many ways responsible for what I am doing now. The first ever issue of White Dwarf that I bought was 136 and I was intrigued by the heraldry on display in the pictures and accompanying diagrams.

As such, the main aim of what I am trying to do, is recreate the unit of knights shown in the foreground. Once I have completed these ten, I will be able to move on to the knights pictured in later issues, including the general and army standard bearer. But first things first...

These are the ones...

I've looked through a few issues where the knights are pictured and have found decent pictures of all of them, with the exception of one. Here is a list in no particular order (and please forgive my distinctly non heraldic language):

1) White with red chevron:

2) Black with white axe:

3) Red/yellow quarters with black crescent

4) Red/green halved vertically with white cross

5) Blue/white halved horizontally

6) Green/white horizontal stripes

7) Yellow with green beast

8) Blue/white quarters

9) Blue/yellow halved vertically

10 Black/white quarters with white diamonds

The only knight I could not find a clear picture of is the last one, but there is enough to tell how the horse should be painted, so it is not a huge problem.

Now all I need to do is assemble my miniatures and get on with the painting!


The problem with being able to own all the 4th Edition army books for not a lot of money at all, is that I'll pick one up at random, flick through it, and end up wanting to build a new army as a result.

I do have a bit of an excuse this time as Bretonnia is often allied with the Wood Elves, although I am going to have to 'retrofit' the Dryad rules from the 4th Ed book into 3rd Ed if I want to use them with those rules as well, not that that will be too big a problem.

Anyway... I found it really hard to locate something similar to the Dryads pictured in the Wood Elf book. They have more of a 'mini-treeman' feel, whereas available ones, such as from Splintered Light Minis, are more of a 'whispy-tree-spirit' type thing. Nice figures, just not what I am after.

In the end I went for 6mm Treemen from Irregular Miniatures. They are not the greatest figures ever, but when they are painted they do feel quite old-school to me. Perhaps a little on the large side, but they do look like fearsome foes and I like that.

Unit of 5 Dryads

Under the 4th Edition rules, a unit of 5 Dryads costs 175 points. And what's better is that they don't suffer additional effects from fire as they are young living wood, unlike the more ancient Treemen.

In terms of introducing more fantastical elements to my Bretonnian army, I'm going to be looking at things which have a more mythic or folklore feel to them and I think these fit the bill nicely.

In battle against Bretonnians (sorry it's blurry! I need to use a camera with a better screen so I can check beforehand)

They are also a good start to a future Wood Elf army. I'd definitely want to accentuate the 'nature' side of that force, plenty of Dryads, Treemen, eagles and so forth. It is easier to do this in 4th Edition because of all the changes to the army lists (one of the reasons I still like that version of the game). But that is a project for the future (he says, having technically started it already!).

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Bretonnian Knights (Part 1) (and an interesting discovery)

As frequent readers of this blog know, I am trying to recreate the GW studio Bretonnian army, as depicted in the pages of White Dwarf during the later part of the 3rd Edition era.

In most cases this is fairly straightforward. Units recur quite frequently and are easy to identify. Bretonnian knights are a little more difficult though, as they don't always appear together and it seems there were a few units that WD used in a 'mix-and-match' kind of way.

Issue 129 of White Dwarf introduces the new range of Bretonnian miniatures, with painted examples from the Perrys. These figures are also included in dioramas in issues 130 and 131. What is interesting about these, is that they are effectively medieval dioramas, with the combatants being exclusively Bretonnian.  It's also notable that in issue 130 there were rules for 'Chivalry', a simple medieval combat card game which was explicitly historical rather than fantasy based.

Issue 129

Issue 130

Issue 131


Later, in issue 136, an article appears about Bretonnian heraldry. The examples here are pretty simple, in nice bold colours. Nothing wrong with them at all, but quite a contrast to the more detailed Perry heraldry. The pictures which accompany the article show a new unit of Knights painted accordingly, although eagle eyed readers will spot a Perry unit fighting in the background!

Issue 136

So there seems to be a bit of a shift in focus around this time, from the distinctly historical looking knights to ones which look a bit more 'Warhammery'. It is the latter unit of knights which I want to replicate for my 15mm Bretonnian army. As it is not quite possible to discern the details of the heraldry on all the knights pictured, I dug around other issues from the time to try and find different photos of them. At this point I noticed something quite interesting was happening with Bretonnia in White Dwarf!

But first... here is a list of what White Dwarf contained about Bretonnia between issues 129 and 158:

129: First showing of new figures painted by Perrys
130: Perry diorama (and rules for Chivalry game)
131: Perry diorama
132-135: Nothing
136: Heraldry article
137: Amended army list. Pictures of new units. Army pictured in battle against Skaven.
138: New unit of knights, general, army standard, wizard. Heraldry revisited.
139-142: Nothing
143: 'Guest appearance': Pictured in Coaching Inn modelling article
144: 'Guest appearance': Pictured in modelling article
145: 'Guest appearance': Pictured in Elf/Empire v Undead battle
146-147: Nothing
148: 'Guest appearance': Pictured in rivers modelling article
149-152: Nothing
153: Battle report vs Dwarfs. Testing of 4th ed Magic rules
154: Nothing (Although army from 153 pictured as part of army deal offer)
155-158: Nothing

So looking at this list it seems like something quite odd happens with the Bretonnians. First, they are released to a bit of a fanfare and look rather historical. Then, from issue 136, that side of things takes a bit of a back seat to slightly more fantastical miniatures (although they all still look pretty much like medieval French). In 138 there are some new knights painted up along with some characters. This issue talks about work being in progress on the Bretonnian army and that it will be revealed properly when it is all painted. And after that.... pretty much nothing! All you really get is a few pictures of what you have already seen to accompany other articles. Even as early as 141 and 142 you get other armies shown off (Wood Elves and Undead). What happened to the Bretonnians?!

Issue 138

Issue 138 (but note, the 'new' knight on the far right is the one leading the charge in the picture from issue 136. The scamp!)

To add insult to injury, pretty much every issue from 146 until 4th Edition is released has articles and rule about The Empire. So it seems, perhaps, that Bretonnia wasn't 'fantasy' enough and was ditched in favour of The Empire. Not that that makes a great deal of sense, as the Empire is basically a historical army too (just with more Steam Tanks...!). Maybe Bretonnia lacked a distinctive theme running through it. Was that why it was reinvented as a pseudo-Arthurian nation for 5th Edition?

In a final touch of irony, it is the Bretonnians who fight the Dwarfs in issue 153 and get offered as an army deal in 154, even though they are effectively being dropped at this time as they get no army book for 4th Edition...

So what started as a exercise in finding out what heraldry was painted on the Bretonnian knights turned into something a little unexpected... I wonder if anyone else noticed this shift at the time, or if it is only apparent when you sit down with 30 copies of White Dwarf and go through them all in one sitting! That is two and a half years worth of magazines after all!

Did you or anyone you know play with a Bretonnian army during the 3rd Edition period? Did you shift to using another army during 4th Edition? All comments and input welcome as always!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Bretonnian foot units

A big part of this project for me, is to replicate the Bretonnian forces shown in White Dwarf in 15mm. One of my earliest memories of reading WD was an article about Bretonnian heraldry and I also enjoyed seeing the same distinctive units appearing in different photos across the issues. It made my younger self wonder about the history of the different units and what brought them to the depicted battle. 

The unit which stuck in my mind the most was this one:

Now, until I got a copy of WD137, I had no idea about the name of the Baron who led them. Until then it was just the retinue's bright livery which caught my attention. 

This particular issue of White Dwarf has an army list update for Bretonnia and pictures of several different units. Further down the page from the one shown above is another interesting unit:

Both of these helped inspire me to collect 15mm versions of old Bretonnian regiments. To this end I bought some figures from Essex Miniatures and attempted to duplicate the original units as closely as I could. 

Here are the results:

L'Hommes Du Renault
 Like the original unit, this is a 14 strong regiment armed with double handed weapons and accompanied by a standard. To add a few options, I also painted up a musician and champion so I can field either the original 'White Dwarf unit' or a slightly beefed up one.

As this makes the unit 16 strong, it is also useful for getting an increased rank bonus when arranged in 4 ranks:

Next up, Baron D'Angon and his foot knights. I didn't paint any additional figures for this unit (at least, not yet!).

It certainly made me realise that heraldry is going to be a bit of a pain to paint on 15mm figures! Time to refresh my brushes and invest in some 000 size!

Overall I think this has been worth pursuing so far. It was really satisfying to finish these first two units and my overall goal has given me a decent and achievable objective, which has been highly motivating!

Hopefully I will soon be posting the archers, crossbowmen, artillery and peasants also shown in WD 137. And of course, lets not forget the knights from other issues. I'm currently working to find good pictures of the heraldry on each of them, which is a fair challenge in itself!

As ever, please feel free to comment below, or follow the Twitter feed for this blog, @oldhammer15 , where I occasionally put up work in progress images and generally chat nonsense!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

A New Army

We went to visit my family this weekend. My Dad had mentioned something about having a few Renaissance figures that might be handy for an Empire army. Turned out it was more than a few. I came back home with the following:

So I'm going to have a proper root through and see what there is I can use and how it would all fit together. I like that the figures are all old MiniFigs. Seems to be very fitting for an Oldhammer project. 

Thanks, Dad!!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

White Dwarf 148

Continuing my look at old issues of White Dwarf, I thought I'd examine issue 148, which arrived in the post a few days ago.

This is an exceptional issue in the sense that it has zero decent gaming content for 3rd Edition or Rogue Trader!

The issue starts off with an article on modelling rivers, which may have some use. Unfortunately, the next piece of interest doesn't occur until just over 30 pages later (and even then it is a game report)!

24 pages are given to a battle report telling the tale of The Battle of Blood Keep between the Empire and an alliance of Dwarfs and Wood Elves. It's a fairly decent read if you like bat reps. I enjoy them but always find myself getting bored by the end! It's just an aesthetic thing really, I can't engage fully with written reports when wargaming for me is about the visual appeal.

The report is interesting for its use of the 'new' Empire army list, published the issue before, and also mention of the 'new' card-based Magic system, which would make an appearance in slightly altered form when 4th edition came out.

And that's it! The rest is mostly ads and 'Eavy Metal pages. I should mention for completeness sake that there is a rules article about the Chaos forces of Khorne for Space Marine as the Renegades expansion was soon to be released. 

So no stats or rules for 3rd Ed or Rogue Trader this month!

So why did I buy it?! Well... The piece on making rivers does contain a pic of Bretonnians fighting Undead. This gives me another view of the knights, which should come in useful when I'm painting them in 15mm! I also would like to play it out as a battle just to see what happens!

So there you have it. Not an issue I'll be referring to much, I'm sure! 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

White Dwarf 137

Due to a delay in my painting schedule, I thought I'd get cracking on what I hope will build to be a comprehensive look at issues of White Dwarf from the 'Oldhammer' era. By 'comprehensive', I mean I hope to look at all the issues as I re-read or acquire them. I will mainly be referring to articles for Warhammer Fantasy and Rogue Trader in my write-ups. Each post will be noted under the tab at the top of the blog for easy reference as well.

To kick things off, I thought I'd take a peek at issue 137, notable for a change to the Bretonnian army lists...

Page 14-15 show some painted up figures from the new range. This is one of the things which inspired me to start this blog and reproduce the units pictured in White Dwarf, so I hope to have 15mm versions to show you soon. Although I am not playing in that scale, I do really like the old 28mm figures from that era. Much more pleasant to look at than the new ranges, which are far to 'busy' for my liking with every tiny thing rendered in complete detail!

Page 16 contains the stats for the new figures. I think this is a large improvement over the page in Warhammer armies. All of the options and variation is pretty much still there, but contained within fewer troop types. Plus you get the addition of Foot Knights as some harder hitting infantry. This unit type was to be done away with when the Bretonnians were 'reinvented' for 5th edition, but still existed in 4th edition during the 'dark days' when Bretonnia didn't warrant it's own army book!

Next up, Andy Chambers describes his Skaven Army. This is an interesting and thorough piece with plenty of pictures. Having just extolled the virtues of 'old' figures, I have to say I am not a huge fan of the grimy brown mass that his units look like. But never mind. It is interesting to read how the army came about from playing Mighty Empires. But even more interesting to read a reference to a 'new magic system "using randomly dealt power cards". This sounds more like 4th Edition, but this was a while off at this point. Guess they were play-testing at that point? I don't know of any such magic system for 3rd edition at this time...

For people interested in modelling, there is an article about how to build a 'fantasy townhouse'. I find it interesting to compare this to the house described many issues later. The one in this issue is quite detailed and you stick on strips of balsa wood for the timber framing. I'm pretty sure the one later on does the same with just card. In any case, it is an interesting article.

Finally, while not technically Rogue Trader, this issue has two parts of the ongoing serialisation of the Confrontation rules, dealing with combat and trading. Readers may know this is what eventually became Necromunda, although the original Confrontation was a much more complicated set of rules. I'll definitely have to give it a go when I collect all the issues. Probably worthy of having a few blog posts dedicated to it!

So that's it for this issue. There was also coverage of the Golden Demon finals and a Space Hulk scenario. Let's finish off with a pic of the back cover, depicting the noble Bretonnians from earlier in the issue defending a town against some rampaging Orcs!

Monday, 11 May 2015

My basing problems...

Who would have thought that choosing a base size for a 15mm project would be so hard?!

My original thought was to go with 10mm, but when I tried this it definitely seemed on the small side, strange given that DBx uses a 40mm frontage for 4 figures! With the next convenient amount of mm being 15, I cut up a few of those. Now the problem was they seemed too big!

Here's a picture for comparison:

And here is another reason why I went off 10mm squares... my standard bearer just wouldn't stand up!:

Then I saw this post on TMP asking a similar question. The first reply caught my interest. 'Nazrat' said he used a 1/2" square as the basis for his WAB basing. It had never occurred to me to use inches... 1/2" is 13.7mm, not something I would want to measure out a hundred times using metric measurements! But the convenience of a half inch can not be denied. So I went ahead and cut out a base to see what it looked like (middle):

Seeing the results I am pretty much converted to the idea. Not too small and not overpowering, it seems a good fit to the figure size. So the next question is, what do I use for cavalry and larger monsters?!

Off the top of my head I can see the convenience of 3/4" and 1" frontages for them, but I'll wait and see when I get some cavalry for my first army.