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!!