Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wargaming the English Civil War in 1/72 Scale

My latest project is to do some work on my ECW armies. Painting ECW armies in 1/72 scale takes some ingenuity, as it requires mixing some plastic and metal figures, and doing some conversions. For me this is part of the appeal.


De Bellis Renationis (DBR)

DBA-RRR. This is a free supplement to DBA for the 16th-17th centuries designed by Tony Aguilar. I haven’t played it yet but it looks good, and Mr Aguilar has also thoughtfully provided army lists. They are all here:

Lion of the North. I haven’t played these either, but they have some features I like. The sequence of events (move, fire etc) is random, which makes battles less predictable. The rules also avoid some of the backwards-forwards nature of DBA by having units suffer ‘steps’ of damage. They are also free! Find them here:

All my troops are based on elements 5cm wide. Horse are always mounted 2 to a base, and infantry 3 to a base (or 2 if skirmishers). This basing is different to DBR, but since I usually have to provide both armies to have a game it doesn’t matter, and it means less painting.


There are few 1/72 scale plastic or metal figures available for the ECW. Here is a survey of what is available or can be adapted. I’d like to know if there are others I’ve missed.

Command figures from A Call to Arms

1. Infantry

1. A Call to Arms Parliamentary Infantry

2. A Call to Arms Royalist Infantry

3. A Call to Arms Command Set

See them all reviewed here:

When the infantry from all 3 sets are mixed together it is possible to get a good range of figures for an army. In particular, mixing the pikemen from both infantry sets allows the creation of a good pike unit. They are realistic and nicely moulded, but there are a couple of problems. The pikemen are wearing a lot of armour that was steadily abandoned as the wars went on. In particular, the tassets (thigh protectors) worn by all but one of the pikemen would have been increasingly rare by 1645. The musketeers don’t look so great as a group. There are too many figures doing too many different things to really look like they belong together in a drilled unit. Only one figure in any of the sets is using his musket, and he is found in the Command Set.

4. Revell Swedish Infantry

5. Revell Imperial Infantry

See them reviewed here:

These are great figures for the Thirty Years War. Unlike A Call to Arms the musketeers look great together. For the ECW they have some problems. The Imperial Infantry are all wearing helmets, which would have been rare for English musketeers. Some aspects of the clothing also look too old fashioned and Continental to be convincing for the ECW. In particular, the baggy breeches (pluderhosen) don’t look right. The musketeers are all using rests, which again became quite outmoded as lighter muskets were introduced during the ECW.

These figures can certainly be mixed in with those from ACTA, and are certainly good for the first year or so of the war, and perhaps for regiments that were drawing on the stocks of old armouries. Some head swapping (eg replacing some helmets with caps from ACTA figures) makes them even better. They would look quite wrong for the New Model Army.

Pikes for both Revell and ACTA should be replaced by wire or broom bristles – the Revell pikes don’t have points and are variable lengths and the ACTA pikes are much too short. Here is a block of pikemen from a 'green' regiment. Figures are a mix of Revell and ACTA, with a couple of Zvezda.

And here is a 'red' regiment.

6. Zvezda Austrian Musketeers and Pikemen

See them reviewed here:

Why Zvezda? Why? These are beautiful figures, look great for the ECW (especially for the early stages), but are much too big for 1/72 scale. They don’t look right mixed with ACTA or Revell figures. I have sneaked a couple of pikemen from the set into my units, but they stand out, and the musketeers would do so even more. The options are either to make your infantry completely from this set, use the figures to make separate regiments, or not use it at all. Damn.

7. Mars Arquebusiers (30 YW)

8. Mars 30 YW Imperial Army (30 YW)

9. Mars Scots Mercenaries (30 YW)

These sets haven’t been reviewed by Plastic Soldier Review yet (and the Scots haven’t been released). See the box art here: and some idea of the contents of the Arquebusiers here:

There is lots to dislike about Mars. Most of their sets are pirated versions of figures from Revell and Esci and others, and are often really badly done. That being said, some of these figures may be useful, such as the mounted officers…

10. Strelets Jacobites (Sets 1&2)

11. GerMan Jacobites

See them reviewed here:

Although these figures are really suitable for the period 1688-1746, they may be usable for the army of Montrose, or for Highlanders in Covenanter armies. I haven’t tried this yet, but some figures can probably be adapted by sing a hobby knife to remove any traces of short jackets and paint them as buff coats etc.

12. SHQ

13. Tumbling Dice

From left to right: Tumbling Dice musketeer, two SHQ Covenanters, SHQ pikeman, ACTA pikeman, Revell Swedish pikeman

There are two main manufacturers that I know of who make metal 1/72 figures for the ECW. These are a great way to add variety to your plastic army and to avoid it looking too much like a Continental 30YW army. In particular, both manufacturers make figures suitable for the New Model Army. SHQ make Covenanter infantry and Tumbling Dice make light cavalry and militia infantry that you can ‘customise’ with different heads. I’m working on a Covenanter army, so I bought a bag full of heads with Scots bonnets.

Pikemen with 3 different helmet variants from SHQ with a pikeman from ACTA

Not all the metal figures work equally well with the plastics. As you can see from the size comparisons the SHQ Covenanters are a little short – more 1/76 than 1/72. This isn’t so much a problem, but the size of their muskets are quite different to those from Tumbling Dice. I think I will probably end up making my Covenanter army for DBA-RRR from mainly Tumbling Dice figures, with some SHQ and plastics for variety. My Parliamentarian army will be the opposite – mainly plastics with a scattering of metal.

Next time - the cavalry.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

III/65 Fatimid Egyptian DBA Army

OK, so I'm feeling a bit pleased with myself. I've finished my DBA Fatimid Army, that has been on the go since July. They aren't the best painted figures ever, but they are the first project I've finished since the twins were born in August, so hence the feeling of satisfaction.

The army contains 4 Elements of Cavalry, one of which is the General's element. That's him on the left with a mace. These figures are all from one box of Strelets Arab Cavalry.

The mobile part of the army is completed with an element of Light Horse. These figures are from Italeri, and one of them is a conversion, being made with the torso of a kneeling foot archer.

The main foot component is made up of 3 Elements of 8Bw. These are annoying elements to paint, being double-based elements of spearmen and archers, but behaving no differently in DBA than any other Bows. All the infantry are from HaT. Mainly their Almoravid infantry set, but with some Andalusians as well.

The army is completed with 2 Elements of 3 Bw, an element of Auxilia and one of Psiloi. All the foot apart from the 3 Bw are painted as Sudanese mercenaries, whereas the cavalry and 3 Bw are North African (and thus have lighter skin).

These Fatimids are the second in a series of 11th Century armies I want to paint (after my Normans). Next up may be Andalusians, but I think I'll be doing some work on my English Civil War armies first.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

II/33 Polybian Roman DBA Army

Today for your delectation I offer a Polybian Roman army for DBA that I finished earlier this year. All the figures are from Zvezda. Here is the army arrayed:

The army is made up of a 3Cv General's element:

Another 3Cv element. I'm pretty proud of the shield with the horse on it. But here's a thing - horses' eyes. Being an urban person I rarely see horses, and I've been merrily painting them with white irises like human eyes. But now I think that is probably wrong, and the whole eye should be a dark browny black. Has anyone got an opinion on this?

Here is the core of the Polybian army - 6 elements of 4 Bd (blades). I love the detail of these Zvezda figures, but these Hastati/Principes figures aren't very realistic. Far too many have full muscled cuirasses. I've given them a quite uniform appearance as these are troops from late in the 2nd Punic War, when equipment was being increasingly supplied by the state.

The DBA army list calls for 2 elements of 4Sp (Spears), representing the Triarii of the Republican Roman legion. I painted 4 elements because I liked the figures so much.

And finally, 2 elements of Velites (2Ps in DBA terms).

I look forward to painting a Carthaginian army at some stage. And a later Macedonian army... so many armies, so little time.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Tommies and Tanks 1944

When I first got back into wargaming and modelling around 2002 my main interest was WWII, so here are some of the things I was making around that time. I had grand plans to make up some units of the British 7th Armoured Division and German 116th Panzer Division to wargame with, using the 'Panzermarsch!' rules put out by the Hull Wargames Society. This never really happened, but I've been reading Anthony Beevor's latest book on D-Day, and thinking that I might dust off the tanks and try to have a game of something. I've just ordered a copy of the 'Disposable Heroes' WWII skirmish rules to try out.

The tanks are Revell Cromwells. Lovely kits, but a real pain putting together all the individual links in the tracks. I wish HaT had put out their Armourfast Cromwells at the time I was making these.

The lead tank is a Centaur, made with a resin conversion kit from Leva Productions on a Revell hull. All the crew figures are from AB Figures.

As is my wont, I became obsessive about giving all the tanks the correct names and numbers that were carried by a squadron of the 1st Royal Tank Regiment (from 7th Armoured Division) in Normandy. I found a website that listed all these, but I can't find it any more. But I did find this site -
It has some big differences from the list I used, so there you go.

The supporting infantry are from AB Figures, painted up as the Rifle Brigade. If you look closely you may see the green shoulder tallies of and the black and red desert rat shoulder patch of the 7th Armoured Division. I love these AB Figures - incredibly lifelike poses that really look like the photos of British Tommies from 1944-5.

The camo netting was made from gauze bandage, airbrushed olive green. I then draped it around the tanks with liberal amounts of PVA glue. British camo netting had strips of hessian added to it, so I cut thin strips of paper and randomly glued them into the netting, finally painting them either black, dark green or olive.

Tank troops in the 1st RTR were made up of 3 Cromwells with a Sherman Firefly. I left the Fireflies out of these pictures, but will add them at some stage. My favourite Firefly rejoices in the name 'Wherezatiger'.

I don't know what it is about Cromwells, but I think they're great. Boxy. The Volvos of armoured warfare. Of course I never had to face Tigers and Panthers in one, thank god. I'm fascinated by the controversy over British tank design that broke out in Britain after D-Day - David Fletcher's 'Great Tank Scandal" is a good read about why their tanks were so inferior to most German designs. Anyway, I did enjoy meeting a Cromwell in the flesh, as it were, at Bovington Tank Museum.

The houses in the background are scratchbuilt from foamcore, but unfinished (especially the awful shutters). I was inspired to make these after coming across the great website belonging to one Nikolas Lloyd ( He has some brilliant tips about making wargaming terrain and buildings.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Erica's Egyptians

My magnificent 11 year old daughter Erica has started painting a New Kingdom Egyptian army for DBA. This makes her old dad very happy and proud. Here are some photos of the progress so far.

First up - she has finished 4 elements of Bows (apart from the bases). All the figures are from the great Egyptian sets by Caesar Miniatures.

The next ones on the production line are 4 elements of Blades. Here's how they are going so far.

Pretty good, eh?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I/52(e)/(f) Early Hoplite Greek DBA Army

I'm gradually putting up images of armies I've painted on this Blog, and this time it's the turn of the Early Hoplite Greeks. I painted these about 3 years ago. The figures are Zvezda, which are really nice although they insist on moulding designs on the shields. So I carved them all off (adding a few more scars to my thumb in the process) and painted on my own designs. This is an Athenian phalanx, so I added a scattering of alphas and triskeles (the triple running leg design) on the shields to give a sense of this. The DBA list for I/52(f) gives options for LH, Cv, Ax and Bw, so I plan to get around to adding these eventually. I also want to make a camp perhaps depicting Miltiades arguing with his fellow strategoi prior to the Battle of Marathon. For now however I present the unwieldly beast of a phalanx with a couple of elements of Psiloi in support.

Here they all are:

The general's element is on the right. Most of the shield designs were sourced from Athenian red and black-figure pottery, and I'm particularly pleased with the hydra and pegasus here.

The thetes (poorest citizen class in Athens) run out in front of the phalanx to harass the enemy.

I don't have a historical opponent for this army, but Early Achaemenid Persians and Corinthians are on my list...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wargaming Miniatures: The Case for 1/72 Scale

My favourite scale for wargaming and figure painting is 1/72 scale (20mm). This puts me in a minority in the wargaming fraternity, with most 'serious' wargamers playing in 15mm or increasingly in 28mm. At least this seems to be the case in Australia. So why 1/72 scale? Here are my top 10 reasons why 1/72 is the One True Scale.
  1. They are very cheap!
  2. Because the figures are cheap and easy to get hold of, 1/72 scale is good for the hobby. Buying a box of plastic figures to make an army makes historical wargaming accessible to young people who can't afford expensive metal figures. There are many teenagers who love history and would join the hobby with great enthusiasm if it was more open to them.
  3. In contrast to 15mm and smaller, 1/72 scale figures are large enough for me to enjoy painting them as individual figures.
  4. In contrast to 25mm and larger, 1/72 scale still allows the spectacle of a mass of figures on the table. Some of the new 28mm figures are great little works of art, but to my mind they don't simulate huge units of men as well as smaller scales.
  5. Plastic figures are easy and fun to convert. Need some Prussian mounted Jaegers in your army? No problem - just take the head of a Prussian infantryman and add it to the body of an Austrian dragoon. Or build your own Lord of the Rings armies by altering historical figures.
  6. By and large, 1/72 plastic figures are more realistic and anatomically correct than 15mm or 25mm metal figures. Certainly this is a generalisation - there are some awful plastic figures, and some fantastic metal ones. In my experience however many 'serious' wargamers field armies of figures that bear only a passing resemblance to human beings. The weapons of metal figures are also usually terribly over scale, with men carrying spears that seem to be the diameter of telegraph poles. Conversely, there are some fantastic manufacturers of metal miniatures in 1/72 scale that you can use to add to your armies (eg Art Miniaturen and AB Figures).
  7. The range of 1/72 figures available is vast and growing all the time. It is truly a Golden Age.
  8. With so many manufacturers of 1/72 figures, we are able to shop around for the best and best value figures. This is in stark contrast to games systems that are designed to limit the wargamer to a particular range of figures by demanding a less widely available scale. Flames of War is an example. By writing the rules for 15mm they make the customer dependent on their own quite expensive figures. Why not play FOW with 1/72 figures and models and enjoy a larger range of better models at a fraction of the price? And don't even get me started on Games Workshop.
  9. Metal figures bend and break and their paint flakes off. The newer plastic figures keep their paint better, and spears etc don't get bent.
  10. They really are VERY cheap.
Come on - join the revolution.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

III/51 Norman DBA Army

Furor Normanorum!

Here's my latest DBA army - the Normans. The first wargame figures I ever painted were 15mm Normans back in about 1986, so it was fun and nostalgic painting these. All figures are Strelets. I'm not entirely happy with how they turned out, but I was in a hurry to get them painted before the twins were born. This is the first in a series of 11th Century armies I'm painting up for a campaign, and they are supposed to be Normans in Sicily. Anyway, here they are:

8 Elements of Knights. I do like the way that all the Strelets figures are individuals, and show a greater diversity of clothing and weapons than just what is on the Bayeux Tapestry.

And some close-ups:

The dragon on the shield in the back line ended up looking cuter than intended...

Knights love to have a solid base of infantry to support them. Here are 2 elements of Spears, each supported by an element of Psiloi:

The DBA army list also allow the Psiloi to be replaced by Bows, so I made that option as well.

I love the guy with the shield. He looks like what he is - just a generation or so away from being a Viking.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I turn 40 - and suffer defeat

The victors: Brad, Andrew and The Nameless One

I turned 40 this year, and have also just became the father of twins. Unsurprisingly, not much painting is getting done at the moment.

There is no better way to celebrate a birthday than with a massive wargame, so back on 9 August I got together with a group of friends to have a day of Napoleonic gaming while I still could before the arrival of the twins. I teamed up with Anthony, leading a Prussian/Wuertemberg/Saxon coalition (to disaster, as it turned out). Brad, Andrew and The Nameless One led a Franco-Bavarian force. All the figures were mine, apart from an Orc that Anthony insisted on bringing and deploying in a swamp. The rules were my own ‘Heads Up, By God’, that worked really well, especially given that a couple of the chaps were newcomers to miniatures gaming. The venue was an extraordinary warehouse belonging to a friend of Andrew’s (thanks!). The beer was Heineken, cheese was involved, and the soundtrack was Dexy’s Midnight Runners.

Prussian troops try to force the bridge

Anthony and I deployed our troops with a defensive left flank and an overwhelming concentration of cavalry on the right. They were all there, from Saxon cuirassiers to Prussian Landwehr, and a stirring sight they made. Unfortunately, The Nameless One is too familiar with my unsophisticated tactics of concentrating force, and withdrew the Franco-Bavarian left back behind defensive terrain and pushed hard on the right.

The result – Anthony and my left held on heroically with rock-solid infantry squares thwarting waves of French Dragoons. The centre turned into a bloody tussle for a bridge, where the Franco-Bavarians gained the upper hand, despite the presence of the Orc in the swamp. The right was a disaster for us. What should have been a great sweeping cavalry envelopment was instead a complete waste of our cavalry, most of which never came into action.

Saxon line infantry pushing through a swamp unexpectedly run into an orc

I’m trying to come up with a revisionist spin, but the truth is that Anthony and I were trounced, thwarted, vanguished and conquered. Vae victis, but Prussia will rise again. I had a great day – thanks guys!

The vanquished

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Strelets Army of Alexander Nevsky

I'm becoming increasingly fond of some of the new Strelets releases. I don't like their 'chunky' style for Napoleonic figures, but the recent early medieval and some of the ancient sets are great for putting together cohesive-looking armies. In their early sets (eg the 'Vikings against Franks') they tried so hard to make each figure individual that they were full of unrealistic and exaggerated poses. The recent Normans, Roman auxiliaries etc still look like individuals, but individuals in a unit doing pretty much the same thing as each other.

I've recently painted up some of the figures from the 'Army of Alexander Nevsky' set to replace some inferior Zvezda infantry in an old DBA army, and they were a joy to paint. I particularly love the variety of armour styles and weapons.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

II/52 Dacian DBA Army

This is an army I finished painting about two years ago, but only just got around to painting the bases. This one was heavily inspired by a Dacian army painted by Reinhard Sabel that features on the Fanaticus website. All figures are 1/72 scale plastics.

Here is the command element. All the figures are made by HaT Industrie, with the general actually coming from their Carthaginian Command set.

Six elements of Warband. Most
are HaT Dacians, although there are a couple of clubmen lurking in the back row from their Roman Auxiliaries set.

The Dacians who scared the Roman most. Two elements of Blades, wielding the fearsome falx, supported by Two elements of Psiloi.

Sarmatian allied cavalry on the left (Knights), from the HaT set of Roman Clibanarii. From memory one of the horses is actually Carthaginian, although with a different head. The Light Horse are HaT Gothic cavalry.