Friday, December 31, 2010

The Dux Homunculorum Guide to Wargaming Beers

I'm often asked for advice about which beer should be drunk while playing different wargames*.

So, by way of saying 'Happy New Year', I offer you a guide to some of the best matches. I have persevered with this public service despite the withering looks and satirical comments of the Duchess, who seems to consider it a silly idea.

1. Canvas Eagles and Barons ESB

Canvas Eagles - brilliant game. Barons ESB - decent local Sydney Beer 'Brewed by the Brave boys at Barons'. Tally Ho!

2. DBR and Batemans Dark Lord.

Dark Lord form Batemans in Lincolnshire is a lovely rich ruby red ale, brewed in honour of 'Black Tom' Fairfax. The Dux Homunculorum beer of choice for any early modern game, and of course the English Civil War in particular. According to the label it goes well with cheese and red meat, but it is equally well suited to pursuing foppish Royalists from the field with cold steel and hard riding.

3. Pirates of the Spanish Main and Biere du Boucanier

This devastating ale from Belgium fires a full broadside of 11% alcohol. Who needs a bottle of rum when you have this? After a couple you will stop caring that the rules for Pirates are rubbish.

4. Signal Close Action and Batemans Victory Ale or Lord Nelson Three Sheets

The Dux offers you a choice here. The Lord Nelson hotel is Sydney's oldest, and brews its own beer as well. Three Sheets is a zesty, hoppy pale ale. Very nice, but unlikely to be found outside Sydney. Batemans Victory Ale is a much more robust, 6% ale that would make even salt pork seem palatable. And it has a drop-dead cool label.

5. DBA and Skull Splitter

And finally, DBA battles with dark ages and early medieval armies are incomplete without a couple of Skull Splitters from Orkney. A warning though - the 8.5% strength is likely to lead to rash tactics. According to some historians** Harald Hardrada charged the Saxon shield wall without his armour on at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in 1066 after 6 pints of Skull Splitter.

Happy New Year. Wargame responsibly.

* This statement is not actually true.
** Nor is this one.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

First Game of Basic Impetus

The Dux met up with Paul the Galloglaigh last night to try out Basic Impetus. I read the rules a while ago and really liked the look of them, so have been eager to give them a go. So - Nevsky Russians vs Teutonic Knights.

Paul the Galloglaigh, sans customary armour

I used figures based for DBA, but on cardboard bases of the right size for Impetus. This had the advantage that I could write the unit stats on the bases.

The game took 2 hours, but it would have taken less than half that if we were more familiar with the rules. The result was a resounding victory for the Galloglaigh's Teutonics. My Druzhina did OK on the left flank against the Teutonic light cavalry, but the single base of Teutonic knights facing my right flank went thorugh everything they met like an angry rhinocerous, routing a unit of Druzhina and another of Mongols in a single turn. The attempt to cheat by using air support proved unneccessary...

So the verdict: How does Basic Impetus stack up against DBA?

I think I'm going to like it a lot more, and Paul rated the rules as 'a solid 8/10'. The things I really like about the rules are:

1. The larger base sizes, and emphasis on making units that look more like what they are supposed to be than is possible in DBA.

2. Even translated from Italian (with some obscure bits), the rules are still less arcane than DBA.

3. The rules for movement and contacting the enemy are simpler than DBA, and avoid the pedantic matching up of facings etc.

4. I really like the way that a unit can push back an opponent, follow it up and instantly fight a second melee. In the game we played, the Teutonic knights hit a unit of Druzhina, pushed it back after inflicting damage, followed it up and obliterated it on the second melee, then advanced impetuously and destroyed a unit of horse archers! Devastating, and rings true I think with the 'impetus' of mounted knights.

5. Games will be fast, once we know the rules better.

6. I like the progressive loss of unit strength (VBU) as units get 'ground down' in combat. I prefer this to the backwards and forwards nature of DBA.

In short, I think it's a winner. I'll have to play some more games, but I'll be quite tempted to re-base some of my figures for Basic Impetus. (And indeed my Parthians, painted up especially for BI are nearly ready...)

If you don't know them, check out the rules (and different period versions) here:

'Oh bugger.'

Monday, December 27, 2010

Latest Modelling Project

My middle daughter turned 4 just before Christmas and insisted on an Ariel cake. So the Dux got together with his good wife and eldest princess and here is the result:

We were particularly proud of the lake. The top tier of the cake had a basin cut out of it, then the whole thing was covered with white chocolate. When that set we poured cool but not yet set jelly into the basin and added the Ariel doll and fish so that the jelly set around them. A brilliant idea we wish we could claim credit for, but we found it on the net somewhere. The other creatures etc were made from marzipan.

And it tasted bloody delicious.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all, and thanks for all your comments and suggestions during the year. May 2011 bring you joy in greater than 1/72 scale.

Alanus, Dux Homunculorum.

Monday, December 13, 2010

13th Century German Knights

Well, I haven't finished any projects in a while, but here are some figures I painted for a double-sized Medieval German DBA army about 5 years ago. Figures are a mix of Italeri, Zvezda, Caesar and Strelets. If I was doing this again now I would be using a lot of wonderful Valdemar figures. I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Knight's Cross - the best game ever?

Canvas Eagles and its WWII version Knight's Cross are two of my favourite games. At the school I used to teach at we had a long-running Canvas Eagles campaign using 1/72 aircraft models that regularly involved up to ten players. Great fun!

I changed jobs earlier this year, and naturally set up a wargames club. We will be holding a Basic Impetus tournament in the new year, but for Term 4 I ran a Knight's Cross Battle of Britain campaign. If you haven't played Knight's Cross or Canvas Eagles, I strongly recommend them. The rules are easy, exciting and intuitive, the games look brilliant, they are great for multiple players, and the rules are free! If you play a free-wheeling dogfight game people can enter and leave the battle at will, making it perfect for clubs and schools where there are lots of demands on people's time.

Check out the Canvas Eagles site (and buy some of Eric Hotz's great gaming mats while you're at it):

And check out the Knight's Cross Yahoo Group:

Here are a couple of photos from a Knight's Cross game I played with Paul the Galloglaich recently. Observe the impeccable formation flying of the Luftwaffe, with the RAF's 609 squadron flailing about in all directions.

HE 111's head for home after successfully bombing Debden airfield. Meanwhile, a Spitfire wreaks vengeance on a BF 110.

By the way, the stands are made from wooden bases (kindly cut up by my brother) with transparent BIC biros stuck in them.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Spanish for the Great Italian Wars

Here's another experiment from earlier in the year.

For wargaming the Great Italian Wars in 1/72 scale we now have the Landsknechts and cavalry from Dark Dream Studios. We also have Conquistadors from Revell and Caesar. Nice figures, but a whole lot of sword and bucklers but only a few pikemen in the Revell set. As an experiment, I took one of the Caesar figures, cut away the bucker and sword, and replaces his head so that he looks in the opposite direction. The figure on the right was converted from the one on the left.

I then stuck a pin through both hands, so that they would stay in alignment for holding a pike, and stuck the figure in boiling water, all of which sounds like something that the Spanish were no doubt doing to people in the early C16th. The Caesar plastic goes very bendy in hot water, and stays in its new position after it cools down.

Here's the finished product.

Result. Conquistadors can be converted into other figures suitable for the Great Italian Wars. I've also seen some converted into cavalry over on Benno's Figures. The Swiss are a tougher prospect...

Montrose in 1/72 Scale

Earlier in the year I set out to convert a figure suitable to lead the Scots Royalist army that I didn't get to complete. I used this mounted figure from the Strelets Jacobite set, and made a few modifications:

I carved away the foppish 18th century wig and lace and used greenstuff to give Montrose a cuirass. I also remade the sword and scabbard, and replaced the pistol holsters with pistol buckets more suitable for the C17th. This was my first real attempt at working with Greenstuff, and I'm pretty pleased with the result.

I'm Back

Apologies that it has been so long between posts. I started a new job, and what with that and 15 month old twins things have been busy at Dux Homunculorum Towers. Looking at my 'Projects for 2010' list, it looks like I have managed to complete just one: the Maximilian army for DBA-RRR. Most of the Landsknechts have already appeared on the blog, but in the interest of closure here are some pics of the completed army.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Irregular Wars - Scotland 1, Spain 0

Met up last night with Paul the Galloglaigh to try out the Irregular Wars rules. Paul fielded a Border Reiver army, intent on plunder, while I had the Spanish Expeditionary Force. The beer war Dark Lord, a great wargaming ale with Black Tom Fairfax on the label.
I started strongly, charging a company of border horse with my pikes. Then everything went wrong. I allowed my companies of shot to get involved in melees, and by the end Paul ripped a whole through my centre and surrounded my pikes and one company of cavalry. Disaster!

The rules were fun and simple, although I think there were a couple of melee rules we got wrong. We'll definitely be playing it again.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Covenanter Flags Part 4

Here's a couple more Covenanter cavalry standards (cornets) that might be of use to someone.

First up - A cornet of Lord Mauchline's regiment, captured at Dunbar in 1650:
...and this one was surrendered on 25 August 1648 at Uttoxeter. It belonged to one of the troops of the Duke of Hamilton's life guard of horse. The slogan means 'give unto Caesar', referring to Matthew 22:21.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Irregular Wars

It's been a rough couple of months with the family sick, so this is the first post in ages. I've taken a break from my usual projects to make a couple of armies for Irregular Wars, a nice little set of free rules for minor battles in the C16th which is available here. The rules are written for 15mm, so I set my principles aside for once and bought a bunch of little metal men.

The first army (or 'battle' as they are called in the rules) are Border Reivers. Figures are Essex and West Riding Miniatures.

My second battle is a Spanish expeditionary force, supported by Irish kerns. Figures are by Essex.
I have to say, painting my first 1/72 figures in years didn't make me like 1/72 any less. The WRM border reivers in particular were a bit of a disappointment, with some of the figures being incredibly flat. At some stage I'll make some armies for Irregular Wars in God's own scale of 1/72....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

English Civil War Clubmen

'Clubmen' was the name given to locally-organised militias during the English Civil Wars who were usually motivated by the desire to defend their lands against depredations by the armies of either side. For a good summary of the Clubmen uprisings of 1644-6, see:

The banner is based on the only known flag carried by Clubmen, which was captured by Cromwell's troops on 4 August 1644 in a skirmish at Hambleton Hill, near Shrawton in Dorset. There is no surviving image of the flag, but the motto was recorded. I have guessed at a possible design.

The Clubmen figures are mainly conversions from the Imex set of Pilgrims, with one man wielding a quarterstaff converted from the ACTA Royalist Artillery set. The Imex Pilgrims set has all sorts of interesting conversion possibilities, as Andrew has already pointed out over on his 'Ferrous Lands' blog ( The only reference I know of to any sort of uniform worn by Clubmen is a reference to a group near Salisbury in 1645 wearing white 'ribbands in their hats' ( However, this was likely just a local distinction, so I have given my figures a mix of hat bands.

Here they are!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Landsknecht Pikemen

Here's the latest batch of Landsknecht pikemen from the 1/72 scale set by Dark Dream Studios.

The flags are from Stuart Mulligan's Landsknecht painting guide, which you can find here:

A huge thank you to Mr Mulligan. The painting guide is brilliant, and makes the confusing job of painting Landsknechts much easier.

Good news also for early C16th armies in 1/72 scale, with these new figures on their way from Dark Dream Studios:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Renaissance Cavalry

The next stage of my Maximilian Imperial army for DBA-RRR is complete - the cavalry. These figures are a box of Renaissance Knights from Dark Dream Studios. Great figures - some of the horse poses leave a little to be desired, but the riders are beautifully detailed, with very fine detail on their armour. They take some putting together, with separate swords, scabbards, crests etc, but I think the results are worth it.

I just made one small conversion, giving the commander a head from a Landsknecht rather than an enclosed helmet.

It seems that Dark Dream Studio are making a follow up set to their Landsknechts ( , and I for one am a happy man. I just wish they would go the whole hog and bring out Renaissance Swiss, Italians, Spanish, English .... Maybe one day.