Sunday, October 25, 2009

Impetus Battle Report - Milan's Revenge

It was time to throw down the 15mm medievals again. During our last engagement, John Stockwood's Free Company had driven the Italian Condotta from the field, demoralized and humiliated. The disposed King Rene of Provence had hired Stockwood to secure a trade route towards Switzerland and had come to blows with the Milanese in the process. After their first defeat, the Milanese had re-mustered their forces with surprising speed and rode out to meet the mercenary force as it travelled northward to the west of the city.

The Battlefield:

The Italians formed up in a valley when the mercenaries were sighted. Stockwood's men deployed in response, taking advantage of the nearby fields. The forces were the same ones used in the previous battle.

The Battle:

Stockwood's infantry deployed in a line, waiting for the Italians to come into range.

The mercenary knights, impetuous as ever, rode around the forested area in the hopes of flanking the enemy.

Skirmishing italian crossbowmen entrenched themselves in the woods. They harrassed the knights with crossbow fire and eventually sent the breton skirmishers fleeing.

Unlike the last engagement, the Italian knights approached carefully and in tight formation with a screen of skirmishers to their front.

When battle was joined, it was fierce. Stockwood and his personal guard found themselves in vicious hand-to-hand combat with Italian knights.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, the Master Huntsman urged the archers to find their mark with every arrow spent. They succeeded in routing the italian right flank.

Stockwood and his men repelled the first charge successfully, but their were too many horsemen encircling them.

The Italians pressed the advantage, and Stockwood and his captains just escaped the field with their lives.


It was a dramatic game to say the least. Chris came off very strong when the lines engaged, and it seemed like it would be a roll-over in his favour. However, I started damaging his line, and it seemed as if it might go either way. In the end, however, he took out half of my VD first, and Stockwood and his men were driven from the field in shame ;)

I can honestly say that I enjoy Impetus in every scale I've played it in (and I look forward to the Punic Wars in 10mm... coming soon), but there is something so visually satisfying about the bases of 15mm models - it just helps make the game such an enjoyable experience.

As you may have read in my previous post, I have started painting reinforcements to take me to the 300-point mark. Chris has also begun work on a couple of units of heavy foot and his elite unit of Familia Ducale heavy knights. Stay tuned for more medieval action.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Free Company Reinforcements: Step One

After playing our first 15mm medieval game of Impetus, Chris and I had discussed expanding the armies from 200 points to 300 points. Frankly, I was ready to rest on my laurels for a week or so and paint some other stuff, but Chris has gone full steam ahead and has already started his next 100-point chunk. Not to be outdone, I decided that it was best to strike while the iron was hot. My wife and son had mild touches of the cold last night and spent most of the evening in bed watching a movie, after which they turned out the lights and went to sleep. I decided to take my tea to the geek room and to get down to business.

Between last night and this morning I've managed to prep and prime everything I need to make the leap to 300 points. Shown below are enough models to make a second base of heavy cavalry and my fourth unit of longbowmen. This cavalry unit includes command models and will be used to represent my secondary general.

I've also prepared three more units of skirmishers - a second unit of Breton javelinmen and two units of skirmishing crossbowmen. I have to say, the crossbow models were absolutely riddled with flash and took a lot of cleaning. However, they turned out great and I can't wait to paint them.

The 300-point force will be divided into two commands. The first will form the main battle line and will be led by Mercenary General Sir James Stockwood. The second will be comprised of the cavalry and the bretons. It will be led by his nephew, Rodger of Lynn. As an younger and more impetuous man, he is currently fielded as a Poor general. Family...what can you do, really?

Average CS, Stockwood (Expert CIC), Lynn (Poor General)
Dismounted Men-At-Arms
English Longbowmen

Mercenary Crossbowmen
Mounted Men-At-Arms
Breton Javalinmen (1 elite, 2 regular)

That's a grand total of 300 points on the nose and requires me to paint six cavalry and twenty-two infantry. I see this next step as the most crucial one in the project. After we've reached 300 points, our primary goal (i.e. 400 points) will seem well within range and nothing will hold us from the finish line.

Now I just have to decide what historical project I want to embark upon next. With the release of Extra Impetus #2, my mind is racing with numerous 15mm projects I'd like to try. Then of course there's Basic Baroque in various scales and periods, and there's other terrain projects I'd like to do... and how does this all tie-in to my Xmas list...and those Wargames Factory plastics are so nice... and...?

For now, I must concentrate on today and not worry about tomorrow until tomorrow.

Thanks for reading,

Monday, October 19, 2009

15mm Medieval Warfare - Humble Beginnings

It has been a long time coming. A number of people in the group are taking part in a 15mm medieval project for Impetus, and Chris E. and I in particular have started working towards getting our armies on the table. Last week we realized that we had both completed 200 points, so we thought it was time to throw the lead down on the table and to cross swords.

The Armies:

The armies came in at 200 points, and were more or less the same size as a Basic Impetus army. We played using the full Impetus rules.

My Free Company: Expert General leading longbow x 3, dismounted
men-at-arms x 2, mounted men-at-arms x 1, and breton javelinmen x 1

Chris's Italian Condotta: Expert General leading Condottieri x 3,
S-crossbow x 2, and S-handgunners x 2.

The Battlefield:

The layout was fairly simple. One edge of the table was dominated by hills and water while the other had some farmland (i.e. broken ground). Chris and I deployed more or less in lines across the open field.

The Battle:

The first round or so held no surprises. The Italians advanced as well as they could while the mercenary longbowmen prepared to fire (green markers=opportunity)

Breton javelinmen tussled with Italian crossbowmen in the fields.

A unit of Italian knights regreted leaving their skirmisher screen behind. A hail of arrows caused disruption and a little permanent damage.

The impetuous mercenary men-at-arms couldn't keep it together for long. In a lucky string of movement they successfully charged a unit of Italians.

The extra charge dice helped the mercenaries secure a victory. The Italians were on the run.

About midway through the battle; conflict had erupted on the flanks while the main lines steadily advanced towards each other.

After losing an engagement and retreating, the mercenary knights were assailed by skirmishing handgunners. The little blighters caused disruption, and more importantly, permanent damage. Goodbye sweet impetus bonus!

Being impetuous CP, the mercenaries threw themselves haphazardly back onto the fray. They were on top of the engagement, however, they were alone and surrounded by enemy units.

One the other flank, the Bretons finally dispatched the crossbowmen. However, as they were outside of the command structure, they spend most of the time in disorder.

By the time the left-most Italian horse reached the mercenary line, they were seriously shot up. English men-at-arms charged through the longbowmen and engaged the knights.

The armies were finally fully engaged. Things were looking grim for Milan's finest.

The English finally routed the knights, more or less securing my left flank.

Mercenary General James Stockwood and his personal guardsmen moved into position to reform the mercenary lines.

Italian handgunners failed to rout the longbowmen, who in turn, routed the knights to their front.

The final unit of Italians charged the general and his men in a desperate attempt to win the day. It was not to be, however. Stockwood and his men bested the demoralized Italian knights and sent the remnants galloping from the field. Stockwood's men were victorious.


Chris and I (and others in time) will likely use the same approach with our medieval gaming as we do with our Imperial Roman era gaming. That is, we will report our games in a brief and informal format by using fictitious names for generals and units. Hopefully, the campy personifications and simple storylines will provide some amusement to those who choose to read our reports. (As some have no doubt already noticed, I have modelled my mercenary general James Stockwood on the historical John Hawkwood.)

The outcome of this battle was based on one simple error on Chris's part. Chris (who hasn't played as much as me), allowed his knights to outrun his skirmishers. Without the screens to protect them, my longbows caused disorder, and in turn, permanent damage. It only takes one point of permanent damage on heavy cavalry to remove that horrifying impetus bonus. Without it, they become far more manageable for my infantry to deal with.

We were both very tickled with the game in this scale. 15mm really provides a nice compromise between 6mm/10mm and 28mm. It gives the large scale feel of the former and the individual detail of the latter, while allowing a 6x4 table to feel like a respectable-sized battlefield. I can't wait to play again, and we will be adding units continually as we head for our 400-point goal.

Thanks for reading,

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Basing Units for Impetus

Some people (i.e. two) have asked me how I base my units for Impetus. Following the advice of Keir, I took photos as I did the basework on the Carthaginians. These photos follow my progression as I worked on 10mm Numidians, but the principles can be applied to miniatures of any scale.

Four units of 10mm Numidians on 6cm x 4cm bases


I'm sure most readers know what goes into basing, but for the sake of completion, and for those who have never done it before, here's a list of what I use:

  1. white glue - Tacky craft glue. Mine comes in a gold bottle, but any white craft glue will do.
  2. sand - I use Hartz Grit'n Gravel. Get it at Wal-mart for a buck and change in the pet bird aisle.
  3. super-glue - Used to adhere the models to the bases.
  4. tree bark - Find someone cutting down a massive old tree. Pull all of the thick, gnarled bark off. With any luck, the tree has been dead for a while (hence the being cut down) and it will be dry and brittle. Otherwise, go buy the bags of stuff used for decorating flower beds.
  5. flock and or static grass - If you don't know what I'm talking about, search "modelling flock" in google and you'll find tons of info. In short, the green "grassy-looking" stuff on a base.


Before you start decorating the bases, there are a couple of obvious things to do. The most obvious is to attach the models to the bases. For this, I use any super glue of a medium consistency. Really thin stuff will soak into the wooden base before it has a chance to adhere to the model, and the really thick stuff just makes a gloppy mess.

In order to make less populated bases look more interesting, I use chunks of dried bark to represent rocky outcrops. When basing multiple models as elements, the base really becomes part of the model. Little details (rocky outcrops, bushes, fallen tree trunks, etc...) really help show off your models. In fact, a well-done base will bring mediocre paintjobs to life, while a superbly-painted model on a poorly-decorated base suffers greatly.

Finally, paint the integral bases of the models your intended base colour before gluing them down. So, I painted the horsemen bases GW Scorched Brown before I glued them to the wooden base. It will become apparant why I did that a little later.

The Numidians glued down and ready for base work.

Applying Sand:

Working with glue can be very stressful when you are a new painter/wargamer. If there's a wrong way to do it, I've done it, so I hope to share what I've learned with you and to help make this step go as stress-free as possible.

Most new modellers either water glue down too much or not enough. If the glue is too thick it's difficult to apply quickly to the base. If it's watered-down too much, it loses strength and you'll notice sand coming off everytime you move the base.

Here's how I mix white glue:

  1. Pour a bunch of glue into a small container.
  2. Pour a little water in. Now, before mixing, pour some water back out. Chances are you've added too much water.
  3. Start mixing. I use a popsicle stick because I can throw it away after I'm done. Keep adding a little water until you reach the "perfect consistency."
What's the "perfect consistency?"

When you lift your popsicle stick up, the glue will start dripping off after a second or so in slow drops. If it runs in a steady stream, it's too thin; add more glue. If it doesn't drip without violent shaking, it's too thick, add more water.

Just the right consistency, dripping off slowly and evenly.

Now, using an old brush, spread the glue out in a nice even blanket. Start from the inside and work quickly. If you go too slow, the glue will start to recede from the edge of the base before you apply the sand.

Hold the element over a shoebox (or something to catch the sand) and pour it on. Don't stop until you're sure that the entire base is well covered with sand.

Dump the excess sand into the box and quickly inspect the base to make sure it looks good. Specifically, make sure that there's no sand on the miniatures themselves and check to see that the sand goes neatly to the base edge.

If there's any sand where you don't want it (on a model's legs for instance), wipe it away with a toothpick. Just don't use a metal tool, as you'll likely scrape the paint off of the model. I also use my fingers to clean up the rim of the base as well. I don't like stray sand hanging down over the sides of the base.

Sanded and ready for paint.

Painting the Base Colours:

After a few hours have passed the sand should be dry and ready for paint. I use high quality model paints to basecoat my bases. I know that many readers are thinking, "Why not just use cheap-o Brand X craft paint? It's only a base, right?"

Here's my reasoning. One of the biggest differences between craft paint and actual model paint is the level of opacity. Cheap paint can be borderline translucent and require multiple coats for complete coverage, even in dark colours like brown. For me, basecoating a sanded base is meticulous, and I refuse to paint over it more than once, all in the name of saving $2.00 over the course of a year or so.

I use GW Scorched Brown because it's very opaque, not too expensive, and readily available at my LGS. I use P3 Greatcoat Grey for the large rocks. Again, I have it in front of me and I don't use very much. I'm sure whatever model paints you have would work just fine.

This is the most meticulous stage in basing, especially when working on bases with lots of close order foot. The only trick here is patience. Keep your paint well-watered down so it seeps down into the sand. Use appropriate-sized brushes and careful strokes so that you don't accidentally paint a model brown. This is where painting the integral model bases brown comes in. Now that they're on the base, you don't have to worry about trying to get paint in under every little guy, as this should have already been accomplished.

Adding Grass:

We're almost done. Mix some glue as per the instructions above and paint it on in whatever irregular pattern you desire. Glue for this purpose shouldn't be quite as watery as for applying sand. If the glue is too watery the flock will soak up the water and when it's dry, it will look like a green algae instead of grass. Dump they flock on, wait for a minute or so, and tap the excess off.

So close now. They'll be throwing javelins in no time.

Final Touches:

As soon as the flock is in place you can proceed to this step; just be careful not to handle the flock or touch it with your brush. Using a light grey paint ( I use GW Codex Grey because I'm trying to get rid of it) I lightly drybrush the large rocks and do a medium overbrush on the sanded areas. By flocking before we did this, a nice contrast is created between the green and the grey areas. I apply a very light drybrush of a cream or bone colour, and finish the base by painting the rim of the base with black paint.

Ready to be let loose against the enemy.

Other Armies:

Ever since I started playing Impetus, I've been using similar techniques to base my armies. Here are some samples.

15mm Longbowmen. The static grass was applied with super glue.

My 6mm Romans. I used ink to tint the bases but I won't do it again.
It's too difficult to achieve consistency with inks.

Stu's Parthians were the first army I based using the method outlined above.

Just remember, basing is always worth the effort, especially in an element-based game like Impetus. Don't wimp out and you won't regret it.

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hannibal's Carthaginians

I had originally intended to use these models to build an army for Warmaster Ancients. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks after the models arrived in the mail, my primary opponent moved away. It's taken almost two years to finally get around to finishing these guys. The collection shown below is based as a 400-point army for Impetus.

All of the miniatures come from Pendraken's 10mm ancients collection. With the exception of the Gauls, most codes have just one pose, but I find that works just fine at this scale. The prices are very reasonable, and for a low model-count system like Impetus, it's a very cheap way to build a playable army.

The Infantry:
As I was working with a pre-existing model collection, I based my chosen units around what was at hand. African spearmen form the infantry reserve while large units of gallic warriors form the primary assault force. I'll use the skirmishers to screen the infantry advance, as well as to cause disorder in the enemy lines.
Hannibal leading the African Spearmen (FPx3 w/general)

Gauls (FLx3; large units)

Libyan Javelinmen (Sx2)

Balearic Slingers (Sx2)

The Cavalry:

The mounted wing of the army is composed of two different types of units - African medium cavalry and Numidian light cavalry. I intend to use the mediums as a mobile command platform for the more numerous Numidians. The Good command structure of the Carthaginian army combined with the cavalry's mobility should make these guys very effective at flank attacks.
Mago leading the African Cavalry (CMx1 w/ general)

Numidian Cavalry (CLx4)

The Pachyderms:

I haven't played any elephant units in Impetus yet (or any game for that matter), so I don't exactly know what they are going to accomplish on the field. The truth is, I took the maximum two units just so I could paint them. More importantly, I think they make a smashing centerpiece for the army (ha ha..get it?.. smashing?.. nevermind).
African Elephants (ELEx2)

This 400-point army is composed of 108 infantry models, 20 cavalry models, and 4 elephant models. At Pendraken's standard pricing, the total comes in at approximately 20 pounds. With that in mind, it's easy to see why so many gamers play at such small scales.

The previous post in this thread (from over a year ago) showed the army's first incarnation - a Carthaginian force for Basic Impetus based on 8cm frontages. I decided to drop back to 6mm frontages when I expanded the army. Mostly, I just wanted to paint less models and still have something playable at the end. It has worked out and I am pleased with the final result. I am finally ready to put Rome it her place.

Thanks for reading,