With my thesis finally locked 'n' loaded I started painting again after a (veeery) long hiatus. Admittedly I've done a bit of practicing inbetween, and people say it's like cycling: once learnt, never unlearnt. However, I'm still struggling, and most likely painting won't become a habit anytime soon due to constraints in "real life".
Earlier this year I had been kindly given the promo model for Tactica 2015 (thanks a lot, Alex!), King Richard I "the Lionheart" sculpted by Michael Perry. Although the model is a bit rough in parts (like quite a bit of the Perries' recent output, I'm afraid), I had a blast painting him as a one-off.
Since the sculpt mixes depictions of the Great Seals of 1195 and 1198 anyway, I opted for the more commonly known blazon of walking lions to decorate the horse barding with. Initally a great idea, until I realised the motif was to be replicated four times. Well, I wanted practice, right?!
Of course, there's no king without men to lead. So I dug out a few leftovers and cobbled together a small warband. "SAGA-sized" forces are a favourite of many wargamers these days, and who am I to swim against the stream? Besides, it's a good start when you have just a couple of minis at hand.
This first group of knights on foot was originally acquired (and half-way painted) to be used in games inspired by the Nibelungenlied – or rather its literary background in the Holy Roman Empire of the late 12th and early 13th century. Said background had already inspired the Romanesque artworks of Carl Otto Czeschka, which, in turn, were adapted to the screen most famously by Fritz Lang in 1924. To cut a long story short: That's why a representation of Hagen von Tronje and his distinctive winged helmet (funny wings are by Hasslefree) is included here.
To be honest, almost any shield design has been inspired by German blazons rather than English ones. Some of them are quite local, and none is a hundred percent accurate for the given place and period. My aim was rather to build a generic warband which might roam the Holy Land in 1190 as well as Sicily under Emperor Henry VI or the 'German wastes' in the struggle between Philip of Swabia and Otto IV.
Thus eventually even King Richard might be replaced by a more fitting leader. Unfortunately, though, you aren't spoilt for choice when gaming the period between Norman kite shields and the rise of the Great Helmet, at least in 28mm. The Perries seem to have given up on their venture into the later Crusades, while others have focussed on the later 13th century. So this is the place to applaud Black Tree Design for filling that gap. I may recommend them wholeheartedly – on each occasion I received everything in good order and within a couple of days, and their models are excellently sculpted and cast. Despite a few awkward poses, the models have great and accurate detail (e.g. note the shield straps). Furthermore they scale with Perry minis quite nicely. Don't be put off by some unfavourable photos on their website or the amount of bad-mouthing on the internet. I was, and I was wrong.
My last purchase for this warband so far were these lowly footmen. Again, very nice sculpts full of character and detail. Having assembled quite a few plastic models in the past, good old one-piece metal figures were a relief. First and foremost their poses look a lot more natural than anything at least I was able to create from plastic kits.
And there you have it. In SAGA terms I'm now able to field a smallish 4-points warband, made up of three units of foot knights ("hearthguard"), one unit of militiamen ("warriors") and commanded by a "warlord" in disguise of Richard I (it my be someone else, you know). The all-new "Crescent & Cross" rulebook has just arrived – but I might as well repurpose them for "Lion Rampant", "Lords & Servants" or any other skirmish-sized game set in the Middle Ages. Because this time I'm determined to stay with "No pressure please". ;-)
Painted May to June 2015. Miniatures by Perry Miniatures (Richard I) and Black Tree Design.