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Monday, March 1, 2021

A Dark Ages Fortification

Just like the fortifications of Normandy at the end of the Dark Ages a fortress in the mold of robber knights looms from the forests in the World of Warhammer? (more on that below). But indeed a wooden palisade filled with mossy beams and wooden stakes to ward of would be attackers and a fortification of an earlier time..

Spiky! just for an attackers benefit that is.

I know I said in a post in December that the next castle I create will be something akin to the Warhammer Mighty Fortress from days of old. While that is still true, I also decided to finish this up from its start nearly one year ago. 

The fort you now see started out as nothing more than me noodling around with my glue gun, x-acto knife and a punch of sticks whittled to points to represent a palisade. I really had no other plans than testing it out and trying a few things with the Sculpey modeling clay to see how it might set after being baked in the oven. Nothing spectacular were the results and it sat for a bit. 

Then for some reason I started adding more and more and constructed the gatehouse which was the most time consuming and he towers with the basis of them being 1/2 gallon milk carton. From there I continued to add as it came into my mind and based on a motte and bailey construction type of Dark Ages fort.

Got to have a side view.
After the first wall which was nothing more than the initial twigs sharpened and glued I realized that due to the curves of the sticks I'd need to double it up, so the second row was added. From there it was a simple matter to glue in the supports for the walkway and cut the sticks to fit and then length wise generating two pieces each to glue to the platforms. The base against the bottom of the walls switched from the a fore mentioned clay to the R4 foam. After that it was a simple matter to glue down the rocks and stocks and add the wooden stakes. I say simple but to be honest it was very time consuming.

The towers were constructed much the same and as I noted above 1/2 gallon mil cartons that I cut down to the correct size. Once it was the right size I added the bass wood to each corner and glued it down to the base. From there it was just adding the horizontal parts and a heck of a lot of Popsicle (craft sticks) cut down to size, round ends snipped off and sanded. I came up with the idea of the beams jutting out after I had completed the tower construction so unfortunately I had to cut, sand and glue each one individually. That was almost as time consuming as whittling the palisade walls.

The gatehouse was probably the most complex part of this project. The roof is removable and was designed that way from the start. The bigger issue was the frame that it sits on seemed to fight me every step of the way. Eventually through trial and error I got it to work out. I also had to add a heck of a lot more reinforcement to the beams then I thought I might need, it also required a lot more bass wood to built it correctly. Like the towers, I didn't think of the jutting over-beams until after it was finished. 

No easy ways in here.

The last part that was constructed was the central tower. Here I really goofed and didn't make the wall on the motte wide enough as it were. For while I was using a tower that was based off of Shackleton Scotch box. In the end that was just too wide. So I used a liquid egg carton instead which has a smaller footprint to it. Even this presented a challenge as the carton was a bit too short. So all I did in the end was grab another one and added it to the first to get the requisite height.

For which gaming system you might ask? Well it could be for almost any really. Seeing as a I play Warhammer I'll most likely use the rules from Warhammer Historical: Shieldwall, The Age of Arthur, Fall of the West or even Siege and Conquest. Hell I suspect even Warhammer Siege should "work". One other thought is

Gatehouse with the roof off.
SAGA which I will freely admit I don't know much about.
For those interested here is the materials list for what you see to make this, all common items one probably already has lying around the painting/gaming area if you are like me.

  • masking tape
  • white glue
  • super glue
  • hot glue (from a glue gun)
  • cardboard
  • poster board
  • foamcore board
  • 1/2 milk cartons
  • Shackleton Scotch cardboard boxes (helps with the progress...)
  • toothpicks
  • balsa wood
  • bass wood
  • It disassembles for (somewhat) easier transport.
    R4 residential foam (Home Depot sells it in 2x2 squares)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • rocks
  • stones
  • twigs (lots of cutting with the x-acto here, you'll need a fair number of blades!) 
  • wall spackle (for covering up holes)
  • circular wooden pieces for the shields
  • paint
  • brown (earth) flock
  • green flock
  • static grass
  • escutcheon pins (for the main gate)

That's all it really is, nothing too crazy for when one is creating terrain and simple to do. Really what it is about is time and perseverance. Any big terrain piece like a castle with take months to complete if you want it done well.

After I took the photos I realized i still needed to add the wooden shields to the rearward towers and the main tower. They are glued now, just need to prime and paint them.

The main tower
Overall I'm pleased with it and through the painting the wood is a bit lighter than I envisioned and I have been toying with the idea of a mid-brown wash on it to dull down some of the brightness but am still not sure I want to go that route. 

UPDATE: since I created this post I have applied one brown wash to the the whole structure but a few of the towers need a second coat of wash.

For paints its really nothing more than: dark drown, medium brown, light brown, black ink, off white (called sandstone) for the lighter sections, blue for the windows and a light brown wash for the light parts to make it look a bit dirty and "lived in."

Future plans include finishing the court-yard and some suitably Dark Ages type buildings.

Monday, January 25, 2021

3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle Dwarf Mercenary Contingent

The Entire Dwarf Mercenary Contingent

I've been working on a ton of terrain and will have a number of posts on the blog soon covering that. But looking at the backlog of minis I have on my painting desk I've made a conscious effort complete and clear it. I took stock and noticed I still had a lot of dwarfs to paint. And this was after painting 8,000 points of Chaos Dwarfs! So with that in mind and my plan to have separate minis for each ally and mercenary contingent in the 3rd Edition Warhammer Fantasy Battle Army book I got to work.

My Warhammer Fantasy Battle Dwarf army grew out of the need for me to be my own ally. By my own ally I mean as I've noted on the blog before everyone in the gaming group back in our 3rd edition days already had all the "evil armies" picked, that left me to start with the Empire. So when we played really BIG battles like Jeff's Orc and Goblins and Dave's Skaven vs my Empire I needed allies. As a result I had to purchase and then paint a lot of minis. I bought some of Dave's dwarf crossbowmen and that was the nucleolus of my Dwarf army that is now probably close to 5,000 points.

So rather than keeping adding to that army I decided to use the minis for a dedicated Dwarf Mercenary contingent. I get the Army Rulebook was designed so that in the Allies and Mercenary contingents could be used via just allocating minis from the main army one might already have. I also think it was a strategy to sell minis for armies that a player might not otherwise buy otherwise. With this in mind I've set out to create Ally and Mercenary contingents for all of them listed! A tall order I know. 

Back to the Dwarf Mercenaries. The minis themselves are mainly from the awesome Battle for Skull Pass boxed set which I had bought two between 2008-2010. Mainly, these were for my 5th-8th Edition Chaos Dwarf. I also got a great deal on a Dwarf box set at Games Day 2008. Thus between these two sets I had enough left over to utilize for the mercenary force even after being used for four units of Chaos Dwarfs. This accomplished another part of my goal: clearing the painting table..

As I assembled the mercs, I realized I had everything I needed to fill out all units listed from odds and ends:

  • 1 Dwarf Mercenary Commander (I used a leftover metal Hammerer model I had lying around.)
  • 6 Mercenary Dwarf Sappers (Battle for Skull Pass miners. These guys obviously fit perfectly.)
  • 19 Dwarf Mercenary Warriors (Battle for Skull Pass warriors.)
  • 1 Dwarf Mercenary Artillery (a cannon from the Milton Bradley Battle Masters game; crew is a Dwarf Engineer model I painted years ago, an leftover dwarf artillery crewman and one dwarf mini I "Frakensteined" out of a punch of spare parts).

Dwarf Mercenary Warriors & Commander
While a separate force from my Dwarf army, one thing I did consider was the color scheme. My larger

Dwarf War Host is primarily green and yellow for colors, I decided to do the same with the mercenary
force so if I wanted to use them as part of the larger force I easily could do so. Despite being a seperate force I like the flexibility. In fact with almost all of my armies and contingents I make them so they can span multiple editions as much as possible.

I've talked about it on before in my chaos dwarf blog about how sometimes units "fight" and the painting can be a pain, or chore. That was definitely the case with the crossbowmen. They were also originally assembled as a Chaos Dwarf crossbowmen. So not only did I have to modify them, but had to do a bunch of green stuffing and scrounge up enough pieces to make a unit. The painting was painful and seemed to take forever.

In contrast the dwarf warrior unit went together easily from assembly to painting, likewise with the miners who function as sappers and the cannon and it's crew. All of these guys were enjoyable to paint.

Dwarf Mercenary Warriors armed with crossbows
The armies in 3rd edition Fantasy Battle that can utilize Dwarf Mercenaries are much what one would expect: The Empire & Bretonnia; High Elfs are too snooty to user mercenaries and Wood Elfs don't employ mercenaries at all. All the rest either don't employ mercenaries or are "evil" and thus the Dwarfs would not hire out to them. Oddly the Norse Army list (as featured in White Dwarf #107) doesn’t allow for Dwarf mercenaries either. Now of course its not like I'm breaking any rules for an edition and its usually just Willmark Jr and I playing but I could see them used for Norse. It's also odd that the Dwarf Army itself can't hire them. Personally I'd hand waive that one if the battle called for it.

Because of this, in practical terms it's not the most useful mercenary or ally contingent on the table top in terms of utilization, but one I wanted to complete to "clear the desk".

Further a field I have now a fairly large Old Worlder Mercenary contingent (using some Old Glory minis, don't tell GW!) that is nearly complete in terms of collecting the minis. Likewise the Old Worlder Ally Contingent is rounding to form. Dwarf Allies, Dark Elf Ally are High Elf Ally are all likewise underway.