Friday, September 08, 2006

Warhammer Ancient Battles - Medieval Army

If you have read my introduction, you will note I emigrated from UK to NZ a couple of years back. At the time my main wargaming interest was GW's Warmaster, for which I have two fully painted armies (more on these in a future blog update). However, trying to plan ahead I checked out the gaming scene in NZ via the internet before leaving the UK. I have to say I didnt find much Warmaster going on (and still haven't). However, Warhammer seemed quite prevalent. Thing is I had not played Warhammer fantasy in a long time, and didn't want to got back to it if possible; too many uber characters and magic to make a mess of simple good tactical wargaming for my likes. But not wanting to be left out in the cold, I decided to start a Warhammer Ancients Medieval army, figuring that at a push it could morph into Brettonians or Empire for WFB, if I had no alternatives.

And thus I started my Medieval collection, kicked off by a few good purchases from E-bay for Foundry figures. I always like a bargain and have found E-bay invaluable as a source of figures and other gaming materials and paraphernalia.
The first unit completed was a bunch of Longbowmen, which was added to over time until I now have 80 ready for action.

The Longbows are certainly flavoursome for the period, and can lay down a withering amount of fire, particularly with the medieval massed fire rules from the Age of Chivalry supplement. However they can make for a rather defensive unit, as you often do not want to move them and reduce thier shooting effectiveness!

After the Longbows, came several units of plucky billmen, armed with a mixture of pole-arms; bills, glaives, halberds, spears etc etc. Basically a large two handed chopper. Having to use both arms to carry the weapon means
you lose the chance to carry a shield,
but with heavy armour, you can still manage a good save. And the bills give you +1S, and thus can make quite a dent in your opponent!
I think I went a bit mad with the billmen, with somethng like 80 billmen painted up and ready. However they give several options, from attacking units in their own right, or using mixed order and combining them with archers, as the leading ranks of the overall unit. An interesting tactic I still have to further explore.

A stronger option to the billmen are dismounted knights (or men-at-arms), wearing heavier partial or full plate armour, and carrying quite beefy double handed axes. If their armour keeps them alive, those double handed weapons will seriously spoil your opponents day!

And of course, what medieval army would be complete without the sound of thundering heavy horse? So I looked at the Foundry website again, and thought "oooooh! I like the look of those..."
and ordered a bunch of late medieval plate-armoured knights on plate-barded warhorses. Actually, if I am honest, this was a bit of a cheat on my behalf as I figured they would be easier and quicker to paint, rather than the cloth barded horses which would require a load of heraldry painting! Eek!
The only problem was, my medieval army first started off in my minds eye as a being suitable for the English of the Hundred Years War. The heavy plate barded warhorses were not so suited period-wise to this army and this figure choice has thus shifted the focus of my army to the later medieval period, covered by the Wars of the Roses period.
Still they are nice figures and hit pretty hard if they can get there, all that heavy armour does slow them up a bit!

An extra unit choice, to reflect some of the armies of the Wars of the Roses, was a pike block unit, perhaps representing Martin Schwartz at the Battle of Stoke. The figures for my pikemen are provided by Front Rank. Very
nice figures, although slightly larger
than the Foundry figures, they mix
in quite well, so long as they are not mixed in the same unit.
The pikeblock can have a number of
roles in the army, from securing a flank, to holding the centre. The main thing is no-one likes to charge the pikes frontally, they usually fight first due to the length of the weapon, and consequently can fight in multiple ranks. On top of this, there are often attack penalties to those trying to fight their way past the wall of pike points. The main thing to remember is, like most units, thier flanks are vulnerable and must be protected, either with other units, terrain, or even quite sneakily, the table edge!

I'll add more to this blog to finish it off as I take more pics of my other units, including Irish Kern used as warband and skirmishers, medieval bidets ( javelin men - not toilets!) both of which useful for exploiting terrain on the battlefield, and of course, artillery!

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