Friday, May 18, 2018

Enfilade ho! (the mad dash to the finish)

Enfilade! is a week away and I'm painting and working on terrain like crazy.

I don't think I've ever had the kind of productivity I've had in the last couple years. The Miracle Dip™ deserves all the credited for this.

It's a good thing, too, that I'm being productive because I'm moving into Enfilade Death March mode. I'm hosting two Enfilade! events. One, a Bronze Age skirmish game that I've run before and I can do it without any further effort (though it would be nice to get some of my 40mm mounted Prehistoricalistic Europeanoids completed). The other, the Irish Project, has been an undertaking. I've made steady progress on it, even though I've turned off the straight and narrow a few times to work on some other "Rampant" projects—and let's be honest, I'm also lazy.


All of the figures/models I need for the Irish Project event are either (1) completely painted and based, (2) completely painted but unbased, (3) nearly completely painted. That says a lot, but the final bit will be a mad dash since there's a very large number in the (2) and (3) categories, though mostly (2).

For me the big hurdle in painting minis is getting them past the dipped (i.e., glopped) phase. It's smooth sailing after that. However, the way I do most things requires waiting time. I have a multi-stage process that works very well openendedly (is that a word?), but can be tough when dealing with an unforgivingly hard deadline.

Assuming I get all the minis completely painted and dipped by this weekend, that leaves a lot of basing to do in the remaining four days till Enfilade. I'm taking the week off work, so I'll have a lot of time, but some things take a few days "curing" time; for example, I tend to wait at least 48 hours after dipping before I brush on a coat of matte varnish, which protects the Minwax stain from curling when the dullcote hits it (it's been a problem). I also tend to wait at least 24 hours for the pumice gel medium I use for basing to dry. I expect to be dullcoting final based minis Thursday night before the convention.

Bases ready to load

I've made marvelous progress this week. I've had to revise this post several times since starting it last weekend because I outstripped my reported progress.

Pikes leveled, ready for the gel medium

At this point, I'll have all my minis based and glopped with MinWax by tonight, or early tomorrow.

Various stages of preparation

All along, the process of completing nearly 200 minis—with no two painted alike—seemed like chaos, but it all eventually came together. I can still do a kind of batch painting by applying a single color to a small group of minis, then another color, etc.

I would certainly have accomplished more sooner if I were more disciplined in painting—as if that were possible. I got a lot done in hours-long sessions, but then wouldn't paint for days. Nevertheless, my painting table went from crowded,

To nearly clear,

To completely clear.

All that remains now is dipping and basing, and I have six work-free days to do that.


I'm near finished with terrain for the event. I've built up a lot of it over the years, so I can rest and reuse most of it. However, there were a few new/revived pieces.

The Hudson and Allan buildings I got from Michigan Toy Soldier company are done! They really didn't take much effort at all.

The long house
The not so long house
I liked them so much, I ordered another two Hudson and Allan buildings, but they're out of stock and won't arrive by Enfilade. But I'll be able to get them into later games—of which I hope there will be many after all the work I've put into this project.

I've had some wonderful Armorcast stone walls that I bought 20+ years ago. They got a bit knackered over the years and I'd been meaning to redo them. I also thought I'd like to add to them, so a recent order to Armorcast got me twice what I used to have. I completed/redid them all in a new way and I'm quite happy with the result.

Don't fence me in
That ought to be enough to get on with, but I couldn't resist ordering another four of the 9" long pieces. They arrived on Monday and I'm already well along to finishing them. With these last pieces, I'll have 180" of stone walls. That's surely enough to be getting on with.

Finally, I wanted to do something fancy-schmanzy with my woods. I've used felt in times past to demarcate the footprint of a wood. It's easy to do and quite common. Years ago, I made some rough terrain pieces for DBM that I found useful for other things after I stopped playing DBM. They're very flat. I used an .030 plastic sheet with a layer of fine pumice gel medium as a base with a blotchy layer of coarse pumice gel medium on top. Painted and flocked, they make a nice base—but I only have two of them and I need many more for my games at Enfilade!

I got two very large sheets of .030 plastic from Plastruct and cut out several more, including shapes that will interlock with wall angles. These have already been schmeered with the pumice medium, so I only need to let them dry a few days and I can paint and flock them.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Then there's the trees. I have several already completed. I did a quick job on them last Enfilade! when I completed about 30 trees almost overnight in the middle of the convention for the Queztalcoatl Rampant game I ran with Kevin Smyth. I did a more thorough job on the bases after the convention and started another 30+ that still need work. I'll get to them after the weekend I expect.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Old Days (Good Times I Remember)

I think that I'm hopelessly nostalgic, sometimes even to the point of maudlin sentimentality. A bit of that was triggered by two events last week. The first was a Facebook memory from two years ago that showed a picture of Grendel, Rhiannon, and Maebh milling about in the sunshine near the big sliding glass door. The second was hearing the song Old Days by Chicago play on Pandora. One verse particularly stood out:

Take me back
To the world gone away
Seem like yesterday

The ten years when I shared a home with those three were some of the best years I've ever known. It saddens me to think that it's now a world gone away, never to return.

Maebh's recent dental adventure wasn't anything life threatening for her (though my wallet is still recovering). However, she's 14. Rhiannon is 17. In cat years, they're getting ancient. Maebh is still pretty spry; Rhiannon is definitely showing her years and getting fatter to boot.

The Golden Girls

Back in the day, my lounging around the house (as one does), had a magnetic affect on the cats. They'd gravitate to me or to each other near me. Life was a movable cat puddle.

Creating permanent dimples in the couch

We're less cohesive now. Maebh still considers me furniture the minute I sit. Even when I'm upright, she bullies me into to sitting in the recliner so she can sit on me. It's nice to be wanted, even if only for my ample lap. Rhiannon used to prefer sitting either on my right (before we both got too fat for her to fit between me and the arm of the recliner) or nestled between my legs. Not so much now that it's harder for her to jump up on the furniture. I have a step thingy that she can use to get onto the couch and thence onto me, but now she finds it too roundabout. Plus, I think she gets confused about how to get up there. She's always been kind of stupid (sweetly so), now she's also senile.

Grendel picked me out in July 2006, I picked out Rhiannon in August 2006. Maebh joined the tribe in March 2007. We were four. They were all younger then and more open to new relationships. Despite a spat here and there between Grendel and Rhiannon, the cats were often bundled together with or without me. They were a happy little clowder, a few contretemps notwithstanding.

The movable clowder

These days, Bogart is the only youngster (with all of youth's annoying unbridled enthusiasms) and the old girls are adamant in ostracizing him from their tribe. I hoped I could keep the show going by introducing a new cast member for an existing role, like the way Dick Sergeant replaced Dick York on Bewitched and nobody noticed. But Maebh noticed and  after 18 months I'm resigned to her hatred of Bogart being implacable.

Bring me the head of Bogart the Cow Cat

We're like Cyprus now. The invading Turk (Bogart) has his own territory and the Greeks (Rhiannon and Maebh) have theirs. I'm the hapless schmo with a foot in each warring camp. All I need is a baby blue helmet. Any attempt to get them to mingle turns into a Sharks v. Jets rumble and Tony (Maebh) inevitably shivs Bernardo (Bogart). Even with only one remaining canine, I assume her bite to be still formidable and abscess inducing.

We've reached a modus vivendi, but it's not without inconvenience. My lounging moments can't exert the gravitational pull that drew all the munchkins together to me. I miss that.

The girls will die eventually. I hope not for a long time, even though that means Stately Chez Dave will remain an indefinite Cyprus. When they go, Bogart will have an unrestricted run of a lonelier house.

I'll be wary of bringing a new cat (or cats) in after the girls go. Bogart seemed to do well in community in the shelter before I adopted him, but he's aggressive with Maebh, who does not respond well to his attention. I long for a harmonious home without Iron Curtains and Checkpoint Charlies to keep the cat population apart.

Standoff at Checkpoint Charlie

With Bogart, I tried to extend or re-boot the bliss of my three-cat household. It didn't work. I don't want to repeat that disappointment, so I assume that Bogey will be my last cat. But who knows?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Everything that is purchased must converge

I came home Friday evening and found my mailbox full of joy. It was a near-perfect convergence of things I'd ordered at various times all coming in at the same point. Only one item of my outstanding deliveries was missing and it arrived today.

This week's haul:

Collateral Damage

My last figure order to Timeline/Hoka Hey was to get some of the civilians from their Border Reivers range. This is the last order of minis for the Enfilade! game I'm running as part of The Irish Project. The game will be The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits, which was an attack on an English column headed to Enniskillen. The column contained wagons of supplies as well as a cluster of civilians/camp followers. In the battle, the civilians broke and ran as the English force fell apart. Several extricated themselves with the soldiers, but a number fared not so well. War in 16th c. Ireland was cruel. I figure they'll be a good distraction for the Irish and I'll need to make up some scenario rules for them. They'll be used in the game as "Clubmen" according to The Pikeman's Lament rules. Pitiful, but not quite helpless.

Wagons Ho! (Collateral Damage part deux)

I ordered three wagons from Irregular Miniatures. They're quite nice. They come in several pieces, so I'll be in confession soon seeking absolution for my rage and foul language as I fail repeatedly to assemble them. Remember kids: Instant glue isn't.

Both the wagons and the wee metal civvies arrived from the UK within two weeks.

Wretched Hovels

While shopping around for buildings suitable for the Celtic fringe—terrain for The Irish Project games—I found some Hudson and Allan buildings for sale at the Michigan Toy Soldier Company. Those arrived within a week.

They're actually Scottish crofters' cottages, but I think they'll do for ramshackle Irish farmhouses ca. 1594. I don't think there were any farms or such in the area where The Battle of the Ford of the Biscuits took place, but I'll have the two buildings out there anyway. It's a skirmish game, gotta break up the field somehow—and I don't know for certain that there wasn't a wretched groveling peasant family or two eking out a living from the rocky soil.

The Fruits of Promise Breaking

The last item in the convergence was the completion of some out of stock items from an order I made to The War Store earlier. As I mentioned in January, my New Years' resolution of not buying any minis for new projects has been compromised. In that post I said I wouldn't buy any AWI minis until after the Enfilade! convention in May.


I ordered soon after I posted that. I now have several boxes of Perry Miniatures AWI. I'm focusing on 'Mericans right now (yes, Brits and Loyalists traitors later). I'm interested in gaming the Southern campaigns when Rebels and Patriots come out next year, so a lot of my figures are militia, on foot and mounted. I've got some riflemen, too. That was my first order, which was only partially fulfilled while The War Store awaited restock des frères Perry.

Soon after receiving the partial shipment of the first order, I ordered more. More militia plus Lee's Legion foot and mounted.

I also ordered some Chessex dice from the War Store. I realized that for six players in a convention game of The Pikeman's Lament, I'll need 72 dice. So, I got two blocks of the small 12mm D6s, all ivory white.

I also picked up a block at The Game Matrix in Tacoma on Saturday, so now I have 108 12mm ivory-colored dice. That's enough to be getting on with. I probably could have cobbled together six sets of 12 D6s from the existing dice hoard chez moi, but buying dice for me is like buying shoes was for Imelda Marcos. Always gotta have more. Always gotta have the right ones for the occasion.

More bones to roll

Speaking of dice, I ordered more bone dice (true bone, not bone-colored) from Quartermaster Stores in Wolverhampton in the UK. These took some time because they were waiting on shipment from their supplier. But they arrived just a few days ago (a pre-convergence convergence). I had ordered some of them before, but the ones that arrived in the last order are considerably different, as in much nicer.

The bone is whiter and the pips are bigger and better defined. They aren't perfect cubes in any sense, but they're more regular in size shape than my beloved Viking bone dice.

I figure these new bone dice will be perfect for 17th-19th c. games like The Pikeman's Lament, Rebels and Patriots, etc. There was one flaw, however.

That's the only one I noticed. If I were shooting craps with that in the Old West, I might get hanged.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Cat toofs, anxiety, and such

Maebh the Merciless is at the vet. She started exhibiting a soreness on the left side of her mouth this weekend and I sort of knew that it likely means some teeth are comin' out. Maebh is over 14 now. So far, she's had no health issues and apart from her teeth, she's still in great shape.

Of course, I hoped that it would be a simple matter. I hoped Grendel's illness would be constipation. But no. It looks like 3 teeth need to be extracted, including her left canine, which is the worst. She had a chip at the tip, which the vet says is possibly how an infection set into the root. I don't know how she chipped her canine; maybe it happend by hitting bone the last time she bit Bogart.

I could get the teeth extracted tomorrow or April 13 or later. I'd rather get it done now, even though I was hoping to take her home today. The vet recommends leaving her overnight. Cats are calmer going into surgery if they haven't first had the trauma of being caught, stuffed into a carrier, and driven across town. But it's the first time I've left her overnight anywhere in the 12 years I've had her. She's very fearful with strangers and she's always been tough to take to the vet. I'm not sure, however, if she's more anxious or I am. For me, the worst is imagining what's going through her mind, enclosed in a small kennel in a strange place.

You're leaving me here? Forever? Don't you love me anymore...

When Bogart was at the vet for a week, I visited him every day. When Grendel had a tooth extracted some years ago, I brought him in in the morning and picked him up the same day. He was easier to get into a carrier. I figured getting Maebh back into the carrier later today (for overnight) or tomorrow morning would be traumatic (more for me than her, that cat can put up a fight). She yowled the whole way in this morning, but was silent at the vet.

So I left her there after the checkup this morning. I know she'll be OK, but I still feel bad. I'll visit this afternoon and leave one of my stinky shirts with her overnight. She often sleeps on my clothes, so I think having the stench of me with her will make her calmer.

I'll visit her first thing in the morning and, expecting the best, I'll have her home tomorrow night.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The curse is ended!

...maybe. But this is a good sign in any case.

I haven't mentioned the curse before, but it's true. All too true. I don't know how or why, but I have a curse. Whenever commercial products appear on the market that I really like, they disappear at a speed that's in direct proportion to my liking of them.

I have experienced this curse mostly with pre-packaged food products or restaurant menu items. I'll find something I like and then suddenly it can't be found in any store. Or, I'll eat something at a restaurant a few times until it becomes my favorite menu item, then *poof* it's off the menu or it's "there" but the actual item has been transmogrified into some inedible golem of its former self.

All I can do is scream out my woe.

But it hasn't always been black despair.

Some time back I got a yen for expanding my Grenadier Miniatures collection. The minis were widely available years ago and then, you guessed it, *poof*. After searching diligently on th'Interwebs, I discovered that Mirliton in Italy now owned and produced the range. But shipping from Italy almost requires taking out a second mortgage to pay for it. The curse taunts me. But then, I discovered that Noble Knight Games in the good ol' US of A carries them.

The curse weakens.

A fews years ago Troy Wold showed up for a Pike & Shotte Game at The Panzer Depot and started setting out some very nifty Medieval/Renaissance style buildings, which I came to learn were from Conflix.

The Conflix buildings are very cool. They come pre-painted (no work for me) and are perfect for the discerning 28mm gamer to use as tabletop terrain from the Medieval era to the 19th c.

They're just the right kind of building to make a game pop.

So, I had to have some, but the curse...

The buildings were no longer being produced. I looked all over th'Interwebs and finally found a place in the UK that had some. I ordered several and then held my breath until they arrived on my doorstep. Another win against the curse.

Curse: 321, Dave: 2.

But that's only a tentative win. Conflix were still out of production with no hope of returning. I hadn't bought every building and now I wanted more.

And then today whilst browsing th'Interwebs for Conflix I found this:

Bachmann, the model train people who produce the Conflix range, are relaunching it in 2018. According to the schedule, some of the buildings should be available now; others will become available later in the year. I'm not sure if there's any new items, but even if not, it's a welcome event and I plan to pick up some of the items I didn't get before and double-up on some others.

I won't call this a win until I find an online seller that has 'em in stock, but I'm hopeful.

I wonder if I stop by Starbucks whether they'll have cherry tarts again? Or, if BJ's has brought back their thin crispy fries? Or...

No, I won't push my luck.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A day of rampacy

We had our Lion Rampant/Dragon Rampant tournament day on Saturday. The tournament was five rounds in a single day. The first two rounds were Lion Rampant, the third round was either Lion Rampant or Dragon Rampant (players' option), the last two rounds were Dragon Rampant. Awards were given for Lion Rampant winner (must have played three rounds), Dragon Rampant winner (must have played three rounds), overall winner (must have played all five rounds), best painted Lion Rampant army and best painted Dragon Rampant army.

The day went very well despite an initial bad omen. While we were unloading stuff and setting up, my knobby knee caught the hem of my shorts when I squatted to put down some boxes and ripped them open. The tear was about 5" initially but increased throughout the day until it ran from waist to hem exposing my right thigh. Not usually carrying around a spare pair of shorts/trousers, eschewing a 120-mile round trip home to re-dress myself, and not being entirely self-conscious, I just played through the day with some extra ventilation.

A bit exposed
After we set up 6 tables, I was eager to try my freshly painted Spanish and see how they might do.

Round 1

I played Dean Motoyama in round 1 for Lion Rampant. Dean and I have sparred in several past games days, so it was like a reunion. Dean played a beautifully painted Early Samurai retinue—it's Medieval, just on the other side of the world.

The first round was a meeting engagement. Each side began with a single unit deployed on the table. Starting on turn 2, players brought in their remaining units on passed Move activation rolls.

Taking the hill
Dean's army was pretty shooty with every unit save one bow armed. It was a formidable challenge. He shot me to pieces, but we ended up tying for the round.

Fighting the mad monks
Round 2

I played round 2 of Lion Rampant against Mark Waddington. Mark has played Lion Rampant only once before, three years ago (it was a multiplayer game using Kevin Smyth's vast 100 Years War collection and Mark and I were opponents then). Mark ran a Crusader retinue, which was nearly a mirror image of my Spanish—only he played better. Instead of 2 units of Bidowers, he took a unit of Archers.

For round 2 of Lion Rampant, we used the Bloodbath scenario from the rules, but we added a rain rule. The attacking player rolled a D6 every time it was their turn. On a 6, it rains. Rain gives a -1 to hit on all shooting. It also makes the ground muddy, that penalizes movement at -2". Rain only lasts one turn (although the die is still rolled at the start of every attacker turn, so it can re-start). The mud, however, remains for the rest of the game after it rains.

Losing the shooting match
We had rain and mud. I tried vainly to get my units into place, but it was a slow slog. My Crossbows dueled with Mark's Archers, who were well ensconced in a wood. My Crossbows survived the day nevertheless, but on my right things went turvy quickly. For a brief moment, I thought I might have the upper hand in a contest between our mounted units, but I failed my attack activation and got whacked by a combo of Mark's Mounted Sergeants and Foot Sergeants.

On my right, Mark's Crossbows chewed up one of my Foot Sergeants and Bidowers. I lost more units and my dead-pile grew.

O glorious dead
In the end, I went down in ignominious defeat. Mark suffered just a few lost figures. I lost 3 of my 7 units with further figures lost from the remainder.

Round 3

For the third round, players had the option to play another round of Lion Rampant or bail out and start Dragon Rampant.  About half switched to Dragon Rampant. I nearly bailed, but I wanted a win with the Spanish. I was 0 for 2, so I opted to stick with a third round of Lion Rampant. I wasn't disappointed.

Round 3 was the straight-up Bloodbath scenario (no rain). I played Al Rivers, who brought a Saxon retinue. He had some shooters (Foot Yeomen in mixed units with bowmen), but their max range was 12". My Crossbows gave me a shooting advantage with better range and values. There was a brief pint where they failed a courage test and rolled back battered, but they were pretty reliable at making their shooting activation rolls and inflicting damage. Early on, I shot one of Al's Foot Yeoman moxed unit off a hill he was imprudent enough to occupy.

A hill to die for
Al set up on just one side of a river that bisected the table width-wise. That gave me the opportunity to envelop one flank with my mounted units and one of my Bidowers.

Envelopment pre-carnage
Al's general (Harold surrounded by his Huscarls) went down fighting after sparring with one of my Mounted Sergeant units, which got a bit chewed up in the process. I also had support from my Bidowers, who took out a few of the figures. On a failed courage test, the general routed away.

Action on the left
I lost one unit of Mounted Sergeants in the carnage, but Al had lost all but two of his units, including his general.

Round 4

With round 4, we all were playing Dragon Rampant. We had an odd number, so I trotted out the bare-breasted centauresses against Pat Lowinger, who was running the tournament. The scenario was The Crystal Gale. It went quickly because it ends when all of 10 crystals spread over the board are taken. We tied at 5-5 and the only losses were incurred by my Bellicose Foot (feminotaurs) getting knocked silly by a Powerbolt! attack from Pat's Byzantine magic priests.

Coming on board to chase after crystals
Round 5

The final Dragon Rampant round was the A Gory Bloodbath on the Plains of Doom scenario but with a twist. A semi-sentient fog potentially affected visibility. Every unit that activated to charge or shoot had to test visibility by totaling a roll 3 D6 and multplying it by 2. The result is the visibility in inches, which could limit shooting and charge targets. In our case, we never had visibility problems.

I played Jim Denberger, who'd been having a run of bad luck throughout the day. It didn't improve playing me.

Jim fielded an warband of trolls, warbeasts, and what looked like Orc-y things(?). He came on pretty strong in the initial turns. I consistently failed my first activation rolls. He ran his Heavy Riders (general's unit) right at my Elite Foot wizardling (Ursula) on a wooded hill. As he approached, I failed several attempts to hurl a Powerbolt! at him and succeeded only at the end. He charged in, but got bounced back with loss. After I succeeded with another Powerbolt!, he routed away, which caused some further running away when other units failed their courage test for the general's loss.

Ursula contra mundam
He came at me next with a Great Warbeast, which knocked Ursula back initially, but another Powerbolt! plus shots from one of my Light Riders (centauress archers) took him out. After he lost another unit with a fourth just hanging on, we called the game a win for me. I'd lost only one unit (the hapless feminotaurs) and had a big advantage over Jim's remaining two units: a Lesser Warbeast (trolls) and a fearful Light Missile unit.

Battered and beaten
The results

The Lion Rampant champion was Bruce Meyer, who had three straight wins with a Samurai army. He had a large contingent of Fierce Foot that ran over all his opponents. Bruce didn't stay for Dragon Rampant, so he was out of the running for overall champion.

The Dragon Rampant champion was Bryan Shein, whose mighty penguin warband had the best win/loss/tie record over three games.

Much to my own surprise, I won overall champion. I was well out of the running for Lion Rampant champion, ineligible for Dragon Rampant champion because I only played two rounds, but my Tie-Loss-Win-Tie-Win record over 5 games put me at 8 points, tied with Daryl Nichols. However, we kept track of glory points and I eked out more than him to win the tie.

The day's laurels: Obverse
Best painted Lion Rampant award went to Dean Motoyama's samurai.

Best painted Dragon Rampant, by a single vote majority, were my bare-breasted centauresses. Bryan Shein's penguins of doom were the runner up.


Further thoughts

It was a great day of rampancy, though possibly the last tournament. The Gig Harbor library where we played allowed us to set up before the library opened and continue after it closed. New policies won't allow that, so we're only able to play during library hours 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. That's good for a couple informal games, but not nearly enough time to play five tournament rounds. Gaming venues that can accommodate a dozen or more players on multiple tables are becoming scarcer and more expensive. We may wind up relegated to playing in people's garages and attics before long.

We're adding The Pikeman's Lament to our repertoire of games. I'll join with Sven Lugar in coordinating events starting later this year. I'm going great guns on getting my Irish and English dome for The Irish Project. I've also got companies complete for ECW and Spanish Renaissance/New World Conquest, with many more on hand ECW to paint. I could do some later 17th c. as well. I also see that The Assault Group is getting ready to release a new range for the 80 Years War!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


This post is a reboot from an earlier draft that through diligent neglect became obsolete. Back in 2016, I started painting a lot of Crusader Miniatures Medieval Spanish for a Lion Rampant retinue. Things were going on schedule for a game day we were planning for September that year, but at the end of July Grendel was diagnosed with cancer and for six awful weeks I managed to get almost nothing done towards finishing the army. When he died on September 6, it just took everything out of me for a while. The army sat unpainted for a long, long time. (Well, not really long as my unfinished projects go. I've got partially painted lead from the 90s still haunting me with no dead cats to justify my malingering.) When I got back to painting, I devoted my efforts to other projects (there are so many) because completing the Spanish no longer had any urgency.

But why Spanish? As I mentioned in a previous post, I've gotten deep into all things "Rampant." I'd been meaning to paint a Lion Rampant retinue since the rules were released back in 2014. I've had a lot of Old Glory Medievals partially painted, but for some reason, I couldn't psyche myself into finishing them (though I'm getting up steam for it now). I needed an army that cold inspire me in terms of the history and the figures available. I toyed with Later Crusaders or any ca. 12/13th c. European army, but nah. Then I got bit by the El Cid bug.

El Cid

This period in Spanish history is fascinating and controversial. The real El Cid, Rodrigo Díaz del Bivar, was a nobleman from the kingdom of Léon who lived in the latter half of the 11th c. His title is from the Arabic 'Al Sayyid, meaning "the lord". Díaz was also known as Campeador, which translates as "strong warrior." It comes from the Latin campi doctor, which means "master of the battlefield."

Díaz' activities are legendary for the most part, although there is enough fact mixed with the fiction to create an historical sketch. His deeds were recorded first in a poem in Latin called Carmen Campidoctoris (Song of the Campeador), which may be as old as 1083, i.e., composed during his life time (Díaz died in 1099). Some scholars, however, date it some 50 years after Díaz' death.

Díaz came to prominence fighting for King Sancho II of Léon and Castile, rising to the honor of being the standard-bearer of Castile. Sancho's enemies were his own brothers, in addition to the Andalusian Moorish city-states. When Sancho was murdered, his brother Alfonso VI became king, which lead ultimately to Díaz' exile from the court of Léon-Castile.

As an exile, Díaz fought for the Muslim taifa of Zaragoza against various other Muslim and Christian states. The invasion of Spain by the Almoravid Berbers in 1086—and their defeat of Alfonso's army at Sagrajas—brought an end to Diaz' exile. As the foremost warrior of Spain, Alfonso needed Díaz on his side if he hoped to withstand the Almoravid onslaught.

For several years, Díaz served Alfonso, but during that time he also worked to gain control for himself of the city of Valencia. The Muslim ruler of the city became his vassal, but was later overthrown by the Almoravids. Díaz besieged and took the city in 1094. He ruled it until his death in 1099.

While Díaz is popularly seen as a Christian hero, he actually gave his service to both Christian and Muslim rulers and fought with Muslims against Christians, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Muslims, and Christians against Christians. Valencia during his rule was a pluralistic city with freedom for both Christians and Muslims alike. In the patchwork of Christian and Muslim kingdoms of Spain, politics, business, and ambition often transcended religion.

Díaz can be seen mostly as an adventurer seeking renown wherever he could. His taking and ruling Valencia is evidence of his desire to establish an independent dynasty and be free of serving kings and emirs of any faction or religion. Without his leadership, the city-state of Valencia failed. It was ruled by his widow Jimena until 1102, when it was retaken by the Almoravids and held by them and various Muslim dynasties that succeeded them until it was captured by Aragon in the 13th c.

El Retinue

I'm easily sold on things for the silliest reasons. What struck me most about the El Cid Spanish was that they had slingers. I've mentioned my love of the sling before. In a world of Medieval armies, only one uses the noble sling. So I had to paint it.

Initial thoughts

I tinkered around a lot with the composition of my retinue for the upcoming tournament. I like the punch of Mounted Men-at-Arms, but they're awfully expensive and can be enticed into charging about rashly. I thought maybe cheaper and better controlled was worth having less punch. I may revise my opinion after Saturday.

I like having light horse (Mounted Yeoman), but the Spanish historically used jinetes, who flung javelins at close range and then scurried off to regroup and return again to fling their javelins. The reality was, I think, a bit more effective than the Lion Rampant rules reflect. A 6" shooting range combined with a pretty dicey (7+) evade make it pretty tough to get away from whomever you're harassing. Getting caught on an evade by Mounted Men-at-Arms or Mounted Sergeants is pretty much instant death. I decided not to chance it for a tournament army. Also, they cost 3 points, which is just an awkward thing to have to factor into a 24-point retinue list when most units are either 6 or 4 points. You're bound to have an odd point preventing you from making a tidy list without adding a unit of Serfs.

Finally, the slingers—the raison d'être for making the retinue—are a bit lackluster and the rules say contradicting things about them. They have a 12" maximum shooting range AND they're just like archers (who have an 18" max. range). That's an erratum, it turns out. They have a 12" max range, but only cost 3 points (there's that odd point thing again), so not exactly like archers. I assume a lot of players are going to have shooty retinues and bringing a sling to a bow-fight doesn't seem smart to me. So, no massed slingers, but the figures will appear as bidowers.

And now, the final tournament list for Saturday:

Mounted Sergeants

Because 11th c. knights were simply mail-clad and may not have used (or solely used) a couched lance, it's easy to justify fielding them as Mounted Sergeants rather than Mounted Men-at-Arms. Mounted Sergeants sacrifice power (only a 4+ attack v. 3+ for Mtd MAA) and protection (3 armor v. 4) for better maneuverability (5+ to move v. 7+) and no need to worry about suppressing urges to wildly charge anything that wanders in range.

There are two units at 4 points each.

Foot Sergeants

I tend to like horsey armies rather than foot-sloggy ones, but I figured a solid core of infantry would be good to have. They can hold up to a charge by Mounted Men-at-Arms (well, maybe, or chew them up a bit while dying) and can provide a sort of semi-fixed wall for the mounted forces to maneuver behind.

There are two units at 4 points each.


These were a late addition to the retinue. I only bought the minis in February. I started to think that a little more firepower would help—especially given the disappointing slinger stats. Crossbows have a 4+ shoot value, but a 7+ shooting activation (v. 5+ shoot/6+ activation for bows and slings). I've played on the receiving end of crossbow fire; I'm looking to be on the giving end for a change.

There is one unit at 4 points.


I like bidowers. When the other side has 'em, they're annoying. So, at the least they can counter-annoy your opponent. But if you have terrain for them to skulk in, they can have a considerable asymmetric effect against more powerful units who are discomfited by fighting in rough terrain. (But if Foot Men-at-Arms come after you, run like hell.)

There are two units at 2 points each.

In sum

The retinue has 7 units. No unit is more than 4 points, so it'll take losing at least three units to get to half strength. (I could easily see myself quickly losing two Men-at-Arms units in a blaze of glory.) Everything except the crossbows move on a 5+ activation. I think that overall it has a pretty good balance. If I'm wrong about that come Saturday, the most logical factor to blame is my incompetent generalship. The cats won't be there; I can't blame them.

All snug in their box dreaming of glory

The also rans

As I've mention elsewhere, I have many more minis painted (and am painting) than are needed for a single retinue. Even though I eschewed using them for the tournament, I have the following on deck:

Mounted Yeomen

I only have one unit completed, but will have two eventually. I think having at least two is needed if you have any. A retinue with 2 x Mounted Men-at-Arms and 4 x Mounted Yeomen/javelins might be interesting.


Ah, the beloved (but not by Dan Mersey) slingers. I have 12 figures painted, so enough for a full missile unit. Someday, but until then, I'll use them as bidowers (see above) side by side with the javelin-armed foot.

I have some thoughts about house rule for slingers that would take into account (1) there's little evidence that slings had less range then self bows, which most of the bows in Lion Rampant represent, and (2) the concussive effect of sling stones made them more effective against armored men than arrows. That makes me think about the following:

Keep them at 12" max range, make them 4 points, but give them a -1 effect on the target's base armor value to a minimum of 2, i.e., armor 4 would reduce to 3, armor 3 would reduce to 2, but no effect on armor 2 and 1. The armor effect of cover would be unaffected; for example, an armor 2 unit in cover would still be a 3 because the base armor value of 2 is unaffected.

Alternately, use the same armor effect as above for targets within 12" range, but give them 18" max range and make them 5 points.

All we are saying is give sling a chance.


I only have 8 painted so far. I hadn't really intended on doing a full unit, but I should buy another pack and make a full 12-figure unit. Between the slingers I love and the crossbows I need, the archers are the redheaded step children. I could use the figures in a mixed unit with Foot Yeomen (see below) or just go with vanilla shooters after I build out their numbers.

The Sir-Not-Appearing-in-this-Film lot

Because they're still raw lead, the following units are on hold while I finish other projects that have come to the front burner now that I have a retinue completed.

Foot Yeomen

Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone values these units. They're an inconvenient mid-point between Foot Sergeants and Serfs. They have decent combat values for defense (4+), but lousy armor for melee troops (2). The one interesting thing you can do with them is create a mixed unit, which gives them some firepower, but at only 12" max. range and the unit can no longer form schiltron. That may be something for me to do with my forlorn archers, but I'm not sure if mixed units combine the best or worst of the two types. Cruel experience down the road will likely teach me which.


Because Crusader makes the minis, I have 'em. Also, if using 3-point units like javelin-armed Mounted Yeomen or slingers as missile units, I may need a 1-point unit to fill out the full 24 points. Or maybe in a spirit of bonhomie, I could just field a unit (or two) to give my opponent's mounted troops some oiks to run down. That's the Medieval spirit. They can also function in a scenario-based game as enraged peasants defending their fields and farms from marauding Moors. They're actually quite nice minis and can plug into any retinue/scenario. I have 24 of 'em, which will give me two units if I should ever be daft enough to field them.