Home Forums Medieval New to the period – help appreciated

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  • #155078
    Matilda
    Participant

    Hello all,

    While I’ve gamed mid 30’s to Cold War hot in most scales for years, I’ve never played any medieval games. I recently bought Mortem et Gloriam and have starter pacto HYW sets for English and French. I’ve worked my way through some Osprey books covering the period, but coming from a background where every individual carries rank, unit insignia, technical specialisms etc. on their uniform I’m a bit lost as to how to start painting them up as , from a 20th century POV they all appear as “rabble” (heresy on this forum, I imagine, if so, apologies).

    I don’t know how much work I need to do to get started. Am I going to have to immerse myself in heraldry? (Not averse to this if needed). I use Vallejo and Foundry paints on the whole and would appreciate any suggestions to get me started. I’m planing to use single base coat colours plus AP quick shade.

    #155079
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I don’t do mass battle games and I just go with what I think looks good and fit my setting. Non uniformity is a good thing, it might look like a group of rabble but if you keep a few colors uniform they’ll still look like a unit. Maybe watch Charton Heston’s El Cid?

    If you want more uniform look, you could watch Kingdom of Heaven and see what they did there. There’s a few minor variations to the Templar costumes but they’re very uniform enmass.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #155082
    Katie L
    Participant

    The majority of the figures can be painted in mixed civilian-style clothes. Browns/dark reds/shades of green.

    The stripey jackets common in the HYW era are padded linen — I do them as a yellowey-white.

    The livery tunics — closest thing to a uniform — can be done in two ways: one is half-and-half colours, the other is a solid colour — these are the “livery colour”. These would be bright colours, chosen to show allegiance to their boss. They would also often wear a badge on the chest or sometimes other markings. Crosses were popular in crusading and red crosses were used for English troops in HYW, France sometimes had white crosses on a blue background but this wasn’t mandated.

    The tunic colours can be basically anything. Generally, you might find a lord arrived, he would have some form of “proper” heraldry (fancy design on a shield) and be wearing mail or later plate. He’d bring some other soldiers who would be wearing less armour down to next-to-nothing. They could be archers/billmen, horsemen, possibly even another man-at-arms. All those men would generally be wearing some sort of representation of the same livery colours.

    It used to be thought the livery matched the heraldry. Now, not so much.

    Livery colours are things like “blue”, “red”, “tawny”, “white”, “black”, “green”, “purple” — they’re not constrained the way heraldric colours are. There’s a couple of online lists you could find which will illustrate the combinations used but they’re not exhaustive so you can make some up. Also, they’re not especially unique — red/blue is used by a lot of people.

    So — grab a couple of archers, a couple of billmen, paint them in one or two random choices of those colours. Pick another group, do the same.

    The “units” consist of like-equipped figures, but different liveries. Archers in one, billmen in another (or, in some rules, intermixed with the archers). Mounted light skirmishers and mounted heavy in units.

    Very major lords *might* arrive with many men, and be able to form (say) a unit of archers on their own so the figures will be more uniform. This should be rare.

    Heraldry is a whole pile of stuff. If you know the basic rules, you can just invent some. Split the shield, put a wolf on it. Split the shield, put a dragon on it. Solid colour, put a fish on it. That sort of thing. It got much more elaborate through the 1400s.

    Another note is that medieval is a long period of time and all of this evolved/changed/got lost in time. But — and here’s the wargamer part — these can be bright, colourful forces with a lot of character and a lot of re-use potential. We don’t get to paint bright yellows and brilliant reds and striking greens very often, and this is the chance.

     

    #155083
    Sane Max
    Participant

    I will give you some advice from a level where I do not take things seriously. More serious minded types will be along shortly I expect.

    I don’t know the game you are playing, but If I have a regret about my own mediaevals it’s that I just jumped in and started painting. I wish I had decided ‘These is the Household troops of Sir John De Toffington. They wear his Livery of white and blue, and carry his badge of a Fat Rabbit. These are the Retinue – they wear his badge, or at least some mark to show they are of his affinity’ and so on.

    For the Hundred Years War I use Livery as a quality mark. If they are better types they wear Livery, only my Rabble are in something more generic.

    Better troops will be better armed.

    Don’t be tempted to look too dirty like in the movies – the average Mediaeval person was well aware that being filthy was bad for you. They didnt’ know why, but they were not stupid. Given that, all men together on campaign will tend to let their standards slip, but anyone with any substance would have been clean.

    If after this you want some non-uniformity, you can always mix and match. But It would be so nice If I had the option 🙂 I also second what Katie said – they liked colours and used them where they could get them. I would do a little research though, some colours were harder to get, some impossible, and some were hard to fix, so could fade very fast. I seem to recall a website that actually went into this sort of thing.

     

     

    #155084
    Matilda
    Participant

    That was quick, thanks to you all!

    I seem to remember that the ’80s Robin of Sherwood didn’t go overboard with the costuming, and I have that somewhere on DVD and will revisit this and Thomaston’s suggestions. Isn’t there something about being “born to the purple” connected with this being a difficult colour to produce at the time (synthetic dyes are Victorian/industrial revolution onwards, I think) and so expensive and the preserve of the wealthy. Thanks for the livery colours advice Katie, very helpful, I can go with my favourite colours and no one can complain! No “That Spetsnaz beret is the wrong shade of blue” here 🙂 Having said that, I have a high rivet-counting tendency myself. There’s no substitute for experience, Sane Max, so thanks for passing on yours. There’s always a time when you look back and think “Wish I’d known that before I started”. I’ll keep the AP use restrained. Comments and suggestions from “the more serious types” very welcome too!

     

    #155088
    bobm
    Participant

    The most basic rules of heraldry are the split between “colours” and “metals”  only silver (white) and gold (yellow) are metals.  you can’t put a metal on a metal or a colour on a colour.

    Pictures of animals, axes, mythical creatures etc are often described as “natural” instead of a colour.  this means they can be colours that look right and are not bound by the normal heraldic rules above.  I’m aware that this seems to make the Welsh flag break the rules (with dragon-red overlapping (on) the green but hey ho..

    The last is about “reversal” .  This applies to livery colours as well as heraldry.  Think how modern flags are arranged from the staff to the fly.  then colours were similarly arranged on horse caparisons etc.  On one side of horse blue on left then on other side blue is on right.

    There's 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.....

    #155089
    Sane Max
    Participant

    ‘Born to the Purple’ was from Ancient Rome, but your point is correct – Murex die was expensive. funnily, I am told you never knew what sort of colour you would get with it, anything from ‘Deep Purple’ to ‘King Crimson’ all the way up to ‘Black Sabbath’  🙂  But yes, what you are saying about dies being tricky up to the Late Victorian era is right – and even then sometimes things went badly wrong – Look at ‘Scheele’s Green’ – lovely colour but don’t lick it… or let it go moldy… or expose it to sulfur gasses… during an industrial revolution…

    If you tell people you are using Robin of Sherwood as a reference guide the serious people might give you funny looks..

    #155090
    willz
    Participant
    #155091
    Matilda
    Participant

    Thanks bobm for the heraldry rules, very helpful. Born to the purple dredged up from O level History too many years ago to admit to, and perhaps the RoS reference should have had a 😉 following, but I won’t tell if you don’t, and it’s a good excuse for me to dig it out and watch again anyway 🙂 I seem to remember John Rhys Davies is in one episode years before playing TLOTR, but I might be wrong.  Using anything fictional is always a bit dubious at the very least (I remember the fuss over beach obstacles when Saving Private Ryan was first screened, despite no end of military and historical advisers, and some Easy Company veterans thought Blythe died of his wounds as recorded in Band of Brothers, then he turned out to have survived and remained in the US army for some years). Going off topic now, course correction made. . .

    #155092
    Matilda
    Participant

    Thanks willz, I think that’s the sort of thing I’m looking for. The Osprey’s I’ve read have been useful but this looks very comprehensive.

    #155093
    willz
    Participant

    I am glad to be helpful Matilda, I bought this book last year and found it very informative could have done with a book like this some 40+ years ago when I first stared out painting medieval figures.

    This is a good site for late medieval, I have some links to early medieval heraldry store somewhere? when I find them I will post.

    http://jean-claude.colrat.pagesperso-orange.fr/2-armee.htm

    http://jean-claude.colrat.pagesperso-orange.fr/index-angl.htm

    #155095
    Matilda
    Participant

    That’s brilliant, thanks very much. I’ve ordered a copy and will give the links a look too.

    #155097
    willz
    Participant
    #155099
    Norm S
    Participant

    If you check this gamers Vlog out – he has a huge back catalogue that shows his figures off both in 18’s and 25’s

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUE8i2xmmSRBdQEBOI5Tozg

     

     

     

    #155102
    willz
    Participant

    A couple more very good sites for early medieval.

    http://earlyblazon.com/

    https://www.liebaart.org/gulden_e.htm

    #155103
    Geof Downton
    Participant

    Here’s a good site to help with heraldry’s rules, and you can draw coats of arms!

    https://drawshield.net/index.html

    One who puts on his armour should not boast like one who takes it off.
    Ahab, King of Israel; 1 Kings 20:11

    #155104
    willz
    Participant

    Hello all,  I’m a bit lost as to how to start painting them up as , from a 20th century POV they all appear as “rabble” (heresy on this forum, I imagine, if so, apologies). I don’t know how much work I need to do to get started. Am I going to have to immerse myself in heraldry? (Not averse to this if needed). I use Vallejo and Foundry paints on the whole and would appreciate any suggestions to get me started. I’m planing to use single base coat colours plus AP quick shade.

    When I first started painting 25mm medieval figures I used to paint all the heraldry by hand.  I now use a computer to print off the banners and flags, plus I print out horse trappers, shields and jupons (using cut, paste and building up a data base of useful files) and then using PVA glue stick them to the pre-painted figure / horse.  I then blend the paper and figure together save a lot of time hand painting heraldry.

    The dead horse has had a printed paper trapper added.

     

    The left hand knight has paper shield, trapper and banner.  The right hand knight has hand painted shield, trapper and banner.

     

    Mainly printed paper, shields, trappers and banners.

     

    In action.

    #155109
    ian pillay
    Participant

    This is a fantastic thread. Really interesting subject matter and something that I have always been scared of doing. Willz printing the designs is a brilliant idea!
    Matilda – good luck with the project.

    Tally-Ho!

    #155110
    ian pillay
    Participant

    Another good source for understanding heraldry and how to apply it to figures is a publication by the Canadian Wargames Group called “flower of chivalry – a guide to the late Middle Ages”

    I forgot I had this until now. It has some simple rules and a fair few scenarios in it from Stirling Bridge  in 1297 to Bosworth Field in 1485. It does also cover some dark age armies like Normans, Anglo Saxon etc.

    Tally-Ho!

    #155119
    Ruarigh
    Participant

    I don’t know where you live, Matilda, but your mention of O-levels suggests the UK. One idea for painting the English force would be to pick something local to you. The village where I lived in England had a lovely map of the village on the side of the Post Office which included shields with the coats of arms of local lords. I always thought it would be nice to set a little game in the village with these lords contesting against each other. If you live anywhere like that or have an attachment to a place like that you could always build your English force based on local contingents to make the army more personal. Or based on the local sports club’s colours …

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    https://roderickdale.co.uk/

    #155147
    Matilda
    Participant

    Many thanks to everyone who’s posted since I started up this thread 🙂 All very helpful and I will follow up the links.

    Yes Ruarigh, I’m in the UK and after your post am thinking of using Cheshire and Flint as Osprey Combat 24 HYW 1337-60 has a nice illustration of an English longbowman in green/white livery and I have family connections to Flint. Katie L’s guide above prompted me to have a look at this again, so thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t mentioned that the minis I’m using are 15mm “Ultracast” from PSC as I’m just getting started – I’ve enough English and French to try out the rules (MeG), but I also have Osprey’s Lion Rampant  and looking at larger scales for that, but don’t want to overextend myself at the start and not get something finished. However, willz minis in 25mm are very appealing and the hand painting of the banners looks superb, I can see you’ve put a great deal of time into this. I’ll be printing!

    If I do decide to go to a larger scale and add to the lead/plastic pile, is 25mm still popular for the period, or has 28mm supplanted it as it has in other periods/genres? Also, MeG seems to be quite a new system and I’m curious as to what other rules systems people use. This all started up because I was on PSC’s website buying WW2 15mm British and saw MeG, thought I’d give it a try and bought the rules, then settled on HYW to start with as MeG covers a very long time period.

    Looking at the English bowman, he’s equipped with a sword and buckler. Once he’s exhausted his arrows, does he become “second line infantry”, or are these defensive and he keeps out of harms way as he’s too valuable an asset to lose? Until I get hold of a tactics book (Osprey do one, I think), I’m falling back to my experience and he seems “MILAN of his day” in that mindset. Reasonable (if simplistic) analogy?

    Ultracast claims to require no priming (not sure about that, but I’ve painted some fantasy Reaper Bones making the same claim and they were OK,just needed a wash in warm water with a dash of WU liquid). Planning to do a bit of painting today and will post some photos once there’s something to see!

     

    #155152
    Guy Farrish
    Participant

    Hi. Welcome to the can of worms that is medieval warfare.

    First up – we know hardly anything about the tactics of the period. There will be someone along in a minute to tell you we do (but we don’t). We know there were some theories (and later manuals)  about how to use individual weapons, and that tournaments were used in the early period as tactical training  (not simply jousts run along a tilt ground) over considerable areas of countryside – but what the best formations were, how retinues and arrays formed for battle and interacted in combat is not clear at all.

    That it was more sophisticated than Oman’s dismissive view of armed mobs lining up and hitting each is other is pretty widely accepted these days (isn’t it?) but nobody had done the battle course at Warminster either.

    Second. Forget most of the gee whiz brochure figures of English Longbow enthusiasts.

    Yes you probably can get off 12 shots a minute.

    You carry a sheaf of 24 arrows and you probably have another one somewhere relatively (define relatively) close to hand.

    That’s your 48 arrows you were issued with for the campaign.

    That’s 4 minutes shooting.

    Depending whether you are looking at mid 14th  century or late 15th, the ratio of longbows to everyone else is going to be roughly between 1:1 and 5:1.

    So the 80% of an English army are not going to stand around brewing up (no tea yet for a start) when they’ve loosed all their arrows. They will fight.

    At Agincourt (I apologise – it is an outlier in many instances) they got stuck in, and were generally expected to when required – which was most of the time.

    So short range anti armour certainly, but bayonet charge as well (not always as successful as Brits like to think; see lots of other HYW combats apart from Crecy, Poitiers and Agincourt)).

    Whatever you decide – weird ‘herce’ formations (whatever they were – see ‘we know hardly anything about the tactics’ above) or ‘revisionist’ mixed ‘units’ of interleaved bow and men at arms – enjoy yourself and have fun.

    #155156
    Sane Max
    Participant

    but I also have Osprey’s Lion Rampant  and looking at larger scales for that, but don’t want to overextend myself at the start and not get something finished.

    I think you are sensible not to – No reason you can’t play Lion Rampant in 15mm, as long as you have two armies or a friend.  a base equals a base. Just have 12 bases in a Unit (or steal the Reduced Units rule from Dragon Rampant and have fewer bases and keep track of wounds with a marker).If you decide you want to play with bigger figures that can be a job for another day.

    #155159
    willz
    Participant

    A few more photo’s to show how the paper trappers, shields and banners work.

    #155170
    ian pillay
    Participant

    Wow didn’t realise North Ferriby local teams badge was similar to Great Grimsby towns crest.

    Tally-Ho!

    #155174
    Ruarigh
    Participant

    Wow didn’t realise North Ferriby local teams badge was similar to Great Grimsby towns crest.

    Crikey, it really is. I had to check because I had never noticed that. Now there’s an excuse for a medieval scrap: the long-running feud between two barons over who stole whose crest. It could be even worse and longer running than the one stemming from the time when Prince von Kurzenhosen took the Marquis van Dal’s mistress off for a picnic to teach her how to play the bagpipes.

    Never argue with an idiot. They'll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

    https://emidsvikings.ac.uk/
    https://roderickdale.co.uk/

    #155176
    ian pillay
    Participant

    Well it would explain the North and South divide over the Humber 😉

    Tally-Ho!

    #155181
    Matilda
    Participant

    Thanks for the ongoing info and photos everyone, all very helpful 🙂

    Guy, I vaguely remember seeing a TV documentary which must have used some of the longbow enthusiasts you mentioned and a “simulated strike” on a mounted dummy armoured knight. At the time I thought “WOW, must have been like a Tornado carrying a JP233 ADM!”, but your comments help put that into perspective.

    Did some work on the ultracast minis yesterday, didn’t get as far as I wanted due to some interuptions, but if anyone is thinking of buying any I found the following:

    They do take paint without priming, which was nice

    Cleaning up with a scalpel means careful slicing with a fresh blade (I started with one used for only a couple of days on injection moulded polystyrene, didn’t work, sharpened it with a diamond whetstone as an experiment, slightly better, then changed out for a fresh blade, essential

    The material is somewhere in-between hard poly and the old soft Airfix toy soldier stuff of the 70’s, almost but not quite, like Reaper Bones and has a tendency to be a bit fluffy, so no files are going near these

    The minis in these boxes are made from moulds usually used with metal according to PSC, so I think if I keep going, having bought a box each of French and English I’ll save up the pennies and go into metal rather than more ultracast, but a good place to start as they’re not expensive for the amount of minis in a box.

     

    Interesting to note that the three battles you’ve mentioned are the ones Osprey covers. Hmm. . . if they had a World Cup series, perhaps it would be very short? 🙂 Looking forward to finding out how deep this can of worms is!

     

     

     

     

    #155199

    Don’t trust Hollywood; they seldom come anywhere near reality. We don’t know everything, but there’s enough evidence to do far better than California usually offers.

    #155227
    Matilda
    Participant

    Absolutely, Alexander 🙂 I thought intially I’d at least pick up a little that might be useful, but have since found the Robin Of Sherwood DVDs I mentioned early on in a box of stuff to go to charity shops and had a watch anyway for old time’s sake. Oh boy. .  .

    Time does weird things with your memories of old TV and film. Marion wears eye-shadow that makes her look like she’s in ABBA, Robin has a hairdo like an 80’s footballer and there are Tiffen filter long shots galore (the sky is often green or orange)! Still, fun in a nostalgic way, if only for the eye rolling, scenery chewing Sheriff, Nicholas Grace!

    First photos of some English longbowmen using reference from an Osprey book, with AP Quickshade Soft Tone.

    #155228
    willz
    Participant

    Very nicely painted figures Matilda, thanks for sharing.

    #155383
    Matilda
    Participant

    Thanks Willz 🙂 more to follow as I go. I have some more sprues painted up so will put a few photos on when they’re not so AP tacky. . .

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