The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
Snorri is unhappy about your bar tab - VERY unhappy...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AMW v. OHW showdown!

in this corner, "Ancient & Medieval Wargaming" coming in at 276pp and $40. In the far Corner, "One-Hour Wargames" weighing in at 157pp and $20!

Who will win? 

Neil Thomas, obviously!

OK, well, this is not so much a showdown as a bit of a comparison of the two rulesets, especially their combat mechanics. Got the idea from checking out some posts at the AMW yahoogroup, where some chatter about the two games came up. I recommended OHW for a large group if one was pressed for time, and AMW if you like more mechanics and aren't in a hurry. So how do the two sets compare?


  1. Cost and weight - double
  2. Rulesets=4: Biblical, Classical, Dark Ages, Medieval
  3. Mechanics - old-school mechanistic with 10-15 army lists per set.
  4. Scenarios - one, "wipe him out" with one twist.
  5. Terrain - very little explanation.
  6. Explanation of design, period, etc - plenty, nice work.
  7. Playing time - 2-3 hours depending on player experience.
  1. Cost and weight - half
  2. Rulesets=9: Ancient, Dark Age, Medieval, Pike and Shot, Horse and Musket, Rifle and Saber, American Civil War, Machine Age, WWII.
  3. Mechanics - modern, very streamlined, very carefully thought out.
  4. Troop types - always 4 per set, but some easily crossover, so more like 6-8.
  5. Scenarios - 30 [!], which pretty much make the rules worth it by themselves.
  6. Terrain - laid out in every scenario, with clear explanations of it.
  7. Explanation of design, period, etd - a bit less but generous, more nice work.
  8. Play time: yep, about an hour. Half that for experienced players who know when their licked and want to have another go!

The combat mechanics for AMW are mutli-step with extra variables:
  1. check chart, see how many dice per stand your Unit gets against the opposing Unit. Usually this is 1:1, but several circumstances give you 2:1 on the first turn, and a few give you 2:1 or 3:1 all the time [fighting a flank and a heavy unit v. a light unit].
  2. Roll that many dice for a 4+
  3. Opponent gets saves v. Hits [always, everyone has at least Light Armor!].
  4. Failed saves become Hits. If the total hits adds up to a factor of 4, a base is lost.
  5. If shooting, Hits in woods are halved. If in melee in woods, use different procedure [very simple, but different].
  6. the unit checks morale for losing each base from shooting or melee at the end of the turn, so you need to mark that the unit owes a morale check.
  7. If you fail the morale check [3+, 4+ or 5+] you lose another base.
  8. The unit fights until the last base is removed.
In effect, these are all 16-Hit Units, and every 4th Hit is a possibility of losing another 4 Hits if you fail morale. I do like the morale / quality aspect; it adds morale into the equation, an important military dimension.

I have a few problems with the model. First, it is very static and makes lots of assumptions, e.g. that Light Units will fight toe-to-toe against a heavy unit. I don't think they would, they'd dance around just out of range, perhaps dash off if they got too close. I don't like that every unit has an armor save - many units wore none, so what is it - true grit? It involves constant computation of dice - pretty demanding on the brain. The positives are that the feel is very mechanistic and logical "you hit, he saves, you damage, he may check morale - if fail, more people run off". I like that there's a Quality to the Units, Elite, Average & Levy.

The combat mechanics for OHW are much shorter:

  1. Roll a die for your troop type - it is then sometimes modified by +2 or -2.
  2. Modify the resulting Hits v. terrain, armor, or flank/rear. it is halved, quartered or doubled, rounding up any fraction.
  3. Units are removed at 15 Hits.
Needless to say, the OHW mechanics are much less nuanced. Interestingly, it doesn't really matter much. In that sense, it is like comparing DBx rules: AMW is DBM, and OHW is like DBA. There is more streamlining and generalization in OHW, but with 30 scenarios, it's almost like every scenario is a new game. I figured out that the possible combinations of forces and rules are in the area of 10,000! Per the title, is usually playable in well under an hour by experienced players, and often new players.

I want to especially emphasize the value of the 30 scenarios. Yes, there are a couple of open battle scenarios, 1 & 2 of the 30. All the rest have an interesting twist based around timing of entry, location of entry, terrain [rivers are important in several], unequal forces [sometimes due to reinforcements arriving later, sometimes they are a 6-4 unit game - interestingly, most of the 6-4 unit games have the smaller force attacking an encumbered larger force! This is perfect for, say, Germans v. Russians WWII, British v. Americans AWI, Confederates v. Union, etc. But each scenario provides a good 3-5 plays where each game is something new, and it is constantly helping you to grow tactically. In essence, there's at about 30 games to play in the OHW book, per game rule set, and deciphering the tricks of fighting each side in the scenario is an enjoyable exercise.

In any event, how much longer does AMW take than playing a battle with my OHW rules? Well, I played them a couple times, and the move distances are slower and the combat is slower to resolve. So about an hour for 6 units each using a OHW scenario. Then I wondered how long JUST the combat mechanics took, so I played my version of OHW to get a time down, then played again but used the AMW combat mechanics - this was easy to do, and the only significant change was simultaneous melee and more dice...lots more dice. And that's what the AARs are below.

Good old Scenario 21: Twin Objectives, from OHW. I chose this b/c I've never played it with medievals, and figured it was about time. I didn't have much hope for the defenders...

Defending Welsh have an Archer, [on hill], a Men at Arms [in camp], a Cavalry and a mounted Skirmisher, e.g. Light Cavalry [these are the same as Skirmishers in the Ancient and DA sets, but they've a 12" move and can't enter woods]. Attacking Anglo-Normans have [from left] 2 Levy [attacking the hill], an Archer, a Men at Arms, then three knights.

Turn 1. English dash forward. They work their numbers against the hill, outflanking the Welsh Archers. The knights move into easy charge range, so the Welsh Cavalry charge in to get the first hit, while the Light Cavalry cross over behind and shoot, putting some solid Hits on one of the knights, a total of 4. The Knights respond by...missing?? Welsh Archers dump a volley on the  Levy, getting 3 Hits for 3 dice! Early game definitely going Welsh!

Turn 2. However, the Levy make up for it by rolling all hits, wiping out the Archers - wow!

Turn 2. English Archers hit the LC for 2 while the MaA advance, clearly intent on raiding the camp. This also serves to cover the left flank of the Knights from the Welsh LC, who reposition to hit the other knight. Meanwhile, the Welsh Cavalry only get a Hit while BOTH English knights only manage to get in 3 Hits - clearly need combat lessons from the Levy!

Turn 3. The English wipe out the Welsh Teulu, so the LC charge in and finish off a knight - barely. Rest of the force is barreling down on the camp, intent on loot!

Turn 4. Welsh LC miss. English Knights - don't! Camp is in trouble - Teulu brace for impact!

Turn 5. English knights charge in against camp to little effect. Archers get close to have Line of Sight [4"] and support them. Welsh LC die, unsurprisingly, while Teulu only get 1 Hit.

Turn 6. English are tightening the vise. The Teulu need to roll hot to make an impact, but they are not, alas. Second Knight gets ready to join the fun.

Turn 7. Knights charge in and finish off the Teulu, who dash off with the loot in their pockets.
Decisive result in 6 turns, total of 30 Minutes. I think next time I'd put the bowmen in the camp, and the MaA on the hill. Also, I forgot that the "lightly wooded hill" does give a terrain bonus in melee like any other hill, so the Levy would only fight with 2 dice each. I don't think it would've changed the final result, but the Archers may have knocked out a Levy, anyway.

Ancient and Medieval Wargames.
AMW only has one scenario, a pitched battle where whoever eliminates 6/8 of the Units wins. The only twist is that for each [non-light] Infantry that you exit off his baseline, he has to remove two of his. This doesn't really interest me, it's just too "wargaming as usual". Instead, I am re-playing scenario 21. All the other factors are pretty equal, altho the official move rates are a bit slower, so the only real difference is the combat mechanics. Let's see how much longer it takes...

Below, a Frankish army takes on a Late Roman Army, as they work to seize a strategic hilltop [left] and the Roman camp [top]. 

The Romans have an Average Archer, an elite Cavalry, an Average Light Cavalry and an Average Spearman. Setup is similar to previously: the Archers are on the rough hill to bottom left, the Spearmen are guarding the camp, with the Cavalry and Light Cavalry to the right, respectively. The Franks have three Average spearmen [one heavy], levy Archers, 3 Elite Noble Cavalry [e.g. knights]. They set the two Spear against the hill, and the Archers and heavy Spearmen against the camp, and the three knights against the Roman cavalry.

Play proceeds very similar to last game. Archers put a couple hits against the Frankish spearmen, and the Roman Cavalry beat up on one Frankish.

The spearmen close in, and the Roman archers manage only a few hits.

Turn 2. The Roman cavalry has a solid lead - the Franks failed a morale check and lost a second stand. Romans passed theirs - hoorah for civilization!

Turn 2. Roman Archers caused some casualties and the spearmen failed one check. Still not much hope, but they knew it was a fight against the odds from the start!

Turn 3. Romans win against one Frankish cavalry, but the other has them dead to rights, while the third crushes the light cavalry [the ratio is 3 dice per stand every round, to a 4-stand Unit should get 5-6 Hits each round, and the unit only has 16. Throw in morale failures and light units don't last long].

Turn 3. Archers fighting well. They may eliminate one spearman - just one more Hit!

Turn 4. Cavalry cleaned out, the Auxiliary Spearmen in the camp stand alone. Off-camera, the Archers go down, taking a couple hits and failing morale. Ah well...

Turn 5. Dogpile on the Rabbit! Dogpile on the Rabbit! Dogpile on the Rabbit! 

And on top of being heavily outnumbered, the Romans are also rolling badly.


ta-daah! I hope the barbarians are proud of themselves.
Tactically, not really much difference. This scenario is pretty tough and the defense is very limited in both the setup and the forces involved. Interestingly, it seems that the OHW mechanical model was closely derived from this mechanic: 15 v. 16 Hits, takes several turns to be broken in melee, etc. The main difference is just that AMW takes longer. Move distances are about 2/3, and altho you melee twice a turn [once each player's turn] the dice move so slowly that it took three units about 6 turns to wipe out the unfortunate Romans guarding the camp. Time was 45 minutes or so, about 50% longer. As the tactics are about the same, I don't see any reason to use AMW unless one just likes more mechanistic feel.

Couldn't resist having another go with different set up. The Romans bolted their LC out into the open where it was a lot more effective, tearing up the Archers, threatening the rear of the Spearmen attacking the hill, etc.

A few turns later, the Franks are already hot-dogging their way into the camp.

For some reason, I didn't take more pics. The result was the same. I think the defenders in a melee game need to have more of an advantage for a chance to win this one.

Overall, AMW is a good set of rules. But I feel that the one scenario will make games repetitive. Since most of the popular armies have similar options if not identical lists, players will have a tendency to pick similar forces and "slide towards the mean". It also means that the burden of developing new scenarios is on the players / host. While that is great for some, others don't have much talent for it, and few have a lot of experience. Also, ancient thru medieval battles are among the worst documented; good luck trying to break down a battle into a playable game! Having gamed for 36 years, I can honestly say that while I enjoy the entire process, hostingis only second in difficulty to writing a set of playable rules.

I think that at the end of the day, "One-Hour Wargames' is the superior set. While the rules have less "feel" [and the usual problem of all NT's rule sets - they are incomplete, with core, essential mechanics having been left out, like how to contact, Line of Sight, etc] the stripped-down aspect of the rules is an aid to enjoying the real point of the game - mission tactics to accomplish success in the scenario, and the player's decisions to get there. This is not just a lot more interesting, but it takes a superior tactical mind to play and win OHW scenarios consistently. 

Furthermore, the offering of not just 3, or 6, or 10, but 30!! scenarios for which the game is designed to play is a pretty amazing deal. While it is true that not every single scenario gives both sides an equal chance at winning with every set of rules [some favor a melee game, others favor a shooting game] as the game takes so little time one can always switch sides and try to do better than the opponent did.

Finally, you can easily get almost anyone, a bright child or an adult friend who likes games, to try a One-Hour Wargames battle. It is just as easy to play with a spartan, "toy-soldier" style of table and miniatures or a very realistic table with lots of incidental terrain and realistically painted and based historical miniatures.

The typical old school / GW-style game is focused on lots and lots of differentiation [some of which is patently a-historical] whether it is troop types, weapons, armor [*sigh*, among the worst offenders] or - most tediously - lots of little factors removed from movement across terrain, and building from army lists. And the scenarios are usually the "kill them all" type, b/c the real art of these games is in list-building to beat up your usual opponents

Flames of War has brought this to WWII gaming, to its detriment, and I find myself unable to muster much interest in it - I'd almost rather not play at all. AMW - as written - is more like an old-school lots of factors / mechanics list-building type of set. While I think it is easy enough for an experienced player to avoid these traps, it would almost be easier to just get Warhammer Ancient Battles if you are into that sort of thing.

So to me, the winner, hands down, is "One-Hour Wargames"!

Monday, November 27, 2017

"Inspired by OHW" - Medievals, Scenarios #4 and #28

Yet another dispute is settled the old-fashioned way... with blood, not paper. This saves trees, if not lives.

Well, it's time to start flapping and leave the nest. Neil Thomas' "One-Hour Wargames" has had quite an impact locally here for quite some time. However, with both respect and adoption of many of the principles he espouses, we tend to rules that have a bit more complexity as long as the complexity shapes historical tactics instead of just adds chrome.

For example, the a-historical yet well-loved wargamer pastime of making medieval units homogeneous with weapons and armor [a rare thing]. Sure, it is a bit more fun to think of a unit as armed with swords, spears and shields, but the reality is often quite different, so abstraction is both simpler AND more realistic in such cases. So no "Chrome for Chrome's Sake" in our take on the rules. We hope that the evasive Mr. Thomas would approve.

So, there are a few things here that are pretty different.
- 6-hit units, which allows one dice to track Hits.
- 3d6 attacks, said method put forward by John HERE
- a combo method of varying the number of dice and the Hit number
- rallying off of hits, in a simple, limited way.
- a partially diced move system [pure genius...well, I did think it up]
- A combo of Actions and fixed phases
And of course, all the needed bits like Line of Sight and terrain definitions is in here, also, so that the "What's Missing in One-Hour Wargames" aspect is taken care of.

The scenario was an "old reliable", #4 "Take the High Ground", a popular one for me as it is tactically interesting but the battle development doesn't obscure the play of the rules. Below is the book setup.

And below is the close-up of an easy and faithful reproduction of it.

The most important thing about today's play is that it would be with a local hero of the gaming world, a retired colonel who has been gaming since rocks were units and sand was a board. He's published several sets of rules over the years, and who knows how many he's developed. Most importantly, he has the right mind for playtesting and a great grasp of miniature mechanics [the physicality of how the stands move, fight and contact one another on the table] and how they impact design and vice-versa.  So getting his full attention for a while is quite a privilege.

We did a run-thru of the QRS I brought as well as getting caught up. As many of the mechanics are not novel he had them figured quickly and we jumped straight into the scenario. He had two Knights, two Bowmen, a Serjeants and a Freemen [the last two are the same except the Serjeants are Armored and reduce Hits inflicted upon them]. Attacking him I had three knights, a Serjeant, a Bowmen and a Freemen. He deployed the Bowmen and the Serjeants on the hill, with the two Knights, a Bowmen and the Freemen entering as reinforcements.

I quickly developed an attack on the hill with a Knight supported by the Bowmen and the Freemen, while jamming my knights down the road to hold off his reinforcements. This crushed his Bowmen on the hill quickly, and I bogged down his Serjeants fighting my Freemen, then moved my Knights and Serjeants to support the attack down the road. Due to dice and decisions, I ended up with the below situation after 4 or 5 turns:

My Knights are not doing well, and his Bowmen are providing a steady support against my left knights who look to be losing the melee. I withdraw the Serjeants from the road and prepare to defend the hill.

Broader view of the same turn - I think my Bowmen are just off camera at bottom. Well, I managed to just barely lose, as my knights were defeated due to not quite enough support, and his Bowmen managed to put in some telling blows from a distance.

The best part was that he was clearly pleased with the play. I made some quick notes to myself on the parts that he seemed to have trouble remembering, but generally speaking he knew how to play halfway through, and was grasping the subtleties of tactics. 

We had time, so we played again with my scratch Goths v. Byzantine forces, he taking the role of the attacking Goths and I that of the defending Byzantines. This time, I clearly had the game in hand for much of it, but he persisted and somehow eeked out a victory at the end. He made a few - very few but useful - suggestions and pronounced the rules ready for prime time, so I'll be running a large game of it at his house in February.

Very encouraged, I set about the make the few changes he suggested and I noted, and play them out. I chose the unusual scenario #28 "Botched Relief" from One-Hour Wargames. This was a very interested scenario I'd meant to play for a long time. The defender holds the town with two units in the field, and four on the hill. The catch is the four on the hill are immobile, except for one that can activate. So the battle starts as a 4 on 3 attack, but the defender has another 3 in reserve! When a unit from the hill is destroyed, another one is able to be activated as a replacement. So part of the goal I found is to NOT destroy the unit from the hill, while the defender is trying to get it committed as quickly as possible.

I played this several times, the nuances of the scenario took a while to get under my belt. Once I felt that I knew what I was doing and the risks I was taking, I set about to attack the Barbarian Goths with a surprise attack by that paragon of civilization, Imperial Byzantines.

On the hill were my four Gothic units [clockwise]: a Bowmen, a Warband, a Brigan [skirmisher] and a Mounted Brigan [light cavalry]. The first off would be the Bowmen - the shooting would make them hard to ignore, and if they were destroyed the Warband would be unleashed! The last two units would be the skirmishers as they could move fast and shoot, giving them good reach if poor hitting power.

On the field are a Serjeants [in the town] and a Warband in the open, covering them. I want them within their strike range but not too far forward lest they get shot up by Bowmen. The Serjeants are purposefully positioned so they cover the front and the left side of the town - they can only see the a few inches out the right side as they aren't on the edge [red marker].

Attacking them are a small strike force of Byzantines: one Skutatoi - Serjeants - two Cavalry and a Bowmen. They need to move fast and be careful who they antagonize!

Turn 1 Below. Thanks to some great dice rolling, the Cavalry pound in against the heavies first turn, hoping to get in some Hits or lure the Warband into a flank charge [shown by the blank base] but the other Cavalry is covering [shown by the 45 arc template] so not a good idea. The Warband is not replaced with a Unit from the hill if destroyed.

More Turn 1. The Serjeants advance up the road and the Bowmen plod behind, Cavalry inflict a Hit on the Serjeants in the town. Goth Warband  pushes up a bit and covers the flank while the Bowmen threaten the Cavalry - a problem since if they are destroyed they'll be replaced by a Warband from the hill.

Turn 2. Byzantines retain the Initiative [blue die] and charge the Warband. The support with their Bowmen who're getting into range, and the heavy Spearmen - Serjeants. Unfortunately, the dice go down bad and the Cavalry have little impact while taking a smack in the jaw on both Units - 4/6 of their Hits are gone! Time to think smarter?

Turn 3. Not smart enough. The Cavalry pull back while the Goths go on the offensive! They charge the Bowmen with the Warband and their Serjeants charge out of the town against the Byzantine Serjeants. The Bowmen won't last long, but few Hits are inflicted on the heavies. Still, it is going to be hard to have time to rally Hits off the Cavalry, and they are half the force, as well as its most mobile element!

Turn 4. Byzantines retain game Initiative, but have lost the combat Initiative! The Byzantine Bowmen are destroyed and removed thanks to the hard-hitting Warband and supporting Bowmen. The Byz spearmen get a good push against the Goth Serjeants, inflicting two Hits and taking none, but only the far Cavalry Unit rallies off a hit, and there's marauding Warbanders behind them!

Turn 5. Thanks to fate, things balance out a bit for Byzantium. They charge the Warband [despite being out of front arc, they are so close that arc doesn't matter]. They max out at inflicting three Hits on the Warband. The heavies continue to bring a little hope, inflicting a Hit and taking none, while the other Cavalry fail to rally more [phbbbb!].

Turn 6. Things are clearing out a bit in the center. The Cavalry finish off the Warband, but are wiped out by the Gothic Bowmen. In turn, the push of heavies in the center continues in the slow favor of civilization. The Cavalry rally off another Hit - yay!

Turn 7. Luck may be running low - the Byzantines retain Initiative but do nothing to the Gothic Serjeants but take a hit. The Goth Bowmen move up to be a real threat.

Turn 8. Initiative retained, the Byzantines knock out the Goths with thrown spears, then their heavies march into the town and its protection. Goth Archers let loose and inflict max three hits on Cavalry, bringing them a hit from destruction.

Turn 9. The Skutatoi position themselves within the town - they can't be seen unless the Goth bowmen enter charge range, also. The Cavalry dash off to rally elsewhere. With no additional reinforcements coming off the hill, the lone Goth bowmen has to call it quits.

Whew! A wild and woolly confrontation. This was the seventh or eighth time I played this, and it was a hum-dinger each time. The trick of not destroying - or getting destroyed - the reinforcement Unit from the hill is key here. While I generally found that a shooting Unit was the best immediate threat, I also played this several times with the Goths as the marauding force and used the Cavalry to get off the hill, and that made it easier to get them committed to a melee where they had to die or win - both are good for them at that point!

Another good example of an interesting scenario provoking tactical thought.

Very pleased with the rules. I used a couple tweaks from my playtest with the colonel, and it was a grand success. I just couldn't get this posted before Thanksgiving!

You may be wondering where the rules are - I actually won't be posting them here at this time. I'm going to do a proper write-up and then send them out for blind playtesting. If you are interested, do let me know and we'll talk about the parameters of that.

Basing Part [7]: Mass Rebasing!

Basing, basing and re-basing - the last for this bunch!

above: over halfway thru a big drive to re-base the armies

With lots of progress on my rules, and having played with single-bases for some time it is time to finish re-basing many of the figures. It took a while to work out the game mechanics for a single, solid base but I'm certain it will work. There's no doubt for me that 25mm is my "army scale" for larger boards and venues [I'll keep my 15mm Greeks and Romans/Gauls for small table games], and no doubt that the single large base is sturdier, safer, and easier to handle.

Below you can see how I shape the wood fill up into and against the corrugated cardboard on which the figs sit. You can also see how raised and solid the base itself is. As this is a continuation of previous posts HERE, in these posts, I won't repeat all the reasoning behind and creation of these big bases. It is important, I think, to work the 'fill in against the holes of the cardboard, so the weaker edges are braced.

Again, the fill is being pushed into the gaps - sometimes I removed a figure or two to easily access the other figs. Do NOT use superglue to put figs on bases! If you use Elmer's, you will be able to remove and adjust them pretty easily. Note the gap behind the higher figs that will be filled up. There's some height to this hill, but it seems like it'll work out.

Here are three figs that were removed to access the others easily. I'll get the 'fill in there and then re-glue them when the base is mostly done. Then they will dry with all the rest.

I occasionally had to add water [or leave exposed] the wood fill itself so I could get it wet and thin enough to use easily, but not too drippy. This is more of a "process as you go along" than a "one and done" sort of thing. Just add water whenever it is getting a bit stiff and then stir with an old brush handle, and you'll be fine.

Below, I am over the hump, and for a change of pace I'm testing the positioning of the Byzantine Scutatoi, testing how they fit together and look "natural". This takes a few minutes, but is one of my favorite parts of basing little dioramas.

Below. you can see how the back rank of Scutatoi are lining up. The guy on the right is providing a little drama by reacting to a threat. Once these fellows are mostly dry, about 45 minutes, I do most of the wood fill and am ready for the front rank, posed above them.

And here you see the result. The officer and rankers are in the front, and there's a nice feel of a solid infantry "block" yet they have some character and a touch of drama. One can feel they are holding a small rise in the face of the enemy, relying on shields and cohesion.

The forces massed, and organized for battle. Each row has six units, representing my thoughts on forces that should match up well for a "fair fight" and intro to the rules. I will use some cheap crayola brown paint to wash the bases as there's no time to flock them.

Below, the tools I used: Elmers Glue, Elmers Pro-bond Wood fill, old brushes [two about a 1/4" / 1cm, two smaller, one fine, the latter ones to work the 'fill in between the stands], all for basing. To remove figs from the old stands; the heavy [sharp] wood chisel, X-acto blade, wire snips, and some super-glue to make repairs for bits that came loose in the process.

It's been a bit of a saga itself, but I'm very happy with where the rules, the rule mechanics, and the craft work of basing are all coming together. I'll have a game that is mechanically easy to pick up, filled with subtle tactics and tactical choices, and the Units themselves will also quicken the game by being easy to handle. Plus, they will look great and be safer to handle and more resilient against scraping and breakage. Game on!

The next post will be about flocking - I want to learn some skills, including working with some rocks and fake water, so give each army a distinct basing scheme related to the terrain of their home country.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

25 to "Heroic 28" Figure Comparisons

The Usual Suspects, in a line-up

L->R: Irregular, Soldier and Swords, Old Glory, Black Tree, GW, Foundry

Various projects demand various figs and approaches if you've interests in the aesthetics of the hobby [some aren' first game club had a guy who used ceiling tiles as hills, no paint, nothing, white side up or brown side up, mixed!]. Having been at this for over 30 years, I've definitely developed some preferences and approaches.

Figure size, bulk, and sculpting style are all factors that I take into accounts with various projects. Sometimes the projects itself is figure - driven, or even fluff - driven. More often it is history and game play driven. However, the aesthetic of the figs themselves matters to me.

Realism verses a style and paintability all come into play with my figure collection. A while back, I discovered some Black Tree Design figs in my collection, posted HERE, and had not only forgotten they existed but what they were! I like the big monsters, and as I get older bigger figs are better figs, generally speaking. I bought more of them from BTD with the intent to do either some medieval skirmishing with them, or build them up into a Kings of War army. I got stymied on the mounted knights, however - BTD didn't have a great selection of great sculpts. I checked into GW Bretonnians, and thought they might do the trick but didn't have any luck trading for them. Then the KoW group sort of died down and I got busy and the idea of building and painting an army of any sort was ludicrous. 

The other day, I wandered into the FLGS and lo and behold was an old WHF box set with Bretonnians and Lizardmen, in good shape, for $40. I did some math in my head and couldn't see how I could lose on the deal, even if I sold it for parts.

Indeed, the Bretonnians are a good matchup for those figs. Here's some size comparisons that I think will be helpful against some well-known manufacturers:

L->R: Irregular, Soldier and Swords, Old Glory, Black Tree, GW, Foundry. The Foundry and OG are comparable, altho the face on the OG is exaggerated for ease of painting. The GW plastic Bretonnian is very nice work by a Perry Brother. The BTD is clearly the largest in height [just a hair taller than GW] and bulk. The ruler sits on the GW bases. Heights of model from sole of foot to highest point, excluding any base, are;
Irregular - 25mm
S&S - 26mm [plus some bulk]
OG - 28mm
BTD - 32mm
GW - 30mm
Foundry - 28mm
Bulk is hard to measure. Biggest is BTD then GW, OG, Foundry, S&S, and Irregular last.

Blurry close-up of the BTD City Guard and Bretonnian archer. Below the same in focus:

Well, what if you want to mix up the figs you've acquired in various places?

Archer comparison: BTD, Foundry, Wargames Inc, GW. Below same figs.

Moving around the ruler here for you.

Now to horse! The mounted knights are the centerpiece of any medieval army, even if the country is fictitious. Cavalry are always tough to compare since you have to compare BOTH the horse and the rider. Horses are often down-sized due to cost. There's also the issue of breeding big horses for various ers - some horses really were much larger than others! How you mix and match is up to you, but here's some data to help you decide:

New Fireforge Teutonic Knight horse on left, old GW Bretonnian horse on right. The GW sculpt is noticeably 3-4mm taller, and much bulkier. A horse expert will have to tell you if it is accurate or not!

Help! I'm being chased by a monster knight from the abyss! GW v. Old Glory 25s.

OK, even setting aside the funny hat, the GW sculpt is a good 3-5mm highter and much bulkier. They Might Be Giants...

Old Glory 25s v. Fireforge 28mm figs. Horse is larger, bulkier.

No ruler - just visual impact.

Finally, comparison of horses heads. 

So, to each his own, but the bulk and style have almost as much to do with how things look together as anything else. Yes, there is definitely a size issue as one goes up the ladder from Irregular 25s to BTD. But the eye sees bulk and other sculpting style issues as quickly as mere height. Yes, people ARE different heights - and different bulks - but sculptors work to a series and keep the comparable realism within the sculpting project.

My veridict:

  • I can definitely use Bretonnian knights with the BTD figures - in fact, I can't find anything else that compares. These are good for a medieval / fantasy skirmish project.
  • I'd keep Old Glory 25s together in units. To me, they are the new 15mm! They look great together, are dynamic, easy to paint and inexpensive. Why go 15 if you can go 25 for almost the same price for a unit?
  • I'd mix Foundry and Wargames Inc together without any hesitation, they're all 25s.
Hope this is useful for you and your decision making, and Happy Gaming!