Wednesday 28 June 2023

Project Beerenburg - Mercers' Guild Archers

Continuing to give my Fantastic Battles halfling burghers more options - and working towards 1200 points - I am pleased the showcase the brave archers of the Honourable Company of Mercers, purveyors of silks and other fine cloths. They can be fielded as a two-company unit, or be brigaded with the Tailors' Guild to form a four-company unit.
I suspect many readers will immediately recognise the figures in this unit as being Games Workshop's halflings from the 1990s. It was these halflings which first drew me to fantasy wargaming as a child and in my hotch-potch Warhammer 4th ed. Empire army, I think my halflings were the only unit I ever completely painted. They were sold off towards the end of the 90s with all my other GW stuff, but I always held them and their ridiculous clothing close to my heart. Jump forward 25 year, and after several weeks scouring eBay, the unit is re-born in the form of the Mercers' Guild. 

I have a mixed relationship with nostalgia, but this year I felt a real drive to revisit these chaps. It's not something I often talk about, but I tend to get a bit maudlin at this time of year, and this year more so than most. My wee daughter Aoife was stillborn in 2013 and today would have been her 10th birthday. Adding to this, my grandmother very sadly passed away last week. I'm exceptionally lucky to have a close and supportive family unit, but I wanted to give a small nod to this hobby for facilitating a cathartic and constructive outlet where emotions can be processed, and to friends made here who are always willing to chat and throw some dice, even when you may not be feeling it yourself.

Thursday 15 June 2023

Famous Faces of Beerenburg, part 5

What's this?! What's this?! More Beerenburgers? Sometimes 1,000 points worth of halflings just isn't enough. Here we find a merchant adventurer, a stealthy gentleman of fortune with a marvelous moustache; in short (pun intended), a rogue.

This wee gentleman is made up of a spare TAG halfling body with a head from the TAG halfling command - I had intentionally avoided the head because I don't like halflings with moustaches! A greenstuff ruff hid the gaps around the neck, while the hands were pinched from assorted other minis in the bits box. The dagger is a cut down Mycenaean sword, and the coin is a bit of greenstuff, as is the bulging bag tied to his belt.

No one is quite sure whether the moustache is real or some sort of ridiculous disguise. Scurrilous rumours from the darkest corners of society suggest it might even be made out of excess foot hair!

Wednesday 14 June 2023

More early Macedonians and a tiny little Herakles

After the recent performance of my early Macedonians against the vile western barbarians, I took the notion to have a dig through my bits box to find whatever 10mm Magister Militum Greco-Macedonians I had left unpainted. This post shows the very last bits and pieces I had, now complete and ready for action in games of Fantastic Battlesl'Art de la Guerre or Hail Caesar.  

First up, we have two more companies of unreliable Macedonian hill levy; not great fighters, but they really bulk out the army.

A new company of Cretan archers. These include simple head swaps and shields made out of greenstuff. I attempted wee dolphins on the shields - not overly happy with them, but they are passable.

I painted up a company of Thessalian cavalry but the photo went missing somewhere between the act of taking it and the blog, so I'm afraid this blurry image will have the stand in...

I found a 28mm Herakles in the Etsy store of KitBashBox and the owner there, Dave Perry, was happy to scale him down to 10mm (excellent service and communication I have to say!). So I can now add a tiny Herakles to my Macedonians if I'm playing with mythological elements.

I made an additional commander for the army from a spare Thracian light cavalryman, lopping off the top of his head and sculpting a pushed-back Corinthian helmet.

And here they all are integrated in their drawer. 4x Macedonian companion cavalry, 8x Macedonian levy, 2x peltasts, 2x Cretan archers, 2x Macedonian archers, 1x Macedonian slingers, 3x Thessalian cavalry, 6x hoplites, 2x Illyrian warriors, 1x Herakles, 1x sirens, 1x cyclops, 6x commanders and a camp.

Sunday 11 June 2023

28mm Fantastic Battles - Beerenburgers at the Battle of the Pike-staves

This week's hobby time saw a 1,000 point negotiation between the halflings of Beerenburg and a mercenary force raised by a trade competitor to discuss the price of pike-staves. Beerenburg's reluctance to buy at the price demanded had led to a bottleneck in the supply chain and a surplus of pikes sitting around un-wielded - a fact the mercenaries obviously chose to rectify.

Andrew's landsknechts were the attackers, deployed in accordance with his linear tactical doctrine. My halflings were the smaller army and made use of the defender's deeper deployment zone to form up in two lines with flanks protected by a wood on the left, and fields on the right. Note the plague doctor (rogue) off by himself at the bottom of the picture. Both those rounded hills contained troll-hoards and I planned to make the most of them.

There were relatively few mishaps following deployment with just a touch of disease here and there. The halflings' giant was overly enthusiastic, and the mercenaries' giant was late. The early battle saw the mercenaries advance slowly in the centre, and more quickly on either flank. The halfling captain on the right bring up his skirmishing urchins to support the giant and the halfling plague doctor get in and out of the nearest troll-hoard unscathed, managing to find a magical tome of revelation that he hoped to pass to one of the army's magic users.  

Sadly, the magical book's revelation turned out to be pretty nihilistic as the mercenaries' steam-powered tank came barrelling over, catching the rogue in the open and promptly removing him from the battle.

The halflings angled their archers on the left to fire a volley at the advancing knights, while on the right the urchin slingers supported by the hackbuts on the hill pounded away at the mercenary giant reducing his resolve to 0. He would have collapsed had the mercenary rogue (a rogue halfling at that!) was not attached whispering encouragement in his ear. On both flanks, halfling captains issued the order to unleash the rat swarms!

On the left the rat swarms were quickly ridden down by the knights, but they had prevented the knights from charging into the Tailor's Guild archers, thereby facilitating another round of shooting. On the right, the mercenary rogue took one look at the rats, decided to leave the giant to his fate and ran to join the ogres. Without the attached rogue, the giant collapsed and fell while the ogres engaged the rat swarm. The mercenary handgunners kept up their advance, angling towards the Brewers' Guild archers.

Now covered in rat blood and peppered with arrows, the mercenary knights, supported by the steam tank, not charged the Tailors' Guild archers, only to be charged in turn by the swordsmen of the Cutlers' Guild. Empowered by the songs of their bard, the Tailor's proved far more formidable than expected. In the centre, the halfling burghers-at-arms formed into column to negotiate the messy melee on their left, and advanced towards, but not into the oncoming pikemen. The captain in the middle of the halfling line summoned forth another rat swarm to block the advance of more pikemen against the Brewers archers. On the right, the hackbuts and slingers now turned their attention to the mercenary ogres. The ogres charged, forcing the slingers to evade, but allowing the halfling's giant to charge them in turn.

However, melees could not be avoided forever, and as fights broke out across the field, the halfling rallying and blessing needed to be divided between more and more units. The Tailors and Cutlers were both overwhelmed by the knights who proceeded to charge into the single company of halfling mounted burghers. In the centre, advancing pikemen now engaged with the burgher column, preventing it from reforming into line, and also with the Brewers. Only on the right were things going to plan for the halflings as their giant easily scattered the ogres facing him.

The halfling mounted burghers could not withstand their larger and more numerous foes and scattered, leaving the flank of the foot-burghers dangerously exposed.

But the giant had now made his own way into position to attack the flank of the mercenary pikemen.

The pike block fighting the Tailors and the giant broke, just as the knights and a third pike unit both fell upon the flank of the burghers. The burgher-meister fell under the hooves of the charging knights, sending a ripple of panic through the halfling lines. The steam tank attempted to join what looked to be a massacre, but was destroyed by the hackbuts, firing from the hill. 

The battle now hinged on the column of burghers who were now joined by the Tailors' Guild archers, charging into the centre pike unit's flank, while the giant fell upon the rear of the pikemen. At this point, the mercenaries were two companies away from their breakpoint, while the halflings were four companies away from breaking.

But the burghers just couldn't cope with the continued attacks to front and flank and finally broke. That would have opened up the knights to a final volly of hackbut fire, sure to scatter them ... except that the ripple of resolve loss from the breaking burghers caused the halfling's giant to lose heart. As he fled, the halfling army reached its breaking point and the battle was one by the mercenaries. Looks like the halflings of Beerenburg had better prepare themselves for inflation in the pike-staff market!