Yesterday I realized it’s been 10 years since I first started putting together my Hundred Years’ War armies for Ancient and Medieval Wargaming, by Neil Thomas.
And I’m still not done.
My Hundred Years’ War armies were my second major wargaming project–the first being my Warhammer Empire army (which I sold once I realized how much I hated Warhammer).
For a few years now, I’ve had enough figures for a standard battle between the French and the English. But even then that took a long time to paint up. There were distractions, of course, mainly graduate school.
Yet it was my fear of not doing a decent paint job on my armies which held me back.
(Of course, you know, I just had to pick a time period full of colorful individual heraldry, where standard uniforms were uncommon. What was I thinking?)
I remember, back in 2009, when I finally discovered how to paint eyes fairly well: “Yeah, now that I can do eyes, the rest of the miniature will come together.”
I’ve learned other hard lessons building these armies, some of which may appear in The Art of Wargaming when that series resumes in November. Many of these lessons guys like the Bearded Bastard warned me about–but I didn’t listen.
Now, in retrospect, I should have heeded them.
When it comes to historical armies, find out what historical period or war interests you, and then narrow it down to a particular battle. Paint up your initial armies for that battle. Do not deviate from this.
I chose the Battle of Agincourt 1415 for the basis of my Hundred Years’ War armies. Great.
But then I made a mistake by thinking: “Well, that’s a nice mid-point in the war. I can use the miniatures for earlier and later battles.”
What’s wrong with that? Well, at least my experience, I started to deviate. I started researching those earlier and later battles. I lost my focus.
2. Don’t Buy More Miniatures You Can Paint in Reasonable Amount of Time.
I bought my first Hundred Years’ War figures from Front Rank Miniatures. I had enough miniatures to paint up for a while. I knew this project would take at least a year.
But then shortly after this Black Tree Design had one of their Army Deal mega-sales. So of course I had to jump on that.
Little did I know that 10 years later I’d still be painting many of these figures.
3. Stick With One Miniature Manufacturer
There isn’t much difference, size-wise, between Front Rank and BTD. But the miniatures are designed differently–they look different. And the BTD figures are mostly for the early HYW war.
Can I mix and match? Sure. And a lot depends on how you paint them up.
Yet the Front Rank Miniature look nicer. And their “commoner” infantry are more heavily armed and armored than their BTD counterparts. So I’ve been keeping them separate to avoid any confusion on the tabletop.
4. Pick a More Popular Historical Period and Set of Rules.
Ancient and Medieval Wargaming is a great, basic, set of rules. But nobody seems to play it. It’s been overshadowed by other rule sets.
I know there are wargamers out there who do Hundred Years’ War. I’ve met them at gaming conventions. But they’ve never seemed to exist in whatever circle of wargamers I’ve belonged to.
(Well, there was one I met shortly after I moved to the Atlanta area, but then he moved away).
When I want to play a HYW scenario, I have to bring everything and then I usually end up running the scenario. This, of course, can be a chore.
A great way to get miniatures painted up fast is to play often.
5. Know When to Move On
I’m too stubborn to quit. But in the last year I’ve given myself a pause to re-assess things (I’ve also been too busy to get a lot painting done).
Yet there comes a time when you’ve just got to call it. In retrospect, I probably should have walked away from this project a long time ago. But I’ve made incremental progress along the way to justify continuing on.
And now I’m looking at the project as a means of finishing what I’d first set out to do: a decent historical representation of the Battle of Agincourt.
To be continued…