Monday, February 5, 2024

Is it hip to be square? These Bretonnian Peasant Archers seem to think so!

I used to be a renegade. I used to fool around. But I couldn't take the constant rule updates, and had to settle down. Now I'm fighting in The Old World again, and yes, I must be fair. Because even though I prefer rounds, the bases must be square. 

Having given that bit of eighties nostalgia quite enough abuse, let's skip on to the main course: my first square based unit in (at least) a decade.

"Sire the people are revolting!"
"You said it, they stink on ice."

I have to admit my expectations were low when GW announced back in 2019 it would bring back the Old World. I thought it would be a half-hearted boxed set like Adeptus Titanicus (AT) at best, or a messed up jumble of new versions like Kill Team at worst. Seems I was wrong on both counts. Just to be sure, AT is a wonderful game. Unfortunately it suffers from being overpriced to the point of unplayability. All the releases for Kill Team look wonderful, and the game might've been sweet if they'd just settled down on a stable core ruleset first (they did better on the Necromunda releases). As far as I'm concerned the launch of Warhammer The Old World (so far) was a bit of a dream. Lets add a (slightly pointless) product shot here (I did not take enough archer pictures ;). 

I've considered writing a bit about the utter cluster-'loving embrace' called GW's handling of preorders (and its website), but life's too short. 

The out of the gates release of Warhammer The Old World consists of a hardback rulebook (not pictured) that contains all the rules needed to play the game. It also has two expansions: Forces of Fantasy and Ravening Hordes (bonus points for tickling the nostalgia glands there). These tomes - slightly reminiscent of Warhammer Armies (without line sketches), contain all the information needed to build armies. You'll find Dwarves, Empire, Bretonnia, Wood Elves and High Elves in Forces of Fantasy. Ravening Hordes contains Orcs & Goblins, Warriors of Chaos, Beastmen and Tomb Kings. I dreamed of GW bringing back Warhammer Armies, this is close enough as far as I'm concerned. Aside from these three books GW released two 'journals' (Bretonnia and the Tomb Kings). These contain more background and rules for themed lists. In order to silence the screams of outrage (or as part of the plan) free pdf downloads were also made available for: Chaos Dwarves, Daemons of Chaos, Dark Elves, Lizardmen, Ogre Kingdoms, Skaven and Vampire Counts. Now if only those poor folks playing Slaves to Darkness, Daughters of Khaine, Seraphon, Ogor Mawtribes, Skaven* and Soulblight Gravelords got some rules too **. I strongly suspect a forthcoming 'Battle Bestiary', 'Slaves to Darkness', 'The Lost and the Damned' or perhaps a 'Terror of the Lichmaster' supplement will be available so we can pay for printed versions of rules for the missing Old World staples, but that's pure speculation on my part ;). On to painting.

* I know the 'joke' almost failed out of the gates due to a lack of Chaos Dwarves in The Mortal Realms, so I decided to keep stumbling past the Skaven. Just roll with it please.
** Bones points to me for making an Age of Sigmar reference in a rather nostalgic post :D

There you have it: absolute proof that I've used square bases AND proof of the existence of movement trays.

One of my only laments before release was the choice of square bases. I like my bases round, but I have to admit it is a bit hard to imagine 'classic' Warhammer without squares. The game need blocks of infantry struggling to move forward between scenery and archers sliding off of Styrofoam platform shaped mountains. I have to add that I played most of my Warhammer Fantasy Battles using third and fourth edition when 'the internet' required a dial-back connection (and that was a step up from dialing into a BBS I tell you!). Lacking the internet as a vital source of (occasionally) useful information, none of us ever heard of movement trays, we just improvised (and then went back for 28 hour shifts in the non-existent coal mine youngsters!). I glued my old Skaven bases together in blocks of 2 and 3 to make moving a block of 40 slightly easier. That didn't help much and was fidgety as hell around terrain. I bought into 8th edition, but never really got into it as the few games I tried were drained of any detectable fun. Aside from wasted game time, I privately lamented not having a chance to use this wonderful invention called 'movement trays'. Now I can. I still have one big decision to make on this front: should I flock and sand the edges of the tray or do I leave it black like the (German Grey) edges of my bases? Oh no, a conundrum! 

I'm planning two units of 20 peasant archers. This unit has been formed by pig farmers, hence the pig on the base with stakes. I have a second base (finished already) for the chicken farmers. It contains chickens (yeah I know, big surprise). There's also a cow. It'll accompany the dairy farmer's trebuchet (those rich cattle owners, always showing off with fancy siege weapons!).

I had a hard time (as ever) deciding between Bretonnians and Tomb Kings. In the end I landed on 'both'. As I have a dearth of printable files for 'Egyptian Undead' I decided to go for a Bretonnian box. It might give me an excuse to buy a Green Knight model if GW re-releases that one. As an added bonus I had some Bretonnian Peasant Archers all glued together and modified to be 'Freeguild Archers' for Age of Sigmar. All I needed to do was cut of the round bases, remove a lot of carefully applied Empire Heads and replace them with stored Bretonnian heads, reconsider that decision in some cases and re-attach Empire Heads (for variance) and land on some kind of province to base a backstory for my army on. 

I was about to use the yellow on the unit leader's coat for all the farmers, but I thought it was too bright. I replaced it with VMC English Uniform. Now there's a yellow for people who can only afford brown :).

After a lot of agonizing I settled on Mousillon. This province houses vampires in the Total War computer games. As the storyline in Warhammer The Old World has been set back from Imperial Calendar 2517 (the End Times are from 2519 to 2528) to 2276 I figured that might not be the case. The year of the current setting is a few decades before the Siege of Praag (2302) and (more importantly) gives me a fully inhabited (mostly non-vampiric), but doomed, province to base my poor downtrodden peasant and 'caged in a gilded prisons' nobles in. I dove into the background and to my joy the Affair of the false Grail, a tragedy that leads to the downfall of Mousillon, is 20 years of from the current narrative date. That gives me a fully fleshed out set of doomed characters to build an army around AND a chance to morph said army from a standard Bretonnian one to an Exciled or Fallen Knight's Army (with necromancers or chaos wizards in it) at a later point. 

As it turns out I had quite a few square bases left, even old movement trays I found in second hand lots over the years. The only question left is: what to do with the 20x20mm bases?

On the downside I have run out of pictures of my peasants without getting around to talking about painting. All that's left is this useless picture of the square bases I literally couldn't give away a few years ago (lucky me). Let's just stick with a general plan when it comes to painting and talk in more detail at a later point. I'm planning to keep my peasants and their yeoman compatriots in muted browns, greens and grays. The exception here will be the third rate knight, mayor or richest local farmer leading the units. These can show off their riches by looking marginally better than the folks around them. In contrast my nobles should be a riot of colorful heraldry. When it comes to colors I expect yellow and black from the Mousillon coat of arms and Blue with argent (white or silver) Fleur-de-Lis (of cancellation***) from the arms of Maldred of Mousillon (not yet the black knight at this point) to dominate the colors of the army. I have never attempted to make an army full of individual pageantry look coherent. I guess I'll discover how much of this plan will work as I go along. It did give me another excuse to leave through old army books and White Dwarf magazines. 

*** Couldn't resist that one.

I spent a joyful evening converting these three into a command squad. The arm with the bottle (banner bearer) is from a (sc-ifi) 3D-print. I cut the beer stein off the vat hanging from the mayor's belt. I have no clue where the drummer's bald head is from, it was hell to paint (and I forgot to remove a mold line from it (to my shame (don't tell anyone))). 

Aside from going crazy with colors, I'm also going to convert more than ever before. This goes from a few head swaps in the back ranks to the Flagellant's head for the banner bearer, Empire Militia head for the lead pig farmer and a drum from the Empire for the town's drummer. I wanted to avoid giving peasants a real banner. That would just be confiscated by their noble lord as a matter of course ("Now where did you lot steal this wonderful piece of cloth?"). Instead I went to town on a Bretonnian shield with a scraping tool to get that 'we've picked up a truly destroyed shield and made it our banner'-look. With that out of the way I'll stop rambling (for now). I'm currently working on flying horsies **** and mounted lords. With a bit of luck there'll be another update soon. 

**** As far as I'm concerned the only Pegasus belongs in Clash of the Titans (not that Clash of the Titans)!*****

***** This will not stop me from referring to the flying horsies by their official name at some point, I'll just need to overcome the 'to capitalize or not to capitalize' conundrum (something something about slings and arrows and all that). 


  1. They really do look like peasant rabble, scruffy cantancerous bunch, obviously questionable criminal class .. all the eye patches made me laugh. "still got one good eye sir" "you'll do"

    What to do with unloved bases .. umm .. If you have no intention of ever basing a mini on your 20mm bases then you could glue them to a sheet of plastic and make you own large bases, filling the gaps afterwards, maybe top it off with a thin sheet for stability if its huge, a huge 20mm /plasticard base sandwich.

    Lovely pig by the way.

    1. I like to imagine their idiot lord has decided to punish archers for underperforming by putting out eyes. "I'm quite sure my regiment will know to be accurate next time old chap, otherwise out goes the other eye as well!" This should be followed up by taking a sip tea.

      Oh no, they're Bretonnians, let's go for "Zey vill know to be accurate next time, mon ami, or zey lose ze ozzer eye, non?" Followed by a sip of wine, a sour face and a muttered complaint about making do with a terrible vintage. Yes I'm quite ready to play Bretonnians :D

      As to making a humongous base sandwich from unwanted bases. That sounds interesting....I'm almost tempted :D

      The pig is a prize winner of course, first place got it a free trip to the local battlefield.

    2. Ah yes, with cries of "for zee ladee", yep, I think youre ready to unleash those filthy peasants and ride into battle with your blessings, flying the colours of the realm .. faux accent is compulsory.

  2. Nice work. The converted command group is great. I appreciate that you actually kept them with bows and arrows, and did not just have guys with swords (although that is fine too of course!)

    Oh, and the bald head came from the Bretonnian command sprue I think.

    As for TOW, on the one hand I appreciate that it brings Warhammer proper back, and that miniatures will be available again (and even some new ones!), however the huge and expensive rule books and the rebasing give pause. So no real action on my part yet, other than to eye what I already have a bit more closely. (and I also struck while the iron was hot and sold off some Bretonnian stuff!)

    1. You can't have peasants waving swords around, they might get ideas ;)

      I just checked and the bald head is on the Bret command sprue as you suggested. That sprue has a drum too so my peasants stole theirs from an Empire sprue with no cause, untrustworthy lot those Mousillon types I tell you.

      I'm quite happy with the releases for TOW so far, especially multiple armies in one book helps offset the cost. Plus the joy of getting to convert again, AoS has grown very stringent, tournamenty and stale if you ask me. My biggest gripe so far is the availability, I'm not entirely sure where fresh supplies are being cast/stamped from metal molds, but it takes a long, long time to replenish stock these days. Also rebasing, with all the armies I want to build I may just have to consider rebasing because buying, printing and painting would take years....ooh my hobby calendar just filled up there ;)

  3. Oo, lovely. It's great to see some good old fantasy again, especially with square bases (even if they are too big).
    Much as I loved WFB back in the day (I think second edition was my favourite) I'm resisting, for all sorts of reasons.
    I'll be watching your growing Brettonian army with joy. You're going for the background as I remember it from the stories, riddled with decadent nobles and hidden Chaos worship.