Here have we war for war, and blood for blood, controlment for controlment: so answer France.
– William Shakespeare, King John 1.1
In 1216, Prince Louis of France sailed for England with an army to support an uprising of rebellious English landowners against their liege, King John. Louis “The Lion” and the rebel Barons would go on to take much of England, including London, but they would eventually be defeated soundly at the Battle of Lincoln in 1217. Part foreign invasion and part civil war, the conflict known as the Barons’ War was a turning point in European history. With some larger set-piece battles, sieges, and a great many small scale skirmishes and raids, along with the aesthetics of the Middle Ages, including knightly heraldry, the Barons’ War provides all the elements any discerning historical wargamer is looking for in a new project.
Which all brings me to this endeavor. First, I want to thank Andrew and the gang at Chicago Dice for letting me add my project to their collection of fantastic hobby blogs. Second, to give you a little background and introduce myself, I’ve been painting miniatures and wargaming since the late 80’s. Over the years I’ve had the privilege to contribute to White Dwarf and Wargames Illustrated, as well as the Society of Ancients Slingshot journal. Being able to track a project from conception to realization, however, is new for me and I look forward to it.
No More Lonely Knights
A few of my wargaming friends and I have been considering a historical project based in the Middle Ages for some time, but Andy Hobday and Footsore Miniatures’ recent line of models and forthcoming rules set, The Barons’ War (PDF comes out next month with hard copies available soon after) provided the final impetus. Paul Hicks is a renowned sculptor and his figures are both characterful and dynamic. We decided it was time to take the proverbial leap. We’ve also discussed using Osprey’s Lion Rampant rules set, as we’ve enjoyed the few times we’ve played that system.
Once we agreed on the project, the next step was doing a little research. For me, part of the fun of any historical miniatures project is digging deeper into the period. My existing knowledge of 13th Century England was fairly rudimentary. I knew King Richard and his brother, King John. I knew John became pretty unpopular at home, hence the noted opposition by bands of merry men. But I wanted to do some reading on the French invasion and Andy Hobday actually suggested some sources. The two books I’m currently reading are both engaging and have already provided some ideas for future games*.
With research underway, my next move was to do a couple of “test” models. In this case, I painted up a couple foot knights. Doing some initial prototypes gives me an idea of where I want to go with the army; what will the metallics look like and what do I want to do with the bases. So, at the end of 2020, I’ve started to get a solid idea of where I’d like to go with the project.
What would I like cover in this blog? That’s a good question. Here’s what I’d like to do over the next few months:
- Once the rules are available, I’ll have a better idea of how to organize the army. I’d like to get into the planning of the force in some detail. Admittedly, as more of a painter than a gamer, I typically paint what I like then try and make that work as an army. Not so this time! I actually want to plan first, then paint, which will be counter-intuitive for me.
- I’d like to do some painting tutorials. The most popular class I’ve taught at AdeptiCon is ‘Liber Metallica: Painting True Metallics.’ I’d like to present some of those techniques here as I think they’ll be relevant, especially with the ubiquity of chainmail. I’d also like to cover some additional topics like painting shields (Google “Camden Roll” for a preview).
- Eventually I’d like to expand my terrain collection to portray an appropriate English battlefield. I’m already looking for cool peasant models to populate my town.
- Finally, I’d like to do some detailed battle reports. As 2020 gives way to 2021 and our current situation improves, I, like many of you, look forward to playing games again and hopefully we get there sooner than later.
So that’s the plan. Again, I appreciate the opportunity to share this with you. A Happy New Year to everyone and I’ll be checking in soon.
*Current reading list
- Blood Cries Afar: The Forgotten Invasion of England 1216 by Sean McGlynn
- The Knight Who Saved England: William Marshal and the French Invasion, 1217 by Richard Brooks