Saturday, 16 January 2016

How would you like your stake sir?

Not written a blog entry for almost a week so I shall put that right now. I haven't been idle and really this entry would not have been written if I had undergone the heart bypass operation that was scheduled for yesterday. I received a telephone call from the hospital on Wednesday, the day before I was due to be admitted, cancelling the operation and suggesting that I would not need one! Instead, they will be carrying out a different, less intrusive option at a later date. Fine by me, I wasn't particularly looking forward to my chest being carved open.

I have been watching a series of tutorial battles on You Tube using the 'Sword and Spear' rules. The series is in three parts and was really well made, the author created a battle between the French and English during the Hundred Years War and showed a blow by blow, dice by dice, explanation of the rules. I found it really interesting, enjoyable and instructive as I too have a copy of those rules.

One of the things highlighted, was the importance of longbow men carrying and placing stakes to give them protection from attacking cavalry or heavy infantry. The author had some terrain pieces containing stakes that could be placed in front of the archers to show them prepared, or conversely, behind them, to show they were still being carried. I had no such terrain pieces and so decided to make some of my own.

I use old Zvezda bases from the now defunct 'Age of Battles' series by that company designed for 1/72nd scale figures. I modified the bases for use with 28mm scale. As you can see from the photo below, each one is 80 mm wide, and in Spear & Sword a unit will have two of these placed side by side, giving a frontage of 160 mm.

I had a number of Renedra bases with some strips designed for soldiers, each 100 mm long, they were too long for my use in basing up troops, but of course I kept them anyway, just in case! Well they were perfect once I cut off 20 mm. I used a pin vice to drill holes into the plastic base at an angle then inserted cocktail sticks of about five to six feet in scale length. I glued them top and bottom with PVA and once dry, painted them to look like freshly cut branches with sharpened points. Finally, flock was added.

A full unit of archers on two of the movement bases with two of the stake blocks in position.

I am reasonably pleased with the result and think they look quite effective, more importantly they cost next to nothing to make as I had everything I needed already.

I ended up making a total of twelve blocks, here are the other eight. This will give me enough for six full units of archers on the table.

I have also continued to play a couple of small scale games of American Civil War on my painting table. These have proved to be very enjoyable and very quick and easy to set up. Below is the table, it measures 4 x 2 feet and the troops are 6 mm. I laid down a crossroads with a town, a couple of wooded areas and finally a walled farmstead. For this game there would be three objectives, the crossroads itself, the walled farmstead and the wood closest the camera. Again I diced for entry position of the two brigades of each force, they ended up in the centre and right, as we look at it.

The left of the table is devoid of troops.

Looking across the field from the Union lines.

The troops are not laid out in battle formation as yet, they have simply been placed in the diced for positions on the table. The Rebs have five regiments of infantry in each brigade but only have one battery of cannon and a single cavalry regiment.

The Union have four regiments of infantry per brigade, but have two batteries of guns and two units of cavalry.

I would normally organise a brigade as shown below with the brigadier general on a round base, four regiments of infantry and one unit each of cavalry and artillery.

This can be expanded by adding a second brigade to make a Division, The major general commands the division and also has a supply train, in this case mules.

Of course brigades and divisions could be larger or smaller and made up of different numbers of each unit type, but this serves as a good example, a couple of these together could form a Corps on the table.


  1. great stuff Ian i do like the stakes for the archers a great addition, nice to see the ACW boys are still battling on the table to thanks for posting mate

  2. Great work Ian and love the poses you have created on the full unit of archers, superb stuff!

  3. Looks good. The stakes are prefect. I will be sculpting my own breast-works for use in Blucher this week myself. Also, I love the lil table layout you have. All set for a battle.

    Good stuff Ian, keep it up.


  4. I hope your health stays in good order as I have enjoyed watching the 6mm acw project as I am in process with the same task. One day in the near future I will be joining you and Kurt as I have some Annual leave coming.

  5. I hope your health stays in good order as I have enjoyed watching the 6mm acw project as I am in process with the same task. One day in the near future I will be joining you and Kurt as I have some Annual leave coming.