Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas From The Wilderness of Alcovia

As the festivities continue to grow out of control in Alcovia, merry-makers all gather 'round a local scribe for the traditional dictation of their holiday letters to Grandfather Frost.

Each boisterous fellow pays a few coins to have a man of words scribble down his wishes. This is a good time of year for learned men in Alcovia and much fun is had by all as the crowd gathered around the scribe jokes and jibes at one another, plying the scribe with more drinks in an attempt to make his pen flow more freely for their money.

It is also tradition that each man tries to outdo his fellows in a show of generosity, good cheer and outright bravado. Boasts are made, challenges issued, and good-natured violence and physicality often erupt from these boisterous endeavors. It is considered bad form to take any real offense or do any lasting or serious harm at these times and those that do are not only damned to ill holiday tidings but likely a good thrashing and loss of face among their peers.

These evening events often end in song and somber merriment with Kuzaki loves songs and ballads of derring do. The scribes generally pick this time to slip out, protected by a few well-payed and loyal local men who will let no harm come to a man of such good cheer.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Inspirational Music

Looking for things to listen to while modelling and painting, I came across this one that I particularly like for both the powerful sound and the collection of images. I have found many others with plenty of images but they tend to be set to rock music, which is also pretty darned cool...

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Making Due

When I got the idea for this project, I hadn't yet purchased a single miniature. I hadn't decided yet what angle I wanted to take and so had held off. Once I had decided on a direction, I then had to wait for the budget to allow for a good sized purchase to kick things off.

I've managed to make a few purchases, but there has been a Holiday season freeze on new toys until after Christmas. Pretty much any new minis I buy during the holiday season get put on hold and magically appear in my stocking Christmas morning. I'm not mean enough to make my kids wait for their goodies while I get to open a steady stream of small envelopes and packages.

There is still plenty of planning to do, but I wanted to get my hands in it. The chance to do just this was presented by some Essex Seljuq Turks that were handed down to me by a buddy from the regular group. I really had no immediate use for them when he gave them to me, so they went into the collection of stuff to find a use for, and I have.

The plan is to convert the Turks into nice Tartar or Cossack looking fellows to stand in for some of the various horse tribes of the Alcovian Steppes. I've found this to be a lot easier than I had planned and even came up with a few elements to add in to make these minis and their imagi-culture fit into my imagi-nation.

The bulk of this conversion has been focused on either obscuring, subduing, or covering up the more Persian elements of the original figures. Adding putty over the turbans has proven most effective and I've managed to shape this into several styles of fuzzy hats. On many of the round shields I have added "wolf tail" trophies, something that will be worked into their imagi-culture. When I've ended up with excess putty, I have shaped it into pelts draped over the horses backs.

Other figures have had a bit more done to them such as added the Slavic style lacing across the chest to give the appearance of something other than a robe. Others have had fuzzy goat or sheep skin vests sculpted on. On figures with shields that were a little too "medieval" looking, I sculpted on shield skirts that are supposed to be made of an animal pelt. This has helped to disguise the shield shapes and make them look more like decorated round shields.

Once I've got them presentable, I'll show off the conversions. I've included pictures of the original figures above so you can see where I started from.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Alcovian War Elephant?

I have this idea for Alcovia having war elephants. I know it's a crazy idea for a Balkan nation to have such a thing, but this is an imagi-nation. While exploring this idea, I focused on the later Mogul war elephants. their armored bodies and gun powder weapons were a suitable starting place for an Alcovian war elephant.

The images I found online for armored elephants were very cool and I had an image of such a creature decked out in Orthodox icons and other images from eastern Christian religion. This would effectively make the war elephants not only amazing pieces of art, but also mobile inspiration altars full of religious imagery. I can see them being crewed by loyal Alcovians, hand-picked by King Ullo to carry his muskets and swivel guns into battle, charging into the masses of native steppe horsemen in the name of bringing unity and order to a wild land.

Above is a quick sketch illustrating my impression of what an Alcovian war elephant might look like.

For a miniature, I figure I'll start with any one of several armored elephant miniatures from various Mogul lines. Chances are, I'll use a few different ones for variety. I'll convert these by added flat placards for the addition of icons. Other holy symbols and such can be added to taste. To protect the mahout, I am considering adding a sort of halo around the top of the elephant's head. I've seen similar on some Mogul war elephants, but mine will be done to resemble the golden halos frequently seen over or around the heads of saints in statues and art.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Possible Infantry Uniform for Alcovia

I realize that this is a Renneisance era Russian Streltsy but I find this particular soldier looks remarkably 18th C. just the same. As Alcovia is a backward part of the world and also striving to create a national identity for itself, falling back to a regionally distinct type of uniform like this would make a bit of sense for King Ullo.


Right now I am trying to find suitable miniatures for them and have received several leads from other extremely helpful 18th C. imagi-nation enthusiasts. I must say that I am very grateful for their assistance.

As much as I like the sculpts and their casts, I think Old Glory's Eastern Ren. is out of the running and Essex seems to be the leader in my search. They already have an extensive newer range of Eastern Ren. minis including Streltsy (unfortunately no image on their site). By going with Essex I open up a lot more possibilities for cross compatible ranges. Essex are closer to true 15mm and mix well with Freikorps, Lancashire, Peter Pig and Irregular.

One step closer to putting metal on the table!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Organizing an Army

Well, it's been a whopping three months and I have yet to make any real progress procuring miniatures for this project. That is not to say the project is dead, but there have been other projects that were closer to the front of the line than this one. 18th century Alcovia will just have to wait its turn.

In that time, I have given much thought to the sorts of forces that I want to collect for this conflict. Much of it seems a bit backward but then again so is Alcovia. As mentioned in the last post, I am trying to avoid the usual trapping of the period - tricorns, mitres, lots of buttons and brass. Sure it seems to fly in the face of the period but Alcovia is backward after all. I've settled on the basic themes for the army of Alcovia during this period. These are discussed below along with possible figures to represent them.

King Ullo’s Royal Guard
Recruited from loyal Kuzak warriors and trained and reinforced using foreign and local mercenaries, the Royal Guards as his regular soldiers came to be known, numbered only a thousand men. These men were broken into 100 man groups with 25% of their total number being held in reserve in the king’s capital.

For these troops I am considering using Pandurs or Grenzers or maybe even the cool Montenegrans from Irregular. Heck, maybe I'll use them all in one capacity or another.

Kuzaki Cavalry
Loyal to the king the Kuzak people formed the core of the king’s cavalry troops. Hard-riding and powerful in a charge, these men formed a powerful heavy cavalry armed with saber, spear and carbines.

For these figures some sort of Cossacks will work fine. There are so many out there, it'll be a chore to figure out which ones to use.

Flying Artillery
Due to the highly mobile nature of combat in Alcovia, King Ullo saw a need for light artillery that could keep up with the rapidly advancing cavalry. To this end, he had several light cannons mounted onto robust wagons, their muzzles facing out of the rear of the wagon. The cannons could quickly be wheeled into place without the need to unlimber and limber them.

For these, I'm going to have to do a little kitbashing. I figure I can take a period or slightly out of period wagon with a flat cargo bed and out a light pirate deck gun in the back. Maybe a Russian Tchanka might work though I'm curious if such a small wagon would be able to carry much of a cannon.

Mobile Fortresses
Taking a queue from the Middle Ages, the Alcovian army built hundreds of protected wagons. These heavy plank built wagons were meant to serve as mobile fortifications capable of protecting the Alcovian infantry when on the march and when encamped. Some of these wagons were armed with light swivel guns similar to those found on naval vessels.

In addition, such mobile fortresses could be used to set up semi-permanent supply depots without the need for building timber walls and towers. Against the crude horse clans that populated Alcovia, this proved an effective means of defense, even more so when the wagons could be further fortified by hasty works.

Included in these mobile fortresses were wagons loads of replacement planks and fittings packed and protected from the elements to allow for field expedient repairs and replacements.

I am pretty certain that Hussite war wagons or Eastern Ren. protected wagons will work for these, The addition of some pirate swivel guns will finish the models. Something along the lines of the wagons below but filled with musket-armed men.

Riding Infantry
Whereas the infantry of most nations were forced to march from battle to battle, King Ullo recognized that this was a drain on his limited fighting resources and made available wagons  to carry his men. Originally conscripted wagons pulled from farms, lumber camps and mines, they were later replaced by the protected wagons used for the mobile fortresses.

These later wagons not only provided a way to move troops without undo fatigue but also provided a protected fighting platform, giving the troops a better defense against the savage horse nomads they often fought.

I imagine that these would use the same wagons as the mobile fortress wagons.

Tribal Auxiliaries
Many of the nomadic tribes and warrior people of Alcovia believed in King Ullo’s dream and fought along side him as auxiliary infantry and cavalry. As he conquered tribes and/or converted them to his cause, the king’s army grew to include more and more of these types of troops.

In many cases, members of these horse clans would be recruited into Ullo’s core of modern soldiers in an attempt to instill them with a sense of inclusion and belonging. In some cases, enough of these troops were recruited to form their own distinct regiments with their own uniform variations.

For these I plan o use everything from Cossacks to Tartars. Anything wild and vicious looking will suffice. Many of the tribes of Alcovia were not even armed with firearms at this time and carried bows, spears and swords. What firearms did exist among the various horse tribes were often outdated but well maintained weapons from earlier periods.

Thanks for reading this intro to my brainstorming for the various troop types for the army of Alcovia. Also, thanks to the various people who's pictures I used to illustrate my ideas. I can only hope that my miniatures come close to looking this good.


Monday, July 11, 2011

What Miniatures to Use?

The troops of Alcovia are going to look different than most troops of the 1700s. I plan for them to look rather wild and irregular for the most part, being pulled from various tribal factions. To this end I plan to draw from various lines of Cossacks and Poles used as allied or auxiliary troops by the more "civilized" nations of the world.

As I plan to use 15mm, I can also draw from figures from the Eastern Renaissance period. At this scale, the discrepancies in firearms won't be quite as obvious and in many cases older style firearms might be better suited. There are several sources for 15mm figures that would work for Alcovia and I plan to draw from most of them to one extent or another. I may not be able to mix all of them in the same unit, but I see no reason that I cannot place them in units of their own.

There are a few basic rules that define my concept for Alcovia's armies. Some may seem a bit antithetic in regard to 18th century gaming, but it's my imagi-nation and I have a visions that includes -
  1. No tricorns, mitre or other "civilized" hats.
  2. Uniforms should remain simple and rustic whenever possible.
Old Glory
Old Glory has an excellent range of Eastern Renaissance minis in 15mm. This range includes a wide variety of Cossacks and Polish Commonwealth troops that would easily make good figures for the King's own army.

Old Glory also does SYW Cossacks as well. These figures, though from a later period are not that far removed from their Renaissance antecedents. Other SYW figures that might be useful would be Pandurs who might well make for good royal troops in the kings army. SYW hussars might do for some more elite royal cavalry, though the fancy jackets may have to be converted into bear or wolf skins.

Though I am not a fan of Essex's style, they do have a nice range of SYW and Eastern Ren. Minis that might be recruited. My main concern is that Essex tend to be on the smaller size of the 15mm scale.

There are some nice Cossacks in this line. A couple of variations including infantry.

This Polish figure line has some amazing stuff for the Eastern Ren.. Everything from Cossacks, to Tartars, to Poles are included in wonderful detail and some very interesting character. They might cost me a pretty penny but I really do want to order at least a few.

Blue Moon Manufacturing
Though there are not a lot of furry hats in Blue Moon's line yet, they are a rapidly expanding line and I have no doubt they will have more. Right now they have some Cossacks in their Great Northern War and SYW lines.

Battle Honours
Battle Honours has very little to offer this period, though there are some Cossacks in their French Revolution line.

Though there range is extensive, they really don't have too much that will fit this project, though there are a few minis in their SYW line and possibly in others that might be pressed into service.

With a range too huge to not have something useful, I think that I'll mine Irregular's lines for suitable figs. Their quality concerns me, but my experience with their product has been mostly good.

Keep in mind this is just an initial recon of the various lines out there. As I sample and purchase, I'll post more specifics, but for now I have a direction to look in.

Take care,


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Welcome to Alcovia, C. 1750s

Any of you who may have been following my exploits in blogging will already be familiar with the name, Alcovia. Alcovia is an imagi-nation, like many others, but it is one that is dear to me enough to have been carried throughout the history of the world as we know or, more accurately, might have known it.

Alcovia began as a country to be used in the 19th century for various sorts of colonial and Victorian science fiction games. It then took on a new role as a nation to be used during the Interbellum where it became a nation with enemies and its own eye on expansion. More recently it has been the scene for my ventures into modern warfare with the 21st century version of Alcovia broken by a civil war. Naturally when I got to thinking about 18th century gaming, Alcovia seemed a place to look once more.

For my 18th century endeavors, I decided that I would go back into Alcovia's past to where to kingdom was born. This will allow me to collect and use a variety of different figures from various Balkan, Eastern European, and Near Eastern sources. Battles will likely start small, limited to tribe on tribe conflict as Alcovia's new, self-made king seeks to unify the various peoples into a nation state. Later on, once the collection has grown, and with it the size of the nation's army, I can look at having Alcovia face off against outside enemies such as Iqenistan (another imagi-nation).

One last note, I am brand new to 18th century wargaming and have not spent much time on this period. I am not an expert or even a buff, but I thought it would be fun. I'm sure I'll make some mistakes along the way, but ultimately it's about the fun and I hope you will forgive any blatant trespasses against the period.

Thanks and enjoy,