Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Italian Wars Landsknecht Pikeblock - My Last Entry to the 6th Painting Challenge

This past week saw the conclusion of the Painting Challenge and I knew I'd be knackered wrapping things up, but I also knew I wanted to get in one last 'charge of pike' in my 'Renaissance Men' duel with Peter before the Painting Challenge ended, so here it is.

This is an Italian Wars period Landsknecht pike block. It's composed of 33 figures and one casualty.  These are 28mm models sourced from Foundry, Pro Gloria (now Warlord) and Artizan. 

I've painted a lot of models in my time; Napoleonics, ECW, Fantasy, Imperial Space Marines, Samurai, the works, but I tell you, Landsknechts are probably the hardest figures I've ever tackled. Historically they had  no real uniform, but their clothes were incredibly complex, with multiple layers, puff and slash sleeves, ornate codpieces (!), stripes, AND on top of this, were seen in a veritable rainbow of colours. In painting terms, every figure should be unique, without a design being repeated. So basically a huge gong show for a painter. Nevertheless, one-by-one I pecked away, took my sweet time and ground ahead - there are no shortcuts with these guys.

The irregular shaped bases seen here I designed myself and had sourced from the good folks over at Warbases. The banners are from Pete's Flags, depicting an Imperial colour (in yellow) and another that is conjectured to be of 'The Black Band' or 'Black Legion' (basically a bunch of German hooligans who holidayed in Italy until they were pointedly told to leave (i.e. virtually killed to a man at Pavia)). 
Addendum: Yes, yes, I understand that these flags may be 'incorrect' in their combination, but this is what I have come up with to date, and I simply liked the look of them together (the two flags can be separated from one another to mix and match with other bases).   

What you see here is two thirds of what the final unit will look like. I have a central portion of bases that will add another 16 or so figures to the unit, so it can be fielded as larger pike block if the scenario requires it. The trick was to have a few flags on the flanking bases in order to allow me to scale the unit up or down as needed, while still having some banners for the smaller unit size. I think it worked out okay, but I think it will be even better with the central section done with another two or three banners crammed in there.

One troop type prevalent amongst the Landsknechte were the Doppelsöldner or 'double-pay men'. Often these loons would be tasked to fight in front of the forward rank, wielding two-handed swords, halberds or an arquebus. Their job was to get in tight and disrupt the opposing infantry pikemen. Either by sweeping aside their pikes and/or disrupting their lines in close combat. If the accounts are true then they must have been the badasses of an organization of badasses and so I imagine they earned every florin they received.  

I have placed two Doppelsöldners ahead of the pike block, one is armed with a halberd, going in hard, and the other is giving fire with his arquebus, hoping for the best. 

I also have a couple of Italian mercenary crossbowmen about to come out of the rear ranks (From what I've read, 'military subcontracting' was fairly common during the period). As I understand it, missile troops would typically lurk in among the pikeblock until an opportunity developed for them to come out and wreak a bit of havoc. 

I was hoping to get the whole unit completed but, hey, you know the story - work, life, blah-de-blah. I'm just happy to have completed these lads in time for the close of the Challenge. I'll fill in the rest of the ranks in the coming weeks.

But what they really need now is a bit of fire support. On it!

Thanks for visiting!