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WARGAME WEDNESDAY: Olyde School Fantasy Miniature Armies Part 1 –

WARGAME WEDNESDAY: Olyde School Fantasy Miniature Armies Part 1

Wednesday , 26, October 2016 1 Comment

armies-of-arcanaI have fantasy dwarf, skeleton and orc armies, purchased ages ago, which I’ve slowly and not so surely, been painting over the years. As I approach a critical mass of table ready miniatures I am changing the focus of my posts back to miniature wargaming, specifically fantasy wargaming.

For background read the first Olyde School articles:

Ye Olyde School: Charge! Or How to Play War Games

Ye Olyde School: Donald Featherstone’s War Games through the Ages Series.

Most of my figures were purchased in the late 90’s from Thanes Games along with the Armies of Arcana rule set.

This interview with Thane is interesting, especially his reasoning behind creating a new game system:

Armies of Arcana enables players to field armies of up to 400 figures as opposed to the popular DBA rules with games of around 50 per side.   The rules are quick to learn and characters, either heroes or magic users, supplemented by an extensive magic system, are available for all armies. I’ve never used the Arcana universe for my game settings but found Arcana army characteristics suits usual fantasy stereotypes; goblins field large armies of low morale, dwarf units are strong, expensive and usually fight outnumbered, etc.

Generally, I enjoyed using the Armies of Arcana rule set but never tweaked to my satisfaction the rules for cannon and mortars. They are too powerful and capable of destroying or routing an enemy unit every two turns. Not game changing when playing with a large army but devastating to smaller, 100 figure armies. The introduction explains that a local store’s liquidation sale allowed Thane to acquire a large supply of 15mm Reaper miniatures, making 400 plus armies possible.  Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or resources to build such large armies.

To date I’ve painted about half of the figures but realized that I needed help in the form of a painting service. Many choices are available but I have used, and recommend Blue Table Painting out of Salt Lake City.

While searching for painted figure bargains I’ve run into a compatibility problem with different figure sizes, even for figures rated in the same scale.  The most popular size ranges are 15mm and 25mm with smaller figures being cheaper but harder to paint in detail.  Believe it was Warhammer that popularized 28mm figures and now there’s some interest in 5mm armies.


This photo gives you an idea of the different figure sizes.  For Throne of Bones fans, one of Lodi’s kinsmen with the battle-axe serves to represent the 28mm range. I found a good deal online for this fierce-looking dwarf along and crossbows advertised as 28mm figures and hoped to quickly enlist them in my 25mm dwarf army.  I figured that 28mm range dwarves would not actually be 28mm as human or elf figures in that range would be taller. As you can see this fellow is larger than the Amorrian Centurion, which is another 28mm figure, standing to his right. The dwarf is actually 30mm and the Centurion, not including the plumes on top of his helmet, is 28mm.  Next to them stands a 25mm orc spearman and in front are 15mm Napoleonic French Line.  Finally, some 5mm horsemen which are, ostensibly, Norman knights but due to their size they can fill in for many armies. The orc spearman serves as another example highlighting the difficulty in comparing figure sizes. To me, it’s a 25mm figure but it is one of the Reaper 15mm figures mentioned above.

Another risk of online bargain hunting is finding a deal that can’t be resisted, even though time, storage, money, etc., becomes an issue. I picked up Narnia themed figures and spent the weekend basing and flocking. Flocking is used for ascetic purposes and instead of painting the figure’s base the color of the predominate terrain (grasslands, urban, desert, etc.,) one adds some glue and then sprinkles with small fiber particles. This technique is used by railway modelers for their dioramas.


Basing is used to group figures into easily handled units. Not only are the units more stable on a softer playing surface (cloth or carpet as opposed to hard table top) but allows quicker movement. Different rule sets call for different basing schemes but since I’m still undecided on rule sets I went ahead and based them in groups of three or four.  Most figures I’m gluing to a magnetic base and then sitting them on metal movement trays, allowing flexibility to remove or swap out individual figures. For basing supplies I’ve been using Shogun Miniatures.


The next picture shows different stages in the basing and flocking process and also serves as a warning against unproductive shortcuts.  First thing I should have done was to spray paint the metal movement trays with a flat green (or the color of your terrain scheme) prior to attaching the figures. Use spray paint from the hardware store, primer does the job.  Unless one does a very thorough job in spreading glue over the base there will be some areas the flock does not remain and bright silver is readily apparent (as can be seen in the back row of badgers). Additionally, I should have flocked each figure individually, prior to attaching to the base, as it is harder to spread the glue when the figures are already attached to a metal base.


Next post I’m thinking of having my Dwarf and Orc armies fight it out using the Armies of Arcana rules.  In the meantime, some random miniature items of interest:

If you find yourself in Victoria, British Columbia, Miniature World is worth a visit.

I highly recommend checking out Miniature Wargames magazine.

I was going to mention the South Side or South Bay wargame club in the San Jose, CA area.  They used to meet Saturdays in a Korean church’s activity hall in Sunnyvale. Don’t know if they are still meeting but found a South Bay Wargames. Even though the name is similar not sure if it is the same club.  Link is good for groups all over the US.

Can’t say I like the confusing layout but tons of links to explore at Frothers Unite.

If you enjoyed my post on Donald Featherstone’s Charge, then you’ll love this blog.


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