Friday, September 13, 2013

The Muscovite Army of Tsar Ivan IV

And so my new project begins. I have been dropping hints about this for months, but I finally pulled the trigger on a new project that I am very much looking forward to - The Muscovite army of Ivan the Terrible. Russian history is and has always been a very important part of my life - I have a Master's degree in Russian history, I have published articles on Russian history, I once held a position teaching Russian history at a University and I speak and read the Russian language (although at a much more rudimentary level than I once did). I am actually surprised it has taken me this long to dive into a project like this from a wargaming perspective. I suppose I wanted to make sure I did it right.

Russian history is as immense and vast as its landscape, and I have chosen this particular period of time for a couple of reasons. First, it is during a period of transition in Russia in terms of politics, foreign policy, technology and military organization. Transitional periods of history are always interesting. Second, there is a very distinct Russian flavor to what is happening during this period prior to the grand westernization of the court and the military under Peter the Great.

The Muscovite army of Ivan IV was a reflection of the society that produced it. The Muscovite army did not develop along "Western lines", but this was not necessarily due to backwardness (as many casual observers suggest) or an inability to absorb new ideas and methods. The Muscovite army was created to fight in Russia's wooded steppes and plains, criss-crossed by huge rivers. Muscovy was the hostage of its location; there were no natural borders to keep out invaders. Muscovy was surrounded by series of states each jockeying for domination; Muscovy's ultimate victory, even her ultimate survival, was never inevitable. What made her successful was the creation of a large military force capable of absorbing organizational and technological change.

What rules will I be using? I'm not sure yet. I'd love to be able to use Warlord's Pike & Shotte, but that might require some rule modifications to capture some of the flavor, style and tactics of this army. Luckily, that would be pretty easy. I have also purchased the PDF version of the Maximilian! rules for evaluation. But rules and games are a long way off yet, so for the time being I will simply enjoy the research and painting of this grand army.

The Assault Group (TAG) has an excellent range of figures for this army that I plan on using with perhaps some supplemental pieces coming from other manufacturers as needed. The image below shows my first unit that I'll be painting: the strel'tsy. I will be providing more in-depth historical information about the strel'tsy in future posts, but for know it will be enough to know that they were the first standing, permanent infantry force. The conventional date of its founding is 1550.

This should be a an exciting project.

The upcoming strel'tsy unit. Figures by The Assault Group.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Second Ancient Building Completed

On a whim, I decided to paint the second (of three) ancient buildings that have been sitting on my table for a few months before getting started on the Roman principes. I forgot how much work these buildings really are to paint and how much time they take to complete, but once finished they are worth it and will look great on our gaming table. This building has a fantastic stone front porch and stone steps and I decided to paint each stone individually which really added to the time it took to finish but I'm glad I did it.

This is the medium single story house produced by Grand Manner. It is a fantastically detailed model. My only real (small) complaint is the impression one gets that the house is decaying, perhaps abandoned and certainly not well maintained due to the cracks and number of areas of exposed breaks on the walls. When I am gaming, this house is meant to be current and vibrant -- it is lived in, maintained and even loved by its occupants.

I hope you enjoy the photos.