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!

22 comments:

  1. That's a beautiful pike block Curt. A fitting way to bring the Challenge to a close :)

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    1. There was a more than a few late nights spent on this one to get it ready for the close. Happy to see it off the desk!

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  2. That's a really innovative and attractive way of basing a unit!

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    1. Thanks captain arjun. I stole the concept from Simon Miller (BigRedBat) and ran with it. I love this hobby.:)

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  3. one of the best pike blocks I've ever seen.

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  4. Wonderful job so far. I like the whole presentation with this basing.

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  5. Saving the best till last to make u wanting more! I see how this works

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    1. Haha. Cheers for that Clint - These were last only because I needed every minute of the Challenge to get them done. :)

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  6. Tremendous work my friend! That's a mighty impressive looking group of Landsknechte. Your base design is quite ingenious as well! Really impressive how the different components can be placed together to form one massive block.

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    1. Thanks Nick! They are a bit of work to do but the end result is satisfying. I look forward to getting a few more of these done for a proper 'Battalia'.

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  7. Another amazing unit, and an incredible performance considering how much work there was in organising the Challenge generally! Fantastic work, Sir!

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    1. Thanks very much Sid. Much of this has to do with Peter as he kept me on the straight and narrow in our little 'paint duel'.

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  8. Fantastic looking pike block, I like your irregular basing but I don't think I can cope with it on mine, really nicely done pikes you must virtually have an army now?
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks Iain! I'm afraid I'm not even close yet. I need a few more pike blocks before I'd feel like calling this a 'real' force. For those I won't be doing horizontal pikes again - his was purely an indulgence, an experiment to see how it could work.

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  9. Wonderful painting work, Curt, and a GREAT work with these... peacocks!

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    1. Thank you Juan! Coming up soon will be some Spanish Rodeleros so stay tuned my friend. :)

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