Sunday, April 26, 2020

Hobby Update: KoM Pike Conversion

I haven't followed much news in 3rd, but I've seen enough to know that most KoM players consider the Pike upgrade a must-have for spear hordes, and many consider it our best defensive unit now. I mean, Ensnare is quite good! Without experience, it's hard for me to sound off, but it does look like a very nice upgrade. 

In Second, Pikes were a little peculiar. Pikes still had Ensnare and Phalanx, but "Normal Pikes" were only Defense 3, giving you a pretty big trade off for that Ensnare, as lots of things will hurt something with Defense 3. From what I could tell, they weren't popular at all then, due to this trade off. Heavy Pikes did make some appearances, as they did get you Defense 4, 1 Extra Nerve to their scores and the Elite special rule; all good stuff, but they were pricey., the most expensive unit in our army, if I recall correctly. Most of the KoM unit costs didn't actually change going into 3rd, so we can do some limited comparisons... 

The best comparison is to the normal Pikes. In 2nd Ed, you could get a Horde for 225. In Third, it'll cost you 230, but you boost the Defense from 3 to 4... quite the buy for 5 points, effectively. And now we have Indomitable Will too! So, yes, it's a very nice upgrade and a very defensive unit.

After redoing a lot of spears, I was taking stock of the army. The Regnum is very well situated, with both a pretty varied and a pretty deep roster. However, I am lacking a few units, and Pikes are one of them. I had bookmarked a few boxes for consideration: Warlord Hoplites, Fireforge Byzantine Spearmen, and probably the best option, Warlord Macedonians are all on my radar. 

However, the last year or so I've really done well resisting the urge to buy new plastic. With the pandemic now, I'm extra leery to be buying things, particularly from Amazon. Fortunately, I still have a few regiment's worth of various Warlord Romans around, and I stumbled across 13 extra long knight lance bits from an old box of Fireforge Mounted Sergeants, and thought... eh, why not?

My army is Roman/Byzantine inspired, and one of the commonly accepted things about the Roman military was their willingness to adopt and adapt effective equipment and strategies. The lance arms have chain mail, which is odd for a Roman look... but some minis have Manica already, so I figured I could just roll with it, and attribute the odd configuration to this mentality of adopting different ideas.

The scale for the arm swap would work, but I felt like I needed to have a continuation of the segmented shoulder armor to look nice. I tried cereal box cardboard, plasticard, thin cardstock, a thicker paper... attached with pva glue and super glue... and nothing worked. Eventually I resorted to greenstuff and a flat edge rubber shaping tool. The plates are thicker than I what I was trying to go for, but ended up being the best option in the end, and I think it looks good on the table.

The last hurdle was the unit count... as I only had 13 lance bits. Banners don't go well with Pikes, and Pike and Phalanx don't do well with hilly or uneven terrain, so I was going to need to bump up my model count somehow...

I haven't seen the movie Alatriste, but it's on my list to watch, as I've seen this scene pop up again and again in online discussions about Pike and Shot warfare. Taking inspiration from that, since I can't field all pikes, the front line of this unit will be sword-wielding dudes trying to hamstring the enemy beneath the thrusting pikes. Many more upright pikes would be better, but working with what I have, this is the best I can do, and I think it actually works. Anyways, enough blabbering. Here's the new unit!

Not bad for a simple kitbash! I tried to get the different pikes in similar positions as much as I could.
Hobbying on it was no easy task, as the long pikes make things quite difficult! More planning went in to this than a typical unit of mine. First, was the varied weapon selection, briefly touched on above, with swords in front, and pikes behind. I had 13 pikes, but ended up dropping one, as I wanted this unit to be really properly ranked up in a 4 by 4 block. I'd have 12 pikes, and 4 swords.

Grids, and gluing the first rank.
I first hobbied up the individual units, but leaving the shields off. The shields are nice and big... and would make any basing or painting of the basing super hard. I decided early on that shields would be added as the very final step to the unit.

Individual models as done as they could be, I started on the unit by playing around and deciding on the arrangement of individual models.

A lot of extra pasting work...
To get a more ranked multi-base, I utilized a pencil and ruler, to get a nice grid going. I glued down a middle rank, and then pasted it. Then I painted it with a diluted dark tan color, as a kind of base coat. The paste itself is white, so if it's not painted entirely it looks pretty bad.

With the first rank done, I moved on to the adjacent ranks with the same process; gluing then pasting; then base coating the ground. The paste I've been using is finer than the paste I started with for the army, so this approach let me overlap the paste a bit to hide the stands of the models a bit better. Painting as well let me make sure everything had a good base coat so the basing had the best change to look good.

The final rank was incorporated using the same method. Lastly, I added more tan shades, then pva glue and real sand and rocks as a last step for the basing. Basing complete, I then glued the shields on, squirting a bit into the indentation behind the shield boss, and then maneuvering it in with my fingers or a tweezers. That part was a bit maddening given all the pikes, but I managed.

Another angle of the finished unit.
It's not a horde, but the regiment fits well aesthetically with the rest of my army and strategically well with my general approach of plopping a ton of regiments down on the table. With enough drops I should be able to set them up against something scary, and against most things it should be able to take the charge, allowing the rest of my army to do the offensive work. We'll see what happens; I'm not anticipating too many games anytime soon, though my girlfriend is slowly warming up the idea again just as something to do.

So, I have a unit of Pikes now. Should I want more, I'll likely pick up one of the boxes mentioned before once the pandemic is over. Since those are actual kits, those should be easier to assemble, likely look better, and would be cheaper than buying up more Mounted Sergeants just for lance-arms! However, this will be good for now.

Only one unit really remains high on my list of "wants" for the Regnum; Pole-Arms. I have a plan, but may be short on workable bits for a regiment, so we'll see what I can figure out. The project table is finally thinning out a bit, but still a bit more to come. All this social distancing is proving most productive!

I hope everyone reading this is staying safe. We've still got a long ways to go and have plenty of obstacles ahead of us (in the US for darn sure), but we'll keep at it, and hopefully we'll come out of all this better. Be kind. Be helpful.

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