domenica 18 marzo 2018

Venetian sortie with Lion Rampant

At Model Expo Italy, a convention held annually in Verona, Luca and I had a demonstrative game of Lion Rampant.

Northern Italy, 15th century. 

A Venetian castle is about to be encircled by a Milanese force. The stronghold commander decide to lead a sortie to prevent Visconti's army to mount a proper siege.

Thus said, it's a classical Bloodbath scenario from Lion Rampant rulebook, with an asymmetrical deployment (Venetian retinue must first exit through the main castle door). 
Walls do no provide any help, since all the garrison is rushed against the enemy.

The crowd gathers to cheer its heroes

Some food is also provided to the Men at Arms

Forward! Stradiotti led the sortie!

Milanese forces approaching the castle

Stradiotti are quickly routed by a terrible crossbows shooting, leaving the Venetian force without light cavalry. Luckily enough, Venetian archers soon do the same to Milanese mounted crossbowmen.

Battered mounted crossbowmen on the right

Mounted Men at Arms clashes but the Venetian leader is forced to retreat 

The Venetian leader demonstrates that courage isn't enough. "Maybe a sortie wasn't a good idea", he thought, while his unit is decimated.

Visconti are now charging against Venice infantry, which resists

Ineffective, the most I can say of these arquebusier (bidowers)

Some modern firearms aren't enough to stop foot knight advance and the poor skirmishers are forced to make way.

Venetian Fanti da Mar tries to arrest Milanese foot knight

Fanti da Mar (Marine Infantry), were a Venetian troop usually embarked on the galleys of Serenissima. They often were dismounted in raids or used (in the Colonies) as garrison troops. Usually they were partly armoured and armed with a warhammer of other short weapons (better suited to naval combat). In this game, I tried to represent them as Foot Men at arms, but I feel that Foot Sergeants with switched values of attack and defense (as suggested here), could be a better representation, after all.

The survivors take shelter behind the castle walls.

Doors are closed and Venetian now prepare for a siege.

domenica 4 marzo 2018

Shakò64 Borbonic Hunters (2) - Painting guide

Cacciatori and Carabinieri esteri (1859-1860)

Documentation about uniforms in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies army during its last period is fragmentary, and few dedicated volumes exist, for this reason I decided to write this guide to help new wargamers getting started in this fascinating period. Few depictions of this army arrived to us, and I chose to follow the Vinkhujzen collection watercolors, which follows the description of the 1859 regulations.

Carabinieri esteri and cacciatori napoletani (hunters or chasseurs) were  light infantry corps trained in open order fighting and broken terrain operations. I remember most of the Sicilian and Calabrian internal areas are mountainous and impervious. They fought valiantly (even when - often where led by less than competent leaders) during all Garibaldi's campaing of 1860 and 1861 from Calatafimi to Volturno.

In 1859 cacciatori napoletani and carabinieri esteri were reorganized and were issued new regulations about uniforms. They received a tunic grigio ferro (dark grey) or light blue and trousers in dark grey, light blue or white, all with a green line. The third carabinieri esteri regiment was going to wear green tunics with red trousers, but probably they never received the new uniforms.

The everyday uniform or labour uniforms, often wear during campaings was the biggia (lit. grey), actually a light blue grey, obtained intertwining grey and blue wires. 

3rd rgt carabinieri esteri, note the grigio ferro uniform


I used the recently released figures from a newly established Italian company, "Shakò64".
The figures are coded as: Comando cacciatori in tunica (grigio ferro) e shakò (covertato e scovertato) and Cacciatore in tunica e shakò (covertato e scovertato). They are suitable to represent both Cacciatori napoletani and Carabinieri esteri. The figures portray troops during campaign, in tunic and carrying all the necessary equipment as haversacks and water bottles. Epaulettes are not shown, probably they've been removed to be preserved from the injury of bad weather. They were kept clean to be used for high uniform or garrison duties. The troopers are armed with 32" rifled carbines and "yatagan" model bayonet.

Bavarian Carabinieri Esteri Battalion, in biggia (blue grey)

Painting guide

I chose to paint the tunic in my own version of grigio ferro, so dark grey with a strong blue component, and biggia trousers. Most of the colours are Vallejo model colours. I applied a white primer.

For grigio ferro tunic I used as base color Vallejo Dark Bluegrey 70.867, then I lightened it with Vallejo French Mirage blue 70.900 and then again with a mixture of French Mirage blue and Vallejo Dark Blue Pale 70.904 in a 1:1 ratio. 

For  the biggio coloured trousers I used a 1:1 mixture of Dark Blue Pale and French Mirage blue 1:1 and then I lightened it with pure Dark Blue Pale.

I suggest also experimenting using different washes. If you're using them, I suggest using as base color for tunic a mixture 1:1 French Mirage Blue and Vallejo Dark Bluegrey, and for the trousers Dark Blue Pale only, since I expect the washes to darken the base colour shadowing the model. Then you can lighten it as I suggested before. In the last passage I often add a small quantity of pure white in the mixture with a dry brush, to exaggerate contrast.

For those desiring experimenting with blue-grey tunic I noticed after I painted these models that a good starting point could be  Vallejo Luftwaffe uniform WWII 70.816, let me know if you try it!

Summary table

Base Colours
Tunic and trousers grigio ferro*
Vallejo Dark Bluegrey 70.867+French Mirage Blue 70.900
Trousers biggi*
Vallejo Dark blue pale 70.904+French Mirage Blue 70.900
Shakò, belts in black leather
Vallejo German grey 70.995
Belts in white leather
Italeri Flat Sand
Backpack, waterbottle, carbine wood
Games Workshop Gorthor Brown
Bags, cartridges in leather
Vallejo German grey 70.995, Italeri Flat leather, Italeri Flat Sand
Cuffs, Shakò pompon
Vallejo Deep green 70.970
Steel and Brass
Vallejo Natural steel 70.864 + Italeri Gloss Brass


I just noticed on Shakò64 a fantastic uniform guide for Naepolitan Cacciatori, by Cosimo Auricchio, check it here.


  • Giancarlo Boeri, Piero Crociani, Massimo Fiorentino, "L'Esercito Borbonico dal 1830 al 1861" I° Tomo Stato Maggiore dell'Esercito Ufficio Storico.
  • Stefano Ales, “L'Esercito delle due Sicilie uniformi equipaggiamento armamento 1850-1860”
  • Gabriele Esposito, Giuseppe Rava, “Armies of the Italian Wars of Unification 1848-70 (1)”, Osprey Publishing
  • Illustraton from "Vinkhuijzen Collection"

domenica 31 dicembre 2017

2017 is over!

2017 is almost over, so a little summary of this year from my wargamer experience.

My priorities and wishes shuffle continuously, I try not to follow ant kind of self imposed obligation, just my inspiration. Otherwise wargaming would no longer be a hobby for me.

Good news from 2017: I've got two new armies almost ready (about 10-15 models each missing), which would enable me to play three new rulesets: British Commandos for Bolt Action (1000 points) and  17th century Ottoman Turks for Pikeman's Lament and Tercios.

This year  Lion Rampant took the lion's share of gaming (pun intended) I didn't reckon the games I had with it, but more than a dozen for sure, my trusty Venetian Condotta serving me (quite always) well, even in defeat. Ronin with 4-5 games can also be regarded as a good second place (thanks to my Sohei buntai), then Tercios and Bolt Action (both with borrowed figures).

last club game of the year: three Lion Rampant tables and one X-wing
In the last meeting at our club in Verona (Band of Butei) we managed to arrange three tables with Lion Rampant, despite two players were almost new to this ruleset (they both won, somehow). We had great fun and chatting time and this is a big confirmation of this rules' potentiality and suitability for convivial gaming (aka Beer and Pretzel game).

This year can also be aknowledge as the (definitive) transition from 15mm to 28mm as my favourite scale. I still own 15mm Late Romans and Barbarians, and some 15mm WW2 Germans, but they're not very played at my club (just one game in 2017). 28mm fits also better my painting style now.

Next year? It will depend on my lavorative life, since I'm starting a new job in January. Anyway, if I can manage to finish 17th century Ottoman Turks and British Commandos I could invest in more Risorgimento figures or keep pushing TYW period with a brand new army (German Protestant forces), the latter being strongly supported by my clubmates (and by my wallet, since I've about all the figures I need for this army - new on sprues of course).

About this blog I hope I'll be able to keep posting about twice a month! I'm full of ideas about collaborations, conventions and my wish list is costantly updated (I won't post it here, because could be quite long - and annoying - to read!)

I thank all my readers, and wish you a happy new year, full of joy and wargaming adventures!

sabato 11 novembre 2017

Neil Thomas' Wargaming the Nineteenth Century review

I was looking for a ruleset to use my new Risorgimento figures and my attention was caught by "Wargaming the Nineteenth Century in Europe 1815-1878" by Neil Thomas.

I already heard of him as author of One Hour Wargaming and other works concerning our hobby, but I never dealt with his works.

Since I couldn't find much about the set on the net, I decided to purchase the kindle edition straightly from the publisher (Pen&Sword) at 4.99£. Great value for the money, but...there are no pictures only drawn maps. I know that in the printed edition (19.99£+ shipping) there are several pictures of gaming tables. Anyways, nothing essential. (EDIT: I found the pictures, they are at the very end of the book and not inside it)

The book gives a good historical and military introduction of the warfare in the period and then speculates on the best way to model a wargame to represent it. The process really reminds me Sabin's Lost Battles

The rules per se are just 8 pages (in the printed copy) and are very old style in layout, but the approach is interesting: simpler is better, and so we get a distillation of 19th century warfare. Those looking for detailed rules will be disappointed, but I love easy (yet period-specific) games. The rules are aimed at small battles involving around a brigade per side. They are very simple and should play in about 2 hours, involving about 10-15 units per side. Command and control is included just as optional rule, since "a player is able to act foolishly without external rules"

The rules are completed by 15 army lists, 5 generic scenarios (one mini-game) and 10 historical scenarios covering the main conflicts in Europe from the Carlist War to Franco Prussian War. There is no point system, but an interesting army generator which with a couple of dice rolls generates a casual army.

For the Italian Risorgimento there is only one scenario included (Montebello 1859), but are provided lists for generic revolutionary and monarchic army (1848), French, Italian, Austrian (1859 and 1866), Garibaldini and Bourbonic (1860). There is an error in the rating of Bourboinc troops, in my modest opinion, the author was too influenced by some sources he used. Anyway, this can be solved with some work. With some work a Papal State army can also be produced, and additional historical scenarios, too.

In conclusion: it's not the scale of battles I'm interested in, since I'm going to play the period with 28mm figures and I aim to play a large skirmish kind of game, as Lion Rampant or Sharpe Practice, but I'd steal some idea (best form of adulation, isn't it?) if I ever had to write my own rules.

mercoledì 1 novembre 2017

Shakò64 Borbonic Hunters (1)

The debout of Shakò64: a Italian company dedicated to Italian Wars of Indipendence.


Italian Wars of Indipendence, or Risorgimento, is considered a lesser conflict and is often overviewed by wargamers and manifacturers. For this reason a new manifacturer dedicated to this period is a wonderful news! Shakò64 entered the hobby market this year. I recently received a sample from their first released range, consisting in Cacciatori Borbonici (Borbonic Hunters) a light infantry unit of the Army of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies which fought against Garibaldi's redshirts during the 1860 campaign. 

In their online shop are currently aivalable: Hunters with different combination of campaign dress/frock coats and jackets with covered/uncovered shakò or kepì and Hunters Command group wearing tunic, with the same headgears options, but the manifacturer intention is to extend their range to cover both the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and Garibaldi's armies. Also aivalable the flag for some battalions of Borbonic Hunters and Carabinieri (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 8th battalion Cacciatori and 1st and 2nd Carabinieri). They're sold in packs of 4 for 9€ (2.25€ for infantry figure).

The figures are sculpted by Cosimo Auricchio, former sculptor for Ital.Model, a discontinued brand producing figures for the Italian Risorgimento. At the first look they looks very well sculpted virtually no flash and smooth mold lines, basically ready to be washed and primed! Very interesting the choice to provide separate backpacks (at least 3 different models) to add variety and help the paintjob. At a first measurement they looks 27-28mm to eyes level, so definitely a modern range (the so called "heroic 28mm"), larger than Mirliton and Foundry, and similar to Gringo40s. Comparison is needed (stay tuned!).

venerdì 6 ottobre 2017

The blog name: Arsenale del Nano

What's in a name? 
(Romeo and Juliet, act II, scene II)

As some of you may have noticed, I recently changed the header of my blog, and I feel that's a good excuse to give to the (few) curious a short explanation about my blog's name, expecially for not-Italian speakers.
View of the Entrance to the Arsenal by Canaletto, 1732.



What's an Arsenale? "arsenal, armoury, dockyard", where weapons are stored and (sometimes) forged. Obviously my weapons are lead and plastic (and resin perhaps) soldiers and scenics, but also rulesets, scenics and terrain, painting and brushes, all that sort of stuff which keeps the bellic effort going. 

But Arsenale  was chosen also with a precise geographical reference in mind: Venice. The name Arsenale itself derives from this city, it's Dante Alighieri, the most famous Italian poet in his Divine Comedy to first use this term to describe Venice dockyard, comparing the boiling pitch used to mend the vessels during winter (a period in which navigation was suspended during middle ages) to the hell environment. For those interested in literature here's the full text, both in Italian and English.

As in the Arsenal of the Venetians
Boils in winter the tenacious pitch
To smear their unsound vessels over again
For sail they cannot; and instead thereof
One makes his vessel new, and one recaulks
The ribs of that which many a voyage has made
One hammers at the prow, one at the stern
This one makes oars and that one cordage twists
Another mends the mainsail and the mizzen

Thus, not by fire, but by the art divine,

Was boiling down below there a dense pitch

Which upon every side the bank belimed.
Quale nell'arzanà de' Viniziani
bolle l'inverno la tenace pece
a rimpalmare i legni lor non sani,
ché navicar non ponno - in quella vece
chi fa suo legno nuovo e chi ristoppa
le coste a quel che più vïaggi fece;
chi ribatte da proda e chi da poppa;
altri fa remi e altri volge sarte;
chi terzeruolo e artimon rintoppa -;
tal, non per foco ma per divin' arte,
bollia là giuso una pegola spessa,
che 'nviscava la ripa d'ogne parte.

(Dante, Inferno, XXI, 7-18)


The Lion

The symbol of the blog is going to be the Pireaues Lion, a statue located at the entrance of  Venice Arsenale, originally located in Athenes (Piraeus port), was taken in 1687 as plunder by Morosini during one of the various Turkish-Venetian wars. Probably it seemed pretty appropriate, since Venice symbol is a (winged) lion. The lion hides an additional history: at the end of 18th century a Swedish diplomat recognised a lindworm carved on the lion, probably by Varangian merceanaries sent by Costantinople to sedate a riot in Athenes during X-XI century. Nowadays the carvings are seriously deteriorated by pollution and time, but it's still intuible.

In conclusion, I felt that Arsenale and its Piraeus Lion are the perfect sintesis of the many instersections of histories represented by wargaming, the site where armies and weapons were assembled and where many glorious (and bloody) deeds had their beginning.

...and Nano?

Oh, that's just a nickname my girlfriend gave me at the beginning of our relationtship. It means dwarf in Italian, since I'm only 1.65 metres tall ...and she's 1.76! (Incidentally it's also my grandfather nickname, but as a shortening of Giordano).

mercoledì 13 settembre 2017

X-wing, Tercios and Bolt Action!


After one year I eventually managed to have a couple of games. I appreciate it because is fast, quick to learn, yet deeply strategic. Having pre-painted minis (and of good quality) is a great plus. I shall start studying a bit the combination between the different ships! Thank Alberto and Alessio! 

 Liber Militum Tercios

Back to Thirty years war again! Luca introduced me to Tercios a quite new ruleset by the Spanish El Kraken publisher dealing with the great battles of the period. The rules aim to recreate the grand tactic of the battles. The rules are easy to learn, but has some interesting feats, the most interesting, at least to me, the orders cards. As many of you may already know, I love all sorts of orders vinculating units freedom of action. General de Brigade and Et Sans Resultat! are good examples. In Tercios orders are not persistent, but are re-assigned each turn. Anyway, it's a good start for future modifications. Some mechanics aren't really new, for example any wear unit must test to activate its order (like Bolt Action pinned units) or the hits vs save mechanic (wherte savings, describes by the courage attribute of the units is a sum of morale and armoured resistance to enemies' offences). Overall all this already seen features blend in a very smooth way. I need a couple more games to write a proper review, so stay tuned!

In the pictures the 15mm collection of Luca (Testudo). But 28mm figures I can use both for Tercios and for Pikeman's Lament are ready to be painted (somewhere under the pile of plastic and lead in my basement).

Bolt Action

My first 500 points Commandos army is complete. They just went out for their first training mission against a German Pioneer force...and went awfully. Many things to reflect upon and more figures to assemble and paint for a 1000 point revenge!