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Author Topic: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?  (Read 1630 times)

Offline FriendlyNeighbourhoodNerd

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Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« on: June 19, 2024, 08:29:34 PM »
I want to get together a First Crusade project (which I'd posted about a year ago, asking for figure recommendations - I got mostly metals, but times have changed and I have decided I just don't have the budget for 28mm metals), probably using Victrix or Conquest Normans for the Crusaders, and Gripping Beast plastic Arab infantry and cavalry for the Saracens/Seljuks/Fatimids/Muslims in general.

I've been wondering how accurate the Gripping Beast figures are for the Muslims living and fighting in the Holy Land – from what I'm gathering, Seljuks generally wore pants? And I'm not quite sure about who wore face coverings and so on. Obviously, being the only available plastics, I'm willing to do a bit of "eh, close enough" but I'd like to know how far I'm stretching it.

As for the terrain, I'm thinking about making some of the stereotypical desert buildings us wargamers use for anything from the Wild West, to WW2 North Africa, the Crusades, and even modern Iraq or Afghanistan gaming. Those simple rectangles with slightly recessed roofs, wooden beams sticking out, maybe a stairway on the side or a second floor, you know the ones. Should be pretty easy to make; some foamboard, plaster, and matchsticks is really all I'm planning on using.

For the Middle East/Holy Land in particular, how accurate are these houses? Probably not in the city of course, but perhaps for a small village. Again, as these buildings should be pretty easy to construct, I'm willing to stretch my limits on accuracy pretty far, especially if I can indeed use them all throughout North Africa and the Middle East.

Thanks in advance!

P.S. Also, do the Victrix Normans scale well with the Gripping Beast Arabs, or should I go with the Conquest figures (or is there any other reason I should get the latter)? Or are the GB Arabs so bad that I should just wait for Victrix to put out their Crusade-era Muslims (however long that may take)?
« Last Edit: June 19, 2024, 08:31:37 PM by FriendlyNeighbourhoodNerd »

Offline Ogrob

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2024, 09:57:14 PM »
The Gripping Beast arabs probably scale better with Conquest normans rather than Victrix. Victrix tends towards a little large and bulky 28's, while GB and Conquest are both somewhere between 25 and 28mm to the eyes.

That said, Victrix has muslims coming out. They have already shown infantry and heavy cavalry, and I reckon at least the infantry will be released this year.

Offline FriendlyNeighbourhoodNerd

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2024, 12:06:03 AM »
That sounds about right, thanks for the input. I think both the GB Arabs and Conquest Normans are sculpted by Bob Naismith as well so they would probably fit pretty well together.

It seems that reception has been mixed on both sets, while the Victrix stuff has been almost universally loved. They do look like quite nice figures to me, although I have to say the Victrix Normans look amazing - the wonderful paintjobs on the promo material probably do help. I think the chainmail rings look a little too big to me, but it's most likely not as apparent in the flesh (or plastic, rather).

All in all I think I might just be better off waiting for the Muslim infantry to come out from Victrix, even assuming the Gripping Beast Arabs are an accurate depiction of Muslims in the Holy Land. Loads more extra bits in the Victrix boxes as well, I think the Conquest Normans kit gives you no choice but to have 4 or 5 lads without any helmets... very few armoured bodies in that one as well.

Anyways I'll have to decide for the figures, any advice regarding the buildings/terrain is also much appreciated.

Offline SJWi

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2024, 05:31:17 AM »
I'll leave it to others to comment on scale compatability as I don't have any Victrix.  From what I know your plan for buildings sounds fine. You may want to think about the ubiguitous mosque complete with minaret.

Some Seljuks do look quite different to the Muslims of Syria and Palestine. The Seljuks are a Turkish race whilst the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine would be of Arab or Aramaic descent. Certainly Seljuk light cavalry look quite different to their more southerly co-religionists.  The Gripping Beast plastic boxed sets say they can be used for both "Arabs" and Seljuks, and they certainly have heads to suit, but I'm not sure the bodies are 100% correct. By definition the sets are a bit of a compromise.  Even if you don't plan to buy metals I would check out the pictures on the Perry Miniatures website as they do have the various different races and this will help you make up your mind.   

Offline FierceKitty

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2024, 09:04:43 AM »
Backing up SJWi's post - "Arab" and "Turk" shared little bar the basic religion. Think how marked the difference is between Franks of the first and third crusades.
The laws of probability do not apply to my dice in wargames or to my finesses in bridge.

Offline FriendlyNeighbourhoodNerd

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2024, 11:32:38 PM »
Right, thanks guys, I'll take a closer look at Perry minis' stuff to better see the differences between Seljuks/Turks and Arabs. Will have to then decide if Gripping Beast's offerings are good enough, or if I should wait for Victrix's stuff to come out.
If only Perry made their wonderful plastic kits for the first crusade range... but I'm pretty sure they won't, they haven't touched it in what, 20 years now?

Got started on a buiding already, looking pretty good for bare foamcore so far, will get the plaster out tomorrow. Might built two or three to do them at the same time and prepare a big batch of plaster at once (instead of doing them one by one and making a mess).

Offline SJWi

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2024, 05:10:29 AM »
No problem. I agree that Perry won't now produce plastic Arabs.  I guess the business case isn't good enough to warrant the investment. That said I would like to see the logic for a range of 28mm plastic Franco-Prussian War figures!

Offline olicana

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2024, 03:02:48 PM »
A lot of middle eastern buildings are built as 'compounds' - especially the domestic types.

Here is what I did for my Crusades/Sudan, though I have also used some for a few Wild West (Texas?) game, and they have been borrowed for at least one Second Afghan War game. All are based on 200x200mm squares, some with 'streets' some as stand alone compounds.
Thing is, they can be put together to form anything from villages to a town.



I'm not sure they are exactly right for anything in particular but, they don't look out of place in any middle eastern setting.

Offline olicana

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2024, 03:14:19 PM »
You might want to look at these - from my 1st Crusade/Early KoJ collection. Almost all are Perry.

Although my 'Saracen' army is now about 150 figures larger, this has a good mix of both Seljuks and 'Arabs' - though eastern Seljuks would look quite Persian / more Arab. To be fair, in most of the games we play, we simply play 'Franks' versus 'Saracens' and don't let the specifics of 'national heritage' get in the way of putting together an interesting troop mix. After all, in one historical battle, at least, it was Franks and Saracens Vs Franks and Saracens!

Whatever you do, get Armenians - they can fight on both sides! Having discovered their versatility I recently increased my Armenian contingent (from 4/2) to 8 infantry and 3 cavalry units.



Arabs:


Turks:


Full post on my rebasing last year, with other pics here:

https://olicanalad.blogspot.com/2020/10/reorganising-and-rebasing-my-crusades.html

Some of the newer units here:
https://olicanalad.blogspot.com/2024/06/some-new-stuff-hits-table-town-battle.html
« Last Edit: June 21, 2024, 03:25:32 PM by olicana »

Offline FriendlyNeighbourhoodNerd

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2024, 12:29:46 AM »
Wonderful looking figures and buildings olicana, grand looking armies! I'll be following your blog with great interest (following the latest post on here as well).

For now I've just built a little free-standing building, but I'll make some compounds in the future as well, I reckon. Planning on building a little village with a few of these, maybe a well, stuff like that. Bigger "cities", maybe even walls, I might do a bit further down the line.

I'll certainly get some Armenians at some point, for starters I wanted to focus on the basic Frank and Saracen infantry but it is nice that they are useable for either side! Just playing "Franks" vs "Saracens" (with the occasional Armenians added in ;)) and not worrying too much about specifics is more or less what I'm leaning towards too though, I think.

Really I was thinking more of a skirmish for this project, as with all my projects really, which is also sort of why the goal is only a village, but looking at the great prices of plastic figures, I'm thinking about building up the forces. Then again, space is also a very limiting factor...

Thanks for sharing!

Offline SJWi

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2024, 09:50:52 AM »
If you are thinking of skirmish gaming two books to think of. Gripping Beast have just re-released "Age of the Crusades" for Saga2 and Wargames Vault sell a Crusades book for Lion Rampant which is currently on sale for $12. Although aimed at Lion Rampant v1 lots of intersting good stuff and well worth getting.

Offline olicana

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Re: Crusades gaming – desert houses and GBP Arabs accurate?
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2024, 09:59:38 AM »
This is one of those periods that I've declared finished at least twice in the past but, I love it sooo much I can't stop adding to it.

As well as a Fatimid army, that I will add at some juncture down the road, I plan on adding three units of arriere-ban spearmen (Frankish levy) another unit of Frank archer light infantry.

For the Great Seljuks I plan on adding a unit of Agulani; these are cataphracts armed "only with swords" (though I suspect this has become a little lost in translation - from the Latin - as eastern heavy cavalry favoured the mace from horseback; IMHO "only with swords" might equally mean "without lance"). I'm going to use shieldless Gripping Beast sword/mace armed Byzantine cataphracts for this unit.

The thing I'm finding it almost impossible to source are figures (inc. plastic) to make Saracen crews (just 'standing about' would work) for these (scratch built using plastic from Perry plastic bases), so if anyone has any ideas.....



Pre-painting - I glued the plastic bases together to get thicker 'struts'.



 

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