Battle Masters: Assembling the Forces
Scaling my custom Battle Masters game started from the bottom up. I knew I wanted to use my 10 mm Pendraken miniatures, which I’ve been obsessed with ever since I purchased my first set several years ago. I had plenty of left-over medieval men miniatures, and only had to order a few extras and a special cannon model to complete the imperial forces. I ordered two different cannons, as they are cheap and hard to tell what they will really look like until they’re in your hands. I purchased the mid-medieval bombard and the renaissance heavy gun, the latter of which is really perfect, even including the crew models.
I’m doing more planning with this project than any similar one I’ve done in the past, and really taking my time making choices about how I’ll put stuff together. So once I had the models, the next step was to figure out basing. First I used foam core just to figure out what size I wanted the bases, testing cavalry, infantry, and artillery models to fit. I ended with a 1″ x 1.5″ base being just about right. Next I played with materials: balsa wood, bass wood backed with sheet magnet, and MDF. As much as I like the magnet one for having a smooth rubbery bottom and the added benefit that if the container is ferrous the model can be better immobilized during storage (something I do with a lot of my 28 mm figs), the MDF had the best feel. The thickness and weight really felt the best for moving the unit around on the board. On the right you can see my imperial lord knights on the original foam core test base, a unit of crossbowmen on MDF, and finally a unit of men-at-arms based on MDF which was then textured and primed. I’ve also added a pole for a flag, which I want to use for displaying the unit’s symbol and dice value. The next step for this unit will be to paint it and find out if it was a mistake to base them prior to painting. I’m hoping I’ll be able to reach them all fine and paint the entire unit in one pass, but I’m reserving judgement until I’ve done the first test unit.
The chaos army presents some more problems in filling in the models. I have plenty of orcs and goblins, though to my eye the orcs look like goblins and the goblins like orcs. I ordered some beastmen which look great. I also purchased some wolf riders, but again to my backwards eye the riders look like orcs instead of goblins. I’m not sure if I should care about that or not, but it slightly bothers me. I have some goblin archers which I think with a little putty mohawk will be fine for chaos archers. The chaos warriors and knights have been a problem, as there’s nothing in Pendraken’s like that’s quite right. I just discovered this indiegogo project for 10mm “Evil Men” which are really perfect, but sadly I’ve missed the boat on that. I’ve sent the organizer an email to see if there’s any way I can purchase some models.
And that leaves the ogre. I have a few ideas here, but none are perfect. In the line on the right you can see the right-most model is the original Battle Masters ogre. To his left is an original Battle Masters man-at-arms for scale. To the left of him is a very interesting model, which I will speak about in a bit. Continuing to the left is Pendraken’s giant model that game with my original dungeon set, and then finally my unit of men-at-arms for the final scale.
Even Pendraken’s giant seems a bit too large relative to the men. The orignal man-at-arms comes up to the original ogre’s chest. These guys barely hit the giant’s waste. And it’s even worse for the model in the middle. What the heck is that model? Well, I’m glad you asked. Remember how I described back in ’92 attending GenCon where this game was first released, and they were handing out free copies of the rule book? Well, they were handing something else out at the booth at that time – two little plastic figures, a knight and an ogre. I have no idea what the point of these hand-outs where. Their scale was oddly small, a bit too small for standard 28 mm stuff, like what’s included in Battle Masters. Maybe they were just proof of concept for these plastic some-assembly-required models? (Note, the ogre there comes in five pieces: body front, body back, head, and two arms.)
I long ago lost the knight, he was kind of crappy anyway (a two-part model, his sword and shield were one solid piece that plugged into the front of the main body). This ogre though has stuck around in my collection, and I’ve never had a use for him. For a long time he was just a kind of silly mascot model in my Battle Masters box, left there perhaps to remind me of his origin.
I cant’ deny there’s a certain feeling of kismet to using that model in my custom reduced-scale version of the game. Still, sadly, he’s way too big. He’s clearly more in the giant range than the ogre range. I’m thinking of maybe ordering some of Pendraken’s trolls, as they look like they might be the right scale. Perhaps though I’ll wait and see how the rest of the units come together. Maybe if I have to order some stuff from Pendraken to hack together some chaos knights, I’ll toss some trolls into the order just to make the comparison.