09 April 2013

Assembling and painting Polish Winged Hussars part 1

About a year ago I received a box of Polish Winged Hussars along with the rest of my order from Wargamer for my fledgling Polish-Lithuanian army that I had started to collect for By Fire & Sword.

The Polish Winged Hussars are an iconic unit which dominated battlefields whenever being present in the armies of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth during the 16th and 17th century. The eccentric and richly decorated knights are just like every other well known combat unit throughout history - something a wargamer want to field on the gaming table if possible.

However, where players are able to play with King Tigers and Tiger tank companies in Flames of War or pick the cherries from the pie in other systems and periods of history, the rules and army lists for By Fire & Sword have a historical restriction on how many you can field per regiment and in your whole division (there are 3-5 regiments per division).

So while the box came with 6 stands worth of models, at the time a year ago it made little sense assembling more than 3 stands as that was the legal limit of what I could field. However, with the English language version of the rules being released at Salute in a few weeks time and having experienced very tough battlefield opposition by Swedish armies played by my friends I thought it was time to actually expand my Polish Crown cavalry regiment to full strength. This means adding 6 more stands of light cavalry, 6 more stands of Pancerni and at that point I will be able to field 6 stands of Winged hussars.

Now, the light and medium cavalry that make up the backbone of the cavalry regiment is actually pretty good on its own, the problem so far has been that the small unit of winged hussars I have been able to deploy and use in games have fared very poorly. Their small numbers and overexposed battlefield presence made them bullet magnets for Swedish artillery and infantry firing salvos. Their small number of bases meant I lacked the morale bonus of massed ranks (which I will get with 6 stands). Having morale broken on the charge by a hail of bullets is devastating as the hussars lose their lance, which is their battering ram trump card during the first charge they make in a battle and which works like a warm knife through butter.

Their small numbers have also made it hard for me to play them as I have been very concerned about their durability, in By Fire & Sword you don't want to charge a small unit into a very large one unless you can be certain to slay a lot of enemy soldiers to even out the combat resolution. So far I've been facing excellent Swedish Reiter regiments that have been operating in groups of 6 bases, which have been better handled by my Light and Medium cavalry. This left my Winged Hussars without a proper battlefield role and without valid and proper targets. I hope that with a full 6 stand squadron things will change and become more interesting.

To be fair, I don't think the Hussars would have anywhere near as much trouble if they faced any other nation in the book, the website even states that the Swedes are the ultimate opponent for the Polish-Lithuanian armies. Swedish Pike&Shot regiments backed up by regimental guns embedded amongst them are very tough opponents. Swedish Reiters are also excellent units even though they are slower on the charge than their Polish counterparts.

Long story short, I began tinkering with the last 3 bases of Winged Hussars in my possession. I also figured that it might be interesting to show what a workload this unit is to complete - as often when you only see the end result in a single post people assume "wow that was fast" (like on a TV cooking show). With this short series of posts focusing on the Winged Hussars I will show in what steps I paint the models and how many sessions it takes me to get them from the raw metal to the painted end result complete with handmade pennants and flag.

Assembling the miniatures themselves actually took me two hours if not more. I’m obsessive when it comes to cleaning mould lines and such, but what really eats up a lot of time are the wings. The saddles have small slots where you should be able to glue the wings in place. However, as these are cast in metal the fitting is poor – so I ended up  doing what I did last time as well – trimmed down the saddle and glued the wings in place without cast slots to support them. The wings are actually very stable and durable if you use superglue and trim the saddle and wings to be able to lock perfectly. Of course the wings can be snapped by rough handling or dropping the model but I’m very careful with all my miniatures so I have had zero accidents even when I lift the hussars up by holding them by the horse head and wings with my index finger and thumb.

You can learn more about the Winged Hussar boxed set by checking out my old review of them HERE

9 comments:

  1. Winged Hussars units of 6 are almost unstoppable. Large (12 bases) units of Swedish musketeers with cheval de frise and with pike support can take them finally down but after tough fight and big losses. When they are supported by pancerni and jazda kozacka they are even harder to beat.

    I guess that Skirmish and Division battles are going to be dominated by Winged Husars after the release of BF&S rules at Salute! Why? They are good but also they look fantastic!

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  2. Alas they cannot be fielded on skirmish level sized battles, which is a good thing as they would as you say beat the living crap out of everything. Btw, I have lost more morale checks than I can remember with my poor Hussars due to Swedish medium artillery firing case shot at me...

    Yeah they look fantastic, but they also require a LOT of work to paint up. I wonder if people would field them in "army numbers" even if allowed for such things as Vienna or Kircholm due to the workload it takes to assemble and paint them up.

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  3. I've enjoyed reading your batreps and I'm thining about picking up a copy now they're in English. But I was wondering whether they have rules for things like tercios and keils as I would like to use them for more general renaissance battles as well.

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    Replies
    1. No Tercio formations, they became outdated during the TYW when the Swedes began changing up military tactics, when the timeline of By Fire & Sword begins they are no longer used.

      There are no wedge formations either.

      The formations and tactics in this set of rules cover:

      Caracole (cavalry)
      Feigned flight (cavalry)
      Salvo fire with entire units (infantry)
      Fire by deep rank (infantry)
      Countermarch (infantry)
      Pike & Shot formation (infantry, 2/3rds musketeers and 1/3rd Pikemen formations)

      Don't know if the rules work for generic Renaissance warfare, I think a lot of flavor, units and tactics are written for central and Eastern European battlefields specifically.

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    2. Thanks for the update, it's about what I thought.

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  4. They can can fielded on SKIRMISH lvl!

    http://oim.wargamer.pl/pl/download/27-podjazd-czata-gosiewskiego.html

    There are even special models form Gosiewski and Ganzkof! The rules are official and allowed in tournaments!

    Painting is always time consuming... Especially cavalry and especially Hussars. Still final effect is worth it!

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    Replies
    1. Ha! That is so cool, gives me a reason to pick up Reiters on Salute as well :-D

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    2. True. Polish reiters are nice. All are equipped with long rifles that allows them to Caracole at longer range. They are bit slow and they should stay with dragoons but over all that list has some serious power.

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