Sunday, 9 July 2017

Army Showcase - Mound Builders

Let me tell you a tale of dithering, delay, indecision and lack of organisation.

As you are no doubt aware, Eureka Miniatures used to do a thing called the 100/300 Club, where people could propose figures or ranges of figures, and other people could commit to buy some until it reached a certain level, at which point the range would be put into production. Basically it was an early version of what the kids today call 'crowdfunding'. Kids today, eh?

Anyway, many years ago one of the 300 Club proposals was for 15mm Mound Builder Americans, covering the cultures which inhabited the Mississippi Basin from about the 9th to 17th century. At the time I was looking for new Meso-American armies to add to my HOTT collection, so I put myself down for some of the figures. I kind of forgot about it, until a couple of years later, when I got a mail saying that the range would be going into production. So it was that, about eight years ago, a pile of 15mm Mound Builders arrived on my doorstep. Full of enthusiasm I pulled them out of their little bags, admired them, and then organised them into a basic HOTT army. I undercoated them ... and then they got put to one side.

The problem was that I wasn't sure how to progress with them as a fantasy army. I did a little bit of digging around, but couldn't find much that excited me to make them sparkle as a HOTT army, as opposed to an historic army co-opted into a game of HOTT. So it was that the figures lived a lonely life, forgotten in a box of other unfinished projects.

We now move forward to last December. As regular readers of this blog will recall, we went down to Canberra for the 100 Objects exhibition. One of the exhibits were some small carvings from the Mound Builder cultures, and I was reminded of the army I had languishing in its box somewhere. Since it had been filed away I had begun to play, and enjoy, DBA 3.0 and I thought that this would be an opportunity to put together an army for that game in 15mm; my first, in fact. So when we got home I dug out the undercoated figures, and set about organising them according to the list (List IV-10 if you're interested).

My cunning plan was to put together the DBA army, thus giving the figures a new life, and then just add in a few minor details to make them a HOTT army as well, looking to add HOTT aspects as I went along. Being able to use them for DBA was the gave me the enthusiasm and motivation I needed to get on with them.

The problem was, that I'd bought the figures to do a HOTT army with, and I didn't seem to be able to configure what I had into the DBA force. I didn't want to buy any more figures, so I set about modifying figures I had an excess of in order to make up for shortfalls elsewhere. I also added in a few vaguely suitable random figures from my lead-pile to fill some critical gaps.

I piled into painting them with enthusiasm, until I got the the final detailing stage. Then I lost the impetus. I kind of knew what I wanted to do with them, but lost confidence in my ability to carry it off without ruining what I'd already done. So the figures sat, 80% completed, on my painting table, mocking me.

This week I bit the bullet and finished them!

Oh, and whilst looking for something else, guess what I found? That's right; I found a few bags of Mound Builder figures that I'd not initially used for the original HOTT configuration. Enough, in fact, to have easily covered the gaps I'd had in my DBA army. Very annoying. But, in fact, they may be of some use, but I'll cover that later.

So there we have it. The long and rambling story of my Mound Builders. Officially my Army Showcase series of posts is designed for HOTT armies, but this is an army designed to simultaneously be both a HOTT and DBA army. Here are all of the elements together, both real and fantasy.

The DBA list offers two generals, either Bow or a Command Litter carrying the Great Sun himself. The latter is the most visually impressive, but I suspect that the former is the more practical option in game-play. The Bow were converted from noble warriors, by adding wire bows and quivers, so in HOTT terms I can use them either as Shooters or Blades. They are led by one of the magnificent shaman figures Eureka do in this range. I filled out the Great Sun's element with a couple of noble escort warriors, and a couple of figures with long spears converted to standard/fan-bearers. It all makes for a suitable busy base.

Here's another shot of the two command elements.

Classifying the litter in HOTT is problematic. I have classed the Inca equivalent as a Behemoth, but then there is a feeling that the Great Inca wasn't averse to getting stuck into a fight, and the litter does seem to have been escorted by a picked guard of warriors. The Great Sun seems to adopt a more passive roll; Behemoth strikes me as too aggressive a classification. I'd opt either for a Cleric (reflecting his spiritual role in the society) or even simply a Blade, on a massively over-depth base.

The DBA list allows for one element of nobles, classed as Blades. and that's what they'd be in HOTT as well. It's suggested that warriors of this class should be heavily tattooed, but I decided to give them the same red and white warpaint I used on most of the better class warriors in order to draw the whole army together visually.

The core of the army is made up of archers, classed a Bows in DBA and Shooters in HOTT. These should all be armed with bows, of course, but in y belief that I hadn't got enough figures, I filled out the elements with warriors using the atl-atl as well. I love atl-atls, so am happy to have a few more than I intended in the army.

The lowest class of warriors in the army are the 'stinkards', apparently made up of conquered tribes. They were armed with long, fire-hardened spears. I opted not to give them any warpaint. In both HOTT and DBA they are Hordes. Ideally, for HOTT, I should have more elements than this, and probably have enough spare figures to make them, but I'll leave it for now.

The final elements in the DBA configuration are the skirmishers, who apparently did have red and white warpaint. These are a mix of figures from my lead pile. In DBA they are skirmishers, and for HOTT they could be put together as one, or sabot-based to give two, Lurkers.

I did two fantasy elements. I wasn't sure what to class the shaman as. I'm not a fan of the 'shaman=Magician' school of thought, because it doesn't always represent the role of such people in a culture. Cleric is often a better choice, offering a more protective role. However the shaman in dressed in a bird costume, and reading around it appears that the Mound Builders were big into the idea of the Thunder Birds, so I decided to base the shaman with a Peter Pig eagle as one of these, classified as a Dragon. If I really wanted to I could run him as a Magician as well, albeit on an over-depth base.

Finally there's this chap. When archaeologists began to dig up Mound Builder sites in the 18th and 19th century, they were surprised at the sophistication and scale of the buildings and structures they uncovered. It seemed impossible to them that the native 'savages' they saw around them could have been responsible for such activity. The idea was mooted that they were the works of an earlier race of mythical, giant, humans. Of course, what they refused to acknowledge, or failed to realise, was that European colonisation had destroyed the more sophisticated cultures; no giants were needed. But this is HOTT, and a giant from earlier times seemed to be an excellent addition to the army. He's an Irregular Miniatures 54mm nude, with added weapons, shield and clothes. And he's a Behemoth.

The fun thing with this army is that it will get two debut games; once as a HOTT army and once as a DBA army. Obviously the latter is problematic, since this is my only 15mm DBA army. I can use it on club nights against ahistorical opponents, of course. But I also worked out that my HOTT Aztec army may cover about 80% of the DBA Aztec list (with a couple of minor fudges). And what can I use to fill out the missing elements? Why, the spare Mound Builder figures I found.


  1. Those are great! Don't you have an Eskimo or similar army they can duke it out with in HOTT?

    1. Oh, I have HOTT opponents for them including, as you say, Inuit. And, of course, Aztecs. And Conquistadors. It's DBA where I'm short of foes; my Inuit are lacking in the rank and file necessary for them to morph into a suitable DBA army (Eastern Forest American is the best fit there).

  2. Is it not terrific when a project comes together so quickly? Ha ha!
    That is a great looking army and the Big Guy is, well, BIG! It will to see reports of this army in action.

  3. Very nice. Those Mound Builders have been at the back of my mind for some time, just need to fit them into a project. I have a few samples of Eureka's equally nice Tlingits - yet another project!

  4. The Tlingits are a potential enemy for the Mound Builders, according the the DBA lists (not sure how it actually works geographically though). Aside from the Aztecs and themselves, though, all of their historical opponents seem to be basically bow-based armies. There is an option on the Pueblo Culture list for auxilia, but bow seem to be the norm.

  5. Nice army. What about the camp/stronghold?

    1. I have no specific stronghold; I have a step-pyramid I use for most of my pre-Columbian American HOTT armies, and that will do. However If I make a mound as a BUA for DBA then I can use that, obviously.

      As for a DBA camp, I have a pack of Aztec porters somewhere I can use as generic followers, and I'll base a camp around them.

  6. I have had a DbA project in the back of my mind for several years. It is based on the Tinglit Indians of the Dungness Crab Tribe People. The DbA 3.0 army is the North-Pacific Indians army (I cannot recall the name off hand). I am a big fan of crustaceans in general.
    This is a good reminder to consider starting it. Of course I could always wait 8 years before I do...mer mer mer.
    Nice project, by the way =D

    1. Well, Eureka do Tlingit warriors in 15mm ... :)


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