Saturday, 11 February 2017

From ByronM: DBA Army Late Swiss 1400-1522 (126 Points)

For my third and final entry of the day, I give you another project that I have kept meaning to get to, but for some reason kept putting aside over the last few years.  That project was finally getting a DBA army together to play with a friend of mine (I have just been using one of his in the past).

While DBA is not for everyone, as it plays a lot more like chess than a normal wargame (HUGE levels of abstraction), it is a great way to get people into miniature games since the rules are simple and the model count is low.  The army I chose to do was based simply on the fact that I have wanted to do pikemen for a long time, but have been unwilling to deal with the normal huge blocks of them required for any game.  DBA solves that issue as any given army maxes at about 12 stands and no more than a total of about 50 models.  So with that in mind I chose to paint up a Swiss Pike army.

I have to give a lot of credit to our very own Tamsin for my choice of army.  When I was looking to get a DBA army was around the same time I saw her excellent Swiss unit go live a few years back, and they really attracted my attention as a strong option if I wanted to paint pikemen, due to the bonkers mix mash makeup look of them in all their various colours. As a result I lovingly refer to these guys as my skittles army, as they look like a handful of skittles.

 The army consists of (in DBA army list format):

1x General (Bd6)
1x Knights (Kn6)
8x Pikes (Pk4)
2x Handgunners (Ps2)
1x Mounted Crossbowmen (Lh2)
1x Artillery (Art3+bombard)


The one unit of mounted knights that goes with the army was done up in a wedge formation on the charge.  While they are the plainest looking of the units they are also the most deadly.  I tried to apply what I learned earlier this year about painting horses in 28mm to these in 15mm, but they just don't look as good at a smaller scale.  They still work ok, but without the space for transitions, they lose our a bit.

These units are the optional units in the army.  You can either take the mounted crossbowmen or the two bases of foot handgunners.  I also included the artillery in this picture just to include it somewhere.

Everything in the army is 15mm from Mirliton, and while the Mirliton figures are excellent with tons of detail, they only come with soft metal pikes which bend when you look at them sideways. Worse, they are only about 1/2 the length they should be, and since we all know the length and stiffness of your pike matters, I quickly replaced them with metal ones from Xyston. While much better looking and I won't have to worry about breaking them, I do have to worry about breaking me on them.  I have already drawn blood at least 5 times when reaching for them, or over them to get paint. Damn they are sharp!

This was an army that once again I had visions of doing as a show case type army, with crazy levels of painting.  Once I started working on it though, it quickly dropped down in level as I found with the 15mm it was just too hard to do anything super high level without taking way too much time, and even if I was taking time it was too small to get things like striped pants or seams that looked right.  So, I back tracked and did them at my normal base level painting and I still think they look pretty solid at table height.  This is what I call tabletop level painting since they look good at tabletop but fall apart when picked up for close inspection, but that drives Curt nuts, so I just had to say use the term again :-).  These figs do fit that description though, they look good at a distance, but they fall apart when looked at closely, but I doubt they ever will be, and they are only 15mm, so it's all good!

I have to be honest about something else too, I have no idea about the paint scheme being accurate or not, and really didn't even care.  I looked around at images, saw a bunch of different bright colours, so went with that.  I even looked at Tamsin's figs again and started to read about her research of different provinces or mercenary bands or something that determined the colour patterns, my eyes crossed and I thought screw it, random colours it is!  So, I will probably have someone shoot them down for not being historically accurate at some point, but oh well, they are for a glorified game of chess, and I love the bonkers colour variations, and I love the look of the massed pike (even if every time I reach for them I stab myself and draw blood on those damn metal pikes!) so here is one more picture to leave you with....

I really do like the look of them :-)

Oh, and with that I believe I am over my stated points goal for the year!  I have some more projects in the works, but I think this will be my last big post (unless I go even more off the deep end than I already am) as I move into doing some more character level and high level paint jobs for the last 2 theme weeks, the Curtgeld, and to do some characters/leaders and finish my Arena Rex army.  So don't expect to see too much from me as it will mainly be slow but better painted stuff rather than rank and file level stuff.  I can't believe I met my goal in 1/2 the time this year though, hurray no last minute rush required! 


First, congratulations on smashing through your points target Byron! 1000 points in under two months is pretty darn impressive. That must be a record for you. Well done!

Of course, with me loving all things Italian Wars, I can't help but be delighted with this submission. To be honest, I'm no fan of DBA (its always seemed like a tarted-up version of 'paper, scissors, rock' to me), but I agree that is has been very successful in getting people into the miniatures hobby. 

I've not seen Mirliton figures close-up before and I have to say they are very nice castings indeed. Crisp details, nice animation and reasonably proportioned. A lot to like. And all of this topped off with a wonderful paint job - you've done them good service, Byron. 

Your Gendarmes seem suitably ferocious and tank-like, and that bombard looks ready to knock down the walls of Milan.  I really like the punchy colours you've gone with for your  pike and completely understand replacing the white metal pikes with steel rod, but, what's this? No banners? You can't have renaissance reislaufers without their brave cantonal banners going into battle with them. I expect to see this corrected when I visit next, Mr. M. ;)

Seriously, excellent work Byron. These colourful Switzers will give you 126 points to cap off your personal target. Again, great job!


  1. Regardless of whether you like DBA or not, this is a really lovely army. The amazing array of colours really sets it off. Great job Byron!

  2. Thanks Curt, glad you like them. As for the banners, I had no idea I was supposed to have any, the force didn't come with any banner bearers, and I did pretty much zero research so just figured they didn't use them. How did they attach them and what did they use, I can always add :-)

    1. The whole fun of doing historicals is their banners! Seriously, you don't need specific figures for banner bearers - just use a regular guy that's posed holding a pike. Remind me and I'll bring along some banners for you next time I'm in town.

  3. I really like DBA, been playing for years and gave many armies. Remember " No money, no Swiss". Superb army.

  4. Nice work Byron - gotta love Swiss pikemen, even if there are 1/8 of the number I painted. I think you made a wise decision going with random colour rather than trying to do what I did :)

    1. All it proves is that there are people madder than I am Curt! :-)

      Oh, and thanks Tamsin, even if you are mad :-)

  5. They look really good! Good luck with them on the tabletop.

  6. Great work Byron! Haven't tried DBA yet, but those figures look great.

  7. Excellent work Byron. I lost interest in DBA when I realized that my 4 feet of hoplite phalanx looked much less formidable when reduced to the 8 or so bases DBA requires. Kudos on the renaissance paint schemes.

    1. Thanks Peter, and yeah it is not so much a wargame as a strategy game. You never really get a feel for the era in it, it is so abstracted that it is almost a chess game. But, as an entry to wargames, or a competitive game it is very good at it is simple, fast, and very well balanced.

  8. Great looking Italian wars Swiss, I'm working on their 28mm cousins at the moment, bonkers colour scheme check! That's what you want! Oh and lots of flags.
    Best Iain

  9. Not a fan of DBA as but your take on these fine lads is great.

  10. Very effective work in a smaller scale. I am becoming quite partial to black backgrounds for photos thanks to you and Curt.

  11. That is a sharp looking force,Byron! (Yes pun intended for the thirsty pikes!)
    I do like the colors quite a bit too! Betcha crank out more aND fluff up a proper not DBA force before to long as well! ;)

  12. Wow - these are brilliant! The colours are smashing and I've really enjoyed the discussion on what "tabletop quality" really means. It's one of the reasons I like the challenge, a chance to hear from painters and hobbyists of all abilities.