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Landsknechts – Building the Army.

My First Completed Landsknechts

I have been steadily painting a Landsknecht force for ‘Never mind The Billhooks’. I first painted some of these colourful troops back in 2021. I had a sprue of gunsmen that were given away with Wargames Illustrated 383 back 2019 and they had been consigned to the lead pile until I thought that it would be a good idea to add them in as skirmishers to my WOTR army. The truth was that I just fancied painting something different for a change and six figures didn’t seem like a big investment in time. You can see the original blog here:


Having painted 6 Gunsmen, I thought that that would be it. However, I bought another couple of sprues from Warlord in the sale. My ‘excuse’ was that I would use them for crew on my galleys in ‘Nevermind the Boat hooks’. While I was at it, I also added some Doppelsoldiers armed with the Zweihanders- again as crew for my galleys. Thus my Landsknecht army gradually expanded!

However, the push that I needed to commit to making a full Landsknecht contingent came from an off beat source. I have been reading the fantasy books by Joe Abercrombie. If you haven’t read these books, I recommend that you do! The characters are superb and the action and dry humour is just top class. One of my favourite characters in the books is the mercenary captain, Nicoma Cosca. In my imagination, he is the perfect Landsknecht captain, first of all leading the mercenary band the Thousand Swords and then the smaller but no less ill disciplined and deadly mercenary unit, ‘The Gracious Hand’.

In an exchange with another character, Nicoma Cosca is getting dressed to lead his men into battle. He asks;

“How do I look?”

“Like a pimp lost his mind in a military surplus store”

“Exactly the look I was going for!”

Well, that sort of sums up Landsknechts for me! The final push was the publication of the expanded NMTBH’s rule book, Billhooks Deluxe, which covers the periods of the Burgundian- Swiss and Italian wars and of course, includes rules for using Landsknechts.

As for reference, I fell back on the tried and trusted Osprey series, as well as a number of articles in Wargames Illustrated. Of course, the internet provided plenty of reference, from pictures on Pinterest, various blogs ( once again, Camisodo is a superb reference – I used him to help with my Irish army). I wasn’t overly concerned with specific colours, I just wanted to create a really different and bright looking army.

When it came to choosing the figures, in the main, I have used the Warlord Plastic sets. I prefer plastics over metals for the main army as it makes transport and storage easier and the plastics tend to be more durable on the tabletop and easier to repair if broken. The other aspect that I liked about the warlord figures is that the crisp molding and clear representation of the various types of ‘uniform’ make it easy to pick out and paint the details. Having painted the plastics, I tried my hand at some metal figures, notably the Artizan range and now that I understand how the various frills, slashes and armour all work together, I found painting the metal figures more straight forward than had I started with them. Incidentally, the Artizan figures are superb and entirely compatible with Warlord and Perry figures.

One down side of the Warlord figures is that they are all very similar and a limited in the poses available. I varied how they looked with a few head swaps from the Perry sets. I also mixed up the arms and heads supplied to get a good mix.

As I became a bit more adventurous, I tried a few simple conversions. The easiest was to have a Landsknecht holding his hat – the figure in the middle below, looking remarkably similar to Rick Priestly, is my first attempt! Incidentally, the head is from the Fireforge Northern Folk Rabble set!

When it came to painting, I did some batch painting but eventually gave up and just painted three or four figures at a sitting using a limited pallet of colours. In my next blog article I’ll show my step by step approach and the colours that I used. Although I wanted a really bright and colourful army, I also wanted some similarities to the figures to try and tie them together. So all of the pikes were the same colour, as were the socks, shoes, belts and in the main, the feathers.

As you will have noticed, I haven’t finished basing most of the figures in the pictures. I’ll show you the completed units in the next blog – as I write this, I am just four figures away from completing three pike blocks!


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