Wednesday, March 21, 2018


This post is a reboot from an earlier draft that through diligent neglect became obsolete. Back in 2016, I started painting a lot of Crusader Miniatures Medieval Spanish for a Lion Rampant retinue. Things were going on schedule for a game day we were planning for September that year, but at the end of July Grendel was diagnosed with cancer and for six awful weeks I managed to get almost nothing done towards finishing the army. When he died on September 6, it just took everything out of me for a while. The army sat unpainted for a long, long time. (Well, not really long as my unfinished projects go. I've got partially painted lead from the 90s still haunting me with no dead cats to justify my malingering.) When I got back to painting, I devoted my efforts to other projects (there are so many) because completing the Spanish no longer had any urgency.

But why Spanish? As I mentioned in a previous post, I've gotten deep into all things "Rampant." I'd been meaning to paint a Lion Rampant retinue since the rules were released back in 2014. I've had a lot of Old Glory Medievals partially painted, but for some reason, I couldn't psyche myself into finishing them (though I'm getting up steam for it now). I needed an army that cold inspire me in terms of the history and the figures available. I toyed with Later Crusaders or any ca. 12/13th c. European army, but nah. Then I got bit by the El Cid bug.

El Cid

This period in Spanish history is fascinating and controversial. The real El Cid, Rodrigo Díaz del Bivar, was a nobleman from the kingdom of Léon who lived in the latter half of the 11th c. His title is from the Arabic 'Al Sayyid, meaning "the lord". Díaz was also known as Campeador, which translates as "strong warrior." It comes from the Latin campi doctor, which means "master of the battlefield."

Díaz' activities are legendary for the most part, although there is enough fact mixed with the fiction to create an historical sketch. His deeds were recorded first in a poem in Latin called Carmen Campidoctoris (Song of the Campeador), which may be as old as 1083, i.e., composed during his life time (Díaz died in 1099). Some scholars, however, date it some 50 years after Díaz' death.

Díaz came to prominence fighting for King Sancho II of Léon and Castile, rising to the honor of being the standard-bearer of Castile. Sancho's enemies were his own brothers, in addition to the Andalusian Moorish city-states. When Sancho was murdered, his brother Alfonso VI became king, which lead ultimately to Díaz' exile from the court of Léon-Castile.

As an exile, Díaz fought for the Muslim taifa of Zaragoza against various other Muslim and Christian states. The invasion of Spain by the Almoravid Berbers in 1086—and their defeat of Alfonso's army at Sagrajas—brought an end to Diaz' exile. As the foremost warrior of Spain, Alfonso needed Díaz on his side if he hoped to withstand the Almoravid onslaught.

For several years, Díaz served Alfonso, but during that time he also worked to gain control for himself of the city of Valencia. The Muslim ruler of the city became his vassal, but was later overthrown by the Almoravids. Díaz besieged and took the city in 1094. He ruled it until his death in 1099.

While Díaz is popularly seen as a Christian hero, he actually gave his service to both Christian and Muslim rulers and fought with Muslims against Christians, Christians against Muslims, Muslims against Muslims, and Christians against Christians. Valencia during his rule was a pluralistic city with freedom for both Christians and Muslims alike. In the patchwork of Christian and Muslim kingdoms of Spain, politics, business, and ambition often transcended religion.

Díaz can be seen mostly as an adventurer seeking renown wherever he could. His taking and ruling Valencia is evidence of his desire to establish an independent dynasty and be free of serving kings and emirs of any faction or religion. Without his leadership, the city-state of Valencia failed. It was ruled by his widow Jimena until 1102, when it was retaken by the Almoravids and held by them and various Muslim dynasties that succeeded them until it was captured by Aragon in the 13th c.

El Retinue

I'm easily sold on things for the silliest reasons. What struck me most about the El Cid Spanish was that they had slingers. I've mentioned my love of the sling before. In a world of Medieval armies, only one uses the noble sling. So I had to paint it.

Initial thoughts

I tinkered around a lot with the composition of my retinue for the upcoming tournament. I like the punch of Mounted Men-at-Arms, but they're awfully expensive and can be enticed into charging about rashly. I thought maybe cheaper and better controlled was worth having less punch. I may revise my opinion after Saturday.

I like having light horse (Mounted Yeoman), but the Spanish historically used jinetes, who flung javelins at close range and then scurried off to regroup and return again to fling their javelins. The reality was, I think, a bit more effective than the Lion Rampant rules reflect. A 6" shooting range combined with a pretty dicey (7+) evade make it pretty tough to get away from whomever you're harassing. Getting caught on an evade by Mounted Men-at-Arms or Mounted Sergeants is pretty much instant death. I decided not to chance it for a tournament army. Also, they cost 3 points, which is just an awkward thing to have to factor into a 24-point retinue list when most units are either 6 or 4 points. You're bound to have an odd point preventing you from making a tidy list without adding a unit of Serfs.

Finally, the slingers—the raison d'être for making the retinue—are a bit lackluster and the rules say contradicting things about them. They have a 12" maximum shooting range AND they're just like archers (who have an 18" max. range). That's an erratum, it turns out. They have a 12" max range, but only cost 3 points (there's that odd point thing again), so not exactly like archers. I assume a lot of players are going to have shooty retinues and bringing a sling to a bow-fight doesn't seem smart to me. So, no massed slingers, but the figures will appear as bidowers.

And now, the final tournament list for Saturday:

Mounted Sergeants

Because 11th c. knights were simply mail-clad and may not have used (or solely used) a couched lance, it's easy to justify fielding them as Mounted Sergeants rather than Mounted Men-at-Arms. Mounted Sergeants sacrifice power (only a 4+ attack v. 3+ for Mtd MAA) and protection (3 armor v. 4) for better maneuverability (5+ to move v. 7+) and no need to worry about suppressing urges to wildly charge anything that wanders in range.

There are two units at 4 points each.

Foot Sergeants

I tend to like horsey armies rather than foot-sloggy ones, but I figured a solid core of infantry would be good to have. They can hold up to a charge by Mounted Men-at-Arms (well, maybe, or chew them up a bit while dying) and can provide a sort of semi-fixed wall for the mounted forces to maneuver behind.

There are two units at 4 points each.


These were a late addition to the retinue. I only bought the minis in February. I started to think that a little more firepower would help—especially given the disappointing slinger stats. Crossbows have a 4+ shoot value, but a 7+ shooting activation (v. 5+ shoot/6+ activation for bows and slings). I've played on the receiving end of crossbow fire; I'm looking to be on the giving end for a change.

There is one unit at 4 points.


I like bidowers. When the other side has 'em, they're annoying. So, at the least they can counter-annoy your opponent. But if you have terrain for them to skulk in, they can have a considerable asymmetric effect against more powerful units who are discomfited by fighting in rough terrain. (But if Foot Men-at-Arms come after you, run like hell.)

There are two units at 2 points each.

In sum

The retinue has 7 units. No unit is more than 4 points, so it'll take losing at least three units to get to half strength. (I could easily see myself quickly losing two Men-at-Arms units in a blaze of glory.) Everything except the crossbows move on a 5+ activation. I think that overall it has a pretty good balance. If I'm wrong about that come Saturday, the most logical factor to blame is my incompetent generalship. The cats won't be there; I can't blame them.

All snug in their box dreaming of glory

The also rans

As I've mention elsewhere, I have many more minis painted (and am painting) than are needed for a single retinue. Even though I eschewed using them for the tournament, I have the following on deck:

Mounted Yeomen

I only have one unit completed, but will have two eventually. I think having at least two is needed if you have any. A retinue with 2 x Mounted Men-at-Arms and 4 x Mounted Yeomen/javelins might be interesting.


Ah, the beloved (but not by Dan Mersey) slingers. I have 12 figures painted, so enough for a full missile unit. Someday, but until then, I'll use them as bidowers (see above) side by side with the javelin-armed foot.

I have some thoughts about house rule for slingers that would take into account (1) there's little evidence that slings had less range then self bows, which most of the bows in Lion Rampant represent, and (2) the concussive effect of sling stones made them more effective against armored men than arrows. That makes me think about the following:

Keep them at 12" max range, make them 4 points, but give them a -1 effect on the target's base armor value to a minimum of 2, i.e., armor 4 would reduce to 3, armor 3 would reduce to 2, but no effect on armor 2 and 1. The armor effect of cover would be unaffected; for example, an armor 2 unit in cover would still be a 3 because the base armor value of 2 is unaffected.

Alternately, use the same armor effect as above for targets within 12" range, but give them 18" max range and make them 5 points.

All we are saying is give sling a chance.


I only have 8 painted so far. I hadn't really intended on doing a full unit, but I should buy another pack and make a full 12-figure unit. Between the slingers I love and the crossbows I need, the archers are the redheaded step children. I could use the figures in a mixed unit with Foot Yeomen (see below) or just go with vanilla shooters after I build out their numbers.

The Sir-Not-Appearing-in-this-Film lot

Because they're still raw lead, the following units are on hold while I finish other projects that have come to the front burner now that I have a retinue completed.

Foot Yeomen

Honestly, I'm not sure why anyone values these units. They're an inconvenient mid-point between Foot Sergeants and Serfs. They have decent combat values for defense (4+), but lousy armor for melee troops (2). The one interesting thing you can do with them is create a mixed unit, which gives them some firepower, but at only 12" max. range and the unit can no longer form schiltron. That may be something for me to do with my forlorn archers, but I'm not sure if mixed units combine the best or worst of the two types. Cruel experience down the road will likely teach me which.


Because Crusader makes the minis, I have 'em. Also, if using 3-point units like javelin-armed Mounted Yeomen or slingers as missile units, I may need a 1-point unit to fill out the full 24 points. Or maybe in a spirit of bonhomie, I could just field a unit (or two) to give my opponent's mounted troops some oiks to run down. That's the Medieval spirit. They can also function in a scenario-based game as enraged peasants defending their fields and farms from marauding Moors. They're actually quite nice minis and can plug into any retinue/scenario. I have 24 of 'em, which will give me two units if I should ever be daft enough to field them.


  1. Great looking retinue and rational behind it. I like slingers too.

  2. Beautiful painting and basing as is your norm. ¡Buena suerte! on Saturday.

  3. Another option for foot yeomen is to give them javelins (not sure if they are historical or not). I've had success with it and they can still form schiltron.
    Scott A.

    1. Javelins for the Foot Yeomen may be an option worth pursuing. It brings them up to 4 points, same as the Foot Sergeants, which begs the question of which is better.

  4. Nice retinue, David. Good to have a lot of options too.

    1. I think you're gonna shoot me to pieces on Saturday, Dean.

    2. I just don't like getting into melee :)

  5. I like the look of the Spanish. I'm going to start assembling a generic Muslim army (from Gripping Beast plastics) once I finish up my ships for Enfilade.

  6. Wonderful painting and basing, well done David!