Friday, December 26, 2014

28mm Bushi Buntai for Ronin

[This was my second entry for the Fifth Annual Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, reposted here for folks not following that blog.]

Continuing in a skirmish vein from my last entry, here's a samurai (or bushi) war band (or buntai as the game calls it) for Ronin, Osprey's samurai skirmish game.

This was my first time painting 28mm samurai (I've done 10mm samurai in the past) and I'm now firmly convinced that this particular genre compares very closely to Napoleonics in terms of fiddly painting detail and potential for eye-catching, colorful "uniforms." On the one hand, I love how everything turned out; on the other, I can't begin to imagine painting a whole army of these guys! Lots of detailed brushwork was called for.

I have another buntai in the painting queue, a band of Ikko-Ikki - fanatical peasants out to destroy the system. Rather than painting up a bunch of generic samurai and peasants, and being unable to resist my history-geek tendencies, I've placed both forces in a historical context: the Ikko-Ikki uprising in Mikawa Province during the autumn of 1563 that culminated in the Battle of Azukizaka in January of the following year. That battle was one of the first victories of a young lord named Matsudaira Motoyasu - later known as Tokugawa Ieyasu, unifier of Japan.

The buntai I've assembled here is modeled around the spark that caused the uprising: "Fighting broke out in 1563 when Suganuma Sada, a Matsudaira retainer, entered the Jōgū-ji temple in Okazaki, and confiscated its rice to feed his own men."

Thus, I've chosen to paint up Suganuma Sada and his hungry escort.

Unlike Napoleonics, there is a fair bit of room to get creative with choosing colors and so forth, especially for minor figures like Sada. His outfit is a riot of colors, but I think they hang together nicely. It helps when you have an excellent figure to work with, as with this Kingsford figure.

Although I'm usually averse to doing elaborate, diorama-style basing, I couldn't resist throwing in a Perry casualty figure as I had some extra real estate on the base. (I painted the casualty with a Takeda clan mon, as they were also early foes of the future Tokugawa.) The mon on Sada's back is a decal transfer from Veni Vidi Vici and was, mercifully, quite easy to work with.

I hit the "lacquered" bits of armor with some gloss varnish to provide a bit of a shine.

As was often the case, different temples in the region aligned themselves with either the Ikko-Ikki or the local lord. Here is a warrior-monk (sohei) ally of Matsudaira's from the temple of Daiju-ji.

That blade means business!

For the ashigaru (infantrymen), I mostly pulled from the Ronin starter set put out by Artizan, but I supplemented with an excellent banner bearer from Perry Miniatures. The banner pattern is based on one used by Tokugawa over the course of his career.

For the sashimono (back banners) of the infantry, I wanted to put on the Matsudaira family crest, but it's so intricate I knew there was no way I'd be able to free-hand it like I did the Takeda mon. I was unable to find an easily-acquired set of Tokugawa transfers, so I set out to make my own with some decal paper.

The experiment was mostly a success. The ink ran slightly when I sprayed the fixative, giving the crest a slight reddish outline...but I kind of like how it turned out, actually. Chalk this one up to "happy accidents."

The long holiday weekend promises some excellent painting opportunities, so hopefully I'll be back next week with the Ikko-Ikki!


  1. Anonymous4:40 AM

    These look great! I'm not going to talk about your minis, I'm going to ask about reading things:
    -Have you read Taiko? My interest in the Warring States period of Japan arguably started with whenever I killed Oda Nobunaga (which, I think, was in a Neo Geo game where you could be a dog sometimes and also there was a stampede), but reading Taiko was an exciting experience because it personified these characters I'd spent so much time being/killing.
    -How about the very brief comic series Five Ronin? It has no real historical backing...being for Japan roughly equivalent to a "Knights and shit" experience set in Europe. It's fascinating, though, because in a different way from things like Anime Batman and such, it reimagines several Marvel luminaries as samurai-type folks.

    I'm grateful for--but in NO way share--your fascination with historical gaming. I've had an eye on Bushido, which looks to be like Ronin but you can play as snake people or a man on a giant turtle. That's more my speed.

    1. See, this is the problem with English-language properties set in Japan: they all use the same damn terms! Because when you asked if I'd read Taiko, I immediately assumed you meant the miniatures game of the same name. I'm inferring from the context here that it's actually a comic book. I shall check it out. Same for Five Ronin. I have no problems with a "knights and shit" version of Japan in either my games or my fiction. ;)

      (For me, I always start from a point of "generic history" but then there's also an endorphin rush involved when I find out that the thing I'm thinking about has some sort of historical analog, which happens WAY more than you'd think...)

      Likewise, on the naming thing: Bushido--are you talking about the classic RPG? Or is there a miniatures game called Bushido now? Ay, my head...

  2. After what happened with your other post, I make no assumptions this comment will go through. HOWEVER!
    -By Taiko I meant a legit novel, which is admittedly rare for me.
    I'm not entirely sure I finished it, as I was a college student and given to drink at the time. I got most of the way through at the very least, and remember it warmly.
    -5 Ronin IS a comic, on the other hand. You get Psylocke, Hulk, Wolverine, Deadpool, and the Punisher, with stories that ultimately intertwine even though they initially seem standalone.
    -For Bushido I did legit mean a minis line:
    It has some similarities to Malifaux, but the combat system--as I understand it--is much more interactive. Also, you can play decadent serpent dudes, and that's always a plus for me.
    My head also hurts, but it's mostly from re-posting comments!

  3. Ridiculously good painting, the horseman is absolutely amazing and the the strings on the standard is over the top awesome!

  4. Do you sale any of your work?

    1. Yes, actually--I've just recently gotten back into taking commissions. Head over to my commission page to see more examples, as well as pricing and contact info:


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