Rank Decorators for Wargames Miniatures

The leaders have the bling
Leaders showing off their bling-bling
This article gives some ideas for how to represent ranks and special abilitiesfor historical or fantasy miniatures games.Most every rule set for miniatures games have some sorts of special characters.It is quite useful and courteous for all opponents to see a physical representationof a character's abilities.Don't you just hate it when you attack someone's seemingly normal figure, andat the last moment your opponent states, "that figure is twice as bigand strong as the others and has all the special capabilities in the obscurerules addendum 3.14159."

An advantage to having "decorators" is that the special ability can be givento any figure.Your manufacturer does not need to make a special model for you.So if you want to make your eskimo kayaker have his own bagpipe, thisis the route for you.Additionally, these special features can be added or removed as a game progresses.

To the right is an image of several 28mm Saxon historical miniatures.Although they look like normal Saxons, they have the special designator,the gold chain around the neck that shows they are the leaders of their unit.One figure even has two chains around the neck, so he must be especially bad-ass.

You can make tens of these gold necklaces inexpensively by visiting your local craft andhobby stores or any store that sells bead and necklace making supplies.24 inches (60 cm) of gold chain costs $2.99 at Hobby Lobby.About 30 "jump rings", bendable closures, costs about $1.99 more.Cut about 1 inch (25 mm) of chain and make a loop by closing with a 2 - 4 mm jump ring.

You can expand on this idea by making gold, silver, and other color chains.You can also add one or more beads with one or more markings to indicate a whole range ofranks.

Standard bearers looking not so standard
Standard bearers looking not so standard
Here is another set of Saxon miniatures with battle standards for their unit.The graphics for the flags can be hand made or by making web searches.These images came from the Wargames Journal web site.The flags can be held in place by the model, look for a model with a gap in the crock of the arm,or you can apply some tacky glue or putty to hold the banner in place.

Print the banner graphic with a computer printer.Size the graphic appropriately for your miniatures scale.Your image should be doubled and reversed once so that you can wrap it around the flag staffand allow both sides of the image to align.Cut the image from the print paper with a scissors or razor knife.Cut a length of brass wire from 1 to 2 times the height of your miniatures figure.With white glue, fold the flag around the staff.Wrinkle the staff to simulate the wind blowing.Spray with a sealer to protect the color and lock in the shape of the banner.

You can make variations of a banner by changing the shape and edging of the banner.You can also take a computer program and changing the hue of the banner image.In the image at the right, the purple, green, and red flags are all the same imagemodified by editing the hue/lightness/saturation (HLS) of the image.Simply change the hue to any color of the rainbow.

Musicians can't be beat
Musicians can't be beat
Another special rank of ancients gaming is the unit musician.To the left shows 4 drummers of a Saxon ceorl regiment.

These drums were made inexpensively by purchasing barrel-shaped beadsat the local hobby and craft store. These beads are made for folks whobuild their own necklaces and jewelery.Find a bead that looks somewhat like a drum.If the bead is hollow, seal the bead with putty.Paint an ivory or off-white drum head on each side.Glue a rope or thread around the bead to make a neck strap for the drummer.These neck straps are made from model wooden ship rigging which comes in variouscolors and thicknesses and has a waxy coating to prevent fraying.Use super glue to fix the straps to the drums.

Other musicians can be made by modeling horns out of putty or other modeling clay.You can also double up some drums or make them out of various sizes.Bagpipes can be made with modelling clay and small dowels or toothpicks.You can make all sorts of horns and whistles from modeling clay and wire.

Related Reading

I hope you enjoyed reading the details on how to make rank decorators for miniatures wargames.From the leader, standard, and musician examples give, you may have guess that I made my decoratorsfor the Warhammer Ancients Battles game.More miniatures-related articles are atDan Becker's Miniatures and Models site.Thanks for stopping by and reading about my miniatures.

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Last modified: Thursday, 09-Jun-2011 12:53:00 MST.