Warlord Pike and Shotte Epic Battles: the infantry sprue

Firstly a big thank you to Warlord Games who sent me a sprue of their new Pike and Shotte Epic Battles infantry.

(You can see how I got on with the cavalry sprue here.)

I will try and look at these figures from three different angles: the first impression of someone completely new to the period, the button counter’s standpoint, and then from a seasoned wargamer’s point of view. In all cases I'm looking at these through Wars of the Three Kingdoms spectacles. (Wars of the Three Kingdoms is a more accurate name for the conflicts that were fought in the British Isles in the mid seventeenth century. The English Civil War was just one of these conflicts.)

The obligatory next to a ruler picture (the ruler is lined up with the soles of their footwear)

The 'new to the period' view
This one sprue provides enough figures for one unit (a Regiment of Foot or RoF). Figures look very detailed, moulding is clean and crisp with no flash and only minimal mould lines. The pikes look a bit delicate, will they survive? (see the seasoned wargamer bit below)

The highlighted hands - have these pikemen got one arm longer than the other? It would be very difficult trying to hold a pike this low down 

The pikeman strips – there are some hands holding pikes that look a bit odd, once you notice them you can’t but notice them. Perhaps if the hands were holding the pikes a millimetre or two higher up the pike they wouldn’t look quite so incongruous.

All in all they look excellent, where do I sign up?

The button counter’s view (or hair splitters anonymous)
The figures have a dual life, being marketed for those who want to recreate the 30YW and those that want to represent the ECW. So it is inevitable that the strips will be a compromise.

The pikemen strips look good, men all have hangers (short swords), there is a good mix of armoured (including with and without tassets), and unarmoured. The pikemen all have morion helmets, it would be good to see a slightly wider range of headgear on the pikemen (a few broad brimmed hats, some monteroes and monmouth caps). It's glaringly obvious that the sculptors' source material was limited to the very flawed and dated Haythornthwaite.

Pikes are a little on the short side, but this might be a compromise due to the constraints of manufacture and material properties (following the very rough rule of thumb that pikes should be thrice the height of the men the pikes are about 5mm too short - for an in-depth explanation see here). 5mm doesn't sound much but it equates to about 0.6 metres in real life (or 2 foot for those of you who haven't embraced modernity).

The musketeers, again are pretty good, I can only really level two faults at the musketeer strips – headgear and spacing. Certainly from an ECW standpoint there are probably too many broad brimmed hats and not enough monteros and monmouth caps. 

On the subject of headwear wargamers' favourite™ Newcastle's whitecoats will need quite a few Scot's blew bonnets in their ranks ('blew bonnets' does not simply mean blue hats, they are the same blue beret type headgear worn by the Scots). Royalist regiments that benefitted from the Oxford clothing issue will require a very heavy proportion of monteroes amongst their numbers. 

The musketeers are much too close together, but that is more of a style issue (the Epic strips are tightly packed for a mass effect on a minimal footprint). These are very much generic musketeers, there is quite a bit of evidence that Royalist musketeers tended to use cartridge bags rather than bandoliers with chargers (the oft incorrectly named 'apostles'). The musketeers all have musket rests, which is fine (it is also a misnomer that rests were no longer used after the early years of the wars - they were still used, but lighter weapons were becoming more plentiful that didn't necessitate the use of a rest). If you have your sights set on recreating the Army Newly Modelled, then these are not for you I'm afraid. You'll be better served looking elsewhere, at metal figures.

The separate pikemen are the strongest point on the sprue, although they do seem a little beefier than the figures in strips.

Good to see that only officers, ensigns and the drummer are wearing a scarf (usually incorrectly called a sash).

The sprue as a whole provides you with a RoF that has a ratio of 1:1, ideally a RoF should be at 2:1 (in favour of musketeers). This is a bit of a wargamer thing of 1:1 dating back to the Gush rules, wings or sleeves of musketeers should actually be the same depth as the pike block.

Considering that there is a line of pike at port, it does seem a little strange there isn't a musket firing line.

If you are inspired by contemporary illustrations (such as Streeter's Plan of Naseby) it is a shame there are no separate halberdiers (maybe they'll be a later add on pack?).

The seasoned wargamer
Seasoned wargamers know best. Not historians, not wargames companies, not figure sculptors. And even they can't agree with one another. Everyone has their own preconception of what things should look like.

The seasoned wargamer will probably have views on the Epic figures somewhere between the 'new to the period' and the 'button counter'. But they will be wondering how can they change what is presented to how they want their finished RoF to look.

Pikes - they'll break, they are too short, I don't like plastic pikes.
I've tried to snap some pikes, bending them at 90 degrees to the figure's head. If that is how you regularly treat your figures then plastic figures are probably not for you. The pikes did require straightening, I then repeated the bend in the opposite direction, again required straightening, the pikes do now show a white line of weakness on the bend mark. Only on the third  bend did they break. So yes they will break, but you really have to go out of your way to purposefully break them.

They will break - eventually!

If you do break a pike, or want to replace all the pikes with plastic bristles or wire pikes: good luck is all I can say. If you have managed to break a pike, replace them rather than trying to repair - save yourself a lot of time and mither.

Pike cut away

Pikes are moulded the full length of the pikeman. You will need to carve the moulded bit of pike away. This leaves a figure that really doesn't look very good, this carved area will be hidden by the  replacement pike. I've never drilled out or modified plastic figures, so I'm on a steep learning curve (and my first attempt has been pretty heavy handed so looks a little brutalised. I've managed to mangle the helmet with my pin vise!) Certainly doable if you are so inclined, but I really wouldn't want to have drill out hundreds of the blessed things. If separate pikes are a make or break for you I'd strongly suggest that you look elsewhere.

A steep learning curve: a lot of cleaning up and a coat of paint and you can hide him at the back. Realistically, don't bother - life is too short

I want to cut the strips in half and make smaller sized units. The closeness of the figures doesn't easily lend itself to doing this (unlike the original ACW Epic strips). The effort involved, not to mention the greenstuff  skill level required (to make good the cut), means that cutting the strips isn't really a viable option.

I want a firing line and extra ensigns and officers, what other manufacturers' figures can I use?

from l-r: PP Scot (note very undersized pike), Naismith, PP regular pike, Epic, PP Scot, Epic

First, let's talk about figure size. When Warlord released their original Epic ACW range the figures were deemed to be 'Epic size' a unique 13.5mm. The Epic ranges have slowly crept up in size, so much so that the Epic P&S range is comparable to 'true 15mm' (the original Epic ACW line was somewhere between large 10mm and true 15mm). Of course Epic P&S might be 13.5mm, because there is no standard way of sizing toy soldiers - is it to the eye? Top of the head? A vague approximation? Who knows? Certainly above my pay grade. I wonder if what is commonly known as 'true 15' will soon be known as 'Epic'?

from l-r: Steel Fist, Magister Militum, Naismith, Epic, PP Scot, PP, Essex, Museum, Matchlock

For those of you who have perused KeepYourPowderDry before you will know that all my figures are what can be called 'true 15mm'. I've had a rummage through my spares box to pick out some likely candidates for a size match - Peter Pig (PP), Steel Fist and Naismith*. One range that should also marry up sizewise are Magister Militum, but alas no unpainted figures to drop into the line-up. You can gauge how they fit by reading my Which Figures? series of posts.

Epic, Steel Fist, Epic, PP Scot (the Scots are slightly shorter than the rest of the PP range)

If you would like to read my thoughts on the cavalry sprue see here.

* Naismith are out of production, a handful of packs are still available from Keep Wargaming (no relation). Caveat: see my notes on Naismith in the What Figures? posts linked to above.

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  1. Many thanks for this useful article! This is a typical example of what blogs and actual websites are useful (as opposed to social media, where this information would disappear after 14 hours). I'm sure that many people will use this as reference.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Sigur. If such a prize existed you'd win the prize for fastest recorded comment after publication.

  2. Thanks for the review, informative. One thought on repairing a broken pike should you manage to break one (although it sounds rather tricky unless you're trying to do it) would be that instead of cutting the whole thing away just squaring off at the break (or where the pike meets the figure proper depending on where the break is), drilling into the figure at that point and gluing a suitable length of wire pike into the hole created. I've done it that way a few times with metal figures quite successfully - although I haven't had experience with the plastic material used in these figures which may not help that approach.

    1. That would certainly be a lot easier than trying to replace the whole pike. All my pikes are wire, either fitted to open handed figures or ones that I have drilled out. Certainly plastic figures (a material that I am not familiar with) would lend itself to such a repair.

  3. Great review. Agree re those hands so low down on the pike, just looks wrong to my eyes and as an ex pikeman I know the point of balance is further up the thing! I could live with that though, but the spacing of the musketeers bothered me from the first time I saw them. ACW and Napoleonics yes, shoulder to shoulder is fine but I really struggle with these. That said they look great when painted up. Cavalry sprue is excellent.

    1. It's a stylistic compromise, if it gets people into Pike and Shot gaming I'm all for it. But yes, I do think that the shoulder to shoulder doesn't sit well with me either -a good job I have about 4-5000 figures already

  4. I echo the compliments of this review. Very useful. Thanks

  5. Thanks for the review. I was really hoping they could be cut it half.

    1. Even if you were really determined and a wizard with green stuff, I think the task would be too great. Sorry

  6. Thanks for an excellent 1st look. I have everything Epic up to this point, but do not mix with other manufacturers. The height and bulk is one thing, but that tight shoulder to shoulder spacing is very difficult to replicate with other figures. Obviously this does not impact on cavalry or artillery.

    Do you think that having the front rank with their pikes at porte will cause a handling problem of those bases?

    Again, thanks for the report. Norm.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Norm. I shouldn't envisage and handling problems with the at port pikemen. The pikes might get a gentle bend, but I'd imagine having a number of them being subjected to the same force will share the load. It took quite a bit of effort to break a pike - I doubt that will happen in real life (unless you are very unlucky). Possibly the biggest issue might be storage (which is why I opted for all vertical pikes with my figures).

  7. Going with vertical pike, would it still be ‘proper’ to model the command strip in the second rank?

    Also I note that your comments on TMP mention buildings. In anticipation of this Epic release, I bought 7 tudor style resin buildings from Battlescale from their 10mm range. Their quality is superb (no bubbles etc) and the footprint is Epic friendly, though unlikely to fit in with your hovel true 15mm range.

    1. There isn't really a fixed position for command, they move around depending upon circumstances. Venn's Military and Maritime discipline has complex diagrams showing where everyone should ideally stand during drill. In a nutshell at the prebattle stage command at the front, you want your enemy to know that you are there. Lots of fancy flag twirling and posturing. Once battle kicks off command moves to the middle or even the back.

      I've looked at the Battlescale buildings a few times, they are ideal but unfortunately a little too short to mix in with what I already own (Hovels 2 storey roof apex approx 75mm, Battlescale are 60mm iirc)

    2. Thanks, that helps and yes, I think the battlescale would need to be used alone on the battlefield, though there seems enough buildings to allow for that, more useful maybe for someone coming fresh to the period.

  8. Excellent review... but based on what you show they'd make a handy source for alternative cavalry...

    1. Thanks Steve. My thoughts too, I'll soon be raising an Irish Confederate army, there might be a few Epic horse amongst their ranks

  9. I wanted to get your thoughts regarding using Peter Pig heads on these Warlord plastics? From the pictures, it looks like it might work scale-wise. I recently received the Scottish foot sprue in my Wargames Illustrated, which has gotten me planning what would surely be a rather large Montrose Scots project. Looking at the starter box from Warlord there are three regiments of these chaps, and the wide brimmed hats seem rather off for Irish... Similarly in the Harquebusiers, the wide brimmed hats don't feel correctly Scottish. Warlord confirmed for me today they don't have any current plans for head packs, but the PP ones look rather promising.

    1. PP heads are a perfect match for the Epic foot. Have a look at my 'What's that bit supposed to be? A guide to Warlord's Epic Pike and Shotte foot figures' post to see a headswap I did utilising a PP broad brimmed hat head.

      Hopefully there's a bit of inspiration for your project here, I've got a Covenant army, a Montrose Army, and I'm currently working on an Irish Catholic Confederate army.

      Of all the units I have produced, my Covenant harquebusier regiment are my favourites.

      Good luck with the project

    2. The PP Irish hat is a little dubious - it's based on a picture in an Osprey or Haythornthwaite (I forget which).

      I'm supplementing them with Monmouth caps to represent Irish baraid, and
      Scots bonnets as a stand in for Irish bonnets, or baraid caol.

    3. I'll have to check out that post. I'm very glad to hear the PP heads are good fit. I'd been thinking about getting extra of the Epic Scots to scavenge bonnets from, but that felt wasteful. Then I got to thinking about the Irish, and possible expansion into some Royalists... where i realized (thanks to a post here) how widespread the montero cap seems to be... and I decided I needed a better option.

      The blog is fantastic and, so far, has been one of the best resources I've found online in planning out this project.

      Your Scottish Harquebusiers are lovely, and definitely one of a number of things that got me stuck on my current "head planning" train of thought.

      Good note on the Irish hats, I'd been planning on working in some bonnets in place of the wide brimmed hats on the Epic lads anyway. So, I think I'll try for a good mix.

      I've not bought anything yet, and I had been planning on sticking mainly with Epic stuff, but I'm wondering a bit if I don't want to branch out a bit... I know Montrose's army was honestly fairly small and that the Scots Regiments seemed to vary broadly in terms of strength. I'm starting to think the tight, ordered-ness of the Epic regiments might lend itself best for the larger/better trained regiments, and then maybe using more spread out PP figures to represent the smaller ones? Hmm...

      Either way, I'm rambling. I appreciate you're reply and all the leg work youve put in!

    4. Thank you for your kind words about my inane ramblings.

      The Epic resin highlanders look pretty good. I do think that the one sprue solution is a bit of a hindrance (it makes sense for Warlord's business plan certainly). Not too many dragoons for the Scots I'm afraid.

      If you need anymore help, just ask away - if I can I will


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