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The Dogs of War

This army was inspired by the cool 15mm Dogmen produced by Alternative Armies. I saw them when Matt Gilford brought them to Advance the Colors 2006, and snapped up a boxed 24 army point Hordes of the Things army pack. When I saw Matt about a month later at the first CharCon in Charleston, WV, I picked up some extra packs to round out the army. At various other shows, or in trades with friends, I acquired figs from other manufacterers, so that I could construct this army like I wanted.

There was no question I was going to paint units up as different "breeds" of dogs. And it wasn't long before clever names began to come to me, such as The Fighting Irish, for an irish setter themed unit, or "See Spot Kill," for dalmatians. I checked out a dog breed encyclopedia book from the library to help choose the breeds for the units. Since on many of the figures, the only "fur" showing is the head and hands, I had to pick ones that were distinctive and recognizable -- yet still looked like the breed sculpted on the fig.

I'm really proud of how this army turned out. Their first appearance as a complete army was at Dave Zecchini's HOTT Wax 36 AP Hordes of the Thing tournament, Feb.2, 2008. They went 3-1 and came in third place, which wasn't bad for their first time out.

The Dogs of War general

The Dogs of War general stand

To make this guy more distinctive and stand out from the rest of the infantry, I put a 25mm Iron Wind Metals dog on his stand, along with his bodyguards. The dog is painted up as a Greater Swiss Mountain dog...yeah, I'd never heard of the breed either, but the picture in the dog encyclopedia looked impressive. The breed for the dogmen that I chose was springer spaniels -- the spotted snouts turned out really nice, I think. I'm not incredibly happy with my color choice for their uniforms, though. After I was finished, I looked at it and said, "They look like te Cleveland Browns!" I've never been a Browns fan, so doubtless the nickname will stick...!

Sirius the Black, Dogman hero

Sirius the Black, the Dogmen Hero

Okay, so Harry Potter fans will call me a thief, but the name Sirius just fits for the hero (or "star") of an army of Dogmen. I guess I could have chosen a different color than black and been less derivative, but I'd already planned him to be nattily attired in black and red and didn't want to change. I chose Sirius and his faithful sidekick to be chocolate labs, because everybody loves chocolate! Sirius is not the general of the Dogmen -- I have an aversion to Heros as generals in Hordes of the Things! His mount is an Iron Wind Metals 25mm bulldog painted to resemble my buddy Steve Sattler's english bulldog, Daisy. His wife Michelle provided me with pics from tons of angles, so hopefully it is a faithful likeness.

Dogman Cleric

Dogmen Cleric

So, after I painted up this figure and placed it on the proper sized HOTT base, it looked very lonely. I rooted through my figure bins and found this 25mm resin tombstone. So, I painted it up to put alongside him on the base. The breed is meant to be a Weimeraner, and it turned out okay -- though this pic is a tad blurry. I'm not sure what implement he is holding in his hand, but I painted it up as some ceremonial gold instrument.

Dogmen Riders

Dogmen Riders

Dogmen Riders

These three stands of Dogmen riders were my only real figure conversion from the Alternative Armies packs. Off the rack, they come with boar mounts. I thought they should ride "less evolved" dogs, instead. So, I traded away the mounts to my buddy Allen for some Eureka Miniatures 15mm dogs, which I used for the Beasts, below. For the rider's mounts, I used two poses of Iron Wind Metals 25mm dogs, one a bulldog, and the other a large, snarling variety that I painted up as mastiffs. The center bulldog in the picture directly above is modeled after Steve Sattler's other english bulldog, Henry. Hyperactive Henry has attacked us in an overwhelmingly friendly fashion for years, now, when we go to Steve's place for gaming. So, it is only fitting he make his way onto the battlefield.

The breed I chose for the riders was Brittany Spaniels. The variety of and distinct coloration on the snout worked well, I thought. Their armor is probably the most detailed part of any figure from the Alternative Armies dogmen line. I painted some up as leather, others linen, and still others bronze or steel. I'm hoping the relatively fragile lances survive gaming...I was very tempted to snip them and shorten them into smaller spears. I put an couple coats of white glue along their length, so we'll see.

Two packs of Dogs as Beasts

Two packs of Dogs (Beasts)

These are the Eureka 15mm dogs that I received from Allen in trade. I chose to do one pack as Yellow Labrador Retreivers, and the other as Harriers. These have coloration very similar to beagles, but are a larger breed, which fit better with the relative size of the miniatures. I really like how these little guys came out. The Harriers, especially, are an example of how well you can paint an animal if you follow photographs closely and do your best to make sure they resemble the picture.

The Golden Boys dogmen spear unit

The Golden Boys

See Spot Kill Dalmatian dogmen spearSee Spot Kill dalmatian dogmen spear unit

"See Spot Kill"

The Fighting Irish dogmen spear unitThe Fighting Irish dogmen spear unit

The Fighting Irish

And here are the core of the army, the dogmen spear elements. I decided to paint up two stands for each breed unit. The breeds chosen were golden retreivers for "The Golden Boys," dalmatians for "See Spot Kill" and irish setters for "The Fighting Irish." I particularly like how the dalmatians look. The effect of the different breeds of the various units in the army really looks great on the tabletop. They make for a fairly fierce battleline, too, as spear in HOTT don't fight too shabbily. When the general and the cleric join the battleline, it is a solid force that can deceive the opponent with its toughness.

I have to say that the Alternative Armies dogmen banners are a challenge to paint up. The draped flag is molded to perfectly balance the figure, so that it doesn't topple when you're trying to glue him to his stand. That was nice, but it made executing the designs a bit more difficult than if the cloth had been blowing straight out or whatever. So, for the most part, I tried to keep the designs simple. They turned out pretty good, all things considered.

Dog Lurker

Dog Lurker

This little guy is set to dart out of the brush and nip at the heels of enemy probing the difficult terrain on the battlefield. I had to paint one up to balance out the army points in HOTT, since a cleric is 3 AP (most others are either 2 or 4 AP each). So, it was either a Horde or Lurker for 1 AP, and I thought a Lurker would be more useful. Besides, I was just about out of dogmen figures, and I had this miniature in with my 15mm animals box. This cheerful little guy is painted up as a random breed of terrier. He was incredibly effective in my first tournament. I placed him in three of the four battles, and in each battle, he killed an enemy element. In the final battle, the lurker even killed the enemy Behemoth General! I guess that goes to show you how disconcerting something nipping at your ankles can be...!

Dogs of War stronghold

Stronghold for The Dogs of War

At this stage of my miniatures painting and modeling career, I think this is my best work yet. The twin elevated guardtowers, or vedettes, turned out great, I thought -- especially the stairways leading up to them. I wasn't sure all of this design that I'd scribbled out on paper would work out, but it did. The construction process was fairly time consuming, but all the steps themselves were simple to do. I started with a 3"x6" sheet of styrene plastic for the base. I then epoxied down a rectangle of balsa wood, which would be the floor of the inner fortifications. From there, I epoxied two angled pieces of balsa to start the projection leading to the stairs, pointing them towards the corners. The stairs were next, and were really easy to do. I simply cut out the individual steps first, making them twice as "deep" as I wanted them to be. So, if each step was an inch wide and a quarter inch deep, I cut the bass wood steps to be 1"x1/2". The extra quarter inch would be slathered with two-part epoxy, and the the next step placed upon it. By progressively epoxying one step at a time for each projecting stairway, the construction remained stable. It was more time consuming to do one stair at a time for each staircase, but it kept the steps from sliding around or leaning.

rear view of Dogs of War stronghold

Rear view of stronghold showing staircases leading to vedettes

Once I had the stairways to the length and height I wanted, I glued a bass wood slab down to the last step for the floor of the guardtower. I supported its front with two dowels precut to the proper length and ready to be slid under the slab as I placed it on the top step. The three side walls for the vedettes were made with craft sticks, trimmed with an X-acto knife to the proper size and epoxied together as one slab by means of a crossbar laid lengthwise along the row of sticks. These complete walls were then epoxied to the sides of the vedette, with the crossbar resting on the vedetterfloor. I drilled out holes for the four posts that support the roof with an X-acto knife, but a large pin vise would work equally well.

closeup of one of vedettes and guardThe roof was made from epoxying "corrugated" looking balsa to a triangular "right angle" balsa wood base for the roof. This was then epoxied onto the four posts, which were made from mini dowels. More of the right angle balsa was epoxied all around where the outer and inner palisade walls would be. The sloped section faced outward, leaving the upright 90 degree portion as a steady support for the palisade pieces. The most time consuming part of the construction was the individual cutting and trimming of the mini dowels to represent the wooden posts of the palisades. These were epoxied into place individually, but I would usually do a wall section at a time (5-minute epoxy gives you enough working time to complete about that much. Next, I created the platforms for guards to stand upon on the inner wall section. This was done easily enough with bass or balsa wood. Finally, I repeated the process of the vedette roofs with the roof over the central keep.

I paint my palisades (and other wood of the fortification) a medium brown first, then pick out the trimmed points with a light tan. I let it dry overnight, then dry brush it with Howard Hughes "Colonial Khaki" paint. I do a blackwash over it, and then it looks pretty good. The roofs are painted red brown then dry brushed Howard Hues "Middle East Flesh." I love Howard Hues paints for dry brushing -- their thickness means they perform well in this role.

The guards are several Alternative Armies dogmen left over (painted in a great dane "Harlequin" pattern), and a "Guard Human." This is the Dogs of War's answer to a guard dog. I used a barbarian looking figure which I believe is from Black Raven Foundry's "Character Pack." To complete the whimsical touch, I added in a water bucket and a bright, blue ball for the guard human to play with. I printed up the BEWARE OF HUMAN signs on my laser printer, which is also how I made my Dogs of War banner.