Book Review
Rome's Northern Enemies
Rome's Northern Enemies British, Celts, Germans and Dacian
  • move

by: Adie Roberts [ IN_WAR_AND_PEACE ]


Adie Roberts gets the chance to review the latest offering from Pen and Sword Painting wargaming figures Rome's Northern Enemies British, Celts, Germans and Dacians see if author Andy Singleton has found any different ways for painting wargaming figures see how the book reads and how easy it is to follow

Brief History

Tabletop battle games can trace their origins back to the abstracted form of simulated warfare that is chess, and some way beyond however the genesis of tabletop historical wargaming is a far more recent, and far easier to precisely date phenomenon. In 1812 the Prussian and German armies created a set of rules for simulating battles on the tabletop as part of their officer training programmes, and with that game - "Kriegspiel" - tabletop historical wargaming was born.

In 1881, the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson became the first documented person to use toy soldiers in a war game, and thus he might be the inventor of miniature wargaming. Stevenson never published his rules, but according to an account by his stepson, they were very sophisticated and realistic, on par with German military war games. Stevenson played his war game on the floor, on a map drawn with chalk.

The English writer H. G. Wells developed his own codified rules for playing with toy soldiers, which he published in a book titled Little Wars (1913). This is widely remembered as the first rulebook for miniature wargaming. Little Wars had quite simple rules to make it fun and accessible to anyone. Little Wars did not use dice or computation to resolve fights. For artillery attacks, players used spring-loaded toy cannons which fired little wooden cylinders to physically knock over enemy models. As for infantry and cavalry, they could only engage in hand-to-hand combat (even if the figurines exhibited firearms). When two infantry units fought in close quarters, the units would suffer non-random losses determined by their relative sizes. Little Wars was designed for a large field of play, such as a lawn or the floor of a large room because the toy soldiers available to Wells were too large for tabletop play. An infantryman could move up to one foot per turn, and a cavalryman could move up to two feet per turn. To measure these distances, players used a two-foot long piece of string. Wells was also the first wargamer to use models of buildings, trees, and other terrain features to create a three-dimensional battlefield.

Wells' rulebook was for a long time regarded as the standard system by which other miniature war games were judged. However, the nascent miniature wargaming community would remain small for a long time to come. A possible reason was the two World Wars, which de-glamorized war and caused shortages of tin and lead that made model soldiers expensive. Another reason may have been the lack of magazines or clubs dedicated to miniature war games. Miniature wargaming was a niche within the larger hobby of making and collecting model soldiers.


The book is a soft back book with a glued spine, nice looking artwork on both front and back cover.
Published by Pen and Sword
Author Andy Singleton
Andy Singleton has been modelling and painting since childhood, having built subjects across a broad range of subjects, scales and genres. In 2014, Andy decided to stop having a proper job and picked up his brushes full time to become professional figure painter, with his business Volley Fire Painting Service. In addition to painting legions of figures, he has worked with many manufacturers across the industry and examples of his work can be found in many rule books, magazines and websites. Andy is also a co-host on the podcast 'A Few Brits and the Hobby'.

Chapter 1. Tips and tools
Chapter 2. Weapons and Armour of Iron Age Europe
Chapter 3. Shield Designs
Chapter 4. Garment Designs
Chapter 5. Body Designs
Chapter 6. The Horse at War
Chapter 7. Basing

Appendix A Manufacturers List


Tips and tools a look at the different tools that you may find valuable to have and use when painting these figures, he starts by talking about the figures that are out there which he classifies into three groups plastic, metal and resin. Most people will be familiar with all three of these, but plastic is the most common of them and usually the cheaper sold in boxes of various, numbers and types.
When he is talking about tools etc he does go on to explain their uses and does have several pictures mixed in with the writing, like some filling that he does on one of the horses explaining and showing pictures does really help to make it clear as to how to do the filling and uses a cocktail stick to build up the area.

I enjoyed reading about the different paintbrushes and his suggestions on different manufacturers I thought was good, also, to see him recommend one of the said people that I use and I really hold them in high regard for the excellent quality of their brushes Broken Toad ranges I totally endorse and recommend their brushes.

He goes on to explain some of the basics for using brushes and the different types for adapting the use of like some old brushes that you may use for some minor glueing so these older brushes would be better than a new painting brush.

Andy goes into some depth at this stage to tell you about some of the different techniques that he used and will see him saying about dry brushing to save having to explain over and over again he just goes into depth in the tools and tips section thus giving you all the information when he says layering.

Most subjects in the painting are covered here and include dry brushing, high lighting, layering, washing and glazing and varnishing. This is followed by a small section on assembly some pictures accompany the explaining.

It is at this point that we move on to the parts that most of you will find interesting and helpful as we move into the chapter on Weapons and Armour of Iron Age Europe. What I did not expect was a fair amount of history explaining about things like the Celtic cultures not appearing to have used any type of body armour until as late as 300 BC. I found this section really interesting as I do a lot of studying on subjects about military history and could not believe with all the advancements, impressive levels skill and craftsmanship that the Celtic's never used it till very late on, however, when they did start to use mail shirts these were exceptionally well-crafted items of armour.

We now get onto the parts that I am sure will be the reason you are looking to purchase this book for the painting guide, starting with the chain mail where he explains about the different layers and technical ways to achieve a realistic finish each step is done with a picture, colour guide and explanation as to how he achieves that effect that he wants.
It continues in the same fashion with the pictures, paint guide and brush guide telling you the size of the brush he used, explains the different ways to paint each item be it armour or weapons.

The weathering section of the armour I found to be highly informative as he explains the process from start to finish.

Step 1.
First using a solid base coat of bronze paint, using as many layers as you need of thin paint to get an even layer of colour. Andy lists here he used a size 2 round brush and paint was Vallejo Game Colour 60 Tinny Tin.

Step 2.
Mirroring the technique for the shiny bronze, we will apply a few layered highlights to the brass items. If you want more contrast, you could use gold paint, but here we'll use brass to help keep the final effect muted. Size 1 round brush and paint Vallejo Game Colour 058 Brassy brass.

Step 3.
After giving the layers a little time to dry - I'd recommend at least an hour for the best effect - we can apply a wash to dull the gleam of the metallic paint. In the suggested colours box, I've picked out several Army painters washes: Flesh tone, Soft tone and military shader each of these have a different property.

Military shader over brass to provide that green tint of oxidation, and that in turn will make the armour appear weathered as it has been exposed to the elements in some harsh weather conditions. Flesh tone will give the opposite effect, and instead give it a warmer, less aged appearance, though still dulled down and would be suitable if you were intending to give the impression of a lack of polishing but no other real wear or weathering. For somewhere in the middle, such as attempting to replicate a campaigning winter look, you can use Army painter soft tone. This will give a neutral, dull finish to the brass, and it is what he has used on the example figure Brush used size 2 round brush and paint Army painter Soft tone, Flesh tone or Military shader.

These steps that Andy has used are very professionally written and in a simple fashion to be able to follow without being overwhelmed and producing some fantastic work on your figures.

Iron Age shields largely consisted of a wooden board with leather covering. Reinforcing bands of wood across the centre of the shield were common.

This is sure to be an interesting subject as some of the designs really look fantastic and some would strike fear in the foes trying to defend their village. Painting the shield with a gloss varnish will assist greatly.

Andy stays in his step by step guide which is an easy way to learn, on his first shield which he is doing in one solid colour (in this case black) Black is not the easiest of colours to get to look right. In his own words, Black can be a fairly tricky colour to get looking black: So he does the first coat of paint then he lays another layer of paint down first as this further paint colours going on in later stages flow and sit better.

After going on about different paintings of shields especially if you have a large army that is all going to be the design and colour it may be better to look for some decals instead and with a few good companies out there.

Shield decals
Step 1.
When positioning a transfer onto a model, it can be prudent to reduce the possible surface tension as much as possible to allow you to be able to manoeuvre the transfer into position after you slide it off the backing sheet. Painting the shield with a gloss varnish will assist greatly in this as the finish is much smoother than Matt paint especially a primer.

Brush used size 2 round brush Paint Vallejo 510 Gloss Varnish

Step 2.
Carefully cut around the deckle and dip it into some lukewarm water. Leave the deco to soak for 10 seconds or so and then lift it out of the water with some tweezers. Wait until the transfer is ready to slide off the backing sheet then position it onto the shield. Until the transfer has dried it will be very delicate so while it dries leave it somewhere safe out of the way to dry. I would recommend at least an hour to be safe.

Step 3.
Fairly simple this we just give the deco account of Matt varnish once it's dried this is also a good time to pick out any metal parts on the shield such as the boss or edge.

Brush used size 2 round brush Paint Vallejo 520 Matt Varnish

Step 4.
With the transfer on the front of the shield sealed and varnished and any metal fittings picked out it is time to paint the back of the shield. You can choose to paint the backs with the wooden techniques covered earlier in this book or Alternatively paint the back with the dominant colour of the front of the shield is also worth meeting up any parts of the shield that aren't covered by the deck Hall where any white may be showing through if you want to you can also go ahead and add some damage and Brown washes to the shield to make you appear more heavily used and battered. But we've so much detail in the design here I have added a layer of soft tone over the shield once everything else is dried.

Brush used size 2 round brush Paint Army painter soft tone

Shields are probably one of the most important parts of ancient warfare figures and can make or break the appearance of the model. Fortunately, especially with the use of transfers they can be made to look really spectacular, I'm working on my own Shields I tend to save the process until the end regardless of whether I'm hand painting the details or using transfers. This serves a twofold purpose firstly as it's quite a laborious process I'm sufficiently close to finishing the models to be motivated to get them done the project ready to use Secondly it protects the shield design from any stray paint and especially rogue basing materials.
Also worth considering is that adding scratches or dark shades of grime and dirt and even blood splashes can be an excellent way to distinguish experience and combat capabilities between the groups of Warriors with fewer more hard and experience units having battered and worn Shields.


The book continues after the shield chapter with four further chapters these include garment designs, body designs, the horse at war and basing. Following in this easy pattern which helps you to be able to up your game using Andy Singletonís tried and trusted measures for painting wargaming figures. I have seen and read many different books on painting models, aircraft, tanks, ships and figures there many different ones out there, however, I do recommend this book from Pen and Sword. The book is as I have already said, quite easy to pick up and follow the instructions.

All in all this offering from Pen & Sword is worth every penny and will I am sure advance you further in your painting model figures for wargaming an excellent book.
Adie Roberts Takes a look at a Pen and Sword offering titled 'Rome's Northern Enemies British, Celts, Germans and Dacian'.
  Scale: 28mm
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 152676556X
  PUBLISHED: Nov 05, 2020

Our Thanks to Pen & Sword Books!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

View Vendor Homepage  |  More Reviews  

About Adie Roberts (In_War_and_Peace)

I am disabled after a terrorist bomb I have in the past made models for TV and film and work with local museums making new models for display. I also take on commission builds for people

Copyright ©2021 text by Adie Roberts [ IN_WAR_AND_PEACE ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Historicus Forma or Silver Star Enterprises. All rights reserved.