French and Indian War: False Face Society Shaman and Jesuit Priest from Sash and Saber Castings

North America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries was a clash European and Native cultures in many ways – ways of life, ways of trade, ways of war and ways of faith. Faith for all people in this era was not an abstract but a truth that informed every part of their existence. Finding ways to incorporate the dynamic push-pull between these faiths into games provides an interesting challenge and opportunity.

Free RPG Day 2019 edition of Forts &Frontiers The Feast of the Dead

In 2019, two partners and I in a founded Campaign Games to create games with a focus on history and narrative play. That spring, we introduced a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition compatible role playing game adventure called Forts & Frontiers: The Feast of the Dead as part of Free RPG Day. A month later, we successfully funded a Kickstarter to expand the game into a deluxe version with a more fleshed-out game system focused on the friction among cultures in colonial America.

As part of the Kickstarter, we were thrilled to partner with Sash and Saber Castings to create two exclusive miniatures as part of their expansive French and Indian War line of 28mm models.

False Face Society Shaman

Traditional False Face Society masks

The False Face Society figure depicts a member of the Haudenosaunee healer tradition. Wearing a fearsome carved and painted wooden mask and carrying a turtle shell rattle, a member of the society would make rounds twice a year to chase away evil spirits and disease from a village. Masks came in a lot of varieties, including some woven from corn husks, and the healing rituals would also include singing and burning tobacco.

False Face Society figure from Sash and Saber Castings

Jesuit Priest

Martyrdom of Jean de Brébeuf as depicted in a 1657 map by Francesco Giuseppe Bressani

The Jesuit Order was founded in Spain in the mid-1500s and its member missionaries spread through North, Central and South America in the 17th-and-18th-centuries. Rooted in Catholic faith, Jesuits lived a life of meditation and contemplation of Jesus Christ. Intellectually, they sought to bring formal education of languages, history and science in a reform of church leadership.

Missionaries to what Europeans called the New World viewed natives of these regions to be in need of saving through baptism and rejection of their perceived savage rituals and traditions. At the same time, Jesuits were at odds with European secular colonial governments for their documentation of native cultures and languages during their years of living among these people. Effectively living between the two societies, Jesuits were famously the victims of torture and martyred execution by natives who recognized the threat they symbolized.

With no experience in the wilderness of the Americas and only their faith to guide them, Jesuits ventured deep into heart of the country largely unexplored by other Europeans. The Jesuit figure depicts the plain dress and spare possessions of a missionary of the era, clutching a Bible close to his heart and a cross hanging from his waist.

Jesuit Missionary figure from Sash and Saber Castings

Together, the False Face Society Shaman and Jesuit models depict two competing traditions of faith in the Americas during the era of European colonization. In each tradition, rituals and physical items — whether a turtle rattle, mask, Bible or cross — provide opportunities for contrast but also a shared belief that something exists beyond the physical land where people clashed for domination.

French and Indian War: Pennsylvania Provincials and British Command from Sash and Saber Castings

One of the joys of painting figures for the French and Indian War is in the diversity of uniforms among British colonial forces. Previously I’ve painted up units to reflect Virginia Provincials and the British Royal American Regiment which allow for uniforms that deviate from the usual red-coated British Regulars of 18th-century England.

I took advantage of having a few four-packs of unpainted British Provincial models from the relatively new and extensive line of FIW models from Sash and Saber Castings to add a Pennsylvania Provincial Regiment to my collection. My force consists of Provincials Firing (FWB28), Loading (FWB29) and Advancing (FWB30), plus Provincial Officers and NCOs (FWB213). With green coats, red vests and tan leather breeches, the color scheme provides a great break from the more typical mix of red and blue clothing on most British soldiers. Together, the sixteen figures allows me to field two units of Pennsylvania Provincials.

Sash and Saber sculpts hew toward the smaller side of 28mm figures (like those from Conquest and Perry Miniatures) with thinner, naturalistic scaling still filled with decent variations in pose and personality. While details fade a bit in faces, sculpted equipment, uniforms and poses all offer the kind of variety I seek in the models I like to paint.

I also purchased the British Personalities pack (FWB402) which includes Lt. Col. George Washington and Jeffrey Amherst, Commander-In-Chief of British Forces in North America during the FIW. The Washington figure is one of three I own of him (along with those from Eureka and Warlord), and he is dressed in his blue British Virginia Provincial officer uniform he wore during the war. Amherst stands with orders in his hand by his side, a nice detail that makes Sash and Saber sculpts unique within such an extensive line.

French and Indian War: Mounted Officers and Characters from Sash and Saber Castings and Warlord Games

In the close forests on 18th-century North America during the French and Indian War, the vast majority of the skirmishes and battles among French, Briitsh and Indian forces took place on foot among individual warriors. That said, especially among Europeans, mounted officers still held a place on many battlefields.

Of the hundreds of figures in my collection, few are mounted for this very reason. Aside from that, I’m not a big fan of painting horses although I’ve developed some quick techniques to get tabletop quality mounted models on the table. With this in mind, I recently set to fiishing up some horses and riders for the period.

First up, I bought the excellent three-figure set of British Characters from Warlord Games. This trio includes the young Virginia Colonial Militia officer Lt. Col. George Washington, a mounted figure of British Lt. Col. George Munro and General James Wolfe on foot. These metal figures each come packed with some real animated personality, and I’m a particular fan of the young Washington brazenlt cocking his pistoal as he charges forward.

One other Warlord figure is a plastic officer on a rearing horse. I pulled this figure from the Field Artillery and Army Commanders box made for the American War of Independence. This is one of the few plastic figures in my entire collection, but its sprue provided some options for choices in heads and poses. I’ve modelled mine as a British officer, and atop his bucking horse he is serviceable as a command figure for the earlier period.

To these Warlord figures, I also added four figures — two more British and two French — from Sash and Saber Castings. These sculpts are from the huge line of FIW figures launched via Kickstarter that makes it one of the broadest lines currently available for the period. Like the Warlord models, the Sash and Saber figures tend more toward a leaner, smaller 28mm scale. The horses reveal a lot of detail and varied poses while riders can be a bit flat in their facial expressions.

Together, this half-dozen mounted officers made for a bit of a break in my usual rotation of purely foot figures. Set at the lead of dozens of other soldiers in the American wilderness, they’ll be a great fit with any number of units of my tabletop.

French and Indian War: Comparing 28mm Miniatures Scales – Indians

Sometimes it seems the #1 topic all miniatures gamers have is one of scale and how miniatures from different manufacturers scale together. When I run convention games or post photos of scenarios online, people don’t ask about what books I used in my research or what sites, museums or archives I’ve visited. What they do ask about is manufacturers and scale.

So here it is, taking the first of a couple swings at addressing scale for French and Indian War tabletop gaming with a look at Indians from my collection. After some visual comparisons, I’ll weigh in at the end with some commentary about how I feel about the scale conversation.

Currently I have Indians miniatures from seven manufactures, each of which can be viewed in detail on separate posts: AW Miniatures, Conquest Miniatures, Galloping Major Wargames, Knuckleduster Miniatures, North Star Military Figures, Redoubt Enterprises and Sash and Saber Castings. In the photo below, I’ve lined up a sample from each manufacturer from what I see as the smallest on the left with Conquest all the way up to the largest with Redoubt.

In the next photo, I’m showing a zoomed-in look at the manufacturers on the smlaller side — Conquest, Sash and Saber and Knuckleduster. I find these three hew more toward a thinner, more traditional 25mm scale.

On the larger end of the spectrum, I’ve shown a line-up of North Star, AW, Galloping Major and Redoubt as the modern 28mm “heroic” scale.

Finally, I’ve placed two Indian leaders side by side with the Conquest model at one extreme and the towering Redoubt figure on the other.

So there you have it, some visual comparisons of what are broadly viewed as 28mm Indian miniatures. And with that, I have a lot of opinions.

The first one is that many manufacturers use different sculptors over time, creating variations even within one company’s lines of figures. For example, Warlord Games uses older Conquest sculpts in their FIW offering but have also added work from other artists. Companies like AW, Galloping Major and Sash and Saber have a lot of consistency in their models since they are owned and operated by the sculptors themselves. So, broad statements like “X manufacturer always scales well with Y manufacturer” are not always 100% accurate.

Next, my bias is toward metal castings and I try to avoid plastics. I like the heft of metal on the table, I don’t like to put in assembly time and I like how metal takes paint. This means I’m not looking at a very popular manufacturer like Perry Miniatures in the photos above. I have played with Perry plastics and I own some of their wagons cast in metal. Mostly, I find their sculpts are thin, with very acurate real-life scaling that tends toward the smaller end of the 25mm scale.

As a third point, few players I know put their heads right down on the table at figure eye level when playing. Figures used in actual play are seen at arm’s length or table distance of some three feet or more, obscuring fine differences of a millilmeter or two between models. Differences in models on the table can be further obscuredby keeping manufacturers together in cohesive units. I use the approach, and my “tabletop quality” of painting allows my miniatures to fight just fine (provided the dice are cooperating on any given day).

Finally, variety to me is so much more important than scale. With over 120 Indians painted up in my collection (and probably more on the way), I’ve always been more focused on the visual interest of the sculpts than height of one versus another. By stretching across seven manufacturers I’m supporting more companies and artists feeding the hobby and getting a ton more interesting looking Indian units on my table.

French and Indian War: Woodland Indians from Sash and Saber Castings

In the summer of 2018, Sash and Saber Castings launched a Kickstarter for one of the most massively comprehensive lines of French and Indian War miniatures available. Owner and designer Chris Hughes has proven himself over the past 20 years in creating a huge catalog of metal 40mm and 28mm miniatures spanning hundreds of years of military history. His 28mm FIW launch was quickly funded by campaign backers, unlocked a number of stretch goals along the way, and shipping proceeded at a swift pace by the spring of 2019.

The miniatures in the Sash and Saber FIW collection cover British, French, Indian soldiers, warriors, mounted leaders, casualties, artillery and civilians of all types over some 100 different packs of four figures each. Less common models such as figures in winter clothes on snowshoes and some much-needed women and children help make this offering one of the most welcome and unique offerings for the period.

I ordered a bunch of British Provincials and several of the Indian packs, including Iroquois Firing (FW11), Iroquois Advancing (FW13), Iroquois with Clubs and Tomahawks, Iroquois with Bows (FW15) and Iroquois Leaders (FW1201). The figures carry a lot of detail in sculpts that lean a bit on a more natural scale tipping a bit toward 25mm rather than the chunkier, heroic figures found in other manufacturer lines. Many of the Iroquois come dressed in more European-influenced trade clothes while some wear more traditional bucksin leggings and loincloths, both styles reflecting the evolving culture clash of the 18th-century frontier.

The full line is now available on the company’s website, retailing for $8 a pack. With some of these models already gracing my tabletop scenarios, I’ll be certain to be slowly adding more to my collection over time.