[Archive] Thoughts about Bretonnians

Grimstonefire:

So purely as a collector I’ve been thinking about branching away from WoC and starting something entirely new. This would be in addition to my ongoing efforts to paint a CD every now and then from the mountain :~

I’ve long been mulling over Chaos Space Marines as a way for me to have a relatively low model count but each model I’d make noticeably unique. I think that’s the only army in 40k I could feasibly do that with.

My other thoughts have been turning to Bretonnians of late, as they would need very little converting and I could go to town painting them.

Thoughts? They’re the only army in WH yet to be updated aren’t they. Is their background any good? I know I’ve read stuff here and there, but never their book.

MadHatter:

One of the best looking armies, current book is hard to face and they really pack a punch. I think neither skaven nor beastmen have hardcover books but the currently legal bretonnian book is from 6th ed.

Skink:

current legal bretonnian book is from 6th ed.

MadHatter
And boy is it a great read. It was one of the best books ever released for that edition. It has great art and the feeling of a middle age era manuscript. If you want to give your knights a snazzy paintjob (and why wouldn't you?) than you're going to need it, as the background section is stuffed with heraldry ideas.

Fuggit Khan:

The most impressive painted armies I have seen are always the Brets…the models just beg for bright colors, flashy standards, heraldry and pomp.

Years ago I used to paint them just for fun, I always used the Osprey Man at Arms series of books as references for Medieval European heraldry.

As for the army itself, they have a nice King Arthur/questing knights fluff to their background. They are also a very hard hitting army when played by an experienced player.

Zuh-Khinie:

Bretonnia is the army of Arthurian legend, set in medieval France

I’ve been playing/collecting them since fifth, and although painting them is quite tiresome at times, a finished unit of knights is truly a sight to behold. You can really go to town on the heraldics, but I would suggest that you also source the fifth ed. book, because the Bret-specific ‘rules of heraldry’ (ie. what to paint on which shield) are to be found within. Sixth just added different types of rims for the shields, to distinguish between the ranks of knights.

Combine these however, add bright colours, and relish at the sight of your army! :slight_smile:

Background-wise, they’ve come a long way since fourth. Bretonnia no longer is a land rife with corruption and with an unjust and retarded king, it now is a land with minor corruption, rife with heroic deeds of chivalry (slaying monsters, saving damsels, heroically killing an entire beastman warband single-handedly, etc.)! I really, REALLY like the fluff (also, the Bretonnia-omnibus and WFRP 2nd edition Knights of the Grail can be read to gain further insight into society), but I’ve always been a sucker for castles and knights on horses.

And playing-wise, I’ve never really had to fear anything when fielding my brets. Sure, some match-ups are harder than others, but not much can stand against a turn one (or two) charge of 120 impetuous knights. :slight_smile:

At 1500 points, I’ve never lost a match since sixth. At 2500 points, I win more games than I loose (something like a 70% win-ratio). At 3000+ points, I mostly massacre non-horde armies, but tend to get bogged down by skaven/goblins and the likes. The only problem with Brets right now is that the tactics you use don’t really change all that much, whatever the size of the battle you play, which does tend to get boring. I haven’t fielded them for over a year now though, and start to get an itch while typing this… let’s see if I can find a battlefield this weekend, worthy of Basillac!

Oh yeah, never forget to yell chaargeeez!!! when trying to dunk 6+ units of knights on your opponents battleline :slight_smile:

Bitterman:

Thoughts?  They're the only army in WH yet to be updated aren't they. 

Grimstonefire
Almost. Beastmen and Dwarfs, I believe, also have yet to receive an 8th Ed book.
Is their background any good?  I know I've read stuff here and there, but never their book.
It's... malleable. Each new iteration of Bretonnia has had a different take on things. Originally (way back when) they were a corrupt land of vicious knights enforcing their will on the peasants beneath them, while arrogant fops flounced around in court - they were basically literally an early-medieval army, and even had cannons back in those days. They were completely reinvented in the edition when they featured in the starter box, and became a pure Arthurian myth, with magical Knights selflessly existing for the benefit of their people; on the table-top, the Knights were obviously key but they had to be supported by infantry. The current take still has a lot of the dragon-slaying Arthurian imagery, but the peasants are downtrodden again and there's a hint of hypocrisy in how they are treated; the army revolves almost entirely around their Knights, with infantry almost completely useless unless you take them in huge hordes just to soak up wounds.

On the plus side, there is absolutely nothing else that can compare to the sight of a well-painted unit of Bretonnian Knights, or an army comprised of such units, on the table-top; it's breath-taking (though full disclaimer: I preferred the previous range of models to the current ones). They are the most magical / mythological human faction in the game, which makes them really interesting (though full disclaimer: I preferred the previous iteration of the fluff to this one, I can't tell if the downtrodden peasant pastiche is supposed to be funny or ironic but it doesn't work for me at all); and they're not often seen nowadays, so they really stand out as an army.

Less positively, they've always been the poor cousins to the Empire in terms of how they are treated. They've basically only got Knights, Peasants, and Bowmen in the army list; the Empire has all of that and lots (and lots) more. By all appearances they've been left till last because GW don't seem much interested in doing anything with them. Relying so heavily on Knights risks a one-dimensional army on the table-top - I never really field mine nowadays, but when I did, if I charged, I would win (unless the enemy was Unbreakable) but if I didn't get the charge, I would lose. I personally found them incredibly rewarding to paint, but utterly stale to game with. (They were much more fun to game with in Warmaster, where the interplay between cavalry and infantry was subtle and intelligent, than Warhammer, where Knights just need to charge). YMMV.

If rumours have any impact on your decision: on Warseer, Hastings and Darnok have been saying for a while they'd get new models and/or a book (not clear) this Spring. Darnok seems to have retracted that in the last couple of days, and it's no longer clear if they'll even continue to be supported as a faction. Either way (new toys or no support) it would seem like waiting might not be a bad idea. OTOH, if you want to get stuck into painting the finest-looking, most visually spectacular army in Warhammer, there's no time like the present.

Malorndk:

Thoughts?  They're the only army in WH yet to be updated aren't they. 

Grimstonefire
Almost. Beastmen and Dwarfs, I believe, also have yet to receive an 8th Ed book.


Bitterman
Dwarf just got a book. The one with the Irondrakes and Gyrobombers.
The Beastmen book was released on the brink of 8th edition, but still count as a 7th edition book

Bitterman:

Dwarf just got a book. The one with the Irondrakes and Gyrobombers.
The Beastmen book was released on the brink of 8th edition, but still count as a 7th edition book

Malorndk
Sorry, you're right about Dwarfs. I got them confused with Skaven for some reason.

Bretonnians, Skaven and Beastmen don't have 8th Ed books. (BM might have been released on the brink of 8th Ed, but is very firmly a 7th Ed book).

Grimstonefire:

What would “grim dark” bretonnians look like who have lost their lords, their lands etc?

I can’t really imagine an army of ronin knights. Probably better to just stick with Arthurian look?

Also, forgive my crude lack of knowledge on heraldry, but when you have a deer helmet or a boars head icon etc, these mean something heroic in ages past right?

In the warhammer world wouldn’t you see daemon heraldry or a dwarf head or tomb kings etc??

Fuggit Khan:

Also, forgive my crude lack of knowledge on heraldry, but when you have a deer helmet or a boars head icon etc, these mean something heroic in ages past right?

Grimstonefire
They have different meanings...initially in many cases the symbols of deer, bears, wild boars etc were a status symbol of hierarchy denoting wealth. During the middle ages the lands were owned/leased by lords from the King/Queen. Only those of proper birth were allowed 'legally' to hunt on the lands of nobles (but poaching was naturally widespread among serfs)...so a wild animal symbol of "hunting game" denotes status as given by their lords.
Later these heraldric symbols came to denote cities, duchies, trading cartels etc that were founded by the families of such powerful/wealthy nobles...they rarely denote 'battle prowess' of any type. Symbols of boars generally indicate courage, deer represent fortitude, birds of all types represent peace, bulls represent personal sacrifice and generosity to others (despite what Hashut may say), keys represent divine knowledge (commonly associated with the Gates of Heaven), etc.

MadHatter:

Also, forgive my crude lack of knowledge on heraldry, but when you have a deer helmet or a boars head icon etc, these mean something heroic in ages past right?

Grimstonefire
They have different meanings...initially in many cases the symbols of deer, bears, wild boars etc were a status symbol of hierarchy denoting wealth. During the middle ages the lands were owned/leased by lords from the King/Queen. Only those of proper birth were allowed 'legally' to hunt on the lands of nobles (but poaching was naturally widespread among serfs)...so a wild animal symbol of "hunting game" denotes status as given by their lords.
Later these heraldric symbols came to denote cities, duchies, trading cartels etc that were founded by the families of such powerful/wealthy nobles...they rarely denote 'battle prowess' of any type. Symbols of boars generally indicate courage, deer represent fortitude, birds of all types represent peace, bulls represent personal sacrifice and generosity to others (despite what Hashut may say), keys represent divine knowledge (commonly associated with the Gates of Heaven), etc.


Fuggit Khan
These facts do however belong to the sub-branches of esoteric heraldry and romantic heraldry. Dating back atleast to the 1500's these branches are amazing, especially if considering Agrippas linking of heraldric tincture to the septenary system, we must remember however, and I wish it was different, that charges in coat-of-arms have at best similar meaning when they share both region and time-period, and thats just european heraldry... Venture into arabian, american and african heraldic traditions as example. Meaning sadly one cant read coat-of-arms without regional and historical knowledge as foundation.

Amazing to find another herald in you Fuggit! Awesome :cheers

Bitterman:

What would "grim dark" bretonnians look like who have lost their lords, their lands etc?  

I can't really imagine an army of ronin knights.  Probably better to just stick with Arthurian look?

Grimstonefire
Questing Knights renounce worldly ties while they go on their quest for the Grail. They give up lances in favour of great weapons, and carry everything they own with them. Can't really make an army of them though.

Alternatively, Mousillon (a Bretonnian city) fell to darkness years ago when their Lord pretended to have found the Grail when he hadn't. The city is now largely wasteland, Undead are involved (especially Vampires), and so on... a Bretonnian army from the province around Mousillon could look pretty ragged, with beat-up old equipment, torn robes and such like. Could either be fallen themselves, or simply the dispossessed, down-on-their-luck Knights of Mousillon who rejected their fallen lord but suffered the misfortunes of his punishment.

Those two are the closest to what you describe in existing fluff. A wandering/Ronin Bretonnian army would seem a bit odd to me (have all the Knights lost their lord and master, or...?), I'd think a Knight-heavy mercenary Empire army would be more appropriate for that, but perhaps your imagination can make it work.
Also, forgive my crude lack of knowledge on heraldry, but when you have a deer helmet or a boars head icon etc, these mean something heroic in ages past right?
Broadly, yes, in real-world history. The previous Bretonnian army book also had loads of examples of this, many (not all) of which had a Warhammer twist, for example a Unicorn on his coat of arms showed the Knight had the friendship of the Wood Elves, etc.

I think (from memory) the current book pushed that to one side and made such symbols purely geographical i.e. the symbols are based on which province the Knight comes from, but I could be wrong.

Either way, if you want to just paint a load of different heraldry on there, no-one's going to argue the difference. Or you can come up with a consistent theme to the heraldry, to fit the back story for the army. Either works. The only firm advice I'd give is to follow the old heraldic colour rules absolutely - they were created for a reason, and for example white on blue stands out much more than (and looks much better than) green on blue, that kind of thing.
In the warhammer world wouldn't you see daemon heraldry or a dwarf head or tomb kings etc??
I don't see why not. I've not seen a Bretonnian army done like that, though, and I don't think GW's own examples do that. Sure they have dragons, but then so did traditional heraldry - the difference being that one was simply purely mythological.

A heraldry based around the Warhammer world, rather than one based on our world with vague links to Warhammer symbolism, might be quite interesting. Possibly also quite difficult, but again, maybe your imagination is better than mine.

Fuggit Khan:

...we must remember however, and I wish it was different, that charges in coat-of-arms have at best similar meaning when they share both region and time-period, and thats just european heraldry.

Amazing to find another herald in you Fuggit! Awesome :cheers

MadHatter
Excellent points, good to see another Herald History nerd here on CDO :)
Heraldry has a rich history, and as you point out is heavily influenced by regions and time period. Colors are also interesting...green backgrounds usually denote beauty (references to the great forests of Europe), red usually denotes willingness to serve (giving blood), orange/gold usually denotes wealth (for obvious reasons), etc. Regional influences, marriages between great houses, splitting of lands among sons after the death of a lord, etc all play a factor in the ever changing heraldry during the middle ages. Placement of symbols on the shield also usually references status...for example symbols placed at the top usually denote 'absolute rule and/or authority'...hence big game animal symbols usually are on top (denoting legal privileges to hunt, as given by royal rule/decree).
I have always been interested especially by the heraldry of the Hanseatic League...a confederation of loosely 'free' city states governed by trading merchant guilds. Studying the changing heraldry of the Hansa cities over the course of 400 years shows the growing fortunes/influences of them upon their neighbors.

Anyways...enough nerdism from me...Grimstonefire, you may also want to consider paint schemes of the various Crusader factions. They typically had a more 'unified' look.

Grimstonefire:

Well, I have an urge to paint red, black, gold and white.  Just those colours in various patterns.  I’ve got an annual with the 5th ed box cover on it (louen leoncoeur V lizardman) that looks awesome.

I didn’t realise but it’s actually very hard trying to find unopened models for bretonnians outside of the battalion online.

Discoking:

Well, I have an urge to paint red, black, gold and white.  Just those colours in various patterns.

Grimstonefire
That sounds like my Brets, hehe.
I love the Brets, great imagery & fluff.

If only GW cared enough for a sneaky update!

MadHatter:


Excellent points, good to see another Herald History nerd here on CDO :)
Heraldry has a rich history, and as you point out is heavily influenced by regions and time period. Colors are also interesting...green backgrounds usually denote beauty (references to the great forests of Europe), red usually denotes willingness to serve (giving blood), orange/gold usually denotes wealth (for obvious reasons), etc. Regional influences, marriages between great houses, splitting of lands among sons after the death of a lord, etc all play a factor in the ever changing heraldry during the middle ages. Placement of symbols on the shield also usually references status...for example symbols placed at the top usually denote 'absolute rule and/or authority'...hence big game animal symbols usually are on top (denoting legal privileges to hunt, as given by royal rule/decree).
I have always been interested especially by the heraldry of the Hanseatic League...a confederation of loosely 'free' city states governed by trading merchant guilds. Studying the changing heraldry of the Hansa cities over the course of 400 years shows the growing fortunes/influences of them upon their neighbors.

Anyways...enough nerdism from me...Grimstonefire, you may also want to consider paint schemes of the various Crusader factions. They typically had a more 'unified' look.


Fuggit Khan
There's also esoteric heraldry where saints, mythological beings and tinctures make alchemical points or grant magical powers (protection, victory, etc.), best examplified by cities carrying their patron saints in their coat-of-arms or the vatican/churches insignias. Then there's Agrippa if one wants to relate in any way to occultism, where;

Metals:
Gold/Yellow = Tincture de Or = The Sun = Wealth/Riches
Silver/White = Tincture de Argent = The Moon = Memories/Dreams

Colours:
Blue = Tincture de Azure = Jupiter = Majesty
Red = Tincture de Gules = Mars =Passion/Wrath
Purple = Tincture de Purpure = Mercury = Trickster virtues/Magic
Black = Tincture de Sable = Saturn = Slow/Death/Poison
Green = Tincture de Vert = Venus = Abundance/Love

Outside of quicksilver-crazed alchemists, hermetic societies and perhaps some exception from bored courts I'm quite certain occultism never played into blazonings of coats-of-arms though. However the 7 tinctures corresponding with the 7 planets and the rule that max 3 tinctures is the most proper way of blazoning is obviously interesting points that tie western heraldic tradition with western occultism whether modern heralds like it or not.

Sorry for derailing the thread, hope it can be of some interest, I don't get many chances to speak on the subject :~

MadHatter:

Well, I have an urge to paint red, black, gold and white.  Just those colours in various patterns.  I've got an annual with the 5th ed box cover on it (louen leoncoeur V lizardman) that looks awesome.

Grimstonefire
Damn fine theme that, got that picture on the front of my old Battle-book, a whole army in those variations will look marvelous and elite.

Discoking:

According to the fluff, green shouldnt be on any knight, other than The Green Knight.

It’s seen as a peasant color.

You saw green on knights in the 5th ed book, but there aren’t any in the 6th ed one!

I have green on my knights, & I get mocked occasionally, lol!

Zuh-Khinie:

What would "grim dark" bretonnians look like who have lost their lords, their lands etc?  

I can't really imagine an army of ronin knights.  Probably better to just stick with Arthurian look?

Also, forgive my crude lack of knowledge on heraldry, but when you have a deer helmet or a boars head icon etc, these mean something heroic in ages past right?

In the warhammer world wouldn't you see daemon heraldry or a dwarf head or tomb kings etc??

Grimstonefire
An army themed around knight errant (who have to quest by themselves/in group to gain their status as knight of the realm), questing knights (who are looking for the grail) and grail knights (roaming the lands, helping where necessary) could be done... all of the knight-types above can be 'homeless'. otherwise, just let your imagination run free... want to do crusaders? An errantry war? Go nuts! :)

Animal-imagery in Bretonnia is mostly dependent on where you're from. However, even if you are a Bastonnian (which flies a crimson dragon on a golden field), you could, for example, have a boar on your shield if you killed a large tuskgor during your errantry or something like that. Or maybe he sports a stag on his shield because the knight in question shot a great stag while hunting (missilefire is permitted for nobility, just not during combat/war).

There are icons for undead, dwarfs and deamons in the 5th edition armybook.
If I recall correctly, the sign for undead is a cross, dwarfs is a hammer and 'chaos' is an eight-pointed star.
A knight during his errantry (that doesn't have a set task), makes an account of the deeds he's done, picking his most heroic one for his heraldry. Until he becomes a knight of the realm, his shield remains blank, only showing the colours of his family.

Colour-wise, I suggest you take a look into WFRP Knights of the Grail. Some colours are reserved for nobles, while others are shunned and left for the peasantry (brown and green).
The fifth edition armybook gives great examples on which heraldic signs to use, and what they stand for.

Grimstonefire:

Been thinking, if I designed highly stylised versions of daemons would that work?

Like where you have two lions either side of a shield with loads of fancy details around, just swap those for daemons.

Another idea was to just use a lot of skull images, extremely cliche of course for warhammer.

I’m very tempted to pick up a battalion (seeing as its the only thing you can buy on discount anywhere).

Maybe a box of flagellants as well, for an End times vibe.

I’ll give it a few weeks and see what rumours come out about Brets.