Thursday 30 July 2009

More velites

Velites for the second Roman legion at Zama. I've also taken a slightly blurry photo from above to try to show how the bases look. Figures by Newline.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Seleucus and Lysimachus Reprise

Yesterday was a refight of the Early Seleucids match up against Lysimachus. The latter's army in blue:
LI: 12 Peltasts in two ranks
LC1-3: 8 Light Cavalry in two ranks
X1 and X2: 12 Xystophoroi elite heavy lancers in two ranks
E1 and E2: 2 Elephants
P1: 32 Elite Phalangites in four ranks
P2 and P3: 32 Veteran Phalangites in four ranks
WB1 and WB2: 36 Thracian warriors in six ranks
T1 and T2: 18 Thracian medium cavalry in three ranks
SI1: 12 skirmish archers
SI2: 12 skirmish slingers
SI3: 10 skirmish javelinmen.
The Seleucids in red:
P1-4: 12 Light Infantry in two ranks (peltasts)
T1 and T2: 8 Tarantine light cavalry in two ranks
C1-C3: 12 elite Xystophoroi heavy lancers in two ranks
E1 and E2: 2 Elephants
Ph1-3: 24 Elite Phalangites in three ranks
Ph4 and Ph5: 36 Veteran Phalangites in three ranks
Sk1 and Sk2: 8 Skything light horse archers in two ranks
A1 and A2: 10 skirmish archers
J1 and J2: 8 skirmish javelinmen
Terrain was some rough ground in front of the Lysimachid right and a long stretch of rolling hills across the centre, closer to Seleucus.
The Seleucid commanders were myself on the left; Billy in the middle; and Mark on the right. I was facing Simon. Billy matched up against William, and Mark was playing Gordon. We won, according to the end result, as a major victory, because we only lost one unit of Skythians, two units of Peltasts, and one of the Elephant units. However, the tally does not tell the whole story. We advanced all along the front, intending to take possession of the hills and use our strong wings to envelop the enemy. They spotted this well in advance, and advanced their right and centre to deny us; their left held back a little. On my flank, the enemy lancers became bogged down against waves of light troops, along with my sole unit of Xystophoroi. The elephants effectively cancelled each other out on this flank, and it all ended up with my lancers poised to take the Lysimachid phalanx in the flank. On our right, Mark slowly but surely devoured all in front of him. Our superiority in light troops told as the Lysimachid elephants there took 50% losses before being engaged and quickly destroyed by our elephants. The left of their phalanx was now exposed, and our rightmost elite phalanx took full advantage. This won us the game, deciding what had become a real grudge match across the infantry centre; every single one of our frontally engaged phalanxes was close to breaking by the time the enemy centre caved in due to pressure from our right.

Tuesday 28 July 2009


These are Essex peltasts I painted about twenty years ago for a friend who was interested at the time in first edition Tactica. Over time, they dulled down because of the enamels I was using. After buying back the army, I retouched them with acrylics and put Veni Vidi Vici 15mm transfers on them, varying the patterns. I'm quite pleased with the results.

Sunday 26 July 2009


Just finished a unit of twelve Velites for Zama. These are the skirmishers for one of the two Roman legions. I've gone for red shields and linen-coloured tunics. I am also nearly finished a second batch of twelve for the second Roman legion. In order to differentiate them on the tabletop, I'll do yellow rim effects on those ones.

Saturday 25 July 2009

Some more light cavalry

Another unit of eight light cavalry, different figures from the first lot.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Shako 2

You might not believe it since all of this blog so far has been 25mm ancients, but I do have other interests as well. Mainly Napoleonics: I have a very large 15mm 1812 Russian army, the infantry of which needs rebasing. I played Shako a lot when it first came out, and yesterday evening was my first go at the second edition. I was the Swedes, defending a good position with a very small force against hordes of Russians. I like all of the improvements over the first edition, but it was one of the worst games I have ever played. Slaughtered is a polite term for it. I had the deployment, formations and tactics right and got wiped out. The reason was the size of my force. Shako II is like Armati in that each unit rolls one die plus modifiers, but unlike Armati in combat the number of hits taken is the difference between the totals. And since the average unit can only take four hits, the casualties and destroyed units soon mount up. And if one has a small force with very little reserves, one is in deep trouble if even a single fluky bad result appears. And I rolled lots of 1s againts lots of 6s right across the board. To be fair to the rules, the game was too small to be representative; luck like that can even out with reasonable sized forces, but it did make for a very quick battle.

Which leads me to ponder. I want a reasonably quick game for a Tuesday evening, but not so quick that a few moments of bad luck turn the game into something of a crap shoot, as the Americans would say. I also want to avoid too much complexity, because work and normal life don't leave me with a great deal of mental energy, which places me towards the "game" as opposed to "simulation" end of the continuum. This kind of rules out other games such as General de Brigade or Principles of War. Since Tactica II demonstrates that luck often evens out across large numbers of dice, I now have a good idea why I am definitely moving away from games like Shako in which a single die roll per unit is crucial. This is only a matter of personal taste. I did have an idea once of adapting Tactica to Napoleonics, but that was before Shako came out. Maybe it's worth revisiting. Not because I'm desperate to win, but because I want to try to ensure that when I do play, I have as good a time as possible. I like close games which could go either way, whether or not I win. Last night I was consistently destroyed, not just defeated, by inferior units attacking superior troops in better terrain and formations. And yes, I know that can and did happen, but it kind of takes the fun out of it - I don't even like winning games where this happens. So maybe when Tactica II is published, I should resurrect the idea of Tactica Napoleonica - for lack of a better term...

Monday 20 July 2009

Light Cavalry

Some light horse, this time, the first of two units of eight figures.

Sunday 19 July 2009

Militia Cavalry

I originally bought these partly painted from Eric at the Phoenix Club, which means that they are probably Foundry figures. They make a unit of eighteen Greek militia medium cavalry, probably some of the worst quality cavalry ever to grace the field. But they do (barely) cover the flanks of the hoplites; if the Persians are busy killing these guys, they aren't threatening the infantry...

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Early Seleucids versus Lysimachids

This is last night's match-up: Lysimachids in blue above, Seleucids in red below. This time I'm able to show both armies because Simon and I came up with a variant on the Lysimachid army that removed subject hoplites and Thracian light infantry from the list, replacing them with Thracian warbands. All of which means that for a change I have the army lists in detail for both sides.
Army of Lysimachus:
X1 and X2: 12 Xystophoroi elite heavy lancers in two ranks
T1-T3: 12 Thracian medium cavalry in two ranks
LI: 12 Peltasts in two ranks
E1 and E2: 2 Elephants
P1: 32 Elite phalangites in four ranks
P2 and P3: 48 Phalangites in four ranks
LC1 and Lc2: 12 Thracian light horse in two ranks
WB1 and WB2: 36 Thracian Warband figures in four ranks
SI1: 10 skirmish javelinmen
SI2: 12 skirmish archers
SI3: 12 skirmish slingers

The Seleucid army:
P1-P4: 12 Light Infantry in two ranks
SK1 and Sk2: 8 Skythian horse archers in two ranks
E1 and E2: 2 Elephants
C1-C3: 12 Elite Companion heavy lancers in two ranks
Ph1-Ph3: 24 Elite Pikemen in three ranks
Ph4 and Ph5: 36 Pikemen in three ranks
T1 and T2: 8 Tarentine light horse in two ranks
J1 and J2: 8 skirmish javelinmen
A1 and A2: 10 skirmish archers

Both flanks had some pretty rough terrain stretching between the two armies in front of our light infantry, but in the event the terrain didn't play much of a role in the battle. It did restrict the available room for the central heavy troops, though.

I played the left wing and some of the centre of the Seleucids, and William the rest. I was facing Billy, and William was up against Simon. It was embarrassingly easy for us, as we won on our left and centre right. Our rightmost troops did a sterling job in holding up the large Thracian warbands. Eventually our phalanx went in to pin theirs as we enveloped their centre from both flanks. Technically, it was not a major victory in terms of our breakpoint, since we lost so many light troops plus the elephants, but our entire phalanx and elite heavy cavalry were still fully intact by the end of the game.

One of the interesting improvements in Tactica II over the first edition is the ability to divide up troops into various unit sizes. For example, the Seleucids could have had two large units of Companions, and Lysimachus could have had three smaller Warbands. With hindsight, the two large warbands placed together on the one flank gave William an opportunity to tie them up with judicious use of light troops, as well as his elephant unit. Large units are powerful, but there comes a trade off with inflexibility. I was expecting Simon to set up with one warband on each flank facing the rough terrain, forcing us to try to win centrally, perhaps dividing the warband troops into three smaller units, which would give one extra to help influence events in the centre.

Saturday 11 July 2009

New Terrain Mat

Today I finished a battle mat to use for Callinicum at Claymore on August 1st. It's a model railways mat (vinyl-backed), which I textured randomly, brush painted with acrylic and then washed with watered down cuprinol I had left over from gardening jobs. The figures are Garrison Greeks that I purchased years ago at a show. I added to them, gave them a reasonably modern-style paint job, and based them in my usual way. The results are quite good, since they are sufficiently different from my other figs to do for an enemy army, or for militia hoplites. I deliberately refrained from putting on any shield designs to make them stand out from the rest. There are five units of 36 figures here; I'm half way through the same again, although I have no idea when I'll finish those...

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Indians against Early Seleucids

Last night I ended up fighting with Simon's Indians against Billy and William, who were using my Early Seleucids. Simon chose the army and the deployment, which was a big change from the previous game two weeks ago: a long but rather fragile centre of small infantry units interspersed with elephants, and two powerful wing columns. The Seleucids had the usual strong central phalanx and a mix of elephants, light troops and cavalry on either side of the infantry. We both had various skirmishers out front, and in the event they just cancelled out. The relative deployments produced a situation in which the deeper phalanx easily crushed our centre, while our wings were victorious. The crisis came at the point of the two joins between our centre and flanks, where the end infantry units had been set up. On our right, Simon lost both of his units, while mine were successful in pushing forward in concert with the attack colum. We won (just) because I was able to feed one of my cavalry units into the centre, catching a phalanx in the flank before our centre collapsed completely. This match-up always seems to be very close...

Key to units, pretty much from left to right:
Ch1: 2 Chariots
Ch2: 2 Chariots
E1: 3 Elephants
C1: 18 Militia Cavalry in two ranks
C2: 18 Militia Cavalry in two ranks
I1: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
I2: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
E2: 2 Elephants
I3: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
I4: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
E3: 2 Elephants
I5: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
I6: 24 Massed Archers in two ranks
E4: 2 Elephants
Ch3: 3 Chariots
C3: 18 Militia Cavalry in three ranks

Unit C2 was the one that won us the game, wheeling in to the right behind our battered but victorious infantry (I1 and I2) as E2 barely held on against a phalanx to its front.

Monday 6 July 2009

On the Painting Tray - July

This is the first of a new series of monthly posts. I won't use photos, but I'm hoping it will be a good way for me to keep track of my progress over time. At the start of July 2009, I have (at several stages of part completion) on the painting tray, 11 casualty figures of various kinds for the Callinicum game at Claymore on August 1st, and 24 Newline velites. The latter I picked up at last year's Claymore when the guys from Newline were selling off some end of line packs before the ancients were moved to another manufacturer. I knew I'd paint them some time; they'll do for the 12 velites I need for each of the Roman legions at Zama. The plan is to try to complete everything that is on the tray at the start of each month. Anything extra that I somehow manage will be a welcome bonus!

Sunday 5 July 2009

Generic Hoplites

These are some of the generic hoplites I was working on until I ended up doing the Society of Ancients Battle Day in Scotland.
They are mostly Old Glory, with some Foundry mixed in. I bought the latter from Eric, with most of the basic work already done on them.
The Foundry figures tend to be "at ease" in the rear ranks. In total, I have eight units, each of 36 figures.
More than enough to cover most hoplite armies...