Thursday 30 August 2012

Hi Ric!

Thanks for joining - if you have a blog, please let me know and I'll return the favour...

Sunday 26 August 2012

Persian Infantry

Finally!  These guys are enjoyable to paint, but they do take a while:
48 Foundry Persian infantry, as seen from the front with shield barrier in place.
The front two ranks are spearmen, and the next four ranks are archers.
The side view gives a better idea of how I wanted them to look.
Eventually I'd like to have duplicate spearmen with large spara mantlet shields for the slightly later armies; that way the archers can double duty, and I won't have to paint so many figures to have both options.
I would like to expand to six of these units in addition to the Immortals, which should give me plenty for any Persian force.  They are very time consuming to paint, though, so I think this will be a case of  a unit or two every so often in between other projects.  The total for this year is now 275 25mm figs completed.  Now to get on with rebasing my 15mm Russian Napoleonics.  Shudder.  But it has to be done...

Thursday 16 August 2012

Persian horse archers

Just finished these, some of which may have been present at Plataea:
Willy passed them onto me after I painted some units for him; I think the figs are by 1st Corps.
I deliberately painted them to be as bright as possible, using a mix of the colour schemes I have in mind for the infantry.
I tend to think of light cavalry like these as the ancient equivalent of Cossacks: full of character, with a liking for loot of various kinds.
Normally, I'd paint light horse with a grubby campaign look, but I want the Persians to be colourful.
I used quite a lot of grass and foliage on the sandy bases to make them fit the semi-arid look I'm after.  I really enjoyed painting them.  The running total for 2012 is now 243 25mm figures finished.

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Saying hello to Tim

... and thanks for joining.  If you have a blog, please let me know and I'll link back with you.

Monday 13 August 2012

Terrain Tiles for Plataea

For a long time I have been meaning to construct a decent tabletop for our games.  The idea was to make a 12' by 6' table from textured cork wall tiles in 2' by 2' segments.  This would do for any game in desert or semi-arid conditions, which means basically anywhere we place our ancients games apart from northern or western Europe.  The table would also be scale neutral.

For a few years I have been using the annual Society of Ancients Battle Day game to concentrate my hobby efforts.  I don't have a great amount of time available due to work and family commitments, so I want to make sure that anything I do gains maximum return.  This gives me a timetable of sorts and a commitment to doing a certain amount of work.  The first time around, it was Callinicum, which I was able to present with all of my own figs after painting up some Sasanians and Arabs.  The second time it was Zama, so I took a couple of years to produce a large Republican Roman consular army from scratch, which I was then able to use for Magnesia.  The game in the third year was Khadesh, and Simon at the club was able to do that all by himself, which gave me the time I needed to complete the Romans.  The fourth time around (this year) it was Plataea, and apart from a few units of hoplites and some Persians, we already had all the figures between us, with some help from Donald at the Greenock club.  This gave me some extra time, so I decided to go for it and produce my table top.

The pictures that follow give a sense of how the project developed.  I decided to take them throughout so that I would have some sort of record of how it went.
I flocked some of the depressions on the tiles and then glued them onto cork backing to make them up to roughly 2' square pieces, disguising the join with sand.  This didn't work too well, because the cork is relatively flexible, making it almost impossible to hide the joins.  I was trying as far as possible to remove the grid-line effect common with terrain tiles, and it didn't work.
So I bought some 2' segments of hardboard and glued the tiles onto those, using plastic wood to seal the edges and to disguise the joins.  As you can see from the shot above, this worked a bit better.
I then flocked around the joins to help them blend in a bit more.  You can still see them, but at a gaming distance they look surprisingly effective.  The joins between the 2' squares are of course still visible, but the overall effect is fine.
Plataea is pretty much a flat battlefield, with only one hill of note and a couple of muddy river courses.  These were really easy to construct, because the cork is thin enough (6mm) to cut to shape.  Some of our club players were particularly interested in this part, because it could be used to make trench systems for Tobruk or whatever.
Above, you can see the flocked tile with the stream section running from top to bottom.
I then painted the river bed brown and sprinkled on some sand.  The kids loved to help with this bit...
The photo above shows the final product: PVA glue to create the water effect, and flocking to hide the joins between tiles.

Originally, I was hoping to represent Mount Cithaeron to the left rear of the Greek army, but I realised after some trial and error that it would take too much time and effort to get it right.  It would have made a nice scenic piece, but it didn't play any part in the battle itself, so eventually I just used some steep hills I already had.  Besides, this way I won't have to store it, and the idea was to make a tabletop that could be used repeatedly.

The finished tiles are not very thick, about 1cm in total, which will really help with the storage.  They are also very robust because of the hardboard, which also makes them a bit heavy.  That's probably a good thing because that way they won't warp so easily.  I'll just store them in the loft when I'm not using them.

Carronade in May was a trial run, without the hardboard, but I was able to finish the field completely for Claymore at the start of August.  I was quite surprised by the amount of positive commentary.  The Greeks and Persians make for an impressive display, and the colours really stand out against the sandy effects of the cork tiles.  Their relative brightness really helped with the overall look.  I was asked a few times how I made the river sections, and quite a few people commented on how unusual it looked - the "desert" effect went down really well.

Now that I have them, I'll maybe only need to do a little bit of work to make a few more tiles for variety, depending on the battle.  One thing we won't be doing, however, is Chalons, which is next year's Society game.  We just don't have the figures for that one.  Besides, I need a break...

Saturday 11 August 2012

Neal Croudace

Just saying hello to Neal, and thanks for joining!

Friday 10 August 2012

Plataea at Claymore

Finally got some time to put together a post on the game's second outing last week in Edinburgh:
First up we are looking at the Thebans and other medizing Greeks who make up the right wing of the invading army.  The hoplites are my Garrison figures, which I picked up really cheaply at Wappinshaw in Glasgow years ago.  I have added extra figures to give me enough for ten units of 36 hoplites, although I still need to do quite a lot of work on these.  I think they look really good en masse, and they are sufficiently different from the rest of my collection so that I can use them in opposition.
The second photo shows the Persian army's right centre, composed of Bactrians, Sakae and Indians.
Above you can see the Persian left centre, comprising the Sparabara in their myriad ranks, with skirmishers out fornt.
To finish the attackers' deployment, we have the army's left wing led by Mardonius in person.  This comprises the better cavalry and the best of the infantry.  My token Persian contribution is the unit of recently painted Immortals at the top right of the shot.
Turning around, we have the Spartans on their hill opposite Mardonius.
Next comes the Perioikoi and the Tegeans, held furthest back.
The shot above shows the central two commands of Corinthians and allied hoplites.  They are not yet on the field, but I have found through experience that it is best to set them up in column at the point of arrival, rather than disturb a large game half way through by putting fresh troops on the table.  Meanwhile, Thomas is quite happily trashing Mario or something...
Completing the Greek army, we have the Megarans, Plataeans and Athenians on the army's left opposite the Thebans.  They are on the field proper, and are in a very bad mood.
Above, you can see the opening moves on the left of the Persian army.  Most of the cavalry is sent forward to hold the Spartans for a while as Mardonius leads the guards toward the flank.
Above is a gratuitous long shot of the whole field at this point, taken from more or less the same place.  On the left, you can see that the Greek centre still hasn't arrived.
Another shot of the whole field at the same moment, this time from the other wing.  The Thebans are in the left foreground, and the athenians in front of them have angled one unit a bit to try to stop the lone group of enemy Thessalian horsemen coming around the flank.

Staying on this wing as the two lines of hoplites close.
The Greek centre has finally arrived and deployed into line.
Mardonius continues to ride around Spartan Hill...
...and keeps going.
A long view of most of the field at this time from the same position.
In the centre, the Bactrian light horse disperses into skirmish formation and attacks the Greek skirmishers.  The central hoplite line is advancing now.
A real grudge match develops between the Thebans and the Athenians.  Two lines of hoplites colliding is a noisy experience, apparently.
Meanwhile, the armies' centres line up in anticipation.  Will the Sparabara in the foreground hold out against the formidable hoplites advancing upon them?
Facing Spartan Hill, the Immortals deploy their shield barrier.  But where is Mardonius with the Guard Cavalry?
There he is!
Another full field view, same place and time.
In the centre, the hoplites move closer.  They aren't taking enough arrow damage to satisfy the Persians and their subjects.
Another full table shot from the usual place as the Spartans and Perioikoi go into the opposition.  On the left, you can see Mardonius beginning to angle in to attack the hoplites in the rear.  Will he be too late?
A close shot of the crush from behind the Immortals.  Mardonius can just be seen in the distance cresting the hill.
A view of the hoplite struggle from behind the Thebans.  It is not going well for them.
The Megarans begin to break through as the Thebans start to run for it.
The melee is now general right along the line.  The photo above shows the extreme left of the Persian army.  My Immortals are doing really well; usually a newly painted unit routs at the first sign of trouble!
Mardonius drives in toward the rear of the Tegeans.
It looks as though he is too late to make a difference, though - the Thebans have been vanquished as a great expanse suddenly appears at the right of the Persian host.
In goes Mardonius, destroying the Tegeans and a unit of Corinthians.  Some of the Perioikoi waver as well..
The Guard's moment of glory.  But it is indeed too little too late.  The Saparabara rout in their entirety and the Immortals start to give way.  Greek combat ability makes for a major victory.

Monday 6 August 2012

Welcoming Chema Sanchez

Hi and welcome, and thanks for joining!

Wednesday 1 August 2012

On the Painting Tray: August 2012

12 Persian horse archers and 32 Persian foot archers.  These are a bit of a hangover from last month.  I underestimated the time I would need to finish my terrain tiles, but now those are done, I think the results will be worth it.  I've also just ordered a whole load of pre-cut bases from East Riding Miniatures for a job I've been putting off for years now.  Willy wants to run a giant refight of Borodino on the sand table in September, so it looks as though this will give me the impetus I need to reorganise my 15mm Russian infantry.  I hate rebasing, but this really needs doing...