Wednesday 28 May 2014

Welcoming Thorstein, his blog, and yet another...

I'm hoping that Thorsteinn is a good approximation of the name: Thanks for joining - I thought I'd reciprocate.  And while I'm at it, have a look here too:  I thought I had linked in with Christopher's blog a while ago, but it turns out I hadn't.  He has some beautiful Late Romans on there just now, based for Impetus.

Saturday 24 May 2014

May 2014 WIP 3

More progress on Caesar's Alaudae:
This time, I've shot them from behind (if you know what I mean!) so that you can hopefully see what I'm trying to do with the cloaks.  Having said that, being right in front of this lot is probably not a safe place to be.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Hi Graham!

Just wanted to say hello to one of our longest standing club members and well known man about wargames in Scotland, Graham Bryson.  Also known as he of the unfeasibly large hat (or something like that).  Thanks for doing the honourable thing and joining!

Sunday 11 May 2014

Lunacy and Whimsey

Aaron Bell posted a link over on TMP to an ancients blog: that currently has a really good idea for a Pyrrhic mini-campaign.  The map has linked nodes with specified battle field terrain layouts.  Do go and have a wee look!

Saturday 10 May 2014

May 2014 WIP No.2

May as well make a series of these posts:
Some of the Alaudae, at various stages of completion.  I am experimenting with the cloaks on these guys.  Since they will be serving as Gallic auxiliaries as well as Caesar's famous legion, I'm giving them Gallic style cloak designs.  These are similar to the ones I used on my Celtiberians.  However, in this case I don't want them to be quite so bright, because I'm going for a more rugged campaign look to Caesar's legions, to differentiate them from the cleaner legions of his enemies - yes, this is also going to be a Civil Wars project.  I hope the guys at the top right of the photo show what I mean:  they have some thin yellow stripes, and in one case white as well, but I'm going to leave those stripes unhighlighted.  Is that even a word?  Anyway, the inks have been applied, and the next and final stage for these particular guys will be the highlights, but I hope that if I don't do any more on the brightest stripes, I'll get a sort of mild tartan effect.  That's the plan, anyway.
The ones I've finished so far: all of the command plus eight of the rank and file.  There will be three units of 24 auxiliaries, each led by a Roman command base.  Another eight will serve as the 1st cohort with the eagle to upgrade them to legionaries when needed.  It does feel a little odd painting Romans for this period with patterned cloaks - somehow, it just ain't right.  I reckon it will make them stand out on the tabletop, though, and the plain shields will help.
Finally, some detail work has been detailed on Thomas' Titanic.  The hull came in pure black, and the white superstructure and plum red lower hull needed painting.  Which then means a necessary stage of cleaning up the lines.  Matt black is noticeable on the shinier plastic used for the model, so once we are happy with the overall look we will use some silk varnish to bring it all together.  He seems to be enjoying it - he volunteers to do some work on it most evenings.  After homework, of course...

Friday 9 May 2014

Men on Elephants

Numidians, to be precise, by Companion Miniatures:
The rider's right hand was open, looking as if grasping something, so I added a javelin to each.  They'll need something to keep those annoying Velites at bay.
Not that it will help at Zama.  These figures are perfect for that particular battle, I think.
Although I'll need another five to complete the large contingent that fought so badly for Hannibal.
First elephants I've painted in a very long time...

Thursday 8 May 2014

Campaign Events: 147 BC onwards

Our ancients campaign seems to have really busy moments, followed by lulls as everyone builds up for another go.  Recent events:

Summer 147
  • The Romans defeat the Macedonians in Epirus, but at great cost to themselves.  The Macedonians retire to Pella, to pick up more troops
  • Carthage falls to Scipio Aemilianus
  • The Ptolemaic Egyptians move an army from Sinai into Nabatea
Autumn 147
  • The Ptolemies annexe Nabatea.  Might as well pick up some extra provinces while everyone else is otherwise involved.
  • The Parthians annexe Persis
  • The victorious Roman army in Carthage starts marching across North Africa back to Iberia, leaving a reserve contingent behind.  They are supposed to go and reinforce the army in Epirus, but are delayed by storms.  And loot.  Lots of loot.
  • The Roman army in Epirus retires to Calabria to wait for reinforcements, unable to press on after their costly victory
Winter 147

Various taxes are collected and folks go into winter quarters.  The one major political event is that the Achaean League under Corinth declares independence from Macedon, cutting off Sparta.  Might as well kick the northerners while they're down...

Spring 146
  • The Romans in Carthage cross to Lilybaeum
  • Scipio Aemilianus arrives with his victorious army in Saguntum
  • The Parthians invade Carmania
  • Roman reinforcements start to arrive in Calabria
  • The Macedonians move their entire army to Epirus for the next round
  • The Ptolemies invade Palmyra
  • The Achaeans move into Sparta

Summer 146
  • The Romans reinforce Calabria from Lilybaeum
  • The Achaeans 'liberate' Sparta.  The laconic response is "Thanks a lot."
  • The Ptolemies annexe Palmyra
  • The Parthians annexe Carmania
Autumn 146
The Romans invade Epirus yet again.  Their army is slightly larger than the Macedonians - is the writing finally on the wall for the phalangites?

Sunday 4 May 2014

Work in Progress: Elephants and Romans

I haven't bothered much with WIP posts in the past, but I'm finding that the gaps between my postings are becoming longer because of the size of projects I am doing.  This is mainly because I usually just post piccies of completed units, but since it looks as though I won't be playing at the club for at least a month, I thought I should post something else in the meantime.  Anne O'Leary got me thinking when she posted a comment on a prior post.  Besides, somebody might like it:
On the left is my current lot: seven Numidian elephants and some Romans, all at various stages of completion.  The two dark elephants have been block painted and then inked; the three in the middle are blocked in; and the final two have just been undercoated.  I've done something I haven't tried for a while with these two, which is to use dark brown.  I have a tube of artist's dark umber which is quite thick (high viscosity) and has lasted me for ages; time to put it to some extra use.  I always paint on undercoat rather than spray it, for two reasons.  The first is that I have three kids, and the second is that I have three kids.  Oh, and there is another reason - I once had a really bad experience with a can of spray varnish.  The brown isn't perfect, but it will do; you can probably make out a weird yellowish colour coming through it, which is the resin of the elephant's body.

The four Roman officers have been given their basic paintjob, and the standard bearers have been undercoated.  I use black undercoat, followed by a heavy white drybrush to bring up the details.  I find this really helps with good quality figures, because it makes it easier for me to see where everything is.  For example, these Companion Miniatures figures are so well detailed that you can see the pin clasp on their belts poking though a hole.  Can't paint it if you can't see it.

Taken together, these figures pretty much show all of the stages I paint, apart from the final result.  They start off too bright, then go too dark, and then come just right.  I call it the Goldilocks method: too dark!  Too bright!  Just right...  And on the right of the photo are some already completed Roman officers and musicians sitting on the legion's bases.  These will be the command stands for Caesar's Alaudae, and will also double as early Gallic auxiliary infantry.

Meanwhile, Thomas is building the Titanic:
This is a beautiful 1:400 scale anniversary model by Revell.  Thomas got right into a Titanic project he did for school, and we bought him this model for Xmas.  I want him to start doing something a bit more intelligent than playing electronic things all the time, and this seemed like a good way to start him.  He quite likes it, because he gets to sit next to me and do boy and dad stuff.  He has also been expressing an interest in model tanks for a while, so he can progress onto those later.  And he can also play games with them too.  Besides, it's only a matter of time before his little sisters catch up.  They like terrain and scenery; who says child labour is dead!?

Saturday 3 May 2014

Pila against Pike (Again)

The rotten Romans attack the magnificent Macedonians.  The latter have done well against the Roman juggernaut so far, but how long will it last?
As campaign umpire of sorts, I put together the army lists and rolled for the terrain, before knowing which side I would play.  As it turns out, I would be the Macedonians and Gordon and Billy would run the red tide.  The photo above shows most of the table, with my guys on the left.  At the top end of my line is a wood, with some peltasts inside, then comes the phalanx, and then all of the cavalry.  Skirmishers out front.  The Romans went for a variation on their deployment manual.  Their far wing (their right) has a couple of units of mercenary peltasts and some light horse.  Their legions are deployed in duplex acies, with the Triarii brigaded off to the sides of the whole infantry formation.  Their left, nearest the camera, has all of the their Equites plus some more light horse.  They have a larger number of skirmishers, what with Velites plus mercenary slingers and archers.  As the Macedonian general, it looks as though I'll be trying to smash their centre while holding the flanks.  Off we go, then, merrily ignoring the woods and a couple of low hills.  terrain is not going to matter much in this fight.
The picture above shows my left.  The peltasts stay in the woods for now, and I drop one part of the phalanx back to protect the flank of the main central advance.
Both sides advance in the centre.  At the top right of the photo, you can see some Latins heading off to try to pressurise my right even more than it already is.
It looks as though my cavalry will need some help here.
A full table shot from the same position as the first one shows the relative positions at this point.
Back on my left, my peltasts have to come out from their nice safe wood to protect the all-important flank of the advancing phalanx.  I may have more strength in the infantry centre, but my flanks are weak.
The central phalanxes continue their advance.
On the right, I am going to have to sacrifice my units as judiciously as possible to try to hold up all these Romans as long as possible.  It looks as though the Romans are going to try to do a Cannae to me.
Full table shot at this time.
The situation on my left as the main phalanx goes in.  My skirmishers here are now ex-skirmishers, and are nowhere to be seen.
A quick switch over to the right to see my cavalry retiring in the face of superior numbers.
A full table shot a little later.  Phalanx versus legion in the centre, while on  my right I have to feed in my cavalry a bit at a time to try to cause an Equites traffic jam to buy time for my centre.
Some of the phalanxes are sklowly beginning to prevail in the centre of the field, albeit more slowly than I would like.  The picture above shows a couple of blocks advancing into a space that used to be full of Hastati.
Above is a gratuitous shot of my general being rubbish.  I put him with his elite heavies in order to bolster their morale.  It didn't work.  All of my other cavalry have been destroyed, and I needed the reserve to maintain cohesion in order to swing past the advancing Triarii and attack the Equites.  Not now, I won't...
This is what I was trying to prevent.  My disordered heavy cavalry are skulking shamefully just off to the bottom of this picture.
And here they are retiring even further, leaving the rest of the army to its fate.

The phalanxes surged through the relatively weak Roman centre, but my two wings collapsed and the Romans scraped a victory on points.  They are, however, not strong enough to pursue and the campaign grimly grinds on...