Saturday 28 November 2009

Profiles of the Muswell Militiamen

Our micro-wargames club is situated in Muswell Hill, and has been running in various incarnations since the late 1980s, but has always included Ian and BigRedBat.  MHM is very much a "micro" wargames club; with a membership, including affiliates, always in single figures.  We claim to be London's smallest and friendliest wargames club.  Dr. Simon, a relative newbie of 5 years standing, has suggested that we post some brief profiles of our members and associate members.  There will be additional members that I'll add to this page as time permits.

Dr. Simon writes that "Lording over toy soldiers seems to be in my blood - I voiced my first swear word when I was three as my parents shagpile carpet wrought havoc with my attempts to line my plastic armies up parade style. Since then I have evolved from throwing marbles at them to throwing dice at them (with little improvement on my generalship). My collections are mostly 28mm -from Eastern Caesarian Roman, to the Moorish Conquest of Spain, taking in the Italian Wars, French in Mexico and the French Foreign Legion along with way - and ending with 15mm ww2). The small membership of the club means we get to try out varied stuff without too much objection (just don't mention Skirmish to Simon). Mostly known in club for my ratio of painted figures to unpainted bases. Currently working on a Command and Colors version for Star Wars battles... Style of generalship might be best described as 'erratic'."

Bloggerista BigRedBat (the other Simon) has been wargaming ever since he can remember.  From Airfix Romans he eventually graduated to 15mm Donnington and Minifigs Romans, and more recenty hulking great Saleh, Copplestone and Aventine Greeks and Romans.  In the past he has been obsessed with WW1, WW2, W40K, Indo China, Roleplaying, and Hordes of the Things (amongst many other periods); his tag comes from his Glorantan-era BigRedBat model.  Simon is particularly obsessive about basing, and gets very stressed about Dr. Simon's eclectic approach to the subject!  From time to time he likes to tackle a vast project  and is currently organising a big Zama game for 2010, with the help of Dr Simon and various associates, including Dr Simon, Gloranthan Greg, Nick "the brush" Speller, Craig Davey and the helpful chaps at Aventine

Ian is BRB's 20 year plus wargaming nemesis.  Ian's historical hero is Alexander the Great.  He always has an excellent grasp of whatever ruleset we are playing; he plans turns ahead, and always seems to have a reserve of heavy cavalry or tanks massing near the schwerpunkt.  BRB has established two key tactics to deal with this: firstly, he has learned to be very lucky at critical moments, and  secondly, when things are going badly, he handicaps Ian's superior intellect with generous libations of red wine.  Consequently honours remain broadly even.  Ian has a splendid collection of board games, and a very impressive Xyston Hellenistic army; also some stunning Praxian nomads.

"Gloranthan" Greg Privat lives near Paris and is an associate member of the Militia.  Around 6 years ago BigRedBat stumbled across Greg's Gloranthan Army site and emailed him; a couple of months later (not that he's bitter!) Greg replied, and the rest is history.  Greg visits the UK once or sometimes twice a year, and BRB and he have colllaborated on various projects, including the Salute Dwarf Mine game (the Mine is gently decomposing in BRB's cellar).  Greg is the fastest and most prolific painter BRB has ever encountered, and has painted perhaps 250 minis for the Zama game, alone.  BRB also got into blogging after enjoying Greg's efforts.  Greg should stay off the coffee!

George M, who is often known by his alter ego of Father Georgi, and is often mistaken for Jesus, has been gaming since 1990, when, at the impressionable age of 11, he was taken to the Games Workshop store in the Plaza. Somehow, all those demons and harsh gothic space marines fired up his tender young mind. Thus began a long downward spiral into collecting and painting a large number of toy solders. He discovered Ancients in 1998 when he attended the SOA open day at Red Lion Square and saw the Parries playing a games called WAB. Over the next few years he experimented with a game called Deadly Boring Manoeuvres or DBM as it is often called and Vis Bellica ( which was truly awful) These days he counts listening to obscure progressive and psychedelic rock bands, travelling through Europe and worrying if he will ever clear the lead mountain as his main interests.  Years in the Hobby, approaching 20. Despite BigRedBat's best endeavours to rescue him from such base heresies, George M still plays WAB and the occasional game of WMA.  Armies: Classical Greek, Sassanids, Normans, Burgundian Ordinance, Medieval Swiss, Medieval Venetian, Medieval Albanian, Italian Wars Spanish,

Other occasional Muswell Militia gamers and associates, whose profiles will be added as time permits include: Sebastian, Nick "the brush" Speller, Chris, TimeLine Barry, Craig, Dave and Aventine Keith.

Friday 27 November 2009

Chaeronea Refight- Part III

This is our third and final visit to the Chaeronea refight (if you missed part I and II, you might like to read them first).

You'll recall the Romans have pushed forward very aggressively, and have the Pontic's pinned to their baseline.  In my Pontic turn I counterattacked with my heavy units; the two Bronze shields, with their commander Taxiles (just visible on the left of the frame below), and the two units of slave phalanx.  These achieved considerable success and killed several units of legionaries, although suffering serious casualties themselves. 

The Romans, in their turn, pressed forward but the dice gods were less favourableto them. Some Pontic units managed to hang on by a thread, such as the archers (central, below).  If they had been killed, the Roman CinC might have been able to deliver a nasty momentum attack on the unit behind.

Although many of my Pontic units had taken a pasting, I still had the advantage of numbers in terms of units because of the mass of Thureophoroi in my second line (the Pontics outnumbered the Romans several times over at Chaeonea).  I threw these, and my sole unit of heavy cavalry, into the fray.  In a spate of lucky dice rolling I managed to destroy or drive back the Roman units involved attack.

The Romans regrouped (above) into a line, but now look very badly outnumbered!

Recognising how badly they were outnumbered, the Romans fell back towards their reserves...

The Roman Right wing hadn't been engaged (nor the Pontic left).  Ian and Barry regrouped their forces on the right for one last try...


But the dice and their earlier heavy casualties were against them and the Pontics prevailed (they reached the 9 units lost limit we had determined at the start of the battle).

It was a very enjoyable battle, and I hope it gave Barry a good idea of how the rules work!  I'm hoping that we'll be able to get some of our other players together and refight it next week as part of our Roman campaign... if we do I'll make the Romans a little tougher to help counter the Pontic advantage of numbers (perhaps reducing the number of units by 1, but giving each remaining unit 5 hits instead of 4).

Thursday 26 November 2009

Chaeronea Refiight; Part II- Advance to Contact

So here's part 2 (of 3) of our refight of Chaeronea 86BC. 


Above is the situation at the end of the first Pontic turn.   I was worried that the Romans would try to rout my own Scythed chariots back through my lines (using an optional rule we play), and decided to play a "mounted charge" in order to get them a safe distance from my phalanx!  This same card also enabled me to use my cavalry to attack the Chaeronean Roman allies who had appeared, behind my light troops, on Mount Thibron (more anon).  The mounted charge also gave my troops a +1 in combat.  One of the chariots was destroyed, and the other routed, but they did manage to inflict heavy casualties on the units on the end of the Roman line.


Above is the charge of my cavalry against the plucky but isolated Chaeronean patriots.  My charge killed two stands, and the remainer were killed when they unsuccessfully counter-attacked my cavalry in the next Roman turn.  I was delighted with this success (since uphill mounted charges are generally a poor bet!).  On the downside, my cavalry were somewhat out of position (too far over to the right) and Archelaus, my general, played little part in the rest of the battle.

Above is the second and final charge of my surviving scythed chariot; it almost managed to wipe out a unit of Romans before it was destroyed.

Ian and Barry decided to ignore my cavalry wing and pressed forward in the centre.  They played a second Line Command to move their entire centre forward; against which I played "Counter-attack", which  enabled me to retreat my entire line one hex; right against the table edge.  I was playing for time...


And here, in the final shot in today's post; the Romans have doubled forward using  (I think) an Inspired General card, and the Marius' legion rule which enables them to move 2 hexes.   My light infantry are looking very uncomfortable as they have no retreat path...

I'll post the conclusion of the battle, tomorrow.

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Charonea 86BC Part I

Last night we staged  a refight of the battle of Charonea 86BC where the Roman General Sulla comprehensively defeated Mithridates' General, Archelaus.  We used the Command and Colors rules.  For deployment, I amended and scaled up some scenarios I found on the net.  The plains of Charonea are Hotz Hexmats.

Above is the initial (clickable) deployment.  The Pontics are on the left, deployed in some depth, with scythed chariots to the fore, a strong cavalry right wing and a detatched group of light infantry on the hill in the foreground.  The unit at the top of the hill in the forground is, in fact, a unit of Roman Charonean allies, who have sneaked around the back of the hill to ambush the Pontic light infantry on the lower slopes.

Above is a closeup of the Pontic right wing, which, at the start of the battle, is in the act of deploying to try to flank the Roman line.  The General leading the Thessalians at the rear is the Pontic CinC, Archelaus.

Above is the Pontic centre.  The pikes are representing the famous slave phalanx, and the second Pontic general Taxiles is leading some hoplites who are standing in as Bronze shields.  Some of the Thureophoroi are in fact similar-looking Carthaginian levy.  The scythed chariots are revving up for the charge!

Above is the "thin red line" of the Roman army, after their first turn of advance (using the first of two line command cards).  Ian and Barry, playing the Romans, launched a very aggressive attack that eventually led their leading cohort to within a very few inches of my Pontic baseline....  I'll post some shots of the battle, tomorrow, if I have time.

This was the first time I've had the bulk of my Hellenistic armies on the table; I was pleased with how they looked!  Next year I will definitely need more pikemen, though...

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Gloranthan Army Miniatures Encyclopedia

Mon ami Greg has set up a blog where he's going to store images of figures painted/converted for the world of Glorantha (the world in which Runequest was set).

A lot of images of very nicely painted miniatures will be going up there.   It should be a great Blog!

Sunday 22 November 2009

Plains of Zama

These are some of the components for the 18' long table I need to make for Zama.

I'm using 9mm MDF for the boards, with a 10mm thick laker of styrene to be stuck on top using No More Nails.   Later, hexes will be inscribed into the styrene.  I have another 30 or so sheets of the styrene down in the cellar. I'm designing it so that it can be used for either an 18'x4' table, or an 8'x8'.

The MDF was surprisingly heavy to carry 200 yards to my car, and when I measured it later at home, I discovered that the chap in the shop has cut it to the wrong size (604mm wide instead of 600mm; it doesn't fit the styrene), so I'm going to need to carry it back!  Grrr.  At least he didn't under cut it, I suppose.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Updated Parthian Size Comparison Shot

After I posted last week, someone suggested that I include Bear's Den, and Chris from there has very kindly provided samples.  I've included these and also put the cataphracts onto this page, too, for convenience.

The new Vendel horse is from an Ebob master, I gather, and it is beautifully formed, with very slender legs. The reins are beautifully done; not a single piece casting as on most horses, but a pair with a gap between, something I've never previously encountered. The rider is also very nice (I worry a little about the potential fragility of the realistically slender bow, but all four were fine on the samples I received). The horse and rider are, however, slightly smaller and slighter than my personal preference for miniatures, which tends towards larger 28s; this won't be an issue for most sensible wargamers, though. In style terms, they make me think of some of the Perry ranges, such as their Crusaders. They would be ideally-sized opponents for 1stCorp or Gripping Beast Caesarian-era armies. A real departure from the previous Vendel style; rather exciting. Can't wait to see the cataphracts...

A&A miniatures produce an extensive Sassanid range, which includes several packs of the earlier Parthians. Earlier, I featured the same A&A Parthian cataphract  in the Seleucid Figure Size Comparison page. I really like the poseable horse archer figure. The horse is a little short and thick in the legs in my view, but I really like the decoration on the horses mane. I have used quite a lot of A&A horses in my Numidian and Gallic armies, and have a soft spot for them; solid wargaming steeds that work fairly well alongside the bigger Foundry ranges.

The new addition to the shot is one of the Bear's Den Parthians.  The mount looks like another Ebob horse, to me, but larger than the Vendel one.  As with A&A the legs are cast on, which I think would save preparation and painting time.  The bow is straight and would need to be bent into a recurved shape, which might be a little fiddly.  The rider looks in good proportion to his horse, which is a very nicely sculpted mount.  This mini is the largest of the three, and would probably be a happy size to ride up and  down skewering my Copplestone Roman cohorts with arrows! 

Above we have the Bear's Den and A&A cataphracts (the Vendel isn't out at the time of writing).

The Bear's Den steed is longer than A&As, but a similar height; the rider seems a good match for the size of the horse.  Bear's Den have gone for the very moment of attack, whilst A&A's rider is cantering forward with his lange upright, presumably some distance from the enemy.  The Bear's Den lancepoint is going to stick out 4-5cm in front of the horse, which may be slightly inconvenient on the wargames table, but which would look very dramatic. 

Thanks very much indeed to A&A, Vendel and Bear's Den for providing the samples!

Friday 20 November 2009

Down Mexico Way...

Last night we playtested Dr. Simon's Mexican War rules; all the above figures are his, and rather splendid they looked too.

The above shot is from behind the Maximillian Government's lines.  Government lancers have just charged up the hill in the foreground and are about to rout their Republican opposite numbers.  The infantry in the forground are Mexican regulars, and facing them are elite Republican units (sorry I can't recall the unit names and backgrounds).  I had ex-Confederates in one unit in my army, and the enemy included a fair number of French.

Here's a shot from behind the Republican lines, with my irregular cavalry moving up in the foreground.  Shortly after this shot, the Government lancers broke through and captured my general who was commanding them.  The game turned out to be a draw with both sides being ahead in some sectors, and we came up with some useful tweaks for the rules that Dr. Simon is writing.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Numidian Cavalry ready for basing

30 yes 30 cavalry!  And I painted all but 2.  I'm going to need to leave them for a while before basing, as the linseed oil on some of the horses is still not fully dried.

My Aventine reinforcements have arrived.  The left two columns are my two new Pyrrhic nellies, and a selection of spare parts that Keith has sent me which I'll use for conversions... more anon.  I appear to have enough crew for 5 elephants!  The centre two columns are reinforcements for Zama, and on the right are a host of beautiful transfers from LBMS.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Timeline Miniatures Indian Elephant

I met Barry from Timeline Miniatures at the weekend.  He very kindly showed me some samples of his 15mm and 28mm Indian elephants, and has very kindly left me one to paint.  His elephants are intended for Siam and Burma, but he is thinking about developing some other ancient ranges using them.

Here's a painted Timeline female elephant.  You don't see a lot of female elephants.  If I recall correctly they were used in war, so it is nice to see one!  I particularly like the head of this elephant.  The model is a very solid one-piece metal casting, but Barry has plans to produce them in resin at a later stage.

The same female with elephants from Timeline's 15mm range.  I have plans for one of those...

And finally here's a different Timeline female (left) alongside an Aventine royal elephant (right: thanks Keith!) for size comparison purposes (n.b. the Aventine isn't fully assembled, and comes with trunk, tusks, King of Persia etc.  Well worth a look if you've not seen it).  The Timeline is very similar to the Aventine in terms of overall size.  Barry left me the unpainted figure above left; I have a plan forming for what I shall do with it...  

Barry hasn't got any of the 28mm elephants cast for sale at the moment, but says to watch his website for developments.  I'm happy to relay news, here, about them.

As we speak, I have two more Aventine elephants (Pyrrhics) in the post; it's going to be like "The Jungle Book" around here!  I may take a very quick break from Zama at Xmas to paint up one of the new Aventines and the Timeline.

Monday 16 November 2009

More Noobidoobians

I painted 7 of these, to match two I bought ready painted on eBay.  The bases will all need to come off, as I will be multibasing.  I'll try to salvage as much of the terrain as possible, as it is well done.  I've not painted most of the javelin heads as I intend to do this later after matt varnishing (I bought out Antenociti's entire stock of Testors last week!).

Next I have to mount the 21 other Numidians on their horses, and do some snagging.  I should be able to start basing the whole lot later this week.  Huzzah!  With a bit of luck I should have them finished in around a week, so I can get back to the final 4 regiments of Numidian foot that need finishing and basing.  It'll all be over by Xmas.

Successor and Parthian Cavalry Size Comparison Shots

For some time I've been toying with building a successor army.  Recently several manufacturers have very kindly sent me samples of their ranges, and I thought it would be useful to compare the size of the different miniatures.  I'll re-shoot these when Polemarch come out with relevant additions to their range.

The 1stCorps mounts are in the lower row, above.  They are slightly smaller than, say, Foundry Saleh horses (middle of top row), but not unduly; whilst I wouldn't mix within a unit I would within an army.  They are very crisply cast and highly animated.

A&A kindly sent me one of their Parthian cataphract horses.  I've included this as Parthians could be found within a Seleucid army.  The A&A horse is a not dissimilar size to the 1st Corps, but rather more heavily built, with thicker legs, and being rather broader in the body.

The final mount, top right, is from Empire Models.  I hesitated to include it as as far as I'm aware it isn't in production at the moment; but is is a fine, large mount, by far the largest of the horses, a veritable Nisean charger and I couldn't resist!  One of the forelegs seems just a little short to me, but I do love it; I'll be buying some when they come to the market, if only for the splendid transverse plume.

Above is the Empire steed, left, and a 1stCorps mount, right.  They look similar in size above, but that is foreshortening; these two certainly wouldn't work together in the same unit (NB the Empire model isn't yet in production).

Finally, we have the riders.  Please note, the Empire rider has a separate head (not included).  The  A&A and Empire riders are larger than the 1stCorps, but would probably work in different units.  Thanks very much to 1stCorps, A&A and Empire for the sample miniatures. 

Once Zama is out of the way, I'll hopefully be building an Eastern army and I'd be happy to use any of the above miniatures.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Almost the last of the Numidians...

Greg has finished the last couple of dozen Numidians, which look great! I asked him to do these a little lighter in skintone as I wanted some with lighter skins within the unit.

Here's a link to Greg's Blog. I highly recommend it; worth visiting for the Zombie Hampster, alone!

Thursday 12 November 2009

Always look on the bright side of life...

These are the completed Numidian riders for 21 of the horses in the earlier pic. They rather remind me of a notorious scene in a Monty Python film. 

I now just have 6 or 7 horses and riders left to paint....

Zama Bruttians

Mon ami Greg has painted Hannibal's Bruttian veterans for the third line at Zama.  Bruttium is a region in the toe of Italy that allied with Hannibal, and many of the Bruttian veterans accompanied him when his army was recalled to Africa to fight Scipio.  These will form the three units on the right of the rear line at the SOA battle day, and at Salute 2010.

(Photo shamelessly nicked from Greg's website).  The minis are a mix of Crusader Oscans and Aventine Etruscans (the ones in the Italo-Corinthian helmets).  I'll do shields and spears when the minis arrive here, later this year.

Greg's website is below; always worth a visit!  I hear rumours that he is working on a large, secret project...

Monday 9 November 2009

Not my Numidians!

These photos are are of a Numidian army painted by Gordon Smith, whose photos I'm helping to put up on the Web.  Most of the minis are Crusader, although some of the cavalry must be Foundry.

The above/below elephant is an Empire Models African painted by Tim (AKA Aargh) from the WAB Forum, and now owned my Gordon, I believe.  It is rather fanciful IMHO, what with the armour and it's heavy build, but what a lovely modelling job!  Tim owns a similar-sized Numidian army, which is also a fine sight.

Some of many Numidian skirmishers...


Even more...

Big units!

Trained Infantry...

Imitation Legionaries and more trained infantry...

More Numidian light cavalry than I have at the moment...

What a nice army!   It has struck me that these two armies, together, would sort most of the Carthaginian and Roman Numidian allied minis required for Zama.  If they could tie up with a gamer with a big Roman army, they could put on a most impressive game.

Friday 6 November 2009

New Aventine Nellies

Keith at Aventine has sent me some very exciting pictures of their beautiful new elephants.  He's posted a couple on TMP, but not this one, which I like best:

Really excellent painting...  the cloths, shield designs and the painted armour are very frothworthy.  The Aventine shop is at ; I shall be wending my way there, later this weekend!

Ancient Spanish Light Cavalry

This is a lousy photo of the germ of my projected Ancient Spanish army.  I have most of the minis I need, but they won't be painted for some time yet! 

I do like these Foundry minis, which I bought off my mate George and repainted.  The fringes on the horses' harnesses are a nice feature.  I'll probably use them for Zama, on the Carthaginian side.