Thursday 31 December 2009

A Happy 2010 to One and All (slightly in advance)!

May your paints never dry up in the bottle, your brushes keep a point and your matt varnish never frost!

Cheers, Simon

Sunday 27 December 2009

Carthaginian Levy

These are the chaps I last showed on the 13th; all finished bar basing although I have run out of gloss spray varnish.  The were originally painted by Gloarmy Greg, but I've done quite a bit of work on retouching and on the shields.  Whilst they await their protective coat, I've started work on the shields for  the 48 Bruttians (Carthaginian allies from Southern Italy) Greg has painted for me who are to follow.

Saturday 26 December 2009

Things to Do for Zama...

With Xmas out of the way, a man's mind turns to war!  We've a lot to do before April.  I'll return to this page and cross things through as they are completed.

Essential things I am doing for Zama
Base 48 Numidians
Repaint/base 32 Velites
Paint and base 20 Spanish skirmishers

Finish and base 48 Bruttians (24 done)
Base 3 more command stands
Base 9 Numidian bodyguards
Paint and decorate 8 terrain boards

Desirable things I am doing for Zama
Make, paint and decorate 2 decorative end boards
Paint 6 dead elephants (4 done)
Paint casualty minis

Things other people are completing for Zama

4 Roman legions plus cavalry (2 done)

128 Carthaginian veterans
24 Numidian cavalry
Paint 4 dead elephants
Paint 2 Numidian elephants
Make a dozen olive trees

After Zama
Paint lots of elephants
Paint a whopping great phalanx
Paint soem Etruscans and Volscians
Paint the wagon laager
Paint more Roman Auxilia
How I want some Tarantines...

It'll be a busy year!  (Updated 13/2/2010)

Wednesday 23 December 2009

White Figures on a White Background

Yesterday morning I found myself out in the back garden, standing in the snow, getting ready to prime some figures white.  This reminded me of another time, earlier this year, when I was out in the garden at night, priming figures black! 

I try not to think about the time I varnished some minis in the rain.  ;-)

Just in case I don't get the chance again before the 25th (but I probably will as I'm an obsessive blogger), I'd like to wish everyone a Very Merry Xmas!

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Polemarch Cavalry- First Impressions!

I dipped a toe in the water last week, and treated to myself to a few packs of the new Polemarch cavalry, from Gripping Beast.  These have fought their way through the snow and landed on my mat this afternoon.  For a change, I've reviewed them against a seasonal red background!

I bought some of the neo-Tarantines, and also ome of the Antigonid Companion Troopers .  I'm not going to dwell on the historical aspects of the figures, other than to say they seem well-researched according to my (rather limited) knowledge.  I gather they are very closely based on the Montverts, which can't be bad.  Instead I shall concentrate on the figures, which can't be made out very clearly on the photos on the GB site.

First, here are the horses:-

I cautiously like these, with one reservation; the necks on two of the horses (the outer ones) appear fairly short to me.  I would not claim to be an expert judge of horseflesh but these are unusually proportioned, IMHO. 

Here is a Polemarch horse (centre) between an Aventine Horse (left) and a Foundry WotG horse, also by Steve Saleh (right).  The two Saleh horses have longer legs; the Aventine is broader in the belly.  In general the three would work together, but especially the latter two.

Above is the Antigonid Companion.  I've not attached his shield, but did establish that it would fit correctly.  A nice feature is that the shield hand is drilled out to take a javelin.  Less ideal is the fit of the rider to the horse; as JJ surmised on TMP, the cloak does not fit on the horse's rump and a certain amount of filing will be required if the rider is not to be pushed forward, as in the photo.  Moreover, the rider's legs appear to have been designed for a broader horse, and don't grip the mount as they should; there is quite a gap, in fact.  I will need to build up the saddle with greenstuff. 

Above is the Antigonid Companion from the side, showing how the cloak pushes the figure forwards.  It also shows an unfortunate mould line!  There is, unfortunately, a bit of flash and some mould lines visible on these models. 

Above is the neo-Tarantine.  Again the fit isn't perfect on the horse.  The left hand is held a bit close in to the horse which will make it difficult to position the shield, and will probably prevent the figure from carrying spare javelins, which I'd have liked.  The rider figure is nice, though.

Above is the neo-Tarantine from the side, leaning forwards because of the cloak.  I really do like this rider, despite the slight flaws mentioned above.

So in summary; the riders are rather fine, the horses I don't rate quite so highly but will certainly use.  The riders will fit on the horses but will need some work if you want them to sit properly.  The minis will need some preparation to remove mould lines.

Lest I give the impression that the cup is half empty, I should say that although I grumble, it is only because I care.  I am terrifically grateful that the range has come out, because it fills a huge gap in the bigger 28mm miniatures field.  I will certainly be buying more of these, and painting them, after Salute, and I await the arrival of the cataphracts with considerable anticipation!

Sunday 20 December 2009

Aepycamelus Greens II

Here are the Aepycamelus greens I'm working on.  The main change since the last post is that I've started to flesh the legs out.  I also felt that the one on theleft was too long in the body, so I sawed a slice out of him, and stuck him back together!  This was fun and surprisingly successful.  I'm happier with him, now.

I am, however, experiencing a crisis of confidence over these greens.  Whilst I think I will be able to make them look reasonably good, they are, however, a bit big for my purposes, at 65mm tall; I really wish I'd made them 50mm tall, instead...  they are really 40mm scale rather than 28mm.  However I'm learning a lot, technically, as I go along with them, so I think that I will finish them (at least crudely) and then start over with a smaller armature.

Friday 18 December 2009

For a Fistful of Pesos

The Muswell Militia Xmas game (see previous post) was another battle between a Mexican Government army (mainly French, but also including some Mexicans and Austrians), and sundry Republican rifraf.  The forces were broadly similar in size, including roughly 7 battalions of infantry each, 3 squadrons of cavalry and a couple of guns.  Both sides were trying to capture a village; perhaps, from the enthusiasm with which they later assaulted it, it  was rumoured to contain a paychest full of pesos...

This game was to be the second playtest of the rules which Dr. Simon is designing; all the figures are his, and there is info about them on his blog.

Above, on the left are the Government forces; I commanded the cavalry (left foreground) and a couple of units of infantry just beyond them, and General Georges the five units of infantry and the guns in the left distance.

Above is a closer view of General Georges' Government infantry and guns.  If I recall correctly, the majority were French, including the Legion.  The hacienda in the distance is my Roman villa!  Dr. Simon has included a lot of cacti on the bases, of various kinds, which help build the Mexican atmosphere.  The guns feature some fine succulents.

Above, commanding the Republicans were General Ian (furthest from the camera) who commanded a vertiable phalanx of revolutionary infantry and guns facing the village, and General David who faced (and marginally outnumbered) my wing.


Here is a closeup of General Ian's revolutionary scum who contested the village with the brave poilus.


Both cavalry wings included a lot of lancers; mine were mostly Chasseurs d'Afrique; I'm not sure what General David's (above) were but they looked extremely scary with lances as long as kontos! 

Tomorrow I'll run through the battle.

Thursday 17 December 2009

Muswell Militia Xmas Game

Tonight we gathered for the last game of the year.  We had pretty well a full turnout of the local (as opposed to virtual) membership of Muswell Militia; the clubhouse was packed!  From left to right Wabby George, Dave, Dr Simon (who brought all the Mexicans), Ian and yours truly.

Dr Simon has written about the miniatures in his new blog.  An account of the battle (or should I say rout?) to follow. 

Aepycamelus greens

I have very much enjoyed sculpting dead nellie, this week, and so have decided to revive a long-abandoned project.  I've dug some old greens out of my drawer and, after some useful advice from TimeLine Barry, have reshaped the legs and bases to make them easier to cast.  The models are only "skeletons" at the moment.

They will hopefully, in spare moments over Xmas, become aepycamelus , an extinct breed of American cameloids who developed long necks to feed off leaves.  I have a plan for them...

New Polemarch Cavalry Released

I'm cautiously excited by the new Polemarch Successor cavalry that popped up on the 'net yesterday.

The photos are alas not great, and one or two of the riders don't appear to be seated on the horses all that well.  I suspect that the photos were taken in bit of a rush, and I think that it would be worth revisiting them, as I fear that they don't do justice to the miniatures. 

Some of the riders look very nice, though, and I shall buy a few samples in order to see them in the flesh.  I aspire to a big Successor army next year.  The price seems fair, too.

Does anyone know about the square shield on the Tarentines?  I've always imagined them depicted with round shields and crested helmets, as in the AEMPW.  But I don't have the recent Osprey on Tarentines, perhaps more recent research has changed things.

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Persian Cavalryman Green

I had a nice chat with Barry from TimeLine this morning.  Barry showed me a green that he is working on (above), depicting a Persian Heavy Cavalryman (in bigger 28mm; roughly Foundry size).  I think it looks rather spiffing, especially the sculpting of the horse and the scale armour.  I want to try making some scale myself, now.

He also gave me some advice on a couple of greens I've been working on; once I've rebuilt them, I'll post a picture.

Tuesday 15 December 2009

Dead Nellie Done

Possibly the best dead Loxodonta Cyclotis (without a howdah) model in the world. 

Probably the only dead Loxodonta Cyclotis (without a howdah) model in the world. ;-)

This is a dead forest elephant, around 40mm to the shoulder, as (probably) used by the Carthaginians.  It's not clear in this photo, but the rear right leg crosses the rear left and rests on the ground.  I'm hoping to get 10 cast for our Zama game, which I'll customise so that each is slightly different form the next.  They'll take the place of the "live" elephants as they are killed.

Monday 14 December 2009

Dead Nellie II

I'm half way through texturing Dead Nellie.  I've added some very short tusks; I don't know if it'll be possible to cast them.  They may have to be trimmed or removed.  The eye needs some work, too. 

I think it'll look half decent when finished, tonight.

Sunday 13 December 2009

When the levy breaks...

... Hannibal will need to throw in the Veterans!

These are the last 48 of the Carthaginian second line for Zama; levy citizen spearmen.  Essentially speedbumps to slow down the Roman army; we are going to make each unit fight as Auxilia, but with 2 hits instead of the more usual 4.    Gloarmy Greg painted these for me (merci!!) but most were smashed up in the post, hence the detatched shields, spears and general chipping.  :-(  On the plus side, they are recovering very nicely in the BigRedBat equivalent of Toy Hospital, and I hope to have them ready by Xmas.  So far, I've refixed all the spears, cleaned the old glue off the shield backs and started on restoring the paintwork.

The other 144 levy figures are finished (48 similar minis, 96 Thureophoroi standing in as levy). 

Saturday 12 December 2009

Dead Nellie

I'm trying to sculpt a dead African forest elephant for our Zama project.  This is because I don't expect any of the actual elephant models in the game to survive past the first 15 minutes!   Ideally, I want a dead model to replace each live one when slain.

It is safe to say that it is an at an early stage... I feel that I have the shape very approximately right but none of the details are added, yet.  It's much smaller than most elephants we see, at roughly 40mm to the shoulder.

Friday 11 December 2009

Nellie Fever

I'm very frustrated that I have picked up no less than 6 elephants in the last few months, and don't have the time to paint any of them because of my preparations to the Zama game!  To ease the pain, I've treated myself to a couple of nights off Zama to at least stick a few together, even though I know I won't be able to paint them until May.

First (above) is the excellent Aventine Pyrrhic Indian elephant. This is a fine beast; very expressive with his raised trunk.  It went together very cleanly, with just a little greenstuff at the seams.  As with other Aventine minis, there was no flash or mould lines.  I was very impressed with the two part Howdah; so impressed in fact...

...that I used a spare Aventine howdah on the female Indian elephant from TimeLine, shown above .  I will be using Aventine crewmen, too.  Aventine sell howdahs and crewmen seperately, which is a valuable facility.  I still need to add some ropes in greenstuff to this model.  I wanted at least one female elephant in my elephant "brigade".


Finally, above I have a most unusual beast (above).  Mario of Empire Models very kindly sent me one of his African elephants.  I felt it was rather too large a model for an African beast, but couldn't resist the magnificently sculpted armour and so have given it an Indian head donated by Barry at Timeline.  I should say Keith of Aventine also very kindly sent me a spare head (thanks!), but the Timeline head was slightly larger and more closely fitted the large, broader frame of the Empire torso.  I've had to trim the neck of the torso to get the head to look OK; in due course I'll add a crest so that it matches the other Empire elephants I own.  I damaged the crenellations on the howdah, and took them off.  Again, it'll probably have Aventine crewmen.

Other elephants I have not shown here include one each Aventine Sassanind Royal, Pyrrhic and Seleucid.  I'll try to put the Seleucid together next week.

Finally here are the three together; they match surprisingly well in size.  The Empire in the centre is larger, but not unbearably so. 


Roll on May...

Thursday 10 December 2009

Muswell Militia house amendments to the C&C Rules

We play the rules pretty straight, except for two changes which help with armies incluiding cavalry.  We find that light horse aren't a great troop type in the rules.  This is partly because they aren't much good in melee, and run huge distances when they get a flag (often perishing when they reach a table edge).

Firstly, we use a slighly deeper table than the boardgame.  Our Hotz mats have two more rows of hexes than the standard C&C boards, and this extra depth is very useful when armies with cavalry, giving them a bit more space to manouvre (and to run away!).  Frankly, if we had 3 or 4 more rows of hexes, I wouldn't be unhappy!  But my table depth is 48" and there is no space for them.

Secondly, we have amended the evade rules.  In the standard rules, when evading, the attacker rolls a number of dice against the evader depending on his troop type; paradoxically this means that the slower troops, eg Heavy Infantry, with 5 dice, are likely to inflict more casualties on evaders than faster troops such as Medium Cavalry with 3.  Moreover, the potential casualties inflicted on evaders seem disproportionate by comparison with the one or two dice that skirmishers inflict through shooting.

Soooo... the Muswell Hill Amendment is that when skirmishers evade, they take one dice when the attacking troops are slower than them; two if the attackers move at the same speed, and three if the attackers are a faster troop type.  Simple... but it makes a huge difference with battles involving light horse, such as Ruspina.

Here are some Scythian light horse I prepared rather earlier.

We played the Ruspina scenario again last night, with 14 units of light horse, and it worked very well.  I must say that I now feel that Carrhae could just about be squeezed onto our table.  If only I had 80 or so horse archers, rather than two dozen...

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Command & Colors + Glorantha

Mark Sims of Crusader Miniatures was suggesting on TMP that it would be good if we adapted C&C to be useable for fantasy games with our Gloranthan minis; well we already did!  I thought it might be fun to show some of the photos of a game I put on with Greg Privat of Gloarmy, and friends, at Salute in 2007.

We slightly amended the Command and Colors rules, to permit magic and very large creatures, such as the Crimson Bat and GonnOrta the giant.  We represented some of the major spells with effects, such as meteors for the Crater Makers and a pillar of fire for Cragspider.

Greg's impressive Gonn Orta model was converted from an Incredible Hulk toy.  Another impressive model was Greg's Moonboat (just visible on the right in the photo).

The mine was stunning.  It stood around 5 foot high, with a sound track and a lighting system of its very own.  Its only function was as a backdrop to the game.  If anyone wants to make an offer for it, it's in my cellar (in London); drop me a line and I'll forward it to Greg.

Above left, Gonn Orta and the Bat slug it out. 

And who can forget Nick Speller's Zombie whale?

There are many other photos on Greg's site under Articles, and many of the miniatures are featured on Greg's Miniatures Blog.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Ruspina 46BC Part IV; To the Green Fields, Beyond?

Here we are for the fourth and final installment of this After Action Review.  The previous part is here if you've not already read it.

Here's a view of Casear's right wing.  The poor Caesarian archers are completely isolated and surrounded by light cavalry!  Labienus, in the middle distance has moved down the hill, and out of Caesar's charge range.


Above is the situation in the centre.  The main Roman force is inclining to the right, and Caesar was thinking that the schwerpunkt of his thrust would be near the central palm tree.


Labienus' body language is looking a little stressed as the Caesarian Cohorts converge towards the palm on the hill.  The newly arrived Numidian army under Petreius has been trying to move to block them.


And it's not improved on the following turn either, as the Caesarians pile forwards! 


Argh!  General Petreius plays a double time and hurtles down from the hill into the Caesarian line. 


He doesn't inflict great casualties on the Romans, but is in a position to hit them again, next turn.


In the Caesarian turn, they encircle and subsequently destroy two Numidian cavalry units (above).  In his next turn, Caesar only needs to move a unit or two off the table (towards the elusive granaries) to win.


But Labienus has one turn left befor that happens.  To win, before Caesar is able to win next turn, he needs to be able to kill 4 units.  His best card allows him to activate only three units so it is very difficult to achieve this... However he is lucky in that his first three attacks are successful and each kill a unit, wiping out two low-strength Roman formations and the last survivors of the Caesarian archers.  The third attack was with a unit including his general, which is therefore entitled to a momentum attack.  Can General Petreius roll three hits on three dice, to kill a fourth Caesarian unit?


He shoots, he scores!   Labienus/Petreius win by the narrowest of margins, 8 blocks to 7. 


Final view of the battlefield.

Of all the rule systems I've played, Command and Colors comes up time and time again with the closest, most exciting finishes.  Although defeated, I particularly enjoyed this game, and hope to replay it this week as the Numidians.

Monday 7 December 2009

Ruspina 46BC Part III; Caesar vs. Labienus; Head to Head!

We rejoin the action for the third part of our four part account of our refight of Ruspina.  Caesar, thwarted in his attack on the left by the arrival of Petreius, has advanced the right of his line in an attampt to break through in the centre.  This would require fighting his way through Labienus' veteran Gallic and German cavalry...


Above, Caesar's outnumbered Gallic cavalry charge bravely forward but are engulfed and founder amidst a sea of Numidians and Germans.


Five more Numidian units march onto the table to join Petreius on the ridge...  gulp.  The Caesarians were outnumbered roughly two to one in units, by this stage. 


"Lads, if we can break through, there's all the wine you can drink on the far side of that ridge!"  Caesar (right centre, you can just see his red cloak) advances to avenge his Gallic horse.


Caesar contracts his line, moving away from the worrying Pompeian buildup on his left.  That's a Command and Colors summary sheet in the foreground.


The cavalry unit in the centre of this mass of legionaries is Labienus with his German bodyguard.  Caesar managed to isolate it by marching a couple of units to prevent it from evading, and personally attaked it at the head of his troops.  The unit was comprehensively slaughtered.  However, Labienus managed (somehow!!!) to survive no less than 5 rolls to kill him as he broke through the encircling units to escape.   Grrrr.  If he'd have died, Caesar would have been able to claim "Spolia Opima" and to hang his armour outside his house in Rome.


And here, in today's final shot, Labienus taunts Caesar from the relative safety of a hillock.

Final part, tomorrow.

Sunday 6 December 2009

Ruspina 46BC Part II; Opening Moves

In my previous post I described the deployment of the forces for this refight of Ruspina.  We drew chits to see who would play which side; I drew the Caesarians, and was to be ably assisted by TimeLine Barry who played Dubius Status, my Tribune.    My old adversary, Ian, played Caesar's old adversary, Labienus.

Caesar decided that his strategy would be to advance as swiftly as possible in order to minimise shooting casualties and to pin the elusive enemy (who, even without their off-table reinforcements, included no less than18 units of skirmishers!) against their baseline.

Above is the situation after the Caesarian second move; the Caesarians have moved up to drive back the Numidian skirmish line.  Caesar delegated Dubius Status to roll the combat dice; needing to get a "green on a one in six chance, he managed to roll no less than 5 hits on 10 dice! 

Above, the Numidian skirmishers in turn managed to inflict some casualties on Caesar's line.  The unit on the far right has already been reduced to a single stand (gulp!).  Caesar's archers have moved into the line on the far right.

Here's a cloesup of the rather menacing situation on Caesar's right, which was eventually completely surrounded by the Numidian host.

Caesar lacked a suitable card to recover the situation on my right, but had an "Order Medium Units" card which enabled him to throw the left half of his line forward, at the double. This meant that Labienus would need to react to this on his next turn, or Caesar would be able to snaffle two units of his light infantry.  This had the effect of relieving the pressure on Caesar's other wing.

Labienus successfully pulled back two of the threatened units but Dubius Status was able to isolated a third, and destroy it with some more highly effective dice rolling.  The Caesarian line, on the left, has pushed right up to the Numidian horse; leaving a wide gap in the centre of the line!  It looked , for a minute, like Caesar was poised to break through onto the ridge and into the greenfields, beyond.

However fate had other plans; Labienus played an "Inspired Leadership Right" card and brought on Petreius and 5 units of Numidian reinforcements.  Defending hills, the Numidian Auxilia are better than legionaries; Caesar realised that he would need to break through somewhere else, instead!

The next installment of this battle will be published tomorrow.