Sunday 27 June 2010

Experimental Phalangites

Whilst I'm painting what seems like an endless number of phalangites for my first Macedonian phalanx (33 from scratch, and retouching 11 others), I thought I'd also paint a few test figures for later units.

The first mini on the left is a Crusader phalangite, with a Polemarch shield.  This was an annoying mini to prep (I hate the tiny sharp bits of metal that you often find on Crusader minis, left over from vents), and I find it a little dumpy, with rather fat legs.  Details like fingers and toes are less well defined than on Foundry minis.  I think I'll paint all my Foundry's first...

The middle figure is an Aventine elephant crewman, with a Foundry shield.  I love the helmet on this figure and want to fit some into a mixed unit along with some Foundrys and Polemarchs.  I presume Aventine will sculpt some, later, with greaves (which one obviously doesn't need in a howdah!).  I did this one in expensive purple clothing and a silver shield, as an Agyraspid.  It looks OK, but I think it would look better still with iron or silvered armour to go with the silver shield, and perhaps paler clothing colours.

Figure on the right is a Foundry peltast who has been consripted into the rear ranks of the phalanx.

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Painting a Phalanx in 21 Easy, Easy Stages

I'm using the below method to paint pikemen in groups of 12 or 16 for my big pike project.  Although there are a lot of steps, each one is pretty quick and I can finish a batch in around a week.  I've tried to rationalise the process and include lots of shortcuts such as Army Painter and the use of spray primers and varnishes.

Stages in the Mass Phalangite Paintjob
1. Spray prime minis brown (I’m using Montana Gold “Palish Brown”)
2. Paint linothorax and sword hilt white
3. Block in tunic and plumes in various colours; highlight
4. Paint coloured trims on some linothorax
5. Block in flesh tone, then highlight
6. Paint leather straps brown, and retouch brown around tops of boots, base and back of shield
7. Highlight leather straps
8. Paint hair black or brown, highlight
9. Paint helmet cheek guards black
10. Drybrush base in earth brown.
11. Apply army painter “soft tone” dip (except over shields)
12. 1 coat gloss spray varnish
13. 1 coat matt spray varnish
14. Paint shield facing, helmet, greaves, cheekguards Vallejo brass
15. Highlight with brass mixed with a hint of silver
16. Apply army painter “strong tone” to shield and helmet
17. Spray paint pikes “Desert Yellow”
18. 1 coat gloss spray varnish on pikes
19. 1 coat matt spray varnish on pikes
20. Paint pike heads black, then dark silver and highlight.
21. Attach pike; retouch

The sample figures at the top are at different stages; the first is at stage 3, the second is at stage 16 (I just need to paint the cheekguards on his helmet).  The third is finished, except that I need to matt varnish him as I skipped the spray matt stage.  Bronze-faced shields are the easiest thing in the world to paint!

Monday 21 June 2010

Evil Empire targets Muswell Militia

So I'm on my way to work this morning, and next to the bus stop, perhaps 100 yards form my front door (and right next to the "Maid of Muswell", our local waterhole), a Games Workshop has sprung up overnight!  I can only assume this is a targeted attempt to plunder Muswell Militia's wargames budget.  ;-)

More seriously, I don't buy much GW stuff these days aside from the odd pot of paint, but I welcome their arrival, nonetheless.  It is an interesting place to put a wargames shop; not much passing trade, but there are thousands of well-heeled teenagers around here.  Possibly a shrewd marketing strategy... time will tell.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Pikes, Pikes, Pikes

My main theme for this year is going to be pikemen.

Here's the painting tray.  I'm actually painting 2 different phalanx simultaneously, each of which will eventually be 99 minis strong.  Each finished phalanx will be 24 figures wide and 4 deep, with most figures based in 8's, and a 3 figure command stand.  During games, I'll subdivide them into units of 32 or 48 depending on which rules I am using.

The first phalanx is a refurb of my Macedonian phalanx, from which I'm removing the dust clouds prior to more or less doubling it in size.  Some of these are at the bottom right, with newly primed reinforcements top left, and some recently finished troops bottom left.  I've developed a relatively speedy way of painting pikemen, making extensive use of spray paints, spray varnishes and dips, that should enable me to finish at least a dozen minis a week.  I'll write this up later on.  This unit will be the first to be finished, hopefully in around 4 weeks time. 

The second is an entirely new Egyptian successor phalanx.   Some of these are top right, almost finished (sans pike), and I already have 14 completely  finished and stored away.  This unit will mix Foundry and Polemarch minis, and have longer 100mm pikes; should look great!

Saturday 19 June 2010


I've added another 8 hoplites to my phalanx.  One day I hope I'll have enough of them to challenge my  rather more numerous Spartans!

The two new elements are front right (photo is clickable).  Six of the eight were mostly painted, and IIRC I picked them up in a figure exchange; painted to a better standard than I manage!  I have painted rather less than half the minis in the unit.  Shields are a mixture of LBMS, VVV transfers and hand painted designs.  All the figures in the unit are Foundry, except one Crusader mini (front, 4th from right).  The Crusader isn't nearly as nice as the Foundry's. IMHO ; he has a wimpy little helmet crest and his forearms are a bit short.

I find hoplites very slow to paint, I think it is the individuality of their equipment.  Give me Romans any day...

Saturday 12 June 2010

Coh. VIII Legio XIIII Gemina Martia Victrix

As part of my plans to tidy away partially painted units, I've just reconditioned 12 minis I bought painted on eBay, and painted 8 fresh minis, to join a spare command stand from 2008.

They constitute the 8th cohort of a projected 10 for my Early Imperial Roman legion project, which I've been working on, on and off, for 5-6 years.  Most of the minis are Foundry Saleh, with Copplestone cornicer and signifer and a converted Crusader officer.

At the moment, I'm painting masses of pikemen, whilst I deliberate about the next big project.

Tuesday 8 June 2010

Ideas for next year's game III - Magnesia

Magnesia is the third possibility for a big game in 2011.  

Plusses with Magnesia are that it really does have all the toys; armoured elephants, pikes, Romans legions   scythed chariots, camelry and cataphracts.  There aren't really many ancient battles that have a more varied selection of interesting troop types.  Some of the new figure ranges such as the Polemarch Successors and Aventine's Romans and elephants would tie in well with the project.  Finally, the flat battlefield I built for Zama could easily be adapted as Magnesia, by adding a river on the Roman left, and a camp behind the Roman centre, making it that bit different from Zama.

Issues with Magnesia are that we'd need a similar number of Romans to last year's game; essentially all of Craig's and Keith's (unless I get my Romans painted up).  We'd need to paint a large number of pikemen, elephants and a very large number of scruffy Seleucid skirmishers.   We'd also need  lots of Seleucid cavalry, that we'd probably need to source from Polemarch to match the bigger Aventine/Foundry minis we will be using (and I have some reservations about the necks on the horses; I need to see samples).  There were thousands of cataphracts....  we might need as many as 80-90 of these, alone.  Finally, we'd need scythed chariots, and Polemarch's aren't out, yet. 

Despite these difficulties, Magnesia would be a very engaging game, as it was the last major attempt of the Successors to resist the rise of Rome, and the quite possibly the last pike vs pilum battle.  Tempting...

Thursday 3 June 2010

Ideas for next year's game... II; Asculum

I posted a week or so ago about Chaeronea as one idea for a Very Big Battle for 2011.

The second battle I'd like to look at is Asculum, 279BC, which was fought between Pyrrhus of Epirus and his Italian allies and a Roman army under the Consul Decimus Mus.  
I considered the other Pyrrhic battles, but unfortunately none fit the available terrain.  The battlefield featured some hills and woods.  I think we could add some of these to the Zama boards; perhaps adding some extra boards, or freestanding hills.  We would want to fit Pyrrhus' camp in, too, as this played a part in the battle.
The troop types aren't as varied as Chaeronea , but a game would include a very large number of pikemen, some elephants and a large number of Roman anti-elephant carts, which would be very interesting to model.  It would be a good one if we could access Aventine and Craig's Romans again; and would tie in very well with Aventines' projected Tarantine range.  I'd think a 3m long pike phalanx would look very fine!