Saturday 24 December 2011

2012 Resolutions

Blimey, still Christmas Day (just) and I've already knocked my resolutions together.  I trust everyone had a great time... and got suitable presents.  I got a fantastic Napoleonic book, that I'll feature in another post, and the Osprey Campaign on the First Crusade.

In 2012 my primary project will be for my Early Imperial Romans, what I'm calling my sixty/sixty/one:sixty programme.  This will involve building up my EIR Romans up to sixty cohorts of 8 legionaries, and sixty auxiliary cohorts/alae of either 8 infantry or 6 cavalry, which (with Praetorians and rif-raf) will give me around 1150 EIR figures, enabling me to fight a medium-sized 69/70 AD civil War battle, at 1:60 scale. To achieve this, I'll need to buy/paint and base something like an additional 400 miniatures over the next year.
My secondary project will be my new Napoleonic habit; first I shall finish my projected 100-man cavalry division, described on my other blog.

...and after that, whatever I fancy of several infantry formations I have underway.  I'd like to think I'll have a complete infantry brigade by the end of March, and at least 2 more by the end of the year. 

My third resolution is to paint a unit or two for Glorantha, which I've not really touched for 2 years. In particular, I'm minded to paint the Agimori (tall, desert-dwelling pikemen) that I sculpted and drop-cast the best part of 5 years back (below).  They are pretty crude, but at 40mm tall they are almost literally men-and-a half.  Those pikes need to be able to stop a charging rhino...  I'd then like to do some more Praxian warfare, using Ian's bison and sable nomads, and my lunar war-triceratops and whatnot.  Perhaps I might even finish the long-delayed high-llamas that we needed as mounts for that tribe...


This year I must spend far less than last, and must sell some miniatures from non-core periods, to raise dosh and clear space (be very afraid, my Vikings and Assyrians...).  I do find selling stuff boring, when there are so many minis to paint and blog.  :-(

Finally, this year I shall game more regularly; perhaps not weekly, but at least every two weeks.

That's the lot!  If you have any resolutions, please do post a link in the comments, I'd love to see them.

Friday 23 December 2011

2011 Review of my Modelling Year

First of all, I think this will be my last blog posting before the holidays, and I'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Xmas, and a happy and prosperous New Year!

It's the time when I like to review last year's resolutions, and start to thnk about setting some new ones.  Last year I said:-

"I've given some more though to what I'm going to paint this year, after the French Indo China, Ancient Germans/Laager and Marian Romans that I've previously mentioned as Q1 objectives.  I've decided to concentrate on Early Imperial Romans, because:-
  • I have a lot of EIR units part painted, that I should be able to finish relatively quickly
  • I also have a huge amount of unpainted EIR lead so it will save me money
  • I really like EIRs and want to run a campaign; my favourite Roman text is Tacitus' Histories
  • They would look great for a big display game, in 2012
But will I be able to stick to my plan?"

The Q1 objectives were a mixed bag.  I did briefly paint some French Indo China stuff in January, although I failed (yet again) to complete the pesky  wagon laager which has not advanced on my to-do list since January 2009.  My Caesarians have crept slightly forward, with the addition of a rather splendid cohort and some lovely command figures, from Andres.

My main objective for the year, the Early Imperials, has been quite successful.  I completed my 240-man legion, and recently finished a smaller 80-man legion of ex-Marines.  I also added around 80 more auxiliaries (with a similar number out to painters).   However, there are still enough unpainted Romans left, to keep me very busy in 2012.  I also finished not one, but two cohorts of A&A Middle Imperial Romans and a half a dozen units of Late Imperial Romans.  In total I finished 22 units of ancients.  

A new period burst onto the scene for me in May- Napoleonics.  Recognising that this would become a very serious "habit", I started a new blog to document it, My Very Own Spanish Ulcer.  It does take away time I'd love to lavish on ancients, but it's good to be learning about a new historical period, and the uniforms are nice.  I miss shields, but there are still standards with eagles on!  I am very taken with the Perry and Victrix plastics.

The number of my unpainted miniatures only rose by 101 this year, due largely to fewer purchases and getting quite a lot painted.  I made a decision not to count unpainted Napoleonic plastic (which is just as well, as I must have rather more than a thousand of them!).  The new period (with a lot of purchases of painted figures) made this my most expensive wargaming year, ever, and I will cut back next year.

Right, I'm off to wrap the presents- have a good one, everyone!  

Cheers, Simon

Friday 16 December 2011

I Aduitrix; Finished at Last!

I've finally completed my I Adiutrix (assistant, supportive or rescuer depending on who you read) legion.  This force was hurriedly recruited in 69AD from the marines sailors of the Roman fleet at Misenum, and fought bravely at Bedriacum, and later in Germany.  I’ve read that many of the sailors may have been of Egyptian origin.   Do, please, have a click!

This is the first of my new, smaller legions, of 80 figures in 10 x 8 man cohorts, although it can also be deployed as three 24-man cohorts, for smaller engagements.  I’m going to split my 240 man legion down in much the same way, and next spring hopefully paint another 80 man legion (perhaps even XXI Rapax, that gave Adiutrix so much trouble).  Once I have 6 or so legions, I’ll be able to start to think about re -fighting the larger battles of the civil war, or my long-threatened Roman campaign.

The Legate, Orfidius Benignus, was killed in the fighting at first Bedriacum, in 69AD.  I like the expression this mini (Below) has; it says arrogant patrician, to me.

I’ve used as many Black Tree Miniatures as possible, but ran out of command figures and so used some Crusader and Foundry to add a little variety; they fitted in surprisingly well. For the same reason, I did some head-swaps and a little light conversion work on the legionaries. I’ve given them a varied selection of legionary and auxiliary gear, shields and weapons, as befits a legion newly raised in time of civil war.  There are 3 optios in the rear ranks.

I have developed quite an affection for BTD; they paint up nicely.  They are relatively cheap, too (but alas, not nearly as cheap as they used to be).

Saturday 10 December 2011

Adiutrix WIP

Last night I fixed shields to minis, and this morning I made up a new batch of bases and glued the minis to them.

I've made the bases slighty deeper than usual (25mm as opposed to 20mm), because I know that BTD minis, once they have shields attached, have a fairly large footprint.  The deeper bases also enable me to adopt a slightly irregular basing style, as my concept is that this legion has been recently raised, and is less well drilled than others. 

In this shot from the rear, I'm  pleased with the effect created by the variety of the tunic colours. 

Tonight I'll apply my BigRedBatGunk to the bases, and hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to start painting them; must be 3 or 4 nights of basing work ahead.  It'll all be over by Xmas.

Thursday 8 December 2011

Boss Eyed

If these look a little blurred to you, they do to me too; I've just finished my 5th long evening in a row on this lot of 86 shields.  Session 4 painted the shield bosses, and session 5 the brass rims.  I must reluctantly admit they still need at least one, and possibly two more sessions, before I can call them finished.  

I am very bored.  :-(

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Scuta II

A quick update on the shields; all the blue edging is painted in, and I've washed the new paintwork with satin varnish wth a little blue ink mixed, to give it depth.  Unfortunately, the flash has taken out the detail in the photo; the shields are starting to look very good, in real life.  2-3 sessions more work is needed; bosses tomorrow, I hope.

In answer to today's questioners, I've been using my fingers to hold them, rather than sticking them to a base.  Whilst being painted, the curved shields rest neatly over my left index finger, which is now Porcelain Blue, and lightly varnished.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Fabricae Scutaria

...a quick post to show progress on the shields for my ex-Marines.  I want to achieve an irregular look, and so I'm using a mix of 4 styles- oval BTD at top (as perhaps used on shipboard), BTD clipped scuta, a few round parma for the standard bearers and the bulk of the legion with rectangular A&A scuta (mix of round and square bosses).  All of the designs are LBMS.

First I sprayed the shield backs brick red, then the fronts white (with a quick coat of gloss varnish to help the transfers stick).  I then retouched the back of the shields with GW terracotta, anad cut out and applied the transfers.  The next stage will be to extend the blue to the edge of the shields, then paint the bosses, rims, ink, varnish and so forth.  Lots left to do, but good progress, this weekend, I reckon!

Friday 2 December 2011

Sundry Ruperts and Tars

I've finished the last 18 fiigures for my Naval legion; the offices (or "Ruperts" in naval parlance) are above.  Models are a mix of Black Tree, Foundry, Crusader and Companion.  You might be able to make out an Aventine dolphin standard, kindly donated by Keith. Not my best photo... they look better in the "flesh".


The photo of my optios and the last few legionaries ("Tars") came out rather better (above, all Black Tree). The faces have bags of character.  Next I have to paint 80 shields...

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Ancient Warfare

As I was about to put the final brushstrokes on my final 18 marines, I was very amused when Ancient Warfare Magazine arrived this evening, with this on the cover.  This chap is the spitting image of some of the figures I have on the table!

If you don't already subscribe, I'd really recommend this publication; it is an outstanding read, and there are always some pictures of McBride-quality.  The research is of academic standards.  You can subscribe, here...

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Thanks for all the visits!

My counter trickled past 300K today, and I'd very much like to thank everyone who drops by here.   I do love my blog, and my hobby, but I wouldn't bother to post if no one came along to look at the pretty pics, and have a chat.  So... cheers!  

I don't have a new photo today, so, by way of an intermission, here's a picture I took of some Lycian hoplites on a relief in the British Museum.  It makes the Foundry hoplite shields look rather weeny!

Saturday 19 November 2011

Palmyran Archer Command

I've never been entirely happy with the command stand of my cohort of Palmyran auxilary archers, and recently decided to replace their centurion (who has transferred to my Naval Legion) with an A&A command figure, from an eBay purchase, who has a much more Eastern flavour.  At the same time I also took the opportunity to upgrade the pre-Silflor base.  I'm very pleased with the outcome; although somewhat anachronistic, the new mini fits in very well (although, with hindsight, I might perhaps have given him a longer tunic).

Fabius Valens

This command stand depicts Fabius Valens, one of the short-lived Emperor Vitellius' two principal sub-commanders (the other being Aulus Caecina Alienus).

Fabius Valens declared for Vitellius in 69 AD, and led the contingent of the latter's army that marched through Gaul, eventually rejoining with the German contingent under Caecina, to win the battle of Bedriacum.  Valens missed the subsequent Vitellian defeat at Cremona, due to illness, and was later captured and executed whilst trying to open a "second front" in Gaul. 

The best place to read about this campaign, which I believe is one of theancient campaigns most suitable for wargaming, is Tacitus Histories (which can be downloaded for free on Amazon. I have it on my tablet phone, for reading on the Tube!).

The general figure is one of Aventine's lovely models- they do no less than six different mounted Roman generals!  The standard bearer is by Mike of Relic Miniatures, but I used a Foundry horse with it, as I wanted a horse in a standing position.  Very conveniently, the vexilla is that of the V Alaudae, which formed part of Valens' army.  I'm pleased to have managed to paint something by each of Relic and Aventine, as I don't get enough of their stuff finished.

This is the first of a small series, in which I plan to depict several more of the major protagonists in the "Year of the Four Emperors", for a campaign I hope to run next year. 

Monday 14 November 2011

The Final 18...

I'm battling my way towards the conclusion of my Marine legion, which was, perhaps, a project too far.  These are the final 18 of the 80 required minis.  Painting will be finished by the end of next week, and basing should take around a further week.

In other news, I'm taking a sabbatical from TMP which has been eating up too much of my time, and sometimes could get a bit acrimonious; so apologies if I don't respond to any of your posts on there.  If you have a blog about Ancients, I probably will be calling by, or you can drop me an email to keep in touch at the address on the front page, here.

Thursday 10 November 2011

Navy Lark

21 more marines and a centurion for my naval legion; just 18 minis left to go, now!  And the shields, and basing, of course.   This time, I swapped a bunch of heads for the sake of variety.   The centurion was nicked from a previous project. 

Sunday 6 November 2011

Hello Sailors

21 more ex-marines for Legio Adiutrix I; roughly blocked in.  I've picked a different shade of blue, and carried out a few head swaps, to bring in a little variety.

Painting an 80-man legion from scratch, is a fair old job. When this batch is finished, mid week, I'll have 61 minis ready, and will be slightly more than half way to final completion of the unit, when one factors in shields, basing and "snagging".  I really do like this BTD pose, rather nicely sculpted (by Woody now of GB, IIRC).

Saturday 5 November 2011

Marcus Clodius Balista, Dux Ripae

Here rides Marcus Clodius Balista, Dux Ripae and later Praefectus Praetorio.  He is a noble Angle by birth, hence the blond hair, unusual on a Roman.  Although a barbarian, he rises high in the ranks of the Roman army at the time of Valerian and Gordianus, in the excellent Harry Sidebottom books.  If you've not ready these, do buy them as soon as you possibly can... the first, essentially about the siege of Dura Europos, is the very best, but all are good.  Harry Sidebottom has written the series of Roman novels that I would have written if a) I could write worth a damn, and b) I was an Oxford Lecturer in Ancient History!

This is another, slightly retouched mini from my fortunate US eBay purchase; a heavily converted Black Tree Miniatures Roman general, I believe.  Curses; it has just occurred to me that he should be riding Balista's Pale Horse...  the mount he is riding must be a "loner".  I might even tackle him, again, later (see comments).

Thursday 3 November 2011

Coh. II, IIII Scythica

I've finished my second Middle Imperial unit, a Cohort of the IIII Scythica.  This legion was stationed in Syria, guarding the border with the Parthian and later the Sassanian Empires.

All the figures are from A&A miniatures, and some were bought painted on eBay, painted by a very capable painter (although I did the shields, with A&A transfers, and one hand painted). The shield design is based on the one found at Dura Europos.

I'm quite pleased with them!  The tribune came out particularly well, do have a click. There are some shots here of the progress of the painting.   I'll return to paint a third unit in a month or so.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Middle Roman Syndrome

I mean, I just love this A&A range, but they take so long to paint!  Twice as long as an EIR.  It's the pteurges, and the edges around the armour.  Look good though... but will I ever complete an army of them?

A quick WIP shot of the A&A Middle Imperials that have been on my painting tray for around a month; ready to base.  I painted half, the rest (the better ones!) came from a lucky eBay purchase from the US.  Various command figures are coming on, in the background.  Watch this space...

Saturday 22 October 2011

New Toys

Yesterday I took delivery of a lovely Roman fort from Paul Darnell; it is a beautiful piece of work!  I especially like the gate tower, and the blue-grey colour he has used for the wood, which I shall nick for future projects.

There are 2 barracks with it, very simple, very nice, mostly foam-card and Wills pantiles.  I might try to make some myself.

Paul is getting out of modelmaking, shortly, so this could be the time to commission that building you always wanted, from him!

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Per Mare, Per Terram

(The motto is of our Royal Marines; seems appropriate!)

20 more recruits for my rapidly-mustering ex-marine legion, I Adiutrix.  This time I've gone with a pale (almost duck-egg) blue tunic.   These are 20 more almost total repaints of an eBay purchase.  I replaced all the original pila with new pila I made by cutting the heads off old pila, and drilling metal pins into them, so as to get nice, thin shafts.  Bonkers, I know, but I shall do the same with all my pila in future!  Only 40 minis to go, now... and 80 shields, still on order.

I'll now take a little while off this force, to finish the Middle Imperial Cohort that has been on my painting tray for a month.   After that I may have a crack at the new Marcommanic-war Romans*, that I've just bought off Keith at Aventine.

*Very Late Early Imperial, one might call them.  Or Very Early Middle Imperial, I suppose...

Thursday 13 October 2011

Rumble by the Rhine

On Tuesday we played another Hail Caesar game, another battle between revolting Batavian and German auxiliaries, and their savage German allies, and a regular Roman/auxiliary force who were trying to relieve a small fort (one of Paul Darnell's lovely models, above, with some great buildings by John Smillie).

Above are my loyal auxiliaries; Britons, Gauls and Raetians, with some Praetorian cavalry.  The legionary cohorts were deployed (below) off to my right, just beyond a small wood that turned out to be a terrific PITA.

Ianicus commanded the Germans.  Above are some of the savage German warbands; mostly Dr Simon's minis.  Below are his German and Batavian mutineers.

The battle started with Dr Simon seizing the vicus, just outside the fort, with his auxiliary archers, and (imaginatively) with dismounted legionary cavalry (you can just make them out in the photo at the top of the post).  Ianicus countered by seizing the central wood (below) with his javelinmen. 

This was an issue for us, because in Hail Caesar close order troops cannot enter a wood; we had nothing to pry the skirmishers out with.  Moreover the HC proximity rule (of which more in a later post) required our legionaries to face the LI, even though they had no missile weapons that could harm them and could not even melee them.  So the better half our army was useless!

I decided that the only thing I could do was move forward my auxilia to throw javelins at them.  Meanwhile Ianicus was trying to manoeuvre around my left flank... click on the map, below, to see the situation at this stage.

After this I'm afraid it all went a bit pear shaped for the Empire.  Dr Simon laboriously manoeuvred his legionaries around behind the wood on our baseline, and then behind my lines, to face the outflanking mutineers approaching from my left.  Ianicus attacked with his Germans, and these, after a very tough fight, my surviving troops were pushed back onto Simon's columns and destroyed (a photo of the traffic jam is below).  The legions might have still have recovered it, I suppose, but it was late and we called the game.

We found the rules very frustrating; the proximity rule, in particular, is badly worded, and we struggled with various other rules, plus the poor layout of the rule set.  It is safe to say that Hail Caesar's "more friendly style of gaming" came under considerable strain, on Tuesday; it got competitive, and these rules just cannot cope with competitive! 

Still, on the plus side it looked good, and played fast.  The combat system is good, and I like the way that ordering works.  We are starting to get a reasonable grasp of the core mechanics.  Will have another crack in a week or so...

Wednesday 12 October 2011

In the Navy...

The next EIR Project I'm taking on, will be the first of the "small" 80 figure legions that I plan to use in my EIR campaign.  This lot are the first recruits for I Adiutrix (auxiliary, or assistant) Legion, which was raised in 67/68AD from marines from the Classis Misenensis fleet, based in the Bay of Naples.  Most of the marines would have been Egyptians, and very pleased with the opportuniity, as legionary salaries were rather more generous, than marine!  Presumably there was a citizenship in it, for them, too, and possibly a patch of land on retirement.  Highly motivated, they fought very bravely at Bedriacum, capturing the eagle of XXI Rapax.

These 20 BTD minis are a major repaint of an eBay purchase.  They painted up really easily in 3 evenings, and I'll rebase when the other 60 minis are ready, in a month or so.  Shields and transfers are on order...

My intention is to give this legion a very mixed look, as befits a newly raised legion in time of war, with tunics in white, beige and two shades of pale blue.  I'll mix in the oval shields and javelins that recent ex-marines might have used*, with rectangular scuta and pila, and hamata with segmentata. 

*The Mainz Principia reliefs depict what appears to be an unarmoured legionary light infantryman of Adiutrix I, with oval shield and javelins. 

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Under the Brush...

These chaps will shortly become a cohort of Legio IV Scythica.  They will have the mail coifs, scale armour and the shield from Dura Europos, and will form the second unit in my nascent Middle Imperial army.  I don't intend this to be a huge army, but the minis are far too nice, not to have one. 

On a different note, I'm very much looking forward to the slightly earlier Marcommanic Wars range of Roman figures that Aventine are producing sculpted by Adam who also sculpted the A&A minis.  I will be starting a unit of them, just as soon as the officers and transfers are ready!  They represent a sort of "missing link" between my Trajanic Legionaries, and the A&A Middle Imperials. 

Monday 10 October 2011

Battle of Arelate, Part III

This third and final part of the After Action Review, focuses on the action in the centre.

Above is a view from behind the enemy's lines, showing their uphill attack against the Limitae and Bacaudae that formed our centre.  The attackers were very numerous, well trained and armoured.  Luckily our troops were uphill, and somewhat buoyed by the death of Majorian in his duel, so it was a relatively even struggle.  The shields of the enemy Italian Field army made a brave display (below); all beautifully hand painted.  I can make out V Makedonia in the second photo, below.

My immediate opponents, the Comitatus of the recently deceased, now divine Majorian, rolled a maximum 5 for combat on their average dice, so our Hero needed a good dice roll to break through them.  Luckily Venus provided this (below), and we were soon galloping past the left end of the enemy infantry line, in the direction of Mediolanum!

With the gap clear, another of my cavalry units was then able to charge the flank of the enemy infantry, and roll up troops that were already exhausted by their struggle for the hill (below), and the battle was decided!

Below is the only shot I took of the far wing of the battle, where the light cavalry fought each other to destruction.

The game was very enjoyable, and I found that I had a fair grasp of the rules by the end.  Simon was a great host, and out opponent, Dave, very sportsmanlike.  The figures looked splendid (loads of converted 15mm figures, beautifully painted, sheer madness!) and I really covet a large army of Perry 28mm Late Romans, now.  So it might prove to have been an expensive visit!

If you want to have a crack at the rules (which are well written, and beautifully illustrated with pictures of Simon's minis), you can download them for free, from here.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Battle of Arelate, Part II

This is the second part of a three part write up of the game we played at Simon MacDowall's, yesterday.  Part I is here.  I'll apologise that it is rather Visigoth-centric; I had my work cut out and couldn't always follow what was going on in our centre and left (although there will be more shots of the action here, in Part III). 

So you'll recall that our brave Visigothic horse were drawn up on the far right of the line, facing no less than 6 units of well-hard Germanic shock horse ((background, below), who were poised to drive our less numerous (and if I am honest, rather less effective) horse,  from the field.

I had a cunning plan, though; use my foot to hold off the horse, and re-deploy all my mounted, behind their screen, to the centre, where they could hopefully hit the advancing enemy foot in their exposed flank.  Below you can see me part way through this manoeuvre; the foot are advancing, and inclining to their right, to fill the gap left by my horse, and my horse are scurrying along, behind them.

We were very surprised when most of the enemy cavalry ploughed frontally into our infantry,  (below)!

Luckily, they were driven back by our stalwart foot (the below view is taken from behind enemy lines).  The heaps of rocks indicate the discomfort of the recoiling enemy horse, who were badly knocked about.

Below, I turn up in the centre, with my Comitatus and horse.  The lines of infantry are on the point of clashing.  The small unit of enemy horse, riding hell-for-leather towards my cavalry units, are the Comitatus of the dead Emperor Marjorian; sworn to perish in combat.  The charging infantryman is a marker to show that I'm inspiring my own Comitatus, ready to charge.

And below the clash of impact.  The fighting was heavy and I suffered a serious wound; this would have been enough to slay a lesser man, but had little impact on my ability to command (as I'd luckily rolled a 5 for command at the outset).  Eventually we triumphed, and rode forwards over the bodies of the slain, into the gap between the enemy centre and their left...

Part III, tomorrow.