Saturday 30 May 2015

Fazzur Wideread and Euglyptus the Fat

This is a recently refurbished command stand for my fantasy gaming using "To the Strongest!" set in the world of Glorantha. It depicts the Lunar general Fazzur Wideread remonstrating with his commanding officer, Euglyptus the Fat, at the battle of Building Wall. The battle was a disaster for the Lunars and Euglyptus was either poisoned or drowned in a barrel of lampreys (depending on who you read) shortly thereafter.

Friday 29 May 2015

Spartans - a new phalanx

These are the Spartans I was working on last week, finally flocked. Here they are drawn up four ranks deep, but I will use them three ranks deep on the table. All of the Spartiates are eBay repaints, and Agis is by mate Nick Speller.

In the centre is King Agis on one of my new semicircular "attached" command bases. To his left and right are two single figures that I use as hero markers in "To the Strongest". The piper on the right plays as the silent and menacing Spartans make their approach march. The officer on the left is about to sacrifice a goat just before the final charge to contact.

Have a look at the spears- most are the old Foundry pins with spearheads painted on so that they look like they have shaped heads. I still like to use the pins as they are more blunt than today's lethal spears with their shaped heads. I'm running low on these so if you has a spare pack lingering in a drawer, please drop me a line, I can swap modern pins with you.

Above is Agesilaus, who I believe was painted by Dave Woodward. Below is another Spartan officer. Note again the new half-round bases.

Finally, below is King Agis, again, at the battle of Mantinea in 418 BC again painted by Nick Speller. King Agis was under something of a cloud at the time, having carelessly lost an allied city to the Argives. The Spartan ephors placed him under the supervision of ten advisors, called xymbouloi, whose consent was required for whatever military action he wished to take. Not an ideal model for command in battle; things went a bit pear-shaped, at first, when the army was surprised by the Argives!

Thursday 28 May 2015

Did I mention that I hate Celts?

This is the front rank element for my eighth Celtic warband, and a new general. It is a single 18cm wide element with 23 miniatures on it that were painted by Nick Speller - thanks Nick!

The general is a lovely mini that came from North Star, and marks a basing departure for me as he is on a semicircular base. This will be the new standard for attached generals* in my collection; they sit snugly next to a unit and yet can be quickly removed. The name will go on the front of the base so that it can easily be seen; this one is named Brennus.

Below are a mix of new and re based slingers from a variety of painters. Most are on the new 18cm bases. 

If you are at Partizan on Sunday, I'll be running a largish game with lots of Romans and Britons- please do drop by, say hello and even play for a bit, if you have time! 

*In To the Strongest!, attached generals are those who are attached to a specific unit; detached generals can wander freely about the battlefield.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Maximinus in the Middle

Above are some lovely Middle Imperial Romans that I bought from Saxon Dog last year, now in the early stages of being assimilated. I have extended the size of David's bases to 18cm wide by gluing my own (lurid orange) magnetic bases to the edges. I will need to paint around a dozen miniatures to make up the numbers. David also sold me some lovely cavalry (not shown) so with the couple of units I already have painted I should have the basis of a modest army.

Until recently, Middle Imperial has been very much the "forgotten front" of the various eras of Roman armies. The Caesarians have Caesar's histories, the Early Imperial's Trajan's columns and the Late Romans the Notitia - there is nothing quite the same for Maximinus in the Middle, Severus and all of the numerous Emperors of the Crisis of the Third Century, very few of whom ever lived to collect their pensions. There is less written about the period and only a single, albeit rather wonderful, range of minis in 28mm by A&A sculpted by Adam "Smithy" Smith.

A couple of things could be about to change that. The author Harry Sidebottom is in the process of writing new a series of books about the Crisis of the Third Century, which will complement his earlier Ballista novels which I greatly enjoyed. I attended the launch of the second book in this "Throne of the Caesars" series last week and am reading the first book. There is more politics than in the previous series, but the books are no less interesting for that; I'm learning a lot about how the Roman court worked.

The other development is that Sam "Longstreet" Mustafa is writing a new game called "Aurelian" which is set in the same period and should (on the basis of his other rules) be a must-have. As with Blucher, this will have card units which will make the period very accessible for those who lack suitable minis (and who, aside from Dr. Phil Hendry, Tarty and Raglan, has?).

These developments explain why the MIRs have made it to the top of my painting queue. I already have a Middle Imperial list for my own "To the Strongest!" rules and just need to get around a dozen units finished to give it a go... oh and I'll need some Germans or Sassanids for them to fight, when not fighting each other.

Saturday 23 May 2015

The only good Celt...

I'm running a big Roman vs. Celt game at Partizan next Saturday and am basing/rebasing a few more of my least-favourite-to-paint* enemies of Rome. The minis on the left were painted by mate Nick Speller, who did a fantastic job (there will be close-ups when they are based). 

On the right I have repainted some chipped eBay purchases and am mixing them into an existing unit of slingers. I am gradually moving to larger and larger bases, and my old 6x3cm bases are being replaced by 6x6s and even 18x6s, which are much quicker to get onto the table and move during a game. I have discovered that I can glue new bases (the orange ones) onto the edge of existing bases, which means that I don't need to completely rebase the existing minis.

*I loathe painting Celts and believe they got what was coming to them!  ;-)

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Fun at the Wargames Holiday Centre

I have just enjoyed a splendid long weekend of gaming with Mark Freeth and friends at the Wargames Holiday Centre. I won't write it up at great length (because I may write it up as a magazine piece) but here are a few shots to be going on with (all clickable). 

This is a shot down hill from Pictish lines towards the advancing Late Imperial Roman army.  The Romans made it all the way up the hill, but the Pictish cavalry turned their flank and won the battle. 

Above is Chaeronea 86BC, looking from behind Pontic lines towards the Romans and the eponymous acropolis. We played this twice, with each side winning once. We used my "To the Strongest!" rulebooks throughout. Everyone seemed to pick the rules up very well, enjoying the card play.

Below is Megalopolis 331 BC. The WHC has a super hill 9" tall by 9' long, with the Spartans and allies deployed along the crest.

In this game a Macedonian phalanx hacked its way up the steep hill between two small woods and past a surprised shepherd, harassed all the way by peltasts. Eventually reaching the crest, but unsupported, the tough veterans succumbed to volleys of javelins and arrows. On the other wing the Spartans and allies actually swept down from the hill and nearly broke the Macedonian left.

This was my favourite out of the five battles. It was intended to have a duration of around 90 minutes but was so even (the advantage swinging back and forth several times) it took over three hours to conclude. Eventually the Macedonian numerical advantage told and the Spartans were carried home on their shields. 'Twas ever the way with newly painted troops.

Below is the Kent 55BC game. The distant black dots at the end of the table are Caesar's relieving Xth legion - the VIIth, in the foreground took quite a pasting!

It was great meeting Steve, John, Rick, Philip, Juan (and Harry) and I can rarely remember a wargaming event with more laughter! I strongly recommend a visit to the Wargames Holiday Centre. Mark has some great games coming up this year including Waterloo and a super Sudan campaign. He is always a fantastic host and a great asset to the hobby! If you fancy coming along for the next Ancients event, drop me a line and I'll mail you once I have details.

Wednesday 13 May 2015


A box arrived in the post today, and not a small one, from Shaun Watson (Redzed).  For scale purposes that's a 28mm mini on the top.

It is full of lovely minis that I will be basing up over the summer, 9 or ten units worth. :-) They are Late Romans and Goths, I've just unwrapped one, for the moment.  Shaun paints a stunning mini and I am really looking forward to getting to grips with these, in June.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Wargames Bloggers Quarterly Issue 4 has arrived!

The latest WBQ has arrived!  Download your free copy now! 

Just love that temple on the cover...

Crimson and Bronze III

Here are another 30 Spartans, 18 painted by me and 12 by Nick Speller (thanks Nick!). Some complete my fifth Spartan phalanx and others will man Sparta's improvised defences. Now I need to base them in time for the weekend!

Thursday 7 May 2015

Cremona 69 AD at Salute

Since Salute I have been frantically busy and haven't had a chance to post any of the photos of the game.  What follows is a fairly random selection of pictures of the game taken by Ian Notter (long shots) and Alan Daniels (closeups). First there are some shots of the game before the doors opened:

View down the table
The Vitellian Camp
Othonian gladiators row towards the pontoon bridge
I had planned to play the whole game but we were shorthanded and somewhat overwhelmed by the level of interest from the public, and we only managed to play the first half. A highlight of the day for me was being sought out by a lovely couple of kids (10 and 12) who played at SELWG last year, and who wanted to play again.

XXI Rapax observe the big cavalry melee
A slave fleeing the fighting, with grapes!

V Alaudae advancing towards the pontoon bridge
It was great to see my newly-printed "To the Strongest!" rulebook out on the table; the ink was barely dry! Happily we sold quite a few copies on the day from Caliver and Agema. I still have plenty of copies left and they can be bought from the BigRedBatshop. If you have previously bought a digital version of the rules I'll give you a £5 refund on the purchase price.

View along the table
One of my favourite things about Salute is the opportunity to meet so many friends and people who work in the hobby - the two categories are not, of course, mutually exclusive.

V Alaudae; I love those yellow shields!

Gladiators risking all in the hope of liberty!
A huge thank you to Mark Freeth of the Wargames Holiday Centre and mate Mark for running the game and to Ian Notter and Alan Daniels for taking the photos. I felt that the Warlords did a fine job of organising the event this year, entrance, in particular, being very much improved.

Publius Marius Celsus, the Othonian cavalry commander
Legionaries trample the rich wheatfields
My next gigs are at the Wargames Holiday Centre from Friday 15th and Partizan at the end of May. If you fancy playing in a game at either, please do drop me a line!  

Best, Simon

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Crimson and bronze II

I seem to have painted/repainted an entire unit of 27 Spartans in six nights, which is about as fast as I have ever manages. It was a lot of fun and so I've decided to paint enough to round out one more unit, and some lights. Curiously not one but both of the part-painted units I purchased on eBay had the Spartan lambdas painted upside down!  :-)

In other news I've bought a small Aventine Oscan army on eBay that I intend to round out later this year into a good-sized force. I've arranged to buy another mate's collection of Athenians, so I should be able to open up some new wargaming fronts in the autumn.

Sunday 3 May 2015

Crimson and bronze

I've been working hard on an extra Spartan phalanx for my trip to the Wargames Holiday Centre on May 15th through 17th. I am planning two games involving Spartans; one with the Spartans meeting Antipater in the field for the famous "Battle of Mice" and the other Pyrrhus' siege of Sparta. The other three games will involve various flavours of Romans and their enemies. No previous knowledge of the "to the Strongest!" rules is required. If you fancy coming up for a day or the whole weekend, please drop me a line and I'll put you in touch  with Mark.