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Allied Triari

Posted by Adam on August 31, 2018 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Sometimes I buy figures just because I like the person behind a company or I am wanting to show some support for a smaller commercial project. Agema Miniatures falls plum into that category without a doubt. I do not expecially need any more Republican Roman figures in 28mm but I appreciate the ethos and historical approach of Greg's company. So of course I bought all of the packs of metal figures that were produed to supplement the plastic offerings. The plastics are nice and well-proporrtioned but a little bit limited in their number of poses, so doing extras in metal made a lot of sense. 


Once I had the figures in my hand the "Wow factor" took over. These are some of the nicest figures I have ever seen sculpted in this scale. Just superb little castings with amazing detail and very natural poses, both action stances and relaxed. I was particularly keen on the Triari pack with the old veterans leaning on their shields and in a variety of more expensive armour types. Eventually I had to spoil it all though by adding my painting to the party! First I came upon a problem  The Agema plastic Triari match the metal additions perfectly for physiology but they are all in the classic kneeling pose. Totally not going to mix in with the stood up versions. My solution was to hack up some of the other plastic legionaries so that they could be adapted to carrying the Triari's typical spear armamment. 


(Click on image for larger version)

It works okayish... I had to steal some arms from Victrix plastic  figures which was altogether a nuisance. However the good news is that the new Hannibals Veterans box of plastics from Agema will provide additional bodies and spear arms that will do the job perfectly.


Here's some from the Agema Facebook page.


Just for the record the figures, counted from the left are: 4, 6, 7, 12, 13,15 are Triari Characters, 9, 10, and 11 from Maniple Command, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 16 are plastic figures from the Legionary box, (3 and 5 with heads from the Roman Allies pack of heads.) Figures 1 and 14 are interloperas that have been lurking in the lead pile fopr a very long time. They seem to fit in okay. They were I think from a company called Alban Miniatures possibly now a part of Matchlock / Minifigs. Apart from the last two all these figures are available direct from Agema at http://agemaminiatures.co.uk/product-category/republican-romans/metal-figures/


Taking Stock of Projects: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Posted by Adam on January 16, 2018 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I have previously avoided looking too closely at my wargames hobby in terms of how many projects I have active or stored away for future revival or just hopelessly stalled. Inspired by Ross Mac's no-nonsense look at his own resources and interests on his enthralling blog  and where to commit his hobby time, I have decided to have a crack at something similar. I am writing as I review things, so excuse me if the mood swings violently!


My oldest collection of 25/28mm figures (not including Dungeons and Dragon RPG miniatures) is the Macedonian Successors. Started a little over 35 years ago when I first discovered playing with toy soldiers was a “real” hobby! My first purchases were towards a Pyrrhic army. This appealed to me from the pages of WRG’s 6th Edition army lists due to the diverse range of auxiliary type that could be added to the core of competent Macedonian pikemen and Companion cavalry. Elephants, Italian types, Keltic mercenaries, Cretan archers - basically all the fun of the fayre! Early recruits were able to get into action quickly thanks to my friend Nick starting a Hellenistic army at the same time. We were able to coordinate our buying and painting of figures and combine them into a joint army. (Often Antigonid Macedonian if memory serves.) A good starter army with no one “super-troop” unit that you have to pin your hopes on. There were a variety of dangers presented by this sort of army. I even had the Kelts pull the fat out of the fire one time, beating a unit of Varangian Guards when everyone else had given way.


Macedonian Successors

(Includes some Persians and Indians, who were allies and enemies)

Figures painted: 644 (plus 8 elephants)

Figures unpainted: Around 600 about a third are Achaemenid Persians.

Active status: Very active!





Even after all these years this period of history still enthuses me. The Macedonians are being reinforced on two fronts currently: The Bactrian Greeks are mostly painted and ready for their first game in 2018. Also the Society of Ancients Battle Day is Paraitekene this year so I am adding a small number of units to my phalanx numbers for that game.



So hopefully at least 3 games using these figures this year. This gives quite an “ancients” slant to the year already… My next largest collection I suspect will be Horse and Musket, particularly the 18th Century and Seven Years War. Although these were originally bought as a side project when I acquired a large number of Spencer Smith plastic figures just before they went out of production. It has become my other main period of interest, expanding into the latter part of the 17th Century with the recent Nine Years War focus.


18th Century / Seven Years War

Figures painted: 533 (plus several dozen guns and 8 elephants)

Figures unpainted: 120 or so Indian cavalry and sepoys. Less than a hundred(?) Austrian and French SYW

Active status: Active.





An ongoing interest almost as long as the Ancients armies. These have taken a bit of a back seat to the League of Augsburg / Nine Years War in recent years. However I am determined to get my Ottoman Turk project properly under way this year. Some figures have been bought for this already from Brigade Games, Old Glory and Dixon Miniatures. Some will be home caste and modified plastics and then there is the tantalising prospect of Warfare Miniatures starting their range. Not sure if they will hit the table in 2018 but a round dozen units painted and ready by the end of the year is a reachable target. Hopefully we will get the SYW boys out to play at least once as well.



My other “tricorn based” army, that I mentioned above, has muscled in on the SYW figures’ territory. These are the late 17th Century Nine Years War units, which have benefitted from usage once or twice a year at the League of Augsburg weekends in Derby and Dumfries, keeping them on the agenda. I have no ambitious plans for painting units this year. I am lucky to have a friend (Les) who has collected enough figures for us to play manageable games with our combined collections. If events in the Battle for Britain campaign call for it I may be tempted to paint up a unit or two…


Nine Years War

Figures painted: 336

Figures unpainted: 472 plus artillery? (just a side project  )

Active status: Active.




I will hopefully be able to attend at least one of the games up at Dumfries. I am likely to take along some or all of my painted units if they are needed. A fair chance we will get these chaps on a table closer to home at least once this year too.


My other main focus this year is related to the League of Augsburg via their skirmish rule set “Donnybrook”. I have a mainly Scottish themed 17th Century / ECW Donnybrook collection (~ 60 figures) which will in the course of time be expanded with more figures including Three Musketeers period heroes and villains. I think the rules should work fine for this kind of setting. More of a stretch is adapting the rules set for the new period that I started last year; the 1895 Heligoland Crisis.


This is a Victorian alternative history setting that I am greatly enjoying writing. The main opponents are the British Empire and the German Empire and the initial theatre of operations the British governed Heligoland Islands in the North Sea. I am taking liberties with history (but feasible ones) that have led to an Anglo-German conflict 19 years before the Great War. I am planning on expanding the conflict to include torpedo boat duels in the shoal infested waters around the islands and civilian / irregular forces for the 28mm skirmish games.



1895 Heligoland Crisis

Figures painted: 58 (plus 7x 1/600 ships)

Figures unpainted: 200ish

Active status: Active.





I have to accept that the effort for this project will be split equally between figures and terrain / rules tinkering. Getting to a usable version of the rules that gives the period a distinct flavour will be key to keeping up enthusiasm for painting new figures and organising scenarios for games.

 

The second ancients period that I have a big interest in is the Punic Wars and more generally the Western Mediterranean. This overlaps with the Macedonian Successors in the form of the army of Pyrrhos which included Italian contingents and of course the Republican Romans who clashed with him and, eventually, the other Successors. This project started for me with my buying and painting an Etruscan army with Gallic allies. There were no Etruscan figures available back then, so I used the multipart QT/Amazon range of figures to cobble together something that worked for me. For the Gallic warriors I used a bunch of the QT figures and a couple of examples from every range I could find. This gave me a fine irregular looking warband in the days before ranges had a lot of variants of any one troop type. This “project” has expanded in fits and starts over the years and now includes small forces for each of the Romans, Carthaginians and Samnites, to go with the Etruscans.



Punic Wars

Figures painted: 432 plus elephants and chariots

Figures unpainted: 300 - 400

Active status: semi-active.





One of our Roman army owners left our small band of brothers, so we were somewhat reduced in the number of Legions we could deploy on the tabletop. I have been bulking up my Romans to fill the gap but I have less empathy for them than other armies so it is less of a priority. Instead of classic Punic wars clashes we have turned to games featuring Kelts and mercenary forces instead. There is always a chance we will gwt these old favourites out for a game particularly if I restart my Truceless War campaign...


These projects I would happily call the "Good". Well developed, with enough figures to have a game. Still plenty of enthusiasm and new figures joining the veterans. I will come onto the "Bad" and Ugly" next time.

Macedonians for Hydaspes

Posted by Adam on July 3, 2015 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

The Wargames Foundry World of the Greeks range are some of the nicest Hellenistic figures ever produced. The figures are both full of character and nicely historical. There are a vast range of variants available (over 100 pikemen alone) so that units full of individuals or skirmish games with identifiable heroes are possible. I have had a stack of these sitting on the shelf since the year that they were released and I belonged to the pre-order scheme that Foundry ran.  Basically I signed up for everything that they produced for the Macedonians and every couple of months a package of metally goodness would arrive through the post. If I recall correctly there was some small financial advantage to buying the range this way, almost like an early form of Kickstarter.




All these years later the SOA Battle Day gave me the perfect excuse to get some of these finally painted and in use. The main requirement for the Greek side at the Hydaspes were Hypaspists (Macedonian Royal Guard). We would need  3 units of these at the scale we were going to be representing the battle at.  Standard Piquet units are 12 figures (4 stands) for infantry. The other requirement wa Companion cavalry, although we could use similar shieldless Greek cavalry from our collections at a push. A commander figure for Alexander the Great himself  was a must and Foiundry do at least 2 that are nice representations of his images.




The Hypaspists were to be armed with short spears / javelins as this fitted with one of the interpretations of the account of the battle of Hydaspes that seems to suggest that the Macedonian heavy infantry used missile weapons against the Indian elephants. This also suits the Hypaspists elite status and multi-role capabilities.



The Companion cavalry are also very nice figures and there are enough individual models to have every one in a unit different. I used a scattering of unarmoured figures so that I could give the unit a veteran look and paint some of the interesting tunic colours that have been recorded from Macedonian tomb paintings. (Not just because those were the figures I happened to have!)




To join the Companion cavalry an Alexander the Great command figure was painted (that standard needs a bit more work - one day...)



SOA Battle Day - Hydaspes

Posted by Adam on March 28, 2015 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (3)

Another Excellent day today at Bletchley at the Society of Ancients Battle Day. This year the battle being examined was Alexander the Great's victory at the Hydaspes river in India and there were 16 games, a new record!  The Essex Home Guard were participating again with a Piquet game in 25mm.


The 6.0 am start after finishing bases for some of the figures at 1.0 in the morning was rewarded by clear roads and getting to the venue in time to set up and get the figures organised. At 9.30 there was the traditional talk from a guest speaker. This year it was the Society's own Phil Sabin, who gave a facinating presentation about the way that academic historians can draw inferences about poorly documented (or contrarily documented) anciemt battles using comparisons and dynamic modelling from other battles. There was also plenty of time for questions for Professor Sabin and Duncan Head (another expert in the military history of the period.) Great stuff.


Next it was back to the tables and a fortifying cup of tea (laid on all day.) Final positioning of the starting positions of the armies was completed. (Our reconstruction we had learned leaned towards J.R. Hamilton with Aleander's army concentrating its attack on the left wing of the Indian army.)


The view from behind the Indian left wing.


The view from behind the starting position of the Macedonian army.

Due to the large distances  covered by all the forces involved inthe fighting, or potemtially involved, we decided that we must focus on the main crucible of the action and bring in other forces as reinforcements during the game. The earliest of these would be the pike phalanx of  Coenus, lagging behind the main attack force of the Macedonians and the right wing cavalry of the Indian army. Poros had seemed to be quite quick off the mark in summoning them to the left where the threat was was more immediate. Our reinforcement system was quite simple; a slip was revealed every time an infantry move card was turned. The slip would either be no reinforcement or name the reinforcement and the possible places they could arrive (rolled for randomly.) It seemed to work okay, sufficient uncertainty and variation but the forces that fought in the battle historically would definitely arrive at some point.



The Indian left wing cavalry and magnificent chariots.



The Indian elephant line, the strength of the army.


The decisive arm of the Macedonian army, the fearsome Companion cavalry, led by their Heroic Commander Alexander himself.



The Indian army draw inspiration from their statue of "Hercules" (actually it's Shiva...)


The battle ran fairly close to history. The Indian cavalry had an early success driving off the Bactrian skirmishers but were then routed and cut to pieces by the fearsome and Elite Companions. The great looking chariots extracted themselves from a patch of soft sand only to be wiped out by Alexander's Agema squadron. The Indian elephants pushed forward aggressively and as much use as possible was made of their ability to cause morale checks. This did disrupt the screen of light troops on the Macedonian left but was less successful against the Hypaspists and pikemen.


Part of the elephant line did however get behind the flank of the Macedonian phalanx but this was the Indian high water mark. The opportunity never came to swing them around against the flank and rear of the phalanx. Coenus' laggardly phalnx force marched towards the breakthrough to avert the danger but the Indian assault had run out of steam.  The other end of the Indian line of infantry also had its moment of glory, when it  showered an approaching squadron of Companions with arrows with enough accuracy to cause them to break. Their jubilation was short-lived however as Alexander himself gallopped across the battlefield to raklly the Companions, bring them back into order and lead the countercharge which exterminated the Indians.



Companions rout!


Alexander leads the cavalry in pursuit.


The Indian pile of morale chips could not stand the strain for long, rallying units shaken by the Companions, causing elephant checks and the destruction of several complete units evetually exhausted them. Now the army would rapidly start to crumble with no way of rallying units. The right wing cavalry had arrived as reinforcements but their options were limited. Hard on their heels were the Cavalry contingent of Coenus. His arrival location was directly in the rear of the Indian army, so as in history they were surrounded and doomed to defeat.


Indian high-water mark as they break through past the end of the Macedonian phalanx.


Too little too late. Indian reinforcements march past the crumbling ruins or a temple to Ganesha (a bad omen?)


Elsewhere fleeing Indian elephants crash through their own supporting infantry.


An enjoyable game. The Indian army was ill-served by us Indian generals as we just could not win any initiative. So the small sparks of opportunity could not be capitalized on. The Macedonains went about theiir task in a businesslike manner and it was satisfying that the course ofthe battle ran generally with the historical record (maybe Hamilton was on to something!)  On a morale chip level it was a close run thing. The twoo armies started the day with the same number and when the Indians ran out they had reduced the Macedonian total to just 7. With a bit more luck on their side the Indians could have seen those numbers reversed.


Next year, the Horns of Hattin?


Hypaspists for Hydaspes

Posted by Adam on December 1, 2014 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (1)

First three units painted specifically for the Society of Ancients Battle Day 2015, finally photographed.



These are two of the three Hypaspist (Royal Guard) units, either side of a new pike unit. The figures are all Foundry from their World of the Greeks range. Lovely little miniatures, every figure of the 36 I have is different, with subtke variation in armour and pose. The pikemen have a plethora of variants too, with some nice soft hats and extra kit, the sort ot thing that you would expect of hardened campaigners. They have been sitting in their boxes waiting for me to get around to painting them for a long time.



I have done the figures in posh multi-colour armour and with uniform shields (Foundry decals.)  They have all been given short spears / javelins so that they can engage elephants with a missile weapon as suggested by the description of the battle. (I am more than happy that these elite guards carried whatever weapon best suited their mission.)



I have painted one of the three Hypaspist units planned in purple armour and carrying a standard in case  I ever want to differentiate a possible senior regiment amongst the Hypaspists. About a third of the figures had the white helmet plumes that probably signify guard status. Won't make any difference in our Hydaspes refight however.


I just need to matt varmish these guys and finish off the third unit and the cutting edge of Alexander's infantry will be ready!

Hydaspes Test Game

Posted by Adam on September 1, 2014 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Interesting game at the weekend on a number of fronts. We ran a test scenario, using Piquet,  for the main part of the Battle of the Hydaspes (Alexander the Great vs. Indians.) This was in preparation for the Society of Ancients Battle Day in March (I know, that is really organised for us - Kysoscephelae we did on 2 weeks notice!)  For once the battle ran pretty much picture perfect in accordance with history. The predominantly elite Macedonians scthed their way through the hapless Indians and the two light units that were broken by Indian elephants were taken as major victories by us Indian generals! :D A minor  invasion by wasps was not enough to cause us to abandon play (or our pints) so the victory was entirely conclusive.


When the dust had settled and the toy soldiers were safely packed away, we were able to discuss the ramifications of our successful(?) test game (over a very nice dinner - thanks Rose!) The stated aim of the SOA Battle Day is to see how battles from history are dealt with by as many sets of wargames rules as possible. It is always fascinating to see how many games go with the historical outcome and how many are reversal. Often a surprising ratio. A "close run thing" you would always expect to be a split decision but often the loser from history is  successful in more cut and dried battles. Hydaspes looks like a good contender for a close battle but when quality is compared the disparity looks much greater. Piquet sets much more store by troop quality than armament, so all those chopping swords and longbow weilding Indian foot flatter to deceive.


We set up the game with the Indian foot all out of command and their general (Poros' son) dead. This handicap was largely irrelevant as it turned out;  the Indian commanders had no interest in getting their infantry to tangle in melee with the terrifying Macedonian phalanx (however outnumbered.) Our preference was to leave the fighting to the elephants who could at least cause problems to the enemy (in theory) by casing morale checks. Although this got some of the Macedonian light infantry fleeing, the Hypaspists and elite pikemen were still too much for the elephants to take on head to head. It was very amusing though to see the over-acheiving Companion cavalry charge the elephants and then spend time reversing away when the discovered their horses would not engage with elephants frontally!




Where do we go from here? The consensus was that with a few tweaks and even more aggressive use of the Indian elephants the battle could still present a challenge to both sides. The players representing Poros might not expect to win but could perhaps do better than his historical counterpart. The alternative is to reconsider the game setup  fighting perhaps the initial encounter with the Indian chariot corps or looking wider still and playing the river crossing as a mini-campaign. Unusually (for us) we still have time to change our plans before the day itself.

Quick Painting 15mm Part 2

Posted by Adam on April 23, 2013 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

With the coat of watered down Vallejo "Sepia Shade"  (their Dipping formula) and the basing completed, the figures take a leap towards readiness.

 

The reins and white socks/blazes/stars on the horses draw the eye and distract from other details that have been neglected. Inevitably the brown wash has dulled down the red and green coloured areas, they weren't bright tones anyway.


To finish these guys off to the tabletop standard I am desiring, they will all get their bows painted over in black or very dark brown, so that their principle weapon is clearer to see.  A few bright metallics could be added (some of the skullcaps becoming helmets might work. (And will represent that the Huns were often wealthy and well-equipped, particularly in their later campaigns.) A few bright colours can also be reinstated just to break up the overall brown-ness of the unit.


As an experiment I found this quite useful. It showed that with an organised approach and a clear idea of my aim for a wargames unit, I can greatly increase my painting output. How much of what I have tried will be transferable to painting 25mm figures remains to be seen... 

Quick Painting for 15mm Figures

Posted by Adam on March 29, 2013 at 8:50 PM Comments comments (3)

I had been considering recently my attitude and strategy towards painting figures for wargames. Probably since the weight of lead and plastic I have in the painting queue has long exceeded my bodyweight. My conclusions were (and I am not claiming anything radical or new here) that I would have to make some sort of compromises between my painting technique and the desire to see projects (quite a few of them to be fair) get onto the tabletop within a reasonable period - my lifetime being the absolute constraint!


I am not claiming to currently produce anything like the miniature masterpieces that we see now in magazines and numerous websites but I have reached a certain level of satisfaction with my painting results, but at the cost of a slow pace compared to professionals and those much better organised than me. As the chances of me becomeing organised or professional are diminishingly remote, a perhaps radical re-appraisal of my painting techniques and what I am able to find acceptable for use in a wargame was my conclusion. 


Upon discovering some 15mm Hun cavalry in a long forgotten box in the loft, I have decided to try an experiment in the furtherence of this reappraisal. The figures were already undercoated in brick red which was fine and my plan of action was to do a very basic blocked in, one shade paintjob with a limited pallette, then  a heavy wash of Vallejo Sepia Shade dipping formula. Possibly followed up with a cursory picking out of a few details to finish (remember: keep it quick Adam!)


Here is the first stage complete, with the horses splathered in four different colours and the riders yet to see any work. (The riders are moulded in one piece with the horse, an unusual situation for me used to painting 25mm figures where this is not very typical, but possibly another way to speed up the whole process...)



The basic colours: 2 browns, unbleached linen, cream, green and dark red. Pretty ropey looking (the TTG figures are a bit rough and ready but have a lot of detail and good animation.)  I keep reminding myself that the the shade/ wash will smooth out the effect when it fills in the deeper bits of detail. Now to let the colours dry overnnight and then on to applying the shade/wash and details and basing them up.

Platea Painting Progress

Posted by Adam on February 20, 2012 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (7)

Three new units of hoplites painted, just need the bases finishing and a coat of matt varnish.


The figures are (from the left): old Foundry and 1st Corps, Immortal (now Warlord) and Essex Miniatures. The Immortal figures have Little Big Men Studios decals/transfers for their shield designs.


The others have a mixture of other transfers and hand-painted designs.

Spartans reinforcements are now receiving some paint. Yes, they do have Pilos hemets and no, I don't care :). If anyone does get the game for the SOA Battle Day organised (it's not me this year) we should at least have enough hoplites in 25mm.

Audit Complete

Posted by Adam on November 10, 2011 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I have suddenly become aware that 2012 is just round the corner (must be the annoying M&S Christmas ads.:roll:) and the realisation has occurred that painting time for the SOA Battle Day is slipping away. As a first step I decided to audit what figures are available from my lead pile to be inserted into the painting queue before April. Results summarised below:


Hoplites (28-30mm): 319 of those 136 are painted.

This seems better that it really is as the majority of the painted hoplites are in fact Etruscans. They will do in a pinch I suppose but I would like to have proper Greeks for Platea. This leaves 2 units of hoplites ready for action and 14 units of potential recruits (7 of these units look distinctly Spartan.)


My figures come from a wide variet of manufacturers (some comparison photos below) but I am hoping that if I can keep the large round (Argive) shields consistent variatioons in height and heft between the different sculpts will go unnoticed.

(The grey figures in the middle are Immortal Miniatures plastic hoplites, great value for the aspiring Greek general.)