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Last Game Pre-Covid

Posted by Adam on September 24, 2020 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)

This was the last game we played before the current Covid madness crashed down on us. The first dozen units of my Bactrian Greek army had been staring at me accusingly from their shelf. Really needed to get them onto a table for that tricky first run out and Les agreed to try them out versus his contemporary Mauryan Indians (brave man!) I was volunteered to do the rosters for the armies and having see the Indians poor performance at the Battle Day game of The Hydaspes I knew it was going to be tricky to balance the encounter.



Bactrian Greek pike phalanx with Agema cavalry in support.


First of all the Indians would need numbers on their side. In Piquet a single fresh unit of reserves can turn a battle but they would need more than one. I opted for 16 units for the Indians, 12 for the Greeks, a 33% advantage. The details of the Indian force was based on the figures available. There were three elephant units so I pencilled those in straight away (I actually miscounted and we could have double that up to 6 units using elements of elephant escorts; but who needs more than three?!) The Indian cavalry are no great shakes so I opted to use them all - 4 units. Also a unit of chariots, light or heavy, they are equally useless. For the infantry the choice was confined to close order bowmen. I added in 8 units, 4 as mercenaries and 4 as militia.


 

Right wing of the Indian army.


The Indian foot are generally taken to be armed with substantial swords perhaps used two-handed. This would appear to make them a very dangerous close combat opponent but historically they don’t really live up to this, being specifically described as rarely used, by Megasthenes (A Selucid Greek ambassador to Indian courts of the time.) “Indians do not readily fight so amongst themselves” being his assessment. It is curious that soldiers would carry a large and presumably expensive piece of kit if they are not keen on getting stuck in with it. I wonder if it had a more symbolic function; the identifier of its owner as a warrior perhaps?


 

Left wing and centre of the Indian army (just look at all those elephants!)


The Bactrian Greeks would have 12 units (which matched up neatly with my specifically Bactrian figures.) The available cavalry included 2 units of Iranian / Greek colonist lancers also armed with bows. A unit of guard cavalry or Agema, also lance and bow armed. The fourth unit was a mercenary Skythian horse archer contingent. A solitary unit of elephants was included, pretty much compulsory for this army. The foot was composed of the phalanx; trained militia so competent but not amazing. I classed their armour as only light assuming it was all fabric or leather based with bronze helmets but only small pelta type shields. The two units of mercenary Thorakites were similar but with medium armour classification due to their much more substantial shields. This just left a sole unit of Cretan mercenaries, who are classed as Regular missile specialists. They are armed with bows as well as sword and shield.

 

 Right wing of the Bactrian Greek army.


The battle itself saw the Indians line up in a fairly conventional manner with the elephants masking the infantry centre and the right of the line. On their left they massed ¾ of their cavalry on the more open flank with heavy chariots to the fore. Across the field from them the Greeks likewise massed their cavalry and then lined up their phalanx with a unit of Thorakites on each end, the whole line echeloned to the right. On the Greek left was the Cretan archer unit supported by the rather smaller contingent of elephants. The guard Agema were stationed to the rear.


 

 


Mercenary thorakites and Cretans protect the Bactrian Greek left.


 

The Greek first move was to throw forward their Skythian light cavalry to harass the Indian chariots. The bowfire was ineffective but it did prevent the chariots closing with the rest of the Greek cavalry. Following up behind were the Bactrian-Greek lancers (who would have been mostly local Iranians.) These were shot at and thrown into disorder by the Indian chariots as they closed but still pressed home their charge. The lancers own bowfire was also desultory and due to their fighting a disordered formation, the Indians were able to initiate melee immediately. Under Piquet rules however chariots are good shooting platforms and can cause morale checks but are at a disadvantage against cavalry in melee. This offset the disorder of their opponents and the chariots were narrowly beaten and attempted to flee. Not being able to outrun cavalry they took a lot of damage before scattering (off table.) The pursuing lancers now careered into a unit of steady light Indian cavalry. The Indians charged home but against heavier horses and well armoured riders they were again at a disadvantage and immediately broke and fled.



Elephants confront the pike phalanx in the centre.


In the centre the Indian Elephants rolled forward in a stately manner, carefully maintaining their unbroken line but slowed by the low hills they had to navigate. The front unit of the Greek echelon moved up to challenge for the ground and the pike phalanx edged forward so that its flanks rested on low hills. On the left Cretan archers (well-trained mercenaries) skirmished forwards through the woods to dispute that flank with yet more Indian elephants. The Cretans advanced and let fly but were soon running for the cover of the woods as the elephants trundled forwards.

 

Cretans skulking in the woods.


With the elephants in the centre slowing down their ponderous advance on the pike phalanx and showing no appetite to tackle the mass of spearpoints, the action swung back to the main cavalry flank. The victorious Greek cavalry had reined in from their pursuit but were now charged again by yet another unit of Indian cavalry. With the intervention of their general they just managed to reorder their ranks before the enemy made contact. The result was again the same massacre of the lighter unarmoured Indians. They fled but this time the Greeks did not pursue. (Luckily as they would have gone straight off the table. Instead the opportunity was there ahead of them, the rear of the Indian battle line!

 

The Bactrian lancers reformed themselves into a fast-moving road column and galloped around the flank of the Indian army. Just in time the Indians had the chance to about turn their back rank of units and avoid a bloody disaster. However one element of the army was not safe(?) behind the row of infantry, their King. Despite being on an elephant he was much too vulnerable against roving cavalry and almost certainly about to be captured or slain. We gave up the game at this point. Mainly in disgust at the ineptitude of the Indian army overall. The discussion was started however as to how to use them to any effect and some ideas were proposed for serious thought. The very clear lesson from the battle was the utter uselessness of Indian cavalry! They have light horses and no armour but do not skirmish or even have a missile weapon!

 

We will try some tweaks to make the Indians at least playable but trying to stay the right side of history. I still believe that the army is more about causing the enemy to run away, with the Piquet mechanism that allows elephants and chariots to initiate morale challenges and doing that early and often. In addition, our house rule making the infantry swordsmen Fearsome when within a move of the enemy, gives another possibility to damage the enemy morale (automatic morale check if the “Courage!” card is turned.) A few units that are a bit more capable in melee is the missing part of this army and not beyond the bounds of possibility considering they had previously encountered Alexander the Great and seen how it was done properly. Veteran mercenaries or hired foreigners might be a rationalisation for these more capable units. The other route to take is that we use the Indians mainly as allies of the Indo-Greek army and our battles will be the all too typical Indo-Greeks against their countrymen from Bactria.



 Indian cavalry about to charge rallying Bactrian lancers in the flank.

Bactrian Greek Foot Agema

Posted by Adam on August 31, 2020 at 12:50 PM Comments comments (0)

An interesting chat over on Lead Adventure Forum about the wild and woolly components of a Bactrian Greek army (click here) reminded me that I didn't quite manage to finish off my foot guard / foot Agema/ Hypaspist unit for my own Bactrian Greek project. The uncertainty about the name is due to the almost total absense of evidence for their existence... Almost. There is a gold clasp from the grave complex at Tillya Tepe in Afghanistan that appears to show two soldiers that have a very hellenistic look to them.This is my sketch of what I see of the gold clasp.


To me it looks like they are both wearing muscle cuirass body armour and a variation of the Boeotion helmet that is so ubiquitous on Bactrian Greek coins. They are definitely spearmen and their shields look quite dished or bowl shaped and perhaps with a rim. The closest Macedonian or Diadochi troop type that they remind me of is Alexander's Hypaspists.  Considering the way that the rulers of Bactria had broken away from the Selucid Empire, I dont think it is too unlikely they would have recruited a bodyguard loyal just to them. Basing it on a version of Alexander's elite formation would be one logical way to go.

The Victrix box of Theban hoplites that I had been plundering for the distinctive Boeotian, helmets was able to provide me with a dozen bodies in muscle cuirass, with spears and even a few of them with cloaks.  As I discussed previously I decided to add a few heads with the eastern version of the Persian Bashlyk or Tiara to give the unit a more exotic look to it. (click here)

The other way to give them an eastern feel was by their shield design. I had some quite dished round shields in the bits box so I decided they would do the job admirably. A symbol that I saw recurring through history in this part of the world was a winged griffen. So I found an image (possibly Achaemenid) and adjusted it to suit the size and shape I needed. Once I was happy I did few test prints before adding them to a sheet of transfers. I am quite happy with the results. They look suitably exotic as well as ornate enough to show the eite status of the unit. I gave the officer a spare LMBS decal for his shield which is a more standard Successor design.



The unit standard is another home-made decal, this time a basic Macedonian star design. They dont want anyone doubting their Macedonian pedigree. I made the cloth part of the standard from greenstuff for reasons that escape me now...

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.

Final Units

Posted by Adam on July 25, 2017 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the problems with assembling a Bactrian Greek army is the vagueness and lack of detail in the information available. Don't get me wrong a scarcity of information means there is more latitude to make your own decisions on what the army looked like, which can be more interesting. If we can be sure about anything though, it must be safe to say the army contained war elephants.


As the Satrapy and then later Kingdom of Bactria was a neighbour to parts of India, well known for its war elephants, that would seem enough to validate their inclusion.  However we also have the histories of Polybius which tells us that the Selucid king Antiochus III took possession of the Bactrian elephant herd as part of a peace treaty, after he campaignedin the country for two years to try to reassert Selucid control. And if this weren't enough we have a surviving image of what the Bactrian war elephants looked like.


In the Hermitage Museum in Moscow, there are several metal discs or shallow bowls (phalera) with the war elephant engravings complete with fighting towers and warriors in them.  The inclusion of the tower eliminates any doubts that the elephants took an active role in battle, rather than just being a general's viewing platform or a parade mount for the king. Neither elephant image is wearing any armour so this could mean that  the climate would cause elephants to overheat if they were covered over or the artist had never seen it in action?.


Mine are armoured. (Well half of them.) I decided to add a second pair of elephant models to my original veteran pair that started life in a Phyrric army. Piquet's Archon ruleset has 4 bases as the "standard" size of a unit but elephants get a special dispensation and can field 2 of the bases showing  light infantry to represent escorts I suppose. I decided to go for the more costly option of fielding 4 elephant models for the unit  as this undoubtedly looks more impressive!


My original pair of models were from Essex Miniatures. Superb represetations of the beasts but requiring a lot of filling and sanding to ge the two halves of the body to match up. Les reminded me of this, having had the pleasure of assembling 8 of them for his Indian army. Despite this one of my reinforcements was an Essex model (how hard can it be...) The other is a Newline Miniatures figure. This is another nicely sculpted model and importantly very close in size to the others.Also it had been sitting around in the leadpile for many years. The only  drawback with the model is the trunk is very thick with little detail sculpted on the end. I added a more elephanty end with greenstuff but the girth is not an easy one to fix.



I can now start to understand the preference for resin elephant models where the whole body can be cast as one piece (and they're a fair bit lighter.) The Hermitage plates show something of the decoration on the saddlecloth (if that's what it is called.) I had a crack at painting the greek key pattern on one of the cloths and soon gave it up as a bad idea. Plan B was to use some "print your own" decals to help with the trickier details. I plundered the internet for images containing various Greek Key patterns that would print out at a small enough scale to apply to the elephants' housings. As I had half a page of decals to use up, I found as many Macedonian stars and Greek myth pictures that I thought might work as he centre of shield patterns. Plus a lot of spares, as I can be a bit cack-handed with decals.


A comparison between the Essex and Newline Indian elephants and an Aventine African elephant. Similarly good detail but the African example should be a fair bit smaller than his Indian cousins. He will maybe do as a big bull elephant for a general. Anyway that's a different project, for this army I am sticking with smaller representations of the elephants and war mammoths can wait for another day.


Bactrian Evidence

Posted by Adam on February 25, 2017 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

As an interesting aside, I only just last week read the foreword for the reprint or the seminal "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars". This invaluable tome was published by Wargames Research Group back in 1982 and has been a main source for wargames figures producers ever since. Getting a little long in the tooth after 35 years, the new foreword added has been used by the author, Duncan Head, as an opportunity to provide some updates based on more recent evidence

You can read it on line on Google Books.


One of these updates is the diagram that I was only just moaning about in relation to my Bactrian Greek project. CLICK here if you really want to read it again...

The bare headed Graeco-Persian cavalryman illustrated has now been shown to be taken from a bowl of a much later period. (He might be a Chionite Hun, whatever one of those is.)  Vindication! Although this does now leave us with very little in the way of clues as to what this cavalry looked like. There are some coins with lancers shown on them but these are mostly both vague and supposedly portray the mythological Dioscuri, so their relevance to real warriors may be incidental.



So where does this leave wargamers? Well, as is often the case, taking what evidence is available from neighbours both geographical and historical to get a best guess that works for our purposes. Bow and spear armed cavalry were the norm during the Achaemenid period for Bactria. This, added to the coin of a late Indo Greek king showing his bodygueard cavalry similarly armed, gives me confidence that this is a reasonable weapon set.



Eastern Persian / Bactrian cavalryman under the preceding Achaemenid Empire.


Archaeological finds that might be remnants of horse armour give weight to the idea that Bactrian Greek cavalry copied the neighbouring Saka, Parthians and Selucids in having heavily armoured or cataphract cavalry. The archaeology is from late in the Bactrian Greek period so may not have been used for long or by many of their horsemen. An arguable possibility though. I am not feeling like I have to change my plans for my cavalry units. Where I have used figures of the bare-headed now-Huns(?), I have swapped the heads for something more Hellenistic.They are mixed in with other figures or used on command stands.


Essex cavalry with replacement head (Victrix Theban hoplite) the flowing locks blended in using white Milliput.

The bulk of my cavalry figures will remain the 1st Corps figures, which do tread the path between Persian and Greek styles. A little too close to the Persian for my liking but this is balanced by my other units from Essex Miniatures and converted plastics. I will have to ponder if I want to add a unit of heavily armoured cataphracts (or borrow them from the Selucids when required.) Maybe I will just give some generals armoured horses.


Latest Bactrians

Posted by Adam on February 9, 2017 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (2)

The latest bunch of figures for the Bactrian Greeks included some older sculpts from Essex Miniatures and much newer Victrix figures. The Essex range of specifically Bactrian Greek Successors must be over 20 years old but the style and size fits in fine with newer mid-sized figures such as Foundry, Warlordor Gripping Beast. I am not a big fan of the Essex horses but I had a stash of old mounts from Corvus/Sussex Miniatures that suit the figures fine despite the saddle cloth being moulded onto the rider and the horse.



The solitary Guard cavalry figure in the range would be the basis of my Agema unit. To give the unit a little variety, (Guards are allowed to be a bit on the uniform side,)  I mixed in a couple of the Persian horseman with head swaps. The Persian cavalry figure is similarly armoured but without a helmet, and wearing trousers. The head swaps (Victrix hoplite head and Carthaginian officer head) dealt with the lack of appropriate headgear and I added trousers to a couple of  the Guard figures to further "easternise" them. I knocked together a standard from a steel pin and some plastic spear parts. the banner came from a set of LBMS shield transfers. A plastic trumpet gave another cavalryman a slightly different look.


I am quite pleased with these, they look purposeful if not as dangerous as my three-to-a-base, Companion type, lance only cavalry. I expect them to be leading devastating cavalry attacks or biding their time as the quality reserve of the army.


The next unit was also from the Essex 25mm range. This was the solitary pikeman and I bought a unit of 16 based prety much just on the figure's excellent late Hellenistic headgear, a very elegant pointed Boeotian variant. These figures look like they will complement my exisiting Corvus / Sussex Minaitures pikeblock and brings them up to a handy 64 figures (4 units or 2 small taxeis of pikes.) Although the pike phalanx is very formidable, I am not going to field more than these 4 units for one main reason. There just doesn't seem to be  much in the way of evidence for them being the main element of the army (compared to other Successors.) This could be due to the huge distance away from the traditional breeding grounds of the Greek and Macedonian heavy infantry and also due to rebellions by early settlers that must have thinned out the available manpower.




There are some representations of soldiers carrying large oval shields, so probably Theurophoroi (after the oval theuros) or Thorakites (the armoured version of these troops.) It would make perfect sense if this type were more common than usual if pikemen were hard to come by. The theurophoroi were the standard Hellenistic mercenary type and there has been much debate about how they were equipped and how they fought in the battle line. My own theory is that  full time mercenaries would be trained to fight in a variety of situations and equipped appropriately.  Whilst the majority of Theurophoroi representations show no armour, this does not necessarily mean they were confined to fighting as part of the skirmish line. With a large heavy shield the expensive provision of armour could be avoided even for soldiers expected to fight against the enemy in the main line of battle.




These mercenaries would be expected to take on roles such as garrisons, supply escorts, raids and border guards where cumbersome armour might not be much advantage anyway. The armoured Thorakites seem to have been much the minority of this type and perhaps a response to encountering Roman heavy infantry. Where funds allowed armouring the mercenary element of an army would seem to offer a tactical advantage and Bactria does seem to have been a very wealthy region underthe rule of itsGreco-Macedonian kings.




Almost half of my heavy infantry will be theurophoroi (3 units initially) and the first 2 units completed are armoured in linen/leather spolas body armour. Whilst there are Thorakites available from several manufacturers in mail armour, mine are converted from Victrix Theban hoplites (great castings) with the addition of shields from Crusader Miniatures. Agema Miniatures now also do a nice pack of theuros which is a little smaller. For this second unit of theurophoroi I used about 50/50 heads from the Victrix hoplite box and heads from a Carthaginian pack by Agema. The Agema heads look very close to a style seen on a Parthian statue, so a near neighbour of the Bactrians and a not unlikely to be used by them.




Next up: some generals, a unit of light cavalry and the inevitable elephants. Should be ready then to take on the Indian hordes or (more tentatively) a Selucid  army.

Bactrian Cavalry Agema

Posted by Adam on October 16, 2016 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Most of the Macedonian Successor states had a senior regiment of cavalry in the army which acted as bodyguard to the king and the elite strike force of the mounted arm. Duncan Head includes an illustration of this very type in his Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars (AMPW) so and I can see no reason not to include a unit if these in my army. The AMPW illustration shows a very Hellenistic looking cavalryman but with the typical Graeco-Bactrian bowcase and Essex Miniatures doo have a faithful recreation of this figure in 25mm scale. I decided to mix in a few of the other Essex offering in this range which follows the other AMPW Graeco-Bactrian cavalryman, an Iranian noble.


Essex don't have photos of this range on their site so I have borrowed this painted example from ancientbatles.com which is full of inspiring photos.


The problem with this second figure is that it is armoured with a metal corselet but bare-headed. Duncan Head explains that this is how the figure is represented on the source material (a contemporary silver dish showing a hunting scene) but I am very dubious that anyone who could afford it would not wear a helmet. This Iranian noble has all the other expensive kit (armour, weapons, horse)so I doubt that cost would be the issue. More likely it is the custom to be shown all heroic with hair blowing in the wind when hunting lions whereas common sense would prevail when getting down to the serious business of war.



The unit will look quite uniform and guardish in their matching cloaks, maybe in purple?


The two Iranian noble figures had their heads snipped off  (they'll get used to that the way I throw away cavalry on the tabletop!) and replacements pinned in place (the grey ones in the photo.) One of the new heads is from the Victrix Theban hoplites box and the other is from their Carthaginian officer sprue (the nice Thracian style helmet with the vertical feathers.)  To add a bit of additional eastern identity to the unit I added baggy Iranian trousers to 2 of the hellenistic looking guard cavalry.  The paucity of solid information means that you can make up your own mind and decide how "native" you want your Successor soldiers to look in this army.


The Victrix Carthaginian sprues have some lovely Hellenistic pieces that can find  uses in a variety of armies. The chap with the feather might become this unit's commander.


If it weren't for the 1st Corps Iranian noble cavalry figures I would  be faced with convereting a lot more of these to make up the main cavalry strikeforce of the army. Enjoyable as it is for a few figures I know I wouldn't have the patience to do dozens! I might have a go with a couple more for some command stands however.

Knuckling Down to It

Posted by Adam on August 12, 2016 at 12:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Painting the little metal fellows who are going to have my tabletop generalship inflicted on them has always been an integral part of wargaming to me. I suppose a part of the satisfaction is fielding a miniature army that shows off all my own hard work. Even at my limited level of skill I am not the quickest painter in the land and I have the not unusual habit of painting up new figures for an upcoming game but losing focus and moving on to the next thing straight after. This isn't necessarily a terrible crime, it is a hobby after all and a relentless painting slog through one army or period can make it more like a job than something enjoyable. You can have too much of a good thing though. I do try to focus on one or two main projects at a time but that does take a certain amount of discipline. As an illustration, currently on my painting table are: Thureophoroi, Cretans, Indian bowmen and Persian lancers for my Bactrian Greeks, Mahdists for the Sudan, Romans for my Punic Wars army and a stand of Great Northern War Russians. If that weren't bad enough there are individual skirmish or test figures for English Civil War, Nine Years War, 18th C. Ottomans, Napoleonics and 15mm WW2 (all the rest being 25/28mm figures.) Pretty much the definition of a butterfly brain I would say! The flip side to this pleasing variety is that no one project feels like it is progressing.



My antidote to this is to focus (for a time) on just the Bactrian Greeks with secondary project of whatever we are going to be playing next (yeah, yeah I know.) For a viable Piquet army I will need a minimum of around 12 units. I already have some pikemen, a couple of elephants, a unit of Thuerophoroi foot and a unit of Persian lancers (http://wargamewarrior.webs.com/apps/blog/show/42199601-bactrian-greek-project-part-5-painted-cavalry). So 5 more units and a couple of elephants will give me something to get on the table. Already mentioned as underway is a second unit of Thureophoroi and some Cretan archers, so that just leaves 3 more. The most distinctive troop type for this army is the bow armed Persian/ Successor lancers. I have the figures for 4 units of these including one that is earmarked to be the Agema guard unit. So, three units of cavalry it is then.


A horse painting session is thus required and as Piquet units are 8 strong that is just 24 cavalrymen.  I use oil paints for my horses to give them a glossy sheen, so I decided to get a few more done than I need for my immediate target. I am pretty messy with oil paints and the brushes (and me!) need cleaning with turps, which I prefer to not do too often. Thus the horses for all four units of Bactrian lancers were to be completed as well as those for a unit of Bactrian or Saka light horse. The 18th Century Ottomans would get horses for a unit of Tartars and the future Napoleonic project a small troop of British hussars. This totted up to 54 horses which I figured was probably close to my attention span and just about able to be crammed into the space where I paint. All the horses were cleaned up, or in the case of the excellent Perry plastic hussars; snipped off sprues, glued together and then cleaned up. All received a temporary base using PVA glue and then a light spray of Halfords primer spray primer.


(This is one of the lovely but sadly no longer available 28mm Alban Miniatures horses.)


     


Back from the shed all nicely primed, every horse got a swift brush over with white acrylic paint, to highlight the high points and upper surfaces of the horsey flesh. This step is to facilitate my horse painting technique, first learned from an early copy of Miniature Wargames magazine. I paint on to each horse a coat of oil paint of various browns, straight from the tube and sometimes blended together. To this I add a splash of Windsor and Newton Liquin medium, which gives the paints a pleasing gloss finish and greatly speeds up the drying time (I am a bit of an impatient person.) Straight after splodging the paint all over a figure with a large brush I wipe the paint back off the horse with a soft tissue. This leaves dark shadows in the recesses and lighter areas on the highpoints. It takes a bit of practise to get the wiping just right. Some people prefer to use a sponge or a clean brush instead of a tissue.




The trick is not to take off too much paint or too little, luckily oils stay wet longer than acrylics or enamels so you have a chance to have a few tries with a single figure. In the end it is down to your own taste how much contrast you want between the light and the dark hues. Once the oil paint has dries (a couple of days if you have used Liquin, a fair bit longer if not) then I add the blazes and white socks as well as the horse furniture and saddle cloths in my usual acrylic paints.



I am not for a moment claiming to produce masterworks with this methods but it is pretty quick once you get the hang of it (57 horses took about 3 hours.) Personally I find it quite effective and I do like the contast between the glossy horseflesh and the riders painted with acrylics.


A whole buch of horses for Bactrian Greeks, 18th C. Ottomans and Napoleonics.

An Elephant for the General

Posted by Adam on May 18, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (1)

 I was taking stock of the figures I have stored away to see what I already have suitable for the Bactrian Greeks when I stumbled across a spare 25mm elephant head. Why did I have an elephant head spare you ask? If I recall correctly, it came from a Navigator Miniatures elephant which was a bit too small to fit in with my existing Essex Minaitures Indian elephants. My solution was to use the body of this beastie with a spare head I had for an African elephant (a batch from a bring an buy) which fitted in sizewise perfectly. (Bet you wish you hadn't asked now...) This rediscovery in conjunction with a lack of inspiration for General figures for the Bactrian Greeks has triggered my latest conversion attempt.


I have no illusions about my mastery in greenstuff for elephant anatomy, but with the head provided, (the hardest bit) I reckon I have half a chance of making an elephant body, if it is almost competely covered with a caparison of armoured barding. A stonking great armoured elephant would seem to be the ideal mount for a Bactrian Greek King. First step is making an armature to build the body around.



This was assembled from a Kinder egg, bits of wire and plastic tube tacked together with a hot glue gun. Step 2 was to start adding bulk and shape with green stuff (I mixed it about 50/50 with Milliput for a harder finish.) The head was also fitted in position at this stage, just puttied into place. It could be glued as well if it fell  off during the sculpting.



The basic shape is now roughed out and I have started impressing some scale armour shapes into the front part of the elephant armour. Leg armour will be similar to the elephant in the background. That's the theory anyway... ( I only now thought of using a plastic toy elephant as the armature - oh well more fun this way!)

Greco-Bactrian Infantry

Posted by Adam on May 11, 2014 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (3)

The direct evidence for the appearance of Greco-Bactrian foot soldiers is a bit slim on the ground. Some plaques and jewellery accumulated in later tombs seem to show spearmen in Hellenistic style armour with round shields:

To me these seem to have muscle cuirasses with pteurges and carry concave shields. The helmets are perhaps a derivation of the boeotian style but with cheek guards. The concave shield or pelta would suggest Macedonian Successor pikemen but the spears are obviously much shorter than any sarissa. This could be due to limitations of space on these buckles(?) or because these soldiers were guards similar to Hypaspists armed with shorter spears for sentry or light duties.


The latter interpretation is my favourite and allowed me to use some of the figures from the Victrix Theban Hoplites box. (The one that I bought cheaply and kickstarted this project.) Of the 4 body variants on each sprue, one is wearing a muscle cuirass, the other 3 in linothorax, fabric armour. This means I had 12 in the right sort of armour to be these guard soldiers. There are also sets of arms with cloaks draped over them which would do for the cloaks of the representation above. It is difficult to make out if they have trousers or just knee high boots on but the Victrix figures have greaves (leg armour) so this becomes a moot point.


I have some concave shields that will do instead of the hoplite aspis but I did want the unit to have some additional eastern "flavour".  The idea I had was to give some of these figures Persian style soft headgear (very practical in hot,deserty places!) Some of the heads from the Wargames Factory Persian cavalry box looked like being just the thing.

(The third ones from the left, top and bottom.)


As I still wanted the guard unit to be well equipped, I decided to try to give the soft-hatted figures helmets hanging on their backs or tucked under their arms. This took some sawing and carving to remove the face from the helmet but the plastic is nice and soft and cuts very easily.

Hanging from chin-straps looked just about feasible and was easier to do than fiddling about with an arm to have a helmet held under it. I did two of the former and one of the latter.



(Officer with triple-plumed helm, below)


These figures have very nice details and proportions, if I didn't already have hundreds of metal hoplite figures I would consider these ones. They go together with only the occasional trimming required to get joints to look right. Mould lines shave off very easily with a sharp knife. Even so assembling just these twelve figures took hours! Whatever the apologists may claim cleaning up metal figures is a much swifter process. When it comes to conversions however, plastic multipart figures make life much easier.



These can now go in the queue to be undercoated and await a coat of paint. I'm not sure what symbols to put on their shields yet but I will have a peruse of my transfers for inspiration.