Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's on Tap for 2013

With 2012 slowly slipping through our fingers, I thought I would take a moment to look forward to 2013 and  detail in writing what I hope to accomplish in this exciting hobby during the new year.

1. Continue Building the Carthaginian Army
I have had an absolute blast planning, painting and gaming the Carthaginian army of the Second Punic War during 2012 and this will certainly continue in 2013. This project has some great momentum and I have big plans for the Carthaginians - some of the units I will be trying to paint in the upcoming year for this army includes Spanish infantry, Spanish cavalry, Gallic infantry, Numidian cavalry, Libyan infantry and certainly more elephants!

2. Get Back to the English Civil War Project, Slowly
This is not the most important project on my table currently, but it is one that I enjoy very much. I have a good number of Scottish miniatures waiting to be painted and I need to get a few units completed and then try to find somebody that will game with me in this historical period. For 2013 I will continue to focus on the Highlanders and if I have time I'd like to do some of the Irish units as well. One of my biggest challenges (and learning experiences) for 2012 was the painting of all those tartans. You can also count on me designing and making available several new ECW Scottish Royalist flags during 2013.

3. New Project: Republican Romans
I have decided to begin an army of Republican Romans sometime in 2013 for several reasons. First, I want to game more frequently and if I can provide both sides of the battle then that becomes much easier, allowing me to play at home with my wife, my brother or my son. Second, there are a lot of very sexy looking Roman miniatures out there that I would just love to paint. Third, having been doing so much research, studying and reading for this period of history recently, I think it would be nice to complete the circle and discover the other side of the conflict. Now, a big benefit of doing all of this in combination with my Carthaginian army will be the flexibility that the allied units will provide me - peoples such as the Spanish, the Gauls, and the Numidians can be used as either enemies or allies for both the Carthaginians or the Romans. That is going to get fun.

4. New Project: The Fictional Land of Stalfeney
This is the big one and it is something that I have been contemplating and wanting to do for quite awhile. In 2013 my brother and I will be designing, creating and gaming the fictional Dark Age land of Stalfeney. This will be a very organic process as we develop and create the geography, history, maps, folklore, religions, iconography and conflicts of the people of this land. We will be using the fantastic Dark Age miniatures that are currently available from many companies to represent the peoples of Stalfeney and our current plan is to use the Dux Bellorum rules for the games. After some early and high-level creation of the lore and back-story and the painting of some initial figures, we will begin a long campaign game to play out the world. This is a long-term project that will require a lot of work and creativity, so we are not going to rush it, but you will certainly see updates on this project from time to time here on the blog.

5. New Project: The Livonian War
This is a project I am very keen to get started as I have a very strong background and interest in Russian history. This project will be the lowest priority of those listed above for now, but I will certainly do some planning and research and possibly picking up some suitable miniatures in 2013.

I am looking forward to 2013. New Year everybody!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Spanish Scutarii: WIP No.1

Whenever I begin a new unit I like to paint two or three figures slowly and one at a time to get a good sense for the colors, the models and the process for getting them to look they way I see them in my head. Once I get them to a place I am happy with I can then start painting several at a time (usually six) to speed up the process.

These are the first three models of Spanish Scutarii that I painted for the upcoming units. I want to give the Spanish units of the army quite a bit of  variety in their individual appearances, so I will use several different colors of green for the tunics and trim, a few different shades of tan for the head cloths and a mix of orange and black for the plumes. All the shields will be hand painted using a wide selection of patterns in black, orange and white.

As you can see in the background of this photo, I have many more of these to paint - but they are rather fun and paint up nicely and quickly.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Visit From a Secret Santa!

I was excited to open the gift from my Secret Santa today... it has been sitting under my Christmas tree for several weeks tempting me to take an early peek. All I can say is wow! My Secret Santa was very generous! I am thrilled to have received several command figures for my Carthaginian army including Gallic and Iberian chieftains and some Carthaginian veteran leadership. These are all from Relic Miniatures and I can hardly wait to get some of these painted and onto the game table. Whoever my Secret Santa is out there, I thank you very, very much - these are perfect!

Even more than receiving a gift, I was thrilled to be a Secret Santa. I am pretty sure I found some things to give that the person on the receiving end will be pretty happy with - I'm going to pop over to their blog and see if there is an update. :)

Also a big thank you to Ian and his wife Cath for organizing the Secret Santa exchange for us bloggers. It was a fantastic idea and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Secret Santa Gifts!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas!

A quick post to wish everybody a very happy and joyous Christmas. This has been a fantastic year for me personally, and for this I am extremely grateful. Best wishes to everybody that reads this little blog - I hope your holiday season is filled with laughter and love and that you are able to spend it with those that are most dear to you. I also hope Santa brings you some wonderful toys to play with. :)

Merry Christmas everybody and thanks for visiting.

~ Jonathan

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hannibal & His Horse

Hannibal, supreme commander of the mighty Carthaginian army, enjoys a rare moment of solitude and comfort beneath a large shade tree. Perhaps he is surveying the readiness of the army as it marches toward the day's destination. Perhaps he is awaiting the coming of a Gallic chieftain or other envoy to discuss alliance and terms. Perhaps he is watching the construction of mighty siege works that will bring down the walls of yet another city that was foolish enough to turn him away. But for now it is quiet, and he finds himself thinking of both the past and the future....


Originally, I had planned to populate Hannibal's command stand with other interesting characters - a Greek historian, a standard bearer and even other decorated army commanders. A scene of war and preparation, perhaps a council. But after painting the models I thought the scene you see here more appropriate. Hannibal is alone beneath a tree, his shield propped up against the tree trunk while his horse waits patiently nearby . A scene of temporary peace and introspection amidst war and chaos.

The painting and construction of command stands has become my favorite part of this hobby. It offers a chance to construct a scene and to tell a story. I hope you like this one of Hannibal and his horse.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Iberian Scutarii Have Arrived!

I have just received 50+ Iberian Scutarii, including a Chieftain, commanders, musicians and standard bearers, to be used as allies in my Carthaginian army. All figures are from Relic Miniatures and look to be extremely well sculpted with very interesting poses. My plan is to paint two full units of Spanish Scutarii with these figures and then in the future circle back and do more of these as I increase the number of units in the army.

My only issue now is finding a window of opportunity to get these primed and ready for painting at the end of December!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"The Masters" Brush Cleaner

As hobbyists, we absolutely punish our brushes. Show them some love and respect by keeping them clean and conditioned the proper way. I highly recommend using The Masters brush cleaner. I have been using this product for nearly a year now and have seen incredible results. My sable bushes have maintained their original shape and point, the bristles remain soft and supple without splitting and the brushes are lasting a very, very long time. This is a great way to extend the life of your brushes with very little expense.

It is simple to use. After a full painting session simply wet your brushes in warm water and then lather them in the cream and rinse. Easy enough to do after every painting session. I have tried many products, but this is the most respected and recommended brush cleaner available and I have loved it.

The brushes we use make a critical difference in the quality and enjoyment of our painting - don't neglect them.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The General Hannibal Barca

This is Hannibal Barca, general and supreme commander of the Carthaginian army during the Second Punic War against the Romans. His name, Hanba'al in his Punic language, means Mercy of Ba'al. He is widely considered the greatest strategist and military commander of all time - although when asked by his rival Scipio to list the greatest military commanders, Hannibal is said to have responded by naming Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus and then himself.

This is a Relic miniature that was an absolute joy to paint. The amazing detail, the fabulous pose and the quality of the sculpt made this figure an instant favorite of mine. I hope I did it justice. I had originally thought to use a white and purple color palette, but in the end I decided to go with a more dramatic black and red palette which I think worked very well.

Hannibal will be placed on a command stand with some other figures and will be the general of my Carthaginian army for Hail Caesar.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Book Review: The Warrior of Rome Series

Marcus Clodius Ballista. The name alone is enough to get the blood flowing and the heart racing. A Germanic barbarian, now Roman citizen, soldier and commander in the Imperial Army. He is a  bad-ass, make no mistake about it.

The Warrior of Rome series is written by Harry Sidebottom, an Oxford lecturer on Ancient history. The series (now four books) tells the remarkable story of Ballista rising through the ranks of the third century Roman army while fighting the Sassanid Persians, other Romans, Barbarian hordes and his own ghosts from the past. The books are a perfect balance between the fictional details surrounding Ballista and the real history of the time. I could not put these books down and they are a true inspiration (and motivation) for anybody wargaming in this era.

If you enjoy intrigue, togas, gladiators, treachery, midnight raids, barbarians, siege warfare, civil war, assassinations, horse chases, strategic debacles, Roman politics, betrayal, loyalty, bloody combat, narrow escapes, sacrifices, frenzied battle-lines, daring rescues, religious zealots or Roman military life then these books are a must read.

Highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Mugs From Which I Drink

This is a silly post really. Inspiration from Simon at BigRedBatCave - his post made me smile.

While I am working on my painting I can usually be found drinking from one of these two mugs - depending on the time of day and my general mood at the time. The Raven mug is for my coffee and was purchased from a very talented artist at the local Renaissance Fair. The Stag tankard holds my harder drinks - my preference being delicious ciders.

Coffee goes here.

Cider goes here.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ligurian Slingers Completed

After a couple weeks of hectic travel, I was finally able to get all eight of the Ligurian slingers painted and fully based. I decided to base them two figures on a 60mm x 40mm base rather than placing single model on a much smaller base. This is much more pleasing to me aesthetically and they still look and feel like skirmishers in my opinion.

It is interesting (and timely)  that I picked up the most recent copy of Ancient Warfare magazine at the newsstand yesterday and it contains a fantastic article on slingers that I recommend. Some of the key points:
  1. These ancient slingers were not stooping down and picking up rocks to use as ammunition. They had custom made lead or clay bullets that were shaped like an American football to aid in distance and accuracy.
  2. Bullets from a sling can be so deadly, even to men wearing armor and helmets, that Julius Caesar in his Civil Wars describes how some Pompeian soldiers wore wicker "baskets" over their helmets to cushion the blow of a slingshot.
  3. The sling is barely mentioned in Homer's Iliad, due to the lowly character of the sling and the perceived dishonor and disgrace of killing an enemy from a distance at the time.
I hope you enjoy these. Models are 28mm by Relic Miniatures.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

My Hail Caesar Tokens

Playing Hail Caesar requires certain record keeping be done for each unit on the table. This can be accomplished in many creative ways or by simply using the handy pencil and paper. I like to keep my gaming tables fairly neat and tidy, and so piles of loose and sloppy bits scattered about to count or indicate states of units is generally unwelcome. I don't have the time right now (hey, I'm painting an army here!) to create markers using wounded or dead soldier figures, and so I have simply created a set of my own small tokens to be used in games. The larger tokens are only 20mm in diameter and the smaller tokens just 15mm - all made using the bases from Warbases.

The red tokens are the sum of casualties on the unit, the grey token indicates that a unit has been disordered and the yellow token indicates that the unit has been shaken.

Monday, December 3, 2012

What is Next for the Army of Carthage?

Since I am travelling all this week I have zero time to paint, however I do have plenty of time to think about painting and specifically what I want to be painting next for my Carthaginian army.

I am a bit of an anomaly when it comes to wargamers - I do not have a big pile of miniatures stored away in bins or on shelves, purchased at shows for bargain or collected over the years to haul out and paint on a whim. Sure, I have the spare figure or unit here and there, but I purchase figures for my projects in small batches - a unit here or there. I paint what I have and then I evaluate the state of the project and where it is according to the loose "map" I have in my head of how the army should look, function and perform.

I should get the Ligurian slingers painted up and based fairly quickly this weekend, leaving the army with the following composition:

  • 2 standard units Carthaginian heavy infantry
  • 1 standard unit of Carthaginian heavy cavalry
  • 1 small unit of Ligurian slingers (skirmish)
  • 1 elephant
  • 1 command stand

I need to decide what to purchase and paint next for this wonderful army. Some of what I am thinking about:

1. Libyan Infantry
As an exception to what I said above, I actually own 24 Libyan spearmen that came as part of my original Gripping Beast army bundle. So, on the plus side, these models are in my possession and are just waiting for some nice painting. On the negative, these are not all that different in appearance (they wear linen armor rather than chain shirts) or in their poses from the Carthaginian veterans that I have already painted, so it might get a little boring. They do carry the nice big round shields though.

2. Spanish Infantry
The Spanish infantry played a critical role in the formations and strategies of Hannibal, and so I am eager to add several of these important Spanish Scutarii units to the army. Relic miniatures has some fantastic figures that I look forward to painting - I only wish that they carried the sword (gladius hispaniensis) rather than a spear, at least in some numbers.

3. Gallic Infantry
Some units of these colorful characters would be an absolute joy to paint, but it would also be slow since I would most likely paint each and every model in a unique way, and I am a slowish painter already. All of those colorful trousers, stripes, patterns and decorations would be slow going. Right now, I think these can wait as I am trying to build up the number of units completed - but I am looking forward to them. Like a delicious desert.

4. Skirmishers
More light infantry skirmishers, perhaps Numidian. These are quick and fun to paint and would add some good character and flexibility to the army.

As you can see, I have several directions I could go. I have left out cavalry simply because I need to get more infantry units painted and on the table before I can start thinking about additional mounted units.

I know which direction I am currently leaning. Do you have any thoughts on what the next unit should be?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Punic War Elephant

Hannibal deployed his Baleric and light-armed troops, some 8,000 men, before the standards, and behind them he placed his heavier infantry, which represented the real strength and kernel of his forces. On the wings he set 10,000 cavalry and, dividing his elephants in two groups, added these to the wings as well.
~ Livy XXI, 55

The Carthaginians were first introduced to the war elephant while fighting Pyrrhus in Sicily during their short visit there in 278. By 262, the Carthaginians had acquired their own war elephants, and in a sense, were addicted to incorporating these unreliable and unpredictable beasts into their military arsenal from that time forward. Instead of of the grand Indian elephants used by their Hellenistic forerunners, the Carthaginians were forced to use the smaller, and now extinct, African forest elephant. African elephants were particularly unreliable in battle, often turning on their own side with devastating results when panicked or wounded. In an attempt to prevent this, their drivers carried a metal spike which they were expected to plunge into the soft nape of the elephant's neck with a mallet when they had lost control of their charges.

The war elephant was used by the Carthaginian army with some success during the First Punic War and in later campaigns in Spain and Northern Africa. For the Barcids the elephant became an emblem of their power on the Iberian peninsula:  its image appears on many high-value coins minted under the authority of Hansdrubal and Hannibal. The war elephant was also seen as a bridge between the military aspirations of the Barcid clan and the great Hellenistic tradition of which these beasts and long been a symbol. The war elephant brought some traditional validity to their military and their great campaigns

The elephants employed by the Carthaginians were smaller than the Indian elephants used by the Hellenistic kings (African forest elephants measured about 8 feet high at the shoulders while the Asian species often exceeded 10 feet) and so had to be used in a different manner. There is much debate on exactly how Hannibal used his elephants while on military campaign, other than as a way to simply intimidate the enemy. Recent research does show, in contradiction to previously held views, that Hannibal's smaller African forest elephants may have carried a howdah with soldiers, just as their larger Indian cousins had done.

Below is my recently completed Carthaginian war elephant. The figures are by Gripping Beast and are excellent as always. The soldier standing with the spear was originally intended to ride inside the howdah, but for this scene I preferred to have him standing on the ground next to the elephant. I also added a supply of extra spears to the howdah, which I thought to be reasonable. I am very pleased with the results.