Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A New Chapter Begins: Roman Velites

And so a new chapter begins. After working on the Carthaginians for the better part of eight months, it was nice to turn the page, even temporarily, and start fresh on a new army. The package containing the Aventine Romans arrived at my house on Saturday and I began preparing them for painting right away. There was very little flash or casting lines that needed to be cleaned up and so this was a very simple matter - for comparison, the Aventine figures were much nicer to work with than the Gripping Beast figures (which were bad at times) but not quite as clean as the Relic miniatures I have worked with.

On first picking up the Aventine Romans I couldn't help but think "Dang, these guys are huge!". But when I did an actual comparison to the Gripping Beast and Relic models the heights are almost exactly the same. The difference is in the bulk of the Aventine models and the proportions of the head and feet. Aventine goes big on these parts of the figure and so it give the appearance of a very large Roman! Once they are all painted and based as complete units I don't think they will look out of place at all on the gaming table facing off against my Carthaginians.

Since this is the start of a totally new army, I wanted to do some things differently, branch out, explore and learn. I went to the game store yesterday and bought a pile of some very nice new paint colors to force me out of my comfort zone and to stop using the same colors and techniques that I have been using this past year. What good is a new project if it doesn't allow you to grow and learn?

First up is the Velites. I have a total of eight of these that will make up two small units of skirmishers. Last night I was able to paint the flesh, tunics and helmets on these four.

I am having a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Ancient Building Painted

I finished this ancient building from GrandManner over the weekend. It was a lot more work than I had anticipated - it really is quite difficult to get the details right at this larger size. The weathering of the wood and all of the different stones took a lot of time and many layers to finally get them to a place that I was finally happy with. I think this will make a very nice addition to our gaming table.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Miniatures Everywhere and Not a One to Paint

What is supposed to be beautiful spring weather has instead been a week of blizzards, bitter winds and freezing temperatures. I had the best intentions to get several small items primed for painting early this week including the ancient buildings, a beautiful Carthaginian officer on horse and a Celt or two - but alas, I am left with nothing to paint until the weather improves later this week. I find myself wandering up to the painting table like a sad puppy.

The good news is the Republican Romans should be arriving any day now, so that will give me plenty to do. I have also ordered eight really fabulous Steampunk miniatures that I am getting excited to paint as the beginnings of an independent adventuring company for In Her Majesty's Name. More on those when they arrive....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

At Long Last, A Victory for Carthage

Yesterday saw the monthly Hail Caesar battle between the armies of Carthage and Rome. Aaron was kind enough to host the game at his house on a large table set up in his living room which was very fun. Our armies have grown considerably over the last few months and this battle was our largest yet and the most interesting from a strategic point-of-view. The game had moments of panic, twists of fate and some ferocious fighting at the center. At the end of the day, Hannibal displayed great acumen and was able to organize his troops and lead them to a rousing victory.

Hannibal organized his battle lines with his most trusted veterans holding the center supported by the Libyan infantry. To his right flank was his brother Mago, commanding a unit of Spanish Scutarii, a war elephant and the Liby-Phoenician cavalry. Positioned on the left flank was the irritable Hasdrubal and his Numidian cavalry, a second war elephant and a single unit of Spanish. As the morning fog lifted, the Romans emerged - infantry at their center, archers and Numidians to the Carthaginians right and auxiliaries to the left. A single Scorpion was placed atop a hill ready to strike down those that got too near.

The lines on both sides stood and waited. The Roman-allied Numidians suddenly broke from their position and in a cloud of dust raced quickly across the front of the entire Roman line. A gap had been spotted in the Carthaginian left flank and the Romans were quick to exploit it with swift horses and the advance of their auxiliary units. This left flank would prove crucial to the outcome of the battle. Hasdrubal, seeing his error, ordered the Numidians to meet the Romans in a small canyon and to halt their advance. Meanwhile, those Numidians allied with the Romans raced past the skirmish and found themselves suddenly behind the Carthaginian lines, ready to cause havoc. The loyal Spanish lifted their shields and wheeled to meet the unexpected challenge, intent on holding the critical left flank.

On the right flank the Carthaginians were lethargic. Mago failed to rouse his troops to action and in fact, several terrible blunders occurred which resulted in his cavalry fleeing the battle and the mighty war elephant to unexpectedly leave its position and charge toward the enemy in a frenzy. The elephant and its crew were wounded, but the elephant was skillfully returned to the Carthaginian line without too much disruption. Meanwhile the Roman archers crept off to the shores of a small nearby lake hoping to inflict woulds on any advancing enemy while being protected by the marshes and reeds. The Romans on the right flank were unable to take advantage of the Carthaginian blunders due to very poor command rolls. Seeing the inaction of the Romans, Hannibal commanded Mago to abandon the right flank entirely and bring his troops toward the center and away from the lake.

Back on the volatile left flank the fighting was fierce. In the end the Romans auxiliaries and the Roman allied Numidian were either destroyed or sent to flight. Not only was the Carthaginian left flank now secure, but it was free of the enemy and open for a quick advance and flanking maneuver  Hannibal, who had held his eager but disciplined veterans back while chaos was enveloping both flanks, finally ordered the advance at the center. The Ligurian slingers, normally so reliable and formidable on the field, were of little consequence as they were scattered by the artillery and advancing Romans - and so it would be heavy infantry clashing with heavy infantry to decide the outcome. Some strong shields and decisive moves by Hannibal saw one unit of veterans supported by the valiant Spanish punch a hole through the Roman lines. These units then circled back - the veterans moving to their left and the Spanish moving to their right and attacking the rear of the Romans who were already engage, trapping them and leading to the destruction of the Romans.

The game lasted about three hours and was extremely enjoyable. We are still plagued with a very, very high number of failed command rolls during our games which is leading to some frustration for both of us. It isn't that one side gains an advantage because of this as it is happening to both of us, but we would rather not have our armies standing around doing nothing, especially when their are strategic decisions that we cannot carry out in a timely manner and so miss the opportunities. We have decided for the next game to up all of our command values by one to see if that helps.

Below are some photos for the game, I hope you enjoy them.

The initial deployment.

The eager Romans.

The Carthaginian center. The teeth of the army.

Numidians holding the left flank.

The left flank is bloody.

One last charge by the Romans sees them destroyed.

The war elephant frenzies and charges the Romans alone.

The left flank battle is drawn.

The heroic Spanish that stopped the Roman advance.

The center of the field.

Carthaginian veterans push forward.

Mago Barcid surveys the battle.

Libyan heavy infantry move to support the battle lines.

The decisive break through the Roman center.

The hole in the center is visible, allowing the Carthaginians
to surround the Romans.

The new Libyan infantry served well.

The enemy is trapped.

Finishing the job...

Hannibal is pleased as he watches the victory.

Romans stand against the war elephant.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Libyan Heavy Infantry Completed

I have spent some late nights this week finishing up this unit of Libyans for a great and mighty battle against the Romans on Saturday. I very much like how they turned out and I am looking forward to bringing them to bear against our mortal enemies. This is my first full unit of models with their weapons in the resting and upright position - I rather enjoy this look for a few units on the table plus it had the fabulous side effect that I don't have to worry so much about knocking a spear loose during a game since I was able to glue them at two points (hand and base) for added durability. All the figures are from Gripping Beast.

The Libyan heavy infantry was the backbone of Hannibal's army and this unit will be very difficult for our enemies to deal with as they have several special rules in Hail Caesar that give them some real strength:
  • Long Spears: Charging cavalry disordered on D6 roll of 1, 2 or 3. Charging units lose their charge bonus (except other units with long spears or pikes).
  • Phalanx: Lost combats up to 2 count as draws until the unit is shaken.
  • Tough Fighters: Re-roll one missed hand-to-hand combat attack.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Romans are Coming!

After a couple months of planning and continued work on getting the Carthaginians to a respectable place, I have finally placed the order for the beginning of a Republican Roman army. My goal, after wrapping up the Libyan infantry this week, is to jump right into the Romans and build them up to a roughly equal force as my current Carthaginian army. Once I have done that, I will incrementally build both sides with the ultimate goal of fighting a campaign with the two armies as well as some of the larger battles of the Second Punic War.

The figures I ordered yesterday are entirely from Aventine Miniatures and they will essentially comprise half the infantry of a single Legion. Initially, I was not enamored with the sculpts from Aventine as I thought them to be a little cartoonish in their proportion and facial expressions. However, every time I have seen them painted and based they look absolutely fantastic and that was enough to convince me to place the order.

I ordered the following figures:
 1X  RR001   Velites with wolf fur
 1X  RR002   Velites in helmets
 2X  RR31   Hastati in pectoral armor advancing
 2X  RR32   Hastati with swords advancing
 1X  RR34   Advancing Command 1 (Hastati)
 1X  RR35   Advancing Command 2 (Hastati)
 1X  RR25   Advancing Principes with swords (walking)
 2X  RR271   Advancing Principes with swords (weight on front foot)
 2X  RR272   Advancing Principes with swords (weight on back foot)
 2X  RR24a   Principe command set
 2X  RR10   Triarii standing wearing muscled cuirass
 1X  RR17   Triarii in Roman chainmail 2
 1X  RR14   Triarii command in bronze armours
 1X  RR51   Senior command and cavlaryman with dead horse

I chose to go primarily with figures for the Hastati and Principes that are armed with swords with just a few armed with pila mixed in for variation and some flavor.

Customer service thus far from Aventine has been top-notch and speedy. I placed this order yesterday afternoon at 1:32 PM and I received an email this morning at 6:25 AM letting me know that my order has already shipped and should arrive in five days. Based on my experience with some other companies, I was expecting it to take much longer than that.

I am really looking forward to getting started!

Advancing Principes (Aventine Miniatures)

Senior Command (Aventine Miniatures)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Still Making Progress...

It has been a busy week for me hobby-wise but not a lot of actual painting got done. I am still making some progress on the Libyan infantry and I should have them completed and based for the Big Game next weekend. So what have I been doing this week?
  • Received and read several new titles from Osprey Publishing that cover the Republican Romans as well as the armies of Muscovy and Ivan IV (the Terrible).
  • Researched the Livonian War in great depth and began looking for manufacturers that make suitable miniatures. Not sure when this project will actually happen, but I like thinking about it.
  • Compiled my order from Aventine Miniatures for a legion of the Roman Republic.
  • Read the Hail Caesar rules again because I'm sure I am getting rusty and will forget all the important stuff next weekend.
  • Prepared the new ancient buildings for priming today.
The photo below shows the progress on the Libyan heavy infantry. These are the final eight soldiers to finish (you can see the already completed nine in the background). Then it is just the unit commander to make the full unit of eighteen figures.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

GrandManner Ancient Buildings

There is nothing quite as impressive in this hobby as a beautiful and detailed gaming table on which to push our meticulously painted toy soldiers around on a grand scale. My personal terrain choices have been seriously lacking and our local games of Hail Caesar have become large and epic enough these days that the tables and terrain we have been using are starting to detract from the feel of what we are trying to accomplish. There are some things I can do to remedy this situation, and long term I have started to plan some modular terrain boards, but for step one I have purchased three very nice ancient buildings from GrandManner.

I discovered the GrandManner site quite by accident while browsing a hobby message board. I was immediately struck by the professionalism and presentation of their site (not something you often get in this hobby). Their product line is extensive and includes buildings and other terrain pieces for nearly every historical period. I immediately ordered the Single Story Large House ($31.00), the Two Story Building ($34.47) and the Medium Single Story House ($41.29).

Shipping from GrandManner was quick and efficient (but expensive, $53.69). Exactly one week after placing my order the package was dropped off at my door. The care taken in packing my order was obvious as each piece was individually wrapped in bubble-wrap and then encased in foam. They arrived without any damage. After opening the pieces, I was struck by their quality immediately. They are heavier than you would think and very well sculpted with some amazing details such as clay pottery near doorways, rugs tossed over the edge of a wall or in the middle of the room. All of the buildings have removable roofs which is a very nice touch and will make painting these much easier.

Dimensions of the buildings:
  • Single Story Large House: 5" x 3.875" x 2.5"
  • Two Story Building: 3.875" x 3.875" x 4.125"
  • Medium Single Story House: 4.75" x 5.5" x 2.875"

Overall, I couldn't be happier with my purchase. Yes, they were expensive, but I am willing to pay a premium for this type of quality and detail for something that will last me the rest of my life. These will be a lot of fun to paint and I'm looking forward to getting them on the table for an upcoming game.

GrandManner Ancient Single Story House

GrandManner Ancient Single Story House Details

GrandManner Ancient Two Story Building

GrandManner Ancient Two Story Building Details

GrandManner Ancient Medium Single Story House

GrandManner Ancient Medium Single Story House

Friday, April 5, 2013

Libyan Spearmen: WIP No.3

A productive day at home watching and listening to the baseball home opener saw me get through the painting of eight Libyan spearmen and the complete finish (touch-ups, highlights, shields and spears) of the five you see in the photo below. Our April game of Hail Caesar has been officially scheduled for the 20th, so that will give me time to get this unit completed and based properly for the battle. This is going to be a fantastic unit.

Not thirty minutes ago a package was delivered to my home from across the pond. The ancient buildings from GrandManner have arrived and all I can say is wow! I felt like a little kid ripping into that box. Look for a complete review and photos on Sunday.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Maxwell Paints a Carthaginian

I was lucky enough this past weekend to spend some time with my 11-year old son Maxwell at the painting table. He has painted a Space Marine or two last year for the heck of it, but on Saturday he really wanted to give painting a historical figure a try and so we sat elbow-to-elbow at the smallish table together painting and talking about life, school and ancient history. I really can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon.

All of the color were carefully chosen by Maxwell and I think he did a fantastic job. He is now talking about painting a small unit of these guys and basing them all together - I am all for it!