Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Day in Pompeii

I had the great pleasure of visiting the A Day in Pompeii exhibit currently being shown at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I had been looking forward to seeing this exhibit since it opened and I was not disappointed.

The first half of this beautiful exhibit focuses on the everyday life of Romans living in Pompeii at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius (AD 79). Furniture, cooking, commerce, clothing, luxuries, fishing and family life were all examined and in some detail. I already have a very healthy respect for the Romans and what they accomplished, and this exhibit only reinforced that and displayed some items (like portable barbecues for example) that reminded me that they were not all that different from us today.

The second half of the exhibit focused on the catastrophic eruption of the volcano Vesuvius and what that must have been like for the inhabitants of the city. A very well done video reproduction showed the events as they may have transpired during that fateful day that began with a beautiful sunrise but ended with the city demolished and buried in ash. A very emotional display of body casts of some of the victims were on display that captured their last moments: husbands holding wives, young girls clinging to one another, men covering their mouths to avoid suffocation. I took photos of many artifacts in the exhibit, but I could not, out of respect, take photos of these casts although many people were doing so.

I was really captivated by the design motifs and colors used in Roman decoration.

A outdoor garden fresco.

The decoration on a table.

a garden fresco.

Roman dice. The set on the right are loaded.

Galdiator helm.

Gladiator greaves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Skirmishers on the Work Table

The Carthaginian army was a mass of humanity that was extremely diverse in language, dress, custom and nationality. With the core of my Carthaginian Liby-Phoenician units completed, I wanted to bring some of this diversity, national flavor, and character to my army. I was able to get a good start on a unit of Ligurian slingers this weekend, and since I will be travelling all of next week, I wanted to post up a couple quick work-in-progress photos. These figures are by Relic Miniatures.

No more bronze armor or spears. No more drilled formations or oval shields. These men walked on to the fierce and bloody battlefields wearing nothing more than simple linen tunics and carrying a bag of stones. But, from what I have read, they were extremely accurate and extremely deadly. The stones would have been nearly impossible for an enemy to see coming and they traveled with such force they would shatter limbs, shields and armor. They were a devastating piece of the ancient armies, especially in the early stages of a battle.

I am painting these skirmishers to be beleaguered, dirty and worn - as I imagine they must have been.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Paying it Forward

A thousand thanks to The Monkey that Walks for nominating this blog for a Liebster award! It is a nice thing to know that people appreciate the site, the painting and even some of the words that go along with it all. I hope there is much more quality to come.

The Liebster awards are making their rounds in the blog circles as a creative way to showcase high-quality blogs with a following of less than two-hundred. Once nominated, you must then nominate five blogs to receive the award themselves.

I am nominating the following five blogs based on the sheer quality and volume of inspiration they provide. These are the sites that showcase such superb work that it simply makes me want to improve and become a better painter or to get bigger and better armies on the table. In no particular order:

Army Royal
The modelling, conversions and painting that Stuart puts up on his blog are absolutely gorgeous. He works primarily with 28mm renaissance figures and I fall in love with each and every one he posts.

Project Auldearn 1645
When I began my own English Civil War project, this is the site that had me drooling and dreaming of what my own Scottish army could look like one day. The hand-crafted flags are amazing and the tartans are unequaled by anything I have seen.

Dulce et Decorum Est
Aaron has been my foe on the gaming table on many occasions. His blog is eclectic and covers everything from Romans to Science Fiction, Lord of the Rings to World War II. His painting is always an inspiration as is his passion for the hobby and the fun he brings to our group.

Italian Wars Flags
This is just pure, undiluted eye candy. This site covers the Italian Wars with the emphasis on the flags and heraldry associated with that conflict. These are absolutely stunning and the painting is top-notch as well. I always look forward to a new post by Pete.

Watch That Flank!
Craig over at Watch That Flank! paints some stunning ancients that never fail to inspire me to do better. I admire his subtle use of color and the color palettes he chooses for his units are always amazing and well thought out. Don't miss this site!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

African Forest Elephant

This is the recently painted African Forest Elephant carrying a howdah for my Carthaginian army. It is a two-part model from Gripping Beast that includes a resin body and a metal trunk. As you can see, I didn't do the best job with the Green Stuff at the join where the trunk meets the head - I have never been very good at using that stuff and should really work at improving. The kit also contains a crew (to be painted next) of two Liby-Phoenician infantry with spears and an African with a mallet and spike to ride on the elephant's neck.

The inspiration for the blanket is taken from a painting of Hannibal on an elephant with his army that currently hangs on the walls of the Palazzo dei Conservatori at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.

I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nifty Paint Organizer

I have been searching for a smart way to organize my numerous paint pots and finally get them off my painting table where they eventually become scattered all over the place. Many blogs have suggested a few solutions and I have seen some advertised on places like eBay, but for whatever reason, I just didn't like any of them.

And then my smart wife suggested looking at the little kitchen drawer organizers for coffee pods used in home brewing systems. Brilliant! I recommend the Nifty Solutions 54 Coffee Pod Drawer. This is a perfect for holding the paint pods made by by Games Workshop (Citadel) and will store 90 of these per unit. I bought two at the local Bed Bath & Beyond while shopping for a potato ricer and a shower caddy. Win on all accounts.

The drawer is made of black metal, it looks sharp, and it is easy to organize and find the paints. My table has never looked better.

The Nifty coffee pod organizer is perfect for paints.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Battle Report: Rome Stands for Now

I played a very, very enjoyable game with Aaron yesterday against his fantastic Roman army. Aaron is always a ton of fun to play against and always plays a very, very good strategic game. As this was the very first time either of us had played using the Hail Caesar rules, we kept it both small and simple. Each of us brought three standard sized units to the battle: Carthage with two heavy infantry units and one heavy cavalry unit and Rome with three heavy infantry units and two pieces of artillery (wait a minute!!). To keep it simple we played with zero terrain and on a table size that would see us engaged in hand-to-hand fighting on the first turn. Even though each of us had read the rules a couple of times, we spent a lot of time discussing rules and flipping through the rule book during the game.

We deployed directly across from each other, off-set by a small amount. The Roman cohorts advanced on the first turn, each ordered to march toward a single opposing Carthaginian unit. The Carthaginian cavalry, eager as ever, was able to move a very large distance on the first turn and smashed into a unit of Roman veterans. The Roman's dignitas held however (which would be a theme for the rest of the day) and the charge was repelled and followed-up by a vicious Romans pursuit of the horse. Eventually, with the help of an infantry unit, the Carthaginian cavalry was able to respond and destroy the Roman veterans.

The game proceeded from there with some fairly standard hand-to-hand combat, some flanking and some orders sent by commanders that were not obeyed. The battle turned when the Carthaginian infantry and cavalry were in a position to charge the Romans and pin them, however the messenger sent by the commander must have been captured or killed as neither unit moved. That failure resulted in the cavalry being nearly surrounded and eventually destroyed. There was no recovering.

A single unit of Carthaginians held out but was eventually destroyed. Victory for the Romans on this day.

Thought on the Rules
I really enjoyed Hail Caesar rules. We stumbled through them as best we could, and looking back there are several things we played in error (like initiative moves and counter-charges for example), but it was a learning experience and we had fun. Next time we will do better now that we have a game under our belts. I really like the command structure of the game and the giving of verbal orders to units (there could be some fun had here!). And while commands not being received played a fairly large role in our small game, I think it works well. I also really like the follow-on by the winners of the fight. The ability to press the matter home and pursue foes really made for a dynamic experience. One thing about Hail Caesar, you roll a lot of dice in some of these fights - which isn't always a bad thing, but make sure you have a bag full! It was also fairly evident that the game would thrive on a very large table (it is possible for infantry to move 18" in a single turn) and with a lot of units deployed.

I took a lot of photos during the battle since this was the first time either army had seen action and they looked great together in battle. Enjoy!

The Carthaginians advance.

The commander conducts the operations for a safe distance.

The Roman cohorts are in a frenzy and ready for battle.

The clash of shield and spear.

The Veterans of the Azure Shield press the Romans.

The Romans certainly had the larger horns on this day.

The Carthaginian cavalry stuck in it after not receiving proper orders.

Romans were able to gain the flank and press the advantage.

The veterans of Carthage attempt to hold.

The fighting was vicious and bloody for both sides.

The last stand of the Carthaginians. A Roman victory!

Friday, November 16, 2012

On the Eve of Battle

"Do not imagine that victory will be as difficult as the fame of the war might suggest. Often an underrated enemy has put up a bloody fight, and famous peoples and kings have been defeated with little effort. For set aside this one thing, the shining name of Rome, and how are they compared with you? I say nothing of the twenty years you have served with the valour and success for which you are famous. Now you have come to this place, triumphant, from the Pillars of Hercules, and from the Ocean and the bounds of the earth, passing through all the most violent tribes of Spain and Gaul. You will fight against an inexperienced army that was massacred, beaten, and blockaded by Gauls this very summer, an army that its commander does not know and which does not know its commander...

"Wherever my eyes have fallen I see courage and strength: a veteran infantry; cavalry, with and without bridles, drawn from tribes of noble spirit; you our allies, loyal and brave; and you Carthaginians, who will not only fight for your country, but fight also with righteous indignation. We are on the offensive; we are going down to attack Italy. We shall fight all the more boldly and courageously -- as the invader we have higher hopes, and greater morale, than the defender. In addition, our hearts are afire and spurred on by resentment, by our unjust treatment, and by humiliation....

"But you, you must be men of courage. You must set aside as absolutely hopeless any result between victory and death, and either win, or if fortunes waver, meet your end in battle rather than in flight. If you are all firmly resolved on this and if it is fixed in your minds, then -- I shall say it again -- you are already victors. Man has been given by immortal gods no sharper an incentive to conquer than indifference to death."


Those are the words of Hannibal to his army on the banks of the river Po just prior to engaging the Roman army of Publius Cornelius Scipio. The words were written by the historian Livy, and while they are certainly not the exact words spoken by Hannibal, they may be near to what was said, if not in actual words, than in spirit.

Tomorrow, my small Carthaginian army will be on the gaming table for the first time against a formidable Roman enemy. I am extremely excited about this. We will be playing using the Hail Caesar rules, which will also be a first for me. So, a battle report and photos will be coming soon,  and hopefully news of a glorious Carthaginian victory -- but as Hannibal said in his speech, if victory cannot be found, then we will die in battle rather than flee!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry

"The ways of the gods are slow, but in the end their power is shown."

- Euripides, Ion, 1615

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Most Beautiful Model in the World

After experiencing the high quality of Relic Miniatures with their models of Ligurian slingers, I purchased the Hannibal model and I can honestly say that it is the most detailed and beautifully sculpted figure I have ever seen. The set includes Hannibal standing in a regal pose with his cloak draped over one arm, a beautiful and majestic steed, and a model of Hannibal riding. I am planning on having Hannibal standing next to the horse rather than mounted for his command base.

The figures are made of pewter and have some striking details like the crescent moon symbol on the horse's straps, a decorative motif on Hannibal's helmet and armor, and the ring worn on Hannibal's finger. Where other models are often clumsy and monstrous, this figure from Relic is refined and delicate. The proportions of both the horse and Hannibal's are absolutely perfect.

I couldn't be happier with this model and I am very much looking forward to hopefully doing it justice when I begin painting.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Dear [secret] Santa

Ian, the boss over at The Blog With No Name, has organized a secret Santa event for bloggers this holiday season. This should be loads of fun and I am looking forward to finding that "oh this is perfect" gift for the person I have drawn. Ian suggested that those participating throw up a quick wish-list to give our secret Santa some ideas for the gift giving, so here it goes (it is always nice to feel like you are age seven again!)

1. Carthaginian Veteran Command by Relic Miniatures
2. Gallic Chieftain by Relic Miniatures
3. Anything from Eureka's line of Montrose Irish, including the characters like the priest, drummer and standard bearer.

Hope that helps.

This weekend will see me completing the Carthaginian cavalry unit. Work has been a nightmare, so I am very much looking forward to some relaxation and painting.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Carthaginian Cavalry Commander

This is the completed commander for the Carthaginian heavy cavalry unit. This was an incredibly fun figure to paint because of the armor, plumage, flowing cape, and a great pose. The shield's design of a crescent moon above the sun is taken from the symbology of the goddess Tanit, which was the god held to be most important to Carthage.

The full unit should be completed later this week.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ligurian Slingers by Relic Miniatures

I have had my eye on the complete line of Relic miniatures for quite some time now, but I have only recently placed on order for some of these gorgeous figures. With my Carthaginian army progressing nicely (the heavy cavalry should be done soon), I needed to get some more models onto my worktable to paint and so I pulled the trigger on some Ligurian slingers. My intent is to begin to flush out some of the allies of Carthage and this will allow me to add some light skirmishers to the force.

The miniatures arrived just five days after I ordered them, which was a very pleasant surprise since I have become accustomed to waiting for three to four weeks for orders shipped from England (Relic Miniatures is located in Canada). The figures were very carefully and professionally packaged.

These figures are stunning, well sculpted, and full of great detail (even for bearded guys in simple tunics). There is very little flash that needs to be removed and there are absolutely no flaws or casting errors. They feel lighter than other miniatures that I am used to holding, which may be do to their overall slenderness or it may be because of the alloy used in the casting. The proportions of the figures are excellent.

The price of the Relic miniatures is not insignificant - these slingers cost about $2.00 per model, but for now I am happy that I have them in my hand and there is a very high probability that I will be ordering more of their products in the very near future.