Friday, March 29, 2013

Libyan Spearmen: WIP No.2

Whew, what a week. The arrival of nice weather, some drama at the office, a wonderful evening with my wife at Monty Python's Spamalot and some extra time with my son all combined to bring my available painting time down below average this week. I was able to get a very nice start on the first unit of Libyans however and once I get rolling on these they seem to paint up rather quickly. I have never been much of an assembly-line painter but I continue to try to improve in this area while maintaining quality by painting these figures up in batches of eight.

On an exciting side-note, I have ordered three models of ancient buildings and houses from GrandManner. Once I get these painted they will really add to the terrain of our current ancient games. Plus, I have grand visions of making a terrain board that includes a walled ancient city... so at least this is a step in that direction.

Have a great weekend everybody and happy painting!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Hail Caesar Unit Reference Cards Available!

I have decided to create and share the unit reference cards I designed for several ancient army lists. These unit reference cards are designed as a quick and easy way to access the statistics and special rules for units being played during a game of Hail Caesar. These files can be printed on card stock, cut-out, and then placed in standard-sized plastic sleeves for added protection. Each individual unit card is 3.5" x 2.5".

More information and a way to download individual army files (PDF) can be found by clicking the navigation link for the Hail Caesar Unit Reference Cards found in the header.

Currently there are three files available:
  • Antigonid
  • Carthaginian
  • The Confederated Allies of Seleucus, Cassander and Lysimachus.
This list will grow as I will be adding several new army files for download, including Republican Romans, in the very near future.

The re-fight of the Battle of Ipsus at the big Adepticon conference in Chicago will be using these unit reference cards to help make the game smoother and more easily managed. I wish them luck and the game sounds fantastic!

I hope others find these cards useful in their games. If you do, let me know!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

War Elephant of Carthage and Crew

This magnificent model from Relic Miniatures is the latest addition to the Carthaginian army. Assembly of the model was fairly straight forward, but there were lots of pieces to fuss with to get it all put together correctly. It did require a fair amount of work with liquid green-stuff to smooth the seams and close some gaps. Ears and tusks could both be easily trimmed to the desired size and length. The model is completely metal, so once assembled it is a hefty piece.

It is a mighty creature that is slightly larger than the Gripping Beast elephant already in use by the Carthaginians, but together they look great on the table and should cause significant havoc within the ranks of our enemies.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Battle Report: Carthaginian Mercenary Uprising

I was finally able to play a game of Hail Caesar with my eleven-year-old son Maxwell yesterday afternoon. We have played Lord of the Rings together many times before and so he is not new to miniature gaming and he has been watching the growing Carthaginian army with great interest (He loves all things Roman and so is really pushing me to get the Republican Roman army started!).

Since we only have one army, we decided to split the Carthaginians in half and play a scenario that saw a small group of Libyan, Spanish and Numidian allies angry about not receiving their pay from the Barcids. To take matters in their own hands they foolishly decided to attack a nearby Carthaginian camp in hopes of securing some treasure.

It was a very straightforward game as I was teaching Maxwell the rules. He particularly enjoyed playing the part of the leader of the rebel band and shouting commands to each unit and then threatening them with terrible consequences when his orders were not followed!

The Numidian light cavalry saw their first action on the field and were the heroes of the day as they were able to push the Carthaginian formed cavalry entirely off the field. Their swiftness and agility, which allows them within the rules to move out of combat, is a huge asset and I'm looking forward to trying them against the stubborn Romans.

It was a very fun afternoon. Please enjoy these photos of the game:

The enemy commander Maxwell prepares the battle lines.

The mercenaries had control of a Carthaginian elephant.

Skirmishers prepare to engage.

The commander of the unhappy mercenaries looking for their pay.

The moment just prior to the lines clashing.

The Carthaginian elite guard races to secure the flank.

Lines separate and small fights break-out across he field.

The Numidians are released to engage the enemy.

Loyal veterans assaulted by the Spanish and a large elephant.

Friday, March 15, 2013

On Ancient Shield Decorations

In ancient times, it was common for soldiers and armies to decorate their shields for religious purposes, for personal tastes, or to signify organization within the larger army structure. One of the most spectacular displays one can see on a gaming table of two ancient armies (particularly Romans) locked in battle is the large number of colorful and beautifully decorated shields. Today, many hobbyists prefer to use decals or transfers that depict known or semi-fictional designs to decorate the shields of their miniature soldiers. These shields transfers include very intricate designs in which all the lines are straight and of consistent weight, the colors are uniform and the curves and circles are always of a perfect radius. Each man's shield is an exact duplication of the shield to his left and to his right. This representation of perfect shield design is also seen in books that contain popular illustrations of ancient warriors and armies. However, after looking at many of these designs closely I have to ask myself, did the shields carried by the armies of antiquity really look like that?

Of course, the shields carried by armies such as the Romans, the Gauls or the Carthaginians were not decorated by machines - these all had to be painted by hand. In the earliest times, when armies were comprised primarily of citizens and not professional soldiers, I would argue that each shield was painted by the owner using either a solid color, simple geometric patterns or a very rudimentary symbol that perhaps had religious meaning. Shields would have been a very personal piece of equipment and the armies certainly would have appeared very diverse not only in the number of different shield decorations used but in the quality of that painting. Lines would have been crooked, alignment and spacing would be inconsistent, paint quality would have lead to variations in color saturation and circles and curves would have been far from perfect. Even when individuals decided together to paint the same decorations on their shields they would have varied greatly from shield to shield in the execution of the agreed upon design. Some people would simply have been better at it than others.

Not even the most talented artisan would have
been able to replicate this design perfectly
across hundreds of shields.
Later, as armies and soldiers became more and more professional, shields decorations were used, especially in Rome, to signify organizational structures and loyalties. These designs were often extremely complex and elaborate. Intricate patterns, animal motifs and even Greek heroic figures were not uncommon. These men were soldiers, they were not artists, and I cannot imagine that each man was capable of painting his own shield to the beautiful detail that we have come to expect. Perhaps the shields were painted by legionary craftsman. The quality certainly would have improved, but again I raise the question of consistency. There is no way that even a talented craftsman, without the use of a stencil or template, could perfectly replicate such intricate shields designs across even a handful of shields, let alone an entire legion or army. Were stencils used by ancient armies to paint their shield designs? It is certainly a very real possibility and something that requires more research since I just don't know the answer to that question.

I very much enjoy the appearance of a beautifully painted army carrying shields decorated with design transfers. Aesthetically, it is a marvelous sight and while we are gaming the appearance of the armies on the table is a very, very important matter to everybody involved. My thinking here is not to dissuade anybody from using such things, but rather an intellectual exercise to dig a little deeper into the history of the things we play with.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Carthage War Elephant: WIP No.1

I like to knock out a few smaller, easier units in between painting and basing the large multi-figure units like the Scutarii or the Libyans that take a lot of time to finish  These little quick wins usually tend to be skirmishers, command bases, or in this case, a war elephant. As you can see the beast itself is nearing completion and the crew is waiting patiently nearby for their turn under the brush.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

By Far the Best Horsemen in Africa

Hannibal set his bridled cavalry in the centre, and strengthened the wings with Numidians. The battle cry had scarcely gone up when Scipio's javelin-throwers ran back amidst the supporting troops to the second line. After that there was a cavalry battle, which for some time remained even, but then the infantry became involved in the fighting and it startled the horses. Many riders were thrown from their mounts, or climbed down on seeing their comrades surrounded and under pressure, and it had become mostly a battle fought on foot, until the Numidians on the wings effected a slight encircling maneuver  to appear to the rear of the Romans. At this, panic struck the Romans....
Livy, History of Rome, 21.46

Now Massinissa and his Numidian cavalry confronted Publuis Scipio while he was on the move, and then kept constant pressure on him day and night. Not only would he capture Romans who wandered too far from camp to gather wood and fodder, but he would ride right up to the camp and, often charging into the midst of the sentry-posts, he would cause terrible confusion everywhere. During the nights too, there was often panic at the gates, and the rampart, from his surprise attacks. There was no time and no place that the Romans could be free from fear and worry, and they were pinned down within their fortifications, deprived of access to all essentials.
~ Livy, History of Rome, 25.34

Friday, March 8, 2013

Numidian Cavalry: WIP No.2

The Numidians are very nearly complete - all that is left for me to do is finish up some minor details, a little dry-brushing here and there and making the bases look pretty with grass and stones. Photos of the finished unit will be posted this weekend so stay tuned!

I wanted the shields for these horsemen to look as if rough hides had been stretched and fitted to the frames, and while they didn't turn out exactly how I had envisioned them, I think they look pretty good. The skin tone was a bit tricky at first - I wanted to avoid the deep black colors of southern Africans and so I finally ended up choosing Vallejo's Mahogony Brown (139) which turned out to be a beautiful and rich shade for the skin.

My original plan was to base the Numidians all individually, but I really do prefer the aesthetics of multiple figures on a base, and so these will be two figures to a 60mm x 60mm base. The slightly larger base size allows me to space them out a bit more than normal and position them in interesting angles to help give the unit a more open-order feel to it.

Colors used for the Numidians:
  Vallejo: Mahogany Brown
  Citadel: Rakarth Flesh
  Vallejo: Tan-Earth
  Citadel: Khorne Red
  Citadel: Abaddon Black
  Citadel: Ushabti Bone
  Citadel: Steel Legion Drab

Colors used for the six horses:
  Citadel: Tallarn Sand
  Citadel: Snakebite Leather
  Citadel: Mournfang Brown
  Citadel: Doombull Brown
  Citadel: Rhinox Hide
  Vallejo: Burnt Umber

Monday, March 4, 2013

Numidian Cavalry: WIP No.1

This past weekend was very enjoyable and productive for me. The new Carthaginian elephant is completely assembled and prepped for painting (wow, that thing is a beast!) and I was able to get a good start on painting the Numidian cavalry unit for my Carthaginians.

The models are by Relic and are extremely nice. The sculpts of the horses in particular are fantastic with their proportions and and poses looking very natural. Most horse models I have seen at this size tend to be chunky with long low bodies, but these horses by Relic are very elegant. These are very enjoyable to paint and the entire unit should be done in a few days and will be an important addition to Hannibal's cause against the Romans.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Weekend Plans Include an Elephant

This weekend will be spent preparing, trimming and base-coating Numidian cavalry and Libyan spearmen in bunches while listening to 70's rock so I probably won't get much actual painting done. In addition, I am going to be spending some time with a beautiful African Forest elephant that I just received from Relic Miniatures. As you can see below, this is a multiple part kit that will require a little assembly, some green-stuff, and lots of patience from me to get it right. I would love to get this big guy ready to begin painting by Sunday evening.

Have a great weekend everybody!

The Relic Miniatures African Forest elephant kit.