Sunday, 31 October 2021

Core of the Army

 The other elite cavalry regiment who bookend the army of Phyrrhus, are the Agema. These are the Royal Squadron of the Epirot cavalry, the closest companions to the King.

 


I made the classic mistake of painting these first out of all the cavalry, which shows up in a couple of ways. The first six figuresa I painted in enamel paints, including the horses. By the time I was painting the next six, I had moved to using oil paints for the horses (the splodge on / wipe off method.) The other "mistake" was my reading of Companion style cavalry as having white armour (some type of leather corselet?) I decided to paint the obvious muscle cuirass these figures are wearing as some sort of white painted finish, instead of the more likely bronze or silvered finish.

 


This unit has seen long and heavy service and at some point one base went missing. The command base is thus a replacement, conscripting in an Essex Miniatures officer figure to make up the three.

 The first unit of pikement that I completed were also in the cross over between enamel and acrylic paint use. I got the first Citadel boxed set of the water based paints for Christmas and they were a revelation! You can see the difference in the red of the uniforms between the rank and file and the officer and musician. The red of the foot is much duller, which sort of works, so I have never gone back to redo it.


 The next 32 pikemen were mainly done in acrylics. These were all Corvus Miniatures and pretty much straight out of the WRG Armiesof the Macedonian and Punic Wars. I mixed up the four different styles of equipment to give these units a slightly less uniform look.

 


The only upgrade to these figures that I have done is to swap the bendy lead pikes for steel pins. This was just to improve the look but also got rid of the debunked idea of the two part pikes with a metal sleeve holding the two parts together. (Anyone with a shred of experience of materials would already  have had grave doubts about the whole idea.)

 


These figures, now long out of production have formed the core of all my Successor armies. They have since been joined by units of Foundry and other makes but always put in a veteran shift!

Thursday, 30 September 2021

Plenty of Cavalry...

I don't really do rebasing; it's enough faff the first time round... These days new sets of rules are less obsessive about the exact frontage of a wargame figure unit or the number of figure per square inch. A rare exception is these Corvus Greek cavalry. I decided to reduce the figures in the Thessalian unit down to a Piquet standard 8 figures (for cavalry.) Part of the decision was that I knew I had spare   figures that would go with the discarded four to make up a whole new unit (and half already painted!)

 


I had 2 of the Corvus cavalry and 2 Newline figures that fitted in quite nicely on Corvus horses. The Greeks were a bit slower to adopt shields and for the most part preferred throwing javelins from a distance to charging in with lances. They were usually a small minority in a Greek army, so probably a good survival tactic! 

 The General on the fancy base highlights one of the problems that some older figure ranges could suffer from. His horse was one of a number that snapped off at the ankles due to the metal being a bit soft. The tail also became a casualty where there was a slight moulding fault at the narrowest part. I must have been in a frugal phase, as I took the time to pin the horse through a thick resin base I had picked up somewhere. I also rebuilt the horse's tail and the saddlecloth lion's tail using wire and milliput. 

 


 I was very happy  with the result, at the limits of my modelling ability at the time. He stands out nicely on his raised base too.

 


 Greek heavy cavlary are quite useful as mercenaries in a Successor army. Maybe only in a second line role but fairly competant and reliable.

Sunday, 26 September 2021

Pyrrhic Cavalry

When I was first deciding which Successor army I wanted to field, the army list of choice was the WRG 6th Edition lists. These were the ones with amusing cartoons on the front (Book 1 had a generic barbarian who has bitten off the end of a discombobulated hoplite's spear.)


There were a large number of Macedonian Successor lists to choose from. They all were formed around a core of pikemen plus theurophoroi/peltasts and some cavalry lancers. To these are added a huge variety of more or less exotic units, from various light infantry and barbarian types, to stomping great elephants.

The army of Pyrrhus had a decent quantity of good quality cavalry available. Most of it armoured and best of it fighting in wedge formation with long lances (much like Alexander the Great's Companian Cavalry.) I bought four units of cavalry from , what was then, the new range from Corvus Miniatures. These were nice sculpts and direct representations of the illustrations from Duncan Head's "Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars." This tome was pretty much the cutting edge of military history for the period, at this time. I bought 4 or 5 units worth of miniatures which was a sizable chunk of a years hobby budget for a schoolboy.

                                

The Pyrrhic army can upgrade all its cavalry to being shielded (from their contact with Italian Tarentine cavalry.) The Thessalian contingent of cavalry were one of the best in the army so I invested in the upgrade for them.


This unit has been a solid performer over the years roughing up Carthaginians and Romans on multiple occasions. Fighting later cavalry such as Sassanids they have not been so successful, but then there are always pikeblocks to hide behind!




Sunday, 5 September 2021

Peltasts

The second unit on deck is the frequent companion of the Thracians, a unit of Greek peltasts. They tend to carry out a similar function; clearing skirmishers and occupying rough ground as their speciality. If really neccessary getting involved in the main battle line, protecting the flanks of the phalanx for example. It rarely end well!

 


These are all Hinchliffe figures, probably a bring and buy purchase. They are actually a mixture of peltasts (with the cloaks) and Iphicrateam "hoplites" (with the round shield.) 

 


 All I did with this unit was tart up the baseswith some additional flock and a few tufts. I decided not to mess around with the paintjob or tackle the worse of the mould lines!

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Roll Call!

This has been a long time coming.  I do have lists (even a spreadsheet!) of my painted ancient figures but bringing out all the units into the light, doing whatever running repairs are required and taking pictures of them all is a task that has been put off for a looong time. Part of the impetus for doing this now is the rather sad acquisition of the figure collection of my friend Les, when he died suddenly earlier this year. As a part of the decision about what to use, what to store and what to get rid of, I really need to get a better grip on what I already have (painted and unpainted...)

Decided to start with the oldest as they probably need most love...

 

This is my unit of 12 generic tribal hillmen / Thracians. Back in the days of WRG they were Irregualr LMI (oh how we agonised over regular or irregular status!) The miniatures are mainly a mixture of Essex and Corvus Thracians and peltasts. In the mid eighties these were about the best ranges available for Successor armies. The remainder are Hinchliffe and a solitary QT multipart figure. I have no idea what the chap with the red plume is supposed to be. Possibly a Carthaginian? He has generally Hellenistic armour and shield but the helmet looks wrong. Anyway I swapped his sword for a Thracian rhomphaia, to become a well equipped tribal leader. 

This unit didn't need much urgent attention. The paint job (using the first set of Citadel acrylics  - which dates them) is still passable. A few touchups to crests and weapons required. I also repainted the bases as they had lost a lot of flock leaving a fair bit of gloss green showing. 


A useful unit that can be included in a lot of different armies as Thracian or similar poorly equipped mercenaries.



Monday, 19 July 2021

Back to Napoleonics

 Every couple of years I find myself propelled from my shelf of books of Napoleonic history and uniforms towards the section of the lead mountain devoted to that period. The current cause for this enthusiasm is the book "A Waste of Blood and Treasure" by Philip Ball.


This describes the Anglo-Russian invasion of the Netherlands in 1799, a campaign I knew very little about. In the latest mining into the unpainted figure storage I found the tiny part that is made of 6mm figures including a test stand of French artillery. 



These did remind me of my lack of satisfaction in painting figures of this size. I like that they do look much more realistic in the way they represent the unit and the ground that it would take up. I think the problem is that the basing become much more of the focus and my skills in that area would need some major improvement.

The other figures that I took another look at, are the excellent sculpts of the sadly departed Richard Ansell, that he did for the period. These were initially a range of Austrians  that  The Assault Group (TAG) released, which is where I first saw them and where the original denizens of my lead pile came from. Later this range was sold to Alban Miniatures who had started a range of Peninsula War French and British, again using Richard as the sculptor.  When Alban closed they had moved on to a sculptor with a different style, so the opportunity to refight the entire conflict in these excellent miniatures had gone for good.


Setting aside the problem about the availability of figures for another time, I decided to paint some of the French Legere (or light infantry.)  Despite the Alban offerings being more suitable for skirmish type games I reckoned I could get a small formed unit from the available figures. The uniforms depicted are a mix of campaign and full dress for a pleasingly irregular look to the unit. 



I am currently straying towards such heresies as "imagi-nation" style games in my plans for Napoleonics, so the precise regiment and year of the uniform chosen counted for very little to me. I was attracted to the earlier incarnations of the Legere regiments with natty white waistcoats and that was a good enough basis for my choice.



 

I did include voltiguer and grenadier variations on some of the figures, as my current thinking is to have units representing battalions on the tabletop. Despite their slim stature all the detail was there on the figures to pick out and any failures to do so lay purely at my door.






Wednesday, 26 May 2021

One From the Archives... and a Goodbye

This game was in 2013 (I think.)  We were in the old gaming room at Wayland Games, so that dates it. I think we had not had the 18th Century Indians out for a few years, so we decided to have a big bash with pretty much all the native figures that we owned between us and just a few of the European troops.

The British General (Jim)looks on, stoically ignoring the heat, the flies and the thousands of screaming locals who want him dead...


Each force had a minority of European soldiers, British on one side, French on the other. These were supported by natives raised and trained in the European manner. The majority part of each army is composed however,  of Indian allies and their more or less reliable mercenaries and feudal subjects.



On the French right were many Native Allied cavalry. These, and their British counterparts, started the game out of command and with poorly rated generals, to simulate the lack of aggression shown by Indian armies of the period. The cavalry figures are drawn from as many sources as possible to give the Indian cavalry a suitably ragtag look.



Anchoring the centre of the French line; a motley collection of artillery, including: elephant and camel carried light guns, erratic rockets, giant Zam Zama ("Thunderers") and French 12lbers.


Serried ranks of French Foot companies with sepoys in close support. They have locally raised horse on their flank and the dubious assistance of elephant borne artillery on their right. This is the best led and most competent part of the army and would face the main British assault.



With superior numbers of European infantry present and all of them seemingly invincible (graded Elite) the British unsurprisingly lined them up to be their main attack force. Their locally raised sepoys were placed in the front rank to absorb the enemy's initial volleys and artillery fire.



The British copied their adversary's deployment, placing all their guns in the centre of the line but pressing forward aggressively with the European guns.



Under the gaze of their devious native prince (Nick), the British Allied cavalry took their time to get organised before heading towards the enemy horse. This delay was a two-edged sword; they were able to manoeuvre together but the time taken caused them to bear the brunt of the "friendly" rocket fire stationed in their rear.

The two armies are deployed and ready for the off...

General M. de Rumble

With Gallic imperturbability the French general (Les) spares a glance towards the flank where his unreliable Indian ally is situated.


Only to see that he (me) has snuck away! The French could place little confidence in the wily Maharaja who declares for them one day and against them the next.


The British too were supported by a fair-weather Indian ally, who had brought all manner of troops including elephants, camels, mercenary matchlockmen, peasant levy and armoured lancers.




Massed behind their Sepoys (natives trained in the European way of fighting) the British companies of Foot prepare to take the fight to the enemy.


The British Brigade is stung into attacking alone after being raked by French and native guns.


The professional French artillery, with some assistance from their Indian colleagues, continue to chip away at the advancing lines. Eventually the British guns are brought forward to silence them.




Like an immovable wall. The thin French line (a scarlet coated Irish regiment to the left) hold their fire until the first companies of British are at point blank range.


The British Sepoys and French foot traded destructive volleys and the French, along with their general, were eventually driven from the field. However helped by an Indian cavalry charge, they did enough damage to the British attack that the survivors were unable to push on against the unbroken line of French Sepoys that were revealed behind them. The British attack had failed and having no trust in their Indian allies to win the day for them, wisely chose to quit the field.

When I started transferring this game report from the old website onto this blog I had no idea it was going to turn in an in memoriam post. This just happened to be one of the few games where I got half decent pictures of the other three players not just the toys on the table. It came as a terrific shock on Saturday to hear that Les Rumble had died suddenly and very prematurely. Les has been my good friend and fellow wargamer for over 40 years, so this game described above was just one of hundreds during that timespan. Like many of them my main memories from this day are not the action on the tabletop but instead the banter, chatting about sports, mocking each others' newly painted units and planning what games we could run on the venues terrain boards. I shouldn't be surprised I supposed but it brings home how lucky I have been in the company I have shared this hobby with.

RIP Les. Grab a good place near the bar, get some terrain organised on a table and at some point we will carry on with all the planned campaigns and scenarios we never got round to...





Core of the Army

 The other elite cavalry regiment who bookend the army of Phyrrhus, are the Agema. These are the Royal Squadron of the Epirot cavalry, the c...