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...





Sunday, 9 May 2021

Ottoman "Irregular" Infantry

Balancing up my Ottoman force required some infantry units be painted. The recent arrival of command figures from Warfare (thanks Barry) allowed me to complete a command stand for the Bosniaks I already had. These types of soldiers, raised for a short term period during a campaign, usually had Ottoman Turk officers. I chose a figure with a swanky fur-trimmed coat worn over his shoulders and a circular breast plate. The officer figure was done with richer colours but the others on the command stand kept to the duller limited palette used on the rest of the unit.




The flag was a nice example found for 17th Century Bosnia on the net. 


These types of forces occasionally gave the Hapsburg Imperial forces a bloody nose, particularly on their home terrain. In "With Talon and Claw" these are tribal infantry who deploy in a swarm or mob which probably fair enough. This means they are a bit more brittle than regular infantry but can move faster and through rough terrain more easily. Tribal infantry may also charge steady infantry and cavalry.




The new unit is an Orta of Azabs. These are the militia that was maintained in all the border regions of the Ottoman Empire. The quality of Azabs varied greatly depending on where they were. The better quality end of the spectrum were expected to go on campaign with the main field army although ideally they would free up regular troops from garrison duties.



The figures for this unit are almost all conversions. I took my inspiration from the Bruno Mugnai book on the Ottoman army which has an illustration of a European Azab on one of the colour plates. Most of the figures are Warfare Miniatures Tufeckci musketeers. Always hated these (they were a freebie too, I am SO ungrateful!) Everyone seems to produce Tufeckci based on early 17th Century Azabs. My conversions are to remove all the stupid feathers from their hats and add a simple wrap or turban to most of them. All of the figures also got a longer kaftan and/or baggy trousers. 



The officer is a conversion of a Brigade Games artillerist and the musician based on a Brigade Nizam-i-Cedit figure. The flag bearer is a Caliver/Minifigs model. He is a mountain of a man 6'2" to scale but then that is the sort of chap I would choose to look after the standard! The flag was another found online based on one for an Ottoman province on the Danube.



The Azabs in BLB would also be tribal infantry but I will also try them as regular infantry as they could be considered as capable of basic battlefield formations and manoeuvring. They wont have the special characteristics of Janissary units but could be useful in support of other regulars or in field fortifications.



These two units epitomise the colour and variety possible in an Ottoman army of this period. I plan on completing another unit of Bosniaks and then doing some Albanians and Arnauts. The aim is to field about 50% of the infantry as non-Kapikulu types.


 

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Sassanid Reinforcements

 A part of my slow-burning 3rd Century project has grown organically from an unplanned purchase. (Yes, some of them are planned!) I spotted that Hinds Figures had multiple lots available of Sassanid Clibanarii. These were older style figures and painted to an okay but not winning any prizes standard. This meant that the price was very reasonable  and with a little negotiation I made a deal for all 4 lots. 



Recently I added a painted unit of Cataphracts to the project. These looked like Newline figures and were very nicely painted. When I won the auction the seller kindly threw in some spare horses that arrived as a surprise with the figures.




These would handily make up the number of figures to 2 Piquet units, so I went in search of suitable riders. I had by chance bought some of the insanely cheap Warrior Miniatures El Cid figures (link) recently which included some knights in full mail armour. The idea had been to find some figures that could be converted to fit in with the smaller/25mm Clibanarii that I already had. The requirements were that the figures had to be small enough to sit comfortably with my existing figures and have generic enough armour and clothing that I could add just a new head and shield to create a reasonable approximation of an armoured Sassanid.



Replacement heads would be either from the Westwind Arthurian range or cast up from my own sculpts. As the Westwind heads are quite chunky 28s the latter was looking like an unfortunate necessity... As it happens the Warrior El Cid range is one of their heftier ranges, more like 1980s 28mm than old school 25s. This works well with the Newline figures so I grabbed a couple of the mailed cavalry and decide to try out some sculpts of Sassanid headgear.



The drawback with creating Sassanid heads is that the actual information on what they looked like is veeeeeery vague. The old wargame standby of a sort of balloon shaped dome on the heads of all the infantry and a good percentage of the cavalry figure, has fallen out of favour. (It did make Sassanids really easy to identify from 10 feet away...) The handful of existing helmets that are confidently identified as Sassanian cover 400 years and many cultural influences. The most consistent style seems to be a tallish segmented helmet with a domed profile from the side and a pointier one from the front.


There are variants of this found that are dated between the 4th and 7th C. AD and rock carvings that might be showing the same sort of thing. The only definitively 3rd C. Sassanian helmet found is the one from Dura Europos lost in the siege tunnel when it was collapsed. This has some shape similarity but is a two piece ridge helmet.  The Late Roman "Intercisa" helmets are also ridge helmets so there is even a chance that this is an early Roman example of the type. (The balance of evidence is that it is Persian however.)

 


I decided to have a crack at one of each. The low, bowl-shaped helmets of these figures were increased in height and then one had the central ridge added and the other, the strips that signify it is a segmented helmet. The  less well armoured rider also got some of the banded armour on his arms that seems quite common for cataphracts.


I am satisfied with these as a first go at producing my own faux-Sassanids. They did highlight the issue with separate heads if there are coifs/aventails involved... With more practise I think I will be able to produce something to go into a mould so I can do more conversions by head swaps.


Monday, 5 April 2021

Ottoman Massed Timarli Sipahi

Finished and based a unit (2 BLB squadrons) of Timarli Sipahi, figures by Warfare Miniature.

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Excellent miniatures, very dynamic and easy to paint (no really!) The riders all have long firearms to attach to their backs which locate nicely with a lug to a small - in the cavalryman. I had read that there was resistance by Ottoman cavalry to firearms but this may be a Western misapprehension.

These join my other 4 squadrons which are my own castings on Warlord plastic horses.

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There is no real information about uniforms for this period; not in the regular/guard Kapikulu units and certainly not for the provincial Sipahi cavalry. This allows me to choose a mix of schemes, some units in similar colours some in a complete mix. This will work okay for the successor cavalry to the Sipahi once they pretty much disappear in the mid 1700s.

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For the Vienna to Great Northern War period I am going to rate Sipahi as relatively competent. Maybe not as dangerous as previous times (and described as "useless against regular European troops".) However they are still great individual horsemen and relatively keen. No armour at this time and probably no use for the mundane tasks such as picquet duty and scouting but there are lots of other cavalry who can carry these out in an Ottoman force.

This makes 14 BLB squadrons (7 Piquet units) now painted. The infantry need to catch up a bit, next up Azabs, Albanians and some more Janissaries. 

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; cle...