I’ve updated the army page for the Ancient Spanish, who are ready to fight now. The Carthaginians will have to find a new camp, and the Spanish cavalry may soon get to fight, after being painted months ago.

All the Spanish available to me; it's more than is needed, but they're popular as mercenaries.

These figures have ‘steel paper’ stuck to their bases to make for better storage; I’ve now done this for the Komnenans and the Celts as well (the Carthaginians had been done for a while). I also tried ‘Ogryn flesh’ on their faces, but I can’t say it did anything that the Klear wash before hadn’t done, beyond deepening their tan!

The flocking saw the last elements for the Komnenans completed: their camp, their Kontarioi (4Sp) and the second element of psiloi. These are my best paint job, but they’re done.

The psiloi (Museum slingers), kontarioi and camp (Essex mules, a Chariot dog, Outpost foot and Museum monks).

I’ve still got a lot of other elements waiting flocking (notably the Pre-feudal Scots and some early feudals), but I’ve made a start on the Chariot Polybians. I’m also thinking I should do a few more CB Celts so that the Gauls can face Carthaginians who have Gallic mercenaries, but it’s probably not so urgent.

I’ve nearly finished my third ancient army, the Spanish. I’d done figures for use in the Carthaginian army, which served as test elements, and I’d done the two cavalry elements, as well as the camp (which the Carthaginians think is theirs!). I decided they were too good an army not to finish, though there are a lot of others with more unique troop types that could have been done first. However, they will be really good opponents to the other two armies, the Gauls and the Carthaginians, and for that reason they got priority. Also they are Corvus Belli figures and very nice. Finally, I’ve done a spare element of 3Ax, which can be used as mercenaries by a Syracusan army, which is a project that could get the green light soon. I even did a foot command, as I had the figures, and they look so nice; it could get used in a campaign game for an allied force.

This was some fairly rapid painting for me, as I got 32 figures done in just over a week. They are fairly involved, as the shields got transfers and need to be glued on; the figures also have a lot of detail: daggers on the front of their scabbards, or distinctive triangular daggers, and they have pectorals, metal belts, and straps, as well as their tunics being bordered.

I tried not to make them too bright or too multi-coloured, going for a lot of whites and off-whites and reds. I’m very pleased with my new recipe for red for fabric, which is the GW blood red mixed with their terracotta. The terracotta makes it a more muted red without turning it pink, which is what I’d usually achieved when I added white or off-white.

They are now all based and only need a wash and flock, so pretty well done. I’ll do the wash tomorrow. I’m a little nervous about it, as I think it’s a bit strong. I got some inks from the local art store, as I’d found paint settles in the Klear wash and has to be stirred with a brush; shaking’s not enough. I think inks will be better for washes. Anyway, I’m giving all the metals plenty of time to dry before applying the wash.

The nearly ready Spanish: the finished figures are at the back, as are the magnifying lenses that attach to my glasses. Assuming the wash is not too strong, this shot should make for a good before and after one of the difference a wash makes; at the moment they look pretty garish.

I also got a ‘gel’ to add to the base paint, as the ‘sand mortar’ doesn’t always hide the bases easily. It made the paint easier to spread, but I think I need to use more of it, as when the stuff dries, it still shrinks down exposing the edges of the bases.

  • Painting space

My painting space.

The photo of the Spanish gave me an excuse to take a photo of my painting space, as a number of people on the Fanaticus forum had been sharing this. It’s been tidied, but I do that periodically, especially after I finish an army. The box with the post-it stickers on them contains most of my armies, though there’s another box behind it with armies in plastic bags. The next army to be painted, the Polybian Romans, is now on its painting sticks.

  • Next army: Polybian Romans

The Polybians ready to go.

The Polybians will be my next project, as I’ve done the test element for them and I reckon I can do them pretty fast, since they are so uniform. The Chariot figures are very nice, and I can see this army seeing action against all the other armies I’ve already done. I’m painting a foot command and an extra 3Cv, as an unofficial alternative to a mounted command. There are 35 foot and 9 mounted. I’ve got the finished figures out to help remind me of the two uniforms I’m using. Half will have red shields and white tunics, and half green shields and red tunics.

The other night I got to have a game of DBA with my friend Steve, who was briefly over from Melbourne. I used my Komnenans, as they are now complete (though the latest units are still awaiting flock). Steve used my Goblins, opting for the Shamanid list over the Gobnovids. This has few options, and he took 3x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH (spider), 1xEl (Trolls), 3x4Sp, 1x2Ps, 1x3Ax and 2x3Bw. I took 4x3Cv (1=cmd), 4x2LH, 1x4Bd, 1x3Ax and 2x2Ps. The Ax and Ps option seemed better than the 3Bw for dealing with the elephant.

I was the defender and went for very little terrain, a central gentle hill and two small woods. I deployed with all the light horse on the right wing, the cavalry in the centre and the infantry on the left. The Goblins deployed with the auxilia in the woods, followed by cavalry (and the general), the trolls, the spear and finally the archers. On the right flank wolfriders and the spider were in reserve. In response to this I swapped two of the light horse for a psiloi and the auxilia.

Initial Deployments: Komnenans on the left.

PIPs were plentiful at the start  (as were the photographs!)  and we advanced rapidly.

Turn 1: 6 PIPs apiece.

Turn 2: more high PIPs; those goblin auxilia ZOCed me in such a way that I couldn't contact them this turn.

Turn 3: PIPs continue high. the Goblins retreat and it's the turn of my auxilia to do some ZOCing. Out of camera the two light horse have shot around the woods.

Turn 4 (Goblins): the auxilia hold off the supported attack by the wolfriders.

Turn 4 (Komnenans): the PIPs dry up (1 PIP), which the Varangians use to destroy some archers. If that 6 had been rolled by the auxilia, it'd have been bye-bye wolfriders.

Turn 5 (Goblins): the spear put an element of Kavallarioi to flight and the auxilia (and their support) are now overthrown.

Turn 5 (Komnenans): Eek, another 1 PIP; the Varangians only recoil the other archer.

The Goblin wolfriders and trolls now attacked, as did their spider, which the fearless Varangians put to flight. The trolls recoiled the Kavallarioi they faced, but next to them the wolfriders, even with overlap support, were driven back.

Turn 6: (Goblins): No great success for the Goblins.

In response The Komnenans had 4 PIPs and retired their Kavallarioi. The Goblins then got only one PIP, which they used to try to shoot the Varangians from behind, without success. The Varangians got to use the only Komnenan PIP to go after these unsportsmanlike Goblins.

Turn 7: PIP drought all round.

The Goblins used their 2 PIPs to straighten the line and to recall the spider from its flight. The Komnenans then got 5 PIPs and went after those archers with hammer and tongs, straightened their line and moved the stalled light horse.

Turn 8: Some signs of movement by the Komnenans.

With three PIPs the Goblins advanced their main line and retreated the wolfriders on their right. The Komnenans had 6 PIPs and tried to pick off the auxilia on the Goblins line, while chasing wolfriders and spiders with their light horse.

Turn 9: The auxilia hold firm.

With two PIPs the Goblins start to close in on my light horse. When he 6-1s one, it starts to look very grim! The auxilia continues to stick.

Turn 10 (Goblins): Oh dear, those light horse are not in a good spot!

The Komnenans are desperate to win this turn before the next light horse goes, but it’s all too much of a forlorn hope; there are no sure kills. Although the auxilia are recoiled, the wolfriders resist the combined attacks of the light horse on the left wing.

Turn 10 (Komnenans): Lucky dice don't save the Komnenans.

Two PIPs are enough for the Goblins, and they close on the light horse; the commander slips in front of the spider, freeing from the light horse’s ZOC and allowing it to flank the light horse. Despite rolling a 6, the light horse are destroyed, and on the left flank the wolfriders in similar straits continue to hold.

Turn 11 (Goblins): Game over, as the second light horse is destroyed.

  • Review:

Sending the light horse around the flank was a big mistake. They could have kept my auxilia alive and killed his. Their unsupported, PIP-sucking death was what cost me the game. When I finally got some PIPs, they should have turned back and supported the main battle, getting back into command range. Some learning to be done there!

Although I lost, I felt that the Komnenans were very competitive, and it was mistakes on my part that undid me. That said, those Goblins are proving tough to beat; in DBA they’re still unbeaten!

Last Saturday I got round to John’s for a game of DBA. We took a while to settle on armies. I was feeling fed-up with preparatation for IWC, so when John decided to use his Later Swiss, I looked for a historical opponent that my Goblins could mimic. As they have only four mounted (here having to be 3Kn), a lot of the options were out. However, Free Company or Armagnac (IV/74) proved doable, and I went with them. They had the option of dismounting knights, which I played as already dismounted, giving me: 4x3Kn (1=cmd), 1x3Bd, 2x4Sp, 4x3Bw, 1x2Ps. The spear were taken, as I didn’t have any more that could pass muster as blades. John took the 6Kn instead of the 6Bd.

Despite having aggression 4 I was still the defender. I went for two gentle hills and a medium-sized wood. Sorry no pictures. John got the wood in the middle of my set-up area, so I put most of my army on one side of the woods, and three 3Kn on the other. John had the two hills nearer to him. He responded by placing all his pikes and the knights facing the three 3Kn; on the other hill he had the 2LH and the two 2Ps to defend the camp. However, I swapped out two 3Bw for two of the 3Kn, and suddenly the camp looked a whole lot less secure.

An approximation of the initial deployment (red = Swiss). Some of the proportions are right, but perhaps the terrain is too big, as I couldn't bring myself to place the deployment the correct distance in, as it looked too odd.

Indeed, when the Swiss kept rolling almost nothing for PIPs, things got even worse. However, 3Kn aren’t that fast, and by the time they were getting close to the Swiss crossbowmen the 6Kn was already ZOCing them and pikes were moving across too. In fact it could have got very sticky, but at this point the dice were exceptionally kind and I 6-1 a 2Ps (didn’t really need so much, but clearly they weren’t sticking around) and then when the 6Kn attacked I 6-1’ed them too! Not bad for the first two rounds of combat!

At this point, however, the Swiss pike started to chase my knights, and I was falling back from them as fast as PIPs would let me. I lost a knight to his light horse, but by that time I had two elements of archers in range of the light horse and the remaining crossbowmen. I killed the light horse and kept recoiling the 2Ps, but couldn’t quite kill it.

Meanwhile, in the centre I was reforming a line at an angle. The two knights had retired to the side of the advancing pikes (they were advancing to my left) and the spear and blades were now facing the pikes. On the other flank, the other four pikes were advancing and were met by the two bow and the knight. Having lost most of his mobile forces, John was pretty well rooted, and the end came when my archers destroyed a pike with shooting.

The Goblin impersonators continue their unbeaten record!

  • Review

The Goblins acquitted themselves well to being knights. That extra 100 paces makes a real difference to the mobility of 3Cv, and if I’d had 3Cv in this set-up I reckon I’d have got across the battlefield in no time. As it was, it was really the bad dice at the start of the game that lost John the game, particularly the 6-1 on the 6Kn. Had that gone the other way, and had I had a drought of PIPs at that juncture, my commander may have encountered John’s, and the odds would have been pretty grim! All in all, though, it was an enjoyable game. John’s starting to want something a bit more mobile!

Last Sunday MEDBAG, the Middle Earth DBA Gamers, had their first meeting. We’d organized a DBA event at the North Shore Wargames Club. John had had a couple of games there with Philip the week before to create some interest, and on the day two others joined Philip from the North Shore Club (it was the third meeting of the month that falls on the fifth Sunday, so not a busy day); along with these ‘locals’ John and I got Joel along, making six of us. We each played four games in slightly over four hours starting around 11.30 and finishing around 3.30.

John had made some game boards, and we used preset terrain; Each of the locals played each of us and then we finished off by playing one of the locals again. I used my Komnenan Byzantines for the first three games, and went with the same army for each of them: 4x3Cv (1 = cmd), 4x2LH, 3x4Bw, 1x4Bd. There were a few times when the 3Kn for a 2LH would have been useful or a 3Ax and two 2Ps for the three 4Bw, but until I’ve given this configuration a few tries I’m not sure how to use them, so figured I’d stick with it for practice.

  • Game 1: Early Carthaginians

First up I faced Andrew who had Early Carthaginians. The Carthaginians are one of his favourite armies, I think, though he usually plays in 25mm. He’d not played DBA for a while, and his rules were 2.0, which proved to have a few important differences from 2.2. As the defender, he deployed to protect his camp against my greater mobility.

Initial Deployments: two elements of light horse are mostly out of sight on the right.

I deployed with light horse on each wing and the archers and cavalry in the centre. I soon became uneasy about his heavy chariots on the right wing and regretted advancing my light horse so far. I started to retire the light horse on the other flank for support, but they didn’t get any big burst of PIPs to get into action. Instead, a messy action developed in which I destroyed his cavalry and a HCh at the cost of one 2LH (and a rather exposed right flank. I might have had the edge here, if I’d not advanced my archers against his spear (hardly necessary and scarcely wise!). Andrew had a turn to make me suffer with ugly recoils and it was all over.

Before the end; overlapped Kavellarioi faced psiloi-supported spear and overlapped bow face spear; neither can afford to recoil!

  • Game 2: New Kingdom Egyptians

Next up was Philip with his New Kingdom Egyptians. I think I was the defender, and I soon had cause to regret the deployment of my bow—facing his blade! I also had my light horse facing his archers, and seemed a bit like a possum in the headlights with both!

Initial Deployments: Again there are light horse on each wing.

His archers advanced into range of my stationary cavalry on the left and started recoiling them; I just didn’t seem to have the PIPs to do anything there; I think I was lucky not to lose many elements, only one, I think. In the centre his blade met my archers and to my great surprise I 6-1’ed one of them with supported fire. It would be my only real success, as on the right the combined efforts of my cavalry and light horse were not enough to destroy his chariots, and when he created a ‘buttocks of death’ situation for my general with a warband, it was all over. His chariots had also destroyed a 2LH on the left flank.

The final position; the absence of the warband and the general make a big gap on the right flank.

  • Game 3: Early Myceneans

My next game was with Kendall; we were both playing for our first victory. He was using Myceneans, though his list was for 1.1 (not a huge difference). He ended up with a gully along his deployment area and stuck his camp behind it protected by a pair of pike on each side. After I saw his deployment I used one 3Cv to block the gap between the rough going on my left and had all the 2LH on the right flank, though one was attached to the line of 3Cv because of this element swap.

Initial Deployments: Komnenans on the left.

The game went my way because Kendall didn’t know that 2LH QK spear and pike under 2.2, so he moved his pike out on his left flank to meet my 2LH, who made a fair bit of work eating them up. On the other flank, he stomped a pair of my bow and one of my cavalry. Surprisingly the Turkopouloi survived this combat; in fact, they successfully took out his general, making it a great battle for light horse. The Komnenans got their first victory in a close battle.

The light horse have surrounded the last of the pikes and in the centre the Mycenean general has been destroyed.

  • Game 4: Carthaginian Civil War

For the last game we played one of the home team again. Andrew and I decided that a Carthaginian civil war was in order, so he got his Later Carthaginians out to face mine. This might have been from the Truceless War with the mercenaries at the end of the First Punic War (except for the presence of elephants on both sides). I was the defender, and had to deal with my spear being targeted by his elephants and warbands. I did this by swapping them for the Spanish (3Ax and 2Ps).

Initial Deployment: my spear swap out of the way of his elephants and warbands.

The initial combats went my way, and I had him two down, with the elephants trampling his Spanish 3Ax and I think a spear coming to grief, but the he fought back, and while his warband and my Spanish fought inconclusively, he took out my two elephants with a single element of Numidian skirmishers.

Midgame and things favour seem to favour my side. Despite the beach to my back, Andrew wasn't tempted to try a littoral landing.

It got increasingly desperate, but fortunately my Gauls were able to attack his elephant from BGo (they had a toe on that hill). They recoiled it into another element and he was four down. At the time I thought he could have QKed the Gauls if they lost (and I’d have lost my fourth element); only later did I read a post on Fanaticus that pointed out they were safe in BGo (good to know!). A lucky victory for my Carthos!

  • Review:

It was a very fun day. All the games were played in a friendly spirit, but then you kind of expect that with DBA. I lost twice with the Komnenans, but each time I could see an obvious mistake, and I could certainly do better next time! I’m also getting better with the Carthaginians. I certainly don’t worry about whether they can win or not any more—thankfully.

I’m looking forward to a similar event at the Auckland Wargames Club later this month. Thanks to John for organizing this and to Philip for hosting it. Hopefully it’ll be the first of many more.

Painting Progress

1 September, 2010

Last month was my first back in painting since the overseas trip in June and July. A lot of my effort has been going into rebasing, a project that is still not even halfway completed. I started work on my early feudal Essex figures, rebasing what’d I’d already done. I then prepped the remaining figures. However, though I’ve got a couple of elements of knights almost complete, I’ve more or less decided not to continue with these, but to go back to classical armies. I also rebased a whole lot of goblins, allowing me to use them as pseudo-Ghaznavids and Samanids. This involved a small amount of painting. I’ve also started rebasing my Pre-feudal Scots, who are now just waiting for flock, a job that seems to take a fair amount of effort to do!

I’ve got fairly skilled at rebasing. I’m lucky that I used PVA to glue the figures to the base. I soak the bases off in shallow water and then brush the old sawdust flock off the bases in water; doing this over the sink the last time made things a lot faster. Besides using MDF bases and a new basing mix, the rebasing allows me to be more careful about positioning the figures, trying as much as possible to keep the ‘hands inside the bus’.

The other project for this month was completing the Komnenans. These are now only waiting on a 2Ps, which Steve kindly donated, as I underordered, and a 4Sp, as well as a couple of figures for camp followers. This is the last Outpost army I’ll do, as I find them quite a lot of work to paint. The variances in scale between figures also offends my sensibilities. Therefore, I was very happy that I was able to sell the two other Outpost armies that I’d bought. It’s good to think they may actually get to see a wargames table.

Shifting the two unpainted armies spurred me into a frenzy of reorganization. I have a box with about sixteen small drawers on it that each can hold the figures of an average army. This had filled up last year, and new figures were in various boxes, recently sorted into a filing box. This wasn’t terribly effective, as a lot of what was in the drawers was never getting looked at. I’ve now shifted all the fantasy figures to the box and filled the drawers with the historical figures. At last the figures that I’m most interested in, the classical ones, are easily accessible.

This reorganization, in turn, got me going prepping the classical figures (which is why those feudals got filed again!). I’ve now prepped my Southern Italians (Bruttians, Campanians, Apulians and Samnites). This involved drilling hands for a few hoplites, which thankfully went much better than my first efforts on the Komnenans. I made some hoplon-style shields for their cavalry using green stuff and some dark age round shields. Getting the green stuff out got me going on the Gladiator phalangites, which now all have similar shields. They just now need their pikes. The last bit of serious prepping is doing the spears on the hoplites, but I reckon while I’m in this frame of mind I’ll tackle it before I do any painting. Of course, then I’ll be overwhelmed by choice. One option is to do the Spanish; they’re lovely figures, and their mounted are done (as is the camp, if they can get it off the Carthos!). But the Campanians are looking interesting, as I’m keen to see how their hoplites paint up. And then there’s the Syracusans (and all those hoplite morphs they’ll allow), the Later Macedonians (and a similar wealth of morphs), and the Polybian Romans. Which will it be? Do I have the discipline to finish one, or will I do a bit of each?

I’m planning to paint a Komnenan Byzantine army with Khurasan figures at some stage, but although I’ve finally started, and nearly finished a stand of Normans for the Latinikon, and they paint so easily and look lovely, I reckon I’ll hold off on them until I’m done with the classicals. I’ve more or less decided that I’m tired of allowing preparation for IWC next year dictate what I paint! The Outpost figures should do just fine if I don’t get around to painting a Khurasan army.

Anyway, I’ve got a graph of painting progress. I rearranged the spreadsheet it’s drawn from by excluding figures I’ve sold or consider surplus (they’re not waiting to be painted if I don’t intend to paint them!). However, this changes the quantity of figures purchased, as these purchases are as though they never happened! Anyway, that saves me from recording a negative purchase for last month, but is less than ideal, as if I sell a painted army the purchases for some time in the past will be retrospectively adjusted. All likely to be of little interest to the reader, but keeps me amused!

Figures purchased and painted by month

Figures purchased and painted by year. If I counted figures sold as a negative, this year would be the first I'd painted more than I'd purchased. Can I avoid any big purchases this year to make that still happen?