Syracusan cavalry

27 July, 2011

The mounted arm of the glorious Syracusan tyranny!

I’ve finally finished the fighting units of the Syracusan army (II/9). It took a little longer, as I was waiting for an order of transfers. The transfers on these figures are new ones from VVV, and I like them.

Shielded Greek cavalry.

The two elements are Freikorp figures, Greek cavalry (HG17) and a personality figure, Seleucus (HG26). Seleucus is based on a coin where he’s wearing a hide-covered helmet and a skin for a cloak. The skin should be that of a lion, I think, but for my general I went for a wolf skin. However, the grey doesn’t look so effective. I may have to redo it.

From another angle.

The Syracusans are now ready to be fielded, though they are promised a camp of their own at some stage. I’ve updated their army page.

From behind.

I’m keen to try this army out. It’s quite a strong one, though I reckon it could use another 2Ps to support the phalanx. I’ll be interested to see how the artillery works against elephants.

Syracusans drawn up with a 3Cv general.

Next up I’m working on four elements of Gallic 3Wb. These were half done at the end of last year. They’ll allow me to field the Gauls, Syracusans and Carthaginians simultaneously. I’m also working on seven elements of 4Pk. These are the Seleucid pike and some pike to allow me to field Antigonus as a pike general or have two armies of six 4Pk oppose each other.  After that, I should do the extra elephant elements for these armies.

Last year I bought a number of figures for Hellenistic armies. I later settled on Freikorp for my armies and the Gladiator and Essex figures I got are surplus to requirements. I’ve packaged them up into four Hellenistic armies: Athenians (II/5b), Antigonos (II/16a), Ptolemaic (II/20c) and Later Macedonian (II/35). The figures are supplied with spears as needed, generally Xyston ones. Some of them have been prepped and one element is actually based. I can provide MDF bases and VVV transfers at cost, if desired. The figures are Gladiator from Black Hat unless specified. All prices are in New Zealand dollars. Examples of some of these figures painted are here (hoplites and light troops) and here (phalangites). Some of the phalangites are prepped. What this involves is shown here, though in addition to the shield I’ve glued on pikes for them.

Contact me at: daviespm (at) yahoo (dot) com

Postage to Australia for each army is $10.00, but if you’re buying more than one it should be less.

  • Athenians (II/5b) [SOLD]

9x4Sp (1=cmd) (36 figures)
1x3Cv (Essex)
1x2LH (Essex)
1x2Ps (2)
1x4Ax (4)

Price: NZ$32.50. Bases are $3.00 and transfers for the Hoplites and Peltasts are $4.00.

  • Ptolemaic (II/20c) [SOLD]

4x4Pk (16 figures, six are prepped, ten unprepped)
1xEl (Old Glory 15)
1x2LH (Essex)
2x3Kn (1=cmd) (Essex)
2x4Bd (8 figures)
3x4Ax (12 figures)
1x2Ps (2 figures)

Price: NZ$43.50. Bases are $3.00. Transfers for the 16 Pikemen are $1.50.

  • Antigonos (II/16a)

6x4Pk (1=cmd) (24 figures, four painted and based, 11 prepped and nine unprepped)
1x3Kn (Freikorp)
1xEl (Freikorp)
1x3Cv (Essex)
1x2LH (Gladiator)
2x2Ps (4 figures)

Price: $47.00. Bases are $3.00 (bases). Transfers for the 20 unpainted Pikemen are $2.00.

  • Later Macedonian (II/35)

6x6Pk (24 figures, ten are prepped and fourteen unprepped)
1x3Cv (cmd) (Essex)
1x2LH (Essex)
2x4Ax (8)
1x3Ax (3)
1x4Wb (Freikorp)
2x2Ps (4)

Price: NZ$37.50. Bases are $3.00 and transfers for the 24 Pikemen are $2.50.


17 July, 2011

Ptolemaic Xystophoroi.

I’ve completed two elements of Xystophoroi. They are Freikorp figures with spears from Xyston. They are for a Ptolemaic army; however, they can be used for quite a number of other armies. I’m close to being able to field a whole swathe of successor and Hellenistic armies, though not in opposition to each other. The biggest hold-up is two more elements of elephant. One is an Early Successor one with a pikeman sitting on its back. The other is an unarmoured one with a tower. The first of these would allow me to do a whole range of early successor armies, the other would be for the Ptolemaic army and for a Pyrrhic one. Otherwise, there’s a lack of pikes. My next project may be about seven elements of pikes to allow opposing pike blocks (one of these would be a command element for Antigonus Monophthalmus).

From another angle.

I have two elements of 3Cv ready to go too, but they are waiting for decals on their shields (which are in the post). These are for the Syracusans, but can be used by a number of other armies, though I’m not sure when shields started to be used, making them less useful for some of the earlier armies.

I’ve updated my armies page with a list of all the new armies I should soon be able to field!

From the rear.

Otherwise, I darkened my Seleucid elephant a while ago; it was much lighter than the two Carthaginian ones, so I gave it a drybrush with a darker grey, which I think improves it.

A more tanned Seleucid elephant.

Handiest painting tips

14 July, 2011

I was thinking how much easier gluing was thanks to a tip I got a while back on superglue not sticking to graphite. This put me in mind of all the handy tips I’ve picked up from the web since I’ve started painting.

1. Hobby glasses: these are magnifying lenses that clip on to my existing prescription glasses. They are 1.5 magnification and make the 15mm figures much easier to see. Made a massive difference to my painting.

2. Brush soap: like many of the things I use this is from an arts supply shop. I credit it with keeping my brushes in good condition for a very long time. It’s a bar of soap and it’s getting a bit potholed, but I can’t see it running out ever.

3. Klear wash: absolutely transforms the figures I paint. It takes a bit of practice getting the strength of ink right, but I’d not paint without it. I use Klear for:

a.  a varnish for decals.

b. as an undercoat that shows the areas that will be shaded when finished. This has the added bonus of showing where I’ve not cleaned up flash lines enough.

c. for the final ‘magic’ wash on my figures.

d. as a wash on bases and terrain. I’ve made waterways with a darker blue wash over a base blue.

4. Gunk: I use this for thinning paints; I keep it in a dropper bottle and make it 30ml alcohol, 60ml water and a drop of detergent. It keeps paints going forever, and it’s great for mixing colours on a palate.

5. VVV transfers: I use these whenever possible and have found them very easy to use. They transformed the way I felt about shields. I’ve found them easy to cut up and make different designs out of. I use them for standards too.

4. Gluing tips: gluing has at times caused the most frustration, but a few tips have made it a lot less annoying.

a. using white glue on one surface and superglue on the other is very effective, especially for shields. It doesn’t seem to work for wire to white metal, though.

b. using a graphite applicator for the superglue is much tidier. I use a 0.9mm clasp pencil lead. I now keep it clean with nail polish remover, as it was developing quite a blob.

c. using green stuff for things like shields or riders on horses where there’s plenty of contact area, but it may not be flush. I’ve found the riders of Chariot figures are good candidates for this. Araldite is another option.

d. keeping the superglue in the fridge and the green stuff in the freezer preserves their life.

7. Basing techniques: the base really lifts the whole finished element.

a. using MDF bases. Much more convenient than cutting cardboard myself, and gives a better surface.

b. using a black marker pen to colour the edge of the base; it looks very tidy and is very quick.

c. using magnetic sheets in my storage containers (from Southern Magnets) and self-adhesive metal sheets for under the bases (from Products for Wargamers). The figures store much better. No more untangling elements in one corner of a box on arriving at a destination. They even survive the box being dropped.

d. using a mixture of sand mortar and gel with artist paints for the base: this is very quick to apply and with a finishing wash of a darker colour looks great. Also described here.

e. using static grass, foliage, stones and reeds to finish the bases. With practice these are quick to apply and I find that less is actually better for the static grass. The stones are from a bag of kitty-litter stuff for soaking up grease on a barbecue. I washed them to remove dust. I glue everything on with white glue and wash the stones with my Klear wash to get a dark grey finish.

8. I’ve found a pin vise essential for preparing figures to hold spears, and occasionally, when the spear is really spaghetti-like I’ve drilled it out and added a Xyston spear as a replacement. The drill bits from Donnington are really sharp. I got them on a whim, but compared to the bit I’ve been using, they’re amazing. It’s just a pity they’re short, as I use the bit to drill into the base and cut into the side of the figure at times, making a very snug fit. The Xyston spears (with a thimble) are great for pricking the point you want to start drilling. I also found the hobby glasses essential for accurate drilling, as I found by trial and error!

Well, that’s a list of all the tips I can think of. I’ll no doubt think of more once I post this.

Last Thursday I got my second game of Hammer of the Scots with Chris. This time we knew the rules and it played very differently. I was the Scots again and went for the same strategy as last time, securing the Highlands and trying to work down from there. I had bad luck when a herald failed to get the Comyn to join me and I had to do it the hard way. I also failed to take Buchan when I had 6 counters ready to attack on the last turn of the year and Chris played a Truce card. After that I was driven backwards into the highlands and when Wallace was forced to go into the discard pile I was entirely eliminated on the next turn.

I suspect I was wrong to be in such awe of the English early on, and should have tried more aggressively to hold the centre of Scotland, where I’d be able to recruit and repair more armies. The hidden movement makes the English faction look very strong, but most of it is scattered nobles who aren’t that powerful on attack and need to guard their home area.

By contrast my strategy surrendered the richer centre of Scotland leaving me to fight for the highlands which just aren’t as valuable. Also if I went for the centre of Scotland I might just be able to keep Bruce alive for more than one year as well!

All in all, a fun game. Now I just have to find an opponent interested in playing it!