With all the figures I’ve bought recently and all the rebasing and projects I’ve started, getting the seven elements of successor pike done has not been a terribly exciting proposition. A few weekends ago I finished three of them (while I painted the ogres). The other four have their shields done and much else. Now I have the argyraspides (silver shields) completed and with them a foot commander, a special character, Antigonos Monophthalmos (one-eyed). They are all Freikorp figures. They had a couple of outings a fortnight ago against Joel’s Lysimachus; they failed in each.

Antigonos Monophthalmos leading from the front.

Antigonos Monophthalmos leading from the front.

Another angle.

Another angle.

And another.

And another.

The Argyraspides used as a regular pair of elements.

The Argyraspides used as a regular pair of elements.

Another angle.

Another angle.

And another.

And another.

I can now fight pike blocks against each other (though only four pike a side as yet). When the other four elements are doneā€¦

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All the elephants arrayed. Not quite enough yet for a whole army, but getting there!

Well, I’ve got some Gauls and some pikemen on my painting desk and the Gauls are all but done now (I think I started them this time last year!), but three elements of elephants jumped the queue. They are quicker to do and allow me to field a number of successor armies straight away. This made them more inviting as I got back into painting after a couple of months’ break. In the process of doing them I got the Gauls nearly done too.

The Seleucid elephant, now with skirmisher support, faces off against the Ptolemaic one.

Along with the three elephants (two early successor and one Ptolemaic), I did four archers as skirmisher support. I added one onto the base of the Seleucid elephant I’d done earlier, as particularly in the later period they deployed the elephants with a lot of surrounding skirmishers.

The Ptolemaic elephant; it is an African one and smaller than the Asian ones. Note the goad that I made for the mahout.

The figures are all Freikorp and I think their elephants are excellent. They are easy to assemble, well animated and their seems to be (to my inexpert eye) a distinction between the African and Asian ones. The Ptolemaic elephant is smaller and has different ears. As these figures don’t come with goads for the mahouts I made them using the ends of lead spears that I’d cut down for javelins. I flatten the end, cut a split in it and bent one side into a hook and gently filed the two end to points. The hooks are perhaps bigger than they should be, but they look the part and were quick and easy to make.

From the other side with its skirmisher support.

The Ptolemaic elephant will also be used as a Pyrrhic one, meaning that with the xystophoroi that I did a while back I can now field the early Ptolemaic and the Pyrrhic armies.

Early Successor elephants ready to go against each other (when I get more pike painted!

The pair of early successor elephants, without towers, allow me to field a number of the armies starting with Alexander, though I need to get some unshielded cavalry to be fully accurate. They allow fights between successor armies (when I get more pikemen painted) and me to field the earliest Seleucid army with two elephants.

The two elephants ready to serve in the early Seleucid army.

From another angle.

And yet another.

Getting these guys to sit on the elephants provided a bit of drama. When my first attempt failed I tried araldite, which is too slow to set, then pinning, which was a travesty. Finally I tried again with super glue and it was quite straight forward, but if you look at the mahout on the blue elephant you’ll see his slightly grey beard and a mark on his chest reveal the scars of this exercise!

Next up, when I get time, will be the Gauls, who allow me to field the Gauls, the Carthaginians and the Syracusans all at the same time. Then I’ll either buckle down to doing seven stands of pike, or I’ll do some smaller projects, such as a 4Bd for the later Seleucids, and some of the cavalry for that ‘d’ list (who can be used for the Mithridatic one too).

Xystophoroi

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.

Elephant comparisons

21 December, 2010

Now that I’ve got the Freikorp Seleucid elephant done, I thought I should offer a size comparison of it with the CB Carthaginian one and an OG15 one. Before seeing the Freikorp elephant I thought it was the CB elephant that had the problem, now I see that it is the OG15 one that is substantially smaller. In actual fact, the Freikorp one is a little bigger, as it should be, than the CB one. It also has smaller ears, which again is appropriate in distinction to the African one.

Freikorp, CB and OG15 elephants from the side. I really should have got the camera lower before taking this!

Front on.

The OG15 elephant is problematic; it was offered as part of an army pack by Mike Sanderson: the army of the early successor, Demetrius (II/15b). It’s quite inappropriate, as anachronistically it is both armoured and has a turret; still, compared to the rubbish 3Kn command, I should be happy! A Macedonian companion leader, appropriately enough, leads a Bactrian Greek and a Seleucid cataphract! They have value, I suppose, as samples! But it explains why a year on none of those armies are actually finished!

The day after the two game with John I was off to Christchurch for the CWC DBA Competition. Keith generously put me up for the night and suggested I might want a game that night before the competition. He asked if there was any opponent I wanted to face, and I decided I could still do with more practice against pikes, so he used the army he used at the competition, that of Demetrius the Besieger. Keith selected 1x3Kn (cmd), 1x3Cv, 1x2LH, 1xEl, 6x4Pk, 1x4Ax and 1xArt.

I went with just the one elephant, giving me an extra 3Cv and two each of the warbands and psiloi: 2x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH, 1xEl, 3x4Sp, 2x3Wb, 1x3Ax, 2x2Ps. Hasdrubal was the defender and lay out a waterway with a wood near it, a long marsh on the other side of the board and a small wood in one corner. The waterway was on his right flank and he decided to reserve the Spanish for a littoral landing into the wood (one auxila and one psiloi). Otherwise he deployed with the spear in the centre anchored by the Gauls in the marsh and the elephant and a cavalry on their right flank. Hasdrubal himself and the Numidians were in reserve.

Demetrius countered by deploying with his cavalry in reserve behind his phalanx that had the artillery in its centre, the elephant on its right flank and the auxilia on the left.

Initial Deployments: Carthaginians in the foreground facing Demetrius.

Things went wrong for the Carthaginians very rapidly. Their littoral landing ran into trouble when Demetrius’ auxilia were able to defeat the Spanish with the aid of some cavalry. After this setback the Carthaginians had no hope of gaining control of that flank, and were really unable to see a way of winning, as they didn’t see themselves as having any advantage in a frontal battle or necessarily able to do much on the other wing. The Caetrati retired to the other wing and the Libyphoenician cavalry was tied up in a stand-off with its counterpart.

The Scutarii go down in to Demetrius' auxilia, leaving the littoral landing in tatters.

The next stage of the battle saw a slow advance of the Greek centre while their light horse went around the marsh. Hasdrubal went after them himself along with the Numidians and the Caetrati. This came to little, as they couldn’t pin the light horse. Keith commented at the end he thought I overreacted, but at the time I was hoping to destroy the light horse to allow me to exploit that flank, as I could see little good happening in the centre.

However, before I could hunt down the elusive light horse, Demetrius’ pikes made contact in the centre. The odds were in his favour (5-2), but as with the first combat the dice turned what might have been a recoil into a kill. Hasdrubal began to complain loudly and bitterly about the dice!

Two dead after two combats: the pike crush some Carthaginians spear.

Hasdrubal rushed his cavalry to try to fill the gap, and in the next turn the weight of Demetrius’ centre struck. One change that Hasdrubal had made was to cycle a warband out into the battleline on the marsh edge to replace a spear there. It proved an unattractive target for the Greeks. Demetrius went against the spear himself, supported by pikes against the elephants. If he defeated this spear he’d win the battle. The lead-up combats went his way, as the cavalry and the elephant were recoiled, but in a nail-biting encounter with the spear it was a stick; the Carthaginians rolled a woeful 1, but Demetrius was little better, getting a 2.

Demetrius is locked in combat with Carthaginian spear.

Demetrius had been unsure what to do on his right flank in the face of those Gauls. He had thought of advancing his pike closer, but thought better of it. It was a fateful decision, as the Carthaginian spear that had moved out of the line to make way for the warband was able to advance to block the ZOC of the pike, while the warband closed the door on Demetrius. The melee continued for another gritty round, ending in another stick.

Demetrius is now under pressure, but hangs in against the combined attack of psiloi-supported spear and Gauls.

In his turn Demetrius finds no way to relieve the combat he is locked in, and this time the dice go Hasdrubal’s way, by the merest whisker: 2-2. It’s now 1G-2 to Hasdrubal, and suddenly the Greeks are looking exposed.

Luck starts to desert the Greeks. Demetrius' companions are routed, and on the left his pikes are held stationary against overlapped cavalry.

In one turn it turns around dramatically and Hasdrubal blows away the Greek centre. Ambiorix leads his warband into the back rank of the pike block while Libyan skirmisher slide sideways from behind the spear to pin the phalanx at the front; the elephant then advances on the unsupported pike to the right. If he recoils he’ll take out an enemy pike and his own cavalry. However, the Greeks have lost heart and roll 1-2-1 to the Carthaginian 4-6-6. So much for the dice being against me! In one turn three elements are destroyed to give the Carthaginians their second win; their first in an away game!

What a turn around! Suddenly it's the Greek centre that's disappeared!

Demetrius’ invasion of Sicily, ostensibly to liberate it from the Carthaginians, was driven back in confusion. The Carthaginians celebrated madly, and Hasdrubal began to hope there might not be a cross waiting for him back home after all!

  • Review:

Keith’s initial success was very disconcerting, yet in each of the key combats the side with the advantage won. Despite low die rolls, the spear were one up on Demetrius and that made the difference, while Keith had been up on both my auxilia and my spear. Had Keith advanced his pike to protect Demetrius, I can only imagine the battle would have been very different, as I don’t think I could have attacked the pike on my left flank with my spear and warband effectively, especially with the elephant close behind. Demetrius would have been recoiled, but I’m not sure I could get the elephant at him, and he had more numbers coming in than me. All in all, it was a lucky victory! Right down to getting a stick against the spear.

This was another unsuccessful littoral landing. With hindsight it is risky to do such landings as the defender, as the attacker has the advantage of a turn’s move over you. It was also a largely unnecessary landing, as I could have advanced the Spanish into the woods alongside the rest of the army.