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?

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Last Friday my Goblins had another outing at John’s. I was going to trial the Samanids (III/43c). John had decided to surprise me by fielding some Eastern Patrician Romans rather than his Swiss. These are a very attractive mix of Khurasan and Splintered Light figures. However, they weren’t painted, but only blutaked to the bases. Cries of horror all around! As the ‘Samanids’ had a fairly unconventional appearance themselves they made no complaint. Both are low-aggression armies and on this occasion the Shamanid Goblins were the aggressors. The terrain was something of a wall of woods with a gentle hill to one side and a road on the edge of the field. I managed to get the woods running along the table rather than between us and watched as the Romans deployed: 1x3Cv (cmd), 2x3Kn, 2x2LH, 2x4Bd, 2x4Wb, 2x4Ax and 1x2Ps. They met this with 3x3Cv (1=cmd), 1x2LH (Spider), 1xEl (Trolls), 3x4Sp, 1x3Ax, 2x3Bw and 1x2Ps.

The armies deploy: Goblins on the left. Oops, no flash!

I wanted to stop the Auxilia from getting into the woods on my side and advanced my spider (2LH) to do this. This created a standoff in the open between his two Auxilia with psiloi support and my auxilia and spider. I intervened with my wolfriders against his psiloi which evened the odds, but got the wolfriders close to his knights. This was a move that was on the edge of legal; there was about a millimetre in it to allow legal contact with the psiloi. The difference that such measurements can make is one of the downsides of DBA and is probably more extreme in the 15mm scale. The battle went the goblins way, though narrowly.

The first time in a while I've won the opening combat—a refreshing change!

The Romans countered by attacking on that flank with their knights and the Auxilia. The goblins were ferocious and drove the knights back, avoiding a ‘buttocks of death’ situation.

Look at those 6s—can it last?

In reply the Goblins had only 1 PIP and tried to win against the Auxilia, but the attack was thrown back (as it had been the first time).

The spider is repulsed again.

The Romans advance at speed on their right flank, while trying to incommode the Goblin auxilia, but events on that flank reverse the outcome of the previous combat.

This time the Auxilia fall back. Note the Roman commander on the hill moving into command range for his right flank.

Again the spider attacks, and again it is repulsed. The Goblin commander moves up to support his wolfriders, and the other wolfriders attack the Roman light horse, but only recoil them.

Indecisive combats on each flank.

Then the Romans try to snare the wolfriders on their right flank, going at them with warbands in the rear and the flank, but the Goblins hang on for a ‘stick’, much to the displeasure of the Roman commander.

Goblins unfazed by hordes of smelly unpainted Germans.

At this point I decided that warbands were too attractive a target for Trolls to ignore (sporting be damned!). Despite the support from the Trolls, the wolfriders couldn’t keep up their resistance and were destroyed, but so was one of the warbands. Attempts to change things on the other flank had reached an impasse; clearly the Auxilia and the spider weren’t really interested! I attempted to beat the knights by sliding my commander in front of them and moving the wolfriders around to provide overlap; I was at 4-3, but think I was recoiled, though it’s out of the camera shot.

Urgh, squished Germans!

The Romans now attempted to destroy an element of spear, and they planned it well: uphill against a cavalry general with a light horse in support, but if they were hoping for dawn at Helm’s Deep, they were disappointed, these Goblins didn’t break, but threw back the cavalry in disarray! The Roman knights have the wolfriders at 4-2, but only recoil them (again, largely out of camera).

Grrr, sissy horseboys!

And then it was all over! The Trolls went after another set of Germans (yum, yum!), and Goblin archers, after spending the whole battle trapped behind the spear, get to turn around and double some clearly disaffected light horse.

Victory to the Goblins!

Gracious in victory, the Goblins made a tasteful cairn of the skulls of the dead Germans on the hill, and tucked in to a nutritious meal of horsemeat (not stinting on human flesh either, it has to be said!). The Roman commander, as his forces retired in defeat, cursed Fortuna (much to the disapproval of accompanying clerics).

  • Review:

After the analysis I did of the dice rolled in the last game, I did the same with this one, and the results were interesting (I missed a combat that were outside of the zoomed-in camera, but it was inconclusive). My total combat rolls were impressively better (52 to 38 in 15 combats). Accordingly they favoured me in 9 of the combats and John in only 4 (two were tied). The distribution of each dice result should be 5 of each number, but there were slightly more 1s, 2s and 4s (7 of each), slightly fewer 3s and 6s (4 of each) and only one 5. Isn’t Excel fun! It’s interesting that the 1s were overrepresented and the 6s slightly underrepresented, as those numbers get noticed. Who ever notices that 5s aren’t being rolled?

Anyway, the results do confirm John’s complaint that the dice were against him. They kept my surrounded wolfriders alive for one turn and they saved a beleaguered 4Sp (but 4Sp have a refreshing habit of doing that for me); all of which gave me time to win. Having said that, it would have been a different game if the legions had faced the Trolls and not the warbands!

The moral of the story is don’t expect the dice to favour unpainted figures! The better they’re painted the better they fight, though John warned his figures ominously last week they’d have to earn the privilege of paint!

Friday two weeks ago was the first outing for a couple of new armies. One of these were my New Model Goblins, rebased to impersonate DBA armies, in particular those with elephants. As I’m now working on preparing for the second half of the CWC DBA competition and the second half of the IWC one, I decided to field them as Gobnovids, pseudo-Ghaznavids (III/63), one of the most popular armies of the second two books and therefore one worth getting familiar with. These were facing an army that John had just finished, his Later Swiss (IV/79). This is a pike army, which is strong against mounted—if it can protect its flanks.

I’ve been fairly slow writing this up; part of the reason is a lack of interest as the photos came out badly; I used the wrong setting on the camera. Anyway, it was a fun game with some surprising reverses of fortune. It started well for the Gobnovids, as they were the defenders (the Swiss have the same aggression as them). Seeing no reason to be nice, they laid out the minimum of terrain, some small patches of rough and a small steep hill. I suspect also that John may not have got the edge he wanted, as half of this terrain ended up on my baseline.

Initial Deployments: Swiss on the left and Gobnovids on the right. The Giant and Trolls look on from the camp.

After the Swiss had deployed I moved the two spear from right flank in exchange for a cavalry and a light horse (spider). Otherwise they would have done nothing, and the mounted seemed better suited to exploiting that flank. However the spear were facing pikes and possibly knights, so they weren’t in an ideal position.

From memory I had good PIPs at the start and advanced the right flank while wheeling the centre and not advancing the left much past the patch of rough. John seemed to decide that there was no point in letting me get things the way I wanted on the open flank, and advanced aggressively.

The armies close. On the right flank the spider and wolfriders face light crossbowmen, mounted and on foot.

John made my spiders (2LH) pay the price for their advance ahead of the rest of the line. He attacked them with his light horse supported by the light foot and they were destroyed when I rolled a 1.

Ouch! The spiders scuttle off.

Things just got worse for me when I rolled another 1 for the wolfriders against his psiloi. He rolled a 6 and they were gone. So much for a QK on psiloi! I’m sure I must have initiated this combat: 2-1 odds to me with a QK seemed pretty good.

The right flank starts to look tatty.

However, then the dice started to go my way and when John attacked in the centre and on the right; my psiloi and bow recoiled his light horse and crossbowmen and in the centre against pikes the commander was driven back while his left flank got a stick.

Blessed relief from dice hell!

I must have been scuppered for PIPs, as besides having the Ogres that were stuck recoiled, I did nothing. John swung into attack on the psiloi and they were destroyed (another 1-6), but my bow against his other psiloi returned the favour, and in the only other combat my overlapped bow got a stick against his pike.

The Goblins get on the scoreboard, but are now 3 down.

I then got PIPs to burn and the Ogres got out of first gear and rumbled into the pike creating bloody confusion. One peeled off the support of the only rear-ranked block, the other two charged into single-ranked pike, and a spear came across to support the bow. Things got off to a good start when my bow 6-1’ed his psiloi in shooting. Then the Ogres chomped up two pikes and it was all over.

The Ogre king of the Gobnovids revels in the slaughter of the Swiss pike.

  • Review:

You can read John’s account of this here.  He had a tough job trying to win with no terrain to support a flank. I don’t know if it would have helped if he’d tried to echelon leading on the right. I expected to win on my right wing, and very nearly lost there. In the end the dice evened up on that wing, as I got two kills to John’s two. When both of you have low combat factors things get very bloody and this, I think worked in my favour as I was able to win in the centre before the Swiss pike and knights could contact the spear on the left. That said, another low PIP roll on the turn I won would have seen the Ogres standing idle.

I’m becoming less obsessed by the dice, though it’s unnerving to open combat with a pair of 1’s. They evened out as the game went on: my rolls totalled 51, while John’s totalled 50 (such calculations are possible when you put the dice results in the photo!). There were more extreme results than is statistical, as of the 14 recorded combats (there might have been a couple I missed), there were three 6-1s (this should occur 1/18 times). And of the 28 rolls there were six 1s and eight 6s, when statistically each number should occur 4.67 times in 28 rolls.

What such statistics don’t tell is the effect of the dice in individual combats, as in combats with low factors the chances of doubling are much higher. Anyway, besides being entertaining to investigate, this analysis confirms that I got average dice, and average dice with the terrain advantages in this match-up were all that was needed.

Ogres and Goblins

8 August, 2010

The New Model Goblins.

The weather has relented enough for me to take some pictures of the Ogres and Goblins I painted last week. You can see all the New Look Goblins here. The figures are all Chariot from Magister Militum, and I’ve got a pile more waiting to be painted; however, these allow me to field two DBA armies that I want to try out on the table, either as armies to buy or as common opponents.

Three lots of Ogres, enough to model any elephant army in DBA.

From the side.

The Ogres are a mix from three packs. Previously I only had the three in a jockstrap; now I’ve mixed them in with some armoured ones. The command element has a goblin flagbearer and a drummer.

The spearmen, with psiloi support hidden behind.

The spearmen are a mix of armoured and unarmoured, with the armoured at the front. I’ve added shields; the front rank have shields from Outpost, while the back rank have my cardboard peltas. The spears are easily long enough to be used as pikes when I paint a few more stands.

With these figures, along with the ones I’d painted earlier and rebased last weekend, I have all the options for two armies: they can be Shamanid Goblins (Samanids, III/43c).

Shamanid Goblins: 3Ax on the left and the spider as 2LH!

Or they can be Gobnovids (Ghaznavids, III/63b).

Gobnovids with all the behemoths possible and an element of 3Bd (on left).

The Gobnovids had their first outing last Friday, which I’ll try to write up soon.

Last weekend I got back to painting after three months off. I started by rebasing on MDF the painted figures for three armies: early feudal, Komnenan Byzantine and Goblins. The Goblins were being based to allow me to field them as pseudo-Samanids and Ghaznavids. All I needed to paint to allow this was seven ogres to make behemoth/elephant elements and nine spearmen for some spear elements.

I got the rebasing done by the end of the weekend, though I’m yet to finish them with flock. I also prepped all the figures for the three armies: the 17 Goblins and 18 mounted 50 foot for the feudals (the Komnenans were already started). Over the week I finished the Goblins and had them all based and flocked in time for a game yesterday (Friday). I’ve yet to take any pictures of them; the weather’s pretty wet at the moment, but I’ll try to soon.

Today I started on the Komnenans. I’d run out of steam with these last year, and I decided that the best way to get them done was to tackle the hardest part first—the shields for the Kavallarioi. I’ve now completed them, and I’m pleased with how they look; the practice with Gallic shields at the start of the year was very handy for dealing with the irregular-sized shields of the Outpost figures. The army’s now a good way along, and I should be able to get it finished in the next few days, though I’m not sure how I’ll do the flag for the army. I’ll probably go with a double-headed eagle, which legend has was adopted by the Komnenoi as their symbol. It may not be totally accurate, but it’s a nice story.

A possible flag for the Komnenans.

For more on the double-headed eagle see here.

I’ve made use of my visit to Britain to get some figures without paying for postage. So far I’ve been pretty modest, and only got some Goblins (though quite a few!). These are from Magister Militum and will allow me to use my Goblins as just about any DBA army.

Inspired by Craig’s comment that he liked my ‘Classical Goblins’, I decided to get them some real chariots. The ‘Platform Carts’ of  the Chariot range aren’t that good, but I’ve managed to get them to provide solid wheels from their Sumerian range, which will make them look cruder.

I’ve also got some rhinosauruses that should be able to be used as knights, and more goblins that can be based as 4Sp/4Pk. To make the ‘elephants’ (behemoths in HOTT) more regular, I got some more of their ogres (armoured ones for variety). I’ll mix these in and make one of them a command element with a goblin standard bearer and drummer. Then I’ll have three ‘elephants’ with a clear commander for them. I can also create pike armies with the spearmen (stand-in successor armies until I paint one!). In time, I should have some endlessly morphable Goblins for practice fights.

I’ve also bought a second-hand boardgame for nostalgia value. It’s WRG’s Decline and Fall. I had a lot of fun playing this years ago, not that it’s terribly well balanced, but it was going cheaply enough and again I could save on postage.

Otherwise, I’m considering making my post AD 450 Early Muslim North Africa and Sicily (III/33). It occurred to me that these were a loose form of Carthaginians: same geographical place and some similarities in the army; they don’t have elephants or warbands, but they have similar amounts of cavalry (one more 2LH than the Carthos), spear and psiloi. they have the option of ditching the spear and going for lots of auxilia, which would make them very mobile, and potentially a headache for elephant armies.

I’ll need to research the history of this army a little more. Are there any colourful personalities that led it? But it has the potential to satisfy my requirements for an army. It has an interesting mix of troops and they’d fight in a similar fashion to the Carthaginians (not that I’ve mastered them with the Carthaginians). It has potential to hold my interest, especially as I’m thinking of getting some of their enemies for a campaign: Andalusians (III/34b), Fanatic Berbers (III/74), Feudal Spanish (III35b) and Sicilians (IV/5a). The figures for these have a degree of internal morphability, so wouldn’t need to be done all at once. They’ve also got a lot of psiloi, which would make them cheaper and quicker to paint.

Thinking about all the mistakes that contributed to the Carthaginians failure against the Classical Indians last night, I decided to refight the battle solo. I don’t have any Classical Indians, so I resorted to my Goblins, as I’d done some time ago. The Goblins this time used wolves for the HCh, but were otherwise led by a Giant along with ogre and troll cohorts (3xEl) and had goblin archers (4x3Bw), wolf riders (2x3Cv) and as I didn’t have enough archers to replicate Joel’s army, I took a 5Bd(!)—I didn’t have any 3Bd, as they’d been cannibalized for SBH.

The Carthaginian leader, one of the numerous Hasdrubals, was in retreat from India. Fortunately most of his casualties had been skirmishers. But he still wasn’t looking forward to explaining his defeat to his superiors. After all, now that the Carthaginian Republic was the supreme power in the Mediterranean and was even extending its influence east beyond the Hellenistic world, it took a dim view of unsuccessful generals. Hasdrubal was hoping for some success on the way back to balance this defeat. He reinforced his army with some Gallic mercenaries that had been foraging during the previous encounter, so there were two 3Wb instead of two of the 2Ps. These Gauls brought some disturbing news, claiming to have seen a Giant with a horde of hideous green-skinned people. Hasdrubal was disinclined to take such a report too seriously, given the Gallic propensity for exaggeration; he also suspected that their foraging had gained them a little more wine than was wise. Nevertheless, he sent forward his Numidians to confirm this report.

The Numidians brought back news that there was indeed a host of these foul creatures and they were camped near an area strangely similar to the battlefield on which they had met the Indians. Upon ascertaining the nature of this army and drawing on his experience in the previous battle, Hasdrubal succeeded in forcing the Giant to deploy with the marsh in the middle of his line. This gave Hasdrubal a handy wood on each flank. This time he took care to position his camp centrally and watch the Goblins deploy. The Giant chose to deploy on his left of the marsh, so he would have clear ground in front of him. He put the wolves to his left and the archers to his right with the wolf riders in reserve and the blades on the end of the line. After he saw the Carthaginian deployment he shifted one archer to the left to try to meet the threat of the Spanish Scutati.

Hasdrubal deployed with the Libyan spear on his right flank with the Spanish Scutarii ready to go out wide from them. In the centre were the elephants with Libyan skirmishers in support. On the left were the Gauls and in reserve were the Numidians and Hasdrubal’s Libyphoenician cavalry.

Initial Deployments: Goblins on the left and Carthaginians on the right.

The opening manoeuvres favoured Hasdrubal, who had good PIPs, while the Goblins started very slowly, struggling to get out of the marsh. However, Hasdrubal moved his spear and elephants a little closer than was sensible before they had support on the left flank and the Giant was able to launch a general attack. Shooting in Hasdrubal’s turn had recoiled one of the spear, but the archer was not able to advance with the line, being ZOCed by the Scutarii. The Giant started by having the psiloi in front of the trolls put to flight. This left the elephant on the left overlapped against archers, who destroyed it. Elsewhere it did not go so well. He was recoiled against elephants, as were the ogres against spear. The poor wolves faced long odds and were routed when the dice went 1-6 against them.

The Giant's charge sees each side lose an element, but the Carthaginians can be relieved to have got off so lightly.

In Hasdrubal’s turn he attacks the archers with his Scutarii and brings the Libyan psiloi in front of the spear. He also advances to reform the line on the left along with the Gauls. In the only combat the Scutarii rout the opposing bow.

With good PIPs Hasdrubal restores some order to the Carthaginian line.

The Giant advances his archers to shoot at the Gauls, destroying one warband with concentrated fire. He advances on the Libyan psiloi, but only recoils it, rather than making it flee.

Accurate shooting sees some Gauls break and run.

Hasdrubal decides to gamble on a charge into the archers. The Gauls use a move sideways to join him (avoiding the archers’ ZOC), and then uses their second move to charge into combat. They are followed by Hasdrubal and the Libyan psiloi, who on the right have overlap support from the spear. Hasdrubal goes first and destroys the archers in front of him, the Gauls then recoil the archers they face, but the Libyans, despite overlap support on both sides, get a ‘stick’ against the trolls and are recoiled again against the ogres.

Hasdrubal succeeds in his charge on the Goblin archers.

In the Giant’s turn, he flanks the Gauls and advances on the elephant and spear. He rather foolishly leaves the trolls in combat with the psiloi, though with his overlap the odds are now better (3-2 rather than 2-2 of the turn before). The Gauls shrug off the attack of the archers, chasing after them. The Libyans facing the trolls finally prove too much for them, and although the Giant recoils the opposing elephant, it’s not enough to help the ogres against the Libyan spear, who recoil them. With their battleline now in tatters the goblins take to their heels.

The trolls have had enough, and with their departure the goblins flee.

Hasdrubal has a victory, and some strange trophies to restore his standing in the republic.

  • Review:

I had a plan this time, and the Giant didn’t really counter it effectively. His wolf riders were not really effective on the right flank, and should probably have been on the left where they would have made a very useful reserve. However, they had the hope of flanking the Carthaginians, which they had neither the PIPs nor the time to do.

The idea of facing the elephants with elephants was one I got from the Fanaticus Forum. I thought putting the psiloi in the middle would be a good way of neutralizing the general and keeping it safe from other mounted. Otherwise, the dice were kind to me this time, though it made a difference that the psiloi were only exposed to elephants (of sorts!) this time, as they were my downfall in the last game.

The Carthaginians were overdue for a win, even if a solo one. I should get to use them again this Friday when I visit John. After that there won’t be many battle before my trip overseas removes me from gaming for a few weeks. Then I hope to get them down to Christchurch for the Christchurch Wargames Club’s DBA Open Championship. After all, I need the practice before the IWC competition.