26 Jan 2024

28mm Cataphracts for the Successor project

 The Successor army moves on apace, with the latest addition being 3 units of Cataphracts, making the later version of the Seleucids an option to use at a future event. 

I already have some Gripping Beast fully armoured horse troops, which I painted up as Arab Ghilmen cavalry quite some time ago - however those figures were very wide, with the horse armour making it impossible to do the "wargames-standard" 4 figures to a base.  

It was therefore with some trepidation that I picked up a box of GB's new Roman Cataphracts, only to be pleasantly surprised to find that they appear to have thinned-down the horses so it is almost - with caveats - possible to squeeze 4 of them together on a standard DBx-style 60mm wide base. 

This feat of engineering was achieved with a bit of careful arrangement, slightly deeper than usual (50mm) bases, and some judicious use of the sprue clipper to remove any lower legs that were keeping the horses in the middle of each block too far apart.

It's surprisingly hard to notice the missing legs in this solid mass of metal.

Where I had cut the legs too high up the thigh, I also filled in some of the gaps with wood filler, painted it black and then drybrushed it to match the rest of the guys - which made an already hard to spot thing even harder. 

This happy chap is yet to find a suitable shield transfer to go onto his standard. I have a feeling I may end up buying a sheet of white 25mm Successor shield "stars" from Veni Vidi Vici just to drop one on this standard (so if anyone has a spare please let me know!). 

If you look really closely you can see that the standard bearer's demeanour appears not to be adversely impacted by the loss of one of his legs just above the knee, which is rather reminiscent of the legendary Peter Cook & Dudley Moore "Tarzan Audition" sketch!

I also used a lot of head swaps from the bits box for these - leaving the "Roman" heads out and adding in very "Greek" ones from Phalangites, Hoplites and Companion cavalry to emphasise their Greekness. 

The second rate unit will be this one in bronze - the painting is a simple black spray base coat and drybrish with Vallejo Weapon Bronze, with the spears and faces undercoated in white before painting the colurs onto them. 

The spears have a barbership sort of effect which is enhanced considerably IMO by the fairly simple addition of extra "rings" that break up the blocks of colour. 

These are a dark brown initial ring around the lance, with a ring of ochre brown then painted inside it. 

This breaks up the bit between the blocks of colour nicely, and also gives you a bit of leeway to even up the lengths of the blocks of colour when you've painted them by painting the dark brown ring over a bit more of one colour or the other in each case ! 

There is also a barely-visible coloured bit of cloth at the bottom of the horse armour - this too adds some subtle hinits of colour to the units

The final bit was to do some colour on the joiny-bit at the back of the horse armour (which may just be there ot hide the join line in the two halves of the horse !).  

This also adds more subtle colour on what is an otherwise potentially rather one-tone figure.

So, 1 dozen cataphracts, all of which actually fit together in a solid block on 60mm frontages, and all for a very decent price too!


21 Jan 2024

Iberian Airport Lounge List Dump

 As I'm currently sat at Valencia Airport waiting for a flight home, the joys of airport free WiFi have allowed me to bring you 7 all-new ADLG army lists from this weekend, with both my army and those of my 6 opponents already in the Wiki on this site.

Those lists are:

FWIW, the Mithraditic army lost to the Hittites and Chinese, and then defeated the remaining four armies in this list. 

Before the competition Team CLWC undertook an epic road trip, taking in Cordoba and Granada before arriving in Alicante on Friday evening. 

With a following wind there will be a podcast with everyone in the car chatting about it, but here's some highlights:

12 Jan 2024

Victrix Successor Pikemen in 28mm

 I've already posted a few articles about my (of course over ambitious) project to create a generic Hellenistic/Successor army in 28mm, which started with the lighter troops and peltasts, and then added some Galatians and some cavalry... all of which was really a rather folorn effort to put off tacking the Phalanx for as long as possible!

The dread of the Phalanx is twofold. 

First up, it's a lot of near-identical, uniform figures, which always makes painting a bit of a chore. But more importantly I had decided that the Victrix spears were simply too flimsy to use as-is, and instead that I would drill out the pikemen's hands and add in metal pikes instead.

If this wasn't too easy, I also decided to go a little off-piste on the headswap front, throwing in all sorts of plastic heads from the spares box (which has all sorts in it!) as well as mixing it up with the rather good range of heads that come on the Victrix sprues. 

Oh, and as if that's not enough, I also got a pack of Successor metal heads from Aventine to shake things up even more, as I do really like my troops to look like battle-worn veterans and the whole "I'm not using standad kit!" thing is a big part of that.   

And, to make things even harder I tried to create that "might not be a real thing" joining-type-bit that wraps around the middle of each pike by using tiny strips of normal paper soaked in quite a lot of PVA glue. 

Oh, and did I mention that I then bought two sets of Victrix Argyaspids on the mistaken assumption that they would be pikemen? They are in fact armed with spears, so the decision to drill out their hands and add metal pikes wasn't even one I had anychoice over in the end - I simply had to do it once I started. 

Dodging some rather chilly and wet spells of weather along the way, I eventually ended up with 2/3 of the total number of guys all primed and ready to start painting.  

And here's an intermediate step, with the LBMS shield transfer rushed into place a little earlier than maybe is sensible simply to give me some encouragement that they would actually be worth the effort in the end. 

What you can see here quite clearly is that there are two sizes of shield - something I only spotted in the nick of time - with the Argyaspid shields being slightly bigger. The bodies of the Argyaspids and Macedonian Phalanx sets are pretty similar, only slight cosmetic differences in the straps that I guess support the shield, but near enough identical so I could use them interchangeably on all of my pikemen.

I also - which you can also see here - used some different arms from the bits box to hold the pikes.  This was in part to create even more variety in posees, but was mostly because it's impossible to drill out 48 plastic arms and hands without messing a few of them up, so you need some replacements. 

Some look a bit clunky but will get lost in the Phalanx I'm sure..?

And, eventually here we are, getting somewhere at last with the Veteran Mercenary phalanx set of LBMS transfers in place and the men mostly finished. 

At this stage I have painted the pikes in my standard Ochre Brown, and used a dark brown to paint the joining-bit bits, so I can use a lighter colour to do a bit of a very basic twisted rope effect later. 

And here's a close up so you can see exatly how basic it actually is.  The guy on the right has been a receipient of a donated arm, which does look a bit odd from this angle. Perhaps he needs to be in the  middle of the block of 12 men? 

This is three ADLG units of 12 pikemen all based up and ready to be finished off with some sand and woodstain.  

If you count you'll see that they are based in 4 ranks of 3 files per base, with each base being a standard 60x60mm. I had originally assumed that they would end up as 4 files and 3 ranks but the shields are just a bit too big, and the pikemen's stance is too wide to make that work without staggering the figures in each rank (which would look wierd for a Greek-style well drilled Phalanx), so 3x4 it has to be. 

At least it gives the shields more room to shine. 

This is the finished  article, a Veteran/Mercenary unit with a right rogues gallery of characters and headgear on display. 

The chap front left is a Gallic cavalry head I think, and the chap in the middle is probably a Turk or Mongol cavalryman who looks ready to fight pretty much anyone!

There is even a Persian in the middle with a fetching blue bubble hat!  

I blended the red shield transfer at the back into the full shield with some paint mixing, but for most of the rest I left a black circle around the shield and then did a rim of bronze, which I touched up again after the matt varnishing stage to give them some extra shine and 'ping'. 

Plenty more random heads on display here. 

I did the linen armour by starting with a base coat of Holy White from Warlord Games Speedpaint range, and then blocked in the big flat areas in simple white, as well as picking out the petruges (?) on their armoured skirts in white too. 

I did try a black undercoat initially but found it too harsh, so the grey of Holy White, and the way it pools and darkens around the edges is a good alternative. 

These chaps have ended up as the Argyaspids - that whole "My Boss's face on my shield" thing must indicate some exceptional level of loyalty to the cause! 

As they will most likely be the Elite chaps I added in the officer, standard bearer and trumpeter to the base - putting the trumpeter at the back and the standard bearer in the middle so their rather flimsy trumpet and flag would be a lot harder to break in normal handling. 

I think there is also a logic to the trmpteter at least being at the back to sound the commands for the Phalanx to follow?

These are the standard Phalangites - slightly smaller shields than the Argyaspids. It's a little frustrating that the info on the Victrix site doesn't make it explicit which sets of shield transfers fit which set of pikemen, but with a mix of types to choose from I managed to muddle through OK.

You can see a lot of the headswaps here - even a chilled out dude in a Cretan floppy hat, who is of course towards the back of the unit.  

Although there seems to be another more foolhardy Cretan in the front rank too..

This was the officer - some of the packs come with 3 extra figures, and rather strangely the command sprue has two sets of legs wearing trounsers as well. 

This isn't really enough to change a full 24-man Phalanx to "Asiatic Successors" (!!) but I did manage to use them and put them in the front rank so visually it does have a material effect on how they look.

The officers in this army are clearly better fed than the rank and file phalangites! 

All in all, I'm really chuffed wth how they have turned out. Drilling out the hands is a real PITA, and nothing can hide thatfact, but I think it's been worth it in the end. 

Now I only need to steel myself to finish off the final 24 to add to the 48 I've already done!

1 Jan 2024

It's New Year.. but he's still Spartacus..!

With the dawn of 2024 still fresh, it's time to wheel out an army that I picked up way back in 2019 (pre pandemic!), and only got around to painting at the start of last year - and which first took to the tabletop at the very end of 2023, at the 3rd Devonian Classic competition in always-sunny Brixham.

Yes, this is Spartacus! is now appearing on your small (ish) screen in full polychrom cinematic glory (OK, they are almost all painted in Contrasts..) in 5 battle reports where the Slave Revolt struggles for freedom against the oppressive hegemonoies of the Greek City States (twice), the overweening imperialist ambitions of Alexander The Great, the Eastern Empire of the Comfy Kushans, and the Francophonic stylings of the Gauls. 

There is oodles of  additional irrelevant content shoehorned into these 5 reports, including some dubious "facts" about Spartacus' links to Torbay,and some very strange AI-generated images of poorly armed kitchen workers and gardeners leading the charge against oppression

There is also loads of commentary and analysis from all of the usual suspects, including of course the final word in critique from Hannibal, and an array of non-sequitur captions which occasionally veer into philosophical musings on whether rodent-scat-based segregation criteria are good for military discipline and morale. 

Go on, let this happy chap brighten up your hangover this New Year's Day with his tales of derring-do and liberation from oppression and servitide achieved through the aggressive deployment of kitchen equipment in a hitherto unforseen combat context in these 5 Madaxeman battle reports! 

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