15 Sept 2023

Smoke me a Sporran, the Ottomans are heading North to Scotland !

 Finally, after many years of dithering, I at last was now about to add yet another country to the roster of places where I've played ADLG (a list including England, Ireland, Wales, France, Greece, USA, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Spain..) - in the shape of Scotland!

Yes, an epic drive to the West Coast border town of Irvine, famous for being the site of Scotland's 12th century military capital and, at the time of David I, Robert II and Robert III, being one of the earliest capitals of Scotland.

But all of that military history was about to be wiped from the slate by the advent of the first edition of the long-running Sighian Dubh event to take place outside of the suburban combat zones of Glasgow, and also the on-table debut of a long since painted Ottoman Turkish army as well!

The event was themed for Late armies - post 1066, which inevitably would mean a lot of heavy metal. I disregarded this entirely and picked an Ottoman force on the basis that I had painted the core of them a while ago and then added some of the scraps of Clive's collection of many Ottoman armies to round my handful of Legio Heroica purchases and Old Glory hand-me-downs up to a complete force, and because they also looked really pretty.

Read on for the usual heady mix of garbled nonsense, inappropriate Scottish-themed GIFs and videos, vaguely witty captions attached to pictures of little soldiers in action, and yet more cutting post battle analysis from Medieval Hannibal ! 

9 Sept 2023

28mm Successors

 Last year at Warfare I turbocharged a rather slow-motion project to collect and paint a Successor army in 28mm by picking up a load of mostly-Victrix plastis figures to give me more than enough to cook up most Successor armies.

I'd already done a couple of test bases (elephants, some Thracians and a slinger unit) but with real life getting in the way for much of this year I'd really struggled to make time and desk space for painting and assembling the rest of the army... until quite recently when I made a stab at getting most of the lighter units ready to put on table. 

This meant some kitbashing with the plastic spares box, mostly working with one of the original Victrix boxes of Hellenistic Skirmishers - a 50+ body box with plenty of javelin and other light troops in it - together with having a bash at the couple of units of Galatians that every self-respecting Seleucid army needs to have in the middle of their line.

I decided to go for a "Contrast First" painting style for the army, starting with a matt white undercoat and then doing all of the flesh on these skirmishers and Thracians in Darkoath Flesh. 

This was almost good enough just for me to go with it for the army, but with the Galatians in particulat warranting a little more effort I then decided to add some rather rough and ready "impressionistic" musculature to the figures in an effort to see if I could do this to a decent enough standard that it wouldn't look totally rubbish!

This was the first real pass at it, using Vallejo Dark Flesh to pick out muscles on the figures. If you zoom in you can see its fairly basic stuff, but I did find these Victrix figures were ideally sculpted to help you identify which bits to pick out and highlight.

I then added a mix of mostly subdued colours to the skirmishers - the white is actually a Warlord Games paint called Holy White that seems to give a good effect without going "too" grey.

The Galatians got a bit more demarcation of their musculature as well at this stage, with some Sunny Skin Tone from Vallejo for additional highlights

After the usual rigmarole of white / gloss varnish / waterslide transfer / gloss varnish with a bit of Microsol and Microset thrown in for good measure the Galatian then had Battle Flag shield patterns too. 

These are the "Thracians" - they are Victrix Hellenistic Skirmisher bodies with added cloaks left over from various figures, some Gothic and Davian heads, and 2-part "falx's" made from the (over-) long curved sword blades from the Fireforge Arab Cavalry box glued onto one side of a figures fist, and a cut-off bit of spear (I think from the Gripping Beast Romans, as it looks pretty thick) glued to the other side. 

There are also plenty of javelinmen and archers - the guys with extra spears behind their shields are soaking up some of the excess javelins in the Victrix pack which have been snipped in half and glued either side of the fist holding the shield. 

The Galatians look particularly jolly with their shields all finished (with painted edges to match the transfer in most cases).  I just about managed to fit 7 on a standard 60x40 base, which gives a very dense formation feel IMO.

And here are the rest of the guys, with sand + woodstain basing, just now waiting for some touchups in bronze (post-matt varnishing) and for me to find and apply some static grass and grass tufts - which are somewhere in the house but are yet to be found! 

Once they are done I'll put some lightbox photos up of the finished articles 



14 Aug 2023

The Fatimid Empire extends to ... Winnersh!

 Back in the mists of time (OK, June..) a mighty Fatmid army took part in the 1-day Southern League ADLG event on the outskirts of reading. 

Or, more accurately, Winnersh..

The theme was The Normans and their Enemies, and having already fielded a Norman army earlier this year in, erm, Normandy I opted to take another never-before-seen force out of the lockdown painting locker and put the little-fancied Fatimids on table for the very first time.

This allowed me to field a number of new-ish units all painted during Lockdown - foremost of which were the possibly spurious Al-Sariyah Pikemen, together with some Medium Infantry Arab Clubmen as part of a rather mixed bag of  one of the lesser-seen Arab armies. 

The event saw the Fatimids taking on a range of thematic opponents, including the Konstantinian Byzantines, North African Arabs and finally the Kingdom of Sicily

19 Jul 2023

How big is that ballista again?

On a recent gaming trip to Scotland, Dave ("from the podcast") and I dropped into the Roman Army Museum, which is near the Vindolanda fort and is part of the same group of museums allowing entry with a single ticket.

There's a fair bit of stuff to go through from this trip, most if not all of which will make it to this site eventually - but I thought these reconstructued ballistae were pretty interesting in wargaming terms, mainly due to their (small) size.

The one on the left is apparently a millimeter-perfect reconstruction based on an actual ballista frame discovered at Xanten-Wardt in North West Germany in 1999 - and it is very clearly man-portable and designed to fold up, to the extent that you could almost imagine Roman soldiers using it in pairs with one offering his shoudler as a tripod as if they were a WW2 German MG34 team! 

OK, that may be pushing it a bit, but bottom line is this is a pretty small weapon, which got me thinking as to whether we wargamers have been somehow hypnotized into thinking ballistae were all much bigger than this simply because the many small-scale metal castings we own of ballistae are, well, 'bigger' than this too.

Looking at how small and delicate the real thing looks however, I started to wonder if a 15mm sculptor and caster might struggle to make something with these proportions - the legs look almost too spindly to confidently reproduce in metal at that scale for starters - so instead might end up designing and casting a bigger, cruder version that actually works on the tabletop without breaking at first contact with a wargamers thumb and forefinger. 

So, taking this train of thought further, are our wargamers mental images of tactical ballistae are in fact much bigger than they actually were because of the technical limits of 20th Century spin-casting technology - not the limits of 1st Century wood and metalworking?   

Looking at such a small and portable device it was also very easy to imagine a Roman legion or auxiliary unit setting up a few of these and pinging off a sustained barrage of bolts at a distant enemy, either encamped or even just gesticulating angrily at them from the top of a nearby hill. 

In terms of a "mass battle" of many thousands that we wargamers often simulate the effect of this still may not have been all that significant, but walking through the countryside near Hadrians Wall, and seeing the size of the garrison at Vindolanda you can easily imagine that the norm would have been much smaller actions - where a sustained volley of well-aimed long range bolts may indeed have had a quite dramatic effect on the morale of a tribal warband numbering in the dozens, rather than the tens of thousands.

So, some idle speculation to accompany these pictures of torsion artillery - but, even if its nonsense it did make me think, and make me also realise that no matter how well read you may be, it's still always useful to get out there and walk the course occasionally!

2 Jul 2023

And now for something a smidge different : The Battle of Trebbia

 This website is unashamedly a bit competition-gaming orientated (no sh-- Sherlock!) but occasionally I do play other sorts of games, and with Dan H from the US putting out a series of Punic Wars scenarios on the ADLG Facebook group using pretty standard sized armies, the opportunity to do a club-night refight using some little-seen classic Roman figures was too good to miss out on.

Just to prove it happened as much as anything else, I also brought along my camera and took a load of photos to cook up a battle report as well.

The battle features a Roman army with lacklustre leadership and questionable morale against Hannibal, who has the advantage of choosing his ground, laying an ambush, and having a full head of thick luxurious hair (resulting in a post-match analysis from him delivered in the style of a Pulp Fiction era Samuel L Jackson).

In this game I commanded the inexperienced, wet and tired Roman legions in a game where setup was entirely pre-scripted and the first turn saw both sides pictched straight into battle - meaning I was hoping from the off that the martial skills of the Legions would help me change history and confound Hannibals cunning plan!

Read on for the report 

11 Jun 2023

3D printed Knights

 My adventures in 3D printing continue to slowly gather pace, although not by any stretch of the imagination at a pace which will see me take up 3D printing as a hobby anytime soon!

No, instead of that I've just gone onto eBay and bought some 3D printed "15mm" Knights designed by Eskice Miniatures and sold on eBay UK by Hoplite Miniatures

I did sort of want some of these Knights (full armour, no horse barding) but the purchase was as much to see what 3D printing could deliver today, a year after buying some very definately "scaled up 10mm" dollies for an Etruscan army. And, also, these were very cheap indeed at just £12+ P&P  for 24 cavalry figures.  

These are the figures that arrived in the post shortly afterwards - the pictures are taken on a half-inch grid (that's not because I'm an old Imperial-measurementalist, its just that the metric side of this double-sides cutting board is by now totally f---ed).  

They are big chunky models, and are (as scaled by Hoplite Miniatures) pretty big for "15mm", being a chunky 18mm if you are generous, or a fat 19mm if you are not so inclined. 

There were 7 different knights in a few different poses, and as you can see they are pretty clean with only a few little nubs of support still left on that I was easily able to snip off with sprue cutters. 

The horses though were very well-fed wolf-ish, and at this stage I was a little concerned that they might not really cut it, both in terms of style and scale against other 15mm metal and plastic figures I already have. 

But, painted up I think they have come out surprisingly well given that rather lumpy looking start.

With paint, shading and washes the horses have largely (but not entirely..) lost that "giant racing lemming" look, with the detail really picking up the Army Painter wash (and in some cases GW Contrast Paint main colour) quite well.  

I deliberately did the shields in simple geometric designs to keep them in the style of the Corvus Belli 100YW knights I painted earlier this year,  ducking the opportunity to add papper printed designs to them. Some of the shields (the round ones) wouldn't take a sticker anyway, but I do wonder if more detailed shields wouldlift these guys even more? 

The lances are surprisingly flexible, with quite a lot of "give" in them, making these much more robust  for such narrow bits of printing than some of the other printed resins I've seen, so from that I suspect materials technology is moving on apace in the 3D printing world.

Having said all that, I did manage to snap two of the lances off when I was taking these photos having done no damage to any of them at all in the preceeding painting and basing stages - they did however glue back on pretty easily with superglue, as the breaks were very clean. 

I only did barber pole stripes on a few of them, not wanting the units to look like a fairground ride with too many striped poles. 

The running horses are actually too long (when printed at this scale) to fit on a 30mm deep base, but I did manage to find some 35mm deep bases I had lying around and they managed to fit pretty well on those. 

So, all in all these are very nice, while also not really being all that close to the standards of good 15mm metal-cast figures from established sculptors. they are however leaps and bounds better than the "Playmobil" figures I bought last year, and are more than perfectly servicable for one-table usage.

The oversized impression from the raw prints seemed to be greatly mitigated by a count of paint and standardized basing - and I imagine that it would in any case be perfectly possible to print them slightly smaller just by changing some settings on the machine anyway.

So, the 3D future is almost here - not quite, but certainly getting closer every day. It will just take a few more folks to pick up their mouse (?) and noodle away at designing figure ranges, presumably just like whoever is designing stuff under the Eskice brand banner and suddenly there will be enough interest and enough competition for design to reach that next level - and if (OK, "when") that is matched with advances in materials tech too it'll not be too long until the choice between printed and cast ranges is a very difficult one to call indeed. 

I plan to take some size comparison photos and post them up in the next few days as well.

(Here's an affiliate link to Hoplite MIniatures eBay store: https://ebay.us/NbWnTW)

5 Jun 2023

The Gauls at Roll Call - 5 new ADLG match reports

 Having wheeled out (see what I did there..?) the Assyrians in a 25mm period at last year's Roll Call tournament, this time around I had resolved to dive into the somewhat deeper and more murky 15mm pool to give yet another rarely-seen army a proper outing post-Covid.

The theme was a somewhat intriguing "Roman Pond" - armies who might have been able to go paddling in the Med in the timeline encompassed by any of the Roman Republic or Empire armies in the ADLG book, which cut off most of the Cataphract-heavy options from a more traditional Roman themed period, making players armychoices rather different (aka altering the "meta") as a result too. 

With that in mind, and a wish to continue to test some of the less fancied armies and new v4 rules, I settled eventually on the often overlooked but in theory quite popular Gauls.

The outcome was the following 5 extremely verbose battle reports full of the usual nonsense of speech bubbles, laboured metaphors, hyperbollix language and out of place references to local foodstuffs - but this time with post-game analysis from Asterix & Obelix (as well as Hannibal)!  

Pull up a baguette, put a pot of Magic Potion on the stove and get ready to read all 5 of these Gallic Battle Reports at your leisure !

31 May 2023

The Last Almughavar

 Nope, it's not a new Spanish-language film to get history buffs excited, it is instead the final unit of Fireforge Games Almughavars which have finally been snipped from the sprue and added to my Medieval Spanish (& Feudal Spanish) armies. 

As with the others (unsurprisingly) these guys went together really easily, although for Almughavar purists you will see that I rather ran out of left arms and had to give a couple of the guys lurking at the back a shield in order to round out the unit.

The big innovation here was to add in a morning star from the Fireforge Crusading Knights box set, thus giving the lead dude a pretty cool and unusual choice of anachronistic weaponry to lead the line with.

I originally did this by gluing on an army from the box of Knights, which meant his right arm was fully mailed while his left was in Barcelona-summertime attire of short sleeves - something I sort of justified to myself on health and safety grounds to do with using a flailing set of spiked balls as a weapon.

After basing the unit though I realised this actually just looked weird, so I snipped the offending mailed arm off at the shoulder (it came off cleanly as this was where the join was located) and then added a new short-sleeved one which had originally been holding a spear.  

The spear I cut off cleanly just above the fist, and then using plastic cement (airfix glue in old money) carefully attached the handle (?) of the morning star, having also snipped that off cleanly just above the mailed fist that was holding it.

This all pretty much worked OK, as airfix glue melds the two bits together making a very strong join - but just to be belt and braces I also had positioned the morning stars such that I could superglue one of them to the top of the owners helmet for that "second point of contact" to make the joint more stable.  

So, here they are ready to go, with the newly upgraded arm in pride of place. 

(I won't mention that there is a chap in the second rank with a fully armoured right arm holding a mace, who I couldn't quite reach after fixing the figures to the base!) 


24 May 2023

Peter Pig Pikemen

 Peter Pig recently released a rather surprising (for them..) new set of hellenistic pikemen and command, in what looks to the the start of a new range to complement some of their small but perfectly Piggily-formed Greeks, Romans and their enemies (Germans, Parthians etc).

As a general fan of all things Pig - and with a mate putting in an order for some WW2 stuff I could Piggy-back (ahem) onto - I thought I should pick up a set and give them a whirl. 

They are all cast without pikes - very much the modern style I think, and a good idea all round especially for anyone like me who has long since bought a plastic-bristled brush to make endless numbers of 15mm spears out of !

The pikemen figures have one basic pose, alhough I think the heads look in slightly different directions on them - when they are ranked up it's hard to tell.  

The castings are effective when painted and based en mass, as you can see from these who have had a black undercoat with fairly quick and simple drybrushed metal armour, and then some basic colours for flesh added - however I did feel that it would have been rather challenging to paint them "better" than this, as a lot of the detail seemed in hard to get to places on the figures, or perhaps was not as paint-friendly and sharp as I had initially hoped when looking at the castings themselves.

The officer pack has 8 figures too, with a couple of standard bearers, officers with swords and trumpeters. The pikemens shields are of the "tiny" persuasion, making it pretty tough to put any sort of pattern onto them - VVV transfers would I'm sure be too big by far, although I'm told that LBMS may do a very small range for Forged in Battles' similarly small-shielded pikemen that could maybe fit.

Squeezing in a second standard at the rear of the base has allowed me to make up a 12-man ADLG pikeman unit with only 1 pack of actual pikemen and one of officers (who'd do perfectly well as officers for the other PP "hellenistic" set, the 2 packs of City Militia Peltasts in the Parthian range)

The spare officers I used to make up a small command stand with a fairly low-skill banner design to boot!

And here they are ready to fight. 

In many ways these figures reminded me of some QRF Medieval Swiss figures I have in the same army as some from Mirliton - just like the QRF Swiss, the level of detail on these chaps isn't perhaps as good as some other ranges out there, but when massed together it's really difficult to tell the difference - and pikemen are always all about the mass effect.

All in all they are a solid if unspectacular addition to the already extensive roster of  "true" 15mm pikemen out there - especially if you want small shields, angled pikes and open hands. 

Personally speaking having done these I think I'm a bit of a "bigger shield" and "vertical pikes" man myself, as I find that generally more  practical for gaming and it also allows the shield patterns to offset my own sometimes patchy painting standard!

17 May 2023

More Plastic Medievals - this time some cavalry

 In my continuing quest to buy up what seems like the entire Corvus Belli medieval 100YW range in Siocast, the third installment was a pack of mounted sergeants that I actually paid full price for (!!) at Warfare last year (unlike the bring and buy bargain that made up the initial purchase). 

This gave me 18 mounted figures to act as the lance-armed cavalry who support the proper Knights in a host of Medieval armies, these guys being sufficiently generic (for me...!) to work in almost any western -ish (I say that because I might try them as Hussite cavalry one day) European Medieval army.

These guys seemed to be made with plastic that was a smidge harder (aka less "Airfix 1/72nd scale"-style) than the other Siocast figures I picked up and painted earlier in the year. 

I've not seen anything from PSC to say they are now using a newer version of the Siocast resin, but on the basis that Warlord Games have made exactly such an announcement recently it's not an unreasonable guess that PSC have also migrated (or been migrated by the Siocast people?) to a new formulation too.

I used a black spray undercoat on these, in order to give me the sort of deep shadows that make the padded leather jerkins really pop - the best thing about these figures IMO, and well worth making the effort to paint them carefully so they stand out. 

To get some colour into them I did 2 bases with blue jerkins, 2 with red, one with green and one in a more plain brown leather. 

The white bit is a set of diagonal stripes, which were cleanly cast onto the models and pretty easy to pick out with a small brush

I also continued my run of doing 4-spot faces on these guys too - some of them had pretty small faces under those helmets but at wargaming distances they look OK IMO. 

From the back the striped, blacklined effect on the jerkins comes out really clearly

You'll note that these two sets of guys in red do have slightly different coloured reins - again allowing me to differentiate these as separate units or drop them itno different commands in an ADLG army if needed, or to keep them together as well.

Some of the spears were bent, and some others seemed to bend out of shape quite markedly after I undercoated them - which was weird - but they do seem mostly to have bent back into shape with just a little manual encouragement with no need to heat them in hot water or anything. They can't be made dead straight, but they are break-proof so swings and roundabouts there I guess. 

I did try and drill out one chaps hand to take a plastic broom bristle spear, but much to my surprise I found it really tricky to do. 

This was because the arm of the figure wobbled alarmingly (being plastic rather than metal of course) when I was drilling into the hand/gauntlet, meaning I ended up with a pretty ragged and messy hole even when using my Dremel with the uppy-downey lever thing contraption. As a result I basically gave up on drilling any more and left them as they were.  

One thing I did find was that the riders sat a little "wide" on the horses, and being plastic its simply not possible to squeeze the riders legs together to grip their mounts more tightly as you can do with metal figures. 

That means you are relying entirely on the glue to make a good bond between buttock and saddle, as the riders legs are permanently set a bit wider than the horse's backs. 

All in all I'm very pleased by how they have come out, and now I'm frantically flicking through army list books to find an excuse to use them!

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