Friday, 25 May 2018

Late Roman armoured cavalry

I bought a box of the new Gripping Beast Late Roman armoured cavalry as soon as they were available. I was already working on a box of the Dark Ages cavalry to use as Roman light cavalry, but what I really wanted was some armoured riders to boost my Saga Late Roman warband, use as Romano-British "Arthurians" and also to enable me to field a warband as Last Romans as described in the Age of Vikings book for Saga 2. These guys would work as part of a warband from the 6th or 7th century, i.e. the period between Justinian the Great and Heraclius, but don't look right as troops from one of the Tagmata or Thematic units that made up later Roman armies from the 8th-10th centuries.

Anyway, although I'd started the light cavalry, these armoured riders jumped the queue and have been finished first. Here is the complete unit of 12 cavalrymen. Note that there is one rider with a different shield design (n.b. all the shield designs are LBMS transfers). More on him later.

There are six figures armed with spears;

And five with swords;

Now, here is the chap with the different shield design;

Notice that I've put him on a larger round base. This enables me to field him as the leader of my warband, as well as including him as just another member of a unit. Here he is from his open side;

I have to admit that when I was painting these I had a real crisis of confidence over how they would turn out, partly because I really do not like painting horses at all, but also because I was finding it hard to visualise how they would look once they were inked. This was because I wasn't sure that I'd picked the right colour scheme for them. However, I think that they have turned out fine.

Regarding the actual models, I am quite impressed with them. There are plenty of head variants, allowing you to create figures that are not all identical, plus the usual different weapons options. There is also a vexilla included, which I didn't use, but which would work fine, with a bit of cutting and glueing of one of the spear arms in the box. I did find, though, that once I'd assembled and undercoated the horses that the body halves hadn't gone together perfectly and needed a bit of Milliput to fill the rather visible gaps in the alignment. I expect that this was down to my assembly rather than any actual defects in the mouldings themselves. Anyway, I've already bought another box to paint up so that I have extra armoured cavalry for my Late Roman Sword and Spear army.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Barbarians with bows and arrows

Despite being away in France for a trip last week around the battlefields of the Western Front and various towns in the region, I did manage to complete some more Copplestone 15mm barbarians for my Hyborian Age horde once I got back.

First, there are three stands of archers, on 4 cm x 2 cm bases who will be added to the three stands I painted last year to give me three units of medium foot archers. These will be paired up to give a unit with an 8 cm frontage, but only one base deep. I think that this will look fine on the table.

The other bow-equipped troops are four stands of Copplestone Pict archers, on 4 cm square bases, who will form two units of skirmishers. In my imaginary Hyborian Age, these "Picts" represent cave-dwelling tribes who are allies of the semi-nomadic barbarian tribes. Of course, in Robert E. Howard's  pseudo-historical vision of the Hyborian Age, the Picts were described as being "small in height, squat and muscular, adept at silent movement, and most of all brutish and uncivilized" who had retained only rudimentary technology and language skills. I see these archers, together with the ones I painted last year as Neanderthals who have survived to co-exist with the Cro-Magnons who comprise most of the population of the world of Hyboria. Anyway, here they are;

All I have left to paint now are a unit of Medium Foot and three units of Horse. One of these will be based up as Cavalry (in S&SF terms) on 4 x 3 cm bases and the other two as Light Horse, on 4 cm square bases.

After I've finished all the units, I need to decide exactly how I want to use them on the table. I've recently decided that my trolls will be used as armoured Heavy Foot and being larger than humans they will have the impact and powerful attack characteristics.

I am also thinking that my human Heavy Foot (of which I have 12 4 x 1.5 cm stands) might be put together as two Large units, i.e. being three bases deep and two bases wide, as well as having them as three normal sized units, as described in my previous post.

I am wondering if I might need more units for variation, too. I like the idea of steppe mounted archers as fast skirmishers, but most of the available figures seem to look too "modern" to my eye, and I'd like a stand of mammoths or other big monsters to be used as Large Beasts. Alternative Armies have a rather nice monsters called Rhinosaurs which would look pretty good on the table, with perhaps a few barbarians in the howdah. They also do a version without the howdah.

Monday, 23 April 2018

More Hyborians join the Barbarian Horde

Following on from the two groups of trolls and the wolves, I have completed two more units of barbarian warriors for my Hyborian Sword & Spear Fantasy army. Like all the others these are from the Copplestone Barbarica range of 15mm figures.

These will join the existing barbarians that I painted up last year as HOTT Blades. and will form the core of the army. I intend all three units to be used as Heavy Foot with Average Protection, with the original ones being designated as Hearthguards, with the Shieldwall and Standfast attributes, and maybe Brave or Heroic as well.

These two new units will be less exalted Heavy Foot, also with Shieldwall. To distinguish them from the Hearthguards, these guys have standard bearers attached to the units.

In addition, I have painted up two command stands and three magic users. These are all on round bases. I do have other magic users and clerics in my original HOTT army, plus three hero/general figures on square bases. I will also include these in my S&SF army, probably as an army general, heroes and as a high level magic user.

The figure on the left, with a standard bearer and a drummer will be a general and the other stand will be a captain. The magic users will all be Level 1 magicians.

Next, I will be working on more archers to be used as Medium Foot missile troops and Pict (in Copplestone terms) archers to be used as Foot Skirmishers.

I am really pleased with how this army is looking. Once I've finished off all the new additions, I'll take photos of the complete army.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Making a start on the Hyborian lead mountain

I bought the Great Escape Games Sword & Spear fantasy rules last year, with the intention of playing games in 15mm. My original idea was to create a 15mm post-Roman army with an Arthurian theme, and this is still my intention. I have a load of Lurkio post-Romans and a few early Byzantines, plus a few Magister Militum wizards which will become transformed at some point, but it also occurred to me that I could expand my Hyborian Barbarian HOTT army into a larger force for S&SF.

The consensus at the club for S&SF in 15mm is that we should use an 80mm frontage for units, which means that any troops based for HOTT or DBA will be compatible. Therefore, a while ago I bought several packs of extra Copplestone Barbarica 15mm barbarians and other figures to bulk out my existing troops.

I have enough extra figures to create more cavalry units, and also heavy infantry, medium infantry, levies and skirmishers, but as I want this force to have a proper fantasy dimension, I also bought some wolves and trolls from the Copplestone range.

So, my initial foray into this particular part of the lead mountain was the wolves and trolls, and here they are;

I decided that I wanted my trolls to have green skin, but also to look like they could hide in the rocks of hills and valleys, so I thought that grey fur would work well. The wolves, of course, are just wolves and grey and brown shades are natural. In both pics I've put a stand of barbarians to show the scale of the new additions. The trolls have been based on 80mm x 60mm MDF bases and the wolves on 40 x 40cm ones, so that they could be used for HOTT too.

Next, I will continue working on some generals on foot and some magic users. I've also got 24 barbarians on the go, who will form two extra Heavy Infantry units. After that, I have more barbarian archers, some more troops to form medium foot and cavalry units and Pict archers to act as skirmishers.

I really like the Copplestone barbarians. They have loads of character and are excellent castings with bags of personality.

As a flying unit option, I am thinking about the Magister Militum Valkyries, which look pretty nice too, but this is something for the future.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Saga - the Late Romans have a bad day

Well, Sunday was the first outing for my late Roman Saga warband down at the club. I had high hopes for my new troops, but I wasn't sure how the various Roman abilities on the battleboard would play out, especially as many of them are linked to the Roman Impetus feature.

My opponent Clive had brought along an Anglo-Danish warband, so there was a bit of a historical mismatch there, but the game's the thing, so I wasn't really that worried about an anachronistic encounter.

My warband consisted of 3 x 4 Hearthguards, split into two groups of six, 2 x 8 Warriors One with bows) and 1 x 12 javelin-equipped Levies, plus the Warlord. I hoped that this would provide a balanced force.

We ended up playing two games and in both of them, I was massively defeated. I think that the reasons for this were twofold. Firstly, I rolled some truly terrible dice in both combat and as saving throws, meaning that my units ended up losing pretty much every melee, and twice seeing complete units of Hearthguards wiped out in one round of fighting. Secondly, my Saga Dice rolls simply didn't give me the dice I needed to access the right abilities to counter Clive's Anglo-Danes and also be ale to get my troops moving. Losing whole groups early on also meant that I was rolling fewer dice, which made it even harder to trigger the better abilities.

There was, of course, a third reason for my failures. My battle plans were no good. In the second game, my archers were in the wrong place to actually do anything, and in both games my spear-armed Warriors were placed to meet threats that simply weren't there and were therefore similarly isolated away from the action. I also decided to take the battle to the enemy, which was a mistake. I should have sat back and waited for them to come to me.

I think also that the Anglo-Danish abilities maximised the power of Clive's troops while, at the same time exposing weaknesses in the Romans.

Still, this was a learning experience, and the games were fun, well as much fun as they could have been seeing my troops come of worse in every combat with predictable regularity. Having to roll to save 9 or 10 hits on six troops, and then rolling nothing but 1s and 2s does get a bit annoying.

Anyway, it is back to the drawing (i.e. battle) board for the Romans, with some careful thought about how best to use the abilities. They are a lot harder to play with than the Vikings are.

Anyway, here are a few pictures from both games;

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Some resin scenic pieces

I've had a lot of various resin scenic items sitting in a box for ages, both 15mm and 28mm scale, waiting for me to get round to doing something with them. I wish I could remember who made these particular ones, but I'm afraid that I cannot be sure at all. I am pretty sure that a few are from The Square, but their website seems to be lacking in pictures. Anyway, I bought them all at various shows over the last couple of years. The ones shown here are all for 15mm gaming.

While working on finishing off my Peter Pig CoC stuff, I decided to paint a few 15mm items up as well. These were simple to get finished. All I did was spray undercoat them, add patches of earth tones and dry-brush them (using my favourite dry-brushing colour, Vallejo Iraqi Sand) to bring up the detail, and then some final flocking on a few around the edges. Finally, finish off with matt spray varnish. As you can see, I've given a couple of the craters a darker brown bottom, the idea being that this represents a pool of muddy water.

The first picture shows a number of different-sized bomb craters, plus four rustic-looking haystacks. 

The haystacks were even quicker; spray undercoat, glue to MDF round bases, heavy dry-brushing with Iraqi Sand and some grass flock on the bases before spraying with matt varnish.

The craters are clearly going to see most use in WW2 games, indeed they could even be used as Jump-Off Points for Chain of Command, and the haystacks will be useful for pretty much anything historical in 15mm. I can see these being used in my SYW imagi-nations games.

The second picture is a fuel dump, with camouflage netting made by me from butter muslin added for effect. This is going to get used in my forthcoming game of CoC as an objective.

The figure is for scale only. I dyed the muslin with dilute Tan Earth paint and glued it in place with diluted PVA glue, before sprinkling flock over the top.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Getting back to my Chain of Command project

Last year, I began a 15mm Chain of Command project using Peter Pig figures. I got as far as completing a British Rifle platoon, a British Airborne platoon and a German Infantry Zug, plus a few Germans with Panzerfausts and a Panzerknacker team. Then, when I got distracted by other things, I had a Panzergrenadier Zug undercoated, but that was as far as I'd got.

Anyway, I have got a game of CoC in the pipeline, so I thought that I should get back to this and  start finishing off what I'd had planned last year. Therefore I ordered a few odds and ends from Peter Pig and got round to assembling five PSC Universal Carriers that were still on their sprues.

My immediate concern was to complete the following;
  • A Carrier Recce section of two vehicles, each with a three man Bren team plus a Junior Leader
  • A German tripod-mounted MG42 with a five man team

However, while I was working on these, I also decided to finish off the Panzergrenadiers and the three spare carriers, which I made up as one Wasp carrier with a flamethrower, one basic carrier and one with a 2" mortar team. These extra carriers will  also be useful as CoC support options.

I've got enough spare Peter Pig figures to make up a complete British Rifle section and their German equivalent, which are both also support options, plus a few other options, such as a German Pioneer section, comprising a Demolition team, a Flamethrower team and a Junior Leader. Both of those teams can also be taken as separate support options.

The pictures for all of these are below. First the Recce Section;

The other carriers;

The Panzergrenadier Zug;

The fearsome tripod-mounted MG42 and its team;

I've also been thinking about putting a Volkssturm Zug together, which would be classed as Green Troops, allowing them a lot of potential support options. The Peter Pig range has some Volkssturm, which I reckon would blend in nicely with some Peter Pig DAK riflemen (they are in caps and long trousers) and a few other infantry thrown in to create an ad hoc look. I quite like the idea of greatcoat troops for the MG42 teams, because these might not necessarily be Feldgrau uniform greatcoats. The thing I am wondering about is whether they should have a Panzershreck team, as in the German Army List in the rulebook or whether perhaps a couple of guys with Panzerfausts might be more appropriate instead? I mean, we are looking at desperate straits here, not a nice neat by-the-book regulation Zug. I'll have to think about this a bit.