Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Abbreviated Library of Celeano.

Or more accurately the study at home.
This is nerve centre where all the serious thinking is done. No telephones or internet or modernity in here , just wood, books and weaponry.

Dead in the Water.

We all start ambitious projects whether it be that long cherished slow burning idea finally coming to fruition  or the shiny new range of miniatures that we snap up magpie fashion only to quickly discard.
Here are the pewter swords of Damocles and venom dripping leaden snakes that hang above me.
A paltry collection of Hussites courtesy of kingmaker miniatures. Lovely figures to be sure but the thought of adding so many more wagons at twenty odd quid a throw plus infantry & cavalry was just too alarming. A definite magpie moment. At least I didn't invest in any expensive literature for this one.
The ruined town of Iach Celduin for an abortive attempt at Middle Earth Roleplaying. Try as I might and mind I have tried very hard over the years, I just cannot get a handle on making Prof Tolkiens world work in a roleplaying context. Despite all the efforts of Iron Crown et al over the years to make this setting accessible my tiny simian brain just can't convey my sense of wonder to my long suffering players. Nevertheless like a latter day Sissiphus I will try again.
Seven Years War. I just don't know what possessed me to start collecting and painting these, for heavens sake there isn't a pike in sight. On reflection it may have been watching Barry Lyndon too often but its more likely to be Mark Sims fault for starting his Crusader range for this period ( I've always rather liked his sculpting style).
Anyhow the whole idea stalled for several reasons:
1. Despite an heroic effort I couldn't bring myself to like Marks hussar horse sculpts. I am a little fussy about horses, working around them makes you a bit odd like that.
2. The intense snowblindness arising from painting so much white. To counter this I moved over to collecting and painting Foundry's Freikorps von Kleist. But...
3. Foundry's release schedule for the above went all to buggery.
4. Trying to wargame the interesting engagements like Leuthen, Rossbach or Minden at this scale is really difficult. The rest of the big battles are just linear slaughterhouses.

In addition to the above I've twice completed Roman armies, a Foundry early imperial number and latterly a Renegade republican effort ( inspired by the WAB Hannibal supplement) both of which were sold on in short order. Why? I just don't like them. I like to paint them but I can't for some reason summon any affection for them, it must be a visceral celtic thing. The Republican incarnation even featured Thureophoroi and Tarentines to add a little Hellenistic goodness but even that didn't work. On theplus side at least they don't either hang or drip above me.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Sunday Reinforcements.

Here are the first three completed Seleucid phalangites.
Painted with Vallejo acrylics over a dark brown undercoat. I persist in painting my own shield designs despite the availability of some very nice transfers. Its not because I'm entirely mad, its just that I remain unconvinced of the longevity of decals. Whereas acrylic paint seems to toughen with age, some of the foundry macedonians I painted 10 or so years ago are virtually indestructible despite the lack of a coat of varnish.
A small gripe, the nearest phalangite already has a small chip in the paintwork on his sarissa, this was from a batch I undercoated with Army Painter spray paint last year. The stuff goes on fine and provides a good key but it dries far too hard so any knock or flex in the surface its applied to causes it to spall off.
Never again.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

At & Beyond the Mountains of Madness.

Another ongoing project is to run Chaosium's "Beyond the Mountains of Madness" Call of Cthulhu campaign. So far work and other distractions ( see all previous posts) have interfered with this getting off the ground, but sometime in the next ten years I will see this through. In the meantime here are some prop photographs to fly the flag.
Credit must be given to the inimitable Propnomicon whose blog and sundry goods have helped sustain my interest in all things Cthulhu over the past couple of years.

Handgrenadealiens Workbench of Doom

A little glimpse into the dark and dangerous maelstrom that is my work area, although it is somewhat less chaotic than usual since I had to clear it for last weekends Apollonia game. Work in progress at the moment  is 48 successor Argyraspids which were this weeks purchase from Gripping Beast. I intend to paint them up as Seleucid line phalangites as per the colour plate in the Montvert depicted.
Also current is an older purchase from Tabletop World, a Croatian duo who produce resin fantasy buildings in a Ruritanian/ Ghormenghastian style.
This impressive edifice stands 17" high by 7" wide and comes with full interior detail. So far its been great fun to paint, mainly because it rewards careful dry brushing a technique I,ve not had occasion to use for some time. This will eventually form a centrepiece for my Lamentations of the Flame Princess RPG campaign probably as a Guild HQ. I can't recall the provenance of the two miniatures but they form the core of the projected group of stalwarts who will undertake sneaky & underhand deeds in the name of right.

Monday, 18 October 2010

WAB Successor Lists, an ongoing source of disappointment.

Try as I might I cannot find any reliable information as to when or if this supplement will be released. It seems unlikely that the gnomes at Forgeworld will ever sort things out.
As a result it would be an interesting winter project to research my own and publish them here. As a starting point I'm considering the Seleucids for the simple reason that I have the Montvert Seleucid publication with its description of the Daphnae parade in 165BC. The only fly in the ointment with using this era is the conversion of Argyraspids to imitation legion, which is just to Roman for my tastes. So a better option may be to look to the reasonably well represented Raphia campaign of 217BC as a genesis. This may well be as far as my current enthusiasm carries me, but further down the line an Antigonid list may appear but they're a bit light on decent cavalry to really grab my interest although theres quite a bit of published stuff on Cynoscephalae and Pydna to work with. Lower still on the list of priorities would be the Ptolemies; despite my best efforts I've never been able to shake off an irrational dislike of them.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Biting the bullet.

Just spent money on more gripping beast figures, to whit 2 unit deals of Argyraspids and some Command.  I always had a ceiling of 6000 points on my successor collection but the flesh is weak I'm afraid. I did look at some of their cavalry as well but I'm not entirely convinced by the sculpts, the photos of the greens on the website aren't great and it would be nice to see some painted examples. Another couple of aventine elephants would also be nice but I already have eight from a variety of manufacturers. Perhaps I'll wait until they bring out their African sculpts and then I can do Raphia. Given the outcome of Apollonia though it will have to be Molon the Great versus Ptolemy

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

A copy of this retro D&D clone fell into my clutches earlier in the week and I must say that I am impressed. The format is 7 A5 booklets in a decent cardboard box and the rules are sufficiently different from the original upon which it is heavily based to have awoken my interest. Having recently purchased a copy of Shadow, Sword & Spell as a PDF which employs some interesting ideas I am currently concocting a way to get my regular Call of Cthulhu victims to have a go at fantasy roleplaying again. We did try late last year with a session of 2nd Edition runequest but despite the familiarity of the percentile based system they didn't take to it.
So I'm currently going down the route of using a medieaval european port style setting with some inter guild espionage thrown in for some relief from the straight dungeoneering they might expect. I have somewhere the old ICE Thieves of Tharbad module with its ready made port setting so that could be a good starting point. At least it makes use of some of the MERP stuff that I have collected over the years; that was another blind alley as far as fantasy roleplaying was concerned. A fascinating setting but really difficult to games master successfully and a bit overwhelming for the players as well.

The Cast of Thousands.

As a follow up from the Apollonia report, here are close ups of some of the cast.

Foundry Thessalians who stood in for Antiochus's right flank heavies.

1st Corps Cataphracts used as Molons Left wing cavalry.

An aventine armoured nellie & crew. Escorted by Crusader later Thracians.

Polemarch Thorakites.

Crusader Thureophoroi.

The Argyraspids.

Vendel Scythed Chariot.

Foundry Scythians and Tarentines ( converted from greek light cavalry.)

Foundry Peltasts.

Apollonia 220BC

A refight of this Hellenistic contest between Antiochus III and his rebellious satrap Molon using Warhammer Ancient Battles v. 1.5 with 3000 (ish) points per side. The above photographic plate shows the table before commencement of hostilities.
At this juncture everything was rosy, Molon ( ably played by Mr. Paul Ireland) won the initiative and elected to start rolling his line forward. On his right flank he began the advance with 3 wedges of cavalry supported with archers and misc other skirmish types followed by his infantry in the centre and finally his left wing heavy cavalry and horse archers.

Antiochus ( played not so ably by me) responded in like manner, three wedges of companions were launched from my left wing one of which contacted Molons light cavalry and promptly broke them in the ensuing combat. In the centre my four phalanxes broke into a steady advance and the galatian warband into an uncontrolled charge into thin air having rolled a one. Over on the right flank two heavy cavalry wedges and a unit of Tarentines march moved forward.

And at this point it all began to fall apart for Apollo's favourite son, on the flank closest to the camera, Molons maotian light infantry charged the previously successful wedge in the flank and broke them, the two larger wedges ( with the respective generals ) fought to a stalemate and the remaining wedges fought a combat, won by Molons troops but the companions passed their break test.
In the centre steady advance was the order of the day with some inconclusive archery.
On the far side of the field the light horse launched missiles at each other to no avail.

Now things really begin to go wrong. Antiochus and his left wing cavalry collapse and flee leaving the left flank of the infantry hanging its arse out in the wind and to compound matters one of Molons scythed chariots crashes into the front of Antiochus's right hand phalanx causing it to flee in panic, this in turn prompts panic tests from the Argyraspids to its right and its brother phalanx to the left. The Argyraspids also flee. On a sunnier note the galatian warband charge a unit of archers, they fire and flee but no casualties occur on either side.
Over on the far flank a cavalry stalemate continues.

The nearside debacle now comes to a temporary halt as Molon begins to re align his units to roll up the flank and Antiochus ( from his hiding place in the shrubbery) summons one of his Elephants . In the centre Molons Bithynians charge and break another phalanx whilst his elepant charges the galatians and breaks them. Over on the far side the  elephants fight an inconclusive combat, the cavalry stalemate continues.

In the final two rounds of combat the cavalry stalemate is finally broken as Antiochus's heavy cavalry finally break and flee and in the centre the remaining two phalanxes succumb to attacks from Molon's hoplites and Bithynians. At this point with only a unit of thorakites, two elephants and a handful of skirmishers left over I concede defeat.

The forces involved were as follows:

The Satrap Molon.

Right Wing.
12 maotian light infantry, 8 archers, 6 light cavalry, 3x6 companions in wedge.

8 archers, 8 slingers, 2x18 thureophoroi, 18 hoplites, 28 levy phalanx, 20 Bithynians, 2 scythed chariots, 2 elephants.

Left Wing.
12 heavy cavalry & 9 horse archers.

Antiochus III.

Right Wing.
6 tarentines, 6 heavy cavalry & 10 heavy cavalry in wedge, 1 elephant.

24 argyraspids, 3x 28 levy phalanx, 1 elephant, 20 thorakites, 20 galatians, 2x 8 peltasts, 8 archers.

Left Wing.
2x6 companion cavalry, 1x10 companion cavalry.

And what did I learn from this experience:
Wedges should be deployed with a minimum of ten figures, six man wedges are a waste of time, one casualty and they revert to a standard linear formation.
Under no circumstances should scythed chariots be allowed any where near phalanx units. This is what you get for not deploying covering units carefully enough. Cheap skirmishers are there for a reason.
In a similar vein embedding your general in his companions may be historically correct but his high leadership value is worth more bumping up the saves of other units.
Don't roll crap dice when testing for critical break and panic tests.

The majority of miniatures used were Foundry Macedonians with a leavening of Crusader, Gripping Beast, First Corps, Vendel and two Aventine Elephants. Some of these were not quite in period but they stood in admirably well as their own great grandsons.