Saturday 28 January 2017

Thessalian Heavy Cavalry

On Monday I managed to enter three sets of completed figure into the painting challenge and these Thessalian Heavy Cavalry are the third set. This is the first of many cavalry units for my Pyrrhic Army so expect to see a variety of horsey entries from me in the next few weeks.

Thessalian Cavalry were absorbed into the Macedonian Army under Phillip II when he took control of the Thessalian League. The Heavy Cavalry were considered the best in all Greece and proved their value under Alexander in his Persian campaign. They were usually used in a defensive role guarding the left flank of the army from enemy cavalry. They proved their worth in this position at Issus and Gaugamela, where the Thessalians repulsed the attack of numerically superior Persian cavalry.

The Thessalians continued to be a force to be reckoned with after Alexanders death and during the rise of the Successors. Pyrrhus employed a contingent of these troops in his army when he invaded Italy and deployed them with devastating effect against the Romans during the Battle of Heraclea in 280 BCE. Having used his elephants to scare and push back the Roman Cavalry Pyrrhus then deployed his Thessalians and clinched the battle.

Highly disciplined the Thessalians employed double headed lances and spears in battle. However it was their unique Rhombus formation that gave the unit its mobility and tactical flexibility. This enabled a unit to turn and retain cohesion, form up and charge on any of its four points and arguably could only have been effective with such disciplined troops.

These earned me a tidy 18 points in the Challenge. 

Friday 27 January 2017

Pyrrhus of Epirus and Hellenistic Generals

Hannibal listed Pyrrhus of Epirus as one of the greatest military men of his age yet today we remember this Hellenistic King for his costly victories. Pyrrhus was a man born to a great potential destiny in 318BCE and spent much of his early life struggling to regain his father’s throne in Epirus.

Compared to Alexander (whom he greatly admired and was related to on his mother’s side) Pyrrhus was ultimately a failure. He failed to achieve his overall strategic aims against Macedonia, failed to win against the Romans and was eventually killed in battle while attacking the city of Argos. But for all this he was described as an inspired leader, was one of the first serious threats to the early Rome Republic, campaigned successfully in Southern Italy, Sicily and Greece and wrote several well respected books (now lost) on the art of war.

I have tried to replicate in miniature a picture I found online of Pyrrhus, complete with Leopard skin saddle blanket! 

I made a slightly larger base for this larger than life General. Other lesser Generals are based on round bases as usual while individual heroes are based singly and on smaller round bases. 

These should be more than enough for my Pyrrhic army and hopefully will lead that army to great and terrible victories! 

Thursday 26 January 2017

Greek and Scicilian Hoplites

The latest addition to my Pyrrhic Army are a couple of units of Hoplites and compared to the Pike Phalanxes I painted recently these were a doddle! The detailing on these figures is very good and perfectly suits my approach to painting 6mm models making them a pleasure to paint.

Hoplites were the citizen soldiers of the Ancient Greek city states and were primarily armed as spearmen. Their name derives from the Hoplon, the round shield used by these troops. Like the Pike units I completed recently the Hoplites fought in a Phalanx, a close order formation that relied on discipline and training for its effectiveness.

I have painted two units one is in white armour with white shields with coloured designs on them. The other unit are veterans from Akragas in Sicily. I wanted to paint these with black armour but I didn't like the look of plain black so instead I opted to use a dark blue. With an ink wash over the top these look almost black but with just a hint of definition and detail.

I actually had both these units more or less finished a week ago but I have been waiting for some decals to arrive in the post. I have often painted shield designs by hand in the past but a recent disaster convinced me that painting detailed designs on a shield no more than 3 mm diameter was a route to madness! In a last minute change of heart I opted only to use the coloured decals (from Baccus) on the white shields, but hand painted slightly cruder designs on the Black shields. I'm quite chuffed with the results so I think I made the right choice.

Two bases of 96 infantry figures earned me a respectable 48 points and moved me another step closer to my overall target.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Challenge Progress - Staying on Target!

Five weeks into the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge and I'm please to report that my progress is bang on target. In fact I'm a little ahead of myself which is handy as I foresee a little bump in the road ahead (a non painting weekend away with the wife!) and will benefit from the points in hand. 

Thus far I am outperforming previous Challenges, which isn't bad considering I am not taking part in all the bonus rounds this year. More importantly I'm on target to complete my Pyrrhic army, something that would probably have taken months without the Challenge to spur me on. 

Onward and upwards!

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Greek Slingers

This week’s entry, two units of Greek Slingers, is just a small one again, although I have several more nearing completion.

The sling is a deceptively deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled warrior. The simple rope sling effectively extends the reach of the arm allowing more power and greater range to be applied to a projectile than if thrown by hand alone.

The smallest stones were mere pebbles weighing in about 50 grams (1.8 oz) while the largest could be cricket ball sized rocks of 500 grams (18 oz) or more. Stones were usually (but not always) made of stone and roughly shaped to improve balance and aerodynamics. The overall weapon was therefore extremely cheap and very easy to produce.

In the right hands sling projectiles could achieve velocities of over 100kph and ancient accounts say that slingers could hit targets with incredible accuracy. It doesn’t take much imagination to realise that being hit in the face by half a kilo of rock travelling at speed could be deadly.

Two bases of Greek Slingers (24 figures) will earn me a modest 12 points, but at least it’s another step towards my final target. I’m comfortably ahead of where I need to be at this stage of the Challenge and I have a lot of other entries at various stages near completion sitting on my desk.

Friday 13 January 2017

6mm Macdonian Elephants

When Pyrrhus of Epirus deployed his Elephants against Roman Cavalry in 275 BCE it came as a terrible shock to the Republicans. The use of Elephants changed the course of the battle and arguably won the day for Pyrrhus. The Romans did eventually adapt to fighting these beasts but the fact that Hannibal was still using them nearly 75 years later showed that they were not entirely the one use shock weapon that some historians describe them as.

Having painted these I am now convinced that I have used the wrong Elephant models for my Pyrrhic army. The models I have used don't have towers and I think they are actually the type used by earlier Macedonian armies. By the time of the Successor armies elephant crews rode into war inside wooden Howdahs, much like the later war pachyderms that I painted for my Carthaginians. Its entirely my mistake but these are what I have and these will have to do for now! I have found the right models and have ordered them, so expect to see even more Elephants at some point in the near future!

I have again resorted to dressmakers pins to make the Sarisa or long spear carried by the crew.

Two war elephants and four crew earned me a massive 7 points (wooo!) but every point counts.

After three weeks I am on just over 200 points which puts me comfortably ahead of my target for this point of the Painting Challenge and 40% of the way to my overall target. Things may slow down a little over coming weeks as I work through lots of small projects like these Elephants but I can afford to relax a little and enjoy the remaining 10 weeks. 

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Mk IV Male and Female Tanks of WWI

In the 6th Analogue Challenge I rather cheekily entered a couple of 6mm Mk IV tanks in the Nautical bonus round. My reasoning was these were 'landships' and were therefore a valid entry. This year I decided I would reprise my entry of MkIV's but this time I have opted for a couple of 15mm versions. 

These are from Battlefront and are composite models with a combination of Resin, Metal and Plastic parts. I'm not normally a fan of mixing resin and metal parts but Battlefront seem to have made a good job of avoiding warping and misaligned joints. This particular set went together with minimal effort and required very little cleaning prior to assembly.

The Battlefront set includes two MkIV's and two sets of sponsons and Guns so these can be made up as either Male or Female tanks. The Mark IV Male carried three Lewis machine guns and a QF 6 pdr 6 cwt gun in each sponson. The Female tanks were equipped with five machine guns making them formidable anti-personnel weapons.

I have gone for a simple plain color design with an emphasis on weathering effects rather than on camouflage. In particular I made extensive use of a Rust weathering liquid by AK that I bought a few months ago. I used this on all the joints, rivets and exposed metal surfaces. I also used a Tamiya weathering stick to apply mud effects to the tracks and lower hull of the vehicles. This stuff is thick, gloopy and sticky (just like mud) and produces a very realistic looking effect.

These earned me a respectable 62 Points and have pushed my progress in the Challenge way ahead of schedule. 

Sunday 8 January 2017

Battle of the Lafayette Road - Battle Report

Today the Rejects gathered for our first game of the year and farewell to one of our number. John is moving up to the Lake District (lucky begger) so this will be his last game with the group for some time.

The Setup
Union forces have set up along the Lafayette Road in a hook formation. The Confederates outnumber the blue bellies but they are pretty much obliged to go on the attack and are facing a lot of Union guns. 

Order of Battle
Ooops. We finished the game and we were so wrapped up in post battle analysis and discussion that I forgot to copy the army lists!

The Action
Initial Setup: The Confederate players, Ian and John are confident. Their larger army has a lot of ground to cover while the Union forces (on the right) under myself and Surjit need to hold a defensive line along the hills. 
As expected the Rebs surge forward to join battle as a fast as possible. The union plan is to hold fast while Surjits Corps (at the far end of the table) turns the confederate flank.

Union guns open fire all along the line. 

A strong blue line along a ridge of hills. The troops closest are in a weaker position but if they can hold long enough then the Rebel flank can be turned by Surjit...well that's the plan. 

Surjits Corps sets itself up on the Rebel flank. His dice rolling was exceptional and the advancing Rebels were ground down relentlessly as they advanced. 

John had little choice but to press an attack and hope to break the Union troops quickly. The curve of the union line meant that Johns Corps fanned out and ended up spread rather thin.

Over on my side the Rebels prepare to rush across the remaining valley. My guns continue to deal damage and disruption to the Confederates. 

The Rebs are getting closer and I'm getting worried. My Corps is outnumbered and a lot now depends on how much damage I can dish out. All I have to do is hold the line and give Surjit time to wear down Johns Corps. 

Gunfire is now being exchanged by both sides as the Rebs finally deploy their guns. However the Union guns are better and our dice rolling is uncanny. 

The centre starts to heat up. Reb units close the gap and start to contest the woods in the middle of our line. Meanwhile at the top of this picture the Rebs are pushing every closer to Surjits troops, but at a very heavy price. Johns corps is looking very weak now and the Union scent victory.

Gunfire ripples up and down the line. The Confederates have been slowed but are now getting close to charge distance. 

And they are getting closer still. Rifle fire is exchanged and casualties start to mount on both sides. 

In the centre the fight for the woods has ebbed and flowed the whole game. My troops took the wood early in the game, were pushed back in Melee but then push back. Crucially though the Rebel units are loosing troops, are fatigues and disordered. 

Johns Rebels have one spectacular success in melee and send two union regiments reeling back. But overall the battle is definitely going well for the Union. 

Ian and John discuss the state of play. They have advanced and challenged the Union troops along the whole line but all their units are looking mauled and there is no obvious breakthrough opportunity for them.

Surjits Corps in particular has ground down the dissipated Confederate advance and are now poised to roll up the enemy line.  

My Corps has come under pressure in its centre but a Rebel charge has been repulsed and my guns are still causing terrible casualties in their ranks. Ian and John throw in the towel and concede defeat. 

Surjit and I earn our first victory of the year and some surprise awards from Postie. 
I love Fire and Fury with battles usually flowing back and forth over several turns of melee. However our dice rolling was above average throughout the game and this made victory much easier. We had a clear(ish) plan early on and was able to stick to it without too many surprises from our opponents. All in all a very enjoyable game (for us) and a great way to start the year!

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Greek Pike Phalanxes

During last years Analogue Painting Challenge I was able to complete most of a Carthaginian army for my 6mm To The Strongest collection. I wanted to replicate that painting output again over the course of this years event and settled on painting a Pyrrhic Army. The allure of painting a Macedonian pike phalanx first attracted me and of course I can use them against my existing Republican Roman army. 

The pike or Sarissa was in affect a long spear about 4–6.2 meters (13–20 ft) in length with an iron head and a heavy weight at the other end which counterbalanced the length of the weapon. This meant that several rows of troops could overlap their weapons easily and present an impenetrable wall of spear tips to the enemy.

I have painted five units of these Pike units as the core of a Pyrrhic army that I will build around them. Two units are Macedonians and three are Epirot. I originally planned to paint Macadonian star designs on the shields but I made such a mess of them that in the end I opted for plain shields. If I had more time I would have ordered some decals instead but I wanted to get these done and move on to the next batch of figures.

I elected to buy the 'open handed' version of these troops from Baccus meaning I could add my own pikes. I used 20mm dressmakers pins as the pikes and superglue them into position. However I wouldn't recommend this method to anyone considering modelling pikes. For a start fixing the pins in position was extremely fiddly, especially when you have fat fingers like I do. Worse still, I have more self inflicted stab wounds from these pins than anything I have done in the past and I can't see that changing when the finished units come out on the games table. These soldiers draw blood!

Five units each containing 48 Phalangites adds up to a grand total of 240 infantry figures, by far the largest single contingent I will be painting for the challenge. I wanted to get this big batch done and dusted early so that I could focus on cavalry and some of the smaller peripheral units over subsequent weeks. I had hoped to have them done earlier but illness stole at least four days from my planned schedule over the holiday period. Such are the plans of mice and wargamers.

These earned me a very respectable 120 Points and have put me firmly on my way towards my Challenge target.