Wednesday, 27 December 2017

WoA! Nelly...

Some Post Christmas Ramblings... a long awaited set of skirmish rules, Celts, Numidians and a couple of Elephants!
Well, Christmas 2017 has come and gone and it's time to get the sprues, craft knife and paint brushes out again, although working in my Painting Space, at the back of the garage, is not particularly conducive to the hobby at this time of year. We've had some pretty cold weather (by U.K. standards) this year and, until I get round to sealing the gaps around the window frames, the atmosphere in my designated hobby area is going to remain unhelpfully damp. This unpleasant dampness results in a massively increased drying time for my favoured acrylic paints, which impacts on the way I like to paint, particularly on the Warlord Celts I'm doing at the moment. I've been experimenting with striped and checked trousers and the method I've found that works well involves layering the two colours simultaneously... obviously, this falls apart when the paints take longer than a few seconds to dry!
For most of 2017, I had a plan to buy some Victrix Romans to put onto the table top to fight against the Carthaginians that I was painting. Just before I decided to stump up the cash and make a purchase, I stumbled across a horde of Warlord Celtic sprues, that had originally come in a box of Germanic Warriors! I had really enjoyed painting the Germans, so I decided to alter the grand plan and paint up the Celts as Celts(!), so that I could create scenarios where the Carthaginians were emerging from their crossing of the Alps into the North Italian Plains to find the grizzly Celtic warriors waiting to meet them!
I just feel that the Celts will make much better opposition to the Carthaginians in skirmish level games than the Romans would. I also have a box of Warlord Celtic Cavalry hidden away somewhere in the Painting Space and I like the idea of those guys competing with the Spanish and Numidian cavalry I've already painted.
Obviously, not having to shell out £30 to buy the box of Romans is an added bonus from this change in strategy.
Painting Victrix Numidian Cavalry has been one of the highlights of the year for me. There seems to be a lot of debate about what it is exactly that Victrix have created with these figures, but, as far as I'm concerned, they are simply wonderful Numidian horsemen. I can't say that what little they are wearing or how they have decided to style their hair are historically accurate depictions of the subject, but I absolutely love them.
The Numidians are quick to prepare and paint and look like the fierce warriors they were. The ponies are perfect for light, skirmishing North African horsemen and, again, paint up very quickly.
Not all Celts wore stripy or checked trousers by the way!
The other big news of the Christmas season has been the arrival of a pair of Victrix African War Elephants. These were a gift from my favourite person on planet Earth; my wonderful lady and I have been married for twenty-five years and she still manages to amaze me by buying gifts like these. 
The elephants are still wrapped up in their plastic bag at the moment, but I have spent a long time gazing adoringly at all the gorgeous castings sitting enticingly on their sprues. Painting might be better if I wait until the weather warms up a little, or I get round to sealing those windows frames.
Earlier this year, I enquired as to the whereabouts of a set of Ancient Skirmish Wargame rules that I could use to re-fight small actions using all these wonderful Victrix miniatures. In the end, I decided to wait until Victrix published their own set of rules, called Warriors of Antiquity, as they ought to be perfect for use with the company's own range of figures. A tentative enquiry to Victrix in May lead to the advice to be patient, as the rules were to be published "later this year". It seems unlikely that they will appear in the next four days, so I'm still left in the lurch wondering just when the rules will finally arrive on the book shelves.
As I said in my previous post... if anybody has any more up to date news on Warriors of Antiquity, I would be delighted to hear what you know.
WoA! Still waiting, still painting; surely they must arrive soon!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Painting Victrix Iberian Cavalry.

So far, my skirmish group of Victrix Carthaginians has been made up entirely of infantry, although I did have a bit of a go with one of the Iberian horsemen when my order first arrived before Christmas. Having reached the fifty figure mark with various types of footmen, I have started preparing some of the cavalry for painting. I suppose the first thing to say about the Victrix Iberian horse is that they are truly wonderful figures, with lots of crisp, easily paintable detail and, just like the infantry, a pretty good range of bits and bobs to make each warrior different in some way to the last. As good as the figures are however, they aren't perfect...

A lot of the horses have those really annoying vacuum forming holes in really obvious places. They aren't massive but you can't paint over them and the only solution that I've thought of so far, is to use Green Stuff to fill them in.

Once the hole is filled, the Green Stuff has dried, a bit of scraping and filing has been done and the undercoat is on, the annoyance is soon forgotten and the painting can begin. As with all my figures, I always undercoat in matt black.

I paint my horses in four stages; firstly, I mix the chosen horse colour with black to make a really dark version of the colour and slap that on fairly randomly. Secondly, I use a big square brush with the actual horse colour and dry brush the raised areas, leaving the underparts and the insides of the legs in the original darker shade. Thirdly, I re-coat all the horse furniture, the hooves, eyes, mouth, nose and mane with matt black and, lastly, add some white to the some of the legs and the pick out the teeth and put a small speck on the eyes. The horses paint up beautifully using this method and I don't bother using any ink wash on the horse itself. Once all this is done, it's time to move onto the furniture. The horse furniture includes the saddle and all the usual tack, including straps around the breast which have decorative tassels. Unlike the horse, I do apply an ink wash to all the tack and other decoration.

The riders are just like their counterparts from the infantry packs and have plenty of weapons to choose from. I've decided to paint horse and rider separately, although this does have problems; like how to hold the figure while you're slapping the paint on. My current favourite method is to insert a paperclip as illustrated above!

Once both figures are painted, plenty of Superglue attaches the rider securely to the horse. I did try using the paperclip cut down and inserted into a small hole drilled through the saddle to provide extra support, but it is very difficult to get the rider to sit squarely on the saddle cloth this way, so I've given up on this and now rely purely on the glue to hold the rider in place.

With the rider attached, only the shield, with LBMS transfer, is left to complete the painting job.

At the moment I'm only planning to paint up six of the twelve figures in the pack, before having a go at some of the Victrix Numidian cavalry.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Victrix Ancient Iberians.

Before Christmas I had a bit of a weak moment and gave in to Victrix temptation! The outcome of said weakness was five packs of Ancient Iberians sitting on a shelf in my painting shed.

I sort of had a plan to build another army for Sword and Spear, but an unusual dose of reality set in and I realised that starting yet another large army would more than likely result in the poor figures remaining in their bags for all eternity.
Half a dozen Caetrati with their small round shields and no body armour.

A more realistic project was to build the figures into small skirmish sized units, although, as I've eluded to in other posts on this blog, finding a set of ancient skirmish rules to play with proved to be difficult to say the least!

As things stand, I'm still undecided about which rules to use, but was very impressed with an article written by Nathan Ward in Issue 80 of Wargames Soldiers & Strategy, in which he adapts Lion Rampant for the Punic Wars. Nathan's article includes army lists for Romans and Carthaginians, a set of special rules for things like testudo and the Pila and a handful of scenarios so you can weave a story around your table top skirmishes. I really like the way Lion Rampant plays and using a single set of rules for Medieval and Ancient games makes a lot of sense.
Victrix Scutari with assorted body armour and big shields.
The Victrix figures are absolutely delightful. Removing some of the fidlier bits, such as spears, from the sprues can be a little difficult to do without breaking the weapon or leaving a tricky to remove lump, but the casting of the warriors themselves is crisp and full of intricate detail. 

I was a tad surprised that the Iberians don't come in boxes like some of the other Victrix sets I've bought, which means you don't get all the useful information that you do with the Ancient Greeks for example. There are no pointers as to which bit goes with which other bit and, consequently, I've had one or two doubtful moments, trying to decide if a particular arm looks right when attached to a particular body! The Carthaginian warriors set, on the other hand, is boxed and includes a detailed list of which heads and arms should be used with each of the torsos. I'm much more confident building the Carthaginians than I am the Iberians.

The other thing I hadn't really considered carefully enough when I splashed out on the Iberians, was that, what seems like a hundred years ago now, I once started painting a 15mm Austrian Napoleonic army and was eventually forced to give up because trying to paint the white uniforms was driving me slowly round the twist! White just seems to be one of those colours (red is another one) which takes forever to get a good covering on the figure. Just about every picture I found of Iberian warriors shows them wearing white! So far, the white tunics have proved to be the most tedious part of the painting process, however, purchasing two of Game Color's white paints, 72.101 Off White and 72.001 Dead White, has made tunic painting somewhat easier than previous attempts. I now slap on some of my old Revell Aqua Colour white as a base coat and then apply one of the two Game Color whites, which pretty much covers in one pass. As a further helpful strategy, I also decided that not every Iberian in Antiquity would have worn a white tunic, so a select few have had some other hew applied, just to add a little variety! 

Victrix have two sets of Iberian infantry available, one contains figures with various shapes of armoured disc, which I have been painting up as Scutari with large shields, and the other contains the same basic figures but they don't have the armoured discs. I believe that all the components from both sets are completely interchangeable, so your warriors can be armed with a range of swords or spears, regardless of whether you field them as Scutari or Caetrati. I like the way the Caetrati are armed, as they were not just mere light infantry skirmishers, but much more inclined to engage hand to hand with those lethal falcata than light troops of other nations. With forty figures to a set, currently priced at £26.95, you are paying approximately 60p per figure, although you do have to add postage and packing on top of that.
Figures from both packs... they appear to be identical apart from the body armour on the Scutari figure.
I am thinking of using some of the Iberian infantry to field a unit of the famed Celtiberian warriors. I can't help thinking that Victrix have missed a trick here and could have included a few extra bits on the sprues to give you the option of fielding Celtiberians. However, I always love a converting challenge and I have some embryonic plans brewing away which will hopefully lead to something that will equate to a reasonable representation of a Celtiberian warrior (or twelve!).
A couple of prototype Celtiberians... more to follow.

At the moment, it's just a case of keeping up with the brush work, but I have it on good authority that the Victrix skirmish rules, Warriors of Antiquity, are going to be published this Summer. I have absolutely no idea how they play or what the mechanics are, but I'm going to wait and snap up a copy when they do finally appear. Hopefully, what I've painted so far will be useable with the rule set!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Ancient Period Skirmish Rules... Where Are They?

Throughout the cold winter months I've been slowly gathering together the remnants of various packs of troops that I've purchased over the years, with the intention of putting together some smallish skirmish forces, so that I could recreate some of the masses of un-recorded small actions that must have littered the ancient and medieval world.

I haven't made a huge amount of progress, but what I've done so far I've really enjoyed. There are a few Ancient Spanish and their Roman enemies on the painting table and I've been converting all sorts of left over bits and bobs to create some medieval Welsh warriors to face up to some Fireforge English men-at-arms.

Where the whole thing falls apart, at the moment, is the total lack of a set of rules that I can use when the forces are ready to take to the tabletop. I've tried every combination of search entry on the Internet to try and locate some, but all to no avail. One search threw up some references to a set of skirmish rules to be produced by Victrix and published by Mongoose Publishing, but all I could find was some increasingly fractious discussion posts, in which the Mongoose people repeatedly said that Victrix kept putting back the publishing date. I think they were originally meant to be available at Salute in 2015! Now, I can not find them on either the Mongoose web site or the Victrix web site.

It appears that quite a few gamers use the fantasy skirmish rules, Song of Blades and Heroes and some use the Lord of the Rings Battle Strategy Rules and I have copies of both of those.

What I'd like to know is, where are the Ancient period, one-to-one skirmish rules? I have a copy of Lion Rampant, but they use 12 figure units fighting in a block rather than true 1:1 skirmish action. If anyone out there can suggest a rule set that I can get my hands on, I'd be eternally grateful. I really want to get these little chaps onto the tabletop in deadly sword and spear play!

So... does anybody know what happened to these: