Thursday, February 28, 2008

Alanicus restructures the army of Syria (Campaign 93)

As a young officer Alanicus earned his name fighting in the deserts of the East. Holding back the endless waves of nomadic peoples was like trying to hold back the shifting sands his commander once said," as soon as you think you've got them, they melt away again only to appear behind you". Alanicus was a lot older now but his experience fighting these nomads in the sands had not been forgotten.
These people with their hit and fade tactics could be put to good use for the Alanicus cause. With this in mind, Alanicus started to restructure the Army of Syria, stationing large numbers of Auxiliaries to garrisons and replacing them with fast, mounted nomads. He had come to respect the Syrian bow at first hand and now drafted hordes of their archers into the army. A heavy unit of Cataphracts was also sent down from Armenia to give them some back bone. Alanicus was crafting a swift, agile killing machine that would make the sky rain with arrows and the ground thunder with hooves.

Armenian Cataphracts bolster the Army of Syria, giving some heavy weight to the units of bowmen.

Shield Designs for Celtic and Germanic units

The Celts; when I set about designing my Celtic army I started by trowelling through hundreds of reference books and pictures from the Internet. Once I had a taste of the style and motifs involved I set about designing some of my own. I have included some of them here, hoping they may help other people in painting up units of the same type.

For the Celtic Patterns I stuck to very organic shapes and lines, almost plant like, the Art nouveau of it's time. Below them can be seen simple tunic patterns and checks. All these designs are just fiction of course but they do give a very Celtic feel to the shield, but most important, they are easy to paint. Painting my own shields I needed designs that were simple and wouldn't take up too much time. mixing and combining elements from these designs can lead to hundreds of variants. Also by changing the colours, even more possibilities can be achieved.
The Germans; For the Germanic shields I went for a more brutal approach than with the Celts. These patterns are bold statements with big thick dark colours and motifs, giving them a more geometric feel with straight lines and shapes. If there are any curves, they are thick and less plant like than those of the Celts. Also the background colours on these shields will be very plain, being just browns and other dark, muted colours.
I hope these designs help in some way. Being Ancient history, designs and motifs have not really survived to this day, giving a huge chance for the imagination to fill in the gaps. Have fun with it is what I say....enjoy.

Celts in action

Play testing Field of Glory

A Celtic skirmish line approaches a village with plunder on it's mind. With the release of the much talked about Field of Glory rules, a test battle was arranged and set up to see if they lived up to the hype.

There were lots of things I liked about the game, the unit sizes for a start and the Impact combat is a great idea.

As with all new games the going was quite slow at first and we had to call it a night before we could actually finish the game. I didn't waste the chance to get some tasty pics though.
However, It did give me a chance to Release the Boar and use my Celts in anger for the first time in a game! I thought they looked great on the field and they inspired me to paint some more. Which is a good thing, for it takes hundreds of them to make a decent looking army.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Tullus strikes it rich! (Campaign 92 )

In this month the Gods truly shine on Tullus and his beleaguered troops. Not one, but two mines are discovered and opened. The first being of gems and the second, a huge gold mine in Africa.

Tullus feels secure enough now to offer Cyrenaica a large bribe, they of course flock to him with open arms. The Province of Cyrenaica borders that of Alanician Egypt, bringing the two super powers into direct contact.

The army of Tullus arrives at the border just as night falls and both armies loose sight of each other in the darkness, in the morning, the Alanicians are shocked by the size of the Tullician army and pray to their gods for re-enforcements. It appears that L.Cornelius Gracchus has brought the whole of Africa with him to fight for Tullus.

Members of the tiny garrison of the 6th Farrata, strain their eyes through the darkness to get a glimpse of the African forces under Gracchus.

XVI Flavia Firma join the fight.

I took a huge gamble the other day and repainted a unit of the III Gallica to represent the 16th Flavia Firma. Alanicus's army of Anatolia is made up of Vexillations of the VI Farrata and the XVI Flavia Firma, so after a long time thinking about it, I decided to bite the bullet and do it. They used to be the sandy yellow seen in older photos but now they look completely different in a madder red. I gave them a very Caesarian motif to match their older style shields .
I still have three cohorts of III Gallica (a whole legion in the game) so I don't think they will be missed that much and I'm glad I went for it. The more variety in the colours and designs within the armies the better I think.

The colour and design was influenced by the unit of Evocati I had painted earlier, seen in the background with the white plumes.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flaccus rides again

With the character of Flaccus becoming a bit of a legend in the campaign, I thought it was only right that I select and paint up a figure for him in the game.

There were a few I had my eye on, but finally went for this one from 1st Corps, the horse is from Foundry along with his standard bearer.

Ready and waiting

Close up of the main tower with its access hatch and Artillery piece. The Gate has been designed so it can house four Artillary pieces, enough to make any horde think twice.
Auxiliaries keep a watchful eye out for trouble, from the safety of their new home.
Detail of the breached section, showing the stone balls used to smash it down. These were made of clay left over from the walls.

With the four wall sections and the gatehouse, there will be enough to span the entire length of the gaming board. Also, with two sections placed at right angles at each end, a fort can be made on the table edge. Let the games begin!

Finished Gatehouse

Detail of the finished gate with it's massive crossbar. The crossbar overlaps one section of the gates when closed.
Open the Gates!
Detail of the stone steps to the Artillery plateform.
I quite like the way the gates look a little shoddy and rough. They appear more like stable doors to me, but they look tough and thats the main thing.

Finishing Touches

Painted and flocked, the walls are finished. After being sprayed black they were dry brushed to a yellow/brown.

The gates are drybrushed. The black undercoat can be seen on the turf wall infront.
With everything painted, the gateway is painted in thick PVA glue and scored with waggon tracks. These should look great when painted.

The Gatehouse

When designing the tower, I had to make sure it would be big enough to fit the Artillery bases of the Roman bolt throwers on top.
Detail of the gates
I couldn't work out where to put the ladder and so just stuck it to the side of the tower. Later, on futher research, I moved it to underneath the tower and made a hatch for the top.

I added more struts here which gave the tower a more Roman feel and the ladder has been moved.

Little touches

The back of the earth rampart was flocked with grit to give it a real earthy look and the details were added to the stairs.
The Gatehouse was given large ramparts for Artillery emplacements (Scorpios). I also started to give some thought to a tower over the gate its self. The gates were given a cross bar to add extra detail.
With some left over clay, rather than just let it go to waste, I decided to make a breached section for the wall. I knew this would come in handy and could be sloted in anywhere within the wall sections.
Steps were added to the Artillery platforms and again, figures were used for size reference.

The hot gates

I was lucky enough to find a dolls house section at the local Hobbycraft and pick up these tiny, little hinges for the gates. I had always wanted the gates to open and close but didn't think I'd find hinges that small. It was rather tricky but again, well worth the effort. I think the gates are the main focus for the wall and all the extra time put into them will pay off in the long run.

The design for the Gatehouse was one from my imagination, but with the right little Roman touches it wouldn't look out of place. It had to be designed with figures in mind and therefore had to be a good mix of historical and practical, for the base sizes etc involved.

Staking out the joint

The corners of the sections I left slightly angled so they could become corner pieces if needs be. Above can be seen an Angus McBride illustration, which served as a great insiration and reference piece.
The turf wall was now scored and cut with a modelling tool, to define the turf sections on the slope of the rampart.

Stakes were added to the turf slope. These were made from sharpened food skewers.
At the rear, wooden planking was laid down along the walkway. These were made by cutting up lengths of Balsa wood.

The messy bit

Once the battlements had been taped to the foam board, I started with the clay walkways. Although I used foam board for mine, I recommend that you use proper wood for the mount, as foam board will tend to buckle as it drys.
I started with the front of the wall, building up the turf ramp. Placing little lumps of clay on at a time and sloping them slightly, to give the impression of the outside earthwork.

This was the second wall section I made and decided to do something a little different by adding stairs to the back of it. Little extra details like this are worth the effort, for they really payoff when painted.
Making sure all the while that the walkway was the right height by using the scale figure.