In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Legions in Crisis- book review

One of the things that has always annoyed me about most histories of the Roman army is how get from this guy:
To this guy:
All the books I have discuss the army of the Principate in agonizing detail, then skip right to Diocletian without really exploring how and why the army got that way.

I got Legions in Crisis, the Transformation of the Roman Soldier by Paul Elliot at Christmas. Well, ok I picked it out but Mrs. Rabbitman wrapped it up for me.
This book answered my questions. He covers the sketchy and confusing, blood-soaked history from Marcus Aurelius to Diocletian to explore how politics, new enemies and tactical demands mixed with the army's changing demographics brought about the changes in costume and equipment and organization within the legions.

The Danube frontier, facing the Sarmatians and then the Goths forced the switch from scuta, plum and gladius to oval shield and longer spatha and spear to fend off horsemen. The change in fighting stance meant the legionary helmet got deeper. The movement of veteran troops from the Danube frontier to reinforce other fronts spread these changes. Lorica segmenta, optimized for defence against downward slashing blows from German and Celtic tribesmen was abandoned in favour of the easier to make and maintain chain mail.

I won't bother repeating his book in its entirety because if you're interested in Roman military history you should read it yourself.

The period covered is so rich I'm surprised that the big figure makers haven't produced dedicated sets instead of yet more boring early Imperial figures. Of course now that I've built my army, the Perry twins will release a plastic box set next year.

Highly recommended.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Bashup in Barrie!

Just back from an awfully filthy snowy drive home from Barrie, and the home of The Mad Padre, where we had one of our irregularly scheduled gaming play dates and sleepovers.

On tap this weekend was our usual Lord of the Rings themed Dragon Rampant game. I brought 100 points of elves to face his legions of evil doom. A good 40+ of those points hadn't been played with yet.

We used a book of scenarios from One Hour War Games and divided our armies into 3 roughly equal commands. My elf sorceress was holding a ridge while the king marched to her aid. It didn't go well because you can buy a lot of goblins for 100 points....

Elf advance guard on ridge

Troll and Warg riders

The king arrives with reinforcements 

Elf archers who had trouble activating 

More elf archers that had trouble activating 

My ent killed Mike's troll and then shredded his elite goblin archers

Elf light infantry perform badly 

Remains of archers

My left wing gets thinner. Charges to try and blunt the orc columns weren't effective 

When you find yourself outnumbered 20:1 and keep getting snared in sorcery 
So, I conceded the game, hoping that between nightfall and my sorceress, the remains of my army could extricate themselves. But we got a lot of troops onto a rather tight 6x3 dining room table. Mike did have a few traffic jams but that was mostly because of the scenario limiting where his troops came on.

Then after some corned beef sandwiches and a beer we set up a game of Longstreet with Mike's 28mm ACW collection.

Brigade of Union cavalry is defending along the road. Rebs come in from right trying to capture the ford. Union reinforcements enter from far end of table.

I also got to take Mike's groovy new artillery limber for a spin 

This regiment did a good job holding the fence against a Reb brigade attacking through the wheat

My dice on left Mike's on the right when he tried to charge me!

While we made dinner and shoveled 6" of snow Luigi inspected our dispositions 

Pressure in the center. Mike rolled better on this charge and swept one regiment away!

I've pulled back on the right and lost a gun. But reinforcements arriving on the left 

Game end. River crossing solidly in my hands and I chase the Rebs back over the hill.
And that was that. A bit more catching up and some TV before bed and then we both  had an early start.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The Russia House

My last WW2 game, played solo a year ago, drove home my need for Eastern Front terrain.

So after a bunch of inquiries on Social Media I had quite a list of sources in MDF, resin, metal, and paper. The nice stuff was naturally expensive. MDF is economical but very lacking in character. Some recommendations were to buy MDF and then tart them up.

I felt that if I was going to do that I may as well just start with foam core and cereal boxes and give scratch building a bash. I mean even I can make some ramshackle boxes.

So I did. A simple house with small side yard and a slightly more complex shape with an out building.

Strips of cereal box were glued onto the foam core shell for the wooden planking. I did experiment with bamboo skewers to make a log house, but that way lay madness.

The thatching on the outbuildings gave me some issues.

Saved these heavy steel off cuts from work originally for my Space colony, but they've become very useful to brace things or weigh things down while glue dries.

Fences are coffee stirrers sliced in two glued to bamboo skewers. Chimneys are square pieces of balsa.

After priming with black spray they sat for 4 months while I painted Romans. Then Sunday, wanting to hobby but then having ALL of my energy drained away by discovering a leaky pipe, I spent an hour dry brushing them after dealing with buckets and wet vacs.

Four shades of grey later:

Then paint the thatch, some muted colours for windows, shutters and doors. Then flock. Small flower tufts are from Shadow's Edge.

So there you have it, a nice little shtetl on the steppes.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

First Figures of 2020

Spent New Year's Day painting for the most part.

Finally summoned up the courage and inspiration to finish this elf. Purchased in May 2017, painted December 2018 and waiting all year for his flag. Again using the Two Trees of Valinor motif (which also references the West gate to Moria), this time with stars and supporting a crown.

Also bashed on with the box of Oathmark orcs I had purchased at Hotlead. Assembled and primed over the summer. I did a quick paint job on them during my holiday, hoping to have them done by midnight 31 December 2019, but no luck. I finished the ink wash at 4 minutes past midnight! New Year's Day was highlights, basing and banners.

30 figures in the box. I did 13 as spear orcs and 14 as archers plus 2 standards and 1 captain.

Giving me a 12 figure unit each of spear and bow, then a 6 figure skirmish unit with both.

Comparison shots with a Vendel orc on the right.

There were a few awkward poses until I sorted out the optimum poses for each torso and weapon.

Painting was simple with just a brown ink wash over the entire figure, then a few metal bits highlighted. The skin tone was made with khaki tan and the brown ink.

The characters on the banners are the Tengwar characters for 5 and 6.