Sunday, November 25, 2007

Three more Spartan knights

I finished another three Spartan hoplies today so now I have 12 for my first unit. I'm looking at a unit of 20 I think so I will order some more once I have painted the last five I have. Then I think I will order some light infantry to go with them. I'm not short of Greek light infantry but the Artizan ones look particularly nice. I just wish that they would release a musician as I can't finish the unit without one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gates of Fire

I am about half way through Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire which I picked up very cheap in Los Angeles last month. Oddly, I hadn't read this before because I read a couple of reviews that indicated that it's structure (with a lot of flashbacks) made it a difficult read. There was an implication that it was literature and rather indegestible by the casual reader. This is patently nonsense, as I am discovering. It is a well written historical novel, a grade or two above Bernard Cornwell but not in the same league as Patrick O'Brian or even Allan Mallinson. For some reason the many discourses about courage and the nature of war remind me of Heinlen's Starship Troopers.

Whatever, after a rather slow start, I am now in the first day at Thermopylae and it is just tremedous at depicting the battle.

So, suitably inspired, I have got a nother trio of Artizan Spartans ready to go. I do wish they would issue the other packs, though, as I need a musician for my first unit.

I also picked up a copy of the new Osprey on Thermopylae today so need to have a look at that. The only comment I would make at present is the very garish nature of the art. Whether this is down to the original artwork or the printing I don't know. It just shows how much Angus McBride is sorely missed.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

New Osprey on Thermopylae

I got my forthcoming publications catalogue from Osprey yesterday and there is a new book on Thermopylae coming out in November! Excellent! This will keep me focussed!
Wish I knew how to paint that nice chequered effect on the helmet crests!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More Spartans

I've just finished another three Artizan Spartans. These are the four from pack SPA002: spearmen underarm. They work well as ranks behind the overarm poses. I have carried on painting the shield blazons but switched to red for what's supposed to be a boar, a crab and a galley. Quite tempted to do the man who had a life sized fly painted on his shield!

I have now painted one each of the eight hoplite poses available (there are two of each pose per pack). Armoured Spartan hippeis (equivalent of Sacred Band) hoplites are a staggering 29 points each in WAB. So the points value of the 9 I have painted (with the officer) is 266! If you include the army general, which you are supposed to do in the key guard unit, you can add another 157 points to that. Over 400 points for 10 figures!

I've easily got enough Spartans to finish a unit of 16 but a unit of 20 would be nicer. Just think how many Persians I'd have to paint to balance them out, though. Maybe it's time to do a few generic City State hoplites to oppose them or be allies!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Another Spartan Officer

I've finished another Spartan officer and this picture gives a better idea of the new Vallejo Bronze colour I am using instead of the Games Workshop Golds. It is much closer to the ancient bronze weapons I have seen in museums.

Monday, September 24, 2007

New bronze Hoplite

Dashed off another Spartan hoplite but I used a new colour for the bronze work. This is Vallejo model colour Bronze 70998. It is a much browner looking colour than the Games Workshop gold colours I have been using so far. In the comparison photo the new colour is the one on the right. You can't tell in these pictures because of the flash but it certainly looks much better. I will be repainting my existing figures with this duller colour.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

WAB Thermopylae Scenario in Wargaming Soldiers and Strategy

WSS is a magazine I can only get intermittently as they only seem to sell it at the larger branches of WH Smith. I picked up the September issue today and it has a WAB scenario for Thermopylae in it.

The good news is that you only need 1000 points of Spartans: which totals Leonidas, 20 Spartan bodyguard, 21 Thespian hoplites and 9 peltasts. Hooray only 51 figures! I've already got 15 of them done! Actually these proportions are rather puzzling. If you take the figures in the accompanying article of 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians and 900 Pereoeci then I would make up the 1000 points as follows.

Leonidas 185 points
12 Spartan Hoplites with light armour 293 points
24 Thesbian Hoplites with light armour 293 points
33 light infantry 231 points

That makes the proportions better but pushes the number of figures up to 70. But because I painted so many light infantry for Cynoscephalea I would then have 39 figures of the force painted. Perhaps a 12 man unit (even of Spartans) would just not hold. You would also not get the full rank bonus. Some experimentation would be needed. No wonder Thermopylae is considered so hard to game satisfactorily! Anyway, it has encouraged me to finish my unit of Spartans so I can test them out against a larger force made up of peltasts (standing in for Persians) to see what happens.

Then the bad news: 2000 points of Persians. That's 221 figures! Unlike Greek light infantry Persians had all those ornate tunics so they will take ages to paint. There is a "hordes" option where you only need 1000 points and keep recycling broken units. 110 figures seems a bit more achievable. At least Persians can be used for other conflicts, such as against Macedonians.

I don't know if Steve Saleh is planning to do any Persians for Artizan (there have been comments to that effect). Otherwise, I bought some Vendel figures and they seem pretty compatible. Perhaps I will paint one or two to see how they come out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

First Athenian

I started this figure about two years ago and then gave up on it so it is nice to have finished it now. This is my first Athenian (or any other city state) hoplite and is one of the Foundry ones. I probably shouldn't have painted him with a red tunic as he looks rather similar to the Spartans. Blue for the next one I think.

Spartan Unit Officer

I have painted an officer to go with the first four hoplites. He is armed with a sword rather than a spear as he would have been in the phalanx but it's as good a way to distinguish officers as any. The sword is rather over-large and even after some filing is still out of scale but I suppose it will look alright in a unit.

I am now waiting for the next Spartans release from Artizan as that will provide some musicians; although it is annoying that they are going to package those with King Leonidas. There will be an awful of lot of Leonidas on eBay, I suspect.

Bettany Hughes: would look nice in a peplos

I have just picked up the Bettany Hughes fronted series The Spartans which was written by Paul Cartledge whose new book on Thermopylae I have also just purchased. Hopefully this will keep me engaged enough to keep painting them. If Bettany Hughes can't, nothing can! Bettany's recitation in Ancient Greek of the famous inscription on the monument at Thermopylae ("Go, tell the Spartans..") was one of the sexiest moments ever in history TV!
Bettany decribes racy Spartan women:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

First Four Hoplites

I have now painted four of the new Artizan Hoplites; one each of the overarm spear set (you get two of each). I am working on a command figure and then I will stop for a bit as I am doing some Darkest Africa stuff. I have decided to paint the shield devices rather than use transfers as I want my Spartans to have plain bronze surfaced, rather than painted, shields. There will just be some painted devices on the metal. I think that this is more "spartan" and slightly more primitive given that I would like to think that Spartan Hoplites spent more time on their drill than on what was on their shields. I will reserve the painted shields for the more effete Athenians.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Artizan v Vendel

Here is one of the new Artizan Spartans with a Vendel Persian command.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Another Spartan

I've decided to paint one of each of the new Artizan Spartans I ordered so now have two hoplites finished and two more nearly ready.
These are Persian Wars era Spartans so I have decided to paint them with plain bronze shields and simple shield blazons. I've decided to paint these rather than use transfers as I want the backgrounds of the shields to reamain bronze rather than painted. I will use the painted backgrounds and, therefore, transfers, for other Greek city states.
The spears are Gripping Beast. They are a little fat but I like the way I can carve the end to form the bronze butt at the base of the spear.
These really are very easy figures to paint, even for me!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Spartan Officer

Here is the first figure I have painted from the Artizan Spartan command pack. The figure is what Artizan refer to as "Command Staff" as opposed to the "unit command".

He carries the typical Lakedaimonian staff, the bakte╬╝rion. More likely to be carried by envoys travelling abroad on diplomatic missions than in battle, nevertheless, it is as typically Spartan as the tribo╬╝n cloak which, again, was unlikely to have been worn in battle. So what role this lovely figure will have in my classical Spartan army I am not yet sure!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Arizan Spartan Part 2

Well, I've finished my first one and I'm reasonably happy with it. Pretty easy to paint although maybe the arms and legs are lacking in a little muscular definition compared with some of his Foundry Greeks.

The comparison photos show that they match with the Foundry Spartans perfectly and hence with their other Greeks (I'm sure I have a part completed Athenian hoplite somewhere!). Nearly finished an officer so hope to have him up in a day or too.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Artizan Spartan Part 1

I ordered my Artizan Spartans (the first two sets of armoured hoplites and the command pack) on Wednesday evening and they arrived Friday morning! First impression are very good indeed.

Unlike most of the later Spartans he did for Foundry Mike Owen has sculpted these figures with beards but no moustache, which is quite correct. Also the shields are that little bit bigger: also correct.

Size-wise they are completely compatible with the Foundry Greek figures (not always the case when a sculptor works for another manufacturer).

I will do a proper review when I have actually finished a figure; which will hopefully be later this week as I have started one as a test.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Artizan Spartans.. out!

Just ordered 2 packs of hoplites and the command pack. I was sorting through my Foundry Greeks last weekend and those Steve Saleh figures are just wonderful so really looking forward to these. They have officially announced the Persians too, although I think that 12 packs of Persians will barely cover the main troop types. There are always the Vendel ones as well, though.

I will try to paint at least one as soon as they arrive!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Thracian Unit

I painted another six Thracians so we could field a unit of 12 using the same sized figures. Dave's are old Minifigs and are small 25s.

I really like painting these even if all the patterns are a pain. I didn't go mad on these but when I do the next lot will get more patterns on. I have included a female Thracian as I often try to sneak a girlie into my armies.

So, that's it for Greeks for the time being. Now all I have to do is wait for the Artizan Spartans!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Last Greek skirmishers

This is my third and final unit of Greek skirmishers for Cynoscephalae this Saturday. Thirty six skirmishers painted in just over six weeks (all except one which I painted in January). I still seem to have quite a few in my drawers so I'd better work out how many I would ever need for an army. One day I will have to resolve the "are they spears or javelins?" issue and add a spare javelin if the latter.
For Cynoscephale, with the Thracians that I should finish tomorrow, I will have painted:
36 Greek skirmishers
12 Cretan Archers
12 Thracian Peltasts
6 Italian javelin men
8 Greek Light Cavalry
16 Greek/Macedonian Heavy Cavalry
2 Macedonian Generals
There are also all the Punic Romans I painted as well, thinking they might be needed. In fact, I think I am just taking 24 Velites.
Even so, that's 92 figures plus the Romans. They will nearly all be useful for the Spartan Mercenary Army, earlier Greek armies and Macedonian armies.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

More Greek Skirmishers

This is the second unit of Greek skirmishers finished. The whole lot in a week. I have deliberately made it unclear as to whether they have spears or javelins so I can use them as both peltasts or javelinmen. The spears I picked up at Salute and they are nice steel ones with a leaf blade, so they shouldn't bend like the soft metal ones.

I have another 12 based and maybe have even another 12 after that. In the meantime I need to do the two Macedonian generals and maybe get the last six Greek light horse done. It's going to be tight!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Classical Spartans!

Artizan designs have announced a new range of Spartans with Corinthian (or possibly Chalcidian-it's hard to tell from these shots whether they leave the ears exposed or not) rather than Pylos Helmets. Most other manufactureres depict Spartans in Pylos helmets so this is a welcome addition.

The whole issue of how to represent a Spartan Army has exercised me since I started this project. The figures I have decided to use are the Foundry ones also by Steve Saleh.

Now there are a number of distinct periods I would want to model and really it is not that easy to overlap the models used.


The Spartans at the time of Thermopylae would have probably worn Corinthian Helmets with front to back crests (maybe even with elevated crests like this example from about the time of Thermopylae). One of the figures in the Artizan picture above (third from the left, top row) is wearing the more open faced Illyrian type helmet, which certainly continued into use in the 4th century

They could also have worn the so-called bell bronze cuirass. The illustrations in Nick Sekunda's Osprey The Spartan Army show the Spartans at Thermopylae wearing bell cuirasses. Actually, Foundry do produce some figures like this but only in their one pose army builder packs See above figure).
However, Peter Connolly in his Greece and Rome at War show Spartan troops at Thermopylae wearing the linen covered cuirass. The Artizan figures seem to be based on this interpretation.
Also, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that the Spartans were using the famous Greek lambda symbol on their shields at this time and had individual designs. The earliest mention is from a poet likely to have been writing around 412 BC.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Greek Heavy Cavalry

This is the unit of 16 heavy cavalry we need for Cynoscephalae. Technically they should be half Greek and half Macedonians but only one of them is carrying a Xyston. I will replace the Xyston carrying Macedonian with another heavy cavalryman and build a seperate unit of Companion cavalry when I get to work on the Macedonians. The only problem with contemplating a Macedonian force is all the Persians I would have to paint as well. Grim!
Next 12 more javelinmen and six more light cavalry. Never mind the light mornings are helping. Today I managed to finish the tunics on 12 javelinmen. I'll try to do the flesh shading tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Greeks

Bought some more Greeks today. 9 packs of Foundry figures on top of the 7 packs which arrived two days ago. I managed to get the former at £5.00 per pack reduced in a shop I visited today. Bargain. One pack I did get was the Mercenary Generals which also contained the two mercenary commander figures that you used to only be able to get as a give away with the Foundry mercenary deal and which seem to have been unavailable for some time. One of these is a really nice Spartan figure.
Unfortunately, quite a few of the figures I bought today are Macedonians: Hypaspists and phalangites. It looks like I am going down the road of starting a Macedonian army. Oh dear!

Friday, April 06, 2007

First Thracians

Here are the six Thracians we need to make up numbers for Cynoscephalae.

These ones are wearing the black tunic mentioned by Plutarch and worn at Pydna (168 BC), so there is a reasonable argument to say they could have worn them at Cynoscephalae (197BC). They are certainly quicker to paint than the classical ones!

This is a WAB command unit of Classical period Thracians wearing the patterned tunics. I bought a Foundry deal of these (80 figures) a couple of years ago to pitch against my classical Greeks. They are lovely to paint but take rather a long time because of all the patterns.

I'd like to paint an army, or at least a couple of big units of these as there are a couple of interesting actions involving Thracians against Romans (and Numidians) following Magnesia (190). Useful figures, therefore.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Cretan Archers

I finished them last night. 12 figures in a week, must be a record! Next I will finish the 6 Thracians and do the first four Macedonian Heavy cavalry. Good job I have some time off over Easter.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A couple more Greeks

I finished another light cavalryman and an archer in the last week. I may have enough time to do some more before Cynoscephalae in May. Currently I am seeing if I can paint 12 Cretan archers in a week. I'll have to finish them tonight to succeed. Looks like I will just miss it..

Unit of Javelinmen

I needed to do some javelinmen for Cynoscephalae and they will be useful for my Greek Mercenary army anyway. I painted all 12 (the Tony Bath rules we are using put light infantry in units of 12) at the same time, unusually, rather than in sixes. They didn't take too long and look OK. I used cut down Gripping Beast spears for these but I will try to get some of the Perry Miniatures spears as they make better javelins in this scale.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

First cavalryman

Here is my first Greek light cavalryman, painted to serve as Greek allied cavalry for Cynoscephalae. He is a Steve Saleh Foundry Greek.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I have to paint some Greek light troops for the Cynoscephalae battle we are running for the Society of Ancients battle day. Here is the first one. These will be useful for my Greek mercenary force. I'll try to finish another couple today although I have just got back from Canada and may not feel up to it.

Monday, January 15, 2007

A New Direction?

I haven't painted anything for months as I have been too busy on Punic War Romans. However, a couple of things have got me thinking about the Spartans again. Firstly, I am painting some Greek light infantry for Cynoscephalae and so have been rooting about in my drawers of Foundry Greeks. Lots of lovely Steve Saleh Spartans and others in there.

Secondly, I am trying to finish all the half read novels I have. One of these is The Ten Thousand by Michael Curtis Ford. I started it and read the first half quickly but seemed to lose interest (something that some reviewers have mentioned). I must give it a go, maybe backing up a bit instead of trying to remember what happened.

Thirdly, I have just picked up Robin Waterfield's Xenophon's Retreat which aims to fill in the gaps left by Xenophon's own narrative (which Waterfield has recently newly translated).

My issue with a Spartan Army for WAB is just that it looks too tough and that historically it rarely suffered defeat. The solution is to morph my Spartan army into a Spartan led mercenary army. This will give me the opportunity to field a lot more troop types including some which I already have unpainted such as Thracians and Athenians. If I do end up getting Macedonians then I can get some Persians (Vendel's look nice) as well.

The final part of the puzzle was finding this excellent WAB Greek Mercenary List: