Thursday, October 30, 2008

Crusader Thracians

I've always been keen on fielding a Thracian Army against my Spartans as it would be more interesting than a hoplite v hoplite encounter. I bought a Foundry deal a few years ago and painted a number of figures for the Society of Ancients Cynoscephalae battle day. However, the Foundry Thracians were, crucially, missing skirmishers (archers in particular). Now however, Crusader miniatres have come to the rescue with some lovely new Thracians sculpted in a very similar style to Steve Saleh. I have put in a pre-order for these as they look perfect.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another file of knights

During my holiday I managed to paint another file of Spartan knights to complete my first phalanx. This takes the unit up to 20 figures and a hefty 550 points: much better for wargaming purposes.

I have bought some light troops and will do those next, along with starting the next unit of hoplites. I also need to start work on Leonidas.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

First unit of Spartan Knights completed..sort of.

Well, encouraged by the fact that we have a new recruit at Guildford who is interested in Classical Greek wargaming in 28mm for WAB, I have finished the figures I needed to complete my first unit of classical period Spartan hoplites.
Here they are all, 16 of them!

They are a very small unit of 16 men, so one casualty would destroy their phalanx ability straight away. I probably need to make them 2o at least but for the Thermopylae scenario I am looking at that would probably be too many, but 16 isn't really viable in WAB. Or is it? If I use the sacred band rule, which would be appropriate for Leonidas' bodyguard then they become immune to psychology and never break. I think I may test this out in the next few weeks by pitting them against a bigger unit of Peltasts, standing in for Persians and see how they do.

A Spartan Hoplite sacred band member is an astonishing 27 points so this unit is 442 points! So they better hold!

I have now started work on two more figures who may make another file to bring them up to 20. I may now also paint my Leonidas figure and move the officer to the second unit.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spartan Musician and later Spartan Hoplites.

I recently bought the new Artizan Spartan musicians and high command set. The two musicians included are a pipe and a trumpet player. I painted the pipe player and he can be used in any period Spartan army.

This sort of Greek Pipe is called an Aulos and is not a double ended instrument but rather two auloi played at the same time. It was a simple double reed instrument (like an oboe) and had only five holes. It came in a variety of sizes from quite small (parthenios-maiden type) to large (hyperteleios -extra complete). Auloi players (and certainly the Artizan one) are often depicted wearing a phorbeia, a cloth or leather bandage worn around the mouth which contained two holes to help keep the instruments in place. It was Thucydides who noted that the Spartans marched into battle to the tune of the aulos. It is theorised, not unreasonably, that the aulos players formed a separate unit behind the Hoplite phalanxes but the Warhammer rules require you to put your musician in the unit so in he will go.

I also finished another two later Spartans to go with the General and other hoplite I painted some time ago. With their pilos helmets and lambda devices on their shields they are from a later period than the Artizan Spartans.

There has been much argument over the level of armour that hoplites wore in the Peloponnesian Wars. In the Nicolas Sekunda Osprey he argued (and the illustrations reflect) that by this period, and the later Xenophon period of the 10,000, armour had fallen from use. Others do not agree, however. For my armies I have to take a view on this. It was interesting to hear Phil Sabin say, at last years SOA battle day, that wargamers often had to think about things like this and make choices in a way historians don't. My feeling is that although the nature of Hoplite fighting changed, with looser and more flexible formations needed because of the increase in importance of lighter troops on the battlefield, people would still wear armour. Maybe too, armour would not be worn in battle if the terrain was unsuitable. Classical Greek battles tended to take place on pre-agreed flat terrain. However, if you were up in the mountains of Thrace trying to beat off ambushing tribesemen with one of Xenophon's mercenary units you might discard your armour in favour of better manoeuvreability. I am going to go for a mix of armoured and unarmoured units for the later period, therefore.

The figures from this particular Foundry pack are odd in a number of ways:

Firstly, unlike the Artizan figures, they are fully bearded but with mustaches. Under the laws of Lykurgus Spartans were banned from having mustaches. On the latter two figures a bit of judicious filing has dealt with this problem (oddly the Foundry general is correctly bearded and with no mustache).

Secondly, the Foundry shields are a bit small, certainly smaller than the Artizan ones. Although I am using bigger shields for the Foundry non-Spartan Greeks (taken from an Argonauts deal I bought a few years ago with the sheep's head filed off) I decided to leave these as some of the chracters have non-separate shields.

Thirdly, the hand positions mean that when you glue the spears on the spear is, oddly, always in contact with the head. Maybe this is designed to offer another attachment point.

Finally, the figures' breastplates appear to be for bronze armour, they are not the squared off linothorox form you find on the Artizan figures. I suspect that bronze breastplates with pilos helmets really would have been anachronistic (although I painted my first figure in this way as that is the way the figures on the Foundry website are painted). For the most recent two I simply painted on the lines of a linothorax. I didn't bother to fill the line on the casting meant to represent the join between the front and back of the bronze breastplate but maybe I will on future figures.
Anyway, now I have a front rank for my later Spartan force and can finish my first unit of Classical Thermopylae period Spartans (the final figures are underway).

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Thermopylae blog

Quadratus from The Miniatures Page has started a blog about a project to re-create Thermoplyae with some schoolchildren. A great idea to get them interested in learning about the real story behind the film 300. It looks like a very interesting project which I will follow closely.