Saturday, March 28, 2015

Alesia - The Epic Battle of the Ancient World

Or so said Avalon Hill Games in 1976. Finally got to play this, my very first board game-proper. My fellow Hawaiian-expat, Kimo, who had some experience with Avalon Hill games, came over to help out. As he hadn't played Alesia before, and not any board games for many years, we referred to the 7 pages of rules quite often during the game. Honestly, the rules are pretty straight-forward and fairly simple. It's the tactics and initial deployment, particularly the Romans',  are what makes it interesting and challenging. Below is the set up prior to the start of the first turn. Kimo played the Romans and I played the Gauls - which included the relieving forces on a hidden Off Board Movement Chart.
The game can be played up to 24-turns, but we ended up going for only four with a pretty clear indication of Vercingetorix being able to make it off the table - which is the victory condition for the Gauls. Although the evenly spaced placement of Roman forces by Kimo around the perimeter of the outer barricades seemed to make sense, it ended up being their downfall. It soon became evident, that the use of more centrally-staged Quick Reaction Forces would have been better.
Early on the Gauls inside fortress Alesia had half their forces, along with Vercingetorix, swiftly move southwards for a breakout. As the Romans were spread thinly throughout the outer perimeter, they only had a small force in the southern area. This area is also the first area which off-board relieving Gauls can enter (Turn 1), which they did.
Maybe if Vercingetorix had the same view as I did, he would've made it out too.
By Turn 2 the Gauls, who although had lower overall Combat ratings overwhelmed the Romans in their area. Kimo and I, both alumni of the Hawaii Public Schools system were initially challenged by the mathematics required to calculate Combat Resolution - namely, ratios of Combat factors, but we ended up getting into the swing - at last we think we did.
Image from the old National Geographic Greece and Rome book - depicting Caesar's cavalry leading a desperate, and successful, counter attack.
I felt bad for Kimo and reminded him that he had swift moving cavalry up in his northern sectors and that he should at least attempt to get then into the fray down south. Unfortunately for the Romans, by Turn 4, it was evident that Vercingetorix had a great chance of making it off the table, and we called it a day in favor of the Gauls.
I'm quite sure we missed some of the details of the rules, but for the most part it played very smoothly and was quite an enjoyable first time for me with a board game. As the game is borrowed from a buddy, I'll likely look for a set on ebay in the future. I have to say the counters make sense, but they are a bit fiddly to move around - particularly when the units get pressed together in close combat.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sir William de Bohun, 1st Earl of Northampton, KG

Another one of the Black Tree Design Late-HYW foot knights - painted up as Sir William de Bohun. Sir William was the fifth son of Humphrey de Bohun, who was himself killed at the Battle of Boroughbridge during the rebellion against Edward II. Sir William assisted in the arrest of Roger Mortimer in 1330, whereby Edward III ascended the throne.
Besides campaigning in Scotland and Flanders, Sir William fought at the Battles of Sluys and Crecy. He also commanded the forces which defeated Charles de Blois at the Battle of Morlaix in 1342.
Sir William was also an accomplished diplomat, negotiating treaties with France as well as the terms for the release of David Bruce of Scotland. Sir William died in 1360 while still holding the office of High Sheriff of Rutland.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thomas de Beauchamp, 12th Earl of Warwick, KG

This is another one of the Black Tree Design figures from their Late-HYW range. The 12th Earl of Warwick was the son of the earl of the same name who had fought at Crecy and Poitiers. The 12th Earl served under John of Gaunt in France in 1373. The Earl also served under Richard II and campaigned in Scotland in 1385.
His armor is mostly plate and representative of the type in use in the late-14th C. As befitting his status and rank, his armor is richly ornamented with gold or brass.
Shields were not as commonly used by this period as the plate armor offered better protection than the earlier harnesses with more mail.
He was charged with high treason by Richard II in 1397. Sentenced to life imprisonment, he was released by Henry Bolingbroke upon the latter's victory over Richard. Sir Thomas died in 1401, apparently of natural causes at the age of 63.
Here he is next to a 160mm resin figure of the Earl which I painted some years ago.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sir Thomas Erpingham, KG

Managed to finish another BTD HYW figure while watching a classic, favorite movie of mine, Murphy's War. Anyway, the figures is of course, Sir Thomas Erpingham, who famously commanded the English archers at Agincourt, and was memorialized by Shakespeare.
I would suggest this representation of Sir Thomas would be of him earlier in his long and distinguished military career. He served under John of Gaunt in France and Scotland.
Upon the Duke of Lancaster's death in 1399, Sir Thomas went on to be a loyal follower of the Duke's son, Henry Bolingbroke.  Sir Thomas accompanied Henry during the latter's exile by Richard II. Returning to England in 1399 with Henry, Sir Thomas is credited with assisting in the capture and imprisonment of Richard.
Although he is best remembered as a commander at Agincourt under Henry V, he established his reputation as a loyal knight under Henry IV. At Agincourt, Sir Thomas was already in his 60th year, and the twilight of his career. He died in 1428, a year before The Maid arrived at Orleans.

Sir William de Aldeburg

Here's the first of the new round of BTD HYW knights completed. It is based on the brass in Alborough Church, Aldborough, England. The brass dates from around 1360.
Sir William is credited as being a high court judge at the time. This would be during the reign of Edward III. I'm not sure of his combat record, but he lived during the period of the Scottish Wars and Hundred Years War with France.
In any case, he is a favorite of modern day illustrators - most likely due to his interesting coat of arms. It is similar to the one belonging to the Earl of Warwick. Although the earl's arms have a background of red (gules).
Interestingly there existed two prominent families with the name of Aldeburg (or its variants). Some of their histories may have become confused with the other's. The arms of the other family included a lion rampant.

Friday, March 20, 2015

BTD HYW Knights Reprised - WIP

After a Roman Holiday of sorts, I've decided to turn my attention to some Black Tree Design HYW foot knights which were purchased a few months ago when they were once again on sale at 50% off. I really like the robust and well-detailed sculpting of these figures. The armor is of the style from the mid-14th C. to early-15th C. The hounskull, or pig-faced, visored bascinet is one of my favorite helmets. So far they have only received a preliminary treatment of the armor.
I plan to paint their jupons to represent famous knights from the period - one of which will likely be the Black Prince. The earlier works of Richard Courtenay and Frederick Ping are inspirational - ever since viewing their range of knights in a book my mom bought me when I was a kid. I still have the book - pictured below.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Crusader Minis - Charon and African Retiari

Finished the last two figures from the pack of Arena Officials and Retiarii.
The Retiari is the first figure I've painted with an African skin tone. I used a mixture of Cadmium Red, Yellow and Black. The same mixture with a little bit of White was used for the highlighting. As with all races, there is a great variance of skin tone, so really can't go wrong.
The Retiari's arm guard has a nice crab motif.
The Charon guy's tunic is based on Etruscan frescoes imaged below:
A scene depicting the sacrifice of Trojan prisoners - Charon on the right of the victim
Not sure of the design on the hammer, but I copied it
These two figures wrap up what's needed for the Gladiator game for Enfilade! in May. I also read a bit of the rules for the Alesia board game. Pretty straight forward - and I think it can be converted for use with 2mm figures. Although I don't think I could get away with less than 1,500 figures for the Gauls; even going with a 1:100 figure ratio. So, this may not be an appropriate project ;)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Crusader Minis - Roman Arena Officials

Here are three of the figures from the pack - still need to paint the "Charon" figure. The guy in the center is supposed to represent Mercury - the fleet-footed messenger; although the cuirass would seem to slow him down.
I'm not quite sure what their official functions were - particularly where the guys they were "officiating" had nothing to lose if they disagreed with their "play calls." I wonder if they were former fighters themselves.
Whatever their actual duties were, they are clearly depicted in many period mosaics, as the one below.
A few days ago I posted on the NHMGS FaceBook asking if anyone had played the old Avalon Hill Alesia game. Immediately, one of the long time members, Jim D., said he had, and offered to let me borrow his set. I picked it up from him today on my day off - his too ;).  Everything is in excellent condition and I hope to try it out and see if it can be converted using 2mm figures.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Crusader Minis Retiarii & Laquearius

A couple of Retiarii and a Laqueasius - or "net men" and "snarer."
The Retiarius normally fought against the Secutor - whose helmet lacked any crest which supposedly deterred capture by the net.
The Laquearius is a somewhat obscure figure, and may have been a variation of the Retiarius. He may also have been an official used to catch fleeing noxii (condemned prisoners).
There is another Retiari from the set, but he'll be painted later as he is an African and the skin color necessitates a separate color palette. I also have the Arena Officials pack which will be more of an aesthetic part of the game - or may be adapted with some type of movement inhibitor for the actual combatants.
The Arena Games rule set has special entanglement rules for the net and lasso, which should add some variety to the game. A play-test will follow soon.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Irregular Miniatures 2mm Rep. Romans and Marching Forts

These are the Irregular Miniatures 2mm models which will used in the Actium game. Mainly lining the shore for aesthetics - quite like they did during the actual battle.
That is a nice Hotz Artworks terrain mat they're on.
I've been thinking that 2mm would be a good scale for an Alesia game. Irregular makes army packs, including Gauls, so the figures are not a problem. However, the terrain, which would include a lot of siege works, may be something a bit much to tackle. Still, it would an interesting scenario - what with Julius Caesar leading a desperate cavalry counter-attack and all.
A shot to show the rear of the troops
A couple of 1/1200th Langton ships for scale comparison. Close enough for gaming purposes, IMO.
I really should start on the handful of Crusader Gladiator figures now that the Actium stuff is ready.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

How to Paint Fallschirmjäger Camo - the Resistant Rooster's Way

Thanks to fellow-blogger Aaron's (Prufrock) suggestion of labeling my last post with a How To moniker, I went back through the blog to find stuff that may be of use. Incidentally, I came across some old photos of WIP shots from painting some Victory Force Miniatures FJ in camo. The method was discovered on Resistant Roosters and championed by a painter by the name of Giles. The tutorial is aimed at 15mm, but translates well enouth to 28mm, IMO. Please click on the links for both Splinter and Tan Water patterns. Here are the WIP photos - sorry I didn't take any step-by-step, but the linked site has some examples. The links give recommended colors to use from Vallejo. Again, these were painted a long time ago, but figured it's a good reference. Since then, I've discovered Micron Pens, and would use them to replicate the "rain drops" instead of using a brush.
Splinter Pattern
Splinter Pattern
Tan Water Pattern
Tan Water Pattern

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

How to Paint 240 Roman Legionaries in 20 Minutes

The secret is not to paint their eyes. That and getting them in 2mm is very helpful.
The photo above shows the results; you will have to take me for my word that the eyes are left unpainted. Starting with a black base coat over the figures which have been glue-gunned to popsicle sticks, a semi-drybrush technique is used. The tip of the brush is basically dragged along horizontally rather quickly, picking out the details. Flesh was first used for the legs (both front and back), as well as what should be heads. Red, lightened with yellow is then used for the standards, shields and edges of the tunic (both front and back). Gold is used for the tips of the standards, and helmets - actually just the front of the helmets for the front rank, and rear of the helmets for the rear rank. Then Silver is used for the back of the helmets for the front rank, and front of the helmets for the rear rank. This seems to simulate the tips of the pila - which I assume they should be holding. Silver is also used on the rear of the figures for the armor. Finally a wash of sepia (I mix black and red brown inks) is applied to the mostly the legs and heads.
The rear of the figures
I'm still deciding on how to base them - along with the earlier painted figures. Who knows, I may one day game them.