Monday, 31 December 2012

Pikemen of various hues

Like buses, pike phalanx seem to come in threes.  Yesterday, Simon MacDowall posted his splendid Silver Shields, and I see that tonight Craig has just posted his proud Pink Pikemen (so numerous that he can't capture them all in one photo frame!).   Here is the left-most unit of my own forming Successor phalanx, the Libyan.

Their position on the extreme left of the phalanx, next to the guard units, suggests to me that they were considered more reliable than the local Egyptian phalangites.  They were led by Ammonius the Barcan.  His name sounds Punic; could there have been Carthaginian mercenaries present amongst them?  Raphia was, after all, fought in the same year as Lake Trasimene... 

The phalanx is a recent expansion and repaint of a repaint of an eBay purchase.  The purple linothorax must be due to the availability of Murex sea-snails along the Punic Coast (or could alternatively be due to me being too lazy to change the colour).  They are a real mix of the various Foundry pikemen.

Anyhow I'm delighted to squeeze these into 2012.  I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Resolutions for 2013

Following my plans for 2013, posted yesterday, here are my resolutions:-
  • I shall complete, play test and publish (probably on-line) the Ancients rule set I’ve been developing
  • I shall finish my Ptolemaic phalanx for the game at Partizan; ten units of 48 phalangites, one of 48 agema and peltasts, and 3 dozen Cretan archers.  At the time of writing I do not have a single, complete unit, although I have around 120 figures painted.  To achieve this, within the timescale, I recognise that I will need to get a couple of hundred part-painted for me...   and also the cavalry and nellies
  • I’ll buy the parts and paint the cloth for a deeper wargames table, probably 160cm (4’8””), which is about the widest table that my lounge can take, whilst simultaneously accommodating half a dozen gamers with expanding waistlines
  • Finally, I’ll improve on my woeful record of local gaming, and get some decent games under my belt, at least one every other week
Plenty to be doing, especially the Ptolemaics! 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Plans for 2013

I thought it might be fun to look ahead and make some plans for 2013.

Next week, my first published magazine article, about basing, comes out in Wargames, Soldiers, Strategy; I'm very much looking forward to that!

The Society of Ancients Battleday on April 13th is an absolute must, as it features the interesting battle of Chalons.  Moreover, I don’t need to paint any miniatures (getting to use Simon MacDowell’s lovely 15s), and hope to play the patrician Aetius.  Moreover, my army will include a bunch of Riders of Rohan lookalikes and an ageing Gothic Prince with a death wish.

The next week, 20th April, is Salute, which I always enjoy!  I don’t currently have a game scheduled, and in any case prefer to wander about and catch up with mates, whilst trying to avoid spending any money (usually unsuccessfully).

My first big battle for 2013 will be the Partizan game, on 2nd June, which I’m organising with Craig Davey.  I’m recruiting a massive Ptolemaic pike phalanx for this, and need to get some nellies and cavalry painted for me, too.  It'll be a game to look out for... I suspect rather more 28mm pikes than have been seen together, previously, on a table.  In fact, if all the pikes were laid out in a line, they would stretch almost 100m.

Finally, in September, I’d like to go to the “Other Partizan”, and run something else, perhaps giving my Romans another outing; an excuse to finish another legion, or two.  Maybe Sulla's Chaeronea, or perhaps Thapsus.

I also hope to fit in a few other trips to shows, as time permits; I would welcome ideas for events not to be missed, and hope to catch up with more of you along the way!

Cheers, Simon

Friday, 28 December 2012

My wargaming year

Firstly, I'd like to hope that all my visitors have had a very happy Xmas!  In the BigRedBatCave, the turkey carcass is now picked almost clean, the pudding eaten, and my thoughts naturally return to gaming (if, indeed, they ever left it!).  Today I'm reminding myself what I did this year, and tomorrow, hopefully, formulating my plans for next year.

I'm a bit of a home lover.  Every time I ever do one of those personality tests at work, they come up saying “under no circumstances should his work ever involve travel”.  Despite this, one of my unwritten objectives for 2012 was to get around the country a bit more, and I’ve managed three wargaming trips to the "lead belt", and one to Suffolk.

On the first trip in March I visited Roger, and played an excellent game of Borodino (above), the only big Napoleonic wargame I’ve ever experienced.  I painted a lot of figures for this, which have sadly not been used since.  I’ve also failed to complete my planned cavalry brigade, largely due to not having any imminent plans for using in anger, and my napoleonic blog has been "resting".

In May I visited Salute.  I wasn't running a game, so had more time than usual to wander around, and catch up with old friends.  My favourite game was the Victrix 54mm Napoleonic bash, shown below, but, as ever, there were some lovely display games there.

May also marked my first visit (hopefully of very many) to Partizan, where I very much enjoyed re-fighting Heraclea (above) with Craig and The Aventines.  Fantastic armies!  I had so much fun, I went North for a second time in September, to re fight the battle of Ad Castores, using Dr Phil’s new Augustus to Aurelian rules, my Early Imperial Roman army and a great deal of simulated Italian vegetation.  Finally, in November, I visited Simon “Comitatus” MacDowell in his Suffolk fastness, and played a very enjoyable game of the Battle of Chalons, using his beautiful 15mm collection (below).  

Life on the home front has been somewhat difficult, with the sad loss of my father-in-law, with associated inquest, probate, will, house sale, flat purchase and move for my mother-in-law.  This, amongst other challenges, have badly disrupted my local gaming activities and consequently I’ve played fewer games this year than in any recent year.  I’ll need to sort that, in 2013.

On the plus side, I have managed a fair bit of painting, repainting and basing.  I completed 28 units, the majority of 24 infantry; perhaps 450 miniatures in total.  Altogether this is rather fewer miniatures than I had hoped, but they were mostly of excellent quality (the Goths, below, are a particular favourite of mine).  

In terms of my modelling objectives I partially achieved 2, completing most of my Napoleonic French cavalry Brigade, and most of what I planned for my Early Imperial Romans 60/60/60 project; now only short 150 legionaries.  I’ll need to revisit the Romans, at least, in the summer.  I completely failed to paint anything for Runequest, my third objective.  Despite the work, the lead mountain grew by an alarming 661 unpainted metal miniatures, and now boasts a substantial plastic foothill.  I also sold off my old Viking army which raised funds to offset some of my all-too-numerous eBay and other hobby purchases, and made a little space for my recent painting.

Tomorrow; looking ahead to 2013!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A centimetre a day...

As I've previously mentioned, I'm painting a Ptolemaic pike phalanx for our Raphia game, at Partizan in June.  This is, I hope, going to be a very large phalanx, indeed, and I expect that it will occupy the bulk of my painting time for the next 5 months.

I'm currently painting pikemen in batches of 18.  Some almost finished miniatures are at rear left, and a big batch of primed minis are in reserve in case of bad priming weather.  I'm also incorporating a few minis from eBay purchases.

I find I can prepare, paint and base 18 miniatures in around a week; it dawned on me that my 4-deep phalanx is only growing at a rate of 1 centimetre of width each day.  :-(

I'm also a bit worried becuase I'm part way into the project, but at some point in early January a new publication is coming out on the Ptolemaic army, and there is a danger that I might find I've painted them all wrong.  Gulp. 

Friday, 14 December 2012


Xystophoroi (such a lovely word!) means cavalry armed with the xyston spear, which was slender but could be up to 4 metres long, and could be used one or two handed.  These are Egyptian xystophoroi, and will be in the left flank striking force of the Ptolemaic host for Raphia, at Partizan.  This is the first unit completed specifically for the Raphia game.

The figures were superbly painted by Gareth Lane, and I couldn't resist buying them, when he sold them recently.  I gave them longer spears and a different standard, did a tiny amount of inking, and rebased.  The riders are Polemarch (and one Aventine), and the horses Aventine; a happy combination!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012


Spartans loved to provide a terse "laconic" reply to any question.  One of my favourite examples (from Wikipedia) is from the time of the invasion of Philip II of Macedon. With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip turned his attention to Sparta and sent a message: "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever." In another version, Philip proclaims: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." According to both accounts, the Spartan ephors sent back a one word reply: "If." Subsequently, both Philip and Alexander avoided Sparta entirely.

The above (clickable) photo is of a unit of Spartans I've just expanded and re-based.  Most of the minis were excellently painted by my friend Nick Speller.  Their previous basing (by me) never really worked; they proved very challenging to rank.  I got around this by increasing base depths, and multi-basing into 8's.  This unit includes all the miniatures in attacking poses, and will form the right hand unit of the phalanx.


I've now completed this mini-reorganisation of my Spartans, and now have three units of 36.  Sometime post Raphia, I'll add another unit.  Now I'll get back to the men with longer pointy sticks...

A random Greek hero

I am clearing a few odds and end of the paintint tray to make room for Raphia.

Although almost all of my minis are based in elements, I do find it useful to have some singles and diorama figures for battlefield dressing, and as markers.  This chap is a Foundry Argonaut, converted with a spare head with pilos in order to make him useful as a later-era figure.  I do love his scale cuirass...

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Mugs o'War

When painting, I like to drink my coffee (and tea) from a number of wargame-related mugs, and it occurs to me that other gamers might do this, too.  Here are mine!

Above is the "old faithful" of my mugs, which I stumbled across around 2004, whilst painting my 28mm Pictish army.  I think it came from the Museum of Scotland, via a charity shop.  I love the design, and its rugged construction has, I estimate, survived more than 3,000 washes...

Above is the 2005 Salute mug, from the George and Dragon year.  I've always loved this one, but the lettering is fading toward invisibility, after perhaps 2,500 washes.

Fianlly, below is the 2011 Salute mug.  I've always found this one a bit ugly, and the lettering is fading badly, after only a year and a half.  However, it is a whopping great mug and perfect for a bucket of afternoon tea!

So these are my mugs o'war.  If you have any similar drinking vessels, please feel free to post a link in the comments!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Masses more Machimoi

220 more Polemarch Egyptian phalangites arrived today, from Gripping Beast.  I now have just about enough minis for my Phalanx (528); but can I get them painted in time (even with assistance)?  Where's me brush?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Raphia Phalanx begins...

A week since my last post; life has been interfering with art, again.  Just so that you don't think that I've gone away and left you, below are a couple of quick WIP shot of my next big project.

Above, 30 Foundry Egyptian-style phalangites, started in 2010 and finished, belatedly, this week.  Below 24 Polemarch Egyptian Machimoi, painted last week.  Both clickable.

My plan is to mix the Foundry and Polemarchs together, and paint an awful lot more to match, in order to re-fight of Raphia with mate Craig at Partizan in June.  More anon!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Please don't try this at home

This afternoon there was a brief break in the rain, so I decided to prep some miniatures.  After washing to de-grease, I popped them in the oven to quickly dry them so I could prime; I think I may have left them in there just a few minutes too long!  :-)

Luckily the other 2 dozen survived, it could have been far, far worse. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012


I’ve finished basing the hoplites in my recent post, and rebased my existing Foundry “Athenian” hoplites onto larger bases, so that most are now in 8’s.  I boosted the total numbers by repainting my old Lunar Blue Dragoons (the minis with the tall crests), and mixing them in; they scrubbed up OK.  Economical, neh?  Upgraded the tuftage, too, to my 2013 standard.  'Ave a click.

I took the opportunity to very roughly split out the later hoplites with helms with separate cheeek flaps and Pilos, from those with the earlier Corinthian and Chalcidian helmets, and put them on separate bases.  The above unit has mostly earlier, and the below mostly later helmets, although purists will quail...  Later, I’ll build distinct units with corresponding shield designs, which became simpler and more abstract over time.

In a few weeks I plan to paint up 8 more Spartans.  That’ll give me 5 units of 36 hoplites, and two of 24, which will have to do for the time being, because I urgently need to start painting minis with rather longer pointy sticks.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Jenga Phalanx

These are a continuation of a very old project, which is to build a Ptolemaic phalanx on a grand scale, for use in a grand re-fight of Raphia at Partizan in early June next year.

The plan is to combine these beautifully sculpted Polemarch Machimoi (Egyptian Phalangites) from Gripping Beast, with their Foundry equivalents.  I absolutely love the tall crested helmets, which I assume are based on the Sidon stelae.

When I started this project (over 2 years ago!), I made the mistake of using an Army Painter primer.  This provided a convenient base colour, but created a surface textured like fine grain sandpaper, which wasn’t at all good to paint over, and which put me off the project after I’d only managed to complete 30 miniatures (one shown in the link, at centre).  This time, I’m stripping the remaining primed miniatures and using my trusty can of Halford’s white.  The Jenga blocks are mounts for ease of painting.

I need an awful lot more of these miniatures to build a phalanx of the large size I covet.  If you happen to have a bag of these Polemarch phalangites, or the similar Foundry miniatures in the link, that you always meant to paint but never quite got around to, please drop me a line.  I’d be delighted to swap for them, or buy them off you!  

Friday, 16 November 2012


Just so you don't think I've gone off and left you, a quick and somewhat blurry WIP shot of the 32 Foundry hoplites I've just finished (pre-varnish and basing).

I hope to get to grips with them, tonight...  because other projects beckon, of which more, anon.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

November painting table

A quick shot of the painting table.  The celts at the back are "stuck", I just can't bring myself to work on them, some hoplites have pushed in (othismos, anyone?) and I'm painting some more goths at the front.  I'm also re-painting 18 other Greek hoplites, not shown.

The 3 goths or saxons at the front right, in red, I bought painted in a bag at the Bristol warboot around 6 years ago.  They are lovely (beautiful triangles on one tunic fringe), I wonder who painted them?  

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The very last of my vikings

Today I’ll be listing on eBay the personality figures for the Viking army I’ve recently posted.   All images can be clicked for greater detail.  They are all matt varnished and based to a high standard.  Links go to the relevant auctions, I've started them all at 99p.

28mm Foundry Viking Jarl with Standard.  The Jarl is armed with a 2 handed axe, and his standard-bearer a sword ; perfect as a CinC or army standard.  These Foundry miniatures have been painted to a very high standard and based on a 40mm diameter magnetised MDF base.

28mm Viking Looters.  Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat- oh no, the Vikings have got it!  Dixon Vikings, painted to a superb standard.

28mm Viking Drinker.  Every Viking camp needs one!   Another Dixon Viking, painted to a very high standard.

28mm Viking adventurer.  Rather reminds me of Viggo Mortensen, this chap...  swordsman with bow.  Painted to a high standard.

28mm Viking Berserk.  Enthusiastic Berserk!  Painted to a high standard.

And last but certainly not least... 28mm Viking Cart.  This is a lovely Gripping Beast handcart with two beautifully naturalistic Viking looters, again painted and based to a superb standard; my favourite of all the pieces.  Perfect in a camp, or as an objective marker.

And those are the very last miniatures in my viking army; unless you want my longhouse... which is for sale, but not going on eBay.

Update- all sold, thanks!