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Fumbling my way around the world of Ancients

Fumbling my way around the world of Ancients

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Project Blog by hutch Cult of Games Member

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About the Project

Taking a little foray into the world of ancients.

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Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
No Comments
Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

I decided to opt for Macedonian Phalanx shield designs on my Hypaspists, mainly because I decided that when I get around to adding Greek Mercenaries I want them to have Greek shield designs and to stand out from the Macedonian troops.

I have no idea if this is historically correct, but I kind of like the look of them.

The Hypsapists are elite infantry and fill the gap between the Companion Cavalry and the Sarissa Phalanx.

Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

After that I quickly knocked out a unit of Mercenary Cavalry.  They are actually Greek Cavalry which I figured could forma portion of the Left flank.

To help show them apart from the Companion Cavalry I added a couple of extra colours.

Yellow and Bronze.  The Bronze I used on breast plates and the yellow and I added to some of the clothing and some of the helmets.  I also used red on a few of the helmets too.   None of my Macedonian troops have red or yellow helmets and I figured these little additions would help separate these from the Companion Cavalry.   To add to the effect I also based these a little different.  From what I could find out these fought in a Square formation.

I wasn’t actually able to do a square with the footprint size I wanted to use so instead went for a rectangle.  What do you think?

Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

So my little army is growing and currently looks like this.  I will definitely need to order more figures to complete this army.

Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

So I am crossing the units off as I go.  I am pretty excited to see what the finished army will look like.

Hypaspists and a start on the left flank

Next up I have some Mercenary Infantry to do.   I could do these 4 bases deep too but I kind of like the idea of smaller units to help emphasise how large the Phalanx is.

I still want these smaller units to look like they have a decent amount of men in them though.  I am currently looking at 4 bases each of 6 men, so units of 24 models.

From memory these models are actually Successor Thureophoroi Infantry.  I don’t mind and they add a nice difference in appearance to the other infantry.

I have enough figures to do 2 units of 24 men.  I will probably add some command figures to these because I like how it looks with an obvious leader in the units.

 

 

Strengthening the Right Flank

Tutoring 4
Skill 5
Idea 5
No Comments
Strengthening the Right Flank

I managed to get some Hypaspists done.   With these I went with 5 models per base to help represent that they fought in a more open order than the Sarissa Phalanx.   They can still form a Phalanx, all be it with shorter spears.

I am not really 100% sure on how to do the shields.   I know they were armed with Greek style large shields but I am not sure on the shield designs.

Should I do them with Greek patterns or should I still do them with similar Patterns to the Sarissa Phalanx?  Please help with this one.

 

 

Companions

Tutoring 6
Skill 6
Idea 6
2 Comments
Companions

Just a small update as I haven’t managed to get too much done due to work commitments.

 

First though, a massive thankyou for the Golden Button.  It is very much appreciated and totally unexpected.

 

 

I’ve painted up the Companion Cavalry that I have.

I have also added movement trays to my cavalry and ordered some movement trays for my Phalanx.

Companions

I did experiment for a while as to how I was going to arrange the models.  It seems that they fought in the wedge formation and this is about as good I could do without having to have a really large base.

Companions

The Wargames Foundry painting guide has an excellent article for painting horses and the colours to use for different breeds.  I highly recommend this book.  It came in invaluable when I painted up a Warhammer Bretonnia army several years ago.

Companions

So far my army looks like this.  I really should add another two trays of Companion Cavalry but that will require me to order even more figures, so that may have to wait for a little while.

Phalanx

Tutoring 13
Skill 13
Idea 13
3 Comments
Phalanx

5 blocks of Sarissa armed infantry done, well almost.  I have a standard bearer and a musician left to paint.  All the spear tips to do and of course texture the bases and that will be 320 figures done.

 

I have decided to stick to 5 units because I have run out of both figures and metal spears.  Also sticking to 5 units should mean my total army frontage will be about 3′ long.   This should leave enough room for some manoeuvring and allow for possible flank attacks.

Phalanx

I used shield decals from Little Big Men Studios

They are great little decals although I did find it easier to peel back and then replace the plastic covering before cutting them out.  This seemed to just loosen the bond enough to allow the plastic covering to be easily removed from each tiny individual disk.

Phalanx

I really like the red shields.  I had to paint the rims and rear of the shields and for this used Citadel Evil Sunz Scarlet.  I also added a Hero looking model to the front rank.  I am not sure this would be historically accurate but I liked the model.

Phalanx

For the shield decals with the image of Alexander I used Citadel Xereus Purple to neaten up the edges in the same way I did with the red shields.

I found these particular decals didn’t sit as nicely on the curved shield surface as the other designs did.

 

So far I am really enjoying this little journey into Ancients.

I am going to keep plodding along with the Macedonian army despite those Elephants in the India army looking very tempting.

Formation

Tutoring 13
Skill 12
Idea 12
No Comments
Formation

This is pretty much what the plan is to work towards.

I know that the table I have is 6′ x 4′ (approximately 183cm x 122cm) and using 15mm figures I can field a larger army, however I still want to leave enough table space to allow some manoeuvring.  Basically I want to avoid two lines walking towards each other.

With the India army including chariots, elephants and cavalry I really want them to be able to come into their own and have room to move.  If I am not careful I could create a situation where the Chariots have no other choice then to perform head on charges.

With each Sarissa Phalanx measuring 8cm across and 8cm deep the centre of my Macedonian army should measure somewhere between 45cm and 54cm across if I leave a 1cm gap between them all.

With that in mind I am envisaging that the entire army will have a facing of roughly twice that.  Approximately 90-108cm or roughly 3 to 4 feet.

Forming the centre

Tutoring 13
Skill 14
Idea 15
2 Comments
Forming the centre

I have been steadily smashing through the Sarissa armed troops.  I currently have 3 units done, with the exception of spear tips, basing and shields.

I have enough of the metal spears to do 5 units in total, so 320 men.  I was hoping to do 6 units for a total of 384 men to form the centre of the battle-line.

I guess that will depend on if I can source some more wire spears in the same style as the ones I have already used.

 

Once I have got the Phalanx finished I am thinking of doing either some Cavalry as a little reward or possibly some Hypaspists.

Hypaspists are an elite selection of  loose formation infantry with shorter spears and larger shields.  A bit more like traditional Greek Hoplites.  They normally formed up on the right on the Phalanx to protect the flank and form a flexible link between the Phalanx and the Companion Cavalry.

Cavalry would probably be Companion Cavalry (Hetairoi) which were the elite heavy cavalry arm of the Macedonian army.  They were an offensive force that made the decisive attack in most of the battles of Alexander the Great.

A call to arms

Tutoring 14
Skill 15
Idea 14
2 Comments

Just a quick comparison showing my initial idea for a complete unit and my final idea.

 

Spears tips and shields to be completed.

A splash of colour

Tutoring 16
Skill 14
Idea 14
2 Comments
A splash of colour

I’m a fan of keeping thing simple so with these I’m going to go with a 2 or 3 stage painting process after undercoating.

I undercoated the models first with a grey spray undercoat and then a light spray of Games Workshop Wraith Bone.  The Wraith Bone was sprayed from about 45 degrees to give a zenith highlight.  I am not sure its necessary with these figures but for the sake of a couple of minutes extra work I decided to do it anyway.

I then blocked in the base colours in this order;

Flesh with The Army Painter Kobold Skin

Tunics with Citadel Contrast Blood Angels Red

Sarissa Shafts with Citadel Zandri Dust

Boots and Straps with Citadel Gorthor Brown

Bronze Areas with The Army Painter Weapon Bronze

Blue Areas with The Army Painter Crystal Blue

I wasn’t overly careful with blocking in the colours because the next stage was going to be a wash.

 

A splash of colour

I mixed a wash from equal parts

Strong Tone from  The Army Painters Quickshade

Quickshade Wash Mixing Medium from The Army Painter

I felt that strong tone on its own was just a little too dark for figures at this scale and I didn’t really want to go with a lighter shade, just a more diluted shade.

A splash of colour

The result was rather mucky looking but I figured adding highlights to a couple of the colours would enhance the miniatures a lot.  Besides the main focus on the figures would probably be the shields once they are done.

A splash of colour

I chose to just highlight a couple of colours, the White and the Blue.

White with Wargames Foundry 33C White

Blue with Citadel Lothern Blue

 

 

A splash of colour

So far I am reasonably happy with the results.  Its a very quick paint scheme and with over 300 Sarissa armed troops to do I think I will appreciate that by the end.

I did a few of the helmets in blue and a some in white to break up the bronze look and because pictures I had seen had helmets in different colours.  I did toy with the idea of doing some in red but ultimately decided to just stick to the 3 colours.

The pointy end

Tutoring 14
Skill 12
Idea 13
2 Comments
The pointy end

In recent times I have seen lots of people using broom bristles for spears and the like.  So off I went to the local hardware store to find something that would fit the bill.

Scouring the isles for what felt like ages and manhandling more bristles then I dare to admit I ended up empty handed.  Lots of natural product bristles but none that were thick enough and long enough for what I was after.

Having done some Darkest Africa models in the past I knew I had some 28mm steel Javelins spare.  You know the sort, the ones that are terrifying to most armchair generals on account of them being incredibly sharp and pointy.

 

The pointy end

Using a small pin vice I drilled holes for all the metal spears I would use to represent Sarissa.   I opted for 50mm length weapons.   I know they should probably be a little bit longer but 50mm was the length I had and it also saved me having to cut down the 100mm thin spears.

These things seem pretty hard to find these days.  I think the ones I have came from North Star Miniatures but they now seem to be unavailable.

If anyone knows where I can get my hands on any more please let me know.

The pointy end

Once the Sarissa were glued in place I used blu-tac to attach the figures to popsicle sticks.  Initially I used hot glue but the figures didn’t stay on to well.

Using the pop sticks it would allow me to handle the figures easier whilst painting.

It's all about the base

Tutoring 12
Skill 11
Idea 11
No Comments

Having  settled on multi-basing my models I then had to make a decision on what size and shape bases to use.

Looking through the internet it did seem like rectangular bases were more popular than square bases when it came to 15mm figures.

I settled on a standard size of 20mm x 40mm for my infantry figures with the idea being to mount 4 models on each base.

 

It's all about the base

Basing this way did somewhat make Hail Caesar the preferred rules system as it relies more on the footprint of the unit rather than number of bases.

To play using Warhammer Ancients I would ideally need units between 5 and 8 bases wide.  Although doable it could mean my armies start to look a bit like thin lines unless I increase the ranks of bases too.  Of course also doable, but it would require quite a lot of figures per unit.

It's all about the base

I had initially thought that 4 bases would be a good size, but I soon realised that it would lose a lot of grandeur.  I really want to give the impression that these battles involved a cast of thousands, not just a few hundred men.

It's all about the base

16 man units just seemed small.  So I have decided to go with 8 men per base, or at least for tightly packed close order infantry.  I will probably do different figure counts to represent more open order troops.

It's all about the base

Next I started to look at the shape of the footprint.  I noticed that many people portrayed the Macedonian Phalanx formation in a rectangle on the tabletop but looking in history books the formation was more square.

With each Phalanx consisting of 16 ranks of 16 men for a total of 256 men.

Looking at the Hail Caesar rules it pretty much confirmed what I needed to do.  Phalanx formations in the rules are supposed to be 4 ranks deep.

If I make each phalanx unit 2 bases wide and 4 bases deep not only would I make the footprint square I would also comply with the 4 ranks rule from the rules I plan to use.  This in turn meant that my units would be 8 men wide and 8 men deep for a total of 64 men.   A massive increase from what my initial thought had been.

It's all about the base

I was hoping to have at least 6 phalanxes in my Macedonian force, but after working all this out I would have nowhere near enough men.

So another order was placed to bolster the ranks.

 

The beginning

Tutoring 13
Skill 12
Idea 16
1 Comment
The beginning

For quite some time now I have been contemplating building and painting an Ancients army but have always stopped short of actually doing anything.  That was until I decided to back a Kickstarter campaign by Forged in Battle for some of their beautiful 15mm figures.

It was actually the Dark-Ages kickstarter that I backed in the end, due to my procrastination, but I used my credits to buy figures from their Ancients range.

After some time a rather heavy box landed on the doorstep and without hesitation I eagerly opened it, and then left it tucked away under a table to gather dust.

 

Fast forward to now and I once again feel the itch to do something with Ancients.

So what did I get in this box of delights?

With so many options to choose from, and this being my first venture into Ancients I decided to go for something that I hoped would be relatively easy to research.  Who better to choose then Alexander the Great.

But what to choose for him to fight against?

I looked through the images of the Forged in Battle website and decided it really came down to either Persians or Classical Indian.

In the end it was the ability to have both chariots and elephants in large numbers that swayed me towards the forces of India.

Having no prior experience in this field it just felt that the forces of India with all its archers, chariots and elephants would be the complete opposite of the massed Macedonian Phalanx and Companion Cavalry.

 

The beginning

So many options.

Looking at my shelves of books that I had collected when I first thought of dipping my toe into this I pulled out a few likely candidates.

My first thought was Warhammer Ancients.  I know they were popular some time ago and I am reasonably familiar with the basics of Warhammer Fantasy, or at least I was.  Sure the rules are really designed for larger figures but I could get around this by multi-basing them.  Maybe 4 models to a square base?

I know I want the armies to look suitably large on the table and multiple models on each base could help with that, especially with casualty removal.  Basically each base of figures would be the equivalent of a single figure in 28mm scale.

My second thought was Hail Caesar.   I love that there is no individual model removal, as that can be a bit of a pain sometimes and would allow larger armies to be used and still have the games played in a reasonable timeframe.

I also have Clash of Empires which at first glance looks similar to Warhammer Ancients but I have not really read into that rules set much.

 

I’d be interested to hear other peoples thoughts and ideas.  Any suggestions at the moment would be very much appreciated.

 

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