2011-02-28

DBA Army I/19: Mitanni

DBA army I/19: Mitanni, from an Essex army pack
This is my recently completed Mitanni (I/19) DBA army.  All figures are Essex, from their prebuilt army pack.

For this army, I painted quickly instead of looking for perfect results.  The people (infantry and chariot riders) are all flat painted and washed with Army Painter Strong Tone.  When I got to the horses and chariots, I decided not to go with "the dip" and instead used Devlan Mud in some areas and painted highlights elsewhere. 

Mitanni chariotry
Mitanni have 6 light chariots, the most available in any DBA army.  These models don't match the typical shape of Mitanni chariots available from other manufacturers, but they're close enough for me. Mitanni was a loose coalition of a variety of different peoples, so they probably had a variety of chariots available as well.

As usual, I found building and painting the chariots to be fiddly and annoying, but I like the way they turned out once I finished.  The horses are a bit bright for this time period, and the colors are based on guessing and assumption more than actual evidence. 

I paint the crew, assembled chariot, and horses separately, and then do final assembly.  I stick the chariots to nail heads to hold them during painting.  This time I was careful to angle the chariots when I mounted them, so they can all line up front-to-back without bumping each other.  The general gets blue on his horses, and points at things instead of shooting them. 

Mitanni infantry
As you can see here, the slingers in the back row are my "stumpy brigade."  Two of them lost a hand, most likely by being run over by a chariot: I don't think they had threshing machines in the 14th century BCE.  I was surprised to see that Essex made you assemble the slingers: the sling was separate and had to be glued into place.  Annoying!  I'm also not that pleased with the figure selection in the horde.  I know that product code has more poses, because I used them with my Hittites; but I got a lousy mix, with 3 of one particularly distinctive looking figure.

This army will be a matched pair and an ally to my Hittites.  I purposefully put them on different bases (thin metal instead of thicker wood) than the Hittites, so they will be easy to distinguish on the battlefield despite the similar color schemes (offwhite).

2011-02-21

Battle at the Crossroads: 2011

Saturday was Battle at the Crossroads in Cambridge, OH.  Rich, Larry, JM, and I drove out to participate in the DBA pyramid format event.

This year's theme was Vikings and their enemies, so I brought my Leidang army. The composition I used was: 1xKn (gen), 5xBd, 1xSp, 3xAx, 2xPs.

There were several special rules in effect to keep things competitive for the Vikings.  I'll list them there for future reference, and to provide context for the tactical decisions shown in pictures below:
  • Knights other than generals don't quick kill blades
  • Blades fight at +4/+3
  • Viking blades receive rear support by psiloi against foot (as well as mounted)
  • Vikings always attack, Leidang always defends
Larry contemplates his fate.
I beat Larry a few weeks ago, so he wanted a grudge match. He wrote "same year as Alan" as his army's year selection, and we were paired up in the first round.  He brought East Frankish: III/52, with plenty of emasculated knights.

I had a plan for the first round, when I knew I'd be defending against a non-Viking.  I set up two medium-small central woods and the required waterway.  The intent of the terrain was to divide the enemy forces, while maintaining superiority in the bad going.

The biggest flaw in my plan was the possibility of a littoral landing.  I hadn't considered whether to land, or what to do with my landing force if I did.  Nevertheless, I held back 2xBd and 1xPs and deployed everything else from the woods to the water.

On the first turn, I brought on my landing force somewhat forward, and angled toward the center of the board.  Here, they got in my way and inhibited my movement; but, they also restricted Larry's ability to advance effectively on that flank.  They required many pips to unscrew completely, but in the mean time they weren't a big liability: they mainly delayed any action on that side of the board.

Larry sent his horde and a spear around the other flank, and I countered with 2 Auxilia.  In the end, I killed a bunch of knights on my right flank, and he killed my auxilia on my left flank.  Result: 4-2, I beat Larry again.  Overall, the battle was a confused mess; but I find that I often prefer a confused mess instead of two straight lines walking straight forward.

Dan Joyce's Sub-Roman Brits; Mike Demana's Vikings
In the second round, we faced Dan Joyce, C-in-C playing Sub-Roman British; and Mike Demana playing Vikings. We placed woods on the sides of the board to narrow it, and a steep hill in the center.  I deployed on the narrower side, and as expected, Mike's Vikings ended up opposite me.  Larry deployed against Dan's force on the other side.

Pulling it out of the fire
Larry made me roll his PIP die so he could blame me for the bad rolls.  He got his bad rolls, and his command was the first to break.  Things were looking bad, and we were about to lose.  Eventually I pushed Mike's Vikings back far enough to take the nearest camp, which happened to be the C-in-C's camp on the wrong side of the board.  The two element loss was enough to break the command, and we won.

This was an interesting, stressful game. It felt like I was running out of time, but only because I was anxious to see how things turned out in the next few turns.



The Final Round
In the final round we played a 4-on-4 game against Scott Ludwig's Early Germans (C-in-C), Andy Swingle's Vikings, Rich Baier's Leidang/Viking (I forget which), and Dave Welch's Welsh.

Initial deployment; more Vikings are off our left flank
We deployed on one side instead of in the center, which was a bit of a mistake, in retrospect.  Mike's Vikings were on our far left flank by the board edge.  I came next, and Dan Joyce's British were at right flank of our initial deployment.

In response, they deployed more centrally, and narrower.  They ignored the vikings on our far left flank, so in order to include them in the battle we'd have to walk slowly so they could catch up.  Larry, with the most mobile force, deployed on the right flank at the end of our line.

A better initial deployment might have been to deploy centrally, and place Larry's mobile command last on whichever flank was more vulnerable.  However, the enemy still would've been able to  ignore our slower flank, so we probably wouldn't have gained anything.
Just before we made contact

In the early game, I wheeled to the right and Mike sent his Vikings over the hill, while the rest of our army stood still.  Eventually we clashed.  Dan and Larry faced 3 commands against their 2, and suffered for it.  Also, Larry could have as many 1's as he wanted on his PIP die, which I was still rolling.
Hilarity ensues; the end is almost nigh

Larry's command broke first, and then Dan's. On my side of the board we had superiority, so we broke Andy's command and then Rich's.  Neither C-in-C command was close to breaking, but we were both losing a lot of elements. 

The End.  This used to be straight battle lines?
In the last few turns, we were each a few elements away from the 50% losses required to lose.  Larry's command was completely destroyed or fled off the board, and Dan was hanging on for dear life and winning some tough combats more often than statistics would suggest.  It was a battle of attrition and a race to the bottom.  My general ran rampant in the center of my flank, killing demoralized elements as quickly as possible to increase our death count, but Mike killed the decisive element: Andy's blade general.

It felt like we lost this game several times, but "it's not over until the fat Viking sings" and it was a good thing we stayed until the credits rolled.

Our side won, and I ended up taking first place for overall points, probably because of Valdemar the Victorious' killing spree in the last game. Quick killing demoralized blades with your knight general is the kind of fun you really shouldn't indulge in very often, or you might get spoiled.

Thanks to all of my allies and opponents for the wonderful games, and special thanks to the organizers for staging this event.  I hope to be back next year!

2011-02-18

Viking Forge Elephant: MCC-14

Viking Forge Carthaginian Elephant: MCC-14
I did not paint this Viking Forge Carthaginian elephant, but I did add details to the blanket and apply a dip.  It's a part of my Later Carthaginian beater army that I bought at Historicon last year.  I'm showing it here as a part of my elephant comparisons.

I have two of these elephants and they have a driver and two crew each.  The spears have broken off, they should be taller.  The crew are separate figures, but I can't tell how the elephant itself was cast.  The head must be separate, judging by its overhanging ears, but I'm not sure if the body is one or two pieces.

These are by far the largest elephants I have.  They're taller, fatter, and longer than Essex models, and the ears are impressively large.  The pose is quite static, but it gives the impression that the beast is so large that it can't make any sudden, drastic motions.

Left: Black Hat CA13; Right: Viking Forge MCC-14
The sculpting of the elephant itself is excellent, but the crew are pudgy and unimpressive, without a lot of detail.  The driver is distinctly KKK-like, and I don't know what this is intended to represent.

The second picture shows a Black Hat Carthaginian elephant on the left, and Viking Forge on the right.  The Black Hat elephant is shorter, but the crew is much taller and thinner.  The proportions are completely different.

I would not likely buy any more of these Viking Forge elephants, but only because they're out of scale with everything else I have, and the crew is pretty terrible.

Black Hat Elephant: CA13

Here are two Black Hat Carthaginian elephants, product code CA13: "Carthaginian Elephant." The elephant comes with one driver and two different crew figures.

These are interesting models.  The sculpting is quite good, and the end result is completely satisfying.  However, I have several complaints about my overall experience when building and painting these.  These concerns are likely my problem more than Black Hat's.

The most noticeable difference between this elephant and the rest I've built is how they are assembled.  The elephant, including its head and the driver, is sculpted in a single piece; the box on the back and crew are separate castings.  Black Hat did a wonderful job maintaining a high level of detail with a single casting.

You'd think that assembly of a two piece model would be easier than elephants with two body halves and a head, with an optional howdah.  Nope!  Unfortunately, the boxes for their backs were filled with flash that is difficult to trim out, and then the box doesn't fit on the back of the elephant without a lot of trimming.

The shields molded on the side of the elephant are a bit oval, I'm not sure why.

The crew figures are also quite odd, though it doesn't show at all on the final model.  From the waist down, they look like they've been packed in a box on the back of an elephant for a year of campaigning... so I guess that makes them accurate?  The crew are flattened from the waist down.  Detail of cloth and armor is still there, but it's all squashed.  I'm sure this is to allow the figures to fit in the box, and it's not visible once they're in there, but it looks weird before you assemble everything.

Left: Essex Indian elephant; Right: Black Hat African
While I was painting this elephant, it felt miniscule, like a pigmy compared to other elephants I've painted.  However, once I actually compared it to other elephants, it doesn't seem that small.  It's definitely smaller than an Essex elephant, but it's not as small as the Museum or Chariot models. It's tall and skinny, but not as long as the Museum elephant.  The ears are tiny.

I'm not very happy with the proportions of the elephant compared to its crew.  The crew is bulky and the box looks huge on its back.  I think this adds to the feeling that the elephant looks small.

Chariot Successor Phalangites

Here are some Chariot Miniatures Alexandrian Successor phalangites.  I painted them to have better pikes for my Lysimachid army in the Two Davids Successors campaign at Cold Wars.

Overall, I like the figures quite a bit, and they turned out well with minimal effort due to my cheezing out and using Army Painter dip.  Chariot Miniatures are nicely sculpted with nice deep details that take ink well.  The poses tend to be a bit more static than modern sculptors, but I think this works well for regular heavy infantry.  They're slim and slightly smaller than Essex figures, but close enough to be compatible.

I have only two minor complaints about these figures.  First, their right arms are too short.  You'd have to go out of your way to notice this if you aren't painting them, however.  My other complaint is more about the Magister Militum web site than the figures themselves.  These pikemen have beards.  I wanted pikemen without beards.  However, these seem to be the only successor phalangites in the catalog that have beards, and also the only ones that were photographed from the rear on the website.  Doh!

I had trouble resisting the temptation to paint a stand or two as garden gnomes; the beards and hats made it almost irresistable.

The Offwhite Tower

Behold The Offwhite Tower,  impenetrable stronghold of the Pretentious Elves.

After showing off the preview of this tower, I'm not sure I have much useful to say about it.  It's a Hordes of the Things stronghold, suitable for use with 25mm basing.  As buildings should be, it's slightly smaller than true 25mm/28mm scale; but it's also about 14" tall, so it'll probably be the tallest thing on the table most of the time.

I turned the tower on the lathe, in two pieces.  Then, I carved shallow areas for the windows, and scribed vertical lines to define the brickwork and shingles.  Finally, I added cardstock details around the lower windows and door.  It's based on masonite with stones, flock, and static grass.

The Elven general stand was painted by Bob Barnetson and is representative of the army that will defend this Stronghold.

2011-02-10

Preview: The Offwhite Tower

It's been so cold out lately that I haven't been spraying matte varnish outside because it doesn't turn out matte.  But, I have been modelling and painting.

Here's a work-in-progress shot of the Offwhite Tower, stronghold of the Pretentious Elves.  Yeah, I really should've chosen Horde instead of Alliance...

I turned this on the lathe in 2 pieces, carved windows, and scribed the brick work.  I added a few details around the windows with cardstock. The tower's overall height is about 14".  It looks great with paint on it, but I still have to finish off the base.

This will be the stronghold for my 25mm Hordes of the Things elf army.  Now I just need to cut some felt for 25mm terrain.

2011-02-05

Museum Miniatures Naked Hoplites

Here is a picture of the Museum Miniatures naked hoplite figures, since they don't provide one on their site.  There is only one pose, this shows both sides.  Overall it looks a lot more cinematic than historical.