Shiny Things, or Rather the Perils of Being a Wargamer and Reading a New Book

Actually, two books. I received a copy of A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC written by Marc G DeSantis, ISBN: 9781473861589, published on 29 November 2017.

When reading that I thought it would be a good idea to read Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees, ISBN: 9781473827295, published on 15 August 2016 at the same time as there was a degree of overlap between the two.

Both books are published by Pen & Sword and both look at one area of particular interest to me. I will review both books separately in other blog posts.

So, what is the risk to the Wargamer? Well, it is simple. My favourite periods of interest are Ancient Wargaming and Naval Wargaming. The Peloponnesian War has both. The 25 years of the Peloponnesian War covered a bitter period of classical Greek history and warfare. By this time the Greeks were well settled into the hoplite style of warfare with armoured man, large shields and a long spear standing in a long line with other men similarly armed.

To my pile of uncompleted projects I have added two Greek projects. One is the Greek world circa 670 BCE to 450 BCE – the period when hoplite panoply and warfare was developed to its peak. This was also the period where the Persians were defeated at Marathon and Plataea. The second is the Greek world circa 450 BCE to around 225 BCE which includes the Peloponnesian War.

Fortunately the core troops from the earlier period will also double up for the later period. Currently I am planning the hoplite forces. This little project will be in 6mm for reasons of:

  • space
  • cost
  • speed of painting

Rules will either be DBA or Basic Impetus. The armies should be easy enough to build to be useful for both rule sets. For example, the early Athenian army in Basic Impetus consists of a maximum of 8 bases of Hoplites, and one base each of Slingers, Javelinmen, Thessalian Light Cavalry and Thessalian Medium Cavalry. The DBA equivalent is 10 elements of Hoplites and two elements of skirmishers.

The only real question I have to consider from the rule perspective is whether to use 60mm or 40mm wide bases. DBA would normally be a 40mm element frontage while Dadi and Piombo recommend a 60mm frontage for Basic Impetus in 6mm. 60mm frontage is also the base frontage for Baccus’ SPQR rules.

The base size will set the area that is needed to play and 40mm has the attraction of probably only needed a 2-foot square area (DBA) or 3-foot square (Basic Impetus) while 60mm would set a 4-foot by 3-foot area (Basic Impetus).

More updates later as I start to plan further.

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Parthians — or the NRL All-Stars Cataphracts — Finished!

Over the last week or so, when the stress levels have been peaking, I’ve been reaching for the brushes to finish off some half finished projects here, even if that meant a new focus for those projects. The Parthians were one such army. Originally I had planned to make these a Warmasters Ancient army but recently having been yet re-invigorated for DBA, decided to reorganise it as a DBA Army. I like the way these guys look so much that I am thinking of a 6mm Parthian DBMM Army … just thinking mind.

I had originally planned on 6 to 9 cataphracts per base but in the end decided on two ranks of 6 cataphracts, looking sufficiently heavy. I will also admit that reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series left me thinking “regular looking irregular forces” — hence the regular colour schemes per base. I also needed some generic Auxilia type troops so pressed some Romans I had laying around unpainted into that role.

So, I give you, the NRL All-Stars Cataphracts — also known as DBA II/37 Parthian.

6mm NRL Cataphracts!

The Kn(X) - Catahpracts arrayed
The Kn(X) – Catahpracts arrayed

It wasn’t deliberate, honest. I guess the problem was that I had just watched the Rabbitohs vs Roosters game on the weekend on Sentanta Sports here in Singapore and then settled it to to paint the Parthian Cataphracts.

I had already painted the general as a test base for colours, basing etc, and decided to paint the Cataphracts in one bunch. I had also decided that there would be 12 figures per base so that they looked really solid. I think that effect is now apparent. But as for colours?

I was reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series and he kept describing the cataphracts as quite brightly dressed and uniformly dressed kingdom by kingdom. The general’s base had white cloaks so I thought the first batch of cataphracts would have red cloaks. I had also decided to paint the kontos rather than just leave it as natural wood. I painted the kontoses (kontosii?) green. I had the National Rugby League (NRL) Rabbitohs colours by accident.

I then painted the second batch with yellow capes, third with blue capes and the last lot with green capes. After painting the kontoses I now had four elements in the colours of four NRL teams – Rabbitohs, Roosters, Eels and Raiders.

I therefore give you … The NRL Cataphracts.

The NRL All-Stars - or rather, the NRL Cataphracts!
The NRL All-Stars – or rather, the NRL Cataphracts!

It was accidental, honest yer honour.  In future I won’t paint figures after watching an NRL Rugby League game!

Second Test Base — Parthian Cataphracts

The Parthian Cataphracts assemble - or - I give you the Rabbitohs!
The Parthian Cataphracts assemble – or – I give you the Rabbitohs!

I wanted a bright, uniform theme to the Parthian Cataphracts, especially as these generally were the bodyguards or professional troops of the various Parthian kings. I thought, a different cloak colour for each element as there will be 12 figures per element and we will have a pretty uniform look. Not sure why but I thought, colour the lances as well.

This desire for brightness in the Cataphracts was further fuelled by reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series.

Sigh, I fear there is a rugby league theme developing in the painting of the Parthians – to the left I give you the South Sydney Rabbitohs!

My view of the Parthians ... I hope
My view of the Parthians … I hope

I just had a look at the other part painted figures next to the painting table and I can see  the Parramatta Eels their. Possible also Easts Roosters and maybe one other.

Should not paint Parthians in Rugby League season!

Test Parthian Complete

The Parthian General
The Parthian General

I thought I would finish the basing of the test base to see how they came out. I’m quite happy with these and shall get cracking on the rest of the figures.

I also tried a really, really close up shot of the base. Remember these are 6mm Rapier Miniatures figures and the painter, me, is a gentleman of more fulsome figure … hence, fat-fingered. Still, I think they look nice!

6mm Parthians up close
6mm Parthians up close

Did Someone Say Parthians?

Someone did so the short painting period before bed tonight to relax and help me sleep was to prototype the 6mm Parthians. As I mentioned before I am using 15mm scale base sizes and increasing the number of 6mm figures on the base. So, for example, close order infantry (blade, pike, spears etc) will have 16x6mm figures, on average, on a base. Close cavalry (knights, cavalry etc) will have 8 or 9. Light horse four. Psiloi 6 to 8 figures and so on.

The Parthian cataphracts posed a question for me though as they were generally fairly linear and if I worked on there being 9 figures on a Cavalry base, the cataphracts should have 12. Two ranks of Cataphracts just did not look right so I think I will scale them to seven to a cavalry base, but in a boot-to-boot line across the base – as in the second rank below.

Below are three shots of the general base for the army. Image shows general, standard and trumpet as well as cataphracts and that is how the other bases should look, I think.
P1020144 P1020145 P1020146

Rapier Miniatures Size Comparison

When my order for Rapier Miniatures Parthians was delivered, Rapier kindly sent me some samples. One was a pack of early Imperial Romans and the other was some American Civil War figures. The American Civil War figures were good as they kind of allowed a like for like comparison between the Rapier figures and Baccus/Adler Miniatures.

rapier_ros

The first comparison is between the Heroics and Ros Prussian musketeer and some Rapier ACW infantry. A you can see there is a considerable size difference between the Rapier and the Heroics. I certainly would not consider mixing these figures together in the same unit.

Even thought the difference in height is about 1mm, it is very apparent which is the larger figure and which is the smaller.

rapier_adler

When comparing against the Adler Miniatures the size difference is a little harder to see. Unfortunately the only figure I had easily to hand was a plumed figure. Certainly the Adler head is much larger than the Rapier head and this makes the Adler figure look larger than the Rapier overall. However, allowing for the height difference bought on by the large plume, there is not too much of a difference between the figures. I think that it would be possible to mix Rapier figures and Adler figures within the same unit.

Given that the Baccus figures look slightly less bulky than the Adler, I also think it would be possible to mix Baccus and Rapier within the same unit. I will be in a better position soon to make that comparison however as I have a batch of Baccus Sassanians on order and due for delivery in the next two or three days.

Rapier Parthians

partians

The first of my 6mm ancient figures turned up during the week. These were the result of Macro and Cato causing grief on me and are the Parthians. They were one of the enemies faced by our indomitable heroes when Macro gets his wish and a transfer to Syria. Goodness knows what I’ll do about the Romans of the time, as well as the Judeans and the Ancient Britons (and maybe the odd German tribe or two as well).

I thought for these I would order Rapier Miniatures. I have not seen them before but allowing for the fact that they had a reasonable price for 1000 points of Warmaster Army, I ordered. It took about one month from when I ordered until the figures arrived so not as quick as the response I am used to from Heroics and Ros or Baccus but up to the same standard, time-wise, as Adler Miniatures. Of course, the really good thing is that the figures turned up.

Looking at the figures specifically, there are cataphracts (of course) as well as light horse archers, some foot bowmen, and command figures. There are, in fact, enough figures for 2 units of foot bows, 6 of horse archers and 4 of cataphracts as well as one general.

parthian_foot

Starting with perhaps the least interesting part of the Parthians, we have the foot figures. As you can see from then picture, these are just basic archers. The figures appear to be a little light on detail, even allowing for the 6mm size however I am sure that they will paint up to look the part. As can be seen from the pictures as well, the foot figures are about 7mm to 8mm tall (the boxes are 10mm squares). These figures are photographed straight from the box (or rather the plastic bag and bubble-wrap).

parthian_horse_archer

To the left is the horse archer. There are enough supplied to make up 6 units of these running around the table. Again, a fairly basic figure and all the figures in the box are the same pose. This is perhaps the biggest negative with the Rapier Miniatures, the fact that everything is in the same pose. That said, the figures look like they will paint well and look the part when on the table.

parthian_catafract

The main punch in the Parthians is provided by the cataphracts. The Rapier cataphracts as with the other Rapier figures are in a single pose but do look good – armoured horse and rider, cape, kontos levelled and ready to close with the enemy. There are 72 cataphract figures in total and when 12 of the command figures are added to these there are sufficient cataphracts for 4 units of 21 figures … or 7 figures per 40x20mm warmaster base.

I am still debating whether to base these as 20×40 bases or 40×20. If the former, then there would be 7 figures on each base, in three ranks, with one figure in the first rank and three in the second and third ranks. It should be noted that these figures will fill the base and look very closed up. The other option of 40×20 bases would see the 7 figures based in a single rank – again filling the base.

parthian_command

The Parthian command group consists of a general type figure, a trumpeter and a figure carrying a standard. In the Rapier Warmaster 1000 point army pack, there are 4 standard bearers, 4 trumpeters and 5 generals. The standard bearers, trumpeters and four of the generals go with the cataphracts to build those units. The remaining general goes on the circular base to make the general for the army.

All in all I am quite pleased with these figures. The look a little larger than Heroics and Ros figures but a little smaller than Baccus. I’ll do a size comparison later.