Wednesday, 21 April 2010


The Zamaday event was last saturday, and although I cant quite say the WAB game was without a hitch it went pretty well I think. The main hitches arose because I hadnt checked over the lists well enough - I'd managed to completely miss out the Carthaginians left wing of Numidian cavalry, and left a couple of barbarian units behind.

This was my first SOA battleday, and I thought the format was excellent - well done to Richard Lockwood, the other organisers and the speakers. Essentially its a full day (8am to 6pm including set-up), opened up by an expert introduction to the battle (by Phil Sabin in this case) and with a lunchtime Q&A session (Adrian Goldsworthy and Dundan Head as experts this time). In between the same battle is gamed in as many different scales and systems and Richard can recruit and cram into the hall.

I enjoyed looking at the other games, but didnt give them as much time as I would have liked - I got a bit too involved in my "half a Hannibal" act trying to work out a way to reverse the historic result.

For the actual game, we deployed roughly historically. The elephants did a little better than in most of the games, all of them doing damage to Velite formations, 2 of them getting behind the lines under control and turning round to annoy the Roman third line, and a couple of others panicing in useful directions from the Carthaginian point of view. Even the one that paniced through the left flank did more harm to the Romans's numidian cavalry than the Carthaginian.

The first line - mostly Celtic types - did much worse than historically. Pretty much to a man they bounced off the hastati and fled on contact or in the second round. In fleeing they also caused a fair bit of panic, so the second line didnt really get to fight as a line - just the way the dice go with panic tests. At this point the numerical advantage of Roman Numidians on the Carthaginian left hadnt really come into play, and on the Carthaginian right Guy had skillfully led the cavalry to victory over their Roman counterparts.

The last phase of the battle saw the Romans advancing steadily on foot, sweeping all before them except where a couple of stray elephants were hanging them up, and the Numidians under Manassas finally turning the Carthaginian left flank. The fleeing first liners were still spreading panic around as they retreated, and eventually Hannibal himself paniced off the board accompanied by one or two veteran units and we conceded.

I know you're all eager to get to the photos, but I need to acknowledge the help of several companies and people - in no particular order
  • Gripping Beast - scenery boards and many figures from the original WAB Zama demo game, and general help
  • Wargames Factory - Numidian foot troops, who also saw service as Carthaginian citizen infantry
  • Companion Miniatures for their last-minute loan of their demo Republican Roman Army
  • Will Denham - Numidians from his personal collection

And the "team" - Martyn, George and Guy.

The view from the Carthaginian left. Carthaginians are to the right as you look. About turn 2 from the positions

And from behind the Carthaginian right flank.

Wargames Factory Numidians from the Roman right flank. Gripping Beast Hastati in the background.

Nellie Gets stuck in. Must have been around turn 2 or 3. I think those are Gripping Beast Velites from their demo army, and my Gripping Beast Elephant.

A little later - Martin and George are rolling to victory - the Cathaginian centre is in confusion and the left is about to be rolled up by the Numidian cava;ry. Thats me in the red shirt encouraging the veterans to one more effort. Guy is behind the camera.

The photos were taken by (and are copyright of) Guy Bowers. Guy Bowers is doing a feature on the day for WSS magazine in the near future.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The mustering

With the event next week I'm relieved to day that my contributions are actually done! Today we got all the figures out in the sunshine, took some photos and sorted out packing them.

Heres a chunk of them. The left hand photo shows the "Celtiberians" - 3 units of mixed Celts/Gauls. The right hand photo has the numidian infantry and cavalry, some Carthaginian African veterans in the background.

A close-up of Scipio and his standard bearer - Gripping Beast figs painted by my son Ben.

Last post sometime next week after the event. Look forward to seeing some of you there.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Progress - but is it good enough?

I've had some days off work recently, and some productive weekends, so there are some pictures of completed units.

The recent stuff - 2 blocks of Numidian horse (Wargames Factory), Carthaginian Cavalry and Elephant (Gripping Beast) and Numidian Spear (Wargames Factory)

My personal commitment of figures to the project is well over half way now - 150 out of 210 foot troops and all the cavalry. There are, however, a couple of gaps in the overall list I'll probably pick up on.

One thing thats been bothering me is what are described as "Levy african spearman" in the list. The figures I've used are from Gripping Beast and are very nice, but to my eyes they look a bit well equipped and formal for Levy. I thought about using Wargames Factory Numidians, but the Levy are meant to be armoured. I thought about green stuffing linen armour onto 60 of the Numidians, and got a headache.

I've also been talking to some other members of the "gang". George kindly offered to do the 2 units of Brutians on top of his existing commitments, and Guy is busily converting citizen infantry. The folk at Gripping Beast showed me their scenery boards and confirmed the available troops, so things are moving along steadily.

One down side is that I had thought we might be able to showcase WAB 2 at the game, but it looks like this wont be possible now.

Wargames factory Numidians.

Warlord Carthaginian Horse

Gripping Beast Carthaginian Cavalry

Monday, 7 December 2009

Shady Dealings - tests on washes & dips

I'm not a natural speed painter, but with a couple of hundred figures in front of me on a fairly tight schedule, I naturally decided to waste some time comparing methods and products. The comparison starts with 3 Wargames Factory plastic Numidians assembled and painted in flat basic colours

From memory, the flesh is a Coate D'armes dwarf flesh, the blue-grey is a mix of Vallejo blue-grey and white, and the helmets are GW Mithril Silver.

I had 3 wash-type options available

* Army Painter Strong shade (the middle one of their range). This is not water based, so brushes need washing in White Spirit. It gives a fairly thick somewhat shiny coat. For the sample figure I brushed the paint on, let it dry overnight and brush-applied Vallejo matt varnish to kill the shine. (I normally spray the matt varnish, but my spray area is outside and it was the sort of cold damp day that has given me trouble in the past with the varnishes going milky).

* Coate D'Armes brown shade - again the middle one of their range of 3 shades. This is an Acryllic wash so it dries a lot quicker and brushes dry in water. Comparing volume-volume its more expensive than Army Painter, but I suspect the rate of use is less. It dries Matt so no subsequent varnish. The effect is slightly darker and heavier than the Army Painter, but quite similar.

* And lastly GW washes. A range of colours so I applied the blue one to the tunic, the "Ogryn flesh" one to the skin and the "Badass Black" one to the helmet. I tried them undiluted straight from the pot. Again, acryllic, quick drying.

And lastly, the three side-side.

Army Painter on the left, Coate D'Armes in the middle, GW washes on the right.

For myself, the extra brightness of the GW washes might be worth the effort, but I need to experiment with dilution and its not just a "slap it on" item - the test figure looks quite blotchy because I deliberately went for a quick style. For plastics I'm quite taken with the Coate D'Armes wash. It is definitely brown, which might be a problem over some colours. Howver, the speed of application and drying are useful, as is not needing to keep white spirit and a separate brush around. For metals, Army Painter probably comes into its own since the dip also acts as a protective varnish against chipping.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Suddenly "next year" doesnt sound so far off

Every year the Society of Ancients put on a "battleday", in which a famous historical battle is re-played in a number of wargame formats, with expert speakers. Next April the battle of Zama will be coming to Bletchley, near Milton Keynes.

My involvement in this started in early summer, when I enquired about a possible WAB game. I'd naively hoped that the overall organiser, Dave Lockwood, would cheerfully say "yes, so-and-so is doing that and would welcome another player". Things didnt quite work that way, and somehow I ended up volunteering to put the game together.

A number of volunteers stepped forward - I'll name check them on a future blog - and I was also delighted to be offered the loan of the remaining elements of Gripping Beasts Zamaday demo army. Thus encouraged I put together a provisional order of battle - around 8000 points per side - and build the tracknh website for the progress on unit assembling and painting

I also thought aout what figures and units I wanted to contribute - I aimed to finish up with a Carthaginian army anyhow, as well as getting some older stuff finished.

Lastly, Tony Reidy of Wargames Factory promised (and delivered) a large number of his excellent Numidians - they'll be taking part both as Numidians and as Carthaginian citizens.

Which brings me to the end of November and my painting efforts.

3 units of Gauls - 90 in total. I thought these were done when I committed them, but when I got the boxes out they were far from finished, and almost all without weapons and shields. Oh well, I've had them 4 years so its about time they got done. Figures mostly a Foundry Christmas offer, some Warlord, a few Renegade and Wargames Factory.

My first unit of Numidians assembled and ready for undercoating then painting. It takes a little while to get the knack of assembling them in reasonable poses - there are a few strange ones mixed among the back ranks.

Half-complete Gaul comand tableau. Not sure about the ASB - I didnt quite get either the assembly or the painting right. Chief is Renegade, musicians Foundry, ASB and other guy Wargames Factory.

The immediate painting queue. I'm a frequent insomniac, so I try to have something fully prepped and ready for paint on the workbench at all times. Here theres some part-done Gripping Beast Carthaginian veterans, the numidians and some Carthaginian horse in the background. I also have some "african spearmen", more Numidians and Numidian horse awaiting assembly