Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Forged in Battle Pontics

I'm back to playing ancients with the excellent L'Art de la Guerre rules. ADLG succeeds where Field of Glory (FoG) ancients stumbled.  ADLG creates a fun and decisive 2- 2.5 hour game with lighter figure requirement.  Needing half the figures of FoG, you can paint an army in half the time.  For my first ADLG army, I used Forged in Battle's superb War & Empire figures. They have 30 (!) ancient armies to choose from and many more coming.  FiB sells a Pontic army but I built mine using individual packs. Bonus, the Pontic starter army is 22% off for the month of June. 

So how did the figures paint up? Using "Monty's Method" I finished them in just under two weeks. That's fast by even my standards and a big thumbs up to FiB.  I've used Old Glory 15s almost exclusively for the past 4 years.  With FiB deep bench, variety and crisp detail, I won't be going back to Old Glory.

Scythed Chariots: (4-Horse Scythed Chariots - Later Seleucid pack)  These are my favorite models of the army. Nothing says "Company is coming!" like feather-crowned horses!  I'll be running two of these.  

Sarmatian Heavy Cavalry:  (Rhoxolani Armored Lancers) In the ADLG Pontic list, you can run Sarmatian horse as Impetuous heavy cavalry or as mounted bowmen.  I should mention a single base of cavalry is a unit in the game.  The banner is a my interpretation of the comet Mithradates claimed he was born under.  

Sarmatian Light and Medium bow cavalry:  (Light Cavalry-Sarmatian) While less spectacular than their brass covered brethren, these horse archers are just what I need to "Shoot and Scoot".  

Pontic Heavy Horsemen: (Companion Heavy Cavalry-Later Successor pack) These emphasize Mithridates' Hellenistic bend. 

Javelinmen and Light Javelinmen:  (Skythian Skirmishers) Mandatory in my Pontic list, I'm a bit nervous about how they'll hold up in melee.
Light Cavalry with Javelin:(Militia light cavalry) Mandatory and about as good as the javelinmen.  

Imitation Legionaries:  (Roman Argyraspides Infantry) After seeing his imitation legionaries beaten to a pulp by the real deal, Mithridates was heard to say "Accept no substitutes!"

Thureophoroi with long spears: (Thureophoroi Infantry - Later Successor) Love the red capes!  

Pikemen: (Successor Asiatic Phalangites pack)  No need to drill  the hands out, I simply glued my metal spears (sold separately) into the hands and done! 

The Pontics are the Swiss army knife of 88 BC with loads and loads of options! I'm already thinking about adding Galatians and some Thracians with 2 handed weapons.  

King Mithridates of Pontus is one of my favorite "enemies of Rome."  Pontus was situated in what is now northern Turkey.  As King of Pontus, Mithridates styled himself after Alexander the Great and even acquired his cloak.  Mithridates expansionist policies put him on a collision course with Rome.  In his first campaign, he seized much of what is now modern-day Turkey and Greece.  He orchestrated the massacre of 80,000 Roman citizens throughout Asia minor in a single day to collectively throw off the Roman yoke.  When war came, Marius and Sulla each vied for the opportunity to lead legions to conquer and plunder the vast riches of the Pontic kingdom.

While Mithridates ultimately failed to beat Rome, it wasn't for a lack of effort or imagination.  In his first campaign, he reintroduced scythed chariots to the battlefield, something not seen for a generation or two.  In his second campaign, he employed  Roman ex-pats to reform and retrain his army to fight in the Romans style, thus introducing the Imitation Legionaries. He also started leading from the front.  In his third campaign, he utilized asymmetrical hit and run guerrilla warfare.  For a man who was repeatedly at war with Rome, he managed to live long enough to die old.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Conquest Games Medieval Archers

I'm planning to run Normans in a SAGA campaign and needed 24 levy archers to finish my warband. I considered Gripping Beast's archers but with only 4 poses, I took a pass.  I eventually chose Conquest Games medieval plastic archers. You get 28 plastics for about the cost of 12 metal figures.

My experience assembling a Warlord Games Soviet army put me off plastics for a time. This was quite the opposite of that experience. With 4 parts per model, I got them glued up in 2 hours.  I build them generic enough that I can run them in other Dark Age warbands and Frostgrave too.  I moved these from sprue to a game in less than a week. Thanks to Conquest, I've renounced my silly "no plastics" pledge.

I like how Conquest put loads of extras on the sprue and I've now got lots of spares for headswaps. Detail are well molded and the figures painted up nicely, especially the faces.  For variety, you can make left-handed archers and command figures too.  They're well worth a look if you want to create your own Storm of Arrows! Here's a quick summary for Smartphone readers...

28 figures.
Lots of options to customize.
Price is right at $1 a figure.
Lots of extra heads and bits.
Work well for Frostgrave and other fantasy games.

Some assembly but its simple.
I couldn't find a US distributor but I did find a UK eBay seller with affordable international shipping. You can order them straight from Conquest Games too.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Curse of Ivo Taillefer

Ivo Taillefer was a Norman minstrel, juggler and knight who earned immortality at the Battle of Hastings. There he asked William for the honor of first strike against the English.  William agreed and Ivo rode out alone. History says Ivo put on a show, juggling his lance and sword while singing the Song of Roland.  An enraged English warrior stepped forward and challenged Ivo to single combat. History doesn't tell us whether he too was a juggler but I suspect as much.  Ivo slew the challenger and took his head for a trophy.  Needing more heads for his next juggling feat, Ivo charged the enemy by himself.  Anyone who thinks this turned out well, raise your hand.  No-one? Quite right, Ivo was pulled from the saddle and hacked to bits.
Ivo's tentmates greased his scabbard to great effect.
After belatedly discovering Ivo, I decided to paint him as a hero for my Norman warband.  I used Gripping Beast's "William the Bastard" figure with a small modification.  I sawed off William's club-armed hand and pinned a sword hand in its place. After all, history doesn't say anything about a juggled club!

My decision to paint Ivo a bannerman activated the Curse of Ivo.  As I was finishing his figure, I knocked over a bottle of Elmer's glue that knocked Ivo right off the table.  I failed to catch it on its way down and the fall sheared his pinned sword hand clean off. Mildly enraged, I redrilled Ivo's stump, repinning & repainthing his hand.
With Ivo and his bannerman complete, I put them on a 60mm base.  Handling this heavy base was tricky and sure enough, the curse kicked in again while I was applying flocking.  I lost the grip on the base, juggled it for a millisecond and lost it again.  This fall broke off the pinned banner and bent Ivo's mount badly.  Many foul oaths were issued and I had to walk away from the painting table.
When I returned, a  few things were clear. First, I'm no Ivo.  I can't juggle a lance, sword or even a 28mm version of our hero.  Also, the 60mm base was too heavy and awkward for the frequent handling in a skirmish game.  Ivo fought and died alone and it seemed his ghost demanded single basing.  I pried the figures off the big base and rebased them, each alone.

The results are not as pleasing as the big base. Still, I'm hoping single basing puts an end to the Curse of Ivo and my poor attempts at juggling.  So far, I've gone 8 hours without dropping him.  I think that means the curse is lifted!  
Now try that with lead figures.