Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spartan army continues

Painting an army for Field of Glory can be a bit of a slog as the figure requirement are fairly substantial in 15mm. Also, you want some options to keep the army interesting to run. With the Spartan hoplites painted, it was time for the whistles and bells.

Cretan Archers: In Field of Glory, these sharp eyed mercenaries are rated as Superior and reroll 1s.  If you're going to be the best mercenary bowmen on the field, you should try to look the part.
Javelinmen/Peltasts: These skirmishers are useful as filler or to challenge for terrain that I can't send my Spartan hoplites into.  Yes, they can shoot but it's generally not that effective.  

Thracian Medium Foot:  The Thracians give me one nonskirmish foot unit that can operate in bad terrain. That's a lot of responsibility!  I painted them in a Thureophoroi style so they can pull double duty and serve on my other ancients lists.  I really should have used a fleshwash over the white on these fellows instead of an earthwash.  Ah well...
Commanders:  In Field of Glory, a Spartan army can only field 3 commanders.  If I run a Spartans with allies list, I can field a 4th General for the allied troops.  I did sneak in a single Xyston figure to this Old Glory lineup.  He's the fellow with a helmet under his arm, reminding me of how nice Xyston figs are.  

For the Spartan project, I've been painting to the superb Great Courses "Pelopponesian War."  It's 36 half hour lectures led by the distinguished Professor Kenneth Harl at Tulane.  One of the great things about my audible membership is that an 18 hour Course counts as 1 book.  I just realized they also have Donald Kagan's superb "The Peloponnesian War" so that's in my cart and ready to go.  If there is a quiz show centered on the Pelopponesian War, I'll soon be ready for it!  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


The current issue of Dadi & Piombo wargaming magazine features an article I wrote about SAGA, accompanied by photos of the Irish warband I painted.  I've let this go to my head, telling people I'm now big in Italy. This is my first time published and it feels really good.  Here's hoping it's not the last time!

As I wrap up the Spartans, I've got my next 15mm ancients army primed up and ready to go.  Featured prominently on Trajan's Column, I'm hoping they'll be an interesting army to paint and play in our Field of Glory campaign.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

With lambdas gleaming

"All the Greeks know what is right to do, but only the Spartans do it."  Plutarch

When painting a Spartan army, the thorniest question you'll face is whether to paint them with lambda shields or without.  There was a time when every Spartan chose his shield design. This was superseded by a policy where all Spartan shields bore the Greek letter L (lambda) for Lacedaemon.  The Lexicon of Photius said Cleon was not the only Athenian terror struck when he saw the lambdas gleaming. From this, we conclude the Spartans were using lambda shields at the battle of Amphipolis in 422 BC.  It's possible the lambda came into earlier use as other Greek city-states were using common shield designs well before that date. Mantineians bore the trident of Poseidon by the mid 5th century.  Messenians bore the letter M, Thebans the club and so on.

Common shield designs may have started when states began providing the hoplite kit. If so, the lambda may have been first used by helots outfitted by the Spartans. From there, usage may have spread to the rest of the army. Common shield designs fit neatly into a narrative that shield bearers are not individual citizen but servants of the state.  And as Photius records, such was the Spartan reputation that enemies fled at the mere sight of their lambdas.  I greatly enjoy the freedom to paint in the broad space between what we know and our best guess. For my Classical Spartans, everyone gets the lambda.   

I got these in a blind trade and out of the box, I wasn't thrilled with the Old Glory poses.  Once I ranked them up, I saw they were sculpted to fit 4 figures per 15mm deep base.  I painted 32 bases with bronze shields, 8 in black shields and 8 in red. Once I saw how good black shields looked, I wished I'd painted more!
The mix of brass, black and red shields will help identify in game which units are Spartan citizens and which are the not quite as good perioikoi, free non-citizens who lived and served in the Spartan army.

I can't wait to finish and field the Spartans in our next Field of Glory campaign. My Galatian and Gallic armies are 0 wins and 2 losses in the current campaign.  A good craftsman doesn't blame his tools but I clearly need a bigger hammer.  Here's hoping the Spartans are it.