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Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Boys from Andalucia

Guess who's coming to dinner? 52 bases of scutarii medium foot. I painted two battlegroups in white tunics trimmed red to represent my "superior" scutarii and the rest got the irregular treatment.  I've always loved the red, white and black geometric shield patterns so I stuck with that.

In Field of Glory, medium foot are down -1 on morale checks when losing to cavalry or heavy foot in the open.  I've made some supersized terrain pieces in mdf to alleviate this problem.  My clubmates refer to extra large terrain pieces as pizza boxes. One large scutarii coming right up!



Massed up, they're an imposing sight.  Of course, you can go in a completely different direction and use vibrant colors for the shields.  After all, its not like an Iberian from 300 BC  is going to call you on it, although a fellow from TMP might!

Here's a bit of inspiration.  Don't look too closely but the fellow in stone isn't wearing pants!



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Caetrati...now with 100% more horse!

When painting a new army, you can sometimes find yourself  "in the weeds." So it was with these figures.  I ordered Xyston Caetrati foot and much to my surprise, I received mounted Caetrati. These figures appear to be out of production as I can't find them on eBay or Xyston.  Since they were perfect for the light horse units in my Iberian army, I considered myself lucky and buffed these figures out with the only Xyston Spanish light horse in production, Caetrati pillion riders.

I thought to myself, what's a pillion rider?  It's an extra rider on horse. The idea of two warriors fighting atop one horse seemed odd to me, even with the limited cavalry of the Iberians.  I posted on TPM and discovered the pillion rider figures were inspired by accounts of Caetrati riding double with horsemen and dismounting to fight. The historian Strabo wrote "they ride double on horseback, though in the time of battle one of the two fights on foot."  That makes sense.  Otherwise, a well-place pilum could score a two-for-one hit. Ouch - Ouch!


In keeping with my limited color palette, I used white and tan for the tunics.  I did splurge on the decorative trim on the ponies as I just couldn't help myself!


Last up today are slingers for my Iberian army.  I used a single color for the tunics and I think it is easy on the eyes.  Great detail and lively poses by Xyston.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Iberian Caetrati-lots of 'em

When painting an irregular army, one of the first decision points is deciding on a paint scheme and your primary color(s). You could paint every Caetrati  uniquely, reflecting that each man had to kit themselves out.  That would be historical but also very time-consuming to paint up.  An army painted like this can be a little hard on the eyes, or as my son describes it, a "clown army."  Alternately, you could paint every figure the same, which would be pleasing to the eye.  Visuals are important in our hobby but so too is an attempt at creating something historical.  I split the difference by limiting my colors here and in the rest of my Iberian army.  I picked 3 primary colors for the tunics-black, white and red.  I limited the shield colors as well.  You never know how it'll turn out till you hit the finish line and here, I think I have a balance that says "irregular" without veering into the "clown army."  All Xyston figures with a nice mix of poses.



Caetrati provide skirmishing support to the main battle line of Scutarii warriors.  As Light Foot skirmishers, their job in Field of Glory will be threefold:

1.  Protect my battle lines from enemy skirmishers and their missile fire.
2.  Pepper the enemy battle line with javelins in hopes of disrupting them.  
3.  Move, occupy and fight in poor terrain.  I'll drag as much poor terrain on the table as I can with this army.   

Livy mentions the Caetrati in The History of Rome, Book 23: "Several skirmishes took place between the two sides who  were alternately frightening and fearing each other, and the Numidian  trooper proved to be no match for the Spaniard, nor the Moorish  javelinman for the caetratus, who were quite as rapid in their  movements and possessed more strength and courage." Who's bad? We bad!!
Fear my Falcata

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ancient Spanish (Iberian) Project

A couple years ago, I was getting crushed in a 3 loss outing with my Gauls in a Field of Glory tournament.  My friend Brent stopped by and listened to my tale of woe. He thought for a minute and then suggested "Why don't you paint up a Spanish army?"  I laughed and said "So I should replace my Gauls with the only ancient army that's worse in FoG? I don't think so but thanks for the advice!"

I have wanted to paint up an Iberian army for some time but the beat downs I suffered with my Gauls in FoG put me off the idea entirely.  FoG v2 will offer significant improvements for barbarian armies like the ancient Spanish, including the ability to deploy 1/3 of your Scutarii battlegroups as Superior.  That elevates the list from "speed bump" to "challenging to run."  The improvements were just good enough for me to put Brent's crazy idea into action and order 200 plus Spanish figures from Xyston. It kills me to say it but Brent is a visionary.

Before I pitch in with the new project, I've asked esteemed Spanish historian Antonio Banderas to give us an overview of the Iberian army I'll be painting. He also told me that my page views will double, on account of his animal magnetism.  So, take it away, Antonio...

¡Buenos días! So you want to learn about ancient Iberia and the ways of love, eh? Oh, I see.  You Americans only want to learn about Iberia. That is..not so surprising to me.  Very well.  A quick show of hands if you've read Plutarch's account of Sertorius in Lusitania. No? How many of you are familiar with the weapons of the Iberian warriors? Can anyone point out Iberia on a map?  Do any of you know what a map is? Oh my.  Since this is a remedial class, I'll speak slowly enough so that even Arizona State University alumni can understand.

The Iberians lived in tribal communities on the Mediterranean coast of Hispania. Their coastal settlements facilitated extensive trade with the Phoenicians, Greeks and Carthaginians...and a tan and ruddy complexion which was much desired in the ancient world.  Which is also why the Romans invaded.  Yes, our silver mines were attractive but the real draw was our sunny beaches. And our knowledge in the ways of love. Italian men boast that they're the best lovers on the continent but everything they know, they learned from us! I've uploaded a map of Hispania with Iberia colored in gold.  ASU alumni may color in the rest of the map for extra credit, assuming you all haven't eaten your crayons.
The ancient historians describe 2 kinds of Iberian warriors and 26 kinds of Iberian lovers.  We only have time to discuss the warriors so I'll start with the Scutarii. They carried a broad oval shield known as a scutum and generally fought as heavy infantry.  
Scutarii  warrior with the broad oval shield known as a scutum 
The second kind of Iberian warrior was the Caetrati, who carried a small round buckler called a caetra.  They generally fought as light infantry. 
Caetrati in the foreground with the small caetra shield and falcata sword.  
Many Iberian warriors favored the Gladius Hispaniensis, a stabbing sword  so effective that Rome shamelessly copied it for her legionaries. Our complaint is still pending before the WTO so don't think for a minute that we've forgotten.  
Gladius Hispaniensis
Some warriors favored the falcata, a 2 foot curved sword that was capable of crushing helmets and lopping off limbs.  As for myself, I use mine to shave with.  Feel my cheek...smooth as a baby's bottom, no?  
Falcata
The fearlessness and sword skills of the Iberians made them fearsome warriors.  They served Hannibal well during the Second Punic war and were much sought after as mercenaries. Need I mention that they were also the greatest lovers the world had ever known? But I digress...

People assume that Iberians fought exclusively through raids and ambushes and were incapable of sustained stand up fighting.  Professor Fernando Sanz rebuts these assumptions in his superb paper "Not so different: individual fighting techniques and battle tactics of Roman and Iberian armies..."  linked here.  He demonstrates that Mid-Republican Romans and Iberians fought in a similar fashion and that Iberians fought pitched battles in close-order formations. It's an excellent read if you have a few minutes and download-worthy if you don't.

Which brings me to my last point. There's a reason Roman and Iberian armies were not so different. Simply put, the Italians were copycats. They loved our scutum shields, gladius swords and javelins, so they copied them. They loved our beaches, our tan, ruddy complexions, and our ways with the ladies. Since they couldn't copy that, they occupied our lands to be more like us, spending HUNDREDS of years subduing Hispania. Long before Napoleon, we were a Spanish Ulcer for the Roman empire!

I'd like to direct my final comments to the Americans. Your country, she is 236 years old, no? You must be very proud of her. Of course you are! Oh, did I mention I live in a fine Spanish house that is 350 years old? Think about that. ¡Hasta luego!