Monday, May 28, 2012

Brush never sleeps

Work has been crazy lately but no matter how bad the day, once I sit down and paint, my problems and stress fade away. Or shrink to approximately 15mm in size!  I make it a point to try to paint almost every day and with that habit, I've managed to paint more than 578 figures year to date. On the rare occasion that painting doesn't lower my stress quickly enough, there's always a good craft beer to finish the job!

As a blogger, I worry that a week will come and I'll be too busy or too uninspired to come up with an article.  I  keep  a couple of posts "in the can" so to speak and on a tough week, I'm glad to have backup material.  With the oh so short Minnesota summer, I need to let my paintbrushes rest.  I need to get up from the table, go outside and do things like take a hike, go to the lake, go on summer vacation and make a trip to NY for work!  Not to worry as I have a large backlog of painted figures to post in the months ahead.

Lastly, I'd like to take a minute share an updated picture of my workspace.

December 2011:

May 2012: 
For my birthday, my wife bought me a lovely painting carousel that I've almost managed to fill. I keep my paints sorted based on color and shade so I can easily do 2 or 3-tone highlighting.  I also grabbed another 3 tray box to hide all my hobby stuff. I have a small red moleskin notebook for recording hobby and article ideas.  The trick for me is to take it everywhere, including work.  Leaving it on the nightstand next to my bed was not working.  Now it travels with me, I've been putting it to good use. Want proof?  I'll share one of my ideas.

Painting Scutarii last month made me think about the Roman silver mines in Hispania.  For Field of Glory, I need to make some impassible terrain and then I thought, what's more impassible than an open pit silver mine?  I haven't put down my paint brush long enough to make terrain but one day soon, right after I finish with the yard!  See you in the sunshine!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Road to Revolution

My son is an interesting fellow.  He composes music most nights as it's his passion and what he hopes to do for a living one day. The other night, he had a friend over to work on his US History high school project.  He took a simple extra credit assignment on the American Revolution and blew it out until he'd written an original score, lyrics and recorded it with his friend. In short, it's a 4 minute musical about the Revolution, Broadway style!

After hearing the practice session, I knew I HAD to convince my son to let me share his performance.  His song is a sparkling number with witty lyrics, historical shout outs and a big Broadway finish. If you need something to put a smile on your face, look no further.  One listen and you'll be humming the tune "Represent!" Without further ado, I present the debut of "Represent." 

On a related note, my friend Brent told me he got his copy of the 18th century warfare rules,  Maurice. I put in an order for Maurice myself based on the reviews and AARs I'd read. I asked Brent what troops he was going to use and it turns out he has both sides of the American War of Independence in 28mm. Brent's copy of Maurice and his AWI armies, me ordering Maurice, my son's Road to Revolution show tune all in a single week. Coincidence?  I think not. My dear Watson, clearly what we're looking at is an example of synchronicity. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to powder my wig. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thureophoroi, now with more vowels!

Ok, that was a fib but I do like how the word just rolls off of the tongue...Thur-Re-o-Pho-Ronii. I'm pretty sure whenever I speak it out loud, I add, drop or mangle a vowel.  Luckily, I think I've gotten away with it.

Thureophoroi were an all-purpose troop armed with a long thrusting spear, javelins and a sword.  They could form up in loose or close formation and thus, operate in rough terrain.  According to Plutarch, they could fight as skirmishers and then fall back, assume spears and tighten the ranks.

In Impetus, their javelin missile fire is key as is their ability to go into rough terrain.  When pressed, they'll stand and fight in melee as well.  Is there anything these fellows cannot do?

You gotta love the the panache of soldiers who took to the battlefield and fought in capes. Were they the inspiration for a modern Superhero? You be the judge!  

At this point, you're probably asking yourself, when oh when will the Pontic Project end?  Or maybe I'm just projecting.  Well, I've finished the army but I'm taking my sweet time posting the last bits to my blog.  I've got Javelinmen, Roxolani and Xystophoroi queued up and ready to bring it home.  Then it's on to my Gallic army, V 2.0.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Uh oh, Galatians calling!

The Galatians were a Celtic people who settled south of the Pontic kingdom on an upland plateau.  They forced their way into the region, fighting a series of campaigns against the armies of the local states who all stubbornly refused to be driven from their lands. As a result, the Galatians were forced to settle on a poor stretch of land where none of their neighbors considered it worthwhile to force them off.  The difficulty of their situation meant the Galatians were eager to work as mercenaries.  Philip Mastyszak's "Mithridates the Great" describes the Galatians as follows:

 "A special class of mercenaries were the Galatians. Thanks to their warrior culture, they were usually happy to fight against anyone and between themselves when no one else was available. The wealth of Pontus meant that the Galatians could combine business with pleasure and large numbers of them were usually available to fight under the Mithridatic standard. Though skilled metalworkers, all but tribal leaders generally fought naked. The Gauls made excellent shock troops, and it took experienced opponents to stand firm against a headlong charge by hundreds of large sword wielding warriors who wore nothing but spiky lime hairstyles and ferocious expressions. The bad news was that the Galatians had only a rudimentary grasp of military discipline and tended to regard setbacks as an invitation to go home."

The other bad news is I didn't find this nugget regarding the Galatians fighting naked until I'd already bought and painted this crew from Xyston. Don't cry for me, historical purists, as I have a batch of naked Gauls on the painting table to address my error!

I enjoyed painting these figures well enough that I put in an order with Brookhurst for 150 more Xyston Gallic figures.  Roman versus Gaul is a great matchup in Impetus so I'll be replacing the Gallic army I sold with an Impetus based army.

For our final Galatian tidbit, The Dying Gaul is an ancient Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture originally commissioned by Attalus I of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Galatians in Anatolia. Poor lad!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Who were the Bastarnae?  For me, that was a good question as I hadn't seen them at our club and I didn't recognize this troop type on the Pontic army list.   I did a little reading to figure it out for myself.  Understand that while some of you have been reading ancient history for 10, 20 or more years, I'm relatively new to this field on account of spending my life reading up on the American Civil War, Napoleonics and WW II, especially the East Front.  

The Greek historian Appian thought the Bastarnae were a Thracian tribe but the current line of thinking is  they were a Germanic people.  A little more reading taught me that they were one of the tribes that made up the Dacians, who themselves were a part of the Thracians.   Appian described the Bastarnae as the bravest of Mithridates allies.  He makes a brief mention of them regarding a sortie but after that, I can't find a specific account of them in the Pontic campaigns.  Because the Bastarnae didn't utilize the written word, what we know of them is limited to other historians and the gaps in our knowledge are filled via speculation and argumentation.  There is a line of thought which says they fought in skullcap, loose pants and no shirt.  A second line of thought says this is all wrong! They appear to have been renown falxmen but another line of thought is that they weren't falxmen at all or that only nobles had falxs due to the difficulty of smithing such a large curved blade.  

Into this gap springs the ancient hobbyist's imagination. Xyston makes beautiful rhomphaia armed figures so I used them as Bastarnae.  I chose to kit them in colorful clothes in the Gallic tradition.  In Impetus, these fellows are Impetuous and get 5 extra Impetus dice in melee, basically doubling their effectiveness when they go in fresh.  

Lastly is a relief from the Tropaeum Traiani that gives a nice visual of the Roman vs. Faxlman showdown.  This one shows an imbecilic falxman who allowed a legionnaire to walk up and stick him in the ribs.  I'm hoping my Bastarnae do just a bit better against the Romans!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pontic Phalangites in the battle of Chaeronea

White Shields:  Phalangites were the backbone of the Pontic army during the First Mithridatic war.  Plutarch reports that at the Battle of Chaeronea, Archelaus employed 15,000 freed Roman slaves in  phalanx.  The Romans jeered with rage when they realized they were facing former slaves and quickly waded in to get at the "real" soldiers on the battlefield. It was no easy task. The former slaves were boiling with hatred for the Romans and fought with tremendous courage.  The slaves knew they faced victory or crucifixion and they fought hard, forcing Sulla to reinforce Murena's position.  The Romans managed to get slingers and javelinmen into the rear of the phalangites.  They showered them with missile fire until they broke and ran.

Bronze Shields:  While the slave phalanx held up the Romans, Taxiles led his Chalkaspides or Bronze Shields against Sulla.  The Bronze Shields were the elite phalangites of the army but even they could not stem the Roman tide. Once the Pontic army started to rout, the Bronze Shields phalanx formation collapsed.  Spears and shields were discarded and once they turned their backs to run from the Romans, the slaughter began.  

After the First Mithridatic war, Mithridates recognized that his phalangites were outclassed by the Roman Legions and the Roman style of fighting.  He subsequently disbanded his phalangites and hired Roman officers and expats to train and rebuild his army to fight in the Roman style.  

These 48 Xyston figures painted up fairly well and quickly.  As much as I'd like to field a Pike army in Field of Glory Ancients, the thought of  painting 200+ of these fellows makes me weak in the knees.  I'll circle back and paint up another stand for each unit so I can deploy them as "Large Units" in Impetus.