Saturday 26 April 2014

Republican Roman Principes

Principes - a mix of Agema plastics and metals.

During this the week I finished the first unit for my Republican Roman Legion – a unit of Principes. I’ve based them on 40x40mm bases to match my friend Björn’s Punic collection. We even found time for a game this weekend, affording a chance to see the unit in action. Naturally it got wiped out by some of Hannibal’s Celtic allies, but there you go - all beginnings are hard.

Variety of Roman Republican troops

Part of the Roman tactical formation called the Maniple (Light troops skirmishing in the front, regulars in the second line of battle, and seasoned veterans at the back), the Principes were key troops for both the Camilian army system (4th-3rd century BC) and later the Polybian during the Punic Wars.

Originally the men were from the more wealthy classes of the Roman society, financing weapons and equipment them selves. In most cases you would start out in the front units, earning your way through experience.  So the Principes would be of considerable battle know-how, thus in effect warriors of the upper class along with the wealthy Triaii veterans.

Size comparison - to the left Aventine.
To the right Agema.

This system of soldiers paying their own equipment and who’s position in the ranks was earned by age, experience, wealth and social status, worked only at the initial stages of the Roman Republic, when a large class of landowners with sufficient financial means were accessible to the army.

As time went the structure as well as the actual Maniple formation tactics would be challenged by the needs of a growing Roman Empire. Landownership shifted to a few families, and social reforms as well as army organisational and tactical reforms were needed.

The ranks of the Maniple formation.
Triaii at the back, Principes in the middle, Hastatii and Velites at the front.

The Punic Wars in many ways became the catalysts for this, seeing General Cornelius Scipio (later known as Scipio Africanus) break the coherence of the units, and spread them out on the battle field to suit his tactical needs more than to follow doctrine. His ideas were very successful, and with tactics refined by his careful observation of Hannibal’s battles, he would become the Roman hero of the Punic Wars.

Principes armed with Pilum, Scuta and Gladii.

The restructuring of the Roman Army was undertaken by Gaius Marius in 107 B.C, and would create the foundation for the later imperial roman army, equipped and paid by the state – the troops pay was called “solidi” – thus the word soldier.

Another take on the possible colors on clothes and equipment.

Unfortunately the much needed social reforms was not carried out, leading to civil unrest like the slave rebellion of Spartacus. The further alienation between the lower classes, now the core of the paid army, and the land owning roman aristocracy in power, would also be a key factor in the transition of government from Republic to Imperial dictatorship, with Caesar grabbing power by entering Rome with his army.

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Agema Republican Romans - A Review

Strike a pose! Figure from the command metal blister. 

Admittedly Republican Romans have nothing to do with black powder wargaming, if not perhaps for the lead they allegedly used as seasoning(!) on their food in ancient Rome.

As mentioned, I allowed myself one off the chart and out of project context purchase at Salute.
When looking at Agema's blog in the weeks leading up to the London show, it became clear that their new Republican Roman plastics would be that particular one.

Nicely done: The front side of the box 

Lovely layout on 4 color box. The back offers text explaining the different troop types and their tactical role on the battle field. I love that kind of stuff, gets your imagination going. Nice!

Back side of the box.
Examples of figures and text to cover the troop types.

Being a plastic sprue from talented Rendera, it offers considerable quality and the much appreciated natural style sculpting. Details are crisp and clear, even on feathers, weapons etc.

The Legionaries spure

The figures measure 28 mm from foot to eye. 30 mm from foot to top of the head.
Tall, slender and natural looking figures.
I'm not sure how they'd mix with earlier metals from other makes, but I'm sure they will blend nicely with Warlord and coming Punic range from Victrix.

A box of 40 plastics would set you back by GBP 25,00.
Thats GBP 0,62 per figure. Not bad at all, but such are the pleasures of plastic.
Metal blisters are prices at GBP 6,00 for packs of 4 (GBP 1,50 per figure)
And GBP 10,00 for packs of 8 (GBP 1,25 per figure)

Selected miniatures from the command blisters

At the moment Agema offers a boxed set of 40 Legionaries (16 Hastati, 16 Principes and 8 Triarii), boxed set of 16 Velites, two metal blister of commands, slinger, leves, archer and a blister of penal legionaries. Also they've announced an "action pose" blister pack of legionaries to add extra animation in the ranks. They're to off to a good start in other words. On their website they mention future plans of Carthaginians, different allies and the coveted war elephants.

Close up of the packaging: the different troop types.

Agema offers a modern and very nicely done website with online shop, pictures of painted models, articles and a connection to their Facebook site. In addition the products them selves come in cool packaging with historic info. A very decent job indeed. 

Command figure from the back. 
Clear details makes painting so much more enjoyable.

Agema brings to market excellently sculpted miniatures, and range comprising core troops in affordable plastic sprue (allowing gamer to really build those armies without the wife getting cranky), and command plus more exotic units in metal blister. The range seems to be be in expansion and is supported by a good online resource in their company website and Facebook.
What's not to like?

I'll reserve the 10 points for that war elephant then :0)

Thank you for reading!

Monday 21 April 2014

1st Fynske (Funen) Infantry Regiment - Lund 1676

1st Fynske as they would have looked at Lund 1676.

Being Easter and all that, what better way to celebrate a day off spend at the painting table, than to publish these green and yellow lads from the home of H.C. Andersen, the island of Fyn (Funen) - the most geographically central of the Danish isles.

Then and now - uniform plate
(no, we don't have palms in Denmark)

This Danish national regiment took part in the bitter infantry fighting at the center of the battlefield at Lund, 1676. Led by Johan Caspar von Cicignon, they were battle hardened regulars with previous experience from the battle of Halmstad, some 4 months earlier.

View from behind - the apostles showing on the musketeers.

Some might wonder why I've suddenly changed from Warfare to NorthStar figures on this unit.
The explanation is to be found in the "12 Apostles" - the collar of pre-packed cartridge bandoliers very common in the early and mid-17th century.

A set of "Apostles" as seen at the Royal Danish Armory in Copenhagen.

At about the time of Lund, both the Swedish and Danish armies had started to replace this now outdated system. Whereas the Swedes to a large extend had this transition covered, many Danish units still bore the Apostles at Lund. I found the NorthStar range to offer excellent sculpting including this particular feature on the musketeers, along with pikemen without any waist belts.

Close Up - a manly man with laces and rosy lips.

Flags are from Warefare Miniatures. The heraldic dragon was a key feature for Funen. It's actually a Wyvern (Lindorm in Danish) and used in Danish heraldics as a symbol of the Danish victories in the Baltic Crusades. Later it became a direct symbol for Funen, with the Wyvern as symbolic protector of the Funen isles. 

Battle of Lund - view from the north.
The infantry struggle in the center can be seen in the background.

Wish you all a happy Easter.
Thanks again for stopping by for a read!

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Salute lootings: 19th century stuff

New Perry BIF Scots Fusilier Guards - painted as Danish Guards 1848

Safely back from Salute and a very sunny London, it was time to open the bags and drool over the loot.

Learning from previous years many impulsive buys, I tried to approach this year's enticing offerings of Salute with a plan including a great deal of pre-ordering. I wanted to focus on purchases that could add to existing collections, and only allowed myself to start one new period - The Punic War (inspired by the newly launched Agema products and the announced range from Victrix coming later this year).

Side shot of the Guardsman 

This post will deal with the buys adding to existing projects, namely my 19th century collection focussed on the series of wars of German expansion.

Rear shot of the Guardsman.
The blue jacket was adopted in 1848, replacing the red.

As Prussia lead the German states in their way towards unification, pretty much all the neighboring countries got a beating, and Denmark was not spared. The first Schleswig War in 1848-1850 however saw Denmark repel the German attack and the claim to detach the Southern Danish / Northern German states of Schleswig and Holstein.

The Guard getting down to business at the Battle of Isted 1850.

I've long wanted to build a Danish army for this period, and now the PERRY BIF range offers the figures to create the Danish Guard Infantry - probably best remembered from their participation at the battle of Isted. Adopting a uniform very similar to the British model, I found this too tempting not to try out. No conversion needed.

Size comparison - Perry BIF & NorthStar 1866 Prussian.
A good match I think.

A natural stop was NorthStar for completing my Prussian army.

In addition to the excellent infantry sculpted I think by Alan Marsh, I also bought a battery of the new Krupp gun released a few weeks before Salute. Hopefully horse & limber will follow.

Alsacian house front - Turco for size comparison.
Grandmanner product code NAP15.

To set the Franco-Prussian eastern French battle field mood of Woerth, Mars-la-Tour and Gravelotte St-Privat, I decided to go with Grand Manner's resin range of Napoleonic Europe. Although pricy I think it really offers that little extra for the money. It's hard to catch in the pictures, but there is a fantastic level of details on the surface of the model, something that will create depth and help when it is time to paint, applying shadow and highlights on a natural relief.

Alsacian house seen from the back.
Again I'm impressed with the level of detail on the resin building.

The size of the model building it self is also something that can be complemented.
It really is a natural 28/25mm building, and will fit both my Napoleonics and Franco-Prussians.
Plus I really like that the range is so wide, offering me many more buildings to mix in there as I go along.

Alsacian house with roof removed.
Perfect for the skirmish scenario game.

Naturally for the French country side I had to add a village shrine.
Again the busy Turco is marching along for a size comparison.
Grandmanner product code NAP19.

Last stop was Warlord for a pre-ordered laser cut Chateau from Sarissa Precision Ltd. The model is marketed as a WW2 terrain piece, but I find it perfect as a Franco-Prussian War "Loire Campaign" Chateau - for the Republican part of the war. When I first saw it, it immediately got me to think about the Detaille painting on Champigny.

WW2 Chateau from Sarissa Precision Ltd.

Detaille's painting on the Champigny battle.
The chateau in the background was my inspiration.

Thank you very much for reading!

Sunday 13 April 2014


This weekend it was once again time for the annual gathering of wargaming's finest at Europe's biggest show - SALUTE. The pilgrimage to the London Excel started at Bank station, from were we changed to the DLR trains, fighting our way through a neon-clad crowd of self molesters, apparently going to the same destination to register for performing some masochistic event called the London Marathon the following day.

Safely there it was time to arm myself with cash and camera and dig in.
Without further ado, and with thank to The South London Warlords,
 here are the pictures from a great day at the show.
Holy Land siege game using Saga rules.

Holy Land siege game using Saga rules.
View from the wall as the attackers roll up a siege tower

Holy Land siege game using Saga rules.
Defenders counter attack through a breach in the wall.

D-Day: British landing Zone.
A massive sized table with countless details - really wonderful work.

D-Day: British landing Zone.
Detail of the harbor section of the table.

D-Day: British landing Zone.
Detail from the beach as the armor and infantry disembark.

1870 vignette by The Continental Wars Society.
Bavarians artillery during the second part of the Franco-Prussian War.

1866 vignette by The Continental Wars Society.
Austrian Infantry charges forward.

1870 vignette by The Continental Wars Society.
French Papal Zouaves charging the Prussian line.

Viking village by 4Ground.
Beautiful winter scape using their "Norse" range.

Viking village by 4Ground.
Detail from the village - snow effects sublimely applied.

Viking village by 4Ground.
Entrance to the grand hall - bring your drinking horn!

WW2 village by 4Ground.
Overview of the complete table.

WW2 village by 4Ground.
Detail - bombed out housing with a German position in the background.

 WW2 village by 4Ground.
Detail - Allies entering from the south. 

The crowd carefully studying all the 3ups, new greens and painted wonders on display.
Salute never disappoints on new releases and "coming soon" announcements.

Hands full, a big smile and a broken VISA - time to go home...
For info on whats in the bags, I'll be running some reviews the coming weeks.

Cliff Hanger: New Agema Republican Romans, Perry BIF metals and some great TYW minis by Horcata miniatures.

Thank you very much for reading!

Friday 4 April 2014

Tirailleurs Algériens or “Turcos” – 1870

En avant! Turcos charging with full backpack & camp equipment

Inspired by my visit to the French Army Museum at Les Invalides, I decided time had come to get cracking at a unit of French troops very iconic of the Franco-Prussian War – the Tirailleurs Algériens. 

Turco with the iconic huge French backpack

I wanted to build a unit portraying the Turcos wearing the abnormally huge backpacks often shown in the paintings of Detaille and Neuville. This meant a conversion involving three different manufactures - and some Green Stuff.

Step 1: Perry ACW Zouaves

These colonial troops from French Algeria first raised in 1841, saw initial action in the Crimean War, were they would also get the nickname, Turcos – or Turks – due to their resemblance with the Turkish allies also participating in the Crimean campaign along the Imperial French and British forces.

Step 2: Turco heads from Forgotten & Glorious.
I choose these due to the high Fez and the mix of African heads.

The Turcos fought in all the Second Empire’s mayor campaigns from the Crimean, to Magenta and Solferino in Italy, to the Mexican Adventure and on to the final battles of The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.

Step 3: backpacks from Secret Weapon Miniatures

In one of the early engagements of the Franco-Prussian War, at the battle of Woerth 6th August 1870, the 2nd Regiment of Turcos would play a key role in the French defences.  They would prove their quality and bravery beyond what is called for, as the massed infantry attacks of the Bavarian and Prussian columns hit the blue line like a tidal wave.

Step 4: Adding the big tin canteens made from Green Stuff

Before the battle the 2nd had set up camp on a wooden hilltop with a nice overview of the coming battlefield. Colonel Suzzoni mustered 2.216 men and 84 officers in the camp, ready to meet the awaited onslaught of the approaching enemy. 

Step 5: Painting! Backpacks including added tent poles
made from painted metal wire

The French high command, lead by veteran commander Marshal MacMahon, had scouted this area for a defensive fight. They wanted the Germans to attack them here, at these “positions magnifiques”, as the hills would offer some protection against the murderously effective German Krupp artillery and also give the French Chassepot rifles a clear field of fire into the slopes below. 

The colonial units were lead by French officers 

 The German coalition had divided their forces into three army corps. The 3rd army corps facing MacMahon was lead by the heir to the Prussian throne, Crown Prince Frederick.
The Germans enjoyed a significant advantage in number of troops and artillery at Woerth - roughly 3-1. They would make these odds count in a crushing pincer strategy leading to the defeat and retreat of MacMahon to Chalons.

Turcos on the prowl

When the Germans attacked, they massed their artillery into grand batteries biting away bit by bit of the center while pouring forward troops, enveloping the French defenses, and breaking MacMahon's flanks. The 2nd Tirailleurs Algériens, part of Lefebvre’s 2nd brigade, held their position at enormous costs (80% losses). Upon receiving orders for retreat, the now mortally wounded Colonel Suzzoni secured the regimental flag, and the surviving 8 officers and 441 men of the 2nd could start the long demoralizing retreat to Chalons. MacMahon had lost this very important battle, and the door was now open to Paris.

Thank you for reading.