Sunday, 31 July 2011

Thracian Army

These are a few snaps of my little DBA Thracian army. Figures by Hat. Cavalry (which are actually Hat Thessalians) I thought were finished but aren't. I'm sure we can substitute. I've stuck the two horses for the 'Light Horse' widely spaced on their bases, and have also based a single horse which can be placed in between them to convert them to a 3 fig cavalry base if I need it instead (done similar with my Iberian army for the Punic Wars).

I bought at least a couple of boxes of figs, and this army doesn't even use one, so I have plenty more figs if I wanted to enlarge the army.

DBA Army list is as follows:

Thracian 700BC-46AD

1 x 3 Cavalry (General), 3 x 2 Light Horse or 3 Auxiliaries, 6 x 3 Auxiliaries, 2 x 2 Psiloi

The army can be used over a long time period. 'Thrakes' are actually mentioned as fighting in the Trojan wars, and the Thracian provinces were only eventually tamed by the Romans. Dacians were also neighbours, so I also use them mixed with some bare-chested Celts, if I need to field them.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hoplite Greek Army

I've made a blog entry on this one mainly for Steve'the Hat's benefit, as he has been painting up some Zvedza Greeks and their new Spartans.

In terms of the state of completion or otherwise of this army all I can say is WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get!


The figures are all Atlantic figures, a very old range-from the '60s I understand-but nicely sculpted nevertheless. The figures have a variety of different helmet times, which once upon a time I knew something about, and some were associated I think with certain armies (eg. Corinithian), but to be honest my memory now is hazy.

As you can see I've replaced the weapons with which they are sculpted with wire long spears. A lot of have come off and need repair (for about the third or fourth time!). There are 21 DBA elements worth. This once completed would enough for a matched pair of standard 12 element DBA armies with psiloi etc., but a bit light for a 'Double-Based' DBA or 'Impetus' army.

There are also two element bases of cavalry and two of light horse painted up. The riders haven't been. I don't have any dedicated 'psiloi' for this army, but shouldn't have any problem finding some from elsewhere (eg. Roman or Carthaginan armies.

Horses painted, riders not...

In addition, I have a couple of dozen mounted on coins (had vaguely thought of some sort of skirmish game based on the Odyessy) and a couple of plastic bags of unpainted or unbased figures. Only three element base are anyway close to completion, and I stopped them because I wasn't happy with the shield design.

...Some of the better painted shields..

In fact, getting them out, I can see I seem to have had a hard time working out what to do with the shields. I have some hand painted, most rather unsatisfactorily. For some I've tried sticking on shield designs printed on paper-which looks better in the photos than real life! And I think this indecision on shields was a major sticking point in moving forward to complete these.

Stuck on paper designs..unfortunately peeling off!

The DBA army book has no less than 9 variant Early Hoplite Greek and also 9 Late Hoplite Greek. There are also other army lists for armies essentially based around Greek hoplites (eg. Syracusian). They have anywhere between 3 elements of 'Spear' ('periperphal states' like Phokian) to 11 elements (Spartan). The early lists typically include around 10 'Spear' elements, the later ones 8, including the general's element, which is normally 'spear'. Virtually all the other elements in the Early lists are either Cavalry or Psiloi. The Later one is more varied.

If Steve thinks he can put them to good use somehow, let me know any I'll move them up the 'paint queue....

Also some left unpainted or based in bags...

Finally here's a pic of the whole lot in a 'phalanx', which gives some idea of how impressive a 'Double based DBA army' (which would be twice the size) would look.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptian Armies

Conscript militia

One of my 'early' purchases when I started mail ordering plastic figures from Hannants many years ago, were the Atlantic Egyptian sets, Infantry and Chariots. I love these figures which are full of character, especially the infantry. Both sets I understand date back to the '60s. For a long time they sat in their trays without historic opponents to fight, and indeed before I'd discovered either DBA rules and army lists, or the WAB 'Chariot Wars' book.

I'd intended to use them as a core for all my Egyptian armies, but they've ended up being completely displaced in the New Kingdom armies by the excellent Caesar Miniatures figures, and consigned to the 'Old & Middle Egyptian' armies. Even there they have been partly displaced by Caesar figures, which produce much better archers, which being dressed simply in kilts are 'good' for the early period. Archers are under-represented in the Atlantic set, and sculpted in a somewhat awkward pose.

What you get in the Atlantic infantry set is a range of warriors, some bear-headed with kilts and spears (which appears to be based on a wonderful wooden sculpture preserved in the Cairo museum, which I've been lucky enough to see myself), some bare-headed with clubs and sickle swords, and several poses with the characteristic Egyptian head-dress, armed with both spears and axes.

"Spearmen of the Residence & Menfat"

The DBA v2.0 army lists give two period variants for 'Old and Middle Kingdom' Egyptians.

3000-1640BC 1x4 Blades or Litter (General), 5x4 Bow, 2x3 Blade, 1x3Blade or 3 Bow, 1x7 Horde, 2x2 Psiloi

1639-1543BC 1x Light Chariot (Gen), 4x4 Bow, 3x3 Blades, 1x3 Blades or 3 Bow, 1x7 Horde, 2x2 Psiloi

To quote the DBM army book: "Although generals were usually bowmen...their bodyguards were axemen with large shields." Four burly bodyguards waiting for a Pharoah figure to complete the element.

The heavy infantry are described in the DBM army list (from which the DBA v2.0 list is derived) as being 'spearmen of the residence and menfat' shock troops, and the Hordes as conscripts. In terms of deploying the Atlantic figures, I assign the figures with a headcloth as 'menfat', and the spearmen as conscripts. A standard DBA army doesn't employ many spearmen (just 7 figs within the' horde' element), but as I have plenty of figs to fill a 'double-based' army that at least uses 28.

Atlantic archers are not the greatest pose...
...Caesar Miniatures are much better

Chariots only appear in the later period...

There were a lot of 'unification' and civil wars in this period, so you can usefully employ two armies of these troops. Historic opponents include Nubians (who being half-naked tribesmen) are the same figures as you use throughout, and similarly the Libyans, and desert nomads to the east drawn from the Midianite Arab Caesar Miniatures set. The DBA Enemies list also includes Early Syrian and Later Amorite, but I'm not sure how far Early Egyptians ranged that far. Finally there are the Hyksos, for whom I've created an army with a separate write-up.

A 'baggage element' that happened to be in the same box when I took this snaps

This is the basic 'Impetus' army list for the 'Old and Middle Kingdom Egyptians. it basically just allows infantry, 9 formed units and two skirmishers.

2T6302short bow A
2T8302short bow B
1S8201short bow B

FP is the Impetus abbreviation for Heavy Foot (the rule writers are Italians the 'P' is for 'Pesante' ie. heavy). FL is light foot (in DBA terms generally 'Auxiliaries'). 'T' means missile troops and 'S' Skirmishers. An (*) means this can include a general element. Other abbrevations are:

M= Movement; VBU= Basic Unit Value; I= Impetus Bonus, VD= Demoralization Value; VDT= Total Demoralization Value

Syro-Cannanite & Mitanni Armies

The Mitanni, who are obscure enough that archeologists have not yet even identified their main cities which were roughly around present day northern Syria, were the first people to establish a 'chariot' empire in the region. The DBA army list gives them a stonking 6 chariot elements (out of 12 elements), the most awarded to any chariot army by the army lists-making them the chariot period equivalent of a blitzkreig 'panzer' army. The DBM army book notes that around half of these would be the chariots with armoured warriors (the elite of the 'Maryannu'), the rest unarmoured chariots including Syro-Canaanite vassals.

The various Syro-Canaanite city states were a fractious lot, often under the influence of a larger empire (Mitanni, Hittite and Egyptian) and frequently appealing to their overlords to help them in their squabbles and petty wars. Under Mitanni influence they acquired chariots. At the battle of Meggiddo (aka 'Armageddon') in which an alliance of Canaanite states, with Mitanni allies, took on the might of the Egyptian empire, Egyptian records of booty taken indicate that probably about half the charioteers were armoured. The DBA army list gives these armies 4 chariot elements.

Close-up of a 'Mitanni' chariot

So for these armies, I've produced three types of chariots, shown in the first two shots. One is the Caesar Miniatures 'Mitanni Maryannu' chariot with armoured crew, which can be used in just about any army. The set has more crew than chariots so it can be used to equip Atlantic Egyptian Chariots (which come six rather than two to a box, so are the most economical way to buy chariots) for added numbers. The second type of chariot is one with unarmoured crew, again Atlantic chariots, with good old Airfix 'Robin Hood' figures, which actually do a good job of impersonating the look of Foundry's unarmoured charioteers. The third is a set of crew drawn from Hat's Roman Auxiliary set, using 'Eastern archers' in scale mail, who I think make passable armoured 'Maryannu', again in Atlantic chariots. In fact, I might not need to use as many of these as anticipated as the 'Mitanni' set gives me plenty.

With several boxes of Caesar Mitanni painted up, and several boxes of Atlantic Chariots, and numerous crews, all that remains is to assemble them, something I've put off just because I'd also like to base them, but based up chariots take up a lot of storage space, and I've run out of storage boxes.
Here's a close up of an unarmoured charioteer. I might add reins made out of thin plasticard:

The other main troop type in a Canaanite army is the Canaanite militia, classified as auxiliaries in DBA. Having closely studied various sources, including Foundry's interpretation of them, I've come up with the following force.

Its made up of a motley collection drawn from some figures in Caesar's Sea People set, plus some of Caesar's Bedouins and various figures from Atlantic's Egyptian infantry set given a 'paint conversion', generally more colourful kilts, and painted on wrap around tunics which are roughly based on some Egyptian images of nomads who drifted into the delta region.

The figures are largely painted and in that awkward stage that you get with painting 'irregulars' of needing to add a bit more colour/detail but not wanting to do too much and spoil the 'look' of the unit.

In addition to these I've got some more Atlantic Egyptians that I 'paint converted', with a view to fielding a Hyksos army, themselves a wave or waves of invaders into Egypt from the Canaanite area in an earlier period, which can easily 'bulk up' this force.

I had originally come up with a small force based again on that good old 20mm standby the 'Robin Hood' set, with pins added for spears, cardboard shields and headbands painted on. I actually quite like the figures, which I modelled on several pictures I'd found of Elamites, and I'm sure could well have been a common dress, but decided fairly arbitarily to just these as 'Syrian' spearmen for the northern states and the Mitanni.

These are similarly 'Robin Hood' figures painted as auxiliary archers, again in the 'Elamite' style which quite frankly could be used in plenty of middle-eastern armies.

Finally, these are some archers taken from Hat's 'Assyrian Auxiliaries'. They are again likely to be typical of troops from the general Syrian area over a wide time period, and useable with lots of armies, although I'll probably use them with the Mitanni. I've also got various other skirmishers and light troops from the Midianite Arab army and some figures in the Caesar Sea People set believed to be Shashu Bedouin based as skirmishers.

The main question with these armies is just how many elements to make up. I have the chariots to assemble, the militia to finish, more 'robin hood' figures to convert, and I've started on another batch of 'Assyrian Ally' archers. Do you want to fight a little campaign based on Canaanite city state struggle? In which case you want several armies, and Philistines and Hebrews could be added to the mix. If so are standard 12 element DBA armies enough? Twelve chariot elements could equip three different city state armies, but if you wanted the Mitanni involved that rises to 18, and if Hittite/Egyptian armies got involved they might need allied light chariots too. If you want larger armies, how large do you want them and how many do you want? For 'Double-based DBA', I only need twice the number of chariots than in a standard DBA armies-so 8 for a Syro-Canaanite and 12 for a Mitanni, but could need three times that for a triple command DBA army (ie, 12 and 16). At Meddigo, the Canaanites relied on Mitanni allies, so for a 'Big Battle DBA' fight I'd want two commands of Canaanites, and one of Mitanni, probably with more armoured charioteers in it -ie, 14 in total. If I fight Mitanni versus Hittites, I could bulk up the Mitanni with Canaanite allies, but what if I want to fight Mitanni against Canaanite on a big scale? That would be 20 chariots in total for double based and 38 if triple command 'Big Battle'. What about 'Impetus' where the army lists appear more 'chariot heavy' but require fewer infantry....

...all told the 'Chariot stash' or 'pool' consists of 36 chariots all painted (although it seems you can always keep adding detail to chariots!) with another six unpainted in reserve, with lots crews painted up - Mitanni from the Caesar set, unarmoured robin hood figs, armoured Eastern Archers, Egyptians armoured (Caesar) and unarmoured (Atlantic), Hittites and some Myceanean Greeks/Trojans waiting to be painted. Eight I've earmarked for the Myceanean greeks/Trojans, four provisionally for unarmoured Egyptians. The rest are all waiting on a decision on who gets what, and some bases to be cut and terrained...

Pic of the 'Chariot Stash'

All these decisions partly rely on the input of future wargaming partners...and having enough storage for all those chariots when based up...

Hittite Army

My wife who pours little but scorn on my hobby, generally asks me just one question when I return from the wargames club, "How did the Hittites get on?'. In fact, the Hittites have never made it onto the tabletop in anger, but 'Hittites' is such a good name, who can resist it?

It is also one of those obscure peoples and empires that few people out there could actually tell you much about. In fact, there empire was possibly as powerful and significant as the ancient Egyptians who everyone knows about, but there climate was not as dry as the Egypt so their have not been such spectacular archeological survivals. They were based in Anatolia (modern eastern Turkey) but exercised hegemony over much of the Middle East, as far west as Troy and the Aegean, as far south as the Canaanite states, over much of modern day Syria, and at various times conquered the Babylonian states in Iraq. They were much more 'feudal' than the Egyptians in organisation, and many of the later practices of 'feudal society' might originate with them.

The distinctive arm of the Hittite army were their heavy chariots, although they used lighter chariots in the earlier period, and their armies included vassals and allies, who also rode lighter two-man chariots. Heavy Chariots are popular with DBA wargamers, because the function like 'Knights', which are something of a 'killer' element.

The Hittite Old and Middle Kingdom army list for 1680-1380BC is as follows:

1 x Light Chariot (General), 1 x Light Chariot, 1 x3Blade or 3Spear, 6 x 3Spear, 2 x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 2 x 2 Psiloi.

For the Hittite Empire, contemporaneous with the New Kingdom in Egypt, there are two period variations:

1380-1275 BC 1 x Light Chariot (General), 3 x Light Chariots, 6 x 3 Spear, 1x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 1 x 2 Psiloi

1274-1180 BC 1 x Heavy Chariot (General), 2 x Heavy Chariot, 2 x Light Chariot, 6 x 3 Spear, 1x 2Psiloi, 1 x 7 Horde or 1 x 2 Psiloi

This is the shot of the Heavy Chariot force in my collection.

At the top of the page is a close up of a Hittite king by New Line Designs. It has a special place in my heart as it was made especially for me. I was discussing stocking New Line Products in my on-line shop, and the owner said, you know I've been meaning to sculpt a king for the Hittites, and he did, and he sent it to me! I'm not sure if its ever gone on general release, but it's nice to know that I play a small part in its creation! Below is a close up of one of the regular heavy chariots. Like all the rest of the Heavy Chariots its made by Caesar Miniatures.

I've not included pics of the light chariots in this force as they are just drawn from other armies, Mitanni/Canaanite for now, possibly also Trojan when I've done them. I have a few unarmoured Hittite figures held back to pop into a stack of Atlantic Egyptian chariots that I have painted. I haven't done it yet because various armies have 'claims' on these chariots, and I keep changing my mind which to go for. But the problem will be easily resolved if I painted up another box I have, and one of the other things holding up the whole operation is running out of storage boxes-chariots when based take up a lot of room.

Next up is a unit of Hittite Royal Guard Heavy Infantry. In DBA 1.0 there was just one Hittite Army list, with these boys in it (classified as blades) but in the much expanded DBA 2.0 army lists, there are three Hittite army lists (all with period variations), and they only make it on to the earlier list, which does not extend to the 'Hittite Empire'.

Next up are the bulk of the Hittite infantry, Hittite spearmen. I've based them four to a base. I personally think the DBA army lists have made a right 'horlicks' of classifying Hittite infantry. In DBA 1.0 they started out as 'Auxiliaries', presumably on the assumption that these were a 'mountain' or at least 'highland' people. At the time most Egyptian infantry were classified as 'Spear', so outclassed them. But the images of Hittites at the battle of Kadesh on Rameses the Great's monuments show them as closely packed phalanxes of spearmen. So when they came to write the DBM army lists (which preceeded the DBA 2.0) lists, they clearly took this on board and compromised making them Aux(X), which is DBM speak for auxiliary light troops with long spears, who clumped together to resist cavalry, like Japanese Ashiguru. Because, DBA doesn't have Aux(X), in 2.0 they get classified as Sp (in fact 3Sp which is just a recommendation to base them 3 to a base - which supposes they are a loose formation), which would be fine if Egyptian infantry had not now been upgraded to 'Blades', which again outclasses them. This would all be fine if there was good evidence that they were inferior to Egyptian infantry. Except there isn't. In fact, Egyptian sources speak very highly of Hittite infantry, saying they are a tough opponent!

So you pays your money and takes your choice...

The Caesar infantry set has some infantry armed with spear, and some with sickle sword and axes. Those with sickle sword I've based three to a base, but under DBA rules they are Sp as well. The Hittite Empire was taken down by a variety of opponents include tribes called the Kaskans or Gasgans, who lived in the mountainous areas of North-Eastern Turkey, and in fact, troubled the Hittite Empire all through its history. Although we don't know much about the Kaskans, they appear to have dressed like the Hittites, but their forces - or at least 5 elements of it- are classified as 'Warband' in DBA, so there is ever call to put together a Kaskan army, these boys are ready to join it!

They infantry is the main thing holding up the completion of this army. I wasn't happy with my original paint job and have been tinkering with it, and as a result not varnished or terrained the bases. Also my various calculation of being able to field different armies with different periods variations in different combinations including Big Battle DBA and 'Double-based' DBA led me to conclude that I needed more figures than I had originally bought and painted up, particularly for the 'Horde' elements (7 figure elements) an option in the DBA 2.0 Hittite Empire army list. I've bought, undercoated and based these, but need to do the fiddly job of attaching weapons before painting.

Reinforcements awaiting the arrival of a paint brush!

Of course, if I wanted just a straight DBA army there'd be no problem getting it ready pretty quickly.

To finish off here are a couple of 'horde' elements and the skirmishers (psiloi in DBA-speak), of which I have plenty for any sort of army- including a Kaskan army which needs 6 elements of skirmishers.

The 'Basic Impetus' army is as follows. It consists of 9 units in total, 5 of them chariots, making it much 'chariot heavier' than the DBA army. Unlike the DBA army the majority are light chariots, which might be more historically accurate. There is also a larger skirmish element, but the list is kinder to the Heavy Foot at least. Taking an 'Impetus' unit to be the equivalent to one of my 'double-based DBA' units, to field this army you need 4 Heavy Chariot Models, 6 Light Chariots, 16 'heavy' infantry figures, 16 'light' and 16 skirmishers.

2S8201short bow B or sling or javelin

CGP= Heavy Chariots; CGL= Light Chariots; CF= Schyted Chariots; CP= Heavy Cavalry; CM= Medium Cavalry; CL= Light Cavalry; FP= Heavy Infantry; FL= Light Infantry; S= Skirmishers; T= Missile Troops, EL= Elephants ; ART= Artillery

M= Movement; VBU= Basic Unit Value; I= Impetus Bonus, VD= Demoralization Value; VDT= Total Demoralization Value

(*) Unit that can include general

New Kingdom Egyptian Army

The New Kingdom Egyptian army covers the period 1543-1069BC, kicking off with the explusion of the Hyksos and covering the great warrior pharaohs, including Rameses II. There is a period variation in the DBA 2.0 army lists to cover the last 140 years or so when a Libyan dynasty took over, which essentially substitutes a Libyan warband element for one of the bow elements.

The main DBA list is as follows:

1543-1200 1x Light Chariot (Gen), 3x Light Chariots, 3x3/4 Blades, 4x 4Bow, 1x 2 Psiloi

Here's a close-up of the general model, which is metal by New Line Designs:

The standard 12 element DBA army has 4 chariot elements, and this is what they look like, with the New Line general accompanied by Caesar Egyptian Chariots. This is not the whole chariot force available for the Egyptians. There is another Caesar one painted up (not shown because one of the horses needs gluing back on). The Caesar set gives plenty of spare figures which I've completely painted and can be stuck into the more economic Atlantic chariot set (six to a box rather than just two in the Casear sets) of which I have a 'stash' all painted and plenty of unarmoured Egyptian charioteers from the Atlantic sets, several completely made up . The Egyptians (for example at Kadesh) also had Canaanite allies, so a few chariots from the Canaanite army can be added too. So fielding a 'Double-based' army or a triple command DBA army is not a problem. Its simple a question of how many Egyptian chariots do I want to make up ahead of time, when there are several other armies with a 'call option' on them.

Four chariots with armoured charioteers (Caesar miniatures)

Some unarmoured charioteers (Atlantic figures)

The Egyptian army has also a strong heavy infantry core, three elements in the standard DBA list. I have a dozen or so elements painted up and finished, so all combinations of larger armies are pretty much covered. They are from two different Caesar Miniatures sets. There first set was perhaps better, and came with shields and weapons to attach but had hardly any archers. The second had many more archers, and a bunch of heavy infantry moulded in one piece. Both are nice painted up.

The main New Kingdom army list has 4 Bow elements. Here are two 'Double-based' units. The one in front are thought to be Syrian archers, so could see service in their native land (the Syro-Canaanite army list has the option of one unit of bow). They are basically painted. I haven't varnished them and terrained the bases because I am still pondering if to paint a bit more detail on them.

This is a unit of bald-headed archers, who were apparently priests.

Finally there is a Nubian archer unit. They are from Caesar's Nubian set. The Medja were used as a kind of military police by the Egyptian army. All the Nubians archers in the Nubian army list are either 2Ps or 3Bw (ie. two or three figures to a base) and I have plenty more anyway.

I have a few more elements of archers, which if necessary will allow the Syrians to play in 'away strip'.

This is what the whole looks like. As mentioned more chariots can be added.

The 'Basic Impetus' rules give the army nine units as follows. As an 'Impetus' unit is basically the same as a 'double-based' DBA unit, in total it requires 8 chariot models, 32 Heavy foot figures, 32 Archers, and 8 skirmishing archers.


2T6301short bow A
1S8201short bow B

CGP= Heavy Chariots; CGL= Light Chariots; CF= Schyted Chariots; CP= Heavy Cavalry; CM= Medium Cavalry; CL= Light Cavalry; FP= Heavy Infantry; FL= Light Infantry; S= Skirmishers; T= Missile Troops, EL= Elephants ; ART= Artillery

M= Movement; VBU= Basic Unit Value; I= Impetus Bonus, VD= Demoralization Value; VDT= Total Demoralization Value

(*) Unit that can include general