Wednesday 28 October 2009

Hastati - the formation takes shape.

These 96 figures are all painted as Romans (black over red feathers) and form the Roman hastati of two legions. They are all Renegade figures. Although they should, in all likelihood, be equipped in a similar manner to Principes I have chosen to use figures with pectorals (chest plates) to distinguish the two troops types at a glance.

Putting the hastati and principes together in their manipular formation (the business end of a Roman army) gives me the first real impression of what this two legion consular army is going to look like (without the velites or triarii of course). Once flanked by a similar number of allies (with yellow and blue shields) I think it is going to look pretty good - in all, 576 infantry with a frontage of about 80 inches.

Onwards and upwards - it will be the 48 Roman velites next.

Monday 26 October 2009

Ager Sanguinis is finished - Armies of Islam Lists are out now.

The 'Saracen' army lists for Ager Sanguinis are in the November 09 issue (#319) of Miniature Wargames. They include lists for the Seljuks of the northern areas (Rum, Mosul, etc.), the Seljuks of the south (Damascus, etc.) and the Fatimids.

Thus, the series of articles, all of which come full page and advertisement free is finished. The format allows for all 20 pages to be taken from the magazines to form an uninterrupted rule book with cover page.

To recap:
Ager Sanguinis Rules (MW issue 309, January 09) 12 pages.
Crusader army lists (MW issue 311, March 09) 4 pages.
Armies of Islam (MW issue 319, November 09) 4 pages.
I hope you have enjoyed the articles and playing the rules. If this was not your period of interest, I hope the Piquet style mechanisms gave food for thought.
A big thank you to all who corresponded with questions, ideas and encouragement!
James Roach - Olicanalad

Thursday 22 October 2009

Contemplating my naval.

Here are some shots of an ancient naval battle that Peter J. and I are currently waging - Rome Vs Successor State. The models are from my growing collection of 1:600 ships by Xyston. The rules have the working title Fleet of Battle and like Ager Sanguinis have their root in Piquet's Field of Battle by Brent Oman. The rules have been on and off the burner for a few years in various guises and have now reached the 'mechanics finished' stage of development and give a very good game. I am in the early discussion stages (I'm hopeful but no promises) of making them widely available in a complete form - I will keep you informed if anything comes of them.

The beads of various types display navy and squadron (black/red striped white, A, B, C, etc.), yellow spots are squadron flagships, green spots indicate that the vessel is mounting large catapults, red beads are hull damage, white beads indicate crew/morale loss and black beads indicate that the ship is holed, the sea coins show ships are locked together; this naval game does not require roster sheets of any kind - which is unusual for naval games - and allows everything to be determined at a glance, which speeds up play.

Peter and I are taking this game to Fiasco (Royal Armouries, Leeds, W. Yorks) on Sunday 1st November 09, so if you are passing say hi. If you want to give the rules a bash you are welcome to take control of a squadron for a turn or two.

Monday 19 October 2009

The daunting stage

OK, so I've started painting the figures for my Punic Wars collection. The first 100 or so Romans are finished (less basing) and another 100 or so are very near complete. These are my principes (pictured) and my hastati for the four Roman legions - it will be the same for the allies and I have not started the velites, triarii and cavalry. Then it will be similar for the Gauls, Spanish and African / Carthaginians. Almost all will be Renegade figures.

But, oh my................ Almost 200 down and hardly a dent in that pile of lead; sitting like an elephant in the room - I can feel it watching me. It is the way I start all my projects. Research it all - buy it all - paint and base it all.

It is all bagged into batches of 48 (double units) or so for painting. This is what I refer to as the daunting stage of my projects. I have been here before and know that in a year's time the pile will only be half as big and I'll be gaming with the rest. But even so, 'dead' lead still has the power to over awe me. I must keep repeating to myself -
"I've done it before! I've done it before!"
and -
"It's all down hill after the first 1000!"

Thursday 8 October 2009

New Soldier Storage

Although I am very lucky to have a dedicated wargames room of a very good size (18' x 15' at its longest / widest) I still suffer from the perennial problem of storage room. Indeed, in the case figure storage, I was almost maxed out. Knowing this I had been thinking of various ways around the problem for some time - adding shelves to existing book cases, putting doors on them and putting a high shelf around my room to rehouse the evicted books, etc.

Then I came across the CD storage cabinets - a solution I had not thought of - on offer at Argos (see above) which had been reduced from £60 to £40 each. I quickly threw out all my existing ideas, measured my walls, and bought six cabinets sight unseen (risky!). From memory the dimensions are: Overall 51cm wide, 128 tall, 24 deep, weight 40lbs. The eight shelves, including the bottom - and this was the gamble as their dimensions were not stated - are just under 48cm wide and are 15cm deep. The door 'glass' is acrylic with a vertical lined pattern; I would have liked a clear plain finish but, at the cabinet price, I'm happy enough. The Argos catalogue number is 875/2570.

They are intended to be placed on the floor, but I wanted them mounted on the wall so that I could still open the doors of the kitchen base units that support my table. I popped down to my local DIY shop and bought enough brackets (3 per unit), some retaining brackets (? metal plates with holes in to tie the tops of the cabinets to the wall) and enough 4" screws and plugs to bolt everything in place. The wall mounting is somewhat over engineered, but considering the value of the contents (the free time I've invested painting more than anything) I figure it is better safe than sorry.

I like the results very much and offer this post as a possible solution to any storage problems you might have.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Moscow and Borodino

I have just returned from a trip to Moscow. Primarily this was a trip to see my brother-in-law Rupert and his family who have recently moved to live there. However, my passion for things military being what it is, it would have been remiss of me not to slip in some visits to a few history museums and a battlefield. As well as planned excursions, Russia is littered with military bits and pieces - roadside tanks etc. Above, my son meets some (bribed) Streltsi in Red Square.


This is a fantastic small museum just down the road from the Great Patriotic War Museum. It has a number of small exhibits and models, but at its centre is the panorama (you stand in the middle) of the battle. This is cleverly done with a 1:1 scale diorama in the fore ground and the painting of the battle behind it.


Rupert (who is also interested in history) had arranged for his driver to take us both to Borodino on the last full day of my visit. It was the military highlight of my trip. By road this is about 120km drive west of central Moscow. Be warned that, because of the horrific traffic in Moscow, this distance takes about two and a half hours each way! However, it is well worth a visit. It has a well appointed (if small) museum opposite the memorial sited at the Great Redoubt. The museum is crammed with interesting exhibits including a large diorama of the battlefield and Kutusov's carriage. It is the ideal place to start, get your bearings and pick up a tour map.


The battlefield itself has memorials to the (Russian only) fighting formations at their main positions. Although roadside trees now obscure the view from the Russian to the French positions, the battlefield is largely unspoilt.

From the Great Redoubt looking west, looking east and looking north east.

Looking north to the Great redoubt from the midway point between it and the Bagration Fleches, and the Semenkovka stream (which looks like a series of muddy ponds).

The Bagration Fleches (forward?) looking west, looking south, and from the rear. These look like they are modern reconstructions.

Although built in the mid 19C the convent at the Bagration fleches houses one within its grounds. It also has a small museum (disappointing). The convent church is well worth a visit - stunning inside and out. (Rupert centre and his driver Gregory on the left).


This is a huge building. Unfortunately its contents, though interesting and well presented, did not match the building's external grandeur. However, outside the museum there is a tank and aircraft park which includes a few unusual exhibits including a twin turreted T26, a T26 produced without running gear for fixed defence, some lend lease equipment including a Matilda and Wasp, an armoured train, some Japanese equipment and a few German bits and pieces.

Moscow is a city of extremes. It has some wonderful architecture amongst the endless communist high rise apartment blocks; it needs a lot of TLC and some health and safety legislation.
Eating well, etc. is very, very pricey - much more expensive than London and there is no middle ground. Expect a simple 'western' lunch to set you back £15 and a good dinner 4 or 5 times that. Only Petrol and take out booze are inexpensive. All museums have a very reasonable entry fee (£1 - £3) and all allow photography provided you pay for the extra photography ticket.
My honest opinion of Moscow as a whole is that it is worth a visit once - so get everything you need to do done in a single visit. It is an edgy, dirty, wholly corrupt and moth eaten city - after visiting (save for family and friends) you probably will not want to return.