Monday 26 October 2015

Hunnic Army II/80d

This list represents the earlier incursions into parts of the Eastern Roman Empire and turn up as useful allies for Armenians, Sassanid and Kushan armies. The figures  are converted Old Glory Cumans and Alani from their Nomadic Horse armies list and with the addition fur caps and cloaks made from Milliput these look convincing as Huns. I do have OG Huns which are all bow armed and they contrast nicely with the converted javelin armed troopers.

With the exception of the general (Cv) all mounted elements are LH. Lacking a strong punch in close combat they do make up with surprising speed often catching their opponent flat-footed. At the moment there are no plans to collect elements for the other Hunnic sub-lists as the d-list will give enough amusement.

There are other refurbishment projects on the list, such as three Biblical and three Late Medieval armies. These will be sold in later October or early November,  just before the Christmas rush. 

Sunday 18 October 2015

The Patrician Roman list.

The Patrician Roman armies for the East have as their principle enemy Sassan and the various Gothic tribes that swarmed across the Danube to ravage the Balkans. Within the army list given below are a number of troop types painted (Bold print) and will be added to the current Later Imperial Roman collection. 

These dozen elements are for the most part barbarian Feoderati German warband and Gothic knights with a sprinkling of Roman horse archers. In a brief email exchange with Simon McDowell, author of "Comitatus" we discussed the various options available to make Feoderati distinguishable from the barbarian cousins on the other side of the battlefield. 

I liked the option to have my Feoderati retain their shields by give them Roman style tunics. I added the Draco standards to give them a uniform look with Roman units carrying theirs. 

Currently my two 3.0 Patrician Roman armies consist of the following and include the options:

II/82b Eastern Patrician Roman Army.

1 x General (3Kn), 
1 x Equites (Kn or Cv), 
2 x Horse Archers (LH)
1 x Equites Clibinarii (4Kn) or Gothic Feoderati (3Kn), 
2 x Legionaries (4Bd), 
2 x Auxilia Palatina (4Ax), 
2 x Legionaries (4Bd) or German Feoderati (4Wb) or Archers (Ps) or Isaurian javelinmen (Ps)
1 x Archers (Ps or 4Bw).


After completing these new additions, I began work on a Hunnic force, not the one lead by Attila, but the d-list which are predominately LH with a Cv General. These made their appearance in the East and under King Grumbates served with the Sassan armies of the 4th century. These will appear in my next post.


Thursday 15 October 2015

Late Imperial Rome

During the past month I have refurbished a number of DBA ancient armies among them two Later Imperial Roman collections. These were painted many, many years ago and some of their number have since been cannibalized to build up other armies which were later sold. The motivation to begin refurbishing the Late Romans  was due to the extensive collection of Sassanid Armies; these span all three sub-lists. Not only are the Middle Imperial Roman army enemies, but the Roman connection extends to the Later Imperial (II/78b) and Patrician Roman (II/82b) period.
To restore the Later Romans new cavalry figures were ordered to replace the Clibinarii and heavy cavalry elements. All figures were given Palatine status which meant purple decoration for auxilia, cavalry and artillery figures. Figures for the Legions were covered in mail and that saved a bit of painting.
All in all I was very pleased with the results.  and the remaining figures will be repainted or touched up as needed.
Milliput and brass wire were used to build draco standards for Clibinarii and Legionary units. A brief tutorial can be read at the Fanaticus Forum.

Current 3.0 list

II/78b Eastern Roman Army.
1 x General (Cv), 2 x Clibinarii (4Kn), 1 x Equites Illyriciani (LH), 1 x Horse Archer (LH), 3 x Legionaries (Bd),  2 x Auxilia Palatina (4Ax), 1 x Archers (4Bw or Ps), 1 x Equites (Cv) or bolt thrower (Art).

The Command element with its collection of staff on foot with a mounted officer remained unchanged, nonetheless the banner and figures were given a renewed coat and extra details were added.

The Illyriciani and Horse Archer elements will have brighter colour added, namely to the horse harness and clothing were improved.

The three Legionaries are actually Sarmatian heavy infantry figures which have chainmail armour, a helm without crest and an oval shield, These are Old Glory 15s which have a nice eastern look which is a good alternative to their standard Roman figure. Shield design remains the same pattern but will have a new coat of paint.

The two Auxilia are fine, but like the other elements these will have details added and shield patterns will have a new coat of paint.

Both Archer types will need some touch up and details added, such as the appliqué pieces added to their shoulders.

The Artillery are standard Old Glory. New paint for bolt thrower and artillerymen should do the trick. A third ballista will be fitted with a carriage for use with the later Bosporan Army which mimic Later Roman uniform styles.

Late Imperial Rome 1

Late Imperial Rome 2

New to the collection are the Clibinarii and Equites. No shields are necessary for the 4Kn, but the heavy cavalry must have a design. Readers may be aware that the Eastern cavalry shield patterns are not illustrated in the Notitia Dignitatum, but my take on this is to duplicate the shield of a similar armed cavalry units of the Western series and use a different colour for the ground and concentric rings. 

Edit 16-10-2015
I had been asked at TMP (The Miniatures Page) if I could post a photo of the figures before their transition. The only one available made me ill, but for those who are curious, here it is. Most of the cavalry units had been stripped to help build up other armies so what you see are the bare bones.


Sunday 11 October 2015

Arid Terrain mat.

My Severan Rome collection for the western armies make use of an arable terrain mat, but a similar size mat for the east was lacking. The material used is identical to what I use for roads, rivers, low hills and other terrain feature – 2 mm thick linoleum floor covering.

I started with a mid-brown base coat and layered in random sections lighter shades. The final step added some detail and highlighting to complete the arid terrain mat. The colour of the mat is identical to the base colour of the troops with the small exception of Spring grass seen around the feet and hooves of the figures

Allowing for drying time this took in all about two days to paint. 

The photos here were taken to control the quality as photos will generally pick up any flaws overlooked with a quick glance. For this step I added a village, a number of mountains and a variety of scatter material to break up the barren dry terrain. 

Photo one.

This is the mat after the first application of ground colour. At this point attempted several methods of applying highlights using brush and sponge.

Photo two.

For the sake of uniformity, the hilltops were also treated in  a similar manner.

Photo three.
Dry grass scatter material spread about the board and clustered as a terrain feature to serve as Scrub. 

Photo four.

Acacia trees also serve as scatter material and add the only green to the arid terrain board. 

Photo five.
The Pre-Islamic Arabs assemble for their next foray 

Edited 12-10-2015

Thank you for the enthusiastic reception.
I would like to share some extra tips if you are going to make a similar mat.

First coat.
Acrylic paint, colour mid-brown or wood brown was applied with a brush and let dry overnight.
The application on the linoleum material will not crack or peal, but letting it dry overnight will ensure any successive coats from lifting off or thinning your previous coat.

Second layer.
Using a tray or plastic container I mixed some brown with orange then lightened the mix with white.
This time I used a natural sponge found at most paint stores and daubed the mix lightly over the board.
Make irregular patterns and keep in mind you will be applying a lighter shade covering a smaller area afterward.

Final layer.
For this last step I experimented with two methods of application.
After cleaning the sponge I dipped a small tip directly into white acrylic paint.
The wet sponge will help spread the white such that it appears light grey.
The alternative method used a plant spray to moisten small areas and daub the white paint with the sponge.
This softened the effect which contrasts with the harder edged areas.

Scatter material.
The grass is fixed to 1.2 mm thick triplex which is covered with a sand and glue mix.
Paint in the same colour scheme as the mat.    
The grass is 6mm long tufts from Leadbear of Australia 
From the photos you can see Barry offers a wide selection.  

The trees are Woodland Scenic build your own pack.
The branches can be bent and turned before applying the foliage.

As these were to represent Acacia trees (also found in the Middle East) I bent the branches so the final effort would appear as near to the real thing. 

Thursday 8 October 2015

Limes Arabicus

The Limes Arabicus stretches from northern Syria to the Gulf of Aqaba, a distance of 1,500 km. Primarily, the series of forts and watchtowers protected the caravan routes from desert marauders, but after the fall of the Parthian Empire, the Sassanid demanded a need to change the policy of the frontier system. During the Severan Dynasty, more forts and watchtowers were constructed pushing the frontier further east serving as an early warning system against the threat of invasion.  

There are some good online pictorial sources for the Limes Arabica for which I can now add a fort and watchtower for the Romans.

For practical reasons older watchtowers (iron age, Nabataea) were reused, especially if these met Roman standards. The construction of new watchtowers were placed atop a mountain or at the entrance to a wadi or along trade routes. Their purpose was meant to serve as an early warning screen for troops of the second line to assemble . These were generally square shaped and three stories high and could accommodate a small number of troops to maintain regular watches.

Further behind the initial line of watchtowers were small forts garrisoned by auxilia. One of these I have selected as a model, Qasr-Bshir a cavalry outpost in modern day Jordan. Described as square with four corner towers, this outpost could accommodate a detachment of equitata, perhaps 150 men.

Qasr Bshir

The assumption of a unit of Equitata is based on the high number of auxilia so named. Severus also increased the number of cavalry units for the eastern frontier.

I have constructed buildings for a variety of periods, but never a fort. Using pink foam material, I cut sections for walls and towers and to get a sense of size, these were placed on my “terrain template”. 

Walls and towers have been scored to simulate stonework. Further, the interior on three sides have openings for horse stalls and for the second level there are windows. 

The gateway was made simple, no fancy archway with inscriptions.

I am still debating how the towers should be finished, with a roof or open perhaps with a makeshift sunshade. Tile roofing would seem the logical choice.

Building this Castra certainly set my imagination to what the daily routine have been; clearing the stalls every morning, the patrols, foraging, the local caravans passing by to do a bit of trade.

As you can see from photo one, a 4 x 5BW would dominate a standard size game board. The fort and watchtower are painted and ready for basing. Both pieces were undercoated crème, washed with a grey-brown mix and dry-brushed with successive light grey paint.

I am still puzzling how this should be based; on one large template or as three pieces, a front, rear and a middle section. The latter option would add versatility to the model, front section as a Stronghold (HOTT) or all three as a free standing fort. Tubing will be fixed on the inside so flags can be exchanged to denote ownership, Roman, Parthia, Sassanid or other.

Suggested reading.
I can recommend The Cohors XX Palmyrenorum, a Cohors Equitata Miliaria by Robert O. Fink. A classic work, noteworthy for the information revolving around the daily duty of a garrison on the eastern front. Not only archers, mounted and foot, they had a small dromedary unit for desert patrols.

Monday 5 October 2015

Necropolis (Mausoleums)

After completion of the Mountain Village I had some extra structures and looking at them I recalled Sidebottom’s book, Fire in the East, describing similar square like buildings located outside the city of Arete. I thought this might be an ideal way of indicating the presence of a city without the need to construct walls and towers, so I searching the Internet for information about my “city of the dead”.

Most of the examples found were for Palmyra and Dura-Europos, but such mausoleums are a feature of most large cities of the Middle East during this era. 

Necropolis – an illustration.

My city of the dead will be built on the slopes of two small hills; each approximately 3BW x 3BW. This will produce some flexibility with its placement on the board. Six blocks have been cut and will form the individual towers. At the moment, each are 40 mm high, but cutting and shaping them will change that. To add further variation, some towers will be fitted into the slope in the same manner as the mountain village.

The extra texture worked very well. Adding a wash over the sand covered areas I dry-brushed and picked out stones and edges of the building. Dried grass did not look as well as the tufts of grass, so these were glued down instead.

Painted and highlighting added to texture the walls and ground, the Necropolis is ready for the table use and placed together, these take up a 3 x 6 BW area or may be used as a single piece measuring 3 x 3 BW.


Friday 2 October 2015

A Mountain Village

If you have been following the Severan Project you may have noted several armies were constructed which are not listed in DBA 3.0, namely the mountain kingdoms of Lazica, Iberia and Albania. The names do appear as providing mercenary troops for Armenia, Parthia and Sassan and for our scenarios they will provide useful enemies or allies for conflicts in that region.   

This BUA is modeled after the mountain village of Shatili in modern day Georgia. The style and construction have not change much since the 3rd century so using Shatili as a reference I began designing my BUA. Like Shatili I wanted to enhance the appearance of height, so buildings or towers would be positioned along the incline of the hill forming a perimeter.

 Photo from

The compressed pink foam board was used for the hill and structures which is easily scored to simulate shale and the roofing is made from sheets of packing material scored to make roof tiles. Each building was first constructed and later positioned on the difficult hill that would serve as my base. To bring added variation to the height of the buildings I added an extra layer for the hill. When I was satisfied with the building location I cut sections of the hill out to allow a tighter fit leaving a central section (40 x 20 mm) free for the placement of a defiant foot element.

Using latex household paint to undercoat the structure, I let this dry well before beginning the slow process of painting, adding wash and dry brushing. The greenery was added as the final step.      

Shatili (Iberia) is located near the Darial Gorge: