Saturday, May 14, 2011

Force on Force: Infantry Rules Mini-Review

While attending Stooge Con, I noticed up a new set of rules titled Force on Force. They are published by Osprey and contain rules for modern skirmish gaming. I've always been interested about the recent campaigns in Afghanistan, both Soviet and NATO. I read through them at the store, and they seemed to be pretty interesting. After a quick check of a few online reviews, I decided to buy them.

Last week, I had a chance to kick the tires on the rules set. As I don't have any modern minis, I set up a few fights between American and German troops in France. First I'll give a quick overview of the rules then I'll give a mini AAR.

The basic unit in the game is a fire team of 2-5 men. Each team is rated on three things; Troop Quality, Morale, and Confidence. TQ and Morale ratings are represented as a die ranging from d6 to d12. To pass a check, the unit or soldier must roll 4 or higher on its die. As you can see, units rated d6 have a harder time passing that units rated d12. The Confidence rating is given as Low, Normal, or High, and affects when a unit has to take a morale check.

Shooting is done as a unit, and the target is also a unit. You cannot specify a single soldier as a target. To shoot, you roll one TQ die per soldier in the unit. You add one die if the unit has a light support weapon (LMG, SAW, grenade launcher) and two dice if it has a heavy support weapon (HMG, RPG). In addition, you roll an extra die if you are in effective range, which is based upon your TQ. You keep track of all of your successes, included the value rolled. The target rolls one die for each soldier in the unit, plus a number of dice based upon the terrain it occupies. Every success the defender rolls can negate one of the attacker's successes that has an equal or lower value. Its not just based on number of successes. For example, an attacker rolls four dice, scoring 1, 4, 5, 8. The defender rolls four dice, scoring 2, 7, 7, 7. The 1 and 2 are discarded. Two of the defender's 7s negate the attacker's 4 and 5 rolls, but the final 7 doesn't negate the attacker's 8. Therefore, the defender takes one hit.

One other interesting bit about fire combat is that its executed in a round of fire. If a unit is shot at, it has a chance to respond. When a unit declares that its shooting at a target, both the attacker and the defender make a TQ check using a single die. If the attacker rolls equal or better than the defender, he shoots first. If not, the defender shoots first! Basically, the TQ check represents who gets the jump in a firefight. Note that a unit can respond multiple times if multiple units attack it, although it rolls one less die each time.

At the beginning of each game turn, the two sides make a modified TQ check. The side that wins gets the initiative, and sequentially activates all of its units. The non-initiative player can react to any of the initiative player's activations, and then can move any left over units at the end of the turn. There are a bunch of different activations, but there are four main ones: fire, move, fire and move, and overwatch. The first three are exactly what they say, while the overwatch action allows you to fire at any units that react. Note that the defender cannot react to overwatch actions, but can react to the others. This allows the initiative player to set up a bounding overwatch, where one unit covers another as it moves. Reacting units can choose to move or fire as a reaction, but while a unit can fire multiple times, it can move only once in a turn. When a unit reacts, both it and the active unit make a TQ check, and the winner gets to perform its action first. So, a unit can attempt to shoot at an enemy unit, but if the enemy unit wins the reaction test, it can move out of LOS before the activated unit shoots. The action/reaction system makes the game very fluid.

Morale checks are handled by making a TQ check for every soldier in the unit. If the unit passes more checks than it fails, its fine. If not, it is pinned, which forces it to take cover (i.e., not move) and reduces its TQ by one die. If a unit is pinned a second time, it falls back. A unit recovers from pinning at the end of the turn.

That's a basic summary of the rules. Now a quick AAR of my two fights.

In the first fight, I had two teams of Germans and two teams of Americans do a meeting engagement in the woods. I wasn't too clever, and tried a basic bounding overwatch advance into each other. One German and one American team blundered into each other, with the Germans firing first and causing some casualties. The second German team followed up and finished off the Americans. In the next turn, they started dragging the wounded Americans back to their lines as prisoners, while the initial team took up a position at the edge of the woods. The remaining Americans didn't have much chance, so I tried to charge the Germans in the woods! It didn't work so well... two of the Americans were hit, and the unit failed its morale check. In the next turn, the Germans finished off the remaining Americans.

In the second fight, I had a German half squad and MG team defending a couple of houses. The Americans had three teams of riflemen, a light mortar team, and a MG team. The assault group consisted of two rifle teams on the left flank. The support group had the MG team, the mortar team, and the third rifle team on the right flank. As the assault teams moved through the woods, the support teams took up their positions. The Germans fired on the support teams, quickly knocking out the MG team with their own machine gun, while the half squad waited behind a wall trading shots with its American counterpart in another set of trees. The assault troops managed to get behind a second wall near the house with the machine gun, and caused several casualties to the German half squad. The German machine gun wasn't able to do to much, although it did take out one or two more troopers. Finally, the weight of American fire took out the rest of the German half squad, leaving the German MG team alone to defend the house. A lucky mortar shot wounded the two machine gunners, and the fight was over.

Overall, I like the system. The game moves fairly quickly, and both players are involved all of the time. The results seemed to make sense. I made a lot of mistakes in the first game, and a lot less in the second. There are rules for vehicles, artillery, and air support, but I haven't really read them yet. I'm definitely looking forward to trying it out a bit more. Hopefully I'll be able to find a game at Origins.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stooge Con 2011 AAR

Two weeks ago, our local wargames group hosted a mini-con. There were about eight people playing DBA and the same number playing DBM. It was hosted a local game store, Legions Hobbies & Games, which sells all sort of cool stuff and has a huge gaming area.

I played DBM and brought the latest version of my Norman army. The army has evolved over time, starting as a Sicilian group including some Arab allies and changing into William the Conquerer's list utilizing a mix of regular and dismounted knights.

III/52 Norman

Command 1
CinC Irr Kn(F)
Milites Irr Kn(F) x8
Scouts Irr LH(I) x3
Archers Irr Bw(I) x2
Peasants Irr Hd(O) x12
20 EE, Breaks on 7

Command 2
Sub-General Irr Kn(F)
Milites Irr Kn(F) x4
Dismounted Irr Bd(O) x9
Spearmen Irr Sp(I) x4
18 EE, Breaks on 6

Command 3
Sub-General Irr Kn(F)
Archers Irr Bw(I) x10
Crossbowmen Irr Bw(O) x6
17 EE, Breaks on 6

Command 4
Breton SG Irr Cv(O)
Breton Horse Irr Cv(O) x6
Dismounted Irr Bd(O) x4
Spearmen Irr Sp(I) x6
17 EE, Breaks on 6

Army total: 72 EE, Breaks on 36

I was a little pressed for time, so I only got to play three games. I went 1-1-1, and would probably have gone 2-1 if I didn't arrive late on Saturday. Overall, I was pretty pleased.

The first game was against Howard West's Bosporans. His army had a bunch of Ax, Sp, Bw, and Kn. He also had a Scythian ally with a bunch of LH(F). There was a large batch of rough going in the middle of the table, and two smaller areas on the flanks. I set up with my Bretons on the right flank, my dismounted milites on the left, and my knights and bowmen in the middle. I pushed the whole lot forward, and Howard was happy to oblige. The match almost ended in disaster, as his bowmen shot up my Breton cavalry pretty badly. Luckily, I managed to extract them before the command broke. On the other flank, I had a slight numerical advantage, so I decided to sweep the rough going clear with my dismounted milites. Through sheer weight of numbers, and a bit of luck, I was able to push the Ax out of the rough going and was in a pretty good position to put pressure on his flank. In the middle, my bowmen and knights were slowly grinding down Howard's Sp and remaining Bw. The losses were spread over several commands, so I wasn't able to break anything before time was called, but we sort of agreed that with a couple of more bounds, I had a good chance of breaking a command and possibly the army. It ended in a draw, but I felt pretty good.

That feeling was quickly erased in my second game agains Rob Cunningham and his New Kingdom Egyptians. The terrain featured two areas of difficult going on Rob's flanks, and a river near my back edge. Rob set up his bow and blade line anchored between the two pieces of terrain. He also placed two groups of psiloi in ambush, one in each piece. I set up with my Bretons on the left flank, the knights and bows in the middle, and the mixed blade and knight command on the right. I made quite a few mistakes in this fight. First, I tried to sweep the difficult going with my blades. I forgot that they couldn't do group moves in difficult terrain, and by the time that I remembered, they were out of position to attack the bows. I tried to make an end around with some knights on the other flank, but they got tied up by the psiloi. In the center, I lumbered forward with the bows and main group of knights. I managed to charge the knights as a cohesive group, but didn't kill a thing on the charge. After that, it didn't take long for Rob to break both my knight and bow commands, causing me to go down in defeat. We had a good talk about using Normans and fast knights after the battle, which would go on to be a big help the next day...

On Sunday, I played my last game against Carl and his Successor Army. I knew he had a whole lot of pike, so I planned to dismount my main knight command at setup. When the terrain fell, there was a lot of rough going on my right flank, but my left flank was wide open. Figuring that I had nothing to lose, I sent the Breton command on a flank march. The plan was to engage the pikes with my blades, delay on my right flank with the light horse, and use the Breton cavalry to flank the pike block. I set up with my bow line in front of my blades, and marched forward. Carl's pikes did the same. I got lucky, and my flank march arrived on turn two. This forced Carl to divert a lot of pips to the counter them just as the blades and pikes started their shoving match. I then sent my reserve group of knights to aid the flank march. Carl was forced to spend pips all over the entire battlefield while I was able to focus two commands on one of his, including a group of impetuous knights. I managed to close the door and kill his pike subgeneral, causing even greater command problems. He did kill quite a bit of my guys, but not before I was able to overwhelm the command opposing the flank march and break it. A few bounds later, they called time, and I won by virtue of breaking a command without losing any.

I was very pleased with this last game. I formulated a plan and executed it almost exactly as I had wanted. I was able to delay in the areas where I couldn't win and was able to combine forces on one command where I could. By engaging the entire line at once, I was able to force Carl to spend pips in places where he didn't want to spend them. I was pretty happy that my crazy plan had worked.

I had a really good time at the event. I thought I played well, except for the middle game, and I felt much more comfortable with the rules. I also felt more comfortable with my army, utilizing its strengths and mostly handling its weaknesses. Its a fun army to play, although you have to deal with the fact that sometimes you will lose in a spectacular fashion! In that case, you have to look on the bright side... you will get to spend more time shopping in the dealer's hall!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cold Wars 2011 AAR

I apologize for the delay on this one. Work was busy the first week back, and I was out of it most of this week with strep throat. OK. On with the show...

I arrived at Cold Wars early Thursday afternoon. I was feeling a bit under the weather (yes, its been a rough beginning of the year), so I was a bit medicated. After enjoying a spicy dinner at the crazy Thai place, I kicked off the weekend with the Dismounting Armies DBA tournament. I played one of the classic "cheater" armies, the Anglo Normans (i.e., post-conquest Normans). In my first game, I played against the East Franks, which were very similar. I managed to shoot one of his knights pretty quickly, going up 1-0. Then I maneuvered to get a couple of double overlaps, but couldn't seal the deal. My opponent kept coming back, and slowly picked off my guys. He wen't up 3-1, but we managed to have two quick kill situations, one on my side and one on his. He won both rolls, so I lost the game 1-4. My next opponent played the Early Byzantines. It turned out to be a bad match up for him. He had mostly cavalry while I had all knights. I don't remember much of the action due to the cold medicine, but I do remember basically grinding him down with bad match ups. I won 4-2. In my final game, I played the Medieval French, one of the other classic "cheater" armies. I managed to do something right, and get my crossbows in front of his knights and my spearmen in front of his bows. He dismounted his knights to take on my bow, but I managed to work my knights into his blades. On the other side, my spearmen were making progress against his bows. I was up 3-2 and deliberating a move when they called "5 minutes", so I just said f--- it and charged a spear into an overlap position against a bow. I rolled a six, he rolled a one, and I finished the tournament 2-1. I ended up coming in third place, which wasn't bad for someone high on sudafed.

I felt a bit better Friday. I was supposed to teach a painting class at 10:00 and one at 3:00, then play in a DBA even that evening. At like 9:30 I found out that they messed up the schedule, and my classes were back to back at 12:00 and 2:00. I had a little bit of extra time, so I watched the beginning of the double DBA tournament and then walked around the flea market. I picked up a couple of stands of Gallic cavalry and warriors (you can never really have enough), but that was about it. I showed up around 11:30 for my first class, got everything set up, and no one made it. :-( It turned out that no one made any of the noon classes because of the scheduling snafu, so I gave one of the other artists a private class on painting horses. I did have two people show up for my 2 PM heraldry class, and they really enjoyed it. Its definitely a cool feeling when you teach someone something and you can see that they get it. One of the people attending does 1/300 aircraft, and we discussed some techniques for painting that as well. They complimented my both on my work and my teaching, so it was a very cool experience. I go to the crazy art college, and I'm a bit intimidated by some of the people there. Some of them are real artists, as in, have sculpted stuff for miniatures companies or have painted stuff for commission. I'm starting to feel a bit more comfortable there, and it really is a cool experience.

Friday night I got sucked into playing a game of DBM in 25mm instead of the DBA tournament. To be honest, I was still a bit tired, so I didn't mind a quick game. I played the Sciri, which is a Germanic tribe from the end of the 4th century AD. The army was composed of knights, warband, bows, and some allied Hunnic light horse. It was an army borrowed from a fellow DBM gamer, and it was painted beautifully. I played against a random Chinese army consisting of spearmen, bowmen, cavalry, and chariots. The guy set up in the corner, utilizing temporary fortifications to anchor his wing. I sent my warbands after his spearmen, my bows after his bows, and my mounted troops after his mounted troops. I figured, I have no idea how these armies work, so charging seemed like the right idea! I managed to gain an early advantage. The combined weight of my warband and bows broke his smaller spearmen command. Then his cavalry absolutely crushed the Huns. Ugh. I sent the knights in after the cavalry and chariots. I started to grind them down, but then he managed to break my warband command. Things were starting to get pretty hairy, where one or two losses on either side would determine the winner, when I made a rookie mistake. I advanced a column of knights, but left a kink in the line. Sure enough, I lost a combat in front of them, recoiled into the column, which killed the one guy needed to break the army. Oh well, it was a good game!

Saturday was the double DBM tournament. My partner and I played an Early Vietnamese army, affectionately known as a "wall of junk". It consisted of a bunch of inferior bow, a bunch of warbard, a bunch of mediocre light troops, and three elephants! The army had roughly 140 elements, which is more than double the size of my Norman army! Crazy. Our first game was against the Neo-Elamites, a biblical army with a very similar composition (IOW, wall of junk). Both armies stretched from board edge to board edge, so there wasn't any fancy maneuvering. We managed to get the favorable match ups, so ended up with a slight advantage. Since there were so many troops on the table, we ran out of time before either side completely broke. They did break one of our smaller commands, but we broke his C-in-C's command, so we won via points. Our second game was against the Later Achaemenid Persians, which was composed of a bunch of cavalry, a bunch of Greek hoplites, and a handful of lighter troops. They demonstrated on my wing, and sent the other cavalry command into our bows, where it was promptly shot to pieces. We simply charged the warband into the spear block, quickly breaking it in several bounds. It took us several more turns to break their army, but not before they broke the warband command. Ironically, the spearmen did more damage after they broke! Anyways, we had won again, so we were headed to the championship game! In that, we played a Bosporan army, composed of knights, light horse, and assorted light troops. We lined up with the auxilia in some bad going in the middle, the two bow commands on the wings, and the warband as a reserve. The Bosporans did a general advance, hitting our three main commands with knight attacks and adding the light horse to the center attack. Our middle command and right commands collapsed, but we managed to break their C-in-C command. We had lost two smaller commands, while they lost their biggest command. Now it was a race to see who could break the final command. I was doing alright holding off the knight command on the left, killing a knight and some light horse, and devastating the light infantry supporting them. Once again, I was in a situation where the next element lost determined the winner. They charged in with the knights, my bows held off a couple of attacks, but couldn't stop them all. My command finally broke, breaking our army. We were one element away from breaking theirs! Yet another close game. It was disappointing losing in the finals, but it was very cool actually making it there.

I did some shopping every day of the con. Overall, I thought it was a bit mediocre. I was mostly focused on ancients, and there weren't a lot of things to get. In addition to the Gauls, I got a half dozen Hundred Years War English longbowmen, a couple of army books for various games, an interesting book on the Mongols (which I'm halfway through by now), a used copy of Hornet Leader, and a copy of Steel Wolves (which I've been lusting over for quite a while). I was hoping for more in the way of painted guys, but most of the vendors either had Second World War or Napoleonics. Very few had ancients. No worries, though. I have enough unpainted lead to last me for quite a while.

The show was definitely a success. I had a lot of fun playing DBA and DBM. I also really enjoyed the painting classes. I ended up with a pretty packed schedule, so I didn't have a chance to play any other games. I don't remember seeing any crazy setups, although I didn't do much exploration beyond the NASAMW room. I do wish that Historicon and Origins weren't so close together, since I can only go to one of them. I am looking forward to Fall In. It should be a lot of fun as well.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On the Table: Saladin and His Army

In my previous two posts, I discussed painting an assortment of Muslim troops for my Ayybid Egyptian army. In this post, I will describe the last elements of the army and Saladin himself.

The last batch of troops needed for the DBM and FoG versions of the army are the Adath Militia. They represent the local town militias and were quite common in Syria. For my figures, I chose the standard palette and gave them generic Muslim heraldry. I did have one base of guys with a bit more interesting blazons. I suppose they were the more wealthy townsfolk!

Last, but not least, we have Saladin's figure. I spent some time agonizing over his banner, but in the end I decided to go with the Bismillah on a yellow banner. Most of the references that I found showed banners with some form of Islamic text, so it seemed appropriate. Yellow was the color of the Ayyubids, so I used that as the banner color. To make it, I laser printed the text and outline for the banner on regular paper. I painted the banner yellow, using a thin enough mixture so the text was still visible. Then I went over the text with some black paint. Finally, glued it to the staff and put a little kink in it so it looked like it was flowing in the wind. I also used yellow for Saladin's cloak and the shield and trim for the standard bearer. I used red for the other horsemen because it is an appropriate Muslim color and, well, I like it!

Shown below is the DBA version of the Ayyubid army. I painted all of the figures, just not all recently. We have the cavalry, Kurdish auxiliary, and the light archers from the previous blog entries. We have one stand of Mamluks that I painted a while back. You can tell them apart from the lancers by the barding on the horses. We also have a pair of Turkish horse archers and a stand of Bedouin light horse. Finally, we have a pair of stands of Sudanese archers. I've used the army in the past and have had pretty good success with it. It doesn't have any killer troops, but it also doesn't have any real weak spots. The army is very mobile, and if you are patient, you can capitalize on your opponents mistakes.

My next project is a Later Crusader army. I'm actually assembling figures for two armies: one representing the Kingdom of Jerusalem and the other representing the army of Richard the Lionheart on the Third Crusade. As with the Muslims, I already have a lot of "generic" figures for the army. What I'm doing now is adding a handful of figures that are specific for the period.

I'm still working on things, but here is a sneak peak. There are two stands of spearmen with the colors of the Kingdom of Jerusalem and a stand of spearmen in Richard's colors. They are flanked by several stands of Knights Hospitaller. The spearmen are some older figures that I had, but the knights are recently purchased from Legio Heroica. I hope to have another post soon describing the Crusader army.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

On the Table: Muslim Mounted and Foot (Part Two)

In my first post, I described the early Muslim infantry that I recently painted as part of my Crusades project. In this post, I'm going to talk about figures that are specifically part of Crusader era Muslim armies. I purchased the figures specifically for my Ayyubid Egyptian army. This is the army led by Saladin which fought both the Kingdom of Jerusalem and King Richard the Lionheart's army in the Third Crusade.

The first batch of figures are four stands of javelinmen. They made up the bulk of the Muslim auxiliaries in the period, and could be of either Kurdish or Arabic origin. I used the same techniques as in my previous post: prime white, raw umber wash, paint the rest of the figure. I also used the "standard" Middle Eastern color palette. Since these troops were a step up from the city militia, I assumed that they would have less "natural" fiber. I painted them with a bit more color than the either the swordsmen or the archer. For the shields, I used designs almost exclusively from Saracenic Heraldry. Since these figure represent troops from the 12th and 13th centuries, I feel a lot more comfortable using the later devices.

Again, I'm pretty pleased with the results. The figures are from Legio Heroica, and I really like the sculpts. I also like the fact that the shields are separate from the figures, so you can really mix and match to get the effect that you want. The only down side is that the javelins are also separate, so you have to individually glue them. We'll have to see how they hold up with repeated play.

The last batch of troops are four stands of Arab lancers, also known as askari (Arabic for "soldier"). The made up the bulk of the heavy cavalry in Ayyubid armies. Unlike the Mamluks, which were slave soldiers specifically trained to fight, the askari were all nobles and free men. They would be the rough equivalent to knights in Western armies. One of the most famous (infamous?) of these troops is Usamah ibn-Munquidh, author of "An Arab-Syrian Gentleman and Warrior in the period of the Crusades." He lived during the first half of the 12th century, and his memoirs are quite an interesting read. The figures are all from Legio Heroica, same as the javelinmen.

Once again, I used the standard painting technique for these figures, somewhat altered to account for horses. For the horses, I started with whiter primer and a raw umber wash. Then, I block painted each horse with a different color according to the type of horse that I wanted to paint: brown for dark bay, sand for dun, mahogany for chestnut, toffee for roan. After that, I washed the horses again, using black for the bay and brown for the other colors. This really brings out the detail on the figures and makes the colors more lifelike. I then paint the manes and tails, black for bay, dark gray for dun, and brown for chestnut and roan. Finally, I add a few markings on the face and legs.

For the riders, I followed the standard Middle Eastern palette for color. As these would be nobles, I assumed that they would have brightly colored robes over their armor. All of the figures have armor, and about half of them have robes while the other half do not. The shields all had designs as part of the sculpts, so I didn't add any heraldry. I painted them using the standard palette, but picked colors to be aesthetically pleasing. (Pleasing to me, of course!)

That completes my post. These four stands will almost complete my Ayybid army. I still need to paint a few stands of militia, but I hope to complete them in the next week or so. Once they are done, then I'll create another post containing pictures of the entire army. After that, I will start cleaning up my Later Crusader army to provide an opponent for the Ayyubids.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the Table: Muslim Mounted and Foot (Part One)

The idea behind this post is to talk about my latest painting projects. I'd like to discuss both the history behind the figures, the inspiration behind the colors and designs, and the painting techniques that I used. Hopefully this will become a regular feature documenting my projects.

My current project focuses on Crusader era Muslim armies. It is part of a larger project to build a set of Crusader Era armies, including Christian, Muslim, and Mongol armies. Except for the Mongol army, I'm actually pretty close. A lot of my guys are a bit "generic", so I am painting these figures so they are accurate for specific armies and campaigns.

The first batch of figures are actually predate the Crusades. They are Dailami zupin men from Khurasan Miniatures. The Dailami were mountain people from northern Iran that appeared as mercenaries in Muslim armies from the 7th through 12th centuries. The "zupin" was a double headed spear (i.e., had points on both ends) and was their premier weapon. The Dailami had a well deserved reputation as fierce fighters.For these figures, I chose a generic "Middle Eastern" color palette of yellow, red, and blue, with some green and white as accents. These colors are based upon the dyes that would be available in that region: indigo (blue, saffron (yellow), and cochineal (red). I also used some green and white. It would also be common to see some "natural" fiber colors, too. See Dr Brendan Moyle's web site ( for more information.

Since I couldn't find any definite references, I chose basic Islamic designs. I used a couple of designs from Osprey's The Armies of Islam 7th–11th Centuries and a couple from Mayer's Saracenic Heraldry. For the shield colors, I stuck to the generic palette from above, picking shield colors that complement the clothing.I have been experimenting with a new painting technique, and I used it on these figures. I prime the figures white, then wash them with a thin raw umber wash. This helps bring out some details and works well for undyed clothing. It also helps fill in some "cracks" with color, which can be a problem when you prime white, since unpainted areas tend to stand out. I first read about the technique on Simon MacDowall's web site ( and have been really please with the results. After the wash, you paint the figures normally. For me, that means you start at the boots and work your way up the figure, finishing with the shield design. Finally, I base them on 3mm thick bases, apply some Woodland Scenics fine ballast, and then a few tufts of static grass. Voila!

Add Image
I'm pretty happy with the results. I think the stands look pretty good, and I now have a core groups of Dailami troops for all of my Muslim armies. I base all of my armies the same way so that they look consistent on the table. They might not always win, but at least they look good!

I also painted a couple of stands of Arab swordsmen from Khurasan. Originally, I was going to use them as Arab auxiliaries, but after seeing them, it was pretty clear that they were really Conquest era troops. I decided to paint and base them that way, so I can use them in early Islamic armies as swordsmen. It also gives me an excuse to build a Conquest army! I use the standard color palette and a lot of "natural" color. In fact, some of the figures are just washed, with no other colors applied to the clothing.

The next batch of figures are Arab archers, also from Khurasan. for these guys, I used the same color palette and the same painting techniques as mentioned above. The figures represent "generic" Arab skirmishing archers, and can be used from the time period of the Islamic Conquest until the 12th or 13th century. Like the swordsmen, I left quite a few of them in natural colors. And like the rest, I based them on thick bases with gravel and static grass.

This post turned out to be a lot longer than I had originally thought, so I'm going to break it up into two posts. The next post will focus on troops specific for the Crusades, which was actually the original point of the project!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 In review

Its been over a year since I posted anything, and I have been doing a lot of gaming. I have focused almost exclusively on historical miniatures and World of Warcraft, really only playing other games at special events. I've found really good people to play with, so its been easy to focus on these two areas.

I got back into World of Warcraft over the summer. I got a Cataclysm beta key, but when I tried to use it, I found out that my account had been hacked! Of course, I had to log in to make sure that everything was okay. One thing led to another, and there I was playing again. My main character was on another server, so I moved him back to the original server, and I was ready to go.

Playing on the old server with the old guild was pretty awesome. Most of the old faces were there, and the new faces turned out to be super cool. The questing was a lot of fun and the high end content was also pretty interesting. The only downside to the whole thing was the gear grind. By this point in the expansion, most of the content was stupidly simple. It often took less than 15 minutes to complete a heroic dungeon. It was fun doing each one once, but then it became pretty boring. I did manage to get my main geared to the point that I was able to participate in my guild's first downing of the Lich King. That was an awesome experience.

I've spent the last month and a half playing Cataclysm. Its been a great experience. The questing was really, really good. Blizzard has done a great job with the phasing and quest design. The artwork was also top notch. The dungeons are a lot harder than before. I like that a lot, since it actually requires some planning to successfully complete them. My only complaint is about the crafting grind. It is really, really painful. We'll see if I still think that a couple of months from now. My guild is just starting to raid, and so far its been pretty tough. I'm looking forward to the progression.

On the historical minis front, I've been playing a lot of DBM and a little bit of FoG and DBA. I'm really starting to get into DBM. It has a LOT more going on than DBA, and I find that quite interesting. I've mostly been playing my Normans, although I will also play a Roman army on occasion. I still like both FoG and DBA, but I don't have as much chance to play them.

I did a lot of painting in the second half of the year. My first project involved wrapping up my Roman army. I painted a bunch of legionnaires, velites, and cavalry. My second project was going to be Alexander's Macedonians, but I haven't made much progress. My current project is Islamic and Crusader armies. I've painted a lot of Arab and related foot, as well as Muslim and crusader cavalry. I have been trying to be as accurate as possible regarding colors and shield designs, and I've been very happy so far with the results.

That's a short summary of the past year. I hope to start posting a bit more regularly. I have weekly WoW and mini sessions, as well as a constant flow of guys to paint. The plan is to create updates on all of these topics. Stay posted!