Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Table: Later Carthaginians

About four months ago I started playing around with a Later Carthaginian army list. The army is incredibly flexible, which can be a bit intimidated, but allows it to be very powerful. I have done quite well with it, going 4-2-1 in two local tournaments.

When I first started, the army was a hodge-podge of figures, some proxy, some correct. And like the Carthaginians, I had bought a good deal of them! Of course, eBay didn't exist during the Punic Wars. Over the summer, I slowly started replacing proxies with correct figures that I painted. I also touched up some of the figures that I bought to better match the army.

The first batch of figures that I painted was a group of Spanish Celtiberian infantry. The Celtiberians were a Celtic tribe from central Spain that fought in Hannibal's army. They looked a lot like other contemporary Celtic warriors except that they wore distinctive black cloaks. For shield patterns, I went with a combination of the Spanish "S" pattern and more "classic" Gallic patterns. I'm pretty happy with the result.

The next group of figures were the Numidians. Here, I painted a mix of light horse and auxiliaries (medium foot). The sources all agree that they wore plain linen clothes, but, as always, shield designs were a bit speculative. I chose to go with plain hide, since it looks more natural. I'm not super happy with the infantry, mostly because all of the models have the same pose and even though I used different colors for their clothes, the mix of earth tones tends to blend together. I am much happier with the horses, though.

This was the the first time that I used the Army Painter primers. For the infantry I used the Barbarian Flesh color and for the cavalry I used Fur Brown. I am generally pleased, although I'm not 100% sold. It is a very high quality primer, which is a big plus. It did save a lot of time with the infantry, since they had a lot of exposed skin. It saved a bit less time with the cavalry, since the color was quite reddish, so I had to wash multiple times to get it to be more brown. The only real issue that I had was that you don't get any natural shading with the lighter primers. I normally prime black, which allows you to get some nice shading effects and solid color boundaries by not painting those areas. You cannot do that with the light primers, so you have to spend a bit more time fussing with details. For some applications, such as infantry without much clothing, I do think its an overall win.

I painted a bunch of Spanish units as well. I've really just started with them, since I would like to paint a Spanish ally and then possibly a full Spanish list some day in the future. There were two main types of figures that I painted: light horse and scutarii. The light horse are pretty straightforward, consisting of guys with white tunics, leather hats, and plain shields on horseback. The scutarii were a bit more interesting. They had the same white tunics, but I got to paint some interesting patterns on their shields. There are only a couple of known shield patterns, so you have a lot of leeway, and I chose to give them a variety of Celtic patterns. Also note that I bought some of the units already painted, but re-painted their shields to match the others. Those are the figures in the first picture that have oval shields and are all in the same kneeling pose.

Finally, I touched up four stands of Liby-Phonecian cavalry. These guys, along with the spearmen (not pictured), are the only native Carthaginians in the list (for a loose definition of "native"). I stared with some Greek cavalry that I bought already painted and added patterns to the shields. They are all highly speculative, since we don't have much evidence for Carthaginian shield patterns. I got my inspiration from pictures in the Hannibal and the Punic Wars WAB supplement. I'm very happy with the way the shields turned out. I'm tempted to paint the shields on my spearmen (which I also bought already painted), but that is lower priority than painting all of my Spanish!

I'm still working on the army. By now, about half is actually painted by me. I plan on expanding the Spanish contingents as well as painting more Peoni cavalry and spearmen. I might create some shields for the Numidian infantry as well, just to make them a bit more interesting. The army is a lot of fun to play, and I still have a few different builds that I would like to try. I plan on using it again this fall at the Eastern conventions.

1. Curtis, Allen E. Hannibal and the Punic Wars. Warhammer Historical, 2005.
2. Head, Duncan. Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars. Wargames Research Group, 1982.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Stooge Con 2012

I attended the local Stooge Con last weekend at Legions Games in the North Hills (a suburb of Pittsburgh). There were several historical miniatures events: an open DBM event, an open DBA event, and a matched pairs DBA event. For a local con, it was pretty well attended. We had about a dozen guys playing in the DBM event, and I think the DBA events had about 10 each.

I chose to bring my Later Carthaginians, which I had assembled over the last couple of months. What was unusual for me was that I had only painted about half of the army. I purchased most of the figures at various conventions over the years. The figures are mostly accurate, although I had to proxy some Numidian auxilia and light horse. Ugh. I like the army, so I am planning on correcting that in the near future. Anyways, here is my army list:

Later Carthaginian (205BC, in Africa)
CinC - Heavy Infantry
Reg Cv(O) (CinC)
Reg Sp(O)x6
Irr Wb(O)x18
25 EE, breaks on 9

SG - Medium Infantry
Reg Cv(O) (SG)
Irr Ax(S)x12
Irr Bd(F)x6
Irr El(I)x2
Irr Ps(O)
21.7 EE, breaks on 7.5

SG - Cavalry
Reg Cv(O) (SG)
Irr Cv(O)x3
Irr LH(O)x6
Irr Ps(S)x6
13 EE, breaks on 4.5

Numidian Allies
Irr LH(O) (AG)
Irr LH(O)x5
Irr Ax(I)x10
11 EE, breaks on 4

Army total: 70.5 EE, breaks on 35.5

Its about the same size as the Norman list that I had been playing, but it feels much more resilient. The idea was to put the heavy infantry block in the middle of the board, anchor one flank with the auxilia and fast blades, and use the two smaller cavalry commands on the other flank.

Game 1. I got pared against Rob Cunninham who was running Middle Imperial Romans (c. 250 AD). His army consisted of legionnaires (Reg Bd(O)), Roman auxilia (Reg Ax(O)), and a bunch of heavy cavalry (Reg Cv(O), I think). The terrain fell with some rough going on my left flank and a big hill in the center left of Rob's setup. I deployed my auxilia command along the rough going, the heavy foot command in the center, the Carthaginian cavalry on the right, and the Numidian ally on the far right. Rob deployed a cavalry command in front of my fast blades, one legion in front of each of my cavalry commands. He was the attacker and quickly advanced across the table. I used my light horse to skirmish against his legions, while I sent my medium foot against his cavalry. It was a bit of a crap shoot, but I managed to break his cavalry command. I was then able to combine my heavy and medium foot against the legions. While this was going on, my Numidians were taking a beating. Luckily I was able to slowly grind down one of his legions with my heavy foot, breaking his army a turn after the Numidians broke.

Game 2. I played against Howard West, the tournament director, and his Picts (roughly 100 AD). The terrain setup was similar to the first game, with some rough going on my left flank, a bunch of rough going in his backfield, and a hill in his center left (i.e., opposite my right). I used the exact same setup, medium foot, heavy foot, cavalry, left to right. He had a bunch of chariots in front of my medium foot, light horse in front of my light horse, and a HUGE block of lightly armored pikes (Irr Ax(I)) in front of my heavy foot. I had a reasonable advantage in light horse, so I attacked heavily there and held back across the line. Sadly, my light horse pretty much rolled over, and that command quickly broke. His cavalry was busy chasing my routed guys, so he couldn't bring them back into the fight. He was pretty aggressive with his chariots and pike, sending the former into my fast blades and the latter into my heavy foot block. I ended up grinding down his chariots with my medium foot and his pike took a beating from my warband. The latter was a bit of a surprise, but I always appreciate some luck! Once the chariots broke, I was able to get my fast blades into the action as well, eventually breaking his Ax(I) command and the army.

Game 3. I played against Doug Anderson and his Central Asian Turks (Uighur, c. 1000 AD). The Uighurs are a steppe army, so they are mostly cavalry (LH(F) and Cv(S)) and cataphracts (Kn(X), ugh), with a tiny group of spearmen. He also had a Turkish ally consisting of a mix of LH(S) and Cv(S). More ugh. There was much terrain to speak of, but there was a patch of rough on my left flank. So once again, I used the standard setup... medium foot, heavy foot, cavalry. His cavalry was way better than mine, so I had no choice but skirmish. Knowing that I would have trouble with the cavalry battle, I decided to drive my heavy foot as fast as I could at his spears. His light horse skirmished in front of my heavy foot, slowing me down, while my light horse skirmished in front of his cavalry. Eventually, his cavalry caught mine, and while they lasted much longer than I thought they would, they took a beating broke. I did have a few low odds chances of getting a general, but they never panned out. On my left flank, he decided to attack my medium foot instead of skirmishing against them. For the third time, my medium foot command turned out to be cavalry killers, chewing up the cavalry and savaging some supporting bowmen. At this point, we each had one broken command, and the foot battle in the center was about to begin. I started grinding down his guys, but he caused some casualties, too. He was able to get his cavalry back into the fight (after chasing off my cavalry), and that was the turning point. He was able to break up my spears, which had been protecting the flanks of the warband, and start grinding them down. Going into the last turn, we were both 2 guys away from breaking. He won the combats and I didn't, so my army broke, and I lost. Still, it turned out to be a fantastic game.

Overall, I was pretty happy. The Carthaginians did well... Hannibal would have been proud! My medium foot were the MVPs, breaking a cavalry command in every battle. The mix of elephants and fast blades has a surprising punch, and the the Ax(S) are surprisingly resilient. My cavalry seemed a bit weak, however, breaking in every battle. I think the commands are a bit too small, so I'm going to rework them for the future. Needless to say, the cavalry commander will get a talking to when we get back to Carthage. Oh, wait, the Uighur cavalry killed him...

I had a terrific weekend. All of the guys that I played are very cool, and I enjoyed playing against them. All of the games were very very exciting, too! I definitely plan on playing the army again. It felt much more resilient than the Normans, and while it doesn't have the flair of a knightly charge, the infantry is tough enough to grind opponents down.