Sunday, September 26, 2021

Stumbling Upon Best Way to Organize the Armies

 



Every once in awhile a good idea sneaks up behind and whacks you on the back of the head with a two by four ( a piece of lumber) in order to get your attention. I now have a huge lump on the back of my head where said piece of lumber knocked some common sense into me. Cue in the sounds of the fanfares as I present to you my new organization and basing for my Punic Wars Project.


Behold! I give you the new troop organizations

The infantry shall be based as fixed figures on multiple stands of 4 or 5 figures and a total number of figures at 30 per foot unit and 16 per skirmish unit. I haven't settled on the cavalry organization other than to know that they will be in groups or "squadrons" (squadrons probably didn't exist in 230BC, hence the use of air quotes) of 16 mounted figures. The cavalry will probably mounted two per stand with eight stands comprising a cavalry unit.

Four infantry units form the Carthaginian battle line.
Elephants, light horse and skirmishers in the upper righthand corner.



Carthaginian battle line from left to right:
Spanish Green Shields, Spanish Red Shields, Libyan White Shields, Libyan Red Shields,  
Elephants,  Skirmishers on foot, and Numidian light cavalry. The small unit in the back next to the
temple is Carthaginian Veterans from Hannibal's Italian Army.

Visually, the infantry blocks of thirty figures in three ranks of ten figures has the look and heft of what I was looking for when I started this project.

Binning the Previous Organization

My initial thought was to put all of the figures on individual 40mm round bases and place them on movement bases from Litko. This presented several minor problems, not the least including some difficulty in lining up spear throwers with the other ranks - those spears sometimes get in the way of other figures. The 40mm round system also required a frontage of approximately 14-inches, which takes up a lot of space on the table top. The new basing system cuts the frontage down to 11-inches. Now 3-inches may not seem like a lot of ground, but it adds up quickly with multiple units in the battle line and every inch counts.

Here is a picture of the old basing system that I was contemplating:

The old system of basing: 8 figures in three ranks or 24 figures.
I'd also considered just 16 figures in two ranks of 8 figures.
These are some new Libyans that I finished painting yesterday.

My initial thought was that there were 16 figures per box of HaT infantry and it was easy to consider that one box of figures equaled one unit of infantry. The frontage looked good to me and I would have been satisfied with this organization except for the fact that 3 ranks was nagging at me as a better idea. Thus, in the picture above, I have added a third rank of African Carthaginian figures ("Libyans") to see what a unit would look like with a third rank.

This was my original basing plan.


That Old Two By Four Played Whack-A-Mole on Me Noggin'

Last evening I finished painting my first unit of Carthaginian Africans and I set them on the table with the other units to see how the battle line was shaping up. I had some extra spearmen, posed with leveled pikes, that I probably was not going to use because the leveled spear made it difficult to line up the figures using the 40mm round individual bases. I wanted to see what a larger battle line might look like so I set the spearmen on the table. Some where falling over so I found some spare Litko bases (80mm by 60mm) and set them on the ground and placed some of the spearmen on the wood stands. Hmm, they kind of look like a phalanx or pike block. Nice!


I set the spearmen up in three ranks of 8 figures and liked the way that they looked. Yes, 24 figures would look better than 16 figures in a unit. I kind of like the extra depth that the third rank provides and I also like bigger units (so said the man who paints 60 figure SYW battalions). So now I had a frontage of 8 figures  and a total of three ranks, for 24 figures. That would have been four of the wood bases that you see in the above picture, each with two figures.

Yet still, something didn't look quite right to me. What if I expanded the frontage to 10 figures on five of the wood stands? Oh, and I should add a second and third rank so that adds 6 more figures, for a total of 30 figures in the unit. 

Eureka! The light bulb turned on and hails and huzzahs were heard from the heavens as angels and cherubs played a fanfare on their trumpets. The Wargame Gods signaled their approval. The Peter of Gilder turned to The Don of Featherstone and said, "took him long enough to get there, didn't it?"

I realized that basing the figures on individual 40mm round bases might be fine for a skirmish level game, but not so great for larger units in a set-piece battle game. And as stated earlier in this story, getting rid of the round bases saved me some space on the frontages of the units.


So There You Have It

So now my Carthaginian battle line will have a frontage of four large blocks of infantry, with cavalry supports on each flank. Let's throw in some elephants and skirmishers to boot. I recently read that Hannibal only had one elephant survive the trek across the Alps, which indicates that there were no elephants at Trebia, Trasemene or Cannae. However, there were 80 elephants at Zama. I like "nellies" and it's my army and so I'm going to have Heffalumps in my Carthaginian army.

Thus my Carthaginian army will have a front line of two Spanish allies, one Celts and one Libyan units. There will be a second line of two units, one of Carthaginian Veterans and another Libyan-Phoenican unit. The flanks will be guarded by 32 Numidian light cavalry and 16 to 32 heavy Carthaginian and Spanish cavalry. There will be at least two elephants and some supporting light infantry spearmen, plus a 16 figure unit of Balearic Slingers to annoy the Romans.

I haven't worked through my Roman organization yet, but it will be similar to that of the Carthaginian army in terms of unit sizes and basing. There will likely be four Hastatii comprising the first battle line (maybe more); and one or two Triarii and Princeps units in the second line. Those odd looking Velites wearing wolf skins will be out on the skirmish line. I haven't decided on cavalry yet, more on that in a later post on this blog.

Carthaginian Light Troops

One of my player commands will include the elephants, protected by light spearmen, and a small unit of Balearic Slingers. I might include the Numidian light cavalry with this player command. There will also be two commands of regular troops on the battle line (two in front and one unit in reserve in the second line).


A view of the Carthaginian forces that protect one of the flanks of the battle line.



I love elephants and can't get enough of them. However, they need some
light spearmen to protect them from those dastardly Roman Velites.


The Balearic Slingers.

The Numidian light cavalry - the core of Hannibal's cavalry contingent.


And Finally, Some More Eye Candy

I have been saving this picture for last. African/Libyan hoplites that I finished painting yesterday. The shields took a long time to paint, but now that I have some designs down pat in my memory, I can paint them faster going forward.

Carthaginian heavy infantry, the core of Hannibal's army.

I have 17 figures painted so far. Here I was thinking that the unit was done at 16 figures plus one spare. However, I now need to paint another 13 figures to top the unit up to 30 figures. I like to set the troops out on the table and fill in the painted figures so that I can watch the progress of my Carthaginian army.


And A Big THANK YOU To One of My Followers

One of my regular blog followers, and a long time acquaintance, scrounged up a couple of boxes of HaT Roman Triarii. This was totally unexpected and I am grateful to receive the news. Now that I have three boxes of Triarii, I can divided the 48 figures into two 24-figure units. One of my colleagues on the Virtual Wargamers Forum, yesterday, advised me that the Roman Triarii and Princeps units or maniples had fewer men than the Roman Hastatii. That works out fine because the Hastatii are easy to find and I can build 30 figure Hastatii maniples and have them supported by a couple of 24 figure Triarii.

If anyone can source some of the needed HaT figures, I remain receptive and can either buy them from you or trade  you some Minden/Fife and Drum figures as you so may choose.


I am really having a lot of fun with my Punic Wars Project and it has given me so much juice and energy of late. This project has been such a good tonic for my well being. Isn't that what a hobby is for?


Next In the Painting Queue: Roman Triarii and some more Carthaginian hoplites.














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Friday, September 24, 2021

You Always Remember Your First - Romans That Is

 

Scipio Africanus, surrounded by a centurion, cornicer, and signifier, plus a Triarius holding the large red shield.
These are John Jenkins Designs figures. The two figures on each end are HaT Roman Hastati that I painted.


The other day I painted two samples of the HaT Roman Triarii figures. These are what you and I would likely call "Legionaries" because they wear chain mail protection and carry large shields, etc. They were the third line of the Republican Roman battle formation. The first line was comprised of skirmish infantry called Velites; the second line was manned by Hastati; and the third line was anchored by the armored Principes and Triarii soldiers.

A pair of HaT Industrie Roman Republic Triarii, painted by me.

The reverse side of the figures.


These two samples were really fun, fun, fun to paint and I expect to have 16 painted by early next week. The shield designs were copied from the box art that comes with the figures. I suspect that the design is for the early Imperial Rome period but I wanted to give it a try. No one makes shield transfers for these figures in 54mm so the shield designs have to be painted freehand.


Shamelessly Begging For Figures

Sadly, the HaT Roman Triarii figures (set 9017) are no longer in production so the one box of 16 figures in my possession will likely be my only unit of these types of soldiers. Sigh (as Stokes would write). There must be thousands of them "out there" in either painted or unpainted form, but I have had no luck in sourcing any more of the figures. I have been scouring the world looking for these figures from distributors in places such as the UK, France, Germany and Australia, with no luck. If you happen to have any painted or unpainted HaT Triarii, then get in touch with me and I will gladly withdraw vast amounts of Dinarii from the Roman treasury to send to your barracks.


Visit to the Old Toy Soldier Show

Yesterday I visited the Old Toy Soldier Newsletter (OTSN) soldier show in Schaumburg, Illinois. Once a year, collectors of, well, old toy soldiers, convene with their wares to sell and buy and trade figures. I hoped that with all of the plastic figures for sale that I would find a box or two of HaT figures. I had no such luck but I did make a few, ahem, purchases while I was there. These included a display of 30mm Elastolin Vikings/Saxons attacking a castle wall defended by some Normans. The set include the Elastolin siege tower, which is hard to find and I had wanted one of these back in my youth. It also include a trebuchet, catapult and several mantles. I was very happy with this purchase. I didn't take any pictures, but will do so after I unpack the figures and set up the diorama.

I also purchased a 54mm section of the Alamo barracks that looks like it could used in my Sudan and Khartoum games; some 54mm knights of Agincourt, and some John Jenkins Designs Republican Romans (including Scipio Africanus himself). The latter is expensive but how could I pass on a Scipio figure - a gift to myself. The company also makes a Hannibal figure that I will likely purchase in the near future. I also bought a pair of 40mm war elephants (with Howdah and two spearmen, plus a mahout), painted, that fit in nicely with the HaT elephants that I already have.


Scipio Africanus (mounted).
John Jenkins Designs



Afterwords I visited the Games Plus store in nearby  Mount Prospect, IL to pick up some primer and paint supplies for my Punic Wars Project. I am fortunate to have a really excellent Old School type of hobby and game store within a thirty minute drive from my house. The four cans of Vallejo grey primer and a can of spray gloss coating should last me through most of the project. I foresee a visit to Pet People to look for some aquarium Greek or Roman ruins to use for 54mm game terrain.


And finally, a preview of the next unit of Carthaginian Lybians that are currently on the painting table.













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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Hannibal's Carthaginian Veterans


Hannibal's veterans from his army in Italy.


This afternoon I completed another 16-figure unit of Carthaginian soldiers for my Hannibal Project. The figures represent the veterans of Hannibal's army in Italy (HaT set number 9212) and many of them would have re-equipped  their kit with captured Roman chain mail, shields, swords, javelins, etc. For this reason, the figures are depicted wearing Roman chain mail and carrying Roman style shields.

My Brief HaT Rant and a Potted Finance Lesson

The set 9212 is out of stock and HaT seems to wait several years before they put "out of stock" SKUs into a production run. HaT has a Proboards forum and they actually ask members to vote on which out of stock sets to put back into production. Wowzers! This strikes me as evidence that the company may be having cash flow problems if they can't afford to make production runs of items for which they already have the moulds. 

They don't seem to want to make that investment in more inventory to keep everything in stock. Inventory is an investment and a user of the company's cash. If they spend the cash to put a SKU back into stock then that cash investment sort of sits in the inventory until the boxes of figures are sold and converted back into cash.

Most companies restock the SKUs when they sell down to zero. I'm a retired banker and back in the days when I was underwriting loans to businesses, I'd keep close tabs on the borrower's "working capital" as a proxy of its liquidity. Working Capital is basically total current assets (receivables, inventory) minus total current liabilities (payables to vendors, employee payroll etc.). In the odd world of "cash flow accounting", buying inventory and increasing ones receivables is actually a bad thing, because when you buy inventory you are using up your cash. Likewise, when you sell an asset that is a good thing because you sell something and that brings cash back into your coffers. So increasing assets - Bad! Decreasing assets - Good!

Back To Talking About Miniatures

So here are some recent pictures of my 54mm toy soldier Carthaginian army:


Spanish Allies based in three ranks.

Carthaginian Veterans based in two ranks.

That nice temple was made by Herb Gundt.

Companison of three ranks formation (Spanish) to two ranks formation (Carthaginian veterans).

As you can see in the last picture above, I am still wresting with how large to make my army units and how many ranks to deploy them in. I like the look of the 16-figure Veterans in two ranks, but I could add a third rank of 8 figures to field a unit of 24-figures, while still having the same 8 figure frontage.

This is what six units of 16-figures would look like. They take up a frontage of approximately four feet.

I don't need to make any basing and unit size decisions right now, but it is something that I need to decide in the near term before I start ordering movement sabots from Litko.


Thursday, September 16, 2021

Hannibal's Spanish Allies Painted

 

Two units of HaT Industrie Spanish Allies for the Carthaginian army.


CLICK PICTURES TO ENLARGE


Today I completed the painting of a second set of 16 Punic War Spanish Allies for my 1/32 scale (54mm) Hannibal Project. The first set of 16 figures has predominantly red-brown shields and the second set has green-white shield combinations. This makes it easy to tell which figures belong to which infantry unit.


Two units of Spanish infantry: green shield and red-brown shields.

A pair of Balaeric Slingers skirmish in front of the Spanish.




My intention is to field the infantry in 16-figure units; however, in this picture I have pushed both units together to form a 4-rank by 8-files unit of 32 figures, just to see how this would look compared to the 2 x 8 organization. I have set up two units of Carthaginian African troops in 16-figure units (unpainted) for a comparison. I will have up to 5 single elephants.



I will eventually have 4 x 16 units of Spanish infantry, 2 x 16 Africans, 2 x 16 Celts, and 1 x 16 Veterans and 1 x 16 light skirmishers in the Carthaginian army. There will also be 5 elephants and one or two units of Numidian light cavalry and one unit of Carthoginian/Spanish heavy cavalry.


So while I seem to have settled on fielding 16-figure units in two ranks, other possible organizations might include 24-figures in three ranks or 32-figures in four ranks. While "bigger is better" seems to be my way of thinking, I want to keep the infantry units at a size that will allow me to use a 6ft by 12ft table and have three feet of open space on each flank. The math indicates that my infantry has to fit into a space of 6 feet in order to have three feet of open flank space on each end of the table. An 8-figure frontage takes up about 14-inches so I could pack in four infantry units frontage in the six foot area in the center of the table and have an equal number of units forming a second line of infantry.

If I used 24 figures in three ranks and eight files, then the frontage is still the same as that of the 16-figure units. However, this means that I would need one and a half boxes of figures to create a unit, whereas the 16-figure unit equals the contents of one box of figures. A 36-figure unit would have to be in four ranks by eight files. See the picture below for an idea of what this might look like.


Four units of Hannibal's infantry supported by a pair of elephants.


When going to four ranks, do you think that visually it looks better to have a wider frontage of, say, ten figures or even twelve figures? 

FYI, the figure bases shown in these pictures have 40mm round bases that fit into the sabot.

While I work these things out, tomorrow I will start washing more figures in soapy water, and then spritzing them with white primer as I will soon be running out of my stock of primed-and-ready-to-paint figures. I will start on a 16-figure unit of Carthaginian Veterans wearing chain mail, tomorrow, and plan on having them finished by the end of this coming weekend.

Notice: If anyone has any spare HaT Punic Wars figures that they would like to sell, then send me an email or leave a message in the comments section below. I'm particularly looking for boxes of Roman Triarii and Carthaginian Veterans. I'm also looking for Numidian, Roman, Spanish and Carthaginian cavalry boxes.


Monday, September 13, 2021

Monday Mail Treasures

 


Today was a good day for my Punic Wars Project, having received a huge stash of HaT plastic Republican Romans from a fellow Wargames (thanks Jeff 😀) and a couple of HaT metal Baleric Slingers from an eBay seller. I wish that I could find more of the latter.

Today’s treasure haul included one box of Roman Triarii, five boxes of Hastati, and three boxes of Carthaginian elephants. These have arrived just in time to make it onto the painting table towards the end of the week. The Triarii and Elephants are particularly hard to find in the market due largely to HaT’s strange business model. It appears that HaT places an order for stock from its supplier in China and then sends the stock out to its distributors. So far so good. But when the distributors run out of stock, HaT doesn’t order replacement stock with any sense of urgency.

On the HaT website they have a forum and the company asks its customers or followers to vote on which production items that the company should reorder. Let me say this again, when HaT runs out of stock they do not replenish stock, presumably until they get enough interest to run the injection moulds again. I cannot think of a more anti-customer service business model than this. 

The end result is that sets such as the Triarii, Elephants and assorted Roman and Carthaginian cavalry are hard to come by. So thank you Jeff for helping me to build out my Punic Wars armies.

The Baleric Slingers are another HaT oddity. They cast the figures in metal and sell them as painted figures, but not in enough quantities that anyone can purchase in any quantity. The HaT website indicates that the Baleric Slingers will be a future addition to its 1/32 scale (54mm) plastic range, but they are not in production. It would seem that if the metal version can be made and cast that it shouldn’t be too difficult to make the moulds for the plastic version.

Fortunately I have been able to acquire most of the HaT sets that I need to build out my Republican Roman and Carthaginian armies. I’m good with elephants, having five nellies on hand. If anyone has any spare Triarii, Baleric Slingers, Roman heavy cavalry, Spanish cavalry, or Carthaginian Veterans and Heavy Cavalry, then get in touch with me and I will be happy to take them off your hands.

PROJECT UPDATE 

I finished a 16 figure unit of Spanish infantry this weekend. I have a second Spanish infantry unit and some Carthaginian Veterans primed and ready to paint this week.

Ain't Amazon Amazing?



I hate to give out any kudos and complements to big bad Amazon, but their delivery service is nothing short of amazing.

To wit, Saturday evening at a few ticks short of midnight, I placed a book order with Amazon for a book titled, Roman Legionary versus Carthaginian Warrior, an Osprey book from its "Combat" series of titles.

By 5:30PM on Sunday, the book was delivered to my front door. How is that for instant gratification? I make an effort to purchase books from a local independent book seller in my town, but I have to say that it is hard to beat the service and prices from Amazon.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

First unit of Roman Hastati Painted

 

HaT Industrie 1/32 scale Roman Hastati
Click on all pictures to enlarge.


I finished painting the first 16 figure unit of Republican Roman Hastati for my 2nd Punic Wars Project. The HaT figures paint rather fast and they are fun to paint, so I would imagine that new units should be rolling off the assembly line at a rapid pace going forward. I can easily paint 32 figures per week, which equates to two boxes of figures. I rather imagine that I can knock out a few more figures per week, perhaps 48?


Front view


Rear view 

The Roman figures are standing on 40mm rounds from Litko bases. I will probably order some 8-figure movement stands (two ranks of 4 figures) from Litko. The 10 and 6 figure stands are "stand ins" so that I can see how they will look when they are formed up.



The picture below provides a mockup of how the infantry units might look when they are deployed on the table. I am using 16 figures per unit, in two ranks, having a frontage of 14-inches.

Two Spanish allies in the front row. Carthaginian Veterans in the second row, on the right, and a pair of elephants
The red plastic unit is Roman .


The two buildings and the temple were made by Herb Gundt for use with 28mm figures, however, I think that they make for a nice backdrop for the photos that I am taking. I don't expect to have many scenarios where the armies are fighting in or for a village, so the size or scale of the building doesn't really matter.

Today was a primer day. I spray primed 32 Spanish and 6 Carthaginian Veterans. So now I have a good stock of ready to paint figures on hand.

The two Spanish allies' units are next on the painting table.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Punic Wars Spanish Helmet Query

 




The first of my Punic Wars Spanish infantry arrived the other day and I will be cleaning and preparing them for primer later this week. However, I am a bit perplexed by the style of headgear that some of the Spanish soldiers wore. The helmets have something that resembles a havelock sun covering that hangs down the sides of the helmet and also seems to cover the neck.

I’m trying to figure out if this item is some sort of horsehair decoration or some intricate metal smithing of brass for a brass helmet. You can find pictures of the headgear in question at the top of this page.

Somewhere I read that these Spanish helmets were made from sinew, which might suggest that the helmets were woven rather than fashioned out of metal.

If anyone can shed some light about these strange looking helmets, then please leave your input in the comments section below.



Monday, September 6, 2021

Painted HaT Samples

 

HaT Carthaginian Veterans (left) and Roman Hastati (right)


I finished painting four samples of the HaT Punic Wars Roman and Carthaginian figures over the weekend. I am happy to say that the figures were easy to paint and that this will give the project some legs for a smooth take-off.

The pictures above and below feature two Carthaginian Veterans wearing captured Roman chain mail and shields, red tunics and bronze helmets and leg greaves.

The two Roman Hastati wear white tunics, a small breast plate and bronze helmet. To economize, the Romans only wore one leg greave, on the forward left leg. Hmm, interesting.




I washed the figures in warm soapy water before applying a coat of Vallejo Grey spray primer. I really like the coverage that the Vallejo primer has and I will be using this brand of primer going forward.

The paints were largely from Reaper Master Paints, P3 and some black "craft paint", the latter purchased at Michaels Stores. I gave the skin an undercoating of red-brown and then used the Reaper Tan Skin triad (I only use the shade and the main color, usually not using the highlight color in the triad). The Roman tunics used the P3 paints Menoth White triad, although I discovered that I was out of the Menoth White highlight color, which ticked me off to no end seeing that I had just purchased a dozen P3 paints via the internet. I forgot to order the white highlight, which has more of a creamy white color to it.

Any article of equipment gets a black undercoat for starters. Then I apply some Reaper Leather Brown over the black to paint the spear shafts and shoes. The brass bits start with the black undercoat and get a coat of Vallejo Old Gold. Any time you paint metallic colors you should absolutely paint the item black before applying the metallic color.

Last evening I primed ten more Roman Hastati figures and ten more Carthaginian figures. I started on the Romans this morning and should have these done within a day, assuming that I get allocated some painting time from Herself. I try to not overdo it with painting details or extensive shading and highlighting because the purpose is to get these painted fast and onto the table.

I have made an important decision regarding the size of my infantry units. They will all be 16 figures based in two ranks. This is because each box of HaT infantry figures has 16 soldiers in it so it is easy to have one box equal to one infantry unit. The figures take up a frontage of 14-inches, in two ranks. So while the number of figures in each unit is smaller than what I would typically use, say 24 to 36 figures, the eye is fooled by the large size of the figures (54mm) and the big bases, both of which make the unit look quite large. 

Three units of infantry with 16 figures each.
Click picture to enlarge

I can do a little bit of tweaking on my rules ("Age of Rome") so that the units don't get slaughtered in melee so quickly, compared to my horse and musket period rules. Age of Rome rules use the same mechanics as my SYW and AWI one page rules.

I set up a sample table with some mock units, unpainted at this stage, to give me an idea of how they will look. I experimented with a three rank system, but I didn't like the way it looked. I'm not going for historical accuracy (whatever that is), but rather going by what looks good.

I received one of the elephants I ordered yesterday and another one is on its way. I also have five boxes of various Carthaginian/Spanish allies on order, scheduled for arrival later this week. These will include two boxes of African/Libyan heavy infantry, two boxes of Spanish allies infantry, and one box of Carthaginian light infantry. Including the Veterans unit that I am currently painting, this gives me six infantry units and two elephants to start my Carthaginian army. After these are painted, then I will order some more Romans and paint an equal number of them vis a vis the Carthaginian army. After that, I will tackle the cavalry for both sides: one light and one regular/heavy cavalry unit of 16 figures. And then after that, add some more infantry units for both sides.

By the way, the buildings shown in these pictures were made by Herb Gundt many, many years ago. Even though they were made for 28mm figures, they look fine as a backdrop for any games that I play with these armies. After all, the armies are going to be fighting in the open and not in the built up areas.


Saturday, September 4, 2021

My Next New Project - Oh The Insanity!

 



I am still trying to get over the post convention "blahs", which inevitably happens when one has been spending the past twelve months working on a project (in this case, my Saratoga Project for the annual Seven Years War Association Convention, held this past August).

I have not had the motivation to pick up the brushes for awhile, post convention, although I have powered my way through the painting of 18 Minden Prussian Guard Grenadiers (GG). The GGs will eventually expand to 40 figures. This latest push will see a total of 24 Guards completed. That is a little bit of progress on the painting front. I can feel that the ice is slowly melting.

One sure fire solution for the blahs is to embark on a new project. That's right, do the same thing that caused you to contract the blahs in the first place! LOL. 😄  That said, I find that a new project is usually the tonic for what ails me. 

There is a certain excitement to choosing a new historical army or armies to paint. It starts with browsing through some of your military history books and getting interested and excited about the chosen historical era. Next comes the choosing the size, scale and scope of the project. Once you have established some parameters of the project, the really fun part begins:  pouring through online catalogs of figures that will populate your new armies. Then comes the actual purchase of the figures: should I purchase everything that I need in one go? Or should I purchase one of the armies at a time or buy a few units of each side?

The Next Great Project Is Unveiled

So here it is, Hannibal and the Second Punic War. "What's this Fritz?" I hear everyone thinking. "Why aren't you doing some kind of project that involves tricorn hats?" I have always had an interest in Hannibal and there were a number of times that I almost took the plunge into the period with 28mm figures. Lately I have been reading Dan Jones' excellent book called "Crusaders The Epic History of the Wars for the Holy Lands." I will read anything that is written by Dan Jones (The Plantagents; The War of the Roses, etc.).  I suppose that my current read got me into a sword, spear and shield frame of mind and so it was an easy leap to the Punic Wars.

So here goes:

Project:  Hannibal and the Second Punic War.

Figure Scale:  1/32 (54mm) toy soldier scale.

Figures:  HaT Industrie hard plastic Republican Romans and Carthaginians.

Unit sizes: either 16 or 32 figure infantry units  and 12 to 16 cavalry units. And of course, elephants!

Scope (army sizes): 8 units of infantry which equates to two players commanding 4 units. 2 to 4 units of cavalry commanded by a third player. This results in a six player game with three players per side.

Players in the Game: three players per side for a total of six players in the game.

Research Inspiration: Tactica rules book and Warhammer's Hannibal and the Punic Wars book.

The HaT figures come 16 to a box of infantry and 4 figures in a cavalry box, selling for about $15.00 per box.  This means that I will need to buy two boxes of foot figures to make one unit of infantry and four boxes of cavalry to make one cavalry unit. The elephants come one per box and I have already purchased the two "Nellies" that I plan to have in my Carthaginian army.

This is very economical and allows me to do the whole project at a reasonable cost. I suspect that the purchase of wood bases from Litko will likely cost more than the actual cost of the figures.


Roman Hastati and Velites



Carthaginian heavy infantry

I have a pair, each, of Roman Hastati and Carthaginian Veterans primed and ready to paint. I like to paint several samples from each army before I get into the general painting of the armies. I should have the samples painted over this weekend and will post pictures on this blog of the results. Sometimes you find that after painting some samples that the figures or the painting of the figures just doesn't appeal to you. For this eventuality I only bought two boxes of Romans and six boxes of Carthaginians, plus two elephants.

I think that I will enjoy building up these armies with the 1/32 scale or 54mm toy solder size. It is similar to the 1/32 Dervish army that I painted in early 2020. I like the look of the large figures and they are very easy to paint. I can use my existing terrain of trees and maybe the Sudan fort that I scratch built. Most of my battles will be in Italy or Spain so the terrain will be green rather than a sandy desert. I suppose that I will have do Zama somewhere down the road.

I will have to keep the size of the armies small since the figures take up a bit more table space. I could also divide the 32-figure infantry units into 16-figures and keep the cavalry at 12 figures. There will be two elephants regardless of the number of units in the game. I mean, come on, who doesn't like elephants?


Saturday, August 28, 2021

The Gremlins Are Gone - Problem Fixed

My end of the Fife and Drum Miniatures website is working again so I will be able to get all orders shipped by Monday August 30, 2021. 

Thank you for your patience in dealing with the tech gremlins.


cheers,


Jim

Friday, August 27, 2021

Web Store Gremlins Are At Work

 Hello everyone. I am having a problem with the host of my webstore for Fife and Drum Miniatures and may not be able to ship some of the orders for awhile. 

The webstore appears to work and if an order is received using PayPal, then PayPal sends me a copy of your order. If you use a credit card though, I only get a notice from my provider of credit card services that I have received an amount of money, but it does not tell me who the purchaser is or what they ordered.

So bottom line, I can currently ship PayPal orders but I can not ship credit card orders until the server glitch is fixed.

If you have submitted a credit card order in recent days, then please send me an email with your information (name, address and items ordered) and I can probably mail your order.


altefritz1740@yahoo.com is my email address

Hopefully, the issue will be fixed by the end of the day, but it has been ongoing for the past two days.


Jim



Sunday, August 22, 2021

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

 



How many uniform and other errors can you spot in this picture? Leave your answer in the Comments section below. 

Good luck and happy hunting.

Monday, August 9, 2021

Seven Years War Association Convention Review

 

Major General Benedict Arnold directs Enoch Poor's brigade of New Hampshire regiments
 into the fray at Freeman's Farm.

CLICK ON ALL PICTURES TO ENLARGE

The Seven Years War Association convention was held this past weekend at the Ramada Lodge in South Bend, Indiana. I had a wonderful time presenting the Freeman's Farm game on Friday and Saturday afternoons, but I have to say that I am completely knackered afterwords and several days later, I am still feeling the effects of a lot of hard work. However, as always, it is completely worth the effort doing double duty as a game host and a vendor of figures at the show.

I heard that the attendance was over 100 people through Saturday which is a very good turn out by the members considering all of the Covid angst that we have all gone through over the past year. My congratulations and compliments go out to the two convention organizers, Ken Bunger (vendors) and Alex Burns (game masters). Ken did a good job of coaxing the usual vendors to the show (as if we needed much prodding) while Alex assembled a great line up of games. There were 34 games spread over the three days of the convention: Thursday evening, Friday and Saturday. Game themes included 12 SYW, 2 WAS, 9 AWI, 3 FIW and 8 "Other" taking place in the 18th Century. Adding the WAS, SYW and FIW together, what I consider the "Frederician Era" games totaled 17 games compared to 9 for the runner up, AWI period. The SYWA convention covers the complete era of linear warfare from post English Civil War through the American Revolution. Personally, I alternate AWI and SYW game scenarios from convention to convention so I will probably be hosting a SYW game next year.

Here are some pictures of a few of the games at this year's convention.

Alex Burns' SYW game featuring huge 1:5 ratio regiments of infantry and cavalry  with 15mm figures.

Jeurgen Olk's Sugar Wars game in the Caribbean area.

Bob Moon (in red shirt) hosting one of his attractive French and Indian War games with 40mm figures.
I particularly like his use of dice towers, camouflaged in each corner of the table.

John the OFM, tankard in hand, discussing the merits of ale over still pot whiskey
with one of the  militia officers at  Freeman's  Farm



One of the FIW games featuring Black Powder rules.

My Freeman's Farm game saw the British winning the first game and the Americans the second.

In addition, we had seminars presented by Jim McIntyre (the development of light infantry theory in the 18th Century), a panel discussion about historical wargaming and its future and how to reach out to "young people", and finally, a presentation by Dr. Chris Juergen about the deployment of Hessian troops early in the AWI.

It appeared that every game was full so that indicates a high percentage of participation by the attendees. Both of my games had the full complement of players, and in fact, I had to squeeze in an extra player into both games so that all those who were interested could play in the game.

Here are several more pictures of Jeurgen Olk's Sugar Wars game. His armies have an eclectic mix of figures from Fife and Drum, Crann Tara, Front Rank and many others.





The traveling Witch Doctor does his sermon from the back of a wagon.
The building is from Miniature Building Authority.

An assortment of locals man the barricades.

And now for something completely different, pictures from my Freeman's Farm AWI game:



My Freeman's Farm table set before the game action begins.


Another view of Freeman's Farm. Note how the different sizes and colors
 of the trees provide a sense of realism to the scene. Most of the trees were scratch-built by Herb Gundt and RB Bases. The various K&M Trees were based by Tony Adams. The game mats are from Cigar Box Battle Mats. A few twigs and stones from Mother Nature, sourced from my backyard, are scattered about the forest floor area.


I like to place vignettes of the various farms in the corners of the game table where they won't impede the movement of troops, but they add some delightful color to the game presentation. Here are a few examples:


A view of the Coulter Farm.


Freeman's Farm. The British brigade of Hamilton is about to go tip toeing through the wheat field .

Simon Fraser's brigade of grenadiers and light companies marches past the McBride farm.

Some of the Minden agricultural workers figures are doing their job
cutting down the hay and stacking it in the adjacent field.

My John Carroll personality figure provides some intelligence about the approach of Burgoyne's army.
The blacksmith shop was scratch-built by Ed Philipps.


Let's get on with the pictures of the game{s} in progress.


Brigadier General Hamilton's brigade marches through Mr. Freeman's farm in search of the American army.

The 2nd New Hampshire Regiment from Poor's Brigade await Hamilton's attack.


The 2nd and 4th New York regiments from Poor's Brigade, defend the center of the Continental  line.

Major General (large circular stand) meets with Brigadier General Poor (left rear) and Colonel Daniel Morgan (right rear) to deploy their troops to stop the British attack.

Benedict Arnold (left ) and Daniel Morgan (right) from Fife and Drum Miniatures.
Arnold is the AC-001 Brigadier General figure and Morgan is the AC-003 General in Hunting Shirt figure.
I placed Arnold on the "heroic horse" that comes with the Minden Seydlitz personality figure. Arnold's ADC is actually the British General in Round Hat figure, painted Continental Blue rather than British Crimson.


Hamilton's British regiments attempt to break the American center in the woods.


Meanwhile, Simon Fraser's grenadier and light companies attempt to turn the American left flank at Coulter's Farm.


The players are getting into the spirit of the game. My rules are so easy to learn that the game practically goes on autopilot by the end of the second turn. I just stand around and answer questions and start the next game turn sequence.


American militia on the right flank emerge from the woods in an attempt to turn Hamilton's left flank.

Hamilton's British regiments seem to advance in the center with minimal casualties.
Not a good sign for the Americans.

Fraser's elite companies press the American left, who give ground begrudgedly.

The British scored a convincing win in the first game as they smashed through the American center with relative ease. The American left had no choice but to retire from the field, while the militia in the forest on the American right flank were holding their own. I decided to get rid of the small round skirmish stands that the British had as they were too powerful relative to their size (they needed a 1 or 2 on ) D10 dice. Each skirmish figure rolled on D10 and in one instance, all four skirmishers scored a hit against one of the Continental regiments. Now a formed regiment is often tossing four dice when it fires and it didn't make a lot of sense for four skirmishers to have the same fire power as 16 to 20 formed troops. I also reduced each of the British line regiments by one stand, thereby reducing the British units from 40 figures to 32 figures. These changes  resulted in a more balanced game in my second game.


I like this picture of General Arnold and the New Hampshire Brigade of Enoch Poor. The variety of tree types and colors plus a little bit of lichen here and there provides a look of realism, especially if you stoop to the table level and view things from ground level. Also notice the variety of figure poses in the Continental regiments. I used regulars in coats, men in hunting shirts, and some of the American militia figures (painted in regimental coats) in the Fife and Drum Miniatures figure range.


All in all, in was a successful convention for the attendees and for me as a game host.  I got an invite from the head of HMGS to stage my Freeman's Farm game at next year's Little Wars convention in April 2022. Lots of compliments came my way for the table layout and I must say that I agree with them, I had been painting figures and working on terrain since October 2020 and it seems that everything came together quite nicely. 

I did break one of my own rules, which is to not be painting figures at the last minute for the game commitment. I could very easily have used American regiments from my Philadelphia Campaign army to fill out the ranks, but I wanted to have a uniformity of basing for the Northern Army at Saratoga. I used bases measuring 60mm frontage by 80mm depth for the eight units in this army. Each American unit had 30 figures while the British had 40 figures on 80mm frontage by 40mm depth bases.

My Fife and Drum Rules for the American Revolution were a success and I have been using them, with some tweaks here and there, for nearly 30 years. The rules are printed on one side of a single 8-1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper. The mechanics for firing, melee and morale are the same, which makes it easier for a person to master the rules in a few short turns. I want my convention gamers to be able to focus on their tactics rather than worrying about the rules. The rules address this issue and result in a fun game for the participants.



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