Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas from Ironmitten

Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you all. Keep your shields up and leathers braced for the coming year, It's going to be a big one.

Atrebates Warrior

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Above is another Celtic tribe I created last year. The Dumnonii have black and red shields and have a very war like appearance. I also gave them animal furs with 'greenstuff' and animal motiffs on there shields that show off their hunting prowess. This touch was inspired by the book 'Frontier wolf' by Rosemary Sutcliff. I also gave this tribe their own style of war paint with a thick band of woad across the eyes.


Painting 'horde' armies can be very time consuming and seem never ending. To help me get through the huge amount of figures required to make an army, I thought I would make it more interesting for myself by dividing them into tribes. Each tribe will have it's own look and shield colour/design. Changing cloth colour and textile patterns is another way of making units look different from each other.
I think creating interest within the warbands will help give them personality and help me keep painting through the never ending ranks of similar looking figures.
I've also been playing around with new ways of painting large numbers of figures and have worked out an easy way to help me cope with the work load. I have started to paint the same colour onto a number of different figures at once, this way the figures get coloured very quickly. Each new colour on the brush gets dotted around to add variety here and there until the figures are all covered. This helps with shading also as each colour is shaded at the same time. I am not worrying to much about the clothing colours as it is the shield colour and design that will dominate the look of the figure. I have also used paint washes more than usual to speed up the process. This was inspired in a way by the 'Quickdip' pot I bought, just without the glossy finish.
With around forty two models needed for a warband I still have a long way to go, however I managed to crack these guys in a day and a half and they were fun to do, so I may try to finish off the Atrebates before I start anything else. Famous last words......

The joy of painting Celts!

After studying and researching 20th Century soldiers where the colours have to be spot on, It was great to get back to using my imagination again. I thought I'd free myself up with a few Celts. Using the white horse hill carving at Uffington as a guide, I created this Atrebates warband.
Ever since I had seen the Uffington horse, I had wanted to recreate the tribe who would have used it as a tribal boundary, the Atrebates.
I have given the Atrebates black hair to add to their Belgic appearance.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Brother Bren and his mates

More Brits to join the fight.
Here are two members of the Bren team. The ten man section was divided into two teams, three men which formed the Bren team (officer, loader, gunner) and the other seven who formed a rifle team. As the Bren team would lay down fire and suppress the enemy, the rifle squad would use cover and try to move up and flank the enemy position while it was pinned down. Both teams worked in tandem with each other to get the job done.

Webbing nightmare!

Being a perfectionist is more of a curse than a blessing sometimes and researching these Tommies was a case in point. For ages I looked up British webbing from a huge number of sources to try and find the right colour to paint it, only to find a number of different shades and colours. Not being able to let myself just paint any old colour, I had to make sure It was the right colour for the D-Day operations. I pulled out all my hair and aged two years in the process, but I think I finally cracked the webbing colour enigma code (well enough for me to finally put brush to figure anyway).
I hope If there are fellow painters out there thinking of painting up WWII Tommies then all my long hours can help you and my time has not been wasted in vain.
WWII British Webbing;
Basically, the webbing was a light beige colour through most of the war. However, the light sandy colour, fantastic for the deserts of North Africa, was proven to stick out rather in the European theatre. The green hedgerows and grass fields of Normandy prompted the Men to recolour their webbing with Pea green 'Blanco'. 'Blanco' was a power that when added to water formed a kind of paste. This paste was then used to scrub on to the webbing to protect and die it a different shade. Hence webbing can come in all different shades of either Khaki (early war) or Pea green (1944 late war) colours. For a painter this is hard to swallow but basically means anything goes within those two ranges. As I'm painting my Platoon to fight in the hedgerows of France, I'm going for the 1944 green webbing. Although, on the longest day in history a lot of units didn't have time to prepare their equipment and so went to France with Khaki equipment still, this in mind, I will include a few of these into my units. Phew! I hope this helps fellow artists out there and helps to clarify matters.

Above can be seen both Pea green and Khaki versions of the 1937 pattern webbing.

Tommy Atkins makes a stand!

My British rifle section is finished at last and takes Its place in the cabinet.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Narona Battle Report

Well here it is at last, I've managed to steal a few moments to write a review of this epic battle. The battle was one of the best I have ever played and included everything that makes for a great day, although starting badly with me ruining my stairs carpet with my new 2 tonne gaming board, It all proved worth it in the end. The game also gave me chance to use a wealth of new scenery collected and made over the years which transformed the board into one from my childhood dreams.
Alanicus also turned up in fighting spirit with a ready made T-shirt especially made for the day, a very nice touch; If only it had bought him some luck.
Using the images from the Blog he tried to dazzle my troops with Alanican propaganda....It failed and Alanicus was forced to use the garment to make a makeshift sail to get himself back to Egypt.

The game was great and led to a really fun day, a few things really came to the fore in the action which added to the enjoyment. I think one of the greatest additions was brought about by giving the Centurions names and personal stats. I had done this months ago ( It's on the Blog somewhere). By going through a Roman book and giving Characters very simple first names and rolling them on a simple D10 table of modifiers, Characters like Turrentius and the mighty Pulex really came to life and stopped just being figures on a board of hundreds. +1 to weapon skill or +1 to Toughness really helped to flavour these old war dogs and led to some really nice moments within the game. It got to a point where I didn't want Pulex to fall and when he struggled through against all the odds I was amazed...a real hero. My heart was in my mouth for most of his dice rolls towards the end, really good fun.

Another nice touch was the use of the 'Heirs of Caesar' rules. These give Legionaries the choice of various fighting styles which really give a sense of realism to the game and allows you to tailor your tactics to fit the different situations. The first option is called 'Parry and Guard'; this gives the legionaries +1 to their armour save. This allows for a unit to hunker down and hold out better for assistance to arrive. Then you have 'Independent Swordsmen'; this gives your legionaries a +1 to their weapon skill for when they take the fight to the enemy and fight aggressively (only one rank can fight). The last is 'Relief'; for three rounds of combat two ranks can fight at once, after three they go back to one rank. This gives the unit a chance to rain down blows on an enemy for a short time to overwhelm them if time is growing short and a breakthrough is needed. These simple little touches really improved the feel of the combat and lead to holding actions and aggressive all out assaults during the day.
It wouldn't be a war game if I didn't mention the dice rolls during the day. Both of us were stunned and couldn't believe some of the rolls that day, they will be set down in history. The luck of the Slaves from the Narona quarries will live on in legend. Time and time again they held against the tough Legionaries of Alanicus. Their Leadership was five and so when they lost a round of combat two dice were rolled. If the score was higher they would of broken and ran. They found themselves in this position three times during the fighting but the Gods were with me and each time they just managed to hold their ground and fight on. It was an amazing game! Our games are few and far between these days but what a game. When the Legionaries finally broke and ran, It was the stubborn Slaves who caught them and butchered them to a man.

I hope you have enjoyed following the battle as much as we did playing it and maybe you have even been inspired by it a little.
Events in the real world have played havoc with those in the Campaign, but I'm sure the clash of sword on shield will be heard again soon. Secundus for Emperor!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tullus and the Senate

The news of the Secundian victory put a black cloud over Tullus and set a cat among the pigeons of the Senate. Tullus had won a close battle at Valentia a few months before and had hoped for a quick victory over the shattered Secundian army. Now the Secundian General Flaccus had brought home an over whelming victory at Narona, Tullus knew the Secundian cause was far from dead. The news of the battle in Dalmatia had even got some senators motioning for peace terms with Sucundus.

Tullus's idea for a quick war was vanishing before his eyes, when he had backed the Senate and marched to war, there had only been Secundus to worry about, now there was Alanicus also. Tullus started to grow tired of this contest of egos and the constant nagging of the Senate. He longed once more for the quite life and the fields of Spain. There were murmurs in the Senate.

Secundus hears the news from Dalmatia

Secundus was delighted at the news of Flaccus's success in Dalmatia.

Alanicus hears of his armies defeat at Narona

Alanicus was seeing to his newly arrived Syrian archers when one of his Sea Captains brought him news of the crushing defeat on the fields of Narona in Dalmatia. Alanicus didn't act in his usual hot headed way, instead he took the news very calmly. He listened intently to the reports of the battle and asked many questions before retiring to his private quarters for the rest of the day. His Commanders found this new calm Alanicus even more terrifying than the hot bloodied one. A deathly silence settled on the city of Alexandria. The mood was made worse when news of the defeat reached the Tullian army camped outside the walls, who raised a mighty cheer. Alanicus didn't sleep that night.

Pulex becomes Praefectus

Following the battle of Narona, General Flaccus decorates Centurion Pulex and other officers of the 1st Cohort with awards for valour and promotes Pulex to the rank of Prefect within the Legion. Now that Pulex had become an over night hero and was the talk of Rome, Flaccus thought it best If he was taken off the front line, knowing his death could be devastating for the morale of the army.

Pulex welcomed his new pay rise and office within the Legion; the way he saw it, he had used up all of his spare lives at Narona and didn't want to tempt the Gods any further.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

German War machine

As the German war machine rolls unstoppable across the top shelf of my cabinet I thought I'd better start on my British forces to slow them up. With my German Platoon done and in the bag, I have been basing up my Platoon of good old Tommys. Painting them in their ten man sections they should be quite quick to do. With Platoons being about thirty odd men, you can really go to town on single figures and their bases. It's the research aspect of war gaming and painting I enjoy the most and it's been great finally getting to grips with all the arm markings of the British forces.
The Panzer with a little more foliage on the turret and side. I later put a light wash on the glue, taking away the shine.

Rolling thunder!

My StuG III carries additional armour plating called Schurzen. It was designed to catch and detonate armour piercing shells before they could hit the main body of the tank.