Friday 21 February 2014

6mm Seleukid megalomania: "Antiochos, the great King, the legitimate king, the king of the world..."

"I am Antiochos,  the great King, the legitimate king, the king of the world, king of Babylon, king of all countries, the caretaker of the temples Esagila and Ezida, the first son of King Seleukos the Macedonian, king of Babylon..."

This less-than-understated introduction comes from a cuneiform text presenting the Seleukid king Antiochos I as a Babylonian ruler with all of the traditional titles of the old Babylonian kings. But what a great way to introduce such a colourful and multi-national army. This is now technically my 'complete' Seleukid army for Hail Caesar. It is 600 points worth divided into four divisions. That said, I already have figures for a couple more cavalry units ordered... I am finding 6mm gaming rather addictive.

I have previewed various units in the past as and when they were ready and I found the time. Now I am happy to show the 'full' army in all of its very small glory. The army is intended to represent an early Seleukid force for somewhere between about 281 BC (the accession of Antiochos I) until around 205 BC (the presumed date of Antiochos III's adoption of cataphract cavalry). 

Nominally it is the Army of the young Antiochos III but I'd be equally happy running it as an earlier force of splitting it in two to fight games between the feuding brothers Seleukos II and Antiochos Hierax. By using the heavily armoured Agema and xystophoroi cavalry as cataphracts and the thorikitoi as imitation Roman legionaries, I could potentially us this army in latter scenarios as well.

The Seleukid high command - Baccus Macedonian officers with Rapier trumpeter
The Agema and Companion cavalry - Baccus successor agema
Xystophoroi heavy cavalry - Baccus successor agema with a few Persian satrapal guard and successor cataphracts
Xystophoroi heavy cavalry - Baccus successor agema with a few Persian satrapal guard and successor cataphracts
Katoikoi medium cavalry - Baccus Italians
Iranian light cavalry - Baccus Aracosians
Iranian light cavalry - Baccus Persian cavalry
Tarantine light cavalry - Baccus Numidian horse
Dahae horse archers - Rapier Skythians
Arab light horse - Baccus Mahdist cavalry
Arab camelry - Rapier Persian camels
Scythed chariots - these beauties are Rapier chariots but had to have the original shafts cut off and replaced to enable the horses to fit.
Elephants with archer escorts -Rapier and Baccus successor elephants with Rapier archers
Elephants with archer escorts - Baccus successor elephants with Baccus Persian archers
Agyraspidai (Silver Shield) pikemen - Rapier with Baccus command
Katoikoi pikemen - Rapier with Baccus command
Thorakitai medium infantry - Rapier Roman principes
Galatian medium warband - Baccus Gauls with Baccus Dwarf command
Iranian archer light infantry - Baccus Persian archers
Kilikian light infantry - Baccus Numidian infantry
Iranian light infantry - Rapier Persians
Arab light infantry - Baccus Mahdist infantry with Mahdist camels
Kretan skirmishers - Rapier archers
Iranian archer skirmishers - Baccus Persian archers and slingers
Asiatic slingers - Rapier slingers
Asiatic slingers - Rapier slingers

Sunday 16 February 2014

The wails of Seleukid sonless-mothers and widows is borne on the eastern wind...

The first decisive Seleukid defeat in Hail Caesar this afternoon. We tangled with the old enemy, the Roman Republic - four divisions apiece. Our right flank cavalry enjoyed a stunning victory against auxiliary Gallic and Numidian horse but our left flank cavalry sat in an oasis drinking ouzo and date daiquiris doing very very little.

The Romans obliterated our two infantry divisions. Just obliterated. They didn't even have time to turn to run away. It was just awful...

Tuesday 4 February 2014

The Cú Chulainn Cup - SBH Competition Day

Ganesha Games, in association with Wee Gamers, presents
The Cú Chulainn Cup
The Inaugural Northern Irish Song of Blades and Heroes Competition
Sunday 6th April 2014, 10.00 for a 10.30am kickoff
Whitehead Primary School
3 Islandmagee Road
Co. Antrim BT38 9NE
The competition, consisting of five rounds, will be run over a single day.
Each round will be completed in 45 minutes plus the current turn. Victory points will still be awarded for uncompleted games, but neither player will be awarded the win.
Players will be ranked during and at the end of the competition by their number of wins. In the event of tied results, the cumulative number of victory points will be used to decide ranking.
Players will be matched in each round according to a modified Swiss system. After the first round, players will be paired according to ranking – i.e. the two highest ranked players will meet, as will the two lowest ranked players etc. Special consideration will be taken to ensure no two players meet more than once in the day.
Tables will be provided to each pair with predetermined terrain and victory conditions. If possible, no player will fight on the same table twice.
Players must use the same painted 25-28mm scale warbands in each round – a player’s warband roster should be submitted to the organisers at least one week before the competition (i.e. 30th March) and may not be changed thereafter Email warbands to
· Warbands may be no larger than 300 points and must be legal – i.e. no more than 33.3% of the points value of the warband may be spent on models with special rules which define them as ‘personalities’.
· Profiles for warband members may be taken the rosters within the Song of Blades and Heroes core rule book or any or its official supplements, or may be customised using the online warband builder software found on the Ganesha Games website.
· Special rules from any of the following Ganesha Games rules are permitted: Song of Blades and Heroes, Song of Wind and Water, Song of Gold and Darkness, Song of Deeds and Glory, Song of Arthur and Merlin.
· Note that only the following forms of the Lethal special rule will be permitted: Lethal against Animals, Lethal against Artificial, Lethal against Magic Users (all varieties), Lethal against Undead or Lethal against a specified race (other than humans).
· Characters with the Assassin special rule may only be used if their combat factor is 3 or less.
Entry will cost £4.00.
Various prizes will be provided by Ganesha Games and Wee Gamers and will be awarded to the Cú Chulainn Cup Champion, the most sporting player and the ‘best’ warband.

Do you have what it takes to be the Hound of Ulster?

Sunday 2 February 2014

Hail Antiochos! 6mm Seleukids progress report.

It's been a while since I posted about any progress on my 6mm Seleukids for Hail Caesar. These have not been idle weeks - there has been lots of gaming and lots more working - but the project did stall for a little while there while I waited for Rapier to fulfill a large(ish) order.

I'm having a bit of a love-hate relationship with Rapier at the moment. I like the idea of mixing Rapier figures in with Baccus - they scale up quite well and generally where there is something I dislike about part of one range, the other company has a nice alternative. In particular, I'm not fussed on Baccus Hellenistic pikemen and much prefer the Rapier sculpts.

However, in my experience, Rapier shipments are so very very slow. I have placed three orders with them in the past and they have taken between six and ten weeks each to arrive. The frustrating part of it all is that I have found Rapier to be quite unresponsive to emails querying recalcitrant orders. The orders do come eventually, but at a bit of a 'ye olde' pace. Never-the-less, I am now up to date with orders and am once more starting to hack away at the lead pile.

I'm still a bit behind in posting progress shots of the army as a whole though, so I thought I'd do a couple of catch ups starting with the bulk of the infantry.

The centre of any Hellenistic monarch's battle line was generally composed of 'Macedonians'. That is to say, those fighting in the Macedonian fashion, equipped with small round pelte (shields) and wielding long pikes in both hands, fighting in a massed phalanx between 16 and 32 ranks deep.

For the Seleukids, you probably shouldn't let the pseudo-ethnic Macedonian title lead you astray. There is every reason to believe that a high proportion of men serving in the ranks of a third century Seleukid phalanx were, genetically speaking, very far from being Macedonians. We can assume that there was a core of Greco-Macedonian colonists (or rather their decendants) which was almost certainly supplemented by non-Greeks who had received a Greek education and training.

Alexander the Great had provided Macedonian training and Greek education to 30,000 epigonoi, non-Greek youths who were to form the basis of his future phalanx and Eumenes and Antigonos Monophthalmos are both recorded as having employed pantodapoi, phalangites of mixed origins during the late fourth century BC. There is no compelling reason why the Seleukids would not have found it expedient to do the same thing.

While indigenous contingents from all around the periphery of the empire are found in the Seleukid army, there is never a mention of native Syrians or Mesopotamians from the geographic centre. I'd wager that the proposition often put forward - that the Seleukids did not want to arm their oppressed indigenous serfs - is a pile of tripe. I accept that they may not have wanted the native Syrians to raise 'independent' units with a national identity (such as the Kyrtian slingers, Elymaiote archers or Kilikian and Lydian javelineers for example), but that is not to say that they would not employ the man power available in a way that created an effective core of heavy infantry while at the same time spreading all the joys of the government message about loyalty to the king.

Writing of Antiochos VI of Kommagede in the first centruy AD, Josephus states: "At this time Antiochos Epiphanes arrived with a large force of heavy infantry and a bodyguard of so-called Macedonians, all just out of their teens, tall and trained and equipped in the Macedonian manner - hence the title, though few of them bore much resemblance to that martial race!" It is clear that here a unit of non-Macedonians was trained to fight in the Macedonian manner and I suspect the same to be true about earlier Seleukid armies.

Regardless, there seems to have been two basic bodies of phalangites: the agyrispides (silver shields), and the katoikoi (colonists). The prevailing theory is that the best young men of any village, colony or city would head off to Apameia, the military headquarters in Syria, and be trained up as agyraspides - an elite body of pikemen and the core of the professional army. After their period of service was up, they would be replaced by other youths and head back home to form a trained reserve. Any army called up for a campaign would then have the active argyraspides who were permanently in arms, supported by reservist katoikoi, mobilised only for specific campaigns.

The Hail Caesar army list for the Seleukids, while by no means flawless, if one of the few lists in games that I have played which allow for historic proportions to be shown in the Seleukid infantry. The number of 'Macedonian' pike men in any army never made up the majority of the infantry and considering that a pike phalanx might generally be considered to have a greater number of men per unit than other formations, that means that realistically there shouldn't be too many phalanx units. I am currently aiming at a four division army with two divisions of cavalry and two of infantry. One of the infantry divisions will have two pike phalanxes, a couple of elephants and some supporting infantry units. The other infantry division will be mostly light infantry.

My two pike units then have been painted up to represent an elite unit of active silvershields (in black with silver shields!) and a slightly less elite unit of mobilised veterans (in red and white with bronze shields). I have used the same metal for the helmets as for the shields except for three officers on each base who wear blue helmets as a mark of rank.

In support I have a warband of fierce Galatians - Celts who had, by 220 BC been settled in central Anatolia for two generations. Galatians appear in two of the three OOBs for the Seleukids and I felt I needed a colourful unit. In retrospect, I'm not sure that there is enough contrast there between the yellow and Green of the shields. Sod. I also couldn't go past having a chieftain on a shield - you know where my inspiration came from..... (hint: not from Angus McBride this time). The chieftain and his shieldbearers are Baccus dwarves although there is not a great deal of size difference between them and the Baccus Gauls.

I have also raised a unit of Iranian archers. Persian and Agrianian archers were present at Raphia and Elymaiote archers server at Magnesia. These don't appear in the HC Seleukid army list so I have borrowed the profile from the Parthian roster.

Lastly today I have my generically 'Asiatic' slingers; two units of skirmishers to cover my heavy infantry as it advances. I have already shown my Cretan archers and I have another unit of mixed archers and slingers on the shelf awaiting undercoating.