Tuesday 16 July 2024

ProjectSeleukid - thorakitai/imitation legionaries

The latest unit for ProjectSeleukid are these 28mm armoured heavy infantry with thureos shields and short spears from Aventine Miniatures. For Magnesia, these will represent the 4,000 Lykians, Pisidians, Pamphylians brigaded together. Their equipment if not specified in the sources, although as part of the main battle line it is likely that they were either thureophoroi or thorakitai.

In more generic 2nd and 1st century BC battles, I will field the unit as reformed Argyraspides (hence the fancy silvered metalwork and super ostentatious purple helmets). I am yet to see any specific evidence that suggests there was much of a difference between the so-called imitation legionaries, and generic thorakitai in Seleukid armies. At Daphne (166 BC) the only real description of these troops - given by Polybius 30.25.3 - is less than detailed.

Heading were some men equipped in the Roman manner in mail cuirasses, five thousand men in the prime of their life.

For a number of convincing reasons, it is usually considered that these 5,000 were half of the Argyraspides, the elite Seleukid heavy infantry who deployed as phalangites at Raphia and Magnesia. I think this is quite reasonable. But the meaning of 'equipped in the Roman manner' says nothing of precisely how they were armed, nor how they operated in the field.

For now, at least, I am happy to deploy the unit in whatever way suits the rules or the context, seeing the spears as either melee weapons, or as throwing spears. In Fantastic Battles I would opt to run them as : elite company: drilled, shieldwall, thrown weapons (or long spears).

Monday 15 July 2024

Battle of the Bulges - 10mm Fantastic Battles

The second game of the long-weekend saw my pot-bellied army of the halfling shires up against Roger's pot-bellied ogres. The two forces lined up for a grill or be grilled battle of the bulges.

The halfling army dwarfed its ogre foes, but the dice gods are not always on the side of the big battalions. In an echo of our last clash (beastlings vs wood elves) the ogres used both the night march and ambush strategies, deploying forward generally, and having one unit of ogres with heavy weapons deployed immediately in front of the halfling lines.

Before a dice was rolled, the stunty folk were already quaking in their ... well, not in their boots obviously, but if they had boots, that's where they would be quaking.

Funnily enough, deployment mishaps saw those ogres late, deployed much further back than intended. The rest of the ogre line was grand, but the halflings were a bit messed up with multiple late units, some enthusiastic truffle hunters and diseased poultry riders.

As the halfling line tried to get back in order, the truffle hunters and poultry riders started to sweep around from the right flank where a unit of yetis was swiftly approaching.

The yetis went straight through the truffle hunters, leaving the poultry riders to dodge out of the way, attacking the heavy-melee weapon ogres in the flank while the halfling kitchen militia barrelled into their front (to everyone's great surprise!). 

On the halfling right, a unit of smilodons charged into the halfling archers on the hill and were flanked immediately by the halfling yeoman cavalry. Sadly, a unit of ogre rhino riders then turned up after a flank march and hit the halfling cavalry in the flank.

In the centre, the late halfling units finally made it to the battle and everywhere ogres, halflings and treefolk were cleaving left and right and stubbing toes, and generally having a scrap. 

The smilodons and archers both scattered on the right, leaving the halfling yeomen to turn to face the rhino riders, but it was all a bit late and the yeomanry soon scattered. On the far left, the tiny unit of halfling wardens peppered the impetuous yetis until they too were forced from the table.

The halfling wardens decided that they couldn't do much more and set off towards the settlement to see if they could make some mischief in the ogre rear. The ogre mage blinked one of the treefolk units out of combat, allowing the ogres to focus their attacks on the halfling hearthguard in the centre.

The halfling cockatrice, nipping at the flanks of the ogre centre soon found rhino riders in its rear.

The halfling army was flagging. Despite having the regenerate trait, and a warlord trying to rally them, the kitchen militia steadfastly refused to rally and the resolve loss was mounting up.

And then the halflings could hold no more and the army crumbled. They had lost 13/12 break points, while the ogres had only lost 5/8. A pretty mediocre showing from the wee chaps, and a mighty win for the ogres.

Sunday 14 July 2024

Battle of the Wild Things - 10mm Fantastic Battles

Over the long-weekend, Roger and I managed to get in two 1,000 point games of Fantastic Battles, picking two armies from our collections and rolling a die to decide the match ups. For the first game, Roger's Wood Elves and their woodland minions took on my Beastling highlanders commanded by the Red King. 

The Red King arrayed his beastling forces in a defensive position, with a levy unit on each flank, the bog trolls and skirmishing slingers in the centre, supported by a two-company unit of mjowls and two individual moohemoths. A three-company unit of chariots and a captain were sent on an off-table flank march round the right flank.

From left to right (in the photos), the wood elf line was composed of a wild hunt, tree shepherds, minor tree spirits, giant bears, greater tree spirits, a forest dragon, and some giant eagles. He used the Night March strategy, deploying 3bw closer to the beastling lines.

Mishap rolls saw the woodland army remain in good order other than the giant bears who were overly enthusiastic and deployed forward of where they were supposed to be. Among the beastlings, the red levy on the left were so enthusiastic that they found themselves among the woods - not good for a shooting unit with long spears - while the yellow levy on the hill on the right arrived stricken with disease. 

The opening turn saw the first melee engagement. On the right, the giant eagles swooped from their hiding place among the trees and charged straight into the yellow levy on the hill. 

On the left, the captain attached to the red levy tried to get them back out of the woods but counted on neither the tree shepherds' great speed, nor the expedient use of an elvish blink spell. The living trees bumped straight into the rear of the levy and scattered them after only a single round of combat.

In the centre, the bears received several turns of missile fire from the bog trolls and slingers, greatly reducing their resolve. Meanwhile, the rest of the woodland army advanced. The beastling mjowls flew over the top of the slowly advancing minor tree spirits to start threatening the wood elf rear. 

By the end of the second turn, the beastling chariots had arrived to the rear of the elves, but the elves had advanced so rapidly that they were left with no one to fight! A slow turn about the woods began. 

In the centre, the beastling slingers fell back allowing the moohemoths and trolls to engage the weakened giant bears, and while the tree spirits also attacked the bog trolls, they were themselves charged in the rear by some timely-summoned fungal shroomlings. Over the course of the melee, the wood elves lost their giant eagles, giant bears and minor tree spirits in one foul swoop. 

Meanwhile, the tree shepherds and wild hunt were making their way closer round the front, and the beastling chariots made every effort to take arrive before the fight was over. The mjowls and the forest dragon sort of, flapped about a bit in the middle...

Then the dragon struck, attacking the moohemoth carrying the beastling magic-user, killing it quickly, but not before more shroomlings were summoned into its own flank. On the beastling left, the bog trolls formed a kill circle/tortoise formation to hold off the tree shepherds, and the slingers and yellow levy converged to hammer the greater tree spirits with missile fire. 

The tree spirits rushed forward into the skirmishers who chose to stand and fight, taking a battering, but causing enough damage in return to scatter the trees, thus bringing the elves to their break point and finishing the battle with a convincing (and rare) win for the Red King - 5/11 for the beastlings, 10/9 for the wood elves.

Saturday 13 July 2024

Warp Miniatures Kobold Warlock

Sitting down this weekend, my finger slipped and I accidentally painted this awesome kobold magic-user from Warp Miniatures. I didn't mean to, it just sort of happened.

I'm never particularly comfortable painting fire - and this chap has an awful lot of fire going on thanks to his fireball - but I think I got away with it this time. Sticking with the purple skin that I tried out on the kobold spearmen last month, I went with 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' colours for his hat and cloak.

If, like me, you don't have a 3D printer, BS5 Beyond Games (based in Bristol) are licenced printers for several Warp Miniatures ranges. 

Friday 12 July 2024

The central tenets of Devilry Afoot and the activation mechanic

Devilry Afoot is almost complete, with just some supporting photography to be completed before publication - scheduled for the end August 2024. Ahead of release, I will be sharing a few snippets from the rules to help players prepare for what's to come.

Devilry Afoot is intended to be played as a pseudo co-operative game, pitching a small number of brave monster hunters against the forces of the Devil. Players control parties of two to six fully fleshed out characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses, sometimes supported by sundry followers, against monsters whose actions are randomly automated by the game mechanics. Games should be fun, but challenging. Of course, written as a co-operative game, Devilry Afoot also lends itself to solo play. 

By default, games of Devilry Afoot are assumed to take place during the Devil’s hour or witching hour. Exactly when that is varies from place to place. Some say it is the hour from 3am-4am, 12 hours after the presumed death of Jesus of Nazareth. Others situate the Devil’s hour to an hour either side of 3am, or perhaps the hour after midnight. Regardless, it is a time of darkness when all goodly and god-fearing souls should be asleep.

Several central tenets colour the rules:
  • Despite the moonlight, vision and line of sight is hampered by the darkness.
  • Shadows should be dangerous places.
  • Generally speaking, the monsters know where the humans are, even when they can’t directly see them.
  • Monsters are not always rational, and irrational creatures can make irrational actions.
  • If god-fearing souls are asleep in their beds, what past traumas and dark secrets drive the hunters into the dark places to face the Devil’s minions? Heroes they might be, but flawed they certainly are.
  • Players are encouraged to be proactive in building a narrative around their activations and the monsters’ actions and responses. It is more fun if the barghest fled because of the shot fired at it, rather than because the dice rolled a 1.
  • Lastly, it is hoped that players will take a collegiate approach to their games. The rules are intended to belong to its players. If something doesn’t fit your narrative and all players agree, feel free to tweak what you need to make a compelling storyline.

The activation mechanic
A game, or hunt, in Devilry Afoot takes place over a number of turns. During each turn, all models on the table will have the opportunity to be activated one or more times. Th order in which models are activated is determined randomly by drawing initiative tokens from a bag.

At the start of each turn, one token per character is placed in the bag. Character tokens should all be the same colour, so if there are four characters, there will be four tokens of the same colour placed in the bag. A single token of a separate colour is added to the bag if any innocents are present on the table. Each monster profile in the rules shows how many activation tokens should be added to the bag for that type of monster. A coven of witches will have two activation tokens, but a werewolf will get four. Each monster type gets a different colour of activation token.

Over the course of a game turn, tokens are drawn randomly from the bag. The colour of the token will indicate which type of model may activate.

Each character may only be activated once per turn, in an order determined by the players. However, when they activate, they roll 2d10 against their Resolve value (modified by various factors such as proximity to a light source, number of wounds suffered, whether monsters are already in base contact etc). They may carry out up to two actions - or one, or none - depending on their rolls.

Each time an innocent or monster activation token is drawn, all models of that type (i.e., all witches, or all ghouls) carry out one action determined by a d10 roll on a table. While each monster token only allows for a single action to be carried out by each creature, all monsters will have multiple tokens in the bag and will thus carry out multiple actions at different stages over the course of a turn. The unpredictability of the monsters is ensured through both the random activation sequence, and the d10 roll to determine their action.

So get your activation tokens ready. You'll not need many - 20 (five each of four different colours) should see you right. We use coloured meeples, but you could equally use coloured dice, playing cards, or tiny scrunched up pieces of coloured paper; anything so long as activation order can be randomised. 

Thursday 11 July 2024

Picts or it didn't happen...

After a pretty intense few months, I was lucky enough to pop o'er the water to Scotland for a wee break with the family. I was doubly lucky that my family are most happy scrambling over monuments in the middle of nowhere. 

We went a little Pict/Iron Age/early Medieval crazy over the course of the break, visiting brochs, standing stones and hill forts the length of the highlands. Here are a couple of pictures that may inspire some miniature broch-builders out there...

Dun Troddan

Dun Toddan, near Glenelg, was the first broch we visited and probably the best preserved, standing 7.6m tall for almost a half of the circumference. 

Dun Telve

Dun Telve is only 500 metres down the glen from Dun Troddan. It's less well preserved overall, but stands taller at more than 10m.

Cairn Liath

On the opposite side of the highlands, Cairn Liath sits on the coast between Golspie and Brora. It's a lovely little broch with a well preserved outer wall and visible elements of other structures in the immediate area.

Clachtoll Broch

Back on the west coast between Clachtoll and Stoer beaches, Clachtoll Broch sits on a rock ledge hovering just above the high water line. It is well preserved all around, but only to about 3m. The chambers inside the walls are particularly well preserved.

Dun da Lamh 

Near Badanoch in the centre of the country is Dun da Lamh, a Pictish hill fort with pretty impressive walls and more impressive views; well worth the climb to get there.


And the last of the early Medieval sites was Dunadd, the capital of the Scotti-Irish kingdom of Dalriada established in what is now Argyll. Having put my foot into the inauguration footprint, I'm pretty sure that makes me the new king of Scots. Surely no one would have done it since...

Of course there were loads of other sites too - mostly Neolithic through to 17th century, but maybe those are for another time. 

Friday 28 June 2024

Warp Miniatures Kobold Spears

I've now finished up the first three Warp Miniatures kobolds that I got from BS5 Beyond Games. I absolutely love these little guys who fall somewhere between goblins and puppies (two of my favourite things)! 

I want to give another shout out to BS5 Beyond Games. They're only a small outfit, but their service was exemplary and the quality of the 3D prints second to none. As I mentioned earlier, they've also created a special discount code for readers of the Irregular Wars blog. If you check out their site and find anything that takes your fancy, use the code IWFB20 at checkout to get 20% off your order.