Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Viva Roma - Republican Roman army

    My newest painted Saga army - Republican Romans - is a milestone on several levels
Forty-three years ago, I was a 16-year-old kid playing role-playing games once a week at a city recreation center. I made a trip across town on a bus to the one and only game store in town that catered to these different kind of games. It was called The Soldier Shop, and it was an eye-opening experience walking up and down its aisles. I am fairly sure I bought some miniatures for our fantasy role playing games, but on one of the trips, I also picked up a set of rules for ancient miniature battles. I read through them and was like, "Wow! You can fight with whole armies?"

    This was my first army I had ever sent off to someone to be painted, and Ted did a great job on them!
None of my friends were interested in that, but I picked up a few packs of 15mm Heritage Miniatures Republican Romans. I put a note in our little newsletter one of the members of our role-playing group cranked out intermittently, seeing if anyone else was interested. Larry Connor, now sadly passed, called me up and said he also owned the same rules. Slowly, I began painting my first-ever miniature army under his coaching.

    I touched up both general figures with extra details, and the standard bearers were painted by me
That is world's away from the current gaming scene, but there was an interesting convergence. For Ancients, I play Saga now instead of Wargames Research Group rules (my entry into the field). I recently bought figures for those same Republican Romans more than a year ago when Saga released Age of Hannibal. Still, as months passed, the army seemed to get no closer to the front of the painting queue. I decided to do something I had never done before. I sent the miniatures off to be painted by someone else, paying them $220 to do so. For years, I would say that I would never do that. I enjoy the painting part of the hobby too much, and besides, I'm too much of a cheapskate! 

    Ted did a great job on the cavalry, too - though I did add in the shield design in micron pens
However, I decided to break new ground and do that mainly because of the painter: Ted Bender. One of our board members in HMGS Great Lakes, Ted recently retired from his job and was essentially painting full-time. I thought I could throw a little business his way. Plus, it seemed a perfect fit. My very first army I ever painted was Republican Romans. The first army I paid Ted to paint was Republican Romans (though 28mm, not 15mm). A weird convergence, 43 years in the making, and now those Romans are ready to take the field.

    Ted used shield decals I'd provided for the legionaries and they turned out great, I think!
I do have to be honest. I touched up both the foot warlord and mounted warlord figures. I wanted them to be a little more ornate and their armor a little more fancy. And then it hit me: I hadn't sent away any standard bearers (mainly because I didn't own any). Crap! There was no way I was going to put my Roman warlords on their own bases. I normally have 2-3 figures on my Saga warlords' bases (and often dogs or some other pet, as well). Meticulously, I went through my unpainted 28mm Ancient and Dark Age figures looking for something I could convert into a Roman standard bearer. I found some 28mm Navigator Greek Hoplites in linen cuirass. They would be easy to convert to standard bearers! Plus, both warlord figures were also wearing linen armor. Perfect!

    My 'jazzing up' of the warlord was adding details to the linen armor and a pattern to the cloak
So, technically this army is not entirely painted by someone else. Still, for all intents and purposes, it is. The Romans also fulfill that vow I'd made to eventually use shield decals for my "next" army. Ted is a whizz at using shield decals, so I purchased a variety of ones to match the Gripping Beast figures and sent them away with the miniatures. The funny thing is, I tried to use the leftovers that Ted sent back on the standard bearers (who I had given extra Roman shields I had). I STILL can't seem to get the knack of shield decals and gave up. I even watched a YouTube video on applying waterslide decals. Fail!

    For my veteran Trairii legionaries, I used the kneeling figures and switched to wire spears
But hey, in one fell swoop my Republican Roman Saga army was done! I did have to base and flock the army, of course. That was a fairly big undertaking, but I was determined to do it all at once. I used my normal method, painting the edges of the base first, then painting the base with a 50/50 mix of white glue and brown paint. The stand is then dipped in fine brown ballast. After drying, I dab the top of the base with 50/50 white glue and water. I sprinkle on Woodland Scenics blended Turf. The next step is to put the first clearcoat spray using Testor's Dullcoate. 

    The 'Levy' of a Republican Roman army are the javelin-armed youths known as velites
Once dry, I dab the turf with three irregular shapes of full strength white glue. I sprinkle it with Woodland Scenics blended grass. I add a couple tufts that I buy at the local hobby stores, and the base is ready for its final spraying of Dullcoate. And the legion is ready to take the field now. Perhaps now, all these decades later, my imagination is jaded and not as fired as that 16-year-old's was when he commanded his first Roman legion. Still, I look forward to taking the field with my Romans. It is still my favorite civilization from History to read about. Hopefully, the legion's battles will write new sagas of wargaming that bring back some of that spark I got from painting my first Romans all those years ago.

    The other half of the Velites, which are normally depicted with animal headdresses

    More 'Hastati' or 'Principes' legionaries carrying the heavy throwing weapon called a pilum

    I organized my legionaries in groups of six with one leftover group of eight

    There are a LOT of legionaries in a Roman army!

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

A Different Kind of Battle Report

    Click here or on the photo to read my comic book style after action report on my Mean Streets game
I took my Mean Streets game up to Drums at the Rapids 2022 this past weekend. Both of my games were completely full and the players said they had a blast. I wasn't 100% sure introducing a new class of characters (Heroes) above Gang Bosses would work. I found that there is definitely enough granularity in the d6 system when paired with multiple modifiers that results were no preordained. There were heroes knocked out of action and there were heroes who were still up and fighting at the end of the game.

    The gangs begin to arrive and are met  in the streets by the Bexley Blockwatch in 'Invasion: Bexley'
In fact, more than one player seemed excited about creating new abilities (Skills in Mean Streets) for the heroes. I'd added a few for the scenario and don't think any were particularly over or under powered. My mind has been whirring with new ideas -- usually when I'm trying to sleep! Does anyone else have that problem? I seem to get a lot of game system ideas while I am lying in bed trying to shut my brain down and go to sleep. I thought of a character who can choose to abort an enemy attack (leaping backwards out of contact) by sacrificing one of their future actions. The player selects to do that immediately before the dice are rolled, giving them a chance to negate a badly disadvantageous melee roll. I also thought of one who can choose to attack while executing a Run action anywhere along the path of his movement. Normally, if you choose to Run (as opposed to Move) you may not attack. Pair that ability with Sprinter and you have a Quicksilver/Flash type character.

    The players controlling the street gangs got victory points for knocking out the scattered civilians
Another idea I had was for a character who plows into an enemy, receiving a bonus for movement in a straight line on the same turn as their attack. I know I should probably also come up with some heroes with missile type attacks. I am worried that it may be overwhelmingly powerful if others can't respond -- especially if they stick to the rooftops and hurl attacks at the characters below them. I don't know, though, maybe I just need to try it and it will work out.

    One of the hero abilities was being able to leap from a rooftop and land on an enemy below
Either way, the response to my games was positive enough that I will keep working on new hero abilities. I should also find a source for miniatures, too, while I am at it!

Indianola Mohawks close in on an unsuspecting Bexley citizen in their bid to take over the streets

By the way, summer is here, so what else is on my painting or project table? Number one was to finish gluing the shields and weapons on for my 28mm Republican Roman Saga army. I am going to do a first and mail it off to Ted Bender to be painted. I know it is so far down the list of me getting to it that I figured I would help Ted out and give him some business! I also have another batch of six 28mm Mongol horse archers for my Saga army. A few more batches and I will actually be finished with this army! An entirely mounted army tends to paint up a bit more slowly than foot ones! Now that it is summer, I also hope to be able to finish up a few odds and ends for my post-Apocalyptic games so I can begin running them for the Sunday night gang. So, it should be a busy summer for me, painting-wise. So, stay tuned...and check out my comic book style battle report on the game at Drums!