Thursday, 23 February 2012

SAGA Myrmidons- Completed

In the Illiad, the Myrmidons were the bravest and most skilled warriors of all the Achaeans, led by the best of the Greeks himself, Achilles. The Myrmidons were regarded highly for their loyalty- they refused to fight when Achilles sulked, only going into battle without him because they thought the Patroclus was Achilles. The eventual killer of King Priam was also a Myrmidon, a chap called Neoptolemus (he was also the son of Achilles), described in the Aeneid (a shameless pro-Trojan story) as having done the deed with the Hector's son as a weapon. And they made a lovely vase of it, now in the Louvre in Paris....

In other myth, the Myrmidons came into being after a great plague, which left the lands of King Myrmidon destitute and without any life. Naturally, he prayed to the Gods, and Zeus turned all of the ants from a sacred oak tree into people, the Myrmidons. So the word 'Myrmidon' actually can be translated into "ant people".

But, all the myth and legends aside, I have painted my full Myrmidon warband for SAGA.

First up, is the big man himself, being played by Brad Pitt in this movie. The miniature comes from the Wargames Illustrated "moments in time" range- give it a week and you will see Hector from the same pack appear on another blog...

Next up is my generic Warlord, for use when Achilles is dead or sulking. Or he could be Neoptolemus, for when I want to kill kings. The model is the Immortal plastics, note the piper in the background, his funky headgear was not just fashionable, it was also functional to keep the pipes playing properly!

This is my 8 Elite Hoplites, Achilles' chosen ones. They get the best armour, and the oh so classy shield curtains! More of the lovely Immortal plastics (now from Warlord Games).

Then we have 2 units of 12 Warriors. These guys are again Warlord Plastics. To tell them apart, one unit is based around red colourings, the other based around green. I plan to add more hoplites to turn these into a full army of Impetvs Hoplites.

So, that's it right now for my Hoplites. I plan to get a game in with them next week, I think Odysseus' Ithacans are in need of a reminder who the best of the Greeks is!

Day of Days is this weekend, will post up something about that Friday I think, and I painted the start of Secret Project No. 5 (Operation Cassowary), so pics of those to come too...


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

One Year On

Today is the 22nd of February 2012. One year ago, my hometown of Christchurch was struck by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, devastating the central city, outlying suburbs and the hills to the east of the city.

On that day, 185 lives were lost, thousands injured and no Cantabrian unaffected.

I am a lucky one. I was uninjured, no one close to me were among the casualties, my home is stable and only in need of minor repairs. I am in paid employment, and despite my business being unable to work out of it's previous location, we have adapted and are now providing an improved service, which is being very well received by our customers. We work now from a warehouse, which in spite of the leaks in the roof near my desk, serves our purposes. All the essentials are there for us, and this new trimmed down style helps us to deliver better programs, because we are forced to adapt. There are good coffee places nearby, and good food outlets are springing up around where I work and where I live, businesses forced to move from the central city, but who are realizing the potential of the suburbs.

But that is not to say that I am unaffected. Since September 4th, 2010 Canterbury has experienced 9667 earthquakes, ranging from magnitude 2 up to a magnitude 7.1 quake. Even the most calm of the Zen Masters must admit that the uncertainty takes it's toll. But, they would also point out that the earth will do what it is want to do, man makes plans and the gods laugh at us.

So the message of this post? At 12:51 I will be sitting at my workbench, diluting Hydrochloric Acid, to use in a class next week. But I will stop, and be thankful for what I have, what I will have and what was.

As a city, Christchurch needs to accept the past, to prepare for the future. And I know it is so very easy for me to say this, but I believe that grieving is essential but through that process we need to now step forward, to heal our fallen city.

Musings over, Greeks tomorrow.


Monday, 20 February 2012

So, what next?

As of this morning, I finished the last of the Myrmidons. Now sadly, because the Analogue challenge is still on, you are just going to have to wait until tomorrow to see the whole lot up on here!

But along with my Hoplites, I managed to get a bit of painting done on some additihons to my Dystopian Wars Brittanian Fleet.
Red Squadron of Corvettes. Light, fast and sneaky!

Blue Squadron of Corvettes. Also, light, fast and sneaky!

A squadron of 3 Agincourt Gunships. Not so light, not so sneaky, not so fast. Big guns and torpedoes however!
 So, with the addition of those, again I have painted everything I want (so far) for my Dystopian Wars fleet! I just need to get them out sailing in our campaign, before that runs out of steam!

So, with my Greeks for SAGA finished, I have reached a bit of an impass. There is exactly one month remaining in the Analogue Hobbies painting competition, and I would like to get a bit more painting done before then! I think I will aim for an honourable 2nd place behind the painting cyborg (Kent).

So, with that in mind, I need some help to give me an idea of what to paint next...

Options are...
-More Greeks to make an army for Impetvs
-Thirty Years War Spanish- Because Tercios are awesome!
- 15mm Vietnam era Americans- for Force on Force
- More Flames of War- If I tried, in a month I could probably paint a fair bit- adding stuff to all of my armies, certainly to my Boat Company, and Early War Germans
-Some other historical 28mm army for Impetvs?
-SAGA Saxons?

Thats where I am at right now, in addition to one of those (or maybe more than one if it is in 15mm!) there will also be super secret project number #1 getting finished!
What do you mean "worst kept secret since Roswell?"
But more on that later, and come back tomorrow for my entire Myrmidon army on display!


Friday, 17 February 2012

SAGA Trojan War- On Heroic Greek Characters Part 1: Achilles

With the dawn of our modifications to SAGA very nearly ready, Jason's Trojans are underway, as are Jamie's Ithacans and my Myrmidons are very nearly finished (here and here) and I will post the whole force once I finish the last of the army.
Achilles and Ajax play a simple game, in the down time between killing Trojans

I thought that I would write a bit about what it meant to be a Greek Hero in ancient times.

So, on the face of it, Greek Heroes were selfish, power hungry, defiant and frequently, not very heroic at all.
To take the example of Achilles- He was the hero many Greeks wanted to be. He was vaunted as the "best of the Achaeans", a title he earned through being the greatest fighter- to quote the (terrible) movie- he was "born to end lives". In the Illiad and other epic poems, Achilles certainly does that.
Achilles doing what he does best

But Greek Heroes are not one dimensional killing machines, which is in part why they have survived so long into popular culture.

Achilles in the very first passages of the Illiad is actually having a temper tantrum worthy of the foulest two year old- Agamemnon has taken his prize and he wants it back. So what Achilles does is he simply stops fighting. This works out very, very badly for the Greeks, because on the Trojan side, Hector the breaker of horses is breaking many, many Greeks and turning the tide of battle, right to the point where the Greeks are actually looking to withdraw from the invasion itself.

So, while all this is going on, what is Achilles doing? Well, nothing. Up until the point where his aide/partner (I am not going to explain the debate, it's a long rant) Patroclus takes his armour, and enters the fray in his stead to rally the Greeks.

But of course, Hector the breaker of horses kills Patroclus, causing Achilles to reenter the fight, simply to slay Hector in his rage.
The battle over Patroclus' body: Achilles on the left, Hector on the right
And slay Hector he does. Then drags him about the city walls behind his chariot. Then, years later Achilles himself dies, before Troy falls.

What can we learn about Greek Heroes then?

They are tragic characters. Achilles is offered the chance of living a peaceful life, not going to war in Troy and living out his years in peace and happiness. He instead, opts to go to war to seek glory and well, die early.

This desire is described by Aristotle as the ideal being a term called "arete". This term is a concept of essentially excellence of what you are doing, through excellence of self. This ideal manifested in competitions such as the Olympic Games, where the fastest runner was the one with the greatest arete. But, as Aristotle points out, arete is not simply winning, it is excelling at a purpose. He describes a chimeny having arete by being straight, and taking the smoke away from a fire. Simply put, arete is exelling at the purpose.

Through arete, a warrior (or person) achieves kudos from their peers and others- kudos meant the same then as it does now, kudos is honour bestowed on another in admiration of a particular deed.

The Greek Heroes then, desire to excel at their purpose- Odysseus in his Odyssey complains about dying an ignoble death, dashed on a rock where no one would remember him; in fact he yells out his name to the blinded cyclops Polyphemus simply so that his name will be further remembered.

So, there it is. A short introduction to the mindset of the Greek Hero, I could (and probably will) write more, but for now, that is enough.

Over the weekend I will put up some pictures of the Myrmidons.


Friday, 10 February 2012

Melchett Runs Rampant- Dystopian Wars

Well, the Dystopian Wars campaign continues, and Lord Admiral Melchett was forced into action to curb the advance of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Austro-Hungarian fleet, headed by the Dreadnought class vessel (identified as the SMS Szent Istvan) had recently made landing at the supposedly neutral port of Sydney.

Unfortunately for the Astro-Hungarians, the town of Sydney had long been in the employ of Brittania, the port being used for the black market goods sales throughout Australasia, naturally all supposedly against Brittania, but in actuality, entirely run by Brittania herself, ensuring total control over trade.

When the Austro-Hungarians  made landfall, demanding supplies, ammunition fuel and resources, Brittania knew about it. The same day as they arrived, Melchett was handed an exact list of the vessels, their tonnage, their armaments, their numbers of crew. Melchett was even aware of their commanding officer, an aristocratic Admiral Horthy who was aboard the Szent Istvan.
SMS Szent Istvan, photo taken by Reconnaissance Sopwith

With all of this knowledge, it was simple for the orders to be given for saboteurs to be sent aboard the vessels, while Melchett's fleet pursued the enemy fleet, catching it in open waters.

Melchett's fleet, tracking the enemy fleet
Once Melchett caught up with the enemy fleet, the engagement was quick and brutal. The Austro-Hungarians predictably sent their destroyers out to act as a distraction, to allow the Szent Istvan escape. Unfortunately for the Hungarians, Melchett had expected this, using the lighter squadrons of Frigates and Destroyers as his foxhounds in the hunt, to remove smaller targets, allowing the HMS Thuderchild to steam straight for the enemy flagship, engaging her with forward guns and torpedoes. The enemy cruisers were not to be seen, suffering from the actions of Australian saboteurs, losing engine power and being unable to engage.

As shells fell about the Szent Istvan, Admiral Horthy was forced to fully commit his reserve to allow the Szent to escape.

Melchett stared fixated at the dark shape in the distance, watching each explosion, each wave of torpedoes ripple forth from the bow of his vessel, each gun firing in harmonious synchronisation at the shape in the distance.

It was only when an explosions rippled forth from the HMS Conqueror, the newly commissioned Battleship supporting the Thunderchild that Melchett realised what had happened, Horthy had thrown his last dice, his final gamble.

From the dark clouds above the Conqueror, lightning issued forth, causing fires, destroying Ack-Ack batteries and electrocuting crew. Melchett ordered all Ack-Ack batteries to fire, to engage the clouds!

But it was too late, the element of surprise was too great, Hungarian flying raiders emerged from the clouds, rapidly descending on the damaged Conqueror. Melchett was forced to engage this new threat, to save his men. Once the Dreadnought's fire began erupting in the clouds, almost instantly a burning zepplin came tumbling out of the dark mass, a falling iron skeleton, the light metal skin evaporated by the high explosives.

Melchett sent his elite Royal Marines from the Thunderchild over to the Conqueror, in the hope of rescuing the situation, or at least rescuing the vessel.

The Royal Marines were successful in preventing the enemy boarders from detonating their demolition charges rigged to the Sturginum Generators of the vessel, but were unable to save the ship's Captain nor any crew. All hands had been lost, but the vessel remained.

By this time, the enemy flagship had withdrawn, despite being harried by Melchett's foxhounds was able to make her escape while badly damaged. It would be weeks before the Dreadnought would be able to be fully fit again to operate in naval engagements.

Melchett set a course immediately for the harbor at Sydney, it was time for Brittania to end the charade and claim Sydney as what was rightfully hers.

Once in port, message was received of a large Japanese victory in the Coral Sea over Sheridan- word was that Sheridan himself had another ship sunk out from under him! A Japanese presence in the Coral Sea would be problematic, placing them within striking distance of the air base at Feejee.

Melchett ordered his ships to put to sea, to head directly for the Coral Sea, in the full knowledge that the broken fleet of the FSA would be another week before it was ready to put to sea once again. Melchett knew of the vast industrial power that the FSA represented, it was capable of producing Battleships at an alarming rate, Far outstripping the losses they took in the Coral Sea.

The Brittanian strike had to be now, and would have to succeed. Feejee must not fall.

Brittania Prevails.


Thursday, 2 February 2012

Infantry Aces Campaign and catching up on Painting

Two weekends ago, the local gaming store started up an Infantry Aces campaign for Flames of War. I saw it as the perfect time to crack into my painting goal of getting through some of my back log, choosing to paint up a US Boat company for the campaign. This will represent the 1st Infantry Division when it stormed ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

My 500 point force for turn one
It is a very cool list, for Turn One I ran...
-2 Boat Sections
-A&P Platoon with 2 Squads and 2 Bazooka teams

At 700 points (which I have totally missed the round, oops!)
- 3 Boat Sections
-A&P Platoon with 2 Squads
-Cannon Platoon with 2 Light 105mm guns
Cannon Platoon just stormed ashore!

Close up on an LMG team

Close up on a Rifle team, showing a Medic trying to do his work under fire
The final list, the 900 points is..
-3 Boat Platoons
-A&P Platoon with 1 bazooka
-Cannon Platoon with 2 guns
-Armoured Field Artillery Battery with 3 Priests!
My Sherman OP Tank- About the right historical number of DD tanks that made it ashore!
So that is my army, how has the campaign been? I managed 3 games at the 500 points level, winning all three with max points for my ace (ooh ra!). I haven't managed to get any in the 700 points level, so I might have to skip right up to the 900 points, which is fine, but my ace will be slightly behind!

As to other painting, here are some more FOW figures...
Artillery Commander's Jeep- Simple headswap to keep him in line with my other Infantry

1 Section of 25pdr guns, with command

More Sherman Tanks- can you tell I like the Sherman?

All the Transport a young artillery battery needs to grow up!
So there is some more stuff for my North West Europe British Infantry, hopefully will get the chance to get some more of these chaps done. There are some more infantry, more Heavy Mortars, a few more miscellaneous things which I would like to get done for them.

I have achieved next to no painting since Valleycon- have only undercoated the next project. It's a long weekend this weekend, hopefully will get time to get some good painting in!