Saturday, July 24, 2021
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Well, the last couple of months have been a sort of betwixt-and-between period for me as far as hobbies go - with restrictions starting to loosen again I've been able to do a bit of in-person gaming, starting with a DBA marathon with my dad over Memorial Day weekend. (We put together a bracket of eight of our various Bronze Age armies and played them off against each other - the Sea Peoples won, beating out the Hittites in the finals. The Aztecs and Maya also got their first outing, with the Aztecs beating the Maya 2-0.) And the weekend before last, I got a chance to try out Stargrave, the science-fictional version of the popular Frostgrave/Ghost Archipelago system. Meanwhile, the driving urge to paint that kept me busy through lockdown seems like it is also starting to ease up. May and June mostly saw me working on some Reaper Bones figures and painting some Mongol cavalry to fill out the options for a DBA 3.0 version of that army.
However, June also saw me plow through the second half of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt, an epic ten-book fantasy series with rich, unique worldbuilding and tons of battles - perfect material for another "Hypothetical Hordes" post!
If there's one thing you should know about Adrian Tchaikovsky, it's that he loves invertebrates of all sorts. (He's probably most famous for Children of Time, which features intelligent spiders.) In the Shadows of the Apt series, there are none of the typical fantasy races like elves or dwarves - instead, the people or "kinden" take on aspects of their totemic insects or arthropods. Ant-kinden are great at working together, Beetle-kinden are slow and solid folk, Mantids live to fight, Spiders are manipulative, Flies can fly, Wasps can sting, and so forth. The other key element of the setting is the division between the "Apt", who are technological, and the "Inapt," who are magical. At the time the story opens, magic seems to be a spent force in the world, and the fortunes of the Apt are on the rise - particularly the militaristic Wasp Empire.
Our protagonists mostly come from this city of scholars and inventors. Most of the inhabitants are Apt Beetle-kinden, who threw off their Inapt Moth-kinden masters about five hundred years ago, when the powers of the Inapt began to wane. However, it's a very cosmopolitan place, and all sorts of people can be found there - not to mention our protagonists have a tendency to make friends and allies wherever they go. Between that and the ability of some Collegiates to whip up a crazy clockwork inventions pretty much on the spot, there's not much limit to what they could field. However, here are some possibilities:
- Spears and Shooters - troops of the Merchant Companies, armed with pikes, crossbows, or later "snapbows" (similar to muskets or rifles, but powered by compressed air - gunpowder for personal weapons isn't really a thing in this setting.) The general should probably be among them.
- Behemoths - "Automotives" either clockwork or steam-powered, and either wheeled or vaguely insectile walkers, armed with ballistae or "leadshotters" (cannon).
- Artillery - Ballistae, cannon, or an off-the-wall invention - a later book features something that is more or less a railgun.
- Flyers - Small flying machines. Ornithopters seem to be the most common, but there are also fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.
- Airboats - Larger dirigible-type aircraft.
- Hordes - Desperate mobs of ordinary people defending the city with whatever they can find.
- Riders - I was torn on how to consider the Light Airborne, who seem to be the mainstay of the Imperial forces. While they can technically fly, I don't think the Flyers of HotT really reflect their tactics all that well - and besides, the Wasps have flying machines as well. Having them as Riders seems like a good way to represent them as flexible and mobile.
- Shooters - like other Apt armies, these should be armed with crossbows or snapbows.
- Blades - the Wasps deploy a limited number of heavy infantry in full plate armor.
- Warbands - Hornet or Scorpion-kinden Auxillians
- Spears - Bee or Grasshopper-kinden Auxillians
- Sneakers - Agents of the Rekef secret police
- Flyers - early on, the Wasps have a fondness for primitive helicopters; they upgrade to more advanced machines as the series progresses, but in HotT terms these can all be considered as Flyers.
- Behemoths, Airboats, Artillery - similar to Collegium.
- Heroes or Sneakers - Mantis Weaponmasters
- Warbands - Mantis holds are often located deep in the forests, and Mantid troops are generally unhindered by the terrain.
- Shooters - as Mantids are Inapt, these should be bowmen.
- Lurkers - giant mantises or other creatures of the deep woods.
- Riders - Almost uniquely, the Dragonflies do actually field cavalry in significant quantities, both mounted or horses or giant insects. The general should probably be among these.
- Heroes or Paladins - The Commonweal has a tradition of wandering heroes known as Mercers who roam the land righting wrongs and keeping the nobility in line.
- Flyers - Dragonfly-kinden are Inapt, so these would take the form of warriors mounted on actual giant dragonflies.
- Warbands - From Mantis holds located within Commonweal territory
- Lurkers - guerrillas or other dangers of the forests.
- Hordes - conscripted peasant infantry. Some could be classified as Spears instead if you're feeling generous.
- Cleric - A seer or other mystic.
Sunday, April 25, 2021
As mentioned in my previous post, for years I have had a stash of Revell Aztecs awaiting the day when my childhood interest in the period would be rekindled. Well, the day has finally come, though the road was a long and winding one. Since the beginning of last year, I have been working on building various armies for DBA 3.0, and the Aztecs were one that I noted as a possibility based on the figures I already had around. I was eventually tempted into buying some of the more recent Caesar Aztec Warriors to supplement what I already had, with the end result that their intended opponents, the Maya, got painted first. However, after a couple of months of painting, the Aztecs are finished at last!
Saturday, February 27, 2021
- Those fine Caesar Maya are almost certainly all based off a single color plate from an Osprey book.
- The depictions in that Osprey book are at least partly based on the famous Bonampak murals.
- The Bonampak murals date to the late Classic Era, which ended around 800 AD, at least four hundred years earlier.
Friday, January 29, 2021
I mentioned at the end of my last post that I was thinking about what I would need to put on a version of the Battle of Five Armies from The Hobbit. This notion was sparked in part by running across a couple of dozen dwarves in my stash of unpainted miniatures (two sprues of the Light Alliance Dwarves Set 1) and wondering what I could do with those. This month, I decided to go ahead and paint them up, as a little contingent to use in Hordes of the Things or other fantasy rules.
After some consideration, I decided to kit them out in a lot of reds, yellows, and oranges, with browns and grays for some variety. I had a few spare shields leftover from the Assyrians, so I gave these to a couple of the figures that didn't have one. For shield designs I tried a few geological motifs, but others ended up with more general geometric designs or ones based on tools.
I decided to try something a little different with the bases - a lot of my existing 20mm fantasy infantry are based six or eight to a 60x40mm base, but for these I decided to try base them in groups of four on a 60x20 base. This way I can arrange them two ranks deep to match my older units, but it also gives me a little more flexibility to split them up if that would be useful at some point. (Also - I had a whole bunch of spare 60x20 bases and not so many 60x40s...)
Having finished these, I must say I am not inclined to expand them to a whole army. While the figures looked OK on the sprue, I found painting them to be a bit of a chore - many of the poses are kind of flat and the sculpting is a little chunky. Nevertheless, now I have some dwarves finished, and I expect they will be more or less stalwart allies for some of my other armies down the road.
Friday, January 1, 2021
Well, I don't know quite what I expected from 2020, but this wasn't it. I do feel quite fortunate to have come through the past year unscathed, and with my family and friends generally still in good health. And for all that this was a terrible year for other things, it was a great year for me getting painting done - at some point early in January I realized I had finished an average of one figure a day, and I decided to see how long I could keep up that pace. The answer turned out to be all year - I finished yesterday with 400 figures completed. This was the first year I have kept detailed logs, but I am sure this exceeds whatever my previous record was - and it may prove to be a high-water mark for some time to come! For the fun of it, I decided to lay out everything I painted this year, all at once:
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Alright, so these guys are a few centuries earlier than the army in Lord Byron's poem, but they are Assyrians nonetheless. More specifically, this is DBA army I/25a Middle Assyrians, as opponents for my various other Late Bronze Age armies. This was a much simpler matter than my previous army, as the Assyrians don't really have any options to build out.
Assyrians arrayed for battle
Leading the army is a Light Chariot general, backed up by three more Light Chariots. Long-time readers might recognize some of these chariots, as they were painted in a previous age, but the general is a new addition, and all four have been rebased on larger bases with supporting infantry. The chariots themselves are the trusty Caesar Mitannian Mariyannu type, but the crews and the horses are taken from the Caesar Assyrian Chariot set. (Why not just use those chariots? Well, they're a four-horse type not really suitable for this period.) The designs on the chariots are based on Assyrian seal designs from that period, and the runners are HaT Assyrian Allied Infantry.
The general and his retinue
The rest of the chariot corps
The infantry portion of the I/25a list has two units of fast Blades, four Auxilia that can be either solid or fast, and two Psiloi. The figures are mostly taken from the Assyrian Allied Infantry set as well, though there are a few Robin Hood men hidden among the spearmen. As with the chariots, I decided to use these rather than the actual Assyrian infantry that are available from a couple of manufacturers, as the armor and shields of those date to a later period. To help differentiate the different troop types, since I was working with a limited number of poses, I gave the Blades red tunics, patterned shields, and helmet plumes, while the Auxilia have white or pale blue tunics, plain blue shields, and no plumes. (Side note - the proportions on some of these HaT figures are a little odd - they have rather squashed heads but very long legs. The standing spearman in particular looks like he could find a career as a ballerina...)
"Ashsharittu or huradu" infantry as fast Blades
"Hupshu or sabe" infantry as Auxilia
Archers as Psiloi
The whole army again, from the commander's perspective
And there we have my sixth DBA army for the year! At this point I won't claim to be done entirely (since I had originally planned to stop after four armies) but I don't have immediate plans to build another whole army. What I may do next is rebase some more of my old chariots on the new larger bases; this might also let me piece together a Mitanni army by borrowing some troops from the Syro-Canaanites and/or Assyrians. But I think that will be a project for 2021.