Sunday, November 15, 2015

Japanese samurai Armies Taking Shape

It's actually been about six years since I started work on building samurai armies from the (Japanese) Civil War era (1467-1615), and up to now, my six factions have been operating at well below anticipated full strength.

I've made some huge progress this past month getting five of the six up to where I want them to be. Just one more faction to finish off, plus, I want to get one or maybe two units of nobushi archers who will fit in "as required", and I'll be good to go.

Red Faction and some Gold Faction forces made the most of a photo op this afternoon......

Red Faction forces deploy (above) to defend a village from attack. And below, a more close-up look at some of the forces. Ashigaru armed with spears and arquebuses and sheltered behind shields on the flanks, samurai on foot in the center on either side of the road, and mounted samurai at the back on their right flank (on the left in the photo). Plus, of course, the general in the center.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Amazons Vs Hittites

(Not an historic battle - hopefully the first episode in a series involving two of my newer armies, and maybe others as the campaign develops)

Eager to make his mark and establish himself as a worthy potential successor to his father, King Tudhaliyas on the Hittite throne, Crown Prince Suppiliulimas led his forces north, in order to tame the barbaric Amazons.

The Amazons received forewarning of the threat, and Queen Antibrote led her warriors in an effort to repulse the attack at the landmark known (to the Amazons) as "Penthesilea's Gate" - the place where the road enters the mountains south-west of the Amazon lands, between two rocks. The Amazons regard the site as a sacred place, with the rock formations marking out a "gateway" separating the lands of the various hill-tribes, and the plains beyond, claimed by the Hittites.

Reaching the site first (as shown in the photo above), Queen Antibrote initially deployed her forces in the foothills around the "gate". With the Hittites still not making an appearance, she pushed her forces further forward, hoping to establish her archers in forward positions from which they could harass the Hittites as they advanced toward the gate.

As the Amazons attempted this however, the Hittites (shown above breaking camp for the morning) arrived, catching them on the wrong foot.

Hittite Archers were able to drive their Amazon counterparts out of a woodland area east of the road, and while Antibrote and her bodyguard warband were able to destroy the threat of the Hittite archers (the skirmish is shown in the photo above), the time it took them to do this had enabled the main Hittite army to force the Amazon warriors on the opposite flank into full withdrawal.

A counter-attack by the late-arriving Princess Iphinome and her cavalry couldn't save the day as the Hittite chariots pressed on remorselessly (see above).

Realizing the day was lost, Queen Antibrote ordered a full retreat, handing the Hittites a decisive victory.

As a result of the battle, Antibrote was subsequently challenged for the status of Queen (of Military Affairs) of the Amazons by Matriarch Clemache. Antibrote successfully retained her crown. However, her 11-year-old nephew, the son of Queen (of Civil Affairs) Lysippe, died shortly thereafter. The death of a family member - even though it was only a male - was seen as Antibrote's "atonement" to the "Mother Goddess" for her defeat.

Footnote: The Amazons were ruled by two queens - one each responsible for military and civil matters. Antibrote and her sister Lysippe are the two current Amazon Queens.

Crown Prince Suppiluliumas subsequently demanded that the Amazons supply a unit of Heavy Horse, led by a member of the tribes royalty and serving in the capacity of a "Subordinate General", to assist the Hittites in future campaigns. Much to their embarrassment (the Amazons didn't like taking orders from men), the Amazons agreed to provide such a unit, led by Princess Iphinome, to assist the Hittites in their 2016 campaigns.

The victory also saw the Paphlagonian tribes ruled by King Mursilis seek an alliance with the Hittites, agreeing to send troops to assist with future campaigns. (Historically, the Paphlagonians don't really appear on the scene until the era of the Achaemenid Persians - some 600 years after the Hittites and the legends of the Amazons, but they came from the same area, so I'm letting them in. In the absence of an Assyrian army, I will probably let my Persians join in also as the campaign proceeds).

Crown Prince Suppiluliumas celebrated his success with a marriage to the Hittite Princess, Kamrusepa, grand-daughter of Gal Bentepharis (commander) of the Royal Bodyguards.

Story to be continued........

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's tasking a bit longer than expected to finish off the photos and write-up from the weekend's battle between the Amazons and the Hittites, so for now.......Japanese samurai.

This month I'll be trying to get my Japanese Civil War (Sengoku Jidai) armies sorted out. I'm trying to create six small factions, each with varying organization and weapon types. Come battle time, I can dice or whatever to decide who fights on which side, and should always get a clash between two very different armies, even though they are both made up of samurai and ashigaru.

Blue Faction's forces are pictured above. Ashigaru in front, crouched behind their shields firing their arquebus, with samurai behind. Blue Faction will be the only one (probably) with gunpowder weapons, which were just making their way into Japan at this time. The rest will stick with bows and arrows for their missile fire.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

First Amazon Units Taking Shape

I'm still a long way from being able to field an Amazon army, but the first couple of units are starting to take shape.

Horse Archers scan the countryside for the enemy.

Skirmishers (young girls proving themselves as warriors) get excited at the prospect of a dust-up.

The (heavy) cavalry rides into action.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Early Goths

The early Goths are believed to have originated in Scandanavia, but the first confirmed historical records are from 238CE, when they sacked the Roman town of Histria, having migrated into the area of Thrace and Skythia - modern day south-east Europe.

The Romans found them to be useful mercenaries, and employed them to help fight against the Sassanid Persians.

Around 375CE, the Huns began to press the Goths. Whether this came as a result of westward expansion/migration by the Huns, or as a pushback by the Huns against eastward expansion by the Goths, under their king Ermanaric, is subject to argument. The result was that the Ostrogoths came under Hun rule, and the Huns then began to press on against the Visigoths.

The Visigoth king Fritigern approached the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Valens in 376CE, asking to be allowed to settle on the south bank of the Danube. Valens allowed this, but after a famine, the Gothic War of 376-382 ensued, and the Goths and some local Thracians revolted. At the Battle of Adrianople in 378CE, Valens was killed.

Fighting between the Goths and the Romans continued, and a Visigoth army led by Alaric I sacked Rome itself in 410CE. The Visigoths were subsequently allowed to settle in Aquitaine (modern day south-eastern France), where after being driven south by the Franks, they fought and defeated the Vandals, who themselves had been pushed south into modern-day Spain and Portugal. By 475CE, the Goths had conquered most of the Iberian Peninsula, pushing the Vandals further south, into northern Africa. The Visigoth kingdom lasted until 711CE, when it fell into civil war. One faction asked the Muslim Umayyads of North Africa to help, and they decided they wanted to stay., so ended up overrunning the Iberian Peninsular themselves, creating the "kingdom" of Al-Andalus.

In the meantime, the Ostrogothic king Theodemir, broke away from Hunnic rule following the Battle of Nedao in 454, and again decisively defeated the Huns at Bassianae in 468, led by their king Valamir. The Ostrogoths began their conquest of Italy in 488CE, and their kingdom that lasted until 553CE, when Italy returned briefly to Byzantine control, before the Lombards took it over from 568CE.

The Goths were briefly reunited under one king in the early sixth century, when Theodoric "The Great" became regent of the Visigoth kingdom following the death of Alaric II at the Battle of Vouille in 507CE.

(Above) Gothic Nobles escort their king into battle.

The other groups represented in the army - archers, heavy cavalry, skirmishers/scouts armed with javelins, and the warband which formed the basis of the infantry portion of the army. (The javelin men figures are a versatile lot - they also serve part time in my Late Saxon and Viking armies. Slightly later periods, but the figures look close enough to be useable).

Monday, September 14, 2015

More fantasy figures - Orcs this time!

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought I might work on some more "nasties" who could make up an army of demon-type figures, who could fight either my Celts or Vikings (or even Germans) to mark the event.

Last year I painted up some goblins but didn't get them finished before Halloween, and also some undead types - zombies and skeletons. I have a variety of old Dungeons and Dragons monsters that could fit, and also some orcs waiting to be painted. So I've started on the orcs. Just some command figures, mostly riding wargs, at the moment.

The orc commander and his "champion" who will probably lead one of the infantry warbands eventually.

The orc commander and his champion, along with a standard bearer and a drummer to beat out orders for the troops.

Sunday, August 9, 2015


Well, they might not be historical creatures, but given I have been working on a Skythian army, I figured I'd also get two old metal centaurs I still have from my days of playing Dungeons and Dragons ready for action as well.

Some historians believe that the early (mainly Greek, but they are also evident in Indian and some other cultures) myths relating to the existence of centaurs may have been the result of stories told by peoples who weren't used to seeing horses on their first contact with the Steppe Nomad peoples of (modern day) Southern Russia and Eastern Asia.

And as far as the Greeks are concerned, the Skythians would have been the first Steppe Nomad peoples they would have come in contact with. (It is also theorized that the Skythian women who accompanied their men into battle were the inspiration for the Greek legends relating to the Amazons).

One day, I might experiment and let my centaurs join my Skythians on campaign, just for the heck of it. It would be nice to have a few more than just two of them though - a small elite unit of maybe half a dozen figures might look cool if I can find appropriate figures!