The past isn't dead - hell it's not even the past! (1)
First heard this phrase from the mouth of Sheriff Buck in the vastly underrated TV series "American Gothic" and along with "Someone's at the door" are two of my favourite quotes. However this article is not about how the past continues to hold the present and future in the palm of it'S hand but about Ancients. The wargames classification for literally everything before effective guns ie, almost all human history before about 1500 ish.
I have painted quite a few bits and bobs - though not as much as fantasy and Scifi - and thought I would do a quick trawl through. for this article I will be treating Samurai age of Wars as Ancients as well.
In vaguely chronological order we start with Classical period Greeks. these are Hoplites 3d printed from the 3dbreed Greeks and Persians kickstarter which I backed. The models unpainted look a bit short and squat but strangely once painted look really quite good. These are painted for my Legions Ancient Greek army and will be fighting alongside heroes and creatures from Greek Myth.
The bases for the hoplites were made using the GSW roller. For a normal wargames army this might not be suitable but for Legions with the fantasy element and smaller unit sizes (9 Max) it looks cool.
Below are some more conventional plastic hoplites painted up as Spartans - beloved of extremists everywhere! It made me laugh recently when in a newly published book about the Spartans a historian listed all known battles of the Spartans and right wing fanboys started losing their minds that he was pointing out that they lost a few battles. A perfect example of how history gets mythologised into ideology and thus the title of this article...
More Hoplites. This time Carthaginian citizen infantry. From a painting perspective the white/bronze/shield combo is very cool. I use the old Angel Giraldez white method which starts with field grey as the shade colour and he has a video on his youtube channel which reveals it better than I could.
Below are the so called 'imitation legionnaries' from the later war period equipped with Roman armour and weapons. I'm not expert enough here but I dont know what the evidence for this is. Seems to me that just changing armour and weapons would not turn Carthaginian spearmen into the combat equivalent force as Roman legionaries. Maybe they didn't try to replicate Roman doctrine, maybe it was just a simple armour upgrade. The figures from Victrix below still have spears rather than Pilum so who knows.
Standards and a big horn......
Libyan Javelin men with fantastic hair styles. These guys were really setting trends here.
More great hair stylings as modelled by Numidian horse. Again Victrix and painted a tad duller than the Carthaginian citizens on the assumption that they would not have access to washing machines as desert types.
My favourite element of the Carthaginian army - Spanish Scutarii. The Victrix kit comes with some small round shields but I am unsure if there are enough to build a Caetrati light Infantry unit. One of my first wargames armies was a 15mm Carthaginian army back when I thought the Carthaginians were the innocent victims of Roman aggression. I also thought myself to be a tabletop Hannibal who could lead this ragtag army to WRG 7th edition victories. Both beliefs were wrong. Turns out the Carthaginaians' sacrificed children which is a red flag for me and also I was a Major Inadequate rather than a General Hannibal!
Here come the boys in red, and white, and cream. SPQR for the win! First up the Triarii, the thin red line of Republican Rome. I am currently waging a one man campaign to reinvigorate the phrase "It's down to the Triarii" and bring it back into everyday use. As a commission painter who rarely leaves the house and even less the village this is a slow process so feel free to join this campaign. Whenever a situation is touch and go say "Its down to the Triarii" and earn respect from friends and colleagues. Maybe.
Princeps in a group so becoming confusingly Principes...and they say English is confusing! Again Victrix plastics with excellent faces and head varieties.
Hastati with less armour. I am unclear on the difference between Principes and Hastati. I know the Hastati differ from the Velites because they were able to afford a panoply of armour but there seems to be a vagueness about what this means mixed in with stuff about age and wealth. Most people seem to suggest that they were tactically the same as Principes but just younger/poorer/less well armoured. I find this a bit odd but am on my own on this. If tactically in the same role why would you group them separately in inferior kit and give them a different name? surely they must have had a different role to the Principes, maybe more like Peltasts?
Roman Republican cavalry. I think these were less heavily armoured at the start of the period and uparmoured as the wars went on and were some of the richer citizens who could afford all the horse shenanigans.
More hastati with a big horn guy. White shield this time just to differentiate on the table. Again I am not convinced by illustrations of Roman shield colours and especially ideas of designs in this period so prefer to leave most plain except for Italian allies. These may have been more Greekish in the south so I do use decals for those boys.
Skipping a few centuries we have here a lovely model of a late Roman artillery piece which I would call a Ballista but am probably wrong. This is from the whole Gripping Beast Saga range and is really finely sculpted and cast. Was this for field use as it looks movable or just in sieges? The Late Roman army is hugely interesting to me, moreso than the classic Imperial.
Moving on to the British Dark Ages and the mass illegal immigration of the evil Saxons. "coming over here taking our jobs and pestering our women" Build a wall! that will do it! - mockery of racists on one side the Saxon arrival in the UK is fascinating as for many years there was no real idea on what actually happened. Was it a genocidal ethnic cleansing type thing with mass slaughter and exodus of the Brythonic peoples? Or was it more on the colonial model with elite replacement and the mass of people untouched.?
DNA studies now seem to have resolved the problem by showing that that genetically at least the Saxons were absorbed by the Britons with only between 10 and 40% of English DNA traceable to the invaders. This suggests an invasion whereby the Saxons did replace local elites and imposed their language and culture but were then genetically subsumed. Where the Saxons did not take over, Wales, Scotland and Cornwall there is little Saxon DNA but interestingly these areas are not generically Celtic but differ from each other as well!
DNA also reveals the areas of the next invaders, the Vikings as seen below from Gripping Beast. Obviously the North of England has more Viking DNA than the south and this is reflected in place names and even language with many words in common use in the North which are not in the south. One obvious one being Ta (Pronounced tar) for thank you. This derives from the Scandinavian tak or tack.
DNA and Linguistics aside most Dark ages minis are swappable for other Dark Age minis as men with long hair, spears and beards look pretty much the same and are generally only differentiated by mail or no mail!
Leaping forward in time now blow are Fireforge Teutonic Order Knights. These started like most of the other orders to protect pilgrims to the Holy Lands but relatively quickly pivoted to the much more convenient "crusade" of slaughtering Pagans in Eastern Europe and stealing their lands. They were sort of against religious discrimination though because they quickly pivoted to stealing the lands of Christians in Hungary and Poland. Finally after losing their nominal raison d'etre with the adoption of Christianity by the Lithuanians just pivoted to straightforward slaughter and land theft from anybody, Christian or whatever!
For those interested in Crusades I can highly recommend Dan Jones 'Crusaders' https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crusaders-Dan-Jones/dp/1781858888
These bring home the actual length of a lance and how hard it must have been to use effectively
That is all for now however I realised part way through this that it would be too long for one blog so next time I will cover some of the more exotic (?) armies.for westerners such as Aztecs, Andalucians and Japanese.