Saturday, 25 June 2022

2mm Strength and Honour: Urbs Romana


Having initially sworn off putting too much effort into the ancillary pieces for the 2mm Ancients project, I ended up going down the rabbit hole of producing a Roman fortification that could represent a ‘camp’ in Strength and Honour - to be fair to myself (!) I didn’t go the whole hog in making giant scratch-built marching forts or sections of Hadrians Wall, but rather went for a generic looking set of walls and towers, leaving an internal space that would accommodate a quartet of the 60mm by 60mm urban tiles that I made earlier.

I thought that by enabling swapping out the tiles, the walls could do double duty in posing as the fortifications of Carthage, Locus Castorum, or even the walls of Troy, depending on what I put inside.

I really liked the look of the parts from the Brigade Models’ Modular Castles range that were used by Mike Headden in his own 2mm project, detailed in the forum thread here (scroll down):

So, digging around in the Lead Pile, I dug out some likely contenders, and, good news, also re-discovered my long-lost Roman Triumphal Arch, also from Brigade.

I had a scrap piece of laminated wood to use as a base, which measured around 160mm by 140mm, so pencilled out the ground plan of the walls and towers etc, leaving the central area big enough for the urban tiles - just about managed to squeeze them on, allowing for a bit of a moat and some ground out front.

The Brigade Models castle pieces are in resin, and come out of the pack pretty clean, so a quick blast of stone coloured paint and some red earth tone detailing over a mid brown undercoat meant the job was straightforward, although not necessarily quick - lining in around all the windows to try and stay neat had me going cross-eyed !

I did struggle somewhat in lining up the various wall sections, in that although individually well cast and straight, they are relatively short, so have a tendency to wander when modelling in a long line, and there is a bit of a gap between parts that seems obvious in these close-up photos. I think more skilled modellers or others less cack-handed could easily rectify this, or even smooth and fill any spaces, but to be honest at this scale, and tabletop viewing distances, they do the job for me !

The moat around the castle was formed merely by gluing on a strip of darker basing sand to the outer part, and splashing on some dark wash - I wasn’t going to go to the trouble of actually ‘digging’ it out ! - again, viewed from a distance, doesn’t look too bad.

The Triumphal Arch is free-floating, given that it straddles across two tiles, and enables me to use it in other settings - the terracotta coloured ‘roof’ is a bit odd, perhaps, but somehow it just looked naked when done wholly in marble white - there are a couple of bronzed panels on one side, too - no doubt detailing the Emperor’s victories - although you’d need a microscope to read them off at this scale !

I also went ahead and stole some additional buildings from Brigade Models Spanish and Arab village sets, just to add some variety to the other architecture, and make the tiles look a bit more ‘populated’

Brigade, of course, do their own Roman castle/mile fort wall set, but I followed Mike Headden’s lead in using the modular parts as they are more visually impressive, and hopefully not too anachronistic - the rounded bastion like towers on the gate sections look pretty Roman to my eye….

I’m yet to do much more with this project, as my butterfly mind has been drawing me in a completely different direction lately, and hence the time lag since my last post - I’ll no doubt keep coming back to it when the mood strikes, so stay tuned…

Next time, though - something completely different !

Saturday, 4 June 2022

2mm Strength and Honour: Town and Country


A small update on the 2mm Strength and Honour project, where I’ve been working on some crop fields for the terrain, something to sit alongside the farm complex.

I sourced some cheap 3mm MDF ‘coasters’ around 100mm by 100mm from EBay to use as terrain bases - there are quite a lot of sellers on there outside of the normal wargaming ones, that offer such blanks for craft making, which are often pretty cheap when bought in bulk - these ones are nicely done with rounded corners.

A blast of acrylic sanding spray on both sides to seal the surfaces, and a bodge of ModPodge and basing sand got me to here:

They are a bit ‘overscale’, but I put in some lines to act as ploughing/crop marks, and a few clumps of basing material to add a bit of definition as hillocks, etc.

I decided that rather than flat wheat or arable fields, however, I would follow up with using more of the pre-made sticky tufts from Serious-Play, and go for more of a olive trees/groves grape vines in rows sort of feel - that says ‘Ancients’ to me more than cornfields - I’m sure the Romans had olives for breakfast rather than Shredded Wheat !

If I’m lucky, these could also see double duty with 6mm miniatures as well, so a good result all round.

Next up, I finished painting up the remnants of the Brigade Models Roman buildings pack with the two largest examples, again based on a 60x60mm ‘tile’, forming maybe a Mansio - a sort of Ancient roadside B&B:

This can sit alongside the other town tiles, to which I also did a little bit of additional work - unfortunately the Roman walls and Triumphal Arch are still lost in the garage Lead Pile, so just a few 2mm figures cut from their bases as statuary, and some textured paper cut into sections to give a little, added, well….texture….. I didn’t yet want to go the whole hog and begin detailing the bases as such, but rather just suggest some different shapes/areas to catch the eye.

I’ve also added a few of Irregular Miniatures’ 2mm wagons as set dressing:

So, things rumble on - I’m still dithering about whether to do forests and hills fresh for this project, as I’ve got heaps of likely candidates squirrelled away somewhere already, but I’ll have to see - I’m telling myself that ‘mission creep’ on this is justified as I haven’t worked on anything else in a while…..

Tuesday, 24 May 2022

2mm Strength and Honour: Buildings


Bit of a work-in-progress here, as I’m looking to add some 2mm scale built-up areas and other terrain/scenic pieces for the Strength and Honour project.

I’ve been making use of the excellent small scale Roman scenery range from Brigade Models in the UK, which includes a variety of buildings in various styles, ranging from an enormous amphitheatre to domestic architecture via mile forts and sections of Hadrians Wall:

I know the Strength and Honour rules emphasise the use of camps for the protagonists, so perhaps a marching fort for a Roman Legion, or a wagon laager for a Barbarian Horde, but I’m reserving those for another time, being as I’m still easing myself back into the Hobby, and those will likely be quite large scale undertakings….. I’m also torn as to whether to splash the cash and buy the pre-built ones from Antonine Miniatures, or go for something scratch built….. there’s also the point that my Punic Army needs a home - but maybe the walls of Carthage might be a bit ambitious !

So for now,  thought I’d use the Roman buildings pack from Brigade to do a farm compound and some urban tiles - I had a 120x60mm cavalry base left over, so painting up the bare label strip at the rear as a stretch of road, I used a pin vice drill to pop in some holes for Brigades poplar trees - gotta have Lombardy Poplars lining a Roman road ! - and added some grass tufts in as vegetation or cultivated vine or olive trees:

The poplar trees are in metal, so aren’t as irregular as actual trees, but I think give a good representation of the originals seen from a distance. The Brigade buildings are lovely scale models, with some fine detail, although I did find that the fact that the masters are 3D designed/printed meant that in some areas it was hard to actually bring out what was there - not being an expert in Roman architecture, I also just went with putting what buildings looked right together, rather than faithfully following historical convention - I know the guys at Brigade always meticulously research their models - so apologies if I don’t know my Thermae from my Insula !

For the urban one, rather than doing just one large area, I used a number of 60x60mm bases to give me some variety in how they might be placed, tile-like - four making up a 120x120mm square:

I painted the tiles with just some free-handed contrasting greys as the ground surface, and then grouped the buildings as I saw fit - so maybe we have a Temple area, an administrative one, and then some domestic buildings and a bath complex?
I do feel that the bases definitely need something more - I did add in some more of the poplar trees, but when I can find them in the chaos of my Lead Mountain storage, I want to put in some walls from Brigade, as well as their excellent Triumphal Arch - it occurs to me that in future I could also make use of some of the Arab-style buildings from the Middle Eastern range to add in as further domestic dwellings….

As a final flourish, I placed a 6mm figure of a Roman Legate from Rapier Miniatures’ excellent ranges as a suitably impressive statue - the Emperor demands his due !

These were great fun to do, if a little intensive in working with buildings that small - I went with a spray undercoat of brown and then blocked in over the top with colour - no way I was going to be in-filling windows and doors at this a scale !

The next phase will be thinking about doing some woods  - I have a lot of Irregular Miniatures’ large scenic metal pieces that could be employed, as well as some clump foliage on acrylic basing that I did for my 2mm French and Indian War project - but again, if the mood takes me, I might want to do some bespoke, scratch built ones just for this project, looking at covering much larger areas.

As an aside, I also spent some time adding a couple of additional bases to my Roman force, namely two units of Latin Allies, forming the two supporting wings of a Legion:

These were from Irregular Miniatures’ Hoplite blocks - I figure that hoplite-style troops were in keeping with the Italian allies of the time, so I did some twenty blocks per base in four ranks, giving a bit of contrast with the Roman formations - same basic paint job, wielding the paint pens, and some variation in shield and banner colours to add a bit of visual ‘pop’ - these give me ten infantry bases for the Romans alongside the lighter troops and cavalry to face the Carthaginians.

So, overall, things are humming along - I’ll be adding more details and terrain as and when I can, and if I can eventually dig out my terrain cloths from storage, get some battles underway !

Thursday, 19 May 2022

2mm Strength and Honour: Resources Primer


Thought I’d pull together a list of some of the online resources that I made use of in preparing for the release of Strength and Honour, and when working on my Second Punic War bases.

There is some great inspiration out there, ranging from Mark Backhouse’s  own original home-made forces, to his work with Sidney Roundwood and on to the consistently creative and varied work on display via the 2mm and Small Scale Gaming Facebook Group.

First up, I would bring out Sidney Roundwood’s excellent Lutzen 1632 project, where I first saw the possibilities for home-made blocks to accompany the 2mm from Irregular Miniatures, and also highlight his painting techniques, which give amazing looking results in depicting mass without forgetting detail:

Of course, Mr Roundwood co-operated with Mr Backhouse on the Other Partizan 2mm Siege of Portsmouth project, which rightly won the best participation game in 2018, and set the standard for what could be achieved with the smallest of soldiers:

Turning to 2mm Ancients, an early and superlative effort was made by the always excellent Per Broden of Roll a One Blog, with his take on matching huge bases with Irregulars’ blocks to produce armies that looked like armies ! :

Once Strength and Honour had moved on from its roots as Homunculus Est, other manufacturers took up the banner in making troop types available commercially that would be ideal for the rules, and were custom made for its depiction of Mass on the tabletop…..

Principally of course, Antonine Miniatures via Warbases in the UK,

And now Korhryl Miniatures from Europe, and LaserCast from Australia:

Not to forget the original and best, Irregular Miniatures themselves:

That is not to say, of course, that these were the only candidates for sourcing miniatures, the explosion in 3D printing and the creativity of the STL file makers out there mean that more and more options are becoming available:

Not forgetting the more humble, yet incredible home-made ones; check out what this guy uses ! :

Since I stepped back from Blogging in 2013, and relegated the Hobby to the back-est of back burners, the growth of content creators on sites such as YouTube has been exponential and is now intrinsic to the hobby - a damned good thing, I say, as it serves to reach audiences that us old Grognards could only dream of, and of course I’m even more pleased to highlight those that include 2mm miniatures like Project Wargaming:

Also  - The Joy of Wargaming:

And again, with Prasutagus the Orwell Wargamer:

And with a twist on using the Strength and Honour Rules, T’s Creative Ramblings:

Oh, smallest of small-scale war gamers, we are no longer lone voices crying in the wilderness !

Finally, another inspirational place that I visit, namely the Blog of the incredibly productive Jim Jackaman - I think he has a more varied range of interests than anyone else I know, and of course, now in 2mm:

This, thankfully, is only a small proportion of what is now out there for those of us that enjoy the smallest of scales, and the above only a snapshot of what I think we can expect to become available in the near future - I am sure it won’t be long before periods outside of Ancients will be covered in greater variety than ever before, and I , for one, can’t wait !

Monday, 16 May 2022

2mm Strength and Honour: Romans !


I’ve made good progress with the 2mm Strength and Honour project, having more or less completed the opposing forces with eight Roman Legionary bases and supports, mostly using 2mm Irregular Miniatures.

I decided to use these rather than Antonine’s as I preferred the flexibility in depicting the deployed formations in three distinct ranks with Velites out front, although I fell in to having marching Maniples on the majority of bases - they just seem right when creating the Roman military ‘machine’. !

Handling the individual strips/blocks (made up of twenty distinct figures from their ABG1) was a bit fiddly, particularly as it dawned on me that I hadn’t got the surface of the basing sand perfectly flat - so a few wayward ranks (cue much bellowing from the Centurions….), but not looking too bad given they’re supposed to be marching over the terrain anyway….

For the Velites, I used Irregular’s ABG24 Bowmen with regular spacing - the weapons themselves are all but invisible at this size, and I liked the look of them - I think even Rome’s irregular troops are best when shown in good order !

Next came a line of Hastati with white shields that had a blob of colour added, then Principes with scarlet shields, and finally a huddle of Triarii with darker red shields denoting their veteran status. I followed the more simplistic style of painting throughout, with a dab of white at the rear of each strip for the tunic, and the helmet with a blob of copper.

For the marching Maniples, I made things simpler still by sticking with just one shield colour throughout - a compromise, but there were a lot of strips to get through - there is some variation in the bases, with all yellow, all blue, all scarlet, all red, etc - not sure how historical this might be, but it works for me ! :-)

I had originally intended to use Irregular’s Ancient cavalry to do the Romans, but having seen the disparity in heft with the Carthaginian bases, I went with those of Antonine - using the three rank blocks for the Equites, and the two rankers for Allies, with some skirmishing Numidians thrown in - these were backed by a single base of allied skirmishers/light infantry.

Having put off working on magnetic labelling strips for the rear of each base for another day (too keen to get these ready to fight) I again went for some easy print ones, this time in a lurid red ! - the surface is ultra shiny and therefore hard to photograph, but they will do the job for now - certainly easy to see, anyway….

Finally, I had a bash at adding in some trees/bushes - at this scale, quite tricky to get right, as they can easily dwarf the miniatures - I know, I know, trees in real life are huge - but they tend to look weird when ‘life’ sized - so made use here of the excellent ready-made tufts available from Serious Play in the UK - they do a massive range of colours and types, with selection packs that give you a range of sizes - a quick pluck of the tweezers, plop onto the base, and they stick straight away - an excellent product, can’t recommend highly enough:

The Legionary bases had to stay tree-less, with not much space to add in any greenery, but of course I am working with my choice of smaller 90x60mm bases for infantry….. I figure all those marching sandals would have trodden everything flat anyway !

Strength and Honour uses a separate command base for the general of your army, as they can be attached to an appropriate unit, so again, in line with the quick and easy theme of this project, I put a couple of Irregular’s blocks on a UK tuppence - definitely need to do something more visually pleasing eventually - maybe even using larger scale figures for more impact, but they will do for now.

I’ve had a blast so far with this whole project, working though it much quicker than I used to back in the day, and not worrying too much about creating mini-masterpieces, rather getting those troops to table with the minimum of fuss. It’s been a nice way to re-introduce myself to the Hobby, after quite the sabbatical….

Spread out together, they don’t look half bad - I’m hoping that Antonine will bring out some Greek-style Sarissas ago-go Phalanx blocks soon, so I can have a bash at yet another ancient era…..