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Thread: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

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    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Hullo, it's me again with my second historical painting log. This one came really as a surprise as I never considered myself much of an Ancients kind of wargamer. I did a few commissions for ancient periods but never felt too inclined to join the fun myself. It's not that the period(s) didn't appeal to me, it's just that so many other things were a bit more appealing.



    Now last week I was invited by a guy to play a game of DBA (De Bellis Antiquitatis) with him. Only having heard of DBA as this old, very popular and not too complicated system everybody should give a try once I jumped at the opportunity. He has the figures and the board, all I needed to bring was a tape measure and dice. I have to say that this DBA is an elegant and fun little system. It's not all too deep but instead it's a rather quick game with comparatively small armies on only a 2' by 2' board but it does give you results which seem plausible. Instead of thinking about rules too much you can instead think of maneuvering. The perfect game if one of the players is short on time that evening. I would say that it's possibly the ultimate "entry level" ancient wargame there is.



    So I was pleasantly surprised with the rules and on top of that I got a full army from the good fella as well! Granted, the minis aren't the cream of the crop, mostly mono-pose and are just enough to play one list but who am I to complain about free minis! Another thing about this is that I didn't have to choose my "first army" myself because I would have probably gone for some pitifully weirdo-fancy army consisting of an obscure cult of drummer-warrior-monks who only existed for 20 years on some god-forsaken mountain top. So instead I was introduced to the Thebans.



    Since I started reading on the topic of Ancient Thebans a few days ago, I found out the following - Ancient Thebes (the one in Greece, not the Egyptian one) was one of the major city-states in Greece, along with Athens and Sparta and those three were constantly at each other's throats.



    Thebes specially so with Athens. Out of those three city states, Thebes probably got the worst PR due to being the city state being mostly based on agriculture and of course the "unpatriotic" move of siding with the Persian king Xerxes: However, Thebes was the head of the Boeotian League of several provinces. After the Persians were repelled at Salamis Athens punished Thebes for siding with the invaders by dissolving the league, only to have it reinstated by the Spartans thereafter. From reading about all the back and forth between the three city-states between the 6th and 4th centuries BC I got the impression that it was mostly like this: conflict breaks out between two of the city-states, the third joins the one they like a little bit better at the moment. The one polis that stands alone is beaten but immediately helped to recuperate by one of the victors just so the other victor wouldn't get too powerful.

    So basically Athens has all the glory and great reputation for every invention and innovation we owe to ancient greece, Sparta has ...well, Spartans. What does Thebes have. First, they have the least cool looking helmets.



    Of course Hoplites were all individually equipped but this one above is the Boeotian Helmet. Not a bad helmet at all, with excellent visual field and unimpaired hearing. Later, in the 4th and 3rd century BC it got really popular with Greek and Makedonian cavalry, less so with infantry, but basically each time you see a model of a Theban Hoplite he'll wear one of those helmets (which in design are based on tied-down sun hats). While wearing sun hats on the battlefield wasn't unheard of and quite common, especially with skirmishers and Psiloi in Ancient Greece, basing your helmet design on them probably also supported the notion that Thebans were quite the "country people". I also read somewhere that in Athens and other places, Thebans were ill-reputed as being simpletons and often the butt-end of jokes. Which of course isn't true but you know how there are regions in each country which have this reputation. However, there is a reference to this even in Shakespeare's King Lear (" I'll talk a word with this same learned Theban. " in which "learned Theban" is supposed to mean "someone who does know a lot of things or at least appears as such but only because he read, memorized and replicates them rather than bearing knowledge or wisdom by insight and actual understanding". Of course I just read that somewhere.)

    So after all these things let's get to the really cool stuff there is to say about Thebans: For 40 years, after the downfall of Athens, Thebes was the dominant power in Greece. Thebes was home to several mythological figures of ancient Greece and center of the cult of Hercules. Epaminondas, Theban general and stateman, beat the numerically superior Spartans in the battle of Leuctra 371 BC devastatingly (also getting their king killed) by employing a new strategy resulting in the most significant battle amongst Greeks in history, as some historians claimed it was. After this victory, Epaminondas became one of the most revered Greek strategists.


    Epaminondas

    Not only did it shatter the Spartan predominance on the Greek penninsular and freed the Helots who had been enslaved for the past hundreds of years by the Spartans (and didn't have much fun at all. In one source I read of pretty nasty things the Spartans did to them over a LONG timespan) and established Theban predominance for a while but also, and which probably is part of the reason for Thebes' downfall, it impressed the later king Phillipp II. of Macedonia (father to Alexander the Great)who at the time was a hostage of Thebes' so much that he took many lessons from Theban warfare to introduce to the Macedonian army lateron which in the end cost the Thebans (and Greek overall) their position of power. Well, that and the fact that the Macedonians brought longer sticks.

    Also present at this very important battle (as well as many others) was the Sacred Bond of Thebes, a legendary military formation of 150 couples of male lovers who were picked out to form a sort of special shock troops of Thebes. They were chosen men from all social standings and, other than most other hoplites, were professional soldiers paid and housed by the state.



    If you're interested to read more about the Sacred Band I suggest this site or of course Wikipedia if you, like me, are too cheap or lazy to buy or rent proper books.

    Apart from that the Theban cavalry was also highly regarded across Greece and was employed in Alexander the Great's army later on.

    I'm hardly an expert on Ancient Greece and probably got lots of things wrong above but I hope that it gets you a rough overview of what makes Thebans a force to consider aside from the classic armies of Athens or Sparta. And if you're not strangely bemused or interested from the facts above, keep in mind that all these Spartan armies need someone to fight on the tabletop who isn't Spartan for a change.


    Now, after the lengthy introduction, here's the actual meat (Warning: may contain lead) of things: I got a full army of Hoplites (10 units including general) with spears along with a unit of cavalry and a unit of Psiloi (lightest infantry imaginable) with slings. 15mm scale, Essex miniatures.

    So far they are cleaned, half of them are based and primed and next thing I do is seeing if I can paint the models as they're glued to their bases or if I have to rip them off the bases agin and paint them seperately.



    The spears are seperate bits. They actually come with the minis, also cast in white metal but I discarded them right away as I'm absolutely NOT a fan of white metal or lead spears or pikes. They bend immediately and you end up with "spaghetti spears". That's why I got brass rod spears instead. So what you see here is the hoplites (with manly beards). As I said, all mono-pose but I can help that a little by painting their clothes a bit differently and giving each of the guys an individual shield design along with bending the arms a little and glue the spears on in slightly different angles and so on. Apart from that I'm considering sculpting a plumes onto a few of the the helmets which should help a lot to add some individuality.

    The armour these guys are wearing is linen armour which is a bit of a topic of discussion itself. This army is supposed to be a later Greek hoplite army so this kind of armour was much more popular at the time than the old full metal breastplate. As far as I understod it's not completely clear how linen armour worked but it is mostly assumed to be several layers of linen glued over each other which turned them into a hardy armour. Some linen armour were probably supported by sheets of metal much more like chainmail rather than plate armour though.

    This is one element out of 10 elements of Hoplites in the army (the rest is one element of cavalry and one of slingers) and now you see how you really don't need many figures to play DBA. The base is 40mm by 15mm (which I cut from plasticard). The next thing to do is probably trying to make some plumes and decide on a colour to use for the bases.

  2. #2
    Modsticker Codsticker's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing new historical stuff - Ancients

    Excellent! Thank God they are not 6mm- I'll be able to see what you are painting.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty
    What the Modsticker said.

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    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Magnificient plog opening. I guess you must have caught a miniature version of Czarissa Catherine the Great of Russia's building fever. In her own words: "I can't stop to build, it's like a fever, or alchol."

    Lucky us to witness another project of yours, then.

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    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    @Codsticker: I'll try not to upload too small pictures too. Thanks for the comment though!

    @Karak Norn Clansman: I'm fairly sure I'm beyond the level of Fever already. Now it's a matter of Staying Alive. (I'm starting to see a pattern of uncalled-for an random film references in my late night updates )Thanks for commenting. This won't be as big a project as my Thirty Years War stuff by far. Instead I'll try to get it done as quickly as possible so the guy who gave me the minis gets some games done in return soon. I probably spent more time on the opening post than I spent painting the army so far.


    ....speaking of trying to save time, I started freehanding shield designs on the test base... *facepalm*





    I'm not sure but I think I might start using decals for the rest of the army. I mean there are 40 of these guys in the army, i actually got a lot of really pretty and high quality decals and this freehanding takes ages.

    On a more positive note, painting these guys as they're glued to be base isn't a problem so no need to rip half the army off the base again. Also, I'm glad to have looked up all the stuff about linen armour because with white armour (yeah, yeah, probably it was more like yellow-ish or leather altogether but DBA is a quite abstract game so I can go with bright white linen armour as well) and all of these colours the guys start looking really nice.

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    Modsticker Codsticker's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    I just started using decals this past year- I love them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty
    What the Modsticker said.

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    Chapter Master Whitwort Stormbringer's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Nice! I love ancients and 15mm seems like a great scale for massed battles. I've still never played DBA myself, but it's good to know you thought highly of it. Maybe some day I'll be able to gather together two small armies and get someone to play with me.

    Looking forward to seeing this army come together.
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    I hope you plan on using the Sacred band in your army.

    Also, didn't Epimanidas(sp) use a lighter armed Hoplite than the traditional hoplite, which allowed them greater mobility? I'm also thinking he made active use of Psiloni (sp) such as slingers, javelin throwers and Cretan archers? All of this is from vague memory, but I don't think you would be remiss havign a few of the light infantry types in this army.
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    Chapter Master Caiphas Cain's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Hmm, I think the last time I used a decal was... When I painted an introductory free space marine when I was ten. It ended up breaking and getting wrinkled on his shoulder pad. I have seen some really great use of decals though, and I'm sure you'll do fine with them. Anywho, nice free hand on those little shields. I didn't even know that white linen wasn't historically accurate. I've seen it so often I figured it must be right.
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    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    @Codsticker: You never used decals before that? Wow. Have you not ever played Space Marines?

    @Whitwort Stormbringer: Thanks for the comment! Of course you can also play FoG with 15mm Ancients (which seems to be the most popular choice actually) but I have yet to hear a single positive opinion about it. It seems to be very detailled but also takes LONG.

    @Easy E: Why of course I do. Thebans without the Sacred Bond is like playing 30 Years' War Swedes and not bring any Finnish Cavalry! I haven't read anywhere of Epaminondas fielding lighter Hoplites than other armies at the time. As far as I read Hoplites abandoned armour more and more as time went by (like Pikemen and Cuirassiers in the Thirty Years' War ) but it's not unlikely. Philipp II.'s and Alexander the Great's armies were heavily influenced by the Theban army of that time. Armylistwise, DBA is very restrictive. Each army has 12 units with one or two you can change for something else. For instance the Theban army always looks the same with the option of exchanging one unit of Spearmen for a unit of lighter infantry. Variety in the game comes from a.) who's attacker and who's defender (defender gets to set up terrain but attacker has a good chance of choosing the side he's deploying on) and b.) the huge variety of army lists (as I said, 300+ whereas each army list has a list of possible opponents so you don't end up playing ancient chinese against biblical era Hebrews even though you can do that if you're into weird things ).

    @Caiphas Cain: Getting to know how to make decals "work" takes a while. At least it took me a while. Yeah, I don't think there'd be much trouble but having to display everything I paint and my ENDLESS vanity makes me rethink the whole plan of using decals. I guess logic would dictate that I do decals though. I just picked up somewhere on the interweb that the white linen probably turned yellow-ish due to the kind of glue used or something and maybe it was just leather altogether. Ancients wargaming is weiiiiiiiird. But the white linen looks prettier so of course I went for that. It's not like DBA is a perfectly straight up simulation. It's abstract as all heck.

    Hey, update! I know, I'm a disgrace these days. I don't get much done at all for the past week and that's even just my own stuff! Anyways, here are some mostly-finished Hoplites and a base of finished Psiloi (slingers):



    And here you can see the rest of the army:


    One unit of cavalry (who are hit especially hard by the single-posedness, especially as the horses are very pretty and come with varied poses but the riders aren't only all the same but also basically impossible to convert. Well, it IS possible but would take a considerable amount of time) and five more units of Hoplites amongst which there is my general and his buddies.

    I'm really glad how colourful they turn out though. Hope you like them as well.


    edit: Oh, another thing because it's late and I'm rambling. Yesterday I got to participate in a game of Die Kriegskunst (which is a variant of General de Brigade for 18th century warfare). The background was of couse the Seven Years' War, the scenario was "English guys hold a small village, French and all kinds of allies attack, at some point in the game a batalion of Hesse-Kassel and a batalion from Braunschweig come to the aid of the English. Whoever holds the town by 10pm wins. (the game started around 7pm. That's all real world time so the players wouldn't get home too late)

    I got to comandeer the reinforcements on the English side, rolled horribly and didn't appear for a while. Anyway, these rules are very interesting. Maybe it was the all single pose 18th century metal minis (great sight) but this rules system felt "Old school". There are some very fun mechanics involved, mostly - and this is basically the core of the game - how there is a certain number of orders batalions can get (MOVE, ENGAGE, HOLD, ... with most orders requiring you to specify which unit to engage OR a clearly defined piece of scenery to engage for example) and a certain way these have to be executed AND a list of things units can do following these orders. At the start of the game each batalion commander gets his order along with an instruction (like "ASSAULT- the small forest over the far right flank" in which case ASSAULT means that the units may fire at and even charge enemy units they encounter in or around the woods but at least half the units of the batalion have to move at least half their maximum movement towards the target. As soon as there are no more enemy units directly near the woods the batalion changes orders to "Hold"). This is written on a small sheet of paper in secret, folded and put underneath the batation commander's base. The order may not be changed until it is fulfilled OR the batalion is destroyed or retreating or the commander in chief (or batalion commander) elects to change the order which requires you to roll 10 or more on 2d6. I think if a unit is on Hold it's easier or something like that.

    Now that's a rather fun mechanic. Very old-school indeed but I can see that working. As long as you know the orders somewhat. It definately is not a game to just "drop into" like Black Powder and even that requires you to accept a number of very abstract mechanics so I messed up most things I did. There are also some other core mechanics that I liked like rolling for initiative each beginning of the turn, turn sequences being rather "interactive" as well in the way that movement is done by the initiative player first, then by the other player, then both players fire, then you do melee, work out morale effects and then roll for initiative again. I'm still not sure on how the orders system actually works (or in many cases when exactly an order counts as being carried out) but the rulebook looked like high quality, there's a points system in there as well, some fun things like units running low on ammo and having to be resupplied by a munitions wagon (which can not blow up, i asked), officers getting wounded accidently in which case you have to roll on a table with results ranging from the officer dying outright to the shot being cought by the officer's pocket watch and other interesting results. The game took place on a table of 6' by 4' but as the village was almost in the middle at least a foot wasn't really used and was played with 28mm minis and seizable armies and went pretty smoothly so you don't need a huge amount of space to play. Very interesting game I have to say. I probably won't get into it (yet ) but it was an interesting experience and the armies looked stunning.

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    Chapter Master Karak Norn Clansman's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    I thought that was a fast work pace, even with modern washes to speed up the effort to achieve a good result. They all look good, and at this speed you'll probably have time to freehand paint the shield emblems, if you wish.

    I think you should take care to paint the cavalry mounts in different colours, tones and even spots. Vary the manes' and feathers' colour and you'll be a good way towards some variation within the formations.

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    Chapter Master Caiphas Cain's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Would a head swap between a hoplite and a horseman help increase unit diversity?

    Nice work, but that's a really small army!
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    Chapter Master kublai's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Nice that you do another historical log Sigur. I also like the subject you have choosen. Your historical introductions are very enlightening and much appreciated. The minis look very cool so far, altough I would have preferred Victrix's 28mm Thebens over this 15mm boys. Nonetheless, I will keep an eye on this log and enjoy every moment !

    Hussar !!!!
    Last edited by Codsticker; 02-12-2012 at 03:47.

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    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    @Karak Norn Clansman: Hehehe, thanks. I think I will go with decals nonetheless because the backlog of projects is piling up despite the remakable patience of some customers.. :embarassed: Good call about the horses. I think that painting horses differently always is a must. And to be honest, at smaller scales and smaller numbers I actually start to enjoy painting horses. (which of course is a weird thing to say if you're a wargamer because horses are notorious for being annoyances to paint )

    @Caiphas Cain: Very good idea, yeah. I kept the minis as they are now, focussing on getting the army done quickly (i.e. by next week sometime). But yeah, headswap would be the way to go here. As for small army - yes, that's often the main argument for DBA. It's a kind of "pocket wargame". All armies are less than 50 minis, usually 15mm and there are several companies offering army packs which gives you all units necessary plus all the options for between about 17 and 22. Of course it doesn't get you the visual spectacle of bigger wargames or detail of 1man-per-mini skirmish games but it's cheap.

    @kublai: Well, I didn't really choose the subject as much as I was lured into it with free minis and the opportunity to play DBA. I'm glad you like the introduction. Especially with historical armies I like to do some "research", get to know the army and the context, what makes it different to other armies of the time, find out oddities and pieces of trivia. I think that especially to get the attention of people who aren't into historical wargaming it takes some pictures and fun facts so at one glance you "get the gist" of the period. I also just enjoy reading about that kind of stuff, accumulating data and so on. No matter the period or setting, history is always exciting and soon after scratching the surface you start finding interesting weirdness, characteristic oddities and just plain humanity. Anyway, thanks again for following the painting war. Oh, and don't remind me of these Hussars I have to paint.


    Hey guys, I'm back with some more colour on those Greeks. First, the unit of Cavalry finished:




    Then there are the WIP Hoplites:


    In the far left you can see the unit I chose to be the Sacred Bond. Being all professional full time soldiers they also all got the same linen cuirass and will all get the same emblem on the shields (albeit with different shield colours I think). Second from the left is the general's unit, the rest are just the usual spear(invisible as for now)-armed Hoplites.

    I hope to finish these guys soon. :S

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    Modsticker Codsticker's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Nice ponies.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salty
    What the Modsticker said.

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    Chapter Master kublai's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Quote Originally Posted by sigur View Post
    I hope to finish these guys soon. :S
    I hope that too

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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Dang, this actually makes me want to get into DBA!

    Oh yeah, thanks to a quick browse on Wiki, I recall now that the Theban "innovation" in Phalanx fighting was the Oblique approach, also known as the "refused flank". I wonder how DBA deals with the 50 man deep Phalanx unit compared to the normal Spartan style?

    Here is the key points from wiki:
    The phalanx formation used by Greek armies had a distinct tendency to veer to the right during battle, "because fear makes each man do his best to shelter his unarmed side with the shield of the man next him on the right".[37] Traditionally, a phalanx therefore lined up for battle with the elite troops on the right flank to counter this tendency.[38] Thus, in the Spartan phalanx at Leuctra, Cleombrotus and the elite 'Spartiates' were on the right, while the less experienced Peloponnesian allies were on the left. However, needing to counter the Spartans' numerical advantage, Epaminondas implemented two tactical innovations. Firstly, he took the best troops in the army, and arranged them 50 ranks deep (as opposed to the normal 8–12 ranks) on the left wing, opposite Cleombrotus and the Spartans, with Pelopidas and the Sacred Band on the extreme left flank.[39] Secondly, recognizing, that he could not have matched the width of the Peloponnesian phalanx (even before the deepening the left flank), he abandoned all attempts to do so. Instead, placing the weaker troops on the right flank, he "instructed them to avoid battle and withdraw gradually during the enemy's attack". The tactic of the deep phalanx had been anticipated by Pagondas, another Theban general, who used a 25 man deep formation at the Battle of Delium.[40] However, the reversing of the position of the elite troops, and an oblique line of attack were innovations; it seems that Epaminondas was therefore responsible for the military tactic of refusing one's flank.[41]
    Last edited by Easy E; 03-12-2012 at 17:35.
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    Chapter Master sigur's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    @Codsticker: Thanks. They aren't the biggest steeds in the world, true, and the angle of the shot doesn't help much either

    @Karak Norn Clansman: Thanks muchly!

    @Easy E: Yus, and it's really easy to get into the game. If you can get a rulebook that is. The thing isn't in production BUT the creator, after a while of making the 2.2 rules available online for free, withdrew this permission again after version 3.0 didn't prove to be wildly popular with the community. You can get the rules online but only a version with the army lists and campaign rules cut out which is a shame of course. Sometimes the rules pop up on ebay. One word on the writing style of the rules: I've never read a ruleset which tried so hard not to be understood (yeah, I read the chain reaction rules too and also 5150 but those were much easier to understand than DBA 2.2) so some clever person (who seemingly can't tell the difference between "effect" and "affect" ) put together the Ultimate Guide to DBA 2.2 which has almost all of the rules but explained much clearer. But apart from that you're in with 17 to 30 pounds worth of minis (less even if you go for 10mm or even 6mm scale, some terrain and a 2 by 2 board. Yeah, read a lot about that stuff, I just didn't mention it specifically in the introduction because I thought that a picture of the oblique approach wouldn't look as attractive as some colourful picture. Lately Frederick II. had dug up the oblique order to kick Austrians. Unfair. In game terms of DBA you can stack units, especially spearmen (as which hoplites are classified) behind each other to work together in combat, especially against oncoming chargers if I remember correctly.

  19. #19
    Chapter Master Caiphas Cain's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Yay ponies!

    Are the horsemen's chest armors brighter than the hoplite's?
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  20. #20
    Librarian Engel's Avatar
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    Re: Sigur won't stop doing historical stuff - Ancients

    Great paintjob, especialy those horses.

    Allmost makes me want to start up my half painted Athenians for dba again.

    Keep those pictures comming, great inspiration.

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