There are many people who — often without actually reading it — have classified my magazine as ‘old school’. I’m sure that Pete Berry of Baccus is familiar with this kind of pigeonholing situation, when untutored folks say that 6mm figures are ‘nasty little blobs that are impossible to paint’. Well, there’s something to be gained for both of us, then, when I reveal that whilst I do, indeed, enjoy a bit of 30mm fun with games played by the rules of “Charge!” or “The War Game”, I’m equally at home with other forms of wargaming, scales of figures, and periods remote from the mid-18th century.
It just so happens that I’ve loved the ancient period since the days of, crikey, WRG 5th Edition. Something about the wars of Greece and Persia intrigued me: there seemed to be a kind of ‘purity’ about the fighting styles, and a huge range of battles ranging from small skirmishes up to the famous landmark battles like Marathon, Thermopylae or Platea. Stretch things a bit further into the Late Achemaenid and Alexandrian periods and you have the challenge of huge phalanxes of pikes facing not only the Persians, but Indians too. But it’s the 5th century BC that is my first love, so for some time, I had been contemplating replacing the armies I sold off (at bargain-basement, pre-eBay prices!) many years ago.
Battlegames readers may recall that issue 1 featured a lovely piece by Harry Pearson about his own Greeks v Persians rules: “Marathon 490BC”. The sight of serried ranks of old-style 25mm Minifigs filled me with nostalgia, and I began scanning the lists on their website. But, at around this time, I also met ancient and medieval specialist Dan Mersey for the first time, and we became friends and started meeting occasionally for games.
It just so happens that, like many young folk in the south, our Dan is hampered by the ludicrous house prices round here and lives in conditions more cramped than he or his girlfriend would like. The effect of this is that he has limited space for his hobby, and whilst he enjoys his visits to the Battlegames ‘Loftwaffe’ for games on my 8’ x 6’ table (which can also be extended), he cannot contemplate amassing sizeable armies of 20–30mm figures. For him, therefore, skirmish games with a handful of figures have been the norm for some years, together with some Dark Ages forces in 15mm for DBA.
It seems, however, that Dan had been eyeing up Pete Berry’s little beauties — I mean his miniatures, of course — for some time, and when Rob Broom at Warhammer Historical sent me a copy of Warmaster Ancients to review, it seemed that fate was pushing us inexorably towards our decision to take the plunge. Canadian micro-gaming whiz Barmy Bob Barnetson (forgive me, Bob, it’s a term of affection!) has also had a hand in this: his piece in Battlegames about the Teutoburger Wald, for which he seemed to spray out painted micro-minis faster than a Gatling Gun, showed just what can be achieved with a little application and a desire to display ancient warfare truly en masse.
The final tipping point was Dan reviewing the new Baccus ACW figures recently. It had to be Baccus. I saw the glint in his eye, and decided “What the heck? Let’s go for it!”
So, we shook hands and agreed that each of us would collect our favourite opposing armies. He’s dithering about whether to amass Romans and barbarians, or Saxons and something else Dark-Agey, but I already knew what I wanted. Greeks; Persians; and a lot of them.
Pete Berry wasn’t surprised when I called — he knew I was micro-friendly (that doesn’t mean I go “ping!” every five minutes, I’m not a household device) and that, following conversations we’d had at shows, it was only a matter of time before I succumbed to his wares. Nor, indeed was he taken aback when I said that I’d looked at the Warmaster lists on the site, but I wanted twice as many per unit! “Ah,” he said, “someone who wants to do it properly!”
And so, when the box of beauties arrived (it’s always slightly alarming, it has to be said, that a couple of thousand figures can fit into such a tiny box!), I of course began with a small parade of the new arrivals. I just had to see what those hoplites looked like, ranked up in whopping Warmaster-size units. I think you’ll agree that, even in the naked pewter state, they look pretty awesome. “Oohh,” was Pete’s comment on this photo, “looking at it, that’s an awful lot of lead! It looks unstoppable, but wait till you get the Persians out…”
Now, as you can imagine, as a chap running a major magazine single-handed, I’m pretty busy, and I have other projects on the go too, so when Peter suggested that I run this as an online project, I thought it would actually be a good idea to help me maintain momentum as I paint the eyelashes on a thousand hoplites (it’s okay, really, I’m kidding, honest…). I haven’t gamed with 6mm stuff since 1980-something, at which point I was using Heroics & Ros, so I have no preconceptions about how I’m going to achieve this monumental project. How monumental? Well, I’ve bought 1,000 point armies to begin with, but I want to fight REALLY big battles in due course, so I’m sure I will treble or quadruple what I’ve got so far.
So, from time to time, I’ll drop in with an update, revealing what I think has gone well, and what I think I could have done better, and perhaps even asking for suggestions when I think I’ve gone seriously astray!
Right, now, where’s that one-hair brush…