Thracians: in the name of the moon

Follow! BUT! Follow only if ye be men of valour!

Well, that took fuckin’ ages, didn’t it. In truth, this guy was a bit of a pain to paint -lots of fiddly little sculpted details. Not super fun and I still don’t really know if I’m happy with him or not. But I’ve never been one to let perfect get in the way of good and I’m sure as shit not going to let good get in the way of finished! So that’s Teres the Enchanter done and dusted; an itinerant priest of Bendis, who can stand in as a seer in Mortal Gods.

Thracians: seizing the means of production

After a long stretch of painting productivity, I struggled to get anything done with the old brushes this weekend. So I’ve been building stuff instead.

First up: the rhomphaia.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you might remember my dissatisfaction at some of the models available for this Thracian sword (TW: Rome 2 is, perhaps incredibly, one of the few places I’ve ever seen the weapon reproduced accurately), so I decided to apply some positivity and try to make one myself.

And there it is. It’s made of two pieces of plasticard (or plastruct, or whatever you call it) – the main shape of the weapon was cut from a piece of .75mm plasticard, and then another piece of .25mm plasticard was glued with poly cement to the back of the blade. This gives the blade kind of a T-section that serves to give it some rigidity (it basically creates an ad-hoc fuller on each side of the blade). Once all the glue had been given ample time to set, I used clippers and an x-acto knife to trim that back side of the blade down to size and bring it to a good sharp point. Once I was happy with the final size and shape I then applied yet more poly cement into those fullers in order to soften the shape of them a little bit.

Once all that was set, I used my knife to give this thing a little bit of a cutting edge and drilled those holes that appear on a lot of the archaeological examples.

Not sure about those holes, by the way. Are they actually for a carrying strap? Or just fittings for a knife handle-style grip? I might avoid them on future examples.

Anyway, the finished article is… Enormous?

Say hello to the notorious, completely ficticious, megarhomphaia!

So, some adjustment is probably needed for the future. But it’s a decent prototype.

Moving on, the other thing I’ve been wanting to figure out for a while is how to sculpt a cloak. So I did that.

After several abortive attempts I eventually hit upon a sausage-based method that owes a lot to my experiences building vampire horse barding some time ago. Some tidying up to do here but I’m pretty pleased with the end result and knowing that I can do this (along with fuckin Rhompzilla up there) opens up some interesting modelling possibilities in the not-too-distant future.

A section of Victrix’s mercenary hoplites sprue

Basically, the big idea is to take that second-left hoplite in the muscle cuirass, give him a cloak, swap his spear for a rhomphaia, give him a different shield and base him up to use as a heavy lochagos for my Mortal Gods force. But that’s going to have to wait ’til March. For now, I’m happy enough to have put together these little proof-of-concept pieces.

Thracians: are you fond of weaving?

One of the things I would like to be a bit braver about when blogging is actually showing more of how the sausage is made and exposing more of the ‘ugly’ stages of my works in progress. In that spirit, here’s a very quick look at what one of my Thracian cloaks (called zeira) looks like before any of the pretty patterns. These things were supposedly pretty hefty garments made of thick wool (it gets cold in them there hills!), so they lend themselves to some extremely conspicuous brush strokes in order to suggest some texture. Lots of fun to paint!

Thracians: I warned you about movement trays

Whennnnn you hear the warcry

And the javelins fly

That’s a lochos

OK! Despite the previous, eloquent explanation above, you may still have a question: what’s a lochos? Well: a lochos is a Greek term (surprise) which is generally translated to mean ‘company’ (as in a group of soldiers) but literally means ‘ambush’. A lochos, therefore, was a company of warriors sent in to hostile or at least contested territory to raid farms, take prisoners – generally do dirty deeds. A kind of ‘kill-team,’ if you will. In the upcoming skirmish game Mortal Gods, set during the long but generally low-intensity conflicts of the Peloponnesian Wars, a lochos is the term used to describe your little force of bad-enough dudes. And that’s what you see above.

Young Rhescuporis serves as the lochagos – the group’s leader, who totally can go out and cut people but is also a very important support character to the troops around him, who are 5 units of peltasts. The peltasts, as you can see, form up in this game on 3-man movement trays, which would be very easy if I’d done the sensible thing and put these guys on 25mm bases, but of course I didn’t. Some of them were already on 30mm bases, having been rebased from 20mm square bases, and I didn’t feel like rebasing them yet again, so I had to do a little bit of custom chopping and whittling to make things work.

This was originally a nice 60mm machine-gun team tray from Sarissa which would fit 3 25mm bases in perfectly – after a bit of work it now just about fits 2 30mm bases and 1 25mm, which ends up looking a little bit funky, but these guys are very much irregular, skirmishing troops so I’m very much ok with them forming up in a bit of an aggressive, stabby mess.

Anyway, I’ll probably add the odd unit to supplement these guys (some archers would be nice) and I’ll definitely add a couple of other heroes, but that’s the core of my force for Mortal Gods ready to hit the table.

Thracians: I need a hero.

Rhescuporis: the Wolf of Chalcedon

My growing gang of Thracians for Mortal Gods needed a leader of some description and I still need to paint up the rest of these unpainted models I’ve got sitting around, so this guy happened! Very happy with him. It can be tough coming up with different colour schemes for all these guys, so I’ve shamelessly ripped off the Australian national rugby team.

Thracians: business in the front, party in the back

Another 5 guys off the production line! These bright colours are a great antidote to the gloomy weather. I’ve started prepping these guys for use in upcoming skirmish game Mortal Gods, where they’ll probably be able to give a fuller account of themselves than in any of the ‘big battle’ historical games that are out there – the Thracians really made their name as skirmishers, after all, so it should be a natural fit. Mortal Gods has peltasts form up in units of 3, so it looks like I have some more custom movement trays in my future!

I don’t mean that to sound sarcastic, I actually love movement trays and basing. Gets me in touch with nature, without actually having to get rained on.

Speaking of Mortal Gods, they’ve put up another promo image for their own line of Thracians. If you’ve read far enough back, you might recall I was super-duper enamoured with their forthcoming peltasts!

And then there’s this guy:

Hoo boy. No thankyou.

No, really, I’m gonna pass on this one. Do we want to talk about this weird battle apron that makes him look like he’s wearing an adult diaper? Or maybe the weird cut out tunic so he can show off his manly sideboobs? Maybe we could instead talk about how that’s not what a fucking rhomphaia looks like, goddammit.

Excerpt from Osprey’s The Thracians

I don’t understand why miniature companies seem to have such a hard time getting these swords right! There’s archaeological evidence! They’re long, straight swords! With long handles! And they don’t have silly droopy tips! And I am a salty old man on the internet now, apparently! Happens to us all eventually, I guess.

Anyway, it’s not really dampening my enthusiasm for the game (he’s not the only Thracian character they have in development, and the other one looks much more promising) and I get that Mortal Gods takes a rather fast-and-loose, Assassin’s Creed-esque approach to the historical material (and frankly, I’m right there with them), but this guy’s not going to make it onto the shopping list. On the other hand…

… that guy definitely is.