Sunday, 10 August 2014

I got paint on my Gauls!

Yes, finally the Romans have some enemies. My first Gauls are a 'hearthguard' of naked fanatics and a warrior unit of... um, well... warriors.
Fanatics - How can you spend so much time doing your hair and forget to put on your trousers?
Four of the warriors - 2 figures are Renegade with their oversized meat cleaver swords. But they do look cool.
The other 4 warriors from that unit. I love the helmet with the ice cream cones on it.
A bit of a close up of the tartan which doesn't really show up in the other pictures. Basic but effective.
The fanatics will operate in exactly the same way as Berserkers for the Vikings.
I've decided that aside from the fanatics I'm not going to use hearthguard in these armies. Legionary units will be warriors, as will basic Gallic troops. The cavalry units will also be warrior cavalry with eight figures each, while the missile support will be levy.

After an inordinate amount of re-gluing with the Anglo-Danish shields, I've decided to pin all of the Gallic shields to the figures. Hopefully that will hold them on more effectively. I'll probably do the same for the Vikings when I get around to them. I am tempted to go back and pin the Anglo-Danish shields, but it inevitably means losing paint, and I really don't want to have to go back and touch those models up. I've found with metal models that no matter how well varnished they are, they will chip -usually on edges like spear butts and knuckles. Plastic doesn't do that. In fact you can drop plastic on a concrete floor and the paint will stay on even as the limbs fly across the room. Score '1' to plastic! And the shields, once glued, don't fall off - make that 2 nil.

Another unit of Gallic warriors and the warlord are currently on the painting tray. In the meantime the pre-order has gone to Lancashire Games for my birthday present - some 15mm 1914 goodness! Very excited.


Monday, 4 August 2014

It was a hundred years ago today

The British Empire, including little old New Zealand, declared war on Germany on this day one hundred years ago. We were standing up for Belgium and the rights of smaller nations to be guaranteed their neutrality. We were also trying to maintain the balance of power on the European continent, and by extension, throughout the world.
War is declared on the steps of the parliament buildings in New Zealand. (image from te ara)
Most people thought it would be catastrophic, but not so many thought it would be four and a half years of catastrophic. By the end of the war four great Empires - Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Ottoman Turkey had fallen. Millions would die in battle, millions more by the spread of Spanish influenza. The three pernicious 'ísms' of the Twentieth Century had their seeds sown in this conflict - Communism, Fascism and Nationalism. The war itself was unleashed by an act of terrorism, yet another 'ism' we are still struggling with a century later.

New Zealand lost 18,000 dead and 40,000 wounded from a mobilised total of 100,000 men and a total population of just over a million. The Great War scarred us as a nation. One of my great uncles was killed in Flanders fighting for New Zealand while back at home his family was suffering abuse because of their German heritage. Those who refused to participate were treated cruelly and those who served and suffered what we now call post-traumatic stress disorder were left to fend for themselves in a world that couldn't - or wouldn't -understand them.  At the same time the New Zealand Division performed admirably on the battlefield and left a legacy of pride and honour for this country. We regard Gallipoli as the birthplace of the nation, and ANZAC Day has grown more and more important as the years have passed.
Standing some years ago at the New Zealand memorial at Le Quesnoy in Northern France, scene of one of the most dramatic actions undertaken by the NZ Division in the Great War. Also -  My first time in snow ever!
None of this needed to happen. Wiser heads in Vienna, St Petersburg and Berlin could have averted the crisis. If Austria-Hungary had declared war on Serbia within days of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand most of the world would have stood aside as it did when the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, such was the initial sympathy for the Hapsburgs. There is no doubt in my mind that Serbia needed to be punished. But the delayed reaction of a month gave time for people to posture and set off the alliance system that had maintained the peace in Europe for so long. It was as if Berchtold, Bethman-Hollweg, Sazonov and Poincare were too tired of trying to keep the peace. It is hard to read the correspondence of this time without thinking that everybody was certain that war was coming - best to get it over and done with. God help us if our politicians ever come to that point again.
German premonition of the coming conflict. The Spirit of Spring wonders: ‘Will the god of war crush the young flowers this year with his iron foot’. Simplicissimus.
The men who died did not die for nothing. They fought in a war that was fought for the reasons wars are usually fought - the conflicting aims of governments. Some may have believed they were dying for higher ideals, but if they did the post-war world would prove highly disappointing. For better or worse, once war had broken out it had to be fought, and the men who did so showed immense courage. The generals, by and large, did their best in difficult circumstances. That so much was sacrificed for so many negative outcomes was a tragedy.

As you can probably tell, my reaction to the Great War is a bag of mixed emotions. It fills me with sorrow, yet also with pride; it was tragic, yet glorious; it was unnecessary, but not futile. There were no goodies or baddies - history is rarely that black and white (which makes me angry when people try to paint Germany as some sort of pantomime villain). Our understanding of the fighting in the war is finally starting to find some balance in the popular press, and this is a good thing, even if it has not sunk in with the broader public. But more than anything, the war is always with me. A day does not go by when I don't think about it in some way (is that healthy?).
Today above all days, I will remember them.


Sunday, 3 August 2014

First Gallic War unit

The project is underway and first up is the warlord and a warrior unit for the Romans. In this case it is a Legate and some Legionaries.
'For the Senate and people of Rome (but mostly for the Senate)!'
The warlord was the metal Julius Caesar figure available from Wargames Factory. That gladius needs to go on a diet!
''Let's teach these Gauls a lesson! Number 1 - how to have matching pretty shields.'
'Our iron discipline allows us to turn in formation for a profile shot!'
So there we have the first units. I have the first Gauls on the painting tray now. This consists of a hearthguard unit of naked fanatics (you'd think I'd have had enough of this kind of thing with the Trojans...) and a Warrior unit of mercifully mostly-clothed fighters.