Monday, October 29, 2012

On the workbench - commission work

A pause from Seljuks and Crusades to do some Commission Work. I just started doing this type of work, having never previously sold a single painted miniature, and it´s going rather well. In fact - I have a massive pipeline of work already on order, so over the next month or so the comission work I´m doing will feature heavily here.

Last night I finished (all except basing) 6x Numidian Archers in 15mm (Corvus Belli is the manufacturer) for an ongoing Late Republican Roman FoG commission.

Numidian Archers 
Excellent miniatures and a pretty straight forward colour scheme, as the Numidians used plain unadorned and un-dyed  tunics.  Bases will now get a dark brown wash and then a khaki drybrush to make the miniatures "pop" and I´ll add some tufts to give it some contrast.

All my projected commission work are in this 15mm ancients area. Next up will be a unit which will be much (MUCH) more colourfull - Gaul Cavalry (as Cavalry auxiliaries for the same Late Republican Roman army).

Already done are a couple of units of legionnaires, Cretan archer support, a command base with a mounted praetor and a Fortified camp - all of which went without any photos, unfortunately.

Currently the commission queue is filled for 2012 :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SAGA Rûm Seljuk Turk Project.

Been a bit slow on here lately, but for perfectly good reasons - I´ve been playing and researching more than painting, and this is mainly a painting blog, so no finished product to post here.

However, I can post up the framework of my SAGA Crusades project, to give some context for miniature posts to follow (which will be mainly in the Seljuk Turk theme).

 I´m constantly finding excuses to get into yet another Perry range, and I found a good one now :) As I mentioned in previous posts, I wanted to take advantage of a finished SAGA Norman host to make the jump to the Middle East and the 1st Crusade.

I knew the miniature range I wanted (Perry 1st Crusade Muslim Army - Perry Crusades - Muslim) but I knew little of the details and generally had a Hollywood like preconception about the crusades (Arabs with turbants and scimitars).

The more I read the more interesting and complex it became - there were Egyptian Fatimids that corresponded more to the Hollywood Muslim warriors, Bedouin tribes, Turcoman horse-archers, Armenian bare chested and bare-headed ghazis - a large selection indeed (and, very importantly, all covered by the Perry Range). So, where to start?

Ferrero Rocher Sultan. I´ll start with the Ferrero Rocher Sultan

Quick historical note - The Rûm Seljuk Sultanate:

Pope Urban II
 The 1st Crusade spawns from a call for aid by the Byzantine Emperor - Alexius I- to Pope Urban II - the Seljuk Turks had taken Anatolia in 1070s and where menacing the existence of the Eastern Roman Empire itself. Urban II answers de call (about 20 years later). Objective one, help Byzantium - objective two - take Jerusalem back into Christian hands.
After defeating the Byzantines at Manzikert in 1071, one of the commanders (Suleiman ibn Qutulmish) promptly declared Anatolia a Seljuk Sultanate, the Rûm Seljuk Sultante - independent from the Great Seljuk Empire.
The word Rûm originates from the word Rome - because Anatolia was "Roman" (Byzantine) land to the Islamic people.

Malik Shah
Malik Shah, the Sultan of the Great Seljuks was not happy about the loss of Anatolia - the Rûm Sultan Suleyman would eventually lose his life in Antioch in 1086 at the hands of Tutush I (Syrian Seljuk Governor, a vassal of Malik, effectivelly dissolving the young Rûm Sultanate.

Suleyman´s son (Kilij Arslan I- literally, Sabre Tiger I) would be taken hostage until Malik Shah´s death in 1092 (a mere 4 years before the crusade).

Upon Malik Shah´s death, Kilij promptly takes command of a Turk tribe (the Oghuz Yiva) and heads "home" to Nicea in Anatolia, reinstating the Rûm Sultanate.

 The death of the charismatic Great Seljuk Sultan Malik Shah left the Great Empire shattered.

Ladies, meet Kilij Arslan I - Mr. Sabre Tiger himself

A melting pot of tribes and emirates where the Byzantines dropped more than a little intrigue to keep the beneficial turmoil brewing. In this landscape, the Rûm Seljuk Turks are one of the largest organized field armies (some 10,000 strong) and the first enemy to be encountered, immediately at Byzantium´s southern border.

The Rûm Sultanate sitmap in the 1090s

The SAGA adaptation

The Rûm Seljuks presented some challenges in their adaptation to SAGA.

The largest one was that the army was almost exclusively made up of horse archers, something that is almost absent in the dark ages and therefore not very present in SAGA.

I worried that it would be too powerful on the table, but I couldn´t do it using levies (the elite of the Seljuk Turks where in fact armoured horse archers - the ghulam).
Ghulam on foot. Definitely not a SAGA levy.

The other challenge was balancing the board to give me the feeling of the army, that deployed a multitude of Turcoman tribal horse archers to harass and pepper the enemy, feigning charges and running while shooting, etc (small anecdote: only Turks who could shoot both forward AND back where allowed to don 2 white hawk feathers - this is a tradition dating back to their far eastern origins).

When the Sultan deemed that the opponent was disorganized or wrong footed, the Ghulam Askari body guards would charge, ending the battle. What I ended up doing (and it survived one playtest already) was reduce effective range of bow on horseback to M.

Also, to represent the multipurpose nature of Ghulams I allow them to take the bow on horseback without dropping 1 in armour (other mounted penalties apply).

 I then had the boon of the Arab Conquest battle board on Wargames Illustrated #300 and made a slight adaptation of Arab Stallions to allow a shoot and move tactic (called Manzikert in the board bellow). Turned out pretty well. Some further board tweaks will bring it closer to what I want (fatigue points on enemy via shooting to represent the disruption of the enemy line by horse archers and some evasion reaction to charges - both these board mechanics are already present on pre-existing battleboards, which leaves me confident in the balance. Haven´t tweaked the board yet, so it looks like this now:

Also, rumour has it that Wargames Illustrated #301 will have a Byzantine battle board... :)

This means I get to see how they tackle the mounted archers question and also defines what the next natural project will be...