Wednesday 30 September 2020

Malalai of Maiwand Vignette

As a continuation of my Second Anglo Afghan War project and in between working on my Byzantines I have been doing a bit of work every now and again on this Malalai of Maiwand Vignette. I think it will serve on the table top either as an Command base or a nice jump off point if using Sharp Practice. I have working on ideas for adding amendments to Kevin Calder's excellent set of rules for the Sudan, Up the Nile. I really like the 'boys own' mechanics of Up the Nile; they have the added bonus of being a great set of rules for playing solo! Something I might be doing a lot of under the current circumstances once I finally get my table set up. 

For those not familiar with the story of Malalai. According to the sources she is famous for upon seeing the reluctance of the tribesmen to close with the British at The Battle of Maiwand July 27 1880 she unveiled herself, exposing herself and by doing so was able to "shame" and to rally the tribesmen  to the point that they were to return to the fray. When the banner bearer of the tribesmen at Maiwand was killed she is said to have picked up the banner and gone forward into the heat of battle where she was killed. The Pashtun poet Ajmal Khattak wrote the following words:

"My Malalai is living, and they praise others' beauty. Though they have eyes, they are blind."

Early Byzantine Skutatoi in Sheildwall Front Rank

My output of late has been slowed a little as I have been ill with some sort of cold (I hope!). I've been feeling quite under the weather but have had no fever, no asnomia and only a little bit of a sore throat. I have been coughing quite badly at times and said cough has been quite dry so I've been taking it very easy and taking no chances. There is no need for me to tell you that this has been a very worrying time for me as I am classed as vulnerable. I have finally received a Covid test today, which will be sent off at 4am when no one is around! Paranoid? Possibly, but why take any chances, yeah?

I am sure you did not pop over to the blog to hear about my health so here is the bit where I tell you what I have been painting. It is, of course, more of the beautiful Aventine Early Byzantines! I'm planning on building up a large Early Byzantine force (I already have well over 200 infantry so I really ought to be planning something big! The cavalry have not even been released yet so this army is going  to be a whopper!). The idea is to refight a number of important battles specific to the establishment of the Eastern Roman as a permanent regime; some they won and some that proved to be a total disaster. I have been specifically looking at Dara 530 CE, Solachon 586 CE (both against the Sassanians), with Yarmuk 636 CE on the cards too. I also plan Casilinus 554 CE along with Taginea 552 CE. As the collection mounts there might be a number of other engagements added!  

I have yet to invest in any of the beautifully crafted Aventine Sassanids as I am desperately trying to keep my focus on one major project at a time. As wargamers I am certain you can appreciate just how difficult that this can be in reality! I am allowing myself a couple of 'speed painted projects to run concurrently as a little bit of an escape from time to time.

These Skutatoi have been simly bluetacked to an old Impetus base I have not been able to base them properly as of yet despite the back rank being painted as they are standing hard waiting for their gloss coat to dry! Having discovered via a fellow Lead Adventure Forum member, Redzed, that leaving the gloss varnish to thoroughly dry out for a week reduces any speckling I have been steadfastly sticking to that regime. It has slowed things down a little but it has been absolutely worth it.  The second rank of Skutatoi are in standing poses but still in Shieldwall and with an extra rank of spear/command and archers to fit behind these bases they should be quite a spectacle when completed. Fingers crossed.

Saturday 26 September 2020

White Hun/Avar Horse Archer Armour Musings

 I have scouring the net been looking into what sort of armours that the non noble White Hun/Avar Horse Archer's might have worn as part of my Early Byzantine project when I stumbled across this very interesting site:

Military Culture of Horse Archers

This is a very interesting read as it shows most of the armours being made of leather. Whether or not the continuation of the wearing of such armours strides into the 6 CE is a matter of debate but it is very interesting to note that there seems to have been a vibrant culture of using leather as an armour which is something that I think I will incorporate onto the painting of my White Huns/Avars who will drafted in as allies and mercenaries in my Justinian and Heraclian Byzantine armies

Most of the images below are taken from the above website Military Culture of Horse Archers. It is certainly food for thought. In trying to answer this question; was leather preferred even by the higher ranks of society to metal armour(?) is an idea that am currently reading bits and bobs from various books which include:

The Byzantine Wars, John Haldon (Tempus)

Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome, Phil Barker (WRG)

Armies of the Dark Ages, Ian Heath (WRG)

The Hun, Scourge of God AD 375-565 (Osprey Warrior)

Mounted Archers of the Steppe 600BC - AD 1300 (Osprey- Elite)

Justinian's Wars, Belisarius, Narses and the Reconquest of the West Roy Boss (Montvert)

Byzantine Armies 325AD - 1453 AD Dmitris Belezos (Periscopio)

And, of course, any other information I can glean. I clearly have a lot more reading to do so if anyone has any suggestions I would be very happy to hear from you.

Metal and Padded Armours:

Leather Armours:

Thursday 17 September 2020

Early Byzantine Army General/Magister Militum Command Stand


It has been just ten days since my last post. I've been cleaning up and assembling some of the beautiful new Perry plastic Afghan Tribesmen as well as being a little ill. The illness was a bit worrying for a few days as it was certainly a cold. As I'm 'shielding' this was I must admit an anxious moment. I have not developed any of the classic Covid 19 symptoms so I have probably just picked up a cold from somewhere, though given my steadfast shielding, I know from not where.

I'm just happy to be in one piece.

I've managed to complete the Byzantine Magister Militum Command Stand who will be standing in as my army general for my Early Byzantines. The base of the stand is all of 10 cm in diameter which is admittedly on the large size. I purchased some round white plastic rings of various sizes to fit a couple of rules systems that can be placed over the top of the model in order to adhere to the requisite basing conventions. Some rules just measure from the commander's head so not a problem really. The back of the stand looks just a litle too bare for my liking so I will be adding a little bit of clutter in the form of a few Sassanid shields, perhaps a kontarion and sword as well. Whatever completes the composition really.

The banner is hand painted and is based on the famous mosaic of Emperor Justinian. It was a toss up between Justinian and Belisarius as they are depicted on the same mosaic. In the end I opted for Justinian as he looked more magnificent (and pompous).

As usual the mini's were chosen from Aventine Miniatures Early Byzantine range from two packs- three from the BYZ22 Senior Foot Command 1 and one from the BYZ23 Senior Foot Command 2. The miniatures chosen for the task are below:


I know I have said it before but I have really fallen in love with this Aventine range. They have just the right amount of detail to add an Eastern Roman flavour to distinguish the range from that of a Late Western Roman range. The sculpts are delightful and jam packed with detail. My original plan was to speed paint the army up but any notion I held in that regard was soon suppressed when first package was opened and the mini's were in my hand. These had to be painted up carefully and with a little bit of TLC.

All the images are "clickable" so feel free to dive in and see them warts and all. 

Next up will be either a unit of Armoured Spearmen in shieldwall or an Unarmoured of Spear again. Both are cleaned up, primed and undercoated thus ready to go.

Monday 7 September 2020

Up the Nile! Beja Lot 6!

A few days ago I finished lot six of the Beja and managed to get in some early morning photography. Perhaps a little too early as I forgot to set the lighting up properly!

That is 12 more to add to the pile which now makes 60, which isn't bad going when you think that I have three projects on the go, two that I am working briskly through and one that I'm taking my time with. I think I have been working on the Beja for Up the Nile for roughly just over a month so I am more than pleased with the progress thus far.

The skin tones on this lot matches the redder African skin tones on one other lot with 12 more like these to come. Then it is back to the darker skin tones as I think I prefer them.

All the images are 'clickable' so you can enlarge the images to see them warts and all.

Group shots:

The Single Bases: