About This Blog

Xenophon's Ghost covers military history and wargaming from the ancient period to modern times.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Persian Progress

Despite reality interfering all week, I managed to make good progress on the Later Achaemenid  Persian (II/7) DBA army figures.  The decision to prewash the white primed figures was a success.  It definitely reduced the nooks and crannies painted white that were difficult to share.

The Later Persians in DBA 2.2 have an option to field four spears or four auxilia.  Even though I have enough figures for both choices, I am focused on fielding the Army with spears first.  I'm hopeful that I can finish up this army by next weekend, in time for some DBA games on 6 April.

Three of the spear elements will feature Medians or Persian figures.  I hand-painted the shields.

I decided to use Phoenician Marines for one spear element, using decals on these figures.

I also repainted one scythed chariot, from my Macedonian Morph collection, with a Persian motif.

I'm tackling the mounted elements and Darius' chariot next.

Ryan is also making good progress on his Thessalian army.  Four spear elements are completed, except for the terrain on the bases.  He placed shield decals tonight, and they look pretty cool.  He decided to use blue as the dominant color on hoplite shields and cavalry cloaks.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Persian Paint Test

Darius in the replica mosaic at Pompeii, Italy, March 2012
Inspired by our recent game day, I have decided to paint up a Late Persian army that has been in the queue.  I tried to delay the project until DBA 3.0 was published, but I have given up.  I'll base it for 2.2 which is what our group plays.  I have too many figures really, so I need to decide what figures I will actually use for this army.  I will eventually buy archers, so I can field the Early army, too.


I primed this figures white.  I like how the white undercoat works for bright colors, but there are always little crevices that remain tough to hit.  With a black undercoat, the spots look naturally like shading, but  white stands out.

Persian Javelinmen
With a black undercoat, I drybrush white to help see the details.  I decided to try the opposite on these figures.  Using a Citadel Paints Wash (Agrax Earthshade), I liberally splashed the wash onto the figures, ensuring I covered areas that will be shaded later.  I'm not sure if this will help or not, but the painting step went very quick.

Persian General figures in front of the Army
Now I need to research the clothing colors and shields for this force.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Grenzer Battalion

Grenzer #5 Regiment command element
I finished off a small Grenzer Battalion for Lasalle (and DBN).   This unit is composed of figures from a Battle Honors set titled "Grenzers and Jagers."  There were not enough Grenz figures for the six bases needed in Lasalle, and the figures didn't mix well with other figures that I purchased.

I decided to field one of my Lasalle battalions with the "half deployed" option - four bases and two additional skirmish markers that can deploy to other units. Since the regular Austrian infantry is weaker in skirmishers than the French, this option should work fine.

The unit represents Grenzer Regiment #5.

I'm putting Napoleonics aside for awhile.  My next project is a DBA Persian army although I need to stop procrastinating on my terrain project.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

DBA Game Day

Jeff assembled a group of five for DBA this weekend; Ryan, Rob, Ian, and me joined Jeff who graciously arranged the location and provided terrain and game mats.  We rotated turns, with the winner continuing to play.  Jeff sat out the first round.  This was Rob's first time playing DBA in five years, but he fared well.

 The Armies 

  • Kappadokians (Ryan)
  • Phokians (Jeff)
  • Serbian Empire (Rob)
  • Palmyrans (Jeff)
  • Seleucids (a) list (Dave)
  • Alexandrian Imperial (Dave)
  • Patrician Romans (Ian)

Game Results

The number represents the elements killed by the army.  Green shading marks the victor.

Game Results
Patrician Romans
Serbian Empire
Alexandrian Imperial
Game 1


Seleucid Gen killed
Game 2

Serbs captured camp
Game 3

Kap Gen killed
Game 4


Game 5


Palmyran Gen killed
Game 6 



Close until the end
Game 7


Pikes need patience

Eye Candy

My photo coverage was uneven, but here are a few highlights.

Kappadokians vs. Seleucids

Initial deployment
Psiloi ZOCs Elephant, forcing retreat
Scythed Chariot surrounded
Serbians vs. Patrician Romans

Serbian Knights advance while Bow move into woods
Phokians vs. Kappadokians
Kappadokian horse fighting alone
Hand of God assists Phokians in trapping Kappadokian General
Palmyrans vs. Patrician Romans

Palmyran General fights Blades 
Kappadokians vs. Serbians

Kappadokians await Serb Attack: LH withdraws after successful raid

Palmyrans vs. Alexandrian Imperial Army

Companion Cavalry surrounded by Palmyran Bow

Final Results

In the end, all of us had a fun day of gaming in these friendly matches.  Jeff displayed his usual strong skills, and Rob played very well despite his long furlough.  Ryan is continuing to improve, and he handled this light army quite well.  Ian and I tried hard...I must be more patient with the Macedonians (or maybe it is time to play some other army that fits my desire to attack quickly better).

Phokians (1), Palmyrans (2)
Patrician Romans
Serbian Empire
Seleucids (1), Alex Imperial (2)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Chosun Dynasty Army Logistics

Standard of Yi Dynasty

The Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo ran an interesting article on the history of the Chosun (Yi) Dynasty's emergency rations on 8 March 2013 (pg. C5). The description and images from a famous set of eight images that cover the military history from the Koryo dynasty to the early Chosun period. The images should be inspirational for any DBA painters working on List IV/78, Yi Dynasty, which is the other name used for the Chosun kingdom.

The main image from the article depicts Chosun government forces fighting a rebel army.  The clothing colors, banners, and weaponry should serve as a useful guide for painting.

The article explained why the soldiers' uniforms bulge around the stomach.

Soldiers wrapped a food bag carrying emergency rations around their torsos.  The Chosun army was quite organized in terms of support.  Soldiers known literally as "Fire Soldiers" served as the logisticians responsible for foodstuffs.  The term is often mistranslated as a type of shooting unit, but the term refers to the fires used for cooking.  In addition to preparing food when the army was not in an emergency situation, the cooks made rice cakes from a mix of boiled rice and wheat flour for each foot soldier to carry.

The article went on to explain that soldiers were punished severly for eating the emergency rations without orders: the punishment was the same as losing a weapon.

I hope that my meager translation effort and sharing of these images prove useful to wargamers interested in Korean armies.

The images from the 북관유적도첩(北關遺蹟圖帖)-출기파적도(出奇破賊圖) were provided for the news article by the Koryo University Museum. The Korean National Museum's website also offers more information at the link http://www.emuseum.go.kr/index.do.  I couldn't find the same information in English, but clicking on the English tab at the top of the webpage will provide you with access to other information on Korean history.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Planning Bolt Action Purchases

Marines Landing on Iwo Jima

Cost conscious as I am, I decided to compare the cost for a few armies and manufacturers for Bolt Action.  Warlord Games, the co-publisher of the game, has a great range of WWII 28mm miniatures.  I am also considering figures from Wargames Factory, which makes late war Americans and Germans, and the Plastic Soldier Company's Russians.

Without going into every detail, the table below compares four 1000 point armies. The experience level of the majority of units is listed.  As you can see, the Soviets are able to field a lot of infantry, thanks to a points-free 11 man inexperienced squad, a national characteristic unique to the Russian army list.

Playing Bolt Action in the Pacific theater is appealing to me, but it will require a little more money than a European campaign.  Although I didn't estimate the cost for a Japanese force, the basic infantry box for both the Marines and the Japanese runs the same.   I could field a Russian and German army for the price of one Marine list by using a mix of manufacturers.  Because the Warlord USMC and Japanese units are a mix of metal and plastic figures, the boxes are also pricier than the Warlord US Army figures available for European campaigns.

Bolt Action 28mm Forces - Cost Estimates
General Exp Level
Officers, Staff, Medic
Inf Squads
Total Infantrymen
.30 LMG
MMG Maxim
Sniper Team
Mortar Team
Anti-tank Team
AT Rifle
76mm FG
M4 75mm Sherman
Panzer IV
Panzer IV
Other Vehicles
LVT4 Buffalo
1 Hanomag
2 Hanomag
Cost Estimate
Inf - PSC Tank-Warlord
Inf-WarFact Veh-Warlord
Inf-WarFact Veh-Warlord

Figure cost is not the only factor.  It would be interesting to estimate time and cost to finish a Pacific battlefield versus a European one.  I could easily scratch-build the bunkers that would characterize a Pacific Island; building or buying numerous buildings for a burned-out town in France would undoubtedly be pricier.  How would the money and time investment balance out when the terrain is considered? Hmm...

While cost will be a consideration, I don't expect that will be the leading factor in my final decision.  Bolt Action is quite affordable to play considering the investment needed to field large horse & musket armies, at smaller scales, for Napoleonic gaming.

Welcome thoughts from any experienced WWII gamers on how the Russian and Veteran German lists would match up. They are quite different in composition.  I have a few points left on the German list, so I should be able to add a bit more firepower.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Big Brush Theory

 Having I been using brushes that are too small?

Today I did a significant amount of painting, very quickly, with a #2 flat, the brush I use to thin my acrylics.  Now I'm wondering if I've been using tiny brushes needlessly.

My son Ryan made progress on his Thessalian DBA figures today, hitting the shields.  When showing him how to thin the paint, I decided to run the loaded mixing brush across one shield face.  It left a smooth, practically completed shield in one stroke.  Ryan used the brush to quickly complete the others.

Grenzer Progress

I used the same #2 Flat brush tonight on the pants and shakos for 15mm Austrian Grenzers.  Since the figures are very similar, I was able to use a steady brush stroke across the pants legs.  I finished all the pants on thirty-two figures in twenty minutes or less.  The shakos went quickly, too.  I used a #1 round for the boots and bayonet sheaths.  

Theses figures won't win any awards, but I found the large brush actually helped me avoid painting all of the way to the edge of the pants, so I have black outlines along the tunic bottom.  I also didn't bother touching up every nook and cranny, providing shading.  I generally tend to over-paint, so the fast technique worked to my favor.

I tried the same approach on the tunics, switching to brown of course for these 1808 era soldiers.  I almost had a disaster because the paint was too thin, and the #2 flat was just too unwieldy.  Unlike the pants, I risked marring the face and rifles, which I had painted before.  I switched to a #3 round, another larger than usual brush for me, and the tunic painting went quickly.

All told, I finished a good portion of this unit in an hour.  I'll use the same approach tomorrow for the backpack and bedroll.  This fast progress might dissuade me from buying those 28mm figures for Bolt Action just a bit longer.