Saturday, 29 January 2022

From BenF: Kings of Kings and Kinsmen - 15mm Persian Guard and Commanders (Glorantha) (115 Points)

For this week's entry, I've managed to finish off the elite forces of my Later Achaemenid Persians. I do love an underdog. While armies of Napoleon's Imperial Guard, British Riflemen, English longbowmen, or Early Imperial Romans do hold a certain allure, I tend to be drawn to the side which might have been victorious if only a decision, a deployment, or just dumb luck been different. To that end, alongside the Persians, I'll also be working on early Napoleonic Prussians and Russians, and also some Remnant Imperial Stormtroopers this challenge. 

While the Achaemenid Persians are a much maligned force, a careful reading of the Greek sources show that some Persian troops and leaders, often fought bravely, if a little recklessly. Some might even say heroically. Xenophon tells of how in 401BC, Kūruš, better known as Cyrus the Younger, pretender to the Persian throne, led his kinsmen cavalry in a heroically doomed charge against his brother the King of Kings, Artarxerxes II at the battle of Cunaxa, being cut down at the moment of victory. 67 years later, on the Granicus River, Spithrodáta, the Satrap (military governor) of Lydia and Ionia, and his brother Raucaka, led another doomed, but ferociously reckless charge of Persian cavalry against the Companions of the Boy King Alexander of Macedon. I hope you will forgive me channeling my inner Ancient History Teacher, and handing over to Diodorus Siculus:

The Alexander Mosaic from the House of the Faun, Pompeii
[17.20.1] But the Persians resisted bravely and matched with their spirit the valour of the Macedonians, as fortune had brought together in that place the finest fighters to dispute the victory. [17.20.2] The satrap of Ionia, Spithrobates, a Persian by birth, son in law to the Great King Darius, and a man of superior courage, hurled himself at the Macedonian lines with a large body of cavalry, and with a guard of forty companions, all of the Royal Kinsmen and of outstanding valour, pressed hard on the opposite line and in a fierce attack slew some of his opponents and grievously wounded others. [17.20.3] As the force of this attack seemed critical, Alexander turned his horse towards the satrap and rode at him. To the Persian, it seemed as if this opportunity for single combat was god-given. He hoped that by his bravery Asia might be rid of its terrible menace, and the renowned daring of Alexander halted by his own hand, and the glory of the Persians saved from disgrace. He hurled his javelin first at Alexander with such a mighty throw that he pierced Alexander's shield and drove through his breastplate. [17.20.4] The king shook off the weapon as it dangled from his arm, then kicked in his spurs and, using the momentum of his charging horse, drove his lance squarely into the satrap's chest [17.20.5]...The point, however, snapped off against the breastplate and the broken shaft recoiled, and the Persian drew his sword and drove at Alexander, but the king recovered his grip on the lance in time to thrust at the man's face and drive the blow home [17.20.6] The Persian, fell, but then his brother, the noble Rhosaces, galloping up drove his sword down on Alexander's head with such a blow that it split his helmet and inflicted a scalp wound [17.20.7] As Rhosaces aimed another blow at the break, Cleitus the Black dashed up on his horse and cut off the Persian's arm.

Even Darius III Codomannus, whose moment of panicked flight at the battle of Issus was immortalised in the famous Alexander Mosaic, fought bravely and with distinction in the campaigns of the warrior king Artarxerxes III.

In case you can't tell, I'm a bit of a fan of Achaemenid Persians. The bizzare and ornately decorated pyjama clothing, the wide variety of troop types, and the 'foreignness' of this arm provides a painting, as well as a tabletop challenge, which only adds to the allure. 

These are all 15mm Forged in Battle figures, and they're rather spiffing. 

First off, the Hûvakâ, or the Royal Kinsmen Cavalry. Armoured, and led by a satrap, these are slightly converted figures, with a few headswaps and some moving of the spears to a more suitable charging pose. I went all out with this lot when it comes to the gold bronze armour, ornately decorated tunics, and other bling. I'm pretty satisfied with how they came out, and can happily report that yesterday they led a charge against my mate Steve's Companion cavalry in a game of Basic Impetus 2 - a game winning charge as well. So much for the curse of freshly painted figures. 

Hûvakâ guard advance under the Achaemenid Royal banner, led by a prince of the blood.

Next, a base of Bactrian cavalry. These capable light cavalrymen from central Asia fought with bow, sword, and javelin. They served with the Achaemenids, and then under Alexander and his successors.

Next, its the strangest of Persian innovations - the terrifying, if largely ineffective, scythed chariot. I used foil from the top of a wine bottle to make some reins for the driver. Despite his heavy armour, the strategy was for him to charge at the enemy line, then jump off before the whole thing contacted, hopefully causing a lot of destruction. I don't care to think about the survival rate of the drivers. I've scored this wierd beast as a 15mm vehicle and a 15mm foot figure for the crewman - I think I spent more time on the horse saddlecloth decorations for the chariot than I did on the Bactrians! I hope this is ok. 

Finally for this week's entry, its the commanders themselves. The chap in the chariot is Darius III Codomannus, the unfortunate King of Kings who had taken the throne and was attempting to win a civil war when the brilliant maniac Alexander III of Macedon invaded, intent on proving himself better than his heroic ancestor Achilles and conquering the whole of Asia. For the other bases, the chap with the standard bearer is a Satrap - or perhaps Kūruš the usurper. As with the Hûvakâ, I again went to town with the clothing decorations, reflecting the wealth and power of these leaders of one of the worlds first great empires. For the other general, I did a headswap to give him the plumed helmet, and he will act as a cavalry leader - perhaps Spithrodata or Raucaka, though hopefully more fortunate in battle. 

Darius in his Royal Chariot. The colours are from the Alexander Mosaic

The Satrap goes to battle under the banner of his house

Cavalry commander with a Hûvakâ guard escort

That's it for this week. I'm currently working my way through the last options of the Persian army - Thracians, and some Persian foot - slingers and the enigmatic Takabara and Kardakes, and perhaps even the Apple Bearer foot guards. 

Summary of Points for this entry

  • 17 x 15mm mounted @ 4 points = 68 points
  • 2 x 15mm vehicles @ 8 points = 16 points
  • 3 x 15mm foot figures @ 2 points = 6 points
  • Glorantha (Outer Ring) bonus = 20 points
  • Millsy: +5 points for details

Total = 115 points

From Millsy:

Glorious work Ben! These are, to use your own words, rather spiffing! At first glance I didn't notice the scale and thought I was looking at 28mm stuff. I was impressed even then, which makes your work so much more impressive at 15mm. You've really gone to town on the range of colours and details which just adds to the overall WOW factor of these.

With the quadrant bonus and the extra points I'm awarding for the lovely detail work that's 115 points added to your tally. Nice work mate. Spiffing!


  1. Wonderful work Ben, lovely details given the scale and excellent Impetus basing -- must be great to field this lot

  2. These are great, such detail at 15mm and I learnt something too. Great post

  3. you must be joking! Those figures cannot be just 15mm, the levell of detail you have managed in your fabric designs is downright amazing! The basing really enhances the pop of the colourful figures, in short: fantastic work!

  4. Very nice painting on these 15mm Persians, Ben! :)

  5. Fantastic stuff .. very colourful and superb detail.

    Cheers Jez

  6. Splendid looking Persians, gorgeous painting and top basing!
    Best Iain

  7. Excellent entry . Looking good

  8. That’s a bloomin‘ marvelous looking body of troops you’ve got there. They‘re so refreshingly different in their colourful pajamas

  9. I am amazed that these are 15mm! Terrific!

  10. Fantastic work. The detail you have painted on these 15mm figures is very impressive. I really like your dry grasslands basing.

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  12. Fantastic detail and really nice colours which is even more impressive given their 15mm size (I deleted my original post becoz of poer spellin and granmer!)

  13. Very colourful figures, they look excellent.

  14. Whoa! The details on clothes, I'm not confident doing similar in 28mm and you have pulled it out on 15mm. Hats off, go team Saturday!

  15. I wish I could get the same effects on 28mm ancients. Lovely stuff.

  16. Ben as I’ve said here before, it’s an absolute pleasure to see your work. I hope these fine Persians make this week’s minions’ choice, they’re excellent. Thanks also for the history lesson.
    Cheers, MikeP

  17. Very nice work. Puts my 1/72 scale to shame. Detail work on the chariot is excellent for 15mm. Looking forward to future posts.

  18. 15mm that look way better than many 28s! Fabulous painting sir.

  19. Absolutelly fabulous. Masterclass stuff this.