Monday, December 6, 2021

On The Painting Desk- Early Etruscans


Earlier, I posted up thoughts on how to use Etruscans with Men of Bronze and you can find that Line of Battle along with others in the Hercules Abroad supplement on the Wargame Vault.  You can also find the Etruscans in the Wars of the Republic book I wrote for Osprey.  Therefore, I have known for a while now that I wanted an Etruscan army.  However, I was not sure how I wanted to approach it.  A quick google search did not reveal to me a great set of 28mm Early Etruscans.  I did find Aventine's very nice range of Late Etruscans, and I believe Agema now has a line of Etruscans as well.  I knew right away that I wanted a unit of Etruscan warriors with Axes, and that was something I did not find well represented in the 28mm ranges.  

I had completed making a few Greek Hoplite armies from Victrix, a Macedonian army from Victrix, some Roman armies from Victrix, and a Viking army from Victrix.  Therefore, I had a lot of let-over bits from Victrix model kits lying around.  I decided to try to leave my left over parts of Victrix kits to make my Etruscan force.  

The first step was to try and get a feel for what Etruscan troops may have actually looked like!  For this, I had a hard time finding much detail.  I had a sketch in Warry's Warfare in the Classical World, Osprey's The Etruscans, and a few google image searches.  Of course, with google image searches you have to be really careful trying to make sure you are looking at an actual Etruscan and not a Samnite or Italiote, or something else.    

From Warry's Warfare in the Classical World

A couple things stand out when you think of an Etruscan army that make it unique on the tabletop: 

1. They had a core of elite hoplites that were the social elite of their civilization, so they had an aristocratic warrior tradition.  These warriors were well equipped. 

2. The use of the Axe and Javelins within the phalanx unit 

3. Etruscans used small breastplates of metal often with the three circle motif to their design, which was also widely used later by other Italic tribes and the Samnites. 

4. They used a variety of shield types ranging from the hoplon/aspis, to the scutum, to the pelte

5. They made use of a variety of helmet designs, but they are known for a unique style of "crest" 

All of these together can make a very evocative and unique looking force on the tabletop.  I wanted to try to capture some of these ideas in the models.  

From The Etruscans by Osprey Publishing
Artist is Giuseppe Rava

For my Etruscans, I was going to kit-bash parts from the following Victrix Kits: 

1. Republican Romans I 
2. Spartan Hoplites
3. Mercenary Hoplites
4. Greek Peltasts, Archers, and Slingers
5. Greek Light Cavalry
6. Vikings

The army itself was going to have the following elements added to it: 

1. Elite Hoplite unit
2. Fellowship of Axemen
3. Citizen Levy Hoplites
4. Slingers

The elite and axe men of the army was going to use Hoplite bodies in bell cuirasses and Roman bodies with square armored breastplates.  The militia would just be the breast plates.  Most weapons would be spears from the Triarri left-overs from the Romans, with a few Javelins from the Greek Light Cavalry thrown into the elites for flavor.  The axes would come from the Viking sprue and be 2-handed and single handed axes.  The heads and shields would come from a variety of sources.  However, to create the distinctive "crest" I decided to add a handful made out of green stuff on some of the Spartan helmeted heads.  For slingers, I just used regular slingers from the Greek box.  

 Once assembled, I followed my usual process of undercoating everyone white.  This time, I did not try to batch paint them all at once.  Painting 60 Vikings in one batch put me off that idea.  Instead, I started working on them unit by unit.  Plus, I wanted to finish about 1 unit a weekend.  

The first unit done was the slingers, because they did not have a lot going on.  They were mostly just in tunics with no armor.  Therefore, once the flesh was on them, there was not much left to paint!  I gave them a couple drab colored tunic colors and finished off their kit.  Then I gave them an Army Painter light wash, based them and called it a day! 

From there, the Elite Hoplite unit was the next to complete.  I all ready had 4 painted up and ready to go.  I had painted them up when I did my Early Republican Roman force, the initial idea was to be able to swap the Roman Triarri out with a few Etruscans to make an Etruscan unit.  Thankfully, I had enough left-over Victrix bits to bulk out the entire army, so no swapping would be needed.  That will make it easier for my Etruscan force to fight my early Roman force. 

You can see that I gave them a variety of weapons such as spears, axes, and javelins.  In addition, they have all the helmet styles pictures in the Osprey artwork with a forward crest, side ways crests, horns, dual feathers, and even the metal crest on the back right one. They also use a mix of bell cuirasses, and chest plates.  Finally, they have a variety of shield types within the unit. I was lucky to run across a couple of left over shield transfers in my bitz box to help this unit's shield "pop".  

Elite hoplites with their militia allies

The next unit I decided to work on was the Etruscan signature weapon, the Axe.  This weapon was almost unique to the Etruscans in the region.  It is speculated that the Etruscan Axe Men used the weapon to pull down the shield of their Phalanx foes to leave them open to a comrades attack.  However, these weapons were phased out by the end of the 4th century. 

Again, I used a variety of helmets, armor, and shields to get the early nature of these guys across.  Even the axes are a combination of single hand and double handed weapons.  Sadly, I ran out of shield transfers, so maybe I will add some later after my next order?  

The last two units were the part-time soldiers.  Most of the time they were too busy tending their fields to train and worry about fighting.  However, they had enough income to get a chest plate, spear, armor, and shield, so they got to be in the Phalanx line.  These part time, middle income soldiers were probably on the flanks with the Elite Hoplite units in the center. 

These guys still have the variety of shields and headgear.  However, they are principally armed with the spear and chest plate.  No exotic mix of axes and javelins here.  These guys would not benefit from the Pila or Disruption rules and would act as Militia or Light hoplites to bulk out the force.  I tried to go back to the drab tunic colors to show their lower status.  They will not be getting any shield transfers.  

Here they are all together and ready to fight! 

Final Thoughts
That concludes my Etruscan army.  It cost me nothing additional to make this army as I all ready had enough left over Victrix bits to make it happen.  In an ideal world, I would of had some of the pectoral armor from the Italian Allies boxed set to make these guys look a bit more "authentic Etruscan" but I am happy with the mix of gear that I did have available.  The Viking axes integrated well with only a little bit of trimming and green stuff! 

What an amazing year for painting!  I managed to paint 270+ models now this year, and completed about 4 armies!  I think that is a record for me!  I will need to sit back and take stock of what I want to tackle next!   

Since I started looking into a wargame for the Conquest of Italy, I wanted an Etruscan force.  I can now cross that goal off my bucket list!

You can get everything you need for your Etruscan force and more in the Men of Bronze Supplement: Hercules Abroad.  You could also get the rules for Etruscans in the Osprey Wars of the Republic book as well. 

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