Monday, March 25, 2024

'Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts' - Trojan Horse and Mycenaeans

This past autumn I read a review of Emily Wilson's recent translation of 'The Illiad' and decided to pick it up. While it was a bit of a slog in spots, I still really enjoyed it. Wilson chose to translate Homer's prose using unrhymed iambic pentameter, rather than the traditional dactylic hexameter which is an academics way of saying that she translated Homer's epic not only for ease of reading, but for listening to as well. And it's true, I found her translation very easy to digest, and was struck by her descriptions of the battles and motivations of the characters. I think any reader will find that much of what the story describes still resonates today, which is pretty impressive for a tale that is almost 3,000 years old!

This prompted me to bring out my copy of Rosemary Sutcliff's 'Black Ships Before Troy' (wonderfully illustrated by Alan Lee), and re-watch both the 2004 film and the 2018 mini series. Of course all this Hellenic enthusiasm spilled over into my hobby as well, with me collecting miniatures and mulling over possible  gaming scenarios.

Ever since I was a kid I've been fascinated by the story of the Trojan Horse and Odysseus' ruse which saw the fall of Troy and the end of the 10-year siege. With this in mind, I started to sketch out a semi-cooperative game where the Horse has been brought into the city and the players, who control the Greeks hiding inside, emerge from the Horse to try to secure victory and gain fame under the gods' eyes. I envision that there will be various missions for them to complete and compete for. Things like 'Light the Signal Fire'; 'Open the Main Gate'; 'Secure Helen', 'Raid the Treasury'; etc. I see lots of characterful 'Screw Cards' with Gods intervening amongst the general mayhem. :)

Several of the sources say that 40 Greeks were hiding in the Horse, so I decided that each of the four players would control a hero along with nine companions.  The leading heroes would be Odysseus, Diomedes, Menelaus and Neoptolemus. In the rules I imagine that their companions will serve to assist in side task as well as serve as their bodyguards in critical fights. 

Now, first to find a suitable Horse. I did a good bit of investigating trying to source a suitable model for the Horse but it wasn't easy. In a bout of pique I even entertained making one out of foam core, but I knew that way lay strife and madness. Finally I came across a 3d design based on the 2004 movie set model. Perfect!

I quite like the Horse's rustic design as it actually looks like something that may have been built on a beach from repurposed ships planking, rope and smelted bronze.

The original 3d design was made for 54mm figures which was way too HUGE, especially as I wanted something that could store away in a single banker's box. After a bit of head scratching and calculating, I settled on 20mm as an overarching scale and resized the Horse accordingly for the final print.

The printed model was fairly easy to assemble and paint. I kept the Horse's side panels unglued just in case things go pear-shaped for the Greeks right from the get-go. :)

I quite like that the horse is at a scale that works with the figures. It actually looks like fourty crazy Greeks could be crammed within it. To finish the piece, I made a 'drop hatch' from plasticard and a rope from wire.

The Greek heroes are 3d designs from Wargames Atlantic. I quite like the models, but I have to say that the multipart assembly strained my patience after a while. What you see here is only half of the full Greek contingent of forty. I have most of the other models assembled, but I just couldn't get them across the finish line in time.  Nonetheless, this provides a taste of what the whole group will look like. 

Odysseus' 'Red Group'

Diomedes 'Green Group'

Sometimes I like a scale variation for my 'Big Men' in skirmish games, so I scaled the named Heroes in 28mm so they are noticeably larger than their 20mm companions. I also based them on octagon bases to help them stand out a little more.

I also did a test stand of Trojan opponents, all geared-up in their formidable Dendra plate armour. 

I imagine there will be a whole contingent of these 'Trojan Terminators' at the Palace, protecting Helen and the rest of the Royal family.  They should be a tough nut to crack for the assaulting Greeks.

There is still a lot to do, but this group hopefully breaks the duck and helps me keep up the momentum to complete the project.

- Curt


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