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Ancient Miniatures and Historical Gaming
Making of a Mardian
Persian Progress- Wargames Atlantic 28mm archers as a unit of twelve
A while ago I
promised that I would actually build a unit of Wargames Atlantic
Persian archers. I decided to make twelve Mardian archers with Median
caps. Plus I decided to make an extra standard bearer since the fox
cap head dress is nice. The
Mardians (the tribes of Amardi) were part of the Upper Median Satrapy
along the southern Caspian Sea. I decided that Median round felt caps
are as good as any guess, and I liked the style of these heads
provided. I'm going with mixed armor. Currently they are based for
painting on 25mm washers. Their leg stance makes them difficult to
place on 20mm rounds. I'm expecting to run these as light infantry
which can skirmish, or form up, which seems to be their role at the
battle of Issus against Alexander's assault force across the river. I also have a intent to compare these to the
Victrix ones that recently came out.
Step 1: Sorting and gluing together
the assemblies, and priming.
I sorted and cleaned up the bits from the
sprues and worked out some poses. The models were sprayed black as
their base primer coat. Then some antique white was dry brushed
around to give some tooth for the paint layers.
The goal is to have a dark and light base for tints and contrast
paints to work with.
Mardian archers assembled and
primed, ready to paint.
Books and References:
Median hat and outfit:
I chose the round bulbous cap for these
Mardians because they were from the Caspian Sea region that was
part of the Upper Median satrapy (province). Others like to go
with a more Sogdian or Scythian wrapped shirt for these. The color
choices are completely my own, based on the above reference works
from my youth. The Mardians seem to be specialist archers and are
somewhat unique in they were noted in two of Alexander's battles,
Issus, and Gaugamela. One can conclude that since they were not
destroyed at Issus that they were competent troops, since they
were kept under arms or assigned replacements. There is no telling
if the quilted armor was used by them or not, so I think it adds
nice variety to the mix, and if the player wishes to assign light
armor to them, at least there are some equipped that way. The
standard was cut out of laminated card stock. The standard
bearer's shield is from my large stash of Persian crescent
shields- more than I will ever need. I decided I wanted a smaller
shield than the elongated on on the sprue. Other than that the
archers are equipped as Persians, with the large bow that infantry
carried, a gorytos quiver, and a side weapon called the akinakes
strapped to the thigh.
Good Achaemenid clothing references here:
Step 3: Blocking in some colors,
testing shades, deciding on colors. I decided the caps (Golden-rod)
and the trousers (Rose Madder), will be the unifying color. A brighter
yellow contrast (Citadel) look for the standard bearer seems best, but
I've already decided that model will get some zig-zags and more
Step 2: is determining the
palette. Red, golden-rod, green? I decided to go back in time to my
first reference work for Persians, the 1966 book "Le Costume et Les
Armes Des Soldats De Tous Les Temps French Edition by Liliane
et Fred Funcken. I bought the French version because it was the gold
standard of illustrated uniform reference at the time. Later on all
the Funcken books were available in English. Funny how the Funcken's
color choices and illustration were passed from book to book back
then. Now things are more thoroughly researched! So based on the
reference I decided that I would keep these relatively simple for
Persians. I chose number of shades of tunics from tan, to golden
rod, to green, with a unifying Rose Madder (red) color for the
Foundry paints have a good Madder
Mardian archers color blocked in first
Comment: "I can hardly believe, the
standard bearer's yellow is based on the black and white priming."
Some areas have been given a test shade
over the thin base color, it is not entirely "just the primed
undercoat" (but the undercoat does help pop colors). I used Army
Painter Quickshades for the base tunic colors on the Green (Military
Green) and the Golden rod ((Light Tone) shades. The yellow on the
standard bearer was a straight out of the bottle yellow from
Ceramcoat, which is a bit translucent. I then applied some Citadel
Ivanden Yellow contrast as a test, since I don't often get to use such
a bright highlight. Then I did little bit of hilites with
antique white mixed with yellow.
This will certainly prove to be a "go to style" for yellow cloaks and
hats, since the Citadel contrast is very nice for this particular
photo shows the colors a bit truer with some hilites and the
The breaking of the spears: the issue with
spears and arrows in plastic:
So far so good on these. I haven't broken
any while painting. However the notching arrow arm was so thin I broke
two just trying to clean the sprue tab. I decided to scrap those and
make another arrow out of the spear shaft. It is a lot less
flimsy. I have zero luck with plastic spears. But they look so
Question: "Do they fit in with Foundry
I would say they are close to later Foundry
in size. The older Foundry archers are almost true 25's, but the
officers and standing figures are closer than you would think. Compare
with this picture:
Step 4: Still a long way off, but I
am at least making steady progress. Here they are getting details and
more hilites and some final facial details. The shield and banner get
painted with a design I liked from various transfer sets. Here I have
also puttied the bases and painted them and added a first round of
grit. They have not been sprayed with matte varnish yet so I have not
painted any metallic items yet.
Finally complete and ready to show
figures allow lots of variable poses, each figure is unique.
So much detail on these. One can zoom in
and see it all! I have made bowstrings out of melted
sprue, but they never last for gaming figures.
My guess is the arrows will be very
fragile in games. One reason why I did 13 is that if I use the
standard bearer I can keep the model notching one safe in the
painted shields, look a bit rough close up, but at tabletop
distance they look ok.
use laminated card for the banner."
That is a good question. I do that mainly because coated card
stock does not warp and is stronger than paper.
I get a lot of promotional printed cards in
the mail, often coated (laminated). I re-purpose some of them as paint
palettes and sometimes as small flat items. Plastic sheet card is
better but I often run out. The seemingly never ending supply of clear
coated card stock takes the paint well and seems to last forever.
These small square banners in Persian units
were made out of painted thick felt, so they did not wave in the
breeze and this explains why they are depicted as stiff squares that
wobble independently. Achaemenid Persian standards were a square about
30 cm across atop a pole 2-2.5m long. Mine may be a bit large. This
design is just made up from ideas from Persian designs, but the most
common one is the two color (often depicted as black and red).
Wargames Atlantic has some that can be printed:
Atlantic flags by Peter Dennis:
grizzled officer is ready to keep everybody in line, or else
Clang Clang! the silver hammer will do the trick!
Atlantic Persians can be fetched here: