Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Middle Roman Syndrome

I mean, I just love this A&A range, but they take so long to paint!  Twice as long as an EIR.  It's the pteurges, and the edges around the armour.  Look good though... but will I ever complete an army of them?

A quick WIP shot of the A&A Middle Imperials that have been on my painting tray for around a month; ready to base.  I painted half, the rest (the better ones!) came from a lucky eBay purchase from the US.  Various command figures are coming on, in the background.  Watch this space...

Saturday, 22 October 2011

New Toys

Yesterday I took delivery of a lovely Roman fort from Paul Darnell; it is a beautiful piece of work!  I especially like the gate tower, and the blue-grey colour he has used for the wood, which I shall nick for future projects.

There are 2 barracks with it, very simple, very nice, mostly foam-card and Wills pantiles.  I might try to make some myself.

Paul is getting out of modelmaking, shortly, so this could be the time to commission that building you always wanted, from him!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Per Mare, Per Terram

(The motto is of our Royal Marines; seems appropriate!)

20 more recruits for my rapidly-mustering ex-marine legion, I Adiutrix.  This time I've gone with a pale (almost duck-egg) blue tunic.   These are 20 more almost total repaints of an eBay purchase.  I replaced all the original pila with new pila I made by cutting the heads off old pila, and drilling metal pins into them, so as to get nice, thin shafts.  Bonkers, I know, but I shall do the same with all my pila in future!  Only 40 minis to go, now... and 80 shields, still on order.

I'll now take a little while off this force, to finish the Middle Imperial Cohort that has been on my painting tray for a month.   After that I may have a crack at the new Marcommanic-war Romans*, that I've just bought off Keith at Aventine.

*Very Late Early Imperial, one might call them.  Or Very Early Middle Imperial, I suppose...

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Rumble by the Rhine

On Tuesday we played another Hail Caesar game, another battle between revolting Batavian and German auxiliaries, and their savage German allies, and a regular Roman/auxiliary force who were trying to relieve a small fort (one of Paul Darnell's lovely models, above, with some great buildings by John Smillie).

Above are my loyal auxiliaries; Britons, Gauls and Raetians, with some Praetorian cavalry.  The legionary cohorts were deployed (below) off to my right, just beyond a small wood that turned out to be a terrific PITA.

Ianicus commanded the Germans.  Above are some of the savage German warbands; mostly Dr Simon's minis.  Below are his German and Batavian mutineers.

The battle started with Dr Simon seizing the vicus, just outside the fort, with his auxiliary archers, and (imaginatively) with dismounted legionary cavalry (you can just make them out in the photo at the top of the post).  Ianicus countered by seizing the central wood (below) with his javelinmen. 

This was an issue for us, because in Hail Caesar close order troops cannot enter a wood; we had nothing to pry the skirmishers out with.  Moreover the HC proximity rule (of which more in a later post) required our legionaries to face the LI, even though they had no missile weapons that could harm them and could not even melee them.  So the better half our army was useless!

I decided that the only thing I could do was move forward my auxilia to throw javelins at them.  Meanwhile Ianicus was trying to manoeuvre around my left flank... click on the map, below, to see the situation at this stage.

After this I'm afraid it all went a bit pear shaped for the Empire.  Dr Simon laboriously manoeuvred his legionaries around behind the wood on our baseline, and then behind my lines, to face the outflanking mutineers approaching from my left.  Ianicus attacked with his Germans, and these, after a very tough fight, my surviving troops were pushed back onto Simon's columns and destroyed (a photo of the traffic jam is below).  The legions might have still have recovered it, I suppose, but it was late and we called the game.

We found the rules very frustrating; the proximity rule, in particular, is badly worded, and we struggled with various other rules, plus the poor layout of the rule set.  It is safe to say that Hail Caesar's "more friendly style of gaming" came under considerable strain, on Tuesday; it got competitive, and these rules just cannot cope with competitive! 

Still, on the plus side it looked good, and played fast.  The combat system is good, and I like the way that ordering works.  We are starting to get a reasonable grasp of the core mechanics.  Will have another crack in a week or so...

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

In the Navy...

The next EIR Project I'm taking on, will be the first of the "small" 80 figure legions that I plan to use in my EIR campaign.  This lot are the first recruits for I Adiutrix (auxiliary, or assistant) Legion, which was raised in 67/68AD from marines from the Classis Misenensis fleet, based in the Bay of Naples.  Most of the marines would have been Egyptians, and very pleased with the opportuniity, as legionary salaries were rather more generous, than marine!  Presumably there was a citizenship in it, for them, too, and possibly a patch of land on retirement.  Highly motivated, they fought very bravely at Bedriacum, capturing the eagle of XXI Rapax.

These 20 BTD minis are a major repaint of an eBay purchase.  They painted up really easily in 3 evenings, and I'll rebase when the other 60 minis are ready, in a month or so.  Shields and transfers are on order...

My intention is to give this legion a very mixed look, as befits a newly raised legion in time of war, with tunics in white, beige and two shades of pale blue.  I'll mix in the oval shields and javelins that recent ex-marines might have used*, with rectangular scuta and pila, and hamata with segmentata. 

*The Mainz Principia reliefs depict what appears to be an unarmoured legionary light infantryman of Adiutrix I, with oval shield and javelins. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Under the Brush...

These chaps will shortly become a cohort of Legio IV Scythica.  They will have the mail coifs, scale armour and the shield from Dura Europos, and will form the second unit in my nascent Middle Imperial army.  I don't intend this to be a huge army, but the minis are far too nice, not to have one. 

On a different note, I'm very much looking forward to the slightly earlier Marcommanic Wars range of Roman figures that Aventine are producing sculpted by Adam who also sculpted the A&A minis.  I will be starting a unit of them, just as soon as the officers and transfers are ready!  They represent a sort of "missing link" between my Trajanic Legionaries, and the A&A Middle Imperials. 

Monday, 10 October 2011

Battle of Arelate, Part III

This third and final part of the After Action Review, focuses on the action in the centre.

Above is a view from behind the enemy's lines, showing their uphill attack against the Limitae and Bacaudae that formed our centre.  The attackers were very numerous, well trained and armoured.  Luckily our troops were uphill, and somewhat buoyed by the death of Majorian in his duel, so it was a relatively even struggle.  The shields of the enemy Italian Field army made a brave display (below); all beautifully hand painted.  I can make out V Makedonia in the second photo, below.

My immediate opponents, the Comitatus of the recently deceased, now divine Majorian, rolled a maximum 5 for combat on their average dice, so our Hero needed a good dice roll to break through them.  Luckily Venus provided this (below), and we were soon galloping past the left end of the enemy infantry line, in the direction of Mediolanum!

With the gap clear, another of my cavalry units was then able to charge the flank of the enemy infantry, and roll up troops that were already exhausted by their struggle for the hill (below), and the battle was decided!

Below is the only shot I took of the far wing of the battle, where the light cavalry fought each other to destruction.

The game was very enjoyable, and I found that I had a fair grasp of the rules by the end.  Simon was a great host, and out opponent, Dave, very sportsmanlike.  The figures looked splendid (loads of converted 15mm figures, beautifully painted, sheer madness!) and I really covet a large army of Perry 28mm Late Romans, now.  So it might prove to have been an expensive visit!

If you want to have a crack at the rules (which are well written, and beautifully illustrated with pictures of Simon's minis), you can download them for free, from here.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Battle of Arelate, Part II

This is the second part of a three part write up of the game we played at Simon MacDowall's, yesterday.  Part I is here.  I'll apologise that it is rather Visigoth-centric; I had my work cut out and couldn't always follow what was going on in our centre and left (although there will be more shots of the action here, in Part III). 

So you'll recall that our brave Visigothic horse were drawn up on the far right of the line, facing no less than 6 units of well-hard Germanic shock horse ((background, below), who were poised to drive our less numerous (and if I am honest, rather less effective) horse,  from the field.

I had a cunning plan, though; use my foot to hold off the horse, and re-deploy all my mounted, behind their screen, to the centre, where they could hopefully hit the advancing enemy foot in their exposed flank.  Below you can see me part way through this manoeuvre; the foot are advancing, and inclining to their right, to fill the gap left by my horse, and my horse are scurrying along, behind them.

We were very surprised when most of the enemy cavalry ploughed frontally into our infantry,  (below)!

Luckily, they were driven back by our stalwart foot (the below view is taken from behind enemy lines).  The heaps of rocks indicate the discomfort of the recoiling enemy horse, who were badly knocked about.

Below, I turn up in the centre, with my Comitatus and horse.  The lines of infantry are on the point of clashing.  The small unit of enemy horse, riding hell-for-leather towards my cavalry units, are the Comitatus of the dead Emperor Marjorian; sworn to perish in combat.  The charging infantryman is a marker to show that I'm inspiring my own Comitatus, ready to charge.

And below the clash of impact.  The fighting was heavy and I suffered a serious wound; this would have been enough to slay a lesser man, but had little impact on my ability to command (as I'd luckily rolled a 5 for command at the outset).  Eventually we triumphed, and rode forwards over the bodies of the slain, into the gap between the enemy centre and their left...

Part III, tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Batte of Arelate, 458AD, After Action Report, Pt. I

Today I visited Simon MacDowall (rule writer and Osprey author) for a game of Comitatus, his rules written specifically for the period of the Decline, Fall, and Dark Ages.  Simon has a fantastic collection of Late Roman figures, which are beautifully painted and based; I'm afraid my photos don't do them justice (all are clickable).

The scenario was based on a fictional invasion of Gaul, by the Roman Emperor Majorian, in 458BC. Majorian was attempting to reimpose Roman authority over various rebellious Gallo-Roman nobles,  led by the would-be Emperor Marcellus and their brave Visigothic allies, led by Theodoric II, son of Theodoric I (of Chalons fame). 

Above, I played said Theodoric, noble descendant of Wotan. Aside from my comitatus of mead-pledged bodyguards, I commanded four Visigothic heavy cavalry units and a large wodge (a Germanic technical term) of infantry warband.  My troops are pictured above, and constituted the right wing of our army.  Although I stuck the cavalry on the extreme right, I had a cunning plan for them, that would mean they would not stay there for very long!  

Above are my Roman allies; that's Marcellus (played by Simon) at the rear, with his Comitatus, and my troops in the distance.  The Roman infantry weren't very good Romans, scruffy Limitae and Bacaudae, mostly, very few decent troops amongst them.  I was hoping that there would be rather fewer Romans, of both sides, by the end of the battle; lebebsraum, and all that.

Beyond the infantry, on our left, were some scruffy Alans, and other light horse types.  A bit effete, I thought.

Majorian's forces were drawn up in a long line, opposite us.  The scribes failed to record the details of the Imperial army (sorry no photo), but they were more numerous and of a rather better quality than our army (their general was a chap called Dave Allen).  Their infantry centre was formed from the Italian field army, including well-trained and armoured Palatinae, Comitatenses and some particularly aggressive-looking Suebi.  There were a host of shock cavalry opposite my wing; Ostrogoths, Rugians, Gepids and the dread Heruls.  Opposite the light horse on our left, were enemy light horse, including Huns.

That's me in the middle of the unit, above.  The game opened well, when I rolled a 5 on an average dice for my Command ability; I was nothing short of a military genius, and a great leader of men! 

Since it looked like my Roman allies were somewhat outclassed, and would lose in a stand-up fight, their leader Marcellus (at my suggestion), bravely rode forth to challenge the Emperor to single combat.  Surprisingly, the latter accepted and rode out, alone, before his lines.

First they threw javelins at each other, and missed.  As they closed, Marcellus (left above) gained first blood, wounding Majorian, but the Emperor fought back and wounded Marcellus, twice, in turn.  Marcellus recovered and wounded Majorian, again, and the two riders circled each other, bleeding from numerous wounds, fighting almost as bravely as if they were Gothic heroes.  Finally Marcellus stuck a fatal blow and the Emperor was dead!  This greatly encouraged Marcellus' command, and all the scruffy militia infantry in our centre gave a cheer (as their Morale rating climbed from average to high; this would be significant, later). 

Tomorrow, I'll describe our battle plan and the early stages of the battle.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Somewhere along the Rhine...

We played a Hail Caesar game tonight, using my Early Imperial Romans, and some of Dr Simon's Germans.  It was a battle  between revolting Batavian auxiliaries led by Civilis, and loyal auxiliaries and legionaries.  I won't cover it in much depth, because it was a trial run and we plan to run it again next week, after which I'll do a write up.  Pic's courtesy of Dr Simon's camera phone.

Above; concerned legionaries watch the advance of therevolting Germans, from the relatve safety of their watchtower (one of Paul Darnell's).

Some of Dr Simon's freshly rebased Germans.

A veritable phalanx of auxiliaries advance towards a single line of auxiliaries.  The support rules are very important, and supported units had a big edge, winning almost all the combats.  We debated removing the extra dice for supporting units, in favour of a bonus on the dice roll for units losing combats.  May try that next week...

Above, a whole phalanx of German bodybuilders, hits the thin red line.  A unit led by the war leader broke through the central legionary cohort, and disordered their second line. 

Finally, below, a somewhat blown alae of Praetorian cavalry charged a Batavian Cohort in the rear, but the stalwart Dutchmen still managed to drive them off!

It was an entertaining, friendly game; HC worked out well.  I think the rules will work well for my projected campaign.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

More Praetorian Preparations

I finished a few of the other minor conversions for my Praetorian cohorts; 2 optios on the left, and an aquilifer and a cornicer for a Praetorian prefect stand I plan make up (Sejanus, anyone?  I'm a huge I Claudivs fan).

The two optios are lightly converted BTD figures, with brass hastile and spines added to their shields using a green stuff stamp.  I've simply added manes onto the two Aventines on the right.

An aquila, I hear you say, but surely the Praetorians weren't a legion?  This is true, they were 12 separate cohorts, but one does often see an aquila in the background behind Praetorians.  My guess is that there was a Praetorian aquila that was brought forth when the cohorts were gathered together.  If anyone has any info on this, I'd be very interested to hear it.  This aquila is cut from one of the A&A Praetorians, it is quite like the ones one depicted in the relief (left).

I envisage raising a small Praetorian corps consisting of a couple of units of guards, a cohort of  Vigiles Urbanes,  the cavalry I finished earlier, and a turma or two of German Bodyguards.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Higher Standards

I've been planning a couple of cohorts of EIR Praetorians, for a year or so, but I've not been able to find suitable signifers wth the very tall and distinctive Praetorian standards.  

Praetorian standards were taller than regular cohort standards, and much more highly decorated, with wreaths, images of the Imperial family, plaques and so forth.  They were so heavy that, during one long march, the signifers were given permission to load their standards onto carts.

The closest I've come to suitable figures are these A&A Praetorian signifers.  The figures are OKish; I don't like the later-period leggings or sleeves, but I may be able to conceal the former with greaves.  I've removed the original tops of the standards, and lenthened them to the maximum height that will fit in my storage boxes.  I've added a plaque to each, with a (rather crude) scorpion on it. They'll do!

I have a little more conversion work to do on some other figures, and then both cohorts will be off to Nick for painting.