Wednesday 30 May 2012

The Roman Empire Order of Battle for the Civil Wars 68AD to 70AD

The Roman Empire Order of Battle for the Civil Wars 68AD to 70AD is a Society of Ancients publication, written by Michael Lane. I lost my much-thumbed paper copy of this 86 A4-page booklet, around 6 months ago, and Dug Page-Croft recently and very generously bought me a replacement copy, on a disc, from the Society of Ancients.

This booklet is a fantastic source of information about the pay rates, organisation and the deployment of the Roman Legions, Praetorians and Auxiliaries from Augustus to Trajan.   It is also a valuable source regarding the names of the legions and auxiliary cohorts (all mine are named from it), and can often provide information on where they were based, and when, and in the case of the legions, the commander's name when known.  Finally it has orders of battles, diagrams and accounts of all the major battles in the 68-70AD Civil War, some illustrations and a timeline of events. 

This is a must have for those interested in wargaming the period, I can’t recommend it highly enough!  When my campaign eventually gets running, it’ll be based on this.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Gallic Auxiliary Reinforcements

My least satisfactory Auxiliary Cohort is the II Gallorum (above, front left).  These were an eBay purchase and fall a little short of the quality of my other units, so they are getting a refurb which involves partial rebasing, some detailing, and a lick of overpainting on the shields.  At the same time I am painting a second cohort from scratch.  All the minis are from Black Tree Designs; not brilliant but quite serviceable.

When they are finished the two cohorts and their associated cavalry contingents will constitute the Gallic wing of my auxiliary project.

Monday 28 May 2012

Pyrrhic Victory

I went to Partizan yesterday, full of resolutions about shooting all the games, but only really managed to shoot the game we played, Heraclea.  Harry (eldest son below) and I arrived a full 15 minutes before any other punters (or the door staff!) and formed an elite queue of 2.

Here are some shots (all clickable) of Aventine Keith's, Adam and Craig Davey's splendid armies re-fighting the battle of Heraclea, 280 BC.  The armies were pretty well set up when we arrived, Pyrrhus and his allies below:-

...and the Romans, above.  Almost all of the miniatures are from Aventine's range, and painted by Keith, Adam and Craig.  Craig built the beautiful table.

Above is the view across the (very realistic) river towards the Pyrrhic skirmihsers opposite the Roman left.  I commanded the Roman left, and Harry, eldest scion of the Miller family, the Roman right; Keith the centre.  Craig and James (Wargame Insomniac) commanded the Greeks.

Below the Roman centre is advancing (both wings repeatedly and miserably failed command rolls):-

Above, on the Roman right, Harry had a lot of trouble but did gradually gain an ascendancy.

Below is a shot from behind the (very scary) phalanx.

Below, battle is joined along the line.  In general, the phalanx pushed the Romans back...

...and further back into the river.  Unfortunately my dice rolling was execrable and I just couldn't stop them!

Everything went wrong... Pyrrhus himself is in that unit of lancers on the left.

He killed my general, below (unhorsed), in hand-to-hand combat.

We decided that Pyrrhus had won, but his army took a beating, in a classic "Pyrrhic Victory".

It was a great game but Harry and I were somewhat frustrated by the numerous failed command rolls, which really slowed it down.  I'm still not entirely happy with Hail Caesar.  Aventine Keith had a really great grasp of the rules, though, which helped.  It was very kind of Keith to patiently explain the rules, and of Keith and Craig to let us play.

Below is the one other game I managed to get a picture of, the very photogenic "Warwick at Sea" laid on by the fine fellows at Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, fine fellows.  It was a stunning game and looked to be great fun.

I also managed to meet David Imrie, Phil Steele of the SOA, RTB plus one, Dug "Gimli" Page-Croft and Dr Phil Hendry (I bought the first set he has sold of his new "Augustus to Aurelian" rules) and a whole bunch of the WSS crew, amongst others.  It was very sociable.  Harry and I really enjoyed our first Partizan, and shall certainly be back in September!

Thursday 24 May 2012

Orbis for Roman campaigning

This is an astonishing new tool developed by Stanford University, seemingly designed for those wishing to run wargame campaigns set within the Roman Empire:-

The really useful tab is the "Mapping Orbis" one.  Using this, one can calculate journey times from any place in the Roman empire, to any other, and choose appropriate means of transport.  It even takes into account season and wind direction! 

One needs to be a bit careful about the suggested routes, which can be a little eccentric.  Also I'm cautious about land travel in winter, which (unlike sea travel) doesn't seem to take longer than land travel in the summer.  However, the potential for use as a tool to work out travel times is immense; the map is pretty handy, too, and could be made available to players.  The GM could calculate travel times for armies and modify with random factors or according to the generalship of the commander.

Hopefully I'll get a campaing running late in the year, and this will be the engine that I'll use to calculate the speed of movement of armies.  Do have a go, it is very easy to use and rather fun!

Wednesday 23 May 2012

BigRedBat's Loft Sale part 2

This is the Monolith Germanic/Viking Great Hall and a matching barn, assembled and ready for aspiring Saga heroes:- "Because of wine-feast and mead-feast they charged, Men famed in fighting, heedless of life."

I’ve decided to move out of Dark Ages to focus on the vast ambitions I have for my Romans, so am parting with these (and, shortly, my small but very nice Viking Army).  The two buildings are finished to an extremely high standard, mounted on stout card, magnabased for storage, with a selection of weeds and grasses around them.  The roofs can be removed to access to the interior.  I built plank floors for both buildings. I went for a very weathered wood-look, and I think I nailed it!  They are matt varnished.  They have never been used and are in absolutely tip-top condition.

I’m looking for £110 the pair, plus P&P at cost (the figures are shown for size comparison purposes only, and not included).  If you are interested, and are going to Partizan this Sunday, then I can deliver them to you there, or you can collect from me in North London, or I can post.

Cheers, Simon

Tuesday 22 May 2012

BigRedBat's Loft Sale part 1

I have come across an entire Grenadier Models Horse Raiders army in my loft, which I’m looking to sell on.  They are part of the well known Fantasy Warriors range and were sculpted by Bob Naismith.  There are no less than 38 riders, including a Khan, a very nice kettle drummer, 2 heroes (one hero has a missing foot), swordsmen and archers.  Most of the horses are blocked-in, and could be quickly finished with a wash and some detailing.

These miniatures are currently sold as Steppe Nomads by Mirliton in Italy, and the current RRP for these (converted from Euros) would be £127.  I’m looking for £50, plus P&P at cost.  If you would like them, and are going to Partizan this Sunday, then I can deliver them to you there, or you could collect from me in North London, or I could post.

Cheers, Simon

Sunday 20 May 2012

Imbellis Populus...

...or "Un-warlike (i.e. untrained) civilians"


Today I completed my Roman Rioters project, huzzah! I now have 4 “units” of rioters: two of javelin/ brick chucking skirmishers (rear, above), and two of poorly armed plebeians medium infantry (front, above).  The concept is that these are poorly-armed civilians and vigiles, perhaps raised to defend their city as by Vitellius in 69AD, or rioters from some racing faction, depicted in the act of rioting through a marketplace.  All the photos are clickable.

Just over half of the minis were very nicely painted by my mate Greg Privat, and I painted most of the remainder.  The figures are mostly Foundry, but include quite a few Aventine, a couple each of Gorgon and Gripping Beast and some odd old minis from the bits box (spot the caetrati).  The pottery is from Baeuda and the foodstuffs GB, and the cart is from Irregular.  Most of the tables are scratch built.  The potsherds are painted eggshell (very cheap!), and I'm going to highlight them tonight to match the completed pots.  The flat Roman bricks are plastic strip. 

So next... I want to make some tenement buildings for them to riot past, and this will be the subject of a future post.  I'm also planning a post for GregPrivat's big parade event on July 14th.  Last year I posted my Roman Legion, , and this year I want to post their associated auxiliaries, who will be rather more numerous, and just possibly even the legionary fortress.  Luckily I have quite a lot of painted Black Tree Roman Auxiliaries who just need finishing and basing, and who I'll try to get on the table during the next few weeks. 

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Mob-handed WIP

I've just arranged all 47 minis on their bases, and thought I'd snatch a quick photo.  26 were painted by Figgybloggy Greg, and most of the rest and the market by me

There are going to be 4 units; the two in the front will be relatively dense mobs, with some vigiles mixed in, and the two at the rear dispersed skirmishers armed with bricks and javelins.  The next stage will be to disguise the mini's bases with cobbles, then I need to add a little more base dressing and take some proper snaps.

Sunday 13 May 2012


Or more accurately, cobbles.  I've decided to base my rioters on cobbled streets, as per the test element below.

The core of the bases are 60mm square galvanized steel sheet which I bought them off Renaissance Ink some years ago.  I've cut and fixed the ubiquitous Magnetic sheet on the back, and primed the top with Halford's Grey to disguise the shine on the edges (see below, I've turned one over to show the rear, you can see the shiny steel).  I joined a couple of the bases together to take the cart, which was too big for a single base.

The Roman cobbles (below) are actually from Antenocitii and are printed into a soft-ish styrofoam, and supplied pre-painted; a great product.  This is what I'm going to use for my Roman streets, so the rioters should blend right in. Below are the 11 bases I'll need for the units.

As per the test piece at the top, I will need to cut a hole in the foam for each mini's base, and stick them to the metal, then lay cobbles around the feet to disguise the base.  This worked more or less OK with the test base in the top figure, not as hard as one might think, albeit fiddly; but with 46 minis plus furniture, I clearly have a few days basing duties ahead of me!

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Street-fighting man

These are some market stalls as base dressing for the Roman  rioter stands I'm currently modelling.

The plan is that the fighting has spilled into a market area.  The table and most of the foodstuffs are from the Gripping Beast "Trade and Tribute" set.  The javelin-man is a Gorgon psiloi.

This is a wine merchant's stall.  The excellent pottery is from Baeuda, and is really very nicely executed, on a scratch-built stall.  The  merchant's cart (below) is from Irregular, a very handy and very cheap piece.

Above are some more Baeuda pots on another scratch-built table.  Finally, below, is a broken table with some Roman bread I've knocked up.

The miniatures are now all painted, and most of the rest of the material is prepared... I'm now just awaiting an order from Antenociti with a few final bits I need before I can start basing up.  As you can see, I'm very much enjoying playing with my Romans again!

Monday 7 May 2012

Aventine Roman Rioters

I've added some Aventine miniatures to my slowly massing crowd, which is now up to 46 miniatures.

I'm pleased with how they have come out, although I've not cracked the Devlan Mud quite yet (tunics are OK; eyes, not so much).  The half-bricks work nicely...

Thursday 3 May 2012

Pwodigy II; I predict a riot!

This is a second WIP shot of my Roman rioters.  I've added another 20 miniatures, some of whom are shown at the front, partially blocked in (a mixture of Aventine, a senator from Foundry and Steve Saleh's Caesar).  You might be able to make out some furniture at the back- I now have some promising ideas for base dressing.

I'm now planning to build 3 (or just possibly 4) units with a total of around 48 minis.  I'm trying to copy the style that Greg used (a big brush, and lots of Devlan Mud), this is proving very much quicker than my usual way of working.  And I now appreciate that ancients are a helluvalot quicker to paint than Naps!