Wednesday, 12 August 2009

3rd Century Roman Army

I love Dr Phil Hendry's website; his Romans are always an inspiration and he has almost (but not quite!) convinced me of the merits of army painter (or the "dip" as the non proprietal method is called). Now, due to some technical issue that I couldn't make out (it's the sort of things Mac users always have-serves them right for wanting to be different) he has started a new one:

On his new site he has some pictures of his newly painted A&A 3rd Century Romans and Sassanid Persians which are, as ever, wonderful. However what really got me thinking was his proposed 1000 point armies for each faction as they come to ..well, not very many figures at all. Now, I don't plan my armies at all. I just paint bits of units and then put them away for two years and later maybe finish a unit, put it away etc. -part of the problem of not being able to concentrate on one period. But these sorts of numbers look acheivable.

So far I have finished two units for my 3rd Century Roman Eastern army:

1x20 unit of legionaries 325 points
1x16 unit of armoured archers 149 points

So, I've already got 474 points painted. A general will give me another big wodge of points and I have a few cavalry on the go to. I have another unit of legionaries based and ready for undercoating and, now I that have at last started to use spray undercoat, these could be on the go quite soon. So maybe now is the time to plan this army and see what I can do for it.

Thanks Dr Phil!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Romans v Britons WAB

John's wonderful game board

I actually got along to Guildford yesterday for a WAB game and took my little boy with me as he is much better at dice throwing than me. Andy and I had 2,000 points of Ancient Britons against Dave and Keith's 2000 points of Early Imperial Romans.

My Warband. Only a few Germans in there to make up the numbers!

As usual it was very tricky to fight against Romans with their double rank strikes, large shields and drilled and stubborn characteristics. One thing I remember from the battle we did at Fishbourne Pa couple of years ago was that slingers can be very effective at whittling down numbers so the Romans, who have small units, lose rank bonus. We had about 3 dozen slingers and whilst my small unit was wiped out early by a particularly annoying unit of Roman cavalry Andy's did sterling service.

One thing I had forgotten was how devastating Roman scorpions can be. I must make sure I field some when using a Roman army and also have some way of neutralising them if facing them.

My Warlord was busy racing around using his leadership value to stop my warbands from fleeing all the time

In the end it was quite close with the Britons winning a marginal victory (according to the Romans but then they would say that wouldn't they?). On my side I was lucky to have Guy throw some critical high dice throws when needed!

John produced another great scenic piece for the game and it really does enhance a battle to have such nice scenery to fight over.

Now I have to see if I should get on and finish either my Celts or Ancient Germans so that I have an army to field against Keith's Romans in a 1 to 1 fight.

Great fun!

Flee, Roman scum!

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

3rd Century German battlefield

A marks the spot.

The site of a battle between Roman troops and Germans has been discovered in Kalefield, south of Hannover.,1518,596720,00.html It is very rare to discover an unknown ancient battlefield like this and this one is particularly interesting because of how far north it is and how undisturbed.

Some of the finds

After the defeat by Varus in the Teutoberg Forest in AD 9 (when is anyone going to make suitable Romans, with the early lorica segmenta, for this in 28mm?) it was generally believed that the Romans kept well away from Germany apart from the occasional raid. However, if this was a raid they were deep into German territory and coming south, according to the archaeologists.

Markers indicating some of the over 600 finds so far

The archaeologists reckon from the missiles that they have found that about 1,000 Romans attacked a German force on top of a hill. From the boot studs, arrows and ballista bolts it looks like a mixed force of auxiliaries, archers and ballistae. Carbon dating of wood found in an arrow head points to 200-250AD. This ties in with a known declaration of war on the Germans by Emperor Maximinus Thrax (i.e. Maximinus the Thracian c. 173–238).

Emperor Maximinus

Thrax was a big (possibly even a giant- there is a theory that he had acromegaly), uncultured , low-born Thracian who became Emperor (much to the Senate's horror) when his predecessor, Alexander Severus, was killed by the Praetorian Guard partly because of his appeasement to the Germans. Maximinus probably had little option, therefore, but to declare war on the Germans. The Senate later withdrew support for him and he was in turn killed by the Praetorians in April 238AD during his unsuccesful campaign to march on Rome.

This has wargames scenario written all over it and would make a great game with my third century Romans, especially as their are suggestions that there were many eastern Archers involved in Thrax's German operations like the ones I have already painted.

For troops I would use the A&A figures. As they are likely to be auxiliaries then probably chainmail equipped with oval shields, archers and a ballista or two. One of the finds was a "hippo shoe" a sort of overshoe for a horse or draft animal so there could have been cavalry or maybe only equipment mules or carts (for the ballistae?). Perhaps three units of infantry, one of archers and two balistae again (about 100 figures) against a bigger force of Germans on a hill.

Were the Germans encamped on the hill or just fighting on high ground? Was it a settlement? We may know more after the archaeologists get back to work on the site at Hazhorn Hill this March.