Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Jun 3 2021 06:42PM

These Minifig 25mm late Roman cavalry are amongst my favourite ‘vintage’ miniatures but they were beginning to look a little tired. So I am giving them a new lease of life. The figures on the left of photo and behind have already been re-issued new clothing and armour. Those on the right are waiting for their turn. Bases also are being brought up to better standards.

A black wash followed by a bright metal dry brush on the armour and picking our highlights, seems to really bring them back to life. A similar treatment is applied to faces, clothing and horses (but with a raw umber rather than wash).

So here are the three rejuvenated units after being re-equipped. Shield patterns (right of photo to left) are: Brachiati, Cornuti and Prima Gallia.

These miniatures are still available from Caliver Books in the UK. The catalogue number is IRC 35 in the Minifig Imperial Roman range.

By smacdowall, May 13 2021 07:04PM

Despite my recent incursion into 15mm (see previous blog post), I continue to upgrade my collection of 25/28mm late Romans and Germans.

The most recent troops on the painting table are all new figures from First Corps and Footsore Miniatures. Inspired by the bare-headed, long-haired figure in Roman dress on the right of photo (marketed as Aetius by Footsore). I decided that this unit will represent Alaric the Goth with his Comitatus. Having spent many years in Roman service and briefly appointed Magister Militum per Illyricum. I have no doubt that he and his companions would have worn the best Roman kit available. The long hair and clean-shaven face would have been typical of early 5th C Goths.

Yet again I have chosen to use a limited colour palate to give the unit a coherent look while still allowing for individually. In this case red and golden-yellow predominate.

Inspired by sagas describing ‘golden shields’ I decided on a deep yellow-ochre base with individual designs. We have no idea what designs the Goths painted on their shields, or if they painted them at all. Rank and file in the early days would probably have picked up Roman shields from the battlefield or occupied armouries but I imagine that Alaric’s close companions would have had the time and means to decorate their shields to their taste. The designs I have painted are all based on early Arian Christian symbols. If a long-hair style was one thing that characterised the Goths, their adherence to the Arian form of Christianity was another.

The standard is also taken from Arian Christian imagery. This design is taken from the Arian baptistry at Ravenna (albeit some time after Alaric).

It shows Christ (always without a beard in Arian depictions) receiving the holy spirit from the dove-like bird. I added the I(n) H(oc) S(igno) V(incas) initials to make it a little more war-like. The figure carrying it comes from the same Footsore pack as the Aetius miniature I am using to represent Alaric. You also get a rather unlikely hound and handler. Do with that as you wish!

I gave all the men red-cloaks in various shades, again attempting to create a balance between uniformity and individuality.

This is the finished unit, with the addition of a singly based ‘champion’ ready to challenge a Roman opponent to single combat.

By smacdowall, May 11 2021 08:05PM

I have been running a number of Comitatus games to test out some new amendments to the rules. These simplify the combat mechanisms using dice rather than comparing factors. This now brings Comitatus into line with my more recent rules such as Tree of Battles (late medieval) and Malbriook s’en va-t-en guerre (WSS big battles). The 2021 amendments greatly reduce calculations thus speeding up play as well as reducing the strain on my poor brain! They are available as a free download from the rules section of my website — to be used in conjunction with the original rules.

The most recent test game was loosely based on Daras (AD 530) using 15mm figures.

Perozes, deployed the Persians in 3 lines with a strong left wing and substantial reserve. Their army also included elephants. Although not entirely historical, I wanted to test out the elephant mechanisms alongside those of more conventional troops.

The relatively poor quality Roman infantry, supported by a light catapult, were deployed behind a ditch (reminder -- I need to cosntruct some ditch sections!)

Belisarius held back his left, sending Pharas off on a wide (off table) flank march on that wing with a picked force of Huns and Heruls.

Heavy horse archers, backed up by foederati held the Roman right.

The Persians advanced rapidly on their left and a swirling cavalry combat ensued with the Persians getting the better of it. When the Roman commander on that wing was killed in hand to hand combat the line wavered and it looked like a Persian victory was near.

At this critical juncture, Belisarius detached his Bucellarii to reinforce his hard pressed right flank.

Perozes brought up his reserves, personally leading the Immortals to engage the Roman Bucellarii. But against the odds, the Romans got the better of the engagement, slowly pushing back Perozes’ Immortals.

Meanwhile, the Persian right closed in on Belisarius’ refused left, bringing up the elephants in support.

It was then that Pharas rolled high enough on the dice to arrive on table behind the advancing Persian right.

The ensuing fight saw the Huns draw off one of the elephants while Belisarius and Pharas charged with their heavy cavalry, killing the Persian right wing commander in the process.

The infantry in the centre faced each other off, exchanging missiles from a safe distance until the Isuarians on the Roman left surged forward to support Belisarius’ cavalry.

It was a good, very hard-fought game with the Persians winning on their left and the same for the Romans on theirs. In the end we called it a draw with advantage to the Persians. All of the rule amendments worked well -- improving the game while retaining the feel of the original rules.

By smacdowall, Apr 16 2021 08:34PM

Having completed the renovation and rejuvenation of my Alamanni it is time to test them on the field of battle using my Comitatus rules (see rules section of my website)

I set up a relatively simple game set in the time of Caesar Julian’s campaign against the Franks in AD 356. This meant my Alamanni masquerading as Franks but to the Romans all barbarians looked the same! In truth there were probably few differences in appearance between the Franks and Alamanni and whatever differences there were are now lost in the mists of time.

The partially fictitious scenario imagines Julian marching to relieve the Frankish siege of Cologne but he is too late. The Franks have sacked the city and, under the leadership of Mallobad, are advancing further into Roman territory where they meet Julian’s army. It is a meeting engagement with two relatively equal strength forces battling it out on an open field with a few hills and woods.

The Romans have a slight cavalry advantage, deploying them all on their right flank — a mix of cataphracts, horse archers and conventional cavalry.

Facing them is Mallobad with his Comiataus and Frankish mounted nobles supported by a warband of Burgundians on foot.

The Frankish infantry are massed in the centre.

While their right is occupied by more cavalry supported by light infantry.

Facing them, the Roman left is strongly held by two legions also supported by light infantry.

Julian holds the centre with a mix of Auxilia Palatina and Limitanei deployed on a ridge.

They may not be the best fighters on the table...

...but this unit of Limitanei (Wargames Foundry Romano-British) is one of my favourite units in my late Roman collection. I love the war-weary look of the men resting on their shields.

The battle opened with a furious cavalry engagement on the Roman right. With high morale, shock tactics, and led by Mallobad in person, the initial impact of the Frankish cavalry charge could have been devastating. But the Romans fought them to a stand-still. With the impetus of their charge blunted the Franks were now at a disadvantage. Then disaster struck! Mallobad was killed in the ensuing hand to hand combat and Frankish morale collapsed. Their entire right wing disintegrated, apart from the survivors of Mallobad’s Comitatus who surged forward to chase the Roman cataphracts off-table as they sought to avenge their leader.

Bad luck plagued the Franks on their right wing also. For several turns the cavalry refused to advance, allowing the legions to close in on them. When their leader finally got them moving they had suffered casualties from Roman missiles and when they closed the legions held and they were forced to retire.

It would appear (in the above photo) than the man on foot is trying to convince his leader of the inadvisability of launching a frontal cavalry charge against formed Roman infantry!

The Romans were in a strong defensive position occupying a ridge in the centre but this was where the greatest Frankish strength lay and if they had any hope of winning the day they had to surge forward to engage.

Unfortunately for the Franks their advance began to waver from a combination of missile casualties and disorder from their rapid move. Meanwhile the victorious Roman cavalry were closing in on their flank and rear.

Julian himself then decides to take the initiative and leads the elite Cornuti and Celtae in a charge down the hill into the midst of the Franks.

The charge was successful, driving back one of the Frankish warbands as the Roman right wing cavalry were lining up to join in the fray.

By now it was clear that the Franks had no chance of winning but they still had the chance to pull back many of their troops from the centre and right to potentially fight another day. So it was game-over and Caesar Julian could now continue his advance to shore up the Rhine frontier and maybe re-take Cologne.

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