zondag 25 september 2016

Ascarii Iuniores

During the campaigning season in Roman times the emperor took the fight to the barbarians themselves. Usually in response to previous raiding, treaty violations, other offences or just to let them know who was in charge. In some cases a new Caesar or Augustus would simply launch a campaign to build his reputation as a unbeatable emperor and thus show his divine right to rule the empire.

So he would have a pontoon bridge built across the Rhine or Danube and set out. A set battle was almost impossible as most barbarian groups fleed the area Farmlands were reaped clean, villages burned to the ground and booty was taken; this almost everytime forced the german chieftains to conceed defeat and sign a disadvantageous treaty with victorious Rome.
Treaty conditions were normally the release of all their prisoners, the giving of hostages and a non-agression pact. On top of which were added to deliver food to nearby Roman garrisons and provide recruits to the Roman armed forces.

But in times when the emperor let his gaze drift from the frontiers and pulled troops and resources away, the germanic groups saw their chance to do some raiding of their own.

As was the case in 357AD in the reign of Constantius II Augustus and Julianus II Caesar. (According to Ammianus Marcellinus: Book 16, Chapter 11)
 The new Caesar was despatched to Gaul and began to recover lost frontier towns and cities and ultimately pushed on to the banks of the Rhine. Alemanni who had settled on the Roman side of the river fleed to to small islands riddling the Rhine and threw insults to the nearby Romans, safe and bold in the assumption that the Romans were unable to cross.
 Interrogation of captured german scouts quickly revealed that the river was fordable this time of summer and inspired Bainobaudes, tribune of the Cornuti, to cross with a body of light armed troops.
They supported themselves on theri shield and swam to the small islands where they killed everyone they got their hands on. Once they were tired of slaughter they returned with a rich haul of loot.
 The remaining Alemanni, seeing that the islands gave no more protection, evacuated to the german side of the Rhine.

There were several Roman units in the Notitia Dignitatum who were named after this type of specialty warfare: the Ascarii Seniores and Ascarii Iuniores in the West under the Comes Hispenias, in the East under the Magister Militum per Illyricum there were also Ascarii Seniores and Iuniores. Further there were the Honoriani Ascarii Seniores under the Western Magister Equitum and a limitanei unit called the Auxilia Ascarii commanded by the Dux Pannoniae secundae ripariensis et Saviae.
 The name Ascarii might come from the Greek "Askos" meaning; skin, bag, hide. So probably it meant that these could cross rivers on enflated animal stomachs, leather bags or the likes.

In wargaming terms these troops look like the ideal candidate for the light armoured Roman troops with a believable explanation of why they're unarmoured. It also brings interesting scenarios with it; a small Roman raiding force on barbarian shores...

So without further ado here are my first of three such units.

These are the new Unarmoured Late Romans from Ebor Miniatures and to me very cheap.
The good:
x Details are good. Even the shield, front & back, is superbly detailed.
x A lot bang for your buck: 23£ for 24 figures. (Crusader miniatures is almost as good with 20 figures for 20£)
x Size up great with 1st Corps' Late Romans.
x And of course they paint up great.

The bad:
x Although these are new figures, they had to be cleaned up quite a bit.
x Variation is limited; apart from the four man command there are only three different poses for the rank and file. Technically there are even only two poses because the third one is a variation with his spear arm in a different angle. (As you see in the picture; the beardless figure attacking is the same one as the one in the back with his spear at the ready. the mouth is a dead give away.)

All in all I'm happy with these figures, especially price/quality.

Now we jump ahead a thousand years for a Swiss intermezzo:

Wargames Foundry Swiss
These are going to be based for Impetus. These twelve are ready but need another five to be complete so I need some more reinforcements to finish this unit (and others).
 Thankfully Crisis 2016 is near at hand.

donderdag 8 september 2016

Equites Brachiati Seniores & a burial mound

Long time since the last post, as painting has been slow and real life intervened. Ah well ...

This unit are the Equites Brachiati Seniores, one of ten Vexillationes Palatinae of the Western Magister Equitum. More info to be had here: LINK.

These are Romano-British Cavalry (PAA-01) from Old Glory. Most of their floppy swords were cut off and replaced with firm wire spears. That horrible looking Draco standard that came with it was removed as well.

Another four are standing ready to be painted as the Equites Cornuti Seniores.

Not long ago they showed that ridiculous King Arthur (2004) movie on the TV. Historically just plain bad with the retreat from Britain and Saxon invasion in the reign of Constantine, etc; but visually there were some nice features. One of these was the graveyard with small burial mounds with a sword on top.

So I made one out of cardboard and filler putty for walls on a large washer ring with a plastic sword from one of the Perry WOTR boxes. And a GW plastic skull was added for effect.

woensdag 8 juni 2016

Milites Votadinorum III

Some new additions for my Late Romans painted over the past few weeks.

The new Arthurian Cavalry set from Curteys Miniatures which I got from Salute is finally ready. Best figure of the bunch is definitely the Sarmatian-style attacking one. Seeing as they're unarmoured cavalry I gave them the shield design of an Equites Dalmatae unit enlisted under the Magister Equitum's Gallic Command.

Although they're a command group I decided not to give them a standard of any kind and just gave all of them long spears, even the trumpeter.

The figures themselves are very good. You can see a definite positive evolution in the sculpts of their Arthurian range. While their older infantry did have somewhat stumpy feet and off-set eyes, these figures aren't plagued with these problems.

I also got a bag of Arthurian Cavalry from Old Glory. Kind of bought them sight unseen but they turned out to be quite a surprise. While some of their miniatures can be hit or miss these are fine looking figures. A couple of the same poses but with different heads but the metal is soft enough to change their right arms into other positions so you get some more variety. I painted up just one of them for now so I could see just how well they paint up and how well they fit in with the Curtey's. On both those questions I can say "great"!

I'm going to give the Old Glory figures shield designs from the Comes Africae. To me they give off a barbarian vibe, so my idea was to buy Old Glory Gothic and Lombard Cavalry, perhaps even mixing some Irregular miniatures in there as well so they might also serve as African Vandals. (Although they should look okay for Vandals, Visigoths, Suebi or Alan allies, I think.)

This figure in particular will be a mounted noble for Dux Brittaniarum, while the other eight will become two units of Shock Cavalry. (The tenth one, the trumpeter, will not be used) If I read correctly then Speidel thought the Equites Stablesiani were the bodyguard units of the provincial governors. So I don't think it's a bad design for a noble.

Lastly I painted another warrior unit, this time with the shield design of the Petulantes Seniores. The next warrior unit I paint will be the Celtae Seniores, both were brigaded together according to the Notitia Dignitatum.
A detail I picked up from Luke Arson's site was the design itself, how it was a debased version of the twin-headed zoomorphic motif common in the Notitia. Seeing as the Celtae Seniores had the twin headed design too and how one picture of the similar looking design of the Cornuti Seniores was drawn with simple heads; I believe that the Petulantes Seniores too had those twin animal heads but got lost lost in the copying process. That's just my theory of course.
That's why two of the shields have those headlike features added to the known design.

These two unarmoured models were from the command set. The left one is the trumpeter; I cut away his trumpet and gave him a spear instead. The right one was the standard bearer; his banner pole was trimmed down and turned into a spear.

zondag 15 mei 2016

Milites Votadinorum II

Here's some progress on my warriors for my Sub-British army. The first photo's are without the shields so you can have a clear look at them, obviously. they are metal figures from Curteys Miniatures and picked these up at Salute. I screwed up the drilling with one of the unarmoured soldiers so now I turned him into a lefty to hide his hideously deformed right hand under a shield.
There are only four different armoured figures (without counting the two of the command section) but with some creative swithing of spear arms I think I pulled of enough of distinctiveness for each individual figure.
One of them seems to have gotten sculpted with some tight trousers which look okay when coloured with flesh tones to simulate bare legs.

A cavalry unit is also ready although they still need their shields.
More of them are standing ready and primed; one warrior unit and one elite; an archer unit; and a priest.

Here are the units with their shields; the Batavi and Heruli Seniores, who according to the Notitia Dignitatum were always brigaded together.
I chose these because they fought under Caesar Julianus at the battle of Argentoratum and hopefully I can build this entire Roman force that was present there.

(Dammit, I was to quick to take pictures. Forgot to flock the bases of the Heruli Seniores)

woensdag 27 april 2016

Swiss Medium Cavalry

While I hate -really hate- painting horses I do, however, love the appearance of a mounted unit.
Quite the conundrum, if I say so myself. Especially since I think of one day assembling a cavalry only army like Scythians, Sarmatians, Parthians and the likes...

I started on this quite a while ago, somewhere in November. But I needed this unit ready for this friday's game, so finally bit the bullet and pulled through in time. They're medium cavalry or mounted serjeants for Lion Rampant. All plastic Perry's from both light cavalry and mounted men at arms boxes.

The flag is a French banner from one of the booklets of one of the plastic Perry kits. Luckily I have access to a free color-photocopier at work and made some copies of all those booklets on thick drawing paper.

Kinda looks like he has a double chin.

This friday my Swiss will have their first taste of battle. Let us hope that Gott is with his little Solothurners this Freitag. They will participate in a couple of small 500 point games of Kings of War. Here is the force in all its glory.

The army list for those interested:

Pike Block Regiment + Blessing of the Gods @ 160 points
Pole-arms Block Regiment @ 100 points
Mounted Serjeants Troop @ 105 points
Cannon @ 85 points
Army Standard Bearer @ 50 points

For a total of an even 500 points

maandag 25 april 2016

Milites Votadinorum I

Here is my starting army based and ready to be undercoated, just waiting 'till the weather clears up to start spraying. Two groups of warriors on foot and one mounted.
Milites Votadinorum or Milwyr Y Guotodin (if my Welsh is good enough).

Next are some pics of the new light cavalry command figures released on this Salute. The figure on the right is for the highlight, he holds his spear with both hands without a shield. He can be a descendant of the Sarmatian auxiliaries who were stationed in Brittania in times long past. The flagbearer will get a spear instead too, so will the hornblower is his free hand. The leader comes with a choice of sword and spear hands.

RB20 Light Cavalry Command

Ultimately these will be backed up with levy units and additional warriors and elites.
For levies north of Hadrian's Wall I chose the new Picts of Curteys Miniatures that came out on Salute this year. All that needed changing were theur Pictish shields for some nice round Sub-Roman ones.

Here are some pics of the new unpainted figures along with a comparison shot between different manufacturers.

Pict01 High King
Pict03 Command 1 standing
Pict05 Warriors standing with spears 1
Pict06 Warrios standing with spears 2 (cloaks)

All in all I'm mighty pleased with these figures. You can see a clear evolution in sculpting from their little bit older Arthrian foot troops to the figures presented here. Also, almost no flash whatsoever! Big plus.
I hope they will continue their Pictish range, because I need skirmishers looking like my levies; and hopefully there'll also be some armoured Picts in the future.

zondag 24 april 2016

Progress on Dux

I have joined the Dux Brittaniarum campaign in the club and started out as a minor player; giving me time to paint up my forces. As a minor player I have solely my Tribune, a champion and three groups of milites; of which one can be changed into a four man cavalry unit.

My Lord character is Tribune Postumus Flavius Dago. A young man, short in appearance yet a master of arms in training and an exile to boot. He is commander of the garrison in Trimontium, deep in Votadini territory.

Seeing as I'm situated north of Hadrian's Wall I have opted to change the look of my army to a more British and less Romanised one. For this I bought the new Pictish troops from Curteys along with armoured Arthurian soldiers and the new cavalry command. Mixed together I think they'll look like a convincing Gododdin force. Additional inspiration was taken from here.

My Tribune is painted up backed by his Labarumbearer and shieldbearer, a general just screams 'scenic base' to me.
Just need to finish basing and adding transfers to both the, now extant, shield and Labarum. I'm going with transfers from Veni Vidi Vici; simple, elegant and to the point.

 These are two nobles for my army, although I can only use one for now as my champion. They are Horsa and Hengist from Wargames Foundry and I like their Saxon look, it'll bring a nice diverse touch to the army.
The shield was painted by the technique I lifted from here.

 These troops I painted for the British so far will become the core of my Saxon army instead. They're still waiting for spears and shieldtransfers, that's what you get when you have to make do with a monthly gaming allowance :-(
Also I screwed up with a varnish spray which turned out to be glossy, still have to give them a matte coat and hope they come out alright. Apart from that I really like these oldschool figure from Newline Designs. I have six more of them on the painting bench, of which two are converted to hold Draco-standards, twelve armoured Saxons  and one noble.
One of these days they will be bulked out with the Saxon females from Elite Wargames and Models to get some nice variety in this barbarian mix.