Late Roman Troops (and a Couple of Extras)

Posted: January 10, 2016 in Ancients, Dark Ages, Uncategorized

Well, it’s been a while since my last post. Work has kept me insanely busy this past year. It was hard to find time, but I managed to paint a few things now and then. As part of my ongoing Dux Bellorum project, I’ve finally started building the Late Roman army and here are the first units. First up is the Roman general and companions.

These are all made by Gripping Beast. As with the previous units I’ve made to use with Dux Bellorum, these are all mounted on large 120mm x 80mm bases, which is my new favorite basing method. This represents the general himself and his security team of elite cavalry troopers. I’m trying to represent real units as far as possible, so the troopers carry on their shields the insignia of the Equites Honoriani Seniores, a unit which served in Britain during the later period. The general has a different shield because, well, he’s the general, and who’s going to tell him he can’t?

Next up is a unit of cataphracti, also made by Gripping Beast. This unit illustrates one of the reasons that I like these large bases and that’s because they allow me to create a more dynamic scene. As you can see, the troopers are jabbing their lances in a lot of different directions. If I had all of the horses going in one direction, it would look a little weird with those lances swinging all around. So, I opted to have the lances going in one direction and the horses going in different directions. To me, it looks like they’ve just charged into contact with an enemy in front of them and are just now breaking to their right to ride away. There’s no evidence that cataphracts served in Britain, which is the setting for my Dux Bellorum games, but it’s possible that they might have been there for short campaigns or operations now and then.

Next up are the poor, bloody infantry. If you’re not familiar with the Romans of the late period, these aren’t exactly the barbarian-killing supermen that their great-grandfathers were. These guys are mostly conscripts, not as well-trained nor as well-equipped as their ancestors, and often were forced to go without pay. On the battlefield, they were mostly expected to stand in one spot while the cavalry did the major work. Despite these handicaps, the Roman infantrymen managed (usually) to keep the constant waves of barbarians in check and were capable of occasional acts of great courage.

I tried something different with the infantry troopers. I wanted to have oversized units, so I packed 18 men onto one stand rather than my usual 12. I plan to have a total of 6 units of Roman infantry (3 armored, 3 unarmored) and I want it to look like a solid mass of men when placed side by side. Numbers like that don’t come cheap, so I decided to get my money’s worth by using plastic troops. ‘But wait’, I hear you saying, ‘Nobody makes plastic Romans’. That’s true, but they come close. I used a box of Gripping Beast Saxon Thegns for the armored guys and GB Dark Age Warriors for the unarmored. I replaced their round shields with oval ones, also from Gripping Beast. The heads come from West Wind Production’s Sub-Roman heads, although I kept a few Germanic helmets here and there to reflect the troubles they had with supply. The trickiest part of the conversion was removing the big crucifixes that the thegn bodies were wearing around their necks. By the way, if you’re trying to remove those on your own troops, the technique I settled on was to carefully slice away the crosses with an Exacto knife, then (and this part makes all the difference) used a pin vice to drill out a few tiny holes in the cross-shaped bare patch on the front of the chainmail. If done right, you can’t even tell that there was ever a cross in the first place. The front rank of the unit, which is kneeling, is entirely from Footsore Miniatures (formerly Musketeer).

As with the cavalry, I wanted to go with a real regiment, so I painted the men in the colors of the Secunda Britannica, a legion that served in Britain at the same time as the Equites Honoriani Seniores shown above.

In addition to the regular troops, Dux Bellorum allows you to add special units as purchasable “strategy & tactics” options, so I made a few of those. The first is a bunch of praying monks to beseech divine support for your little army. These are all Gripping Beast.

The second is a pack of war dogs and their handler. I imagine them as itinerant dog handlers who hire their services out to the highest bidder. It’s a family business, and the old man is showing his son the ropes before eventually turning over the keys to him and retiring to southern Italy, or someplace else that’s warm and hopefully free of invading enemies.

The dogs  and the younger man are from Gripping Beast, and the old man is from Foundry. The dogs looked like Scottish Deer Hounds to me, so I tried to paint them that way.

 

 

 

 

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