Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Jun 17 2021 07:59PM

My first face-to-face game in ages was back to the Wars of the Roses in preparation for the Society of Ancients Bosworth Battle Day to be held 15 August in Newbury (God and pestilence willing!). It was also an opportunity to re-familiarise some of the players with the Tree of Battles rules which we will be using for the Bosworth re-fight.


Rather than doing Bosworth itself I decided on a fictional scenario which imagined King Richard III moving on the Earl of Oxford before he could link up with Henry Tudor.


Oxford, accompanied by Thomas and William Stanley, is outnumbered but all he has to do is hold his position.


He has more artillery than the King and is also reinforced by a unit of French pikemen and halberdiers.


The King, assisted by John Howard Duke of Norfolk and Henry Percy Earl of Northumberland, has to attack and defeat the enemy.


The game opened with a furious archery duel between Sir William Stanley’s men on Oxford's right and those of the Duke of Norfolk and his son, the Earl of Surrey on the Yorkist left.


William Stanley’s men got the better of the archery duel causing Surrey’s levy to fall into disarray. Seeing an opportunity, Stanley led his retinue in a mounted charge which routed Surrey’s levy. Unfortunately Stanley could not rein in his men and they continued their pursuit. King Richard (who was also mounted) led his retinue to intercept Stanley, killing him and destroying his men at arms.


Thomas Stanley and Henry Percy were both deemed to be ‘potentially treacherous’. This required a loyalty test to be taken if either were ordered to do anything other than hold their positions. Oxford was quite happy to keep Thomas Stanley holding a hill but the King wanted Percy to advance. It took the King’s personal intervention to make this happen. King Richard also sent a herald forward to entice Thomas Stanley to change his allegiance but Oxford’s personal intervention kept Stanley loyal.



With Richard busily engaged sorting things out elsewhere, the Yorkist centre was slow to advance. With the King back controlling them they moved in on Oxford’s men and engaged them in an archery duel which the Yorkists got the better of.


Meanwhile the Yorkist left was wavering under archery supported by artillery and skirmishers. Oxford sent his French mercenaries forward in an attempt to break Norfolk’s wing that was holding the Yorkist left.


The ever active King Richard III personally intervened to shore up Norfolk and to prevent a breakthrough.


In the centre, the Constable of the Tower of London closed in on Oxford’s retainers who were reeling under the arrows of the King’s men. Oxford held the line and the Constable’s isolated men fell into disarray.


With the pub beckoning we decided to call it a day. The Yorkists had failed to defeat Oxford’s army but they had killed William Stanley so the result was a draw with the tactical advantage to Oxford.


The Tree of Battles rules worked well, giving us a fast paced game which gave us the feel of a Wars of the Roses engagement. We will be using them, and the same miniatures, at the SoA Bosworth Battle Day 15 August. There is plenty of room for others to join us then. If you would like to secure a place let me know at [email protected] Or just turn up on the day.


Tree of Battles is available from this website both as a PDF or in hard copy here.







By smacdowall, Jun 7 2021 02:40PM

The latest troops to emerge from my painting table is this unit of 5th century Roman limitanei ready to defend the Gallic frontier (limes). Their shield pattern is based on the Honoriani Gallicani.


This unit could equally serve as Gallo-Romans or Romano-Britons. I suspect that at some time in the future they will find the occasion to be fielded together with my Visigoths against the Franks.



I have attempted to balance the uniform look of the shields, yellow-brown cloaks, and undyed linen or wool tunics, with a certain degree of individuality appropriate for the farmer-soldiers of the limitanei. This is helped by a mix of figures from Wargames Foundry, First Corps and Footsore with a variety of headgear yet in similar poses. Trousers and lower leg bindings are also different and I have varied the clavi (tunic decorations) both in colour and design.


And here they are alongside a similar unit (all Wargames Foundry) that I painted many years ago. I have always liked the look of that blue shield unit in resting poses. It is about time they were joined by others.



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.







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