Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Jul 19 2017 03:32PM

A 6mm unit of 6th century Roman horse archers completed I have started to paint up Belisarius' bucellarii. After fixing them to a painting rod I fist undercoat with spray matt white and then give a very thin wash of raw umber. This brings out the detail and makes it easy to paint the tiny men and horses. Then I give helmets and armour a black wash.


After dry brushing the armour with a bright metal colour, I do the horses in a series of washes. This makes the detail stand out even on such small miniatures.


My full 6mm painting method can be found in the painting section of my site here.

By smacdowall, Jul 3 2017 04:41PM

A long time ago when the world was young, I was slim and the internet had not yet been invented — there was only one wargames scale. That was 25mm. There were also Airfix HO/OO plastics which were more or less (mostly less) the same size. For quite a while my Airfix plastics and Minifigs metals served alongside each other quite happily until the latter began to grow in size — especially the telegraph poles they carried instead of spears.


Then we began to hear rumours of 15mm scale but I was not tempted. The first samples I saw seemed pretty crude. Even when much better ones came along I saw no reason to ditch the scale I already had for my ancient — mostly Roman armies — and their enemies. Even as 15mm came to be the most popular scale for ancient wargaming I remained a die-hard 25mm hold out.


As new 25mm castings began to grow in size, I kept my older miniatures and they still happily fight alongside each other despite the differences in size and detail. I do, however, draw a line at the newer bulky 28mm figures which are really closer to 30mil or even larger. In the old days the scale was measured head to toe. With scale creep it is now often toe to nose so that a 33mm tall figure is still called 28mm.


It was not until the turn of the millennium that I started to collect my first 15mm army. I wanted to fight the campaigns of Belisarius against the Persians and — coincidental with a move to London and severe reduction in playing space. I succumbed because I realised that if I wanted to conduct sweeping cavalry actions in a campaign where all the best troops were mounted, I needed an army with smaller troops. Later I took to 6mm scale to field the massed legions of Caesar and Pompey at Pharsallus.


Inspired by the research I did for my book of the Vandals I am returning to Belisarius with the idea of re-fighting his battles in North Africa against the Vandals. Although Belisarius had a significant infantry contingent he rarely used them in open battle and by the early 6th century all the Vandals were mounted, sometimes ineffectually supported by Moors.


Rather than expanding my existing 15mm collection I have decided to scale down to 6mm. I find painting smaller miniatures easier and more fun than larger scales and I was reminded of this when I painted up my 1:2400 scale ships for the Battle of Sole Bay.


Needing masses more horsemen for the 6th century North Africa campaign, I really could not see myself managing to bring the armies to completion in 15mm scale, let alone 25/28mm. 10mm would have been a good compromise but the last thing I need is yet another scale. I can happily paint up a unit of a dozen 6mm horsemen in a couple of days. It takes me more than double that to accomplish the same in 15mm. The other impetus for the much smaller miniatures is that some battles, such as Ad Decimum, were fought over a vast area with different bodies of horseman heading off in all directions. Using 6mm miniatures makes it possible to recreating this an similar actions on a reasonably sized table-top.


Although a fan of the smaller Heroics and Ross 6 mil figures, I have decided to go with the larger and more detailed Baccus miniatures for this project, if for no other reason than I already have some of them which can be drafted in. Baccus do not make any Belisarian era Romans but there are plenty of suitable figures in their other ranges for bow-armed 6th century Roman horsemen.


On the painting sprue are some undercoated Baccus Sarmatians who will become Belisarius’ bucellarii. The painted unit in the background are Baccus Sassanid Persians painted up to be regular Roman heavy horse archers. One of the blessings of this smaller scale is that in the end it is the overall look of the unit that matters — not individual detail. Therefore you can use a variety of miniatures regardless of what the manufacturer calls them.






By smacdowall, Nov 3 2016 05:21PM

Ernie Fosker, who commanded the Romans in the Daras Battle has kindly provided some more photos and better ones that I used in the previous post.



The initial deployments
The initial deployments


The three lines of Persians
The three lines of Persians


Hermogones' death
Hermogones' death


Hermogones' Bucellari seek vengence
Hermogones' Bucellari seek vengence

The infantry take no part in the battle
The infantry take no part in the battle

The Persian second line closes in
The Persian second line closes in

The Romans are surrounded
The Romans are surrounded

Belisarius comes onto the field but too late to save the day
Belisarius comes onto the field but too late to save the day


By smacdowall, May 9 2013 11:43AM

Last week I had the great pleasure of taking part in the Associazione Romana di Storia Militare (ARSM) 'Belisarius Under the Walls of Rome' game.

The scenario was based on one of the many sallies conducted by Belisarius during the siege of Rome by the Ostrogoths (AD 537-38) and was played with Comitatus rules.



The beautifully modeled terrain was set up to represent the Porta Ostiensis and the Basilica of ‘St Paul Outside the Walls'



The scenario had a large force of Gothic foot advancing with siege equipment to assault the walls.


Belisarius sends out a cavalry force to hinder their advance, seen here passing one several tombs hand crafted by Alberto Ribera.



For many turns the two lines faced each other off until the Goth cavalry came out of thier camp to drive off the Roman cavalry.



The Gothic camp



Meanwhile behind the walls of the city everything looks remarkably peaceful




Roman infantry reinforcements are led out from the main gate while the armed Roman citizenry sally forth from a smaller postern gate.




Meanwhile belisarius' Hun auxiliaries skirmish with the advancing Gothic cavalry, seriously disrupting their advance.



Undaunted the Goths charge the Roman line of infantry, supported by cavalry.



But it does not go well for them. Disrupted by bow fire most of Goths retire in disorder, leaving others isolated and cut off.



Now the Romans take the offensive, breaking the Gothic cavalry and bypassing the infantry. Rome is saved for another day!



It was a most interesting game, made all the more enjoyable by the welcoming atmosphere and the hospitality of the ARSM club.


More on the ARSM website (in English)









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