Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

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, 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.







By smacdowall, Aug 7 2020 05:29PM

It has been years since my 28 mil Later Imperial Romans came out to play (I also have them in 15 and 6 mil!).


They came out a couple of days ago for an unusual reason. That was a request for some photos to illustrate a Roman civil war article for Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine.


And here they are:







The figures are a mix of Wargames Foundry, Essex, Minifigs, Hinchliffe and a few others. Many or most have been through a few conversions.


I think it is about time they came out to play once again!


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