Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Sep 2 2017 08:11AM

Earlier in August I made my way over to northern France for the annual Roman and Barbarian festival at the Musée des Temps Barbares at Marle, just to the north of Laon.


Reconstructed Frankish Hall
Reconstructed Frankish Hall

The small museum displays artefacts from the early Frankish occupation of Roman Gaul in the 5th-6th centuries. It’s main drawing point is the reconstructed Frankish village where from time to time various re-enactments are staged.


Nerby Laon is worth a visit for the walled Medieval centre perched high above the surrounding plain. My alter ego DonQui Oaty highly recommends the Domaine de Barive not far from the museum for an indulgent overnight stay.


As to the re-enactors at the festival - I shall let the photos tell the story:


Fifth centruy Romans
Fifth centruy Romans



Negotiations between Franks and Romans
Negotiations between Franks and Romans


A fine looking Roman officer
A fine looking Roman officer


Frankish Smiths
Frankish Smiths

Alamannic women
Alamannic women

Alamanic warrior
Alamanic warrior


Romans on the march
Romans on the march


Germans attack a Roman frontier fort
Germans attack a Roman frontier fort


Roman skirmishers engage
Roman skirmishers engage


Clash of shield walls
Clash of shield walls

Children scouring the battlefield
Children scouring the battlefield


Frankish bakery
Frankish bakery









By smacdowall, Mar 28 2017 04:00PM

The second battle of our celebratory wargames weekend was a re-run of the Eagle in the Snow game I first staged a couple of years ago. This was a re-creation of Wallace Breem’s fictional account of a Roman last stand as the barbarians crossed the Rhine mid winter AD 406.


After playing out several strategic moves by email we ended up with Maximus, the Roman commander taking a stand at the ‘30th Milestone’ after falling back from Mainz. We played it out on a table sprinkled with snow for atmosphere (although we could have used a bit more) using my Comitatus rules and miniatures from my 15mm late Roman collection.


Maximus sends out a messenger to the horde Suebi advancing out of the woods
Maximus sends out a messenger to the horde Suebi advancing out of the woods

After sacking Koblenz, Rando, king of the Suebi, cut a deal with Tibatto, leader of the Roman rebel Bacaudae. In an exchange for a share of the loot the Bacaudae led the Suebi through hidden paths to bypass other Roman garrisons and emerge to the immediate north of the 30th Milestone.


Rando challenged Maximus to personal combat. A Roman champion met the challenge and killed the Suebian king. This resulted in a furious but doomed assault by Rando’s comitatus against the Roman fortifications.


Roman reinforcements arrived along the road from the north, causing the Vandals, who we’re advancing from east to west, o turn to meet them. In a short fierce engagement Quintus, the leader of the Roman reinforcements was killed, the Romans were flanked and their line broke but Gunderic, king of the Asding Vandals also met his end and Fredibal, leader of the Silings was wounded.


Meanwhile a contingent of Alans who had taken service with the Romans arrived on the southern tale edge. They, together with a Roman cavalry unit, were the survivors of the sack of Worms by the Burgundians. The Alans, led by Goar, were quite happy to take advantage of Maximus’s difficult position to squeeze more tribute from the Romans.


After regrouping the Suebi, supported by the Bacaudae, surged forward for another assault on the Roman fortifications as the Vandals closed in from the east. There was a fierce back and forth combat around the west gate with the Romans only just holding on.


Meanwhile the Alans extracted yet more tribute from Maximus in return for charging in against the bacaudae and Suebi who were threatening to break through.



More troops arriving from the West raised the hopes of the beleaguered Roman garrison that the Gallic field army had come to their rescue. As it turned out it was Artorius, magistrate of Trier, who had gathered up the civic militia to do his bit for the glory of the Republic.



The Suebi prepare for a second assault
The Suebi prepare for a second assault

In the end the Suebi, Vandals and bacaudae were thrown back from the fortifications. The Alans turned against their Roman employer and took as much loot as they could carry before heading off to the West.


Maximus held the 30th Milestone but it would have been cold comfort as at this point the barbarians would have bypassed him to march on Trier which was now undefended. Tibatto of the bacaudae would no doubt carry on ruling his patch of territory in the Rhine/Mosel valleys like a prototype Robin Hood.




By smacdowall, Jan 16 2016 11:24AM

I recently visited the British Museum's exhibition on the Celts. I thought it was very good with an excellent collection of artefacts well displayed and well explained. The exhibition is on until the end of January.



Some items, such as the Battersea shield, are old favourites which I had seen before, others were new to me. One thing that always strikes me when I see Ancient British/Gallic shields is that they are considerably smaller than the complete body shields that tend be given to our miniature figures. Given the individualistic style of fighting a smaller handier shield than a Roman scutum makes sense.



This bronze helmet used to be thought of as an Ancient British helmet, however the label in the display case now attributes it to a Roman, or a Briton serving in the Roman army, due to the Roman numerals engraved on the side.



This helmet used to be known to wargamers as the ‘jockey helmet’ thanks to the illustration in Phil Barker’s Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome which portrayed it being worn back to front. Minifigs even produced a half naked ancient Brit (still available) modelled on the illustration. In reality the helmet would have had cheek guards and the projecting horizontal piece was a neck guard rather than a peak.





Bearing in mind the recent piecing together of the Hallaton helmet — a Roman cavalry helmet found in a pre-Roman conquest British grave — maybe it is time to put a few more clothes on our Ancient British warriors and issue them with some Roman kit.








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