Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

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.







By smacdowall, May 11 2021 08:05PM

I have been running a number of Comitatus games to test out some new amendments to the rules. These simplify the combat mechanisms using dice rather than comparing factors. This now brings Comitatus into line with my more recent rules such as Tree of Battles (late medieval) and Malbriook s’en va-t-en guerre (WSS big battles). The 2021 amendments greatly reduce calculations thus speeding up play as well as reducing the strain on my poor brain! They are available as a free download from the rules section of my website — to be used in conjunction with the original rules.


The most recent test game was loosely based on Daras (AD 530) using 15mm figures.


Perozes, deployed the Persians in 3 lines with a strong left wing and substantial reserve. Their army also included elephants. Although not entirely historical, I wanted to test out the elephant mechanisms alongside those of more conventional troops.


The relatively poor quality Roman infantry, supported by a light catapult, were deployed behind a ditch (reminder -- I need to cosntruct some ditch sections!)



Belisarius held back his left, sending Pharas off on a wide (off table) flank march on that wing with a picked force of Huns and Heruls.


Heavy horse archers, backed up by foederati held the Roman right.


The Persians advanced rapidly on their left and a swirling cavalry combat ensued with the Persians getting the better of it. When the Roman commander on that wing was killed in hand to hand combat the line wavered and it looked like a Persian victory was near.


At this critical juncture, Belisarius detached his Bucellarii to reinforce his hard pressed right flank.


Perozes brought up his reserves, personally leading the Immortals to engage the Roman Bucellarii. But against the odds, the Romans got the better of the engagement, slowly pushing back Perozes’ Immortals.


Meanwhile, the Persian right closed in on Belisarius’ refused left, bringing up the elephants in support.


It was then that Pharas rolled high enough on the dice to arrive on table behind the advancing Persian right.


The ensuing fight saw the Huns draw off one of the elephants while Belisarius and Pharas charged with their heavy cavalry, killing the Persian right wing commander in the process.


The infantry in the centre faced each other off, exchanging missiles from a safe distance until the Isuarians on the Roman left surged forward to support Belisarius’ cavalry.


It was a good, very hard-fought game with the Persians winning on their left and the same for the Romans on theirs. In the end we called it a draw with advantage to the Persians. All of the rule amendments worked well -- improving the game while retaining the feel of the original rules.






By smacdowall, Nov 30 2018 04:11PM

The autumn Society of Ancients weekend conference is rapidly becoming my favourite fixture in my wargaming calendar. Resurrected by Richard Lockwood 3 years ago from the original residential weekends run by the Society in the 1980s it gives aficionados of the pre-gunpowder era a chance to meet and engage with like-minded people.


I, for one, enjoy the banter, discussion and interaction with fellow wargamers as much as I enjoy playing the actual games. The beauty of a residential weekend is that we have plenty of time for this.


I highly recommend the conference for anyone with an interest in ancient and medieval wargaming. Details on the Society website. You do not have to be a member to attend.


This year I once again ran my Warlords and Rebels game aka Somewhere in Gaul AD 430. I first put on this on back at one of the original 1980s conferences and again at two years ago. It is a multi-player game with the participants role-playing Goths, Saxons, Franks, local rebels and several competing Roman contingents. There is as much or more diplomacy and skulduggery as actual combat.


The full original scenario can be found in my 1991 Goths, Huns and Romans book, and more detail in my blog post from the 2016 conference.


Here are a few photos from the 2018 game:



The set up. Most troops starting off table
The set up. Most troops starting off table


The Roman field army advances, barely a Roman in the contingent
The Roman field army advances, barely a Roman in the contingent


Bacaudae rebels and Goths face off close the the village
Bacaudae rebels and Goths face off close the the village

The only actual combat was an attempt by the Goths to storm the village
The only actual combat was an attempt by the Goths to storm the village




By smacdowall, Oct 16 2017 08:38PM



My sincere thanks to Richard Lockwood for organising the second Society of Ancients conference of this millennium. Once again it offered a great mix of discussion, games and good companionship and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


I took the opportunity to put on the Battle of Ad Decimum (AD 533) with my 6 mm figures supplemented by Geoff Fabron’s. This all cavalry battle resulted in Belisarius taking Carthage from the Vandals with only 6000 mounted men. Belisarius left his 10,000 infantry along with his wife and baggage in his camp.


Ad Decimum is a battle I have long wanted to try out. As it was an encounter battle fought over a wide area I felt that it needed the smaller scale miniatures to do it justice and I just based managed to base my last Vandal the day before the conference.


I set the game up historically but gave the players a number of options and let them play out their roles more or less as they wished. I also added a number of Moors riding around the countryside who would shadow both armies and not attack unless they were attacked or if the Romans weakened their camp too much.


The opening moves
The opening moves

The battle opened historically with Ammatas (The Vandal King’s son) enjoying his lunch at Ad Decimum — 10 miles from Carthage — where he had been ordered to take up a blocking position. On sighting the Roman advance guard he charged forward without waiting to form up, nor waiting for his other men who were strung out in a disorderly column on the road from Carthage.


I gave the player representing Ammatas a chance of forming his men up but I weighted the dice against him and so he did as his historical counterpart had done with the same disastrous result. His Comitatus was routed and he was killed. With the reckless Ammatas out off the way, his remaining troops managed better die rolls and began to form up. This caused the Roman commander of the advance guard to prudently pull back and re-form his own men rather than pushing on to Carthage.


The Roman commanders consider their options
The Roman commanders consider their options

The Roman column advances on Ad Decimum
The Roman column advances on Ad Decimum

Meanwhile the main Roman column debouched from the camp as their Hun flank guard was pushed back in a series of aggressive attacks by Gelimer who led his men in a beeline for the centre of the field.


Gibamund's column advances
Gibamund's column advances

Gibamund — who historically led the advance of the main Vandal force coming up from the south — was delayed by a series of bad die rolls. Eventually his column came onto the table, taking up the left flank of a Vandal strike in the centre.


The Romans deployed into line to meet the Vandal attack with Belisarius leading his bucellarii against Gibamund’s household warriors. To add a little fun I gave Gibamund the option of challenging Belisarius to personal combat which he did and which Belisarius disdainfully ignored.


When the main lines clashed the results were fairly even. The Vandals managed to rout one of the Roman units of bucellarii but their right wing units were attacked from two sides and driven back shaken.


At this point I called an end to the game. Although the Vandal attack had failed to defeat the Romans, it was clear that Belisarius was not going to reach Carthage that day. Therefore I declared the result a strategic Vandal victory even if the tactical results were even or even slightly in the Romans’ favour.


The rules we used were a stripped down version of my Legio VI Constantiani which are available as a free download in the rules section of my website. I will write the game up more fully for Slingshot in the near future




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