dimanche 3 septembre 2017

I've almost forgotten...

... how to use brushes after my long summer break! No, my holidays didn't last for two months, I have been working most of the time, but I managed to take some days off, I will maybe write about it one of these days.

In the previous post, I wrote that the next unit on my todo list for my Late Imperial Roman army was a cavalry unit. Unfortunately, I had no time to paint a lot, but I could at least paint the first man as a test shot, and his horse of course :)

Here's the result:

Well... funny how fast you can lose your painting skills... and the pictures are not very good either, but I must admit that I wanted to write a post as soon as possible :) With autumn coming (not winter, not yet :)), I am likely to paint a little more.

mardi 4 juillet 2017

To Late Roman Empire... and Beyond !

Just a small post for a planning review concerning my Late Roman Army project.

The project: what, who, when...

I like wargaming, and I would LOOOVE wargaming with huge armies, but it seems that I am the only person in this area who ever had the stupid (nah... eccentric maybe?) idea to use 1/72 plastic soldiers for that purpose. When my children and I used to play together, they preferred to paint 25mm+ fantasy figures - I will show you some, one of these days. This left me little time for historical minis, a lonesome hobby from the past, when I mostly owned 1/72 minis.

Ok ok, I already tried 15mm (too small) and 25mm (too big), I keep on painting 1/72.

Anyway, there is a ruleset that requires a reasonable number of figures (less than 50 per army), and this ruleset is DBA, so I bought it (version 2.2) and began to paint armies for my potential opponent and me. And the current (well, one of them) army being painted is: II/78 Late Imperial Roman.

There are two sublists, the East and the West. In my crazy dreams, I would like to paint both, which would allow me to play roman civil war battles, or to have a bigger army, big enough to play with l'Art de la Guerre.

I began with the West, following the documentation (The Notitia Dignitatum in particular) to represent western units.

Oh, when ? I started several years ago, and it is not yet completed :)

The army list

For the II/78(a) list, you need these:

1x3Cv(Gen), 1x3Cv, 2x2LH, 2x4Bd, 3x4Ax, 2x2Ps, 1x4Kn or Art or 4Bd

DBA is like SQL language, it seems esoterical at first, but when you're explained, it is quite easy :)

Each element is of the same width (60 mm for 1/72 minis), the depth depending on the nature of the troop. You need 12 elements for any army. The list above means this:
- 1 element of Cavalry, 3 riders, the general
- 1 element of Cavalry, 3 riders
- 2 elements of Light Horse, of 2 riders each
- 2 elements of Blades troops, strong heavy infantry, 4 guys per element
- 3 elements of Auxilia troops, medium infantry, 4 guys per element
- 2 elements of Psiloi or light skirmishing infantry, 2 per element
- 1 element of Knight or very heavy cavalry (4 riders) OR 1 element of artillery OR 1 more element of Blades

Easy to read, ok ? But what sort of troopers ?  That's where you need another book, the DBM army list Book 2: 500 BC to 476 AD. DBM (another related ruleset) and DBA (same author) require almost the same sort of troops, so you need this book to understand what sort of troops you really need... or you use the internet. Both are useful :)

The review

So far, I have painted (links to the related posts)
- 4 cataphracts => 1 element of 4Kn
- 8 legionaries of the Pannoniciani Seniores => the 2 elements of 4Bd
- 4 auxilia of the Victores Iuniores => 1 element of 4Ax
- 8 auxilia of a limitanei unit => 2 more elements of 4Ax
- 2 archers supporting the limitanei => 1 element of 2Ps

7 out of 12 elements are done.

Let's take pictures to celebrate ! (and click to enlarge)

On these pictures, you can see that there are two extra figures: a musician (already displayed in this post), that will be a part of a command element for the Victores Iuniores, and... a Hun rider! Let's look at him

I thought that is was a good idea to paint 2 Hun riders to make a LH element, since Huns were sometimes scouting for the Late Roman Army. But I was wrong...  According to my documentation, the Hun riders may represent LH in an eastern Late Roman Army, but not in a western army, where they can only be played as Allies, that is... 12 more elements to paint !! Same thing for the Patrician Roman list.

I will paint him a friend anyway, and who knows, I may cheat and not follow the ruleset :)

Next step: cavalry ! Oh, horses...

dimanche 2 juillet 2017

Late Imperial Roman Army IV - Limitanei and Pseudocomitatenses

Limitanei and Pseudocomitatenses

Limitanei (from the word limes, meaning the frontier of the Empire) were soldiers garrisoned along the borders of the Empire. They were considered of a lower rank than the Comitatenses, who composed the field army, and the Palatini (see this post for a definition of that term) or elite.

Limitanei included legionary and auxiliary units.

The role of these frontier units was to patrol the borders and prevent raiders to enter into the empire. In case of a large scale attack, the field army would be engaged.

Some units of Limitanei have probably been incorporated in the field army under the name of Pseudocomitatenses, but remained the less considered... and less paid!

Identifying my unit

When I painted the soldiers pictured below, I first considered them as Auxilia Palatina. Their shield pattern was simply the one displayed on the Hät Medium infantry set, and frequently seen in various illustrations. But I couldn't give the unit a name, because that pattern is not shown in the Notitia Dignitatum. We know that the Notitia Dignitatum doesn't display shield patterns for all the units mentioned. For instance, none of the Limitanei units have their shields illustrated, and we also know that some Pseudocomitatenses are also missing.

The pattern that I was looking for can be seen on a famous Roman mosaic from the 4th century AD in Piazza Armerina in Sicily (see below). That mosaic represents a hunt scene. The hunters are trying to catch African animals, probably for the venationes (animal hunt) in an amphitheatre.

So it may be that my unit is an African Limitanei or Pseudocomitatenses unit. Since the figures are not heavily equipped, I will base them as Auxilia for DBA.

Here are the figures:

I painted two Auxilia elements, supported by one Psiloi element. All figures by Hät.

I would be very curious to know if anyone has a better idea for the identification of this shield pattern. If so, please don't hesitate to give your point of view, that's one of the reasons why we share all this on the web :) All comments welcome.

vendredi 30 juin 2017

Late Imperial Roman Army III - The Victores Iuniores

The Auxilia Palatina

The Auxilia Palatina were part of the elite units of the Empire, the Palatini (see my second post related to the Late Roman Army). They were of a higher rank than the Comitatenses who were more ordinary soldiers.

The Victores Iuniores

The Victores Iuniores were an Auxilia Palatina unit. According to the Notitia Dignitatum, they were under the command of the count of Spain, or Comes Hispenias.
Their shield patterns showed a winged Victory, which evocates the name of the unit, Victores.

Note that the picture above mentions the name of the Bructerii, instead of the Victores Iuniores. It seems clear that the monks in charge of the copy of the original roman document made mistakes and that several names have been shifted from their original location (I have to thank Chariobaude who focused my attention on this point - have a look at his blog dedicated to the Late Roman army).

 And here are my interpretation of the soldiers, and of the shield - it was a challenge proposed by Chariobaude in a topic at Benno's Figures Forum.

As usual, hope you like them :)

lundi 5 juin 2017

Late Imperial Roman Army II - The Pannoniciani Seniores

The Palatini

The Palatini were elite units of the Late Roman Empire. They were created by Constantine who needed new elite troops after he disbanded the Praetorian Guard in AD 312 - they supported his rival Maxentius.

There were horse units (called vexillationes), and infantry units called either Legiones Palatini or Auxilia Palatina.

The Legiones Palatini were particularly well equipped troops, and frequently engaged in action. The Notitia Dignitatum (a document  that described the administrative and military organisation of the eastern and western parts of the Empire) recorded 25 Legiones Palatini, 13 in the East, and 12 in the West.

The Pannoniciani Seniores

The Pannoniciani Seniores were a Palatine Legion unit based in the West. They belonged to the Italian army, under the command of the Italian Magister Peditum (master of infantry).

They were the fifth of the twelve western Legiones Palatini. Their shield pattern are shown below (after Luke Ueda-Sarson's pages dedicated to the Notitia Dignitatum):

I mainly used the Late Roman Heavy Infantry set made by Hät to represent this unit, plus a figure from the Late Roman Infantry set by Miniart (the giant one).
The figures are well equipped with large shields and mail shirts, which corresponds with the elite status of the unit.

The command group - note the Draco standard

 And some closeups on the officer: golden helmet, yellow crest and cape to show his rank.

Very colorful unit, a pleasure to paint.

dimanche 4 juin 2017

Late Imperial Roman Army I - The Cataphracts


What we call today the Late Roman Empire lasted from the end of the 3rd century AD to the 5th century AD. It began with the reign of Diocletian, who reorganized the Empire through the system of the Tetrarchy and divided it in two halves, East and West. Each part was ruled by an Emperor with the help of a Caesar.

Statue of the Tetrarchs in Venice - Diocletian on the left

At the end of this period, the western part of the Empire desintegrated, and the Eastern part, with Constantinople as a capital, became the Byzantine Empire.

The Cataphractarii, or Cataphracts

The Cataphractarii were extra heavy cavalry, whose main tactic was the shock charge. This sort of cavalry existed prior to the Late Empire, but their number had considerably increased during the period. Men and horses were covered with armors (lamellar, mail, or both). Cataphracts carried long lances called contus. Most Cataphracts regiments were located in the East, but there were some in the West too.

The minis displayed are Hät figures. They are meant to be based together as Knights for DBA, and I will need to paint another unit.
That's all for today :)

samedi 3 juin 2017

The Phantom Menace

Hi everyone, sorry for the lack of update but the weather is way too good not to live outside. Painting is not a summer activity :)

I added two ghosts to my undead army, and I took a few pictures this morning... hum, it's disturbing to take phantom pictures in summer light !

Anyway, here you are the result.

Two phantoms menacing a wizard... or summoned by him ?

The painting technique I used this time was slightly different from my usual way: no washes at all, I started from a blue base and only painted lighter and lighter layers, adding some white each time.

Figs by Caesar.
Hope you like them :)

samedi 20 mai 2017


The Samnites were a people living in the center of Italy at the age of the Roman Republic, and were one of its most famous opponents.
Romans and Samnites fought each other during the three Samnites Wars which occured in the 4th-3rd centuries BC. The Samnites were eventually defeated and were compelled to become allies to Rome. Rome just became powerful enough to stand against Pyrrhus and thereafter Carthage.

I used the Italian Allies box by Hät to represent the Samnites.

The warrior on the left has colorful clothes and shield, and wears a bronze armor.

The other warriors are dressed in white, with silver armor. They are noble members of a particular unit called Legio Linteata.

In the last photo, I show the Samnites together with Italian troops in Roman service (more concerning these troops here). They certainly fought each other during the Samnites wars, before the became forced allies.

I hope you like them :)

jeudi 18 mai 2017

Undead Pirates

Hi everyone, a small update this evening.

Among the most improbable minis I could have dreamed of, the Undead Pirates, or Cursed Pirates, or Fishy-Sharky Pirates (or whatever you want to name them) are certainly a reference I would not have expected to see in 1/72... but here they are, produced by Mars, and I couldn't resist the siren's song :)

Some may say that these minis are not very attractive, but I found them nice to paint.

Well, to be honest, I painted only three of them (for the moment).

I would like to use them in a naval skirmish game, but I have no rules and no opponents - any suggestions ? I wish I could buy the Napoleonics naval troops by Hät, but this reference seems difficult to find these days.

Some closeups.

Thank you for visiting this page :)

dimanche 14 mai 2017

Crusaders in Middle East, 12th century AD

Hi! Today, a few pictures related to the medieval Crusades in the Middle East.
If you follow that blog, you probably already saw my Templar Knights at fight with Ayyubid Ghulams.

This time I chose to paint an old reference - Italeri Crusaders. Do you remember them ?

Let's begin with the knights:

The third mini on the right is a Strelets Turcopole

The Italeri knights are nice figures with interesting details, but not very accurate. The heraldry patterns are engraved on the minis, which is a problem when you have several times the same poses, because you're not supposed to see the same knight several times on a battlefield (or anywhere else) !

I tried to cut off the pattern of the white and red (Argent et Gueules) knight, but it is rather difficult, and the result is not as good as I wanted.

I also painted two men at arms on foot:

Still a lot of work before I have a complete DBA army :)
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