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.