Monday, 27 July 2015

Romans Go Home!

I thought I would show off a work in progress and share my musings about how I want to set up my first Roman army.

The Legio Antonius taking shape (mostly Pendraken mini's)

One of my favourite subjects back in High School was Ancient History. I loved the Greek wars, especially the Persian and Peloponnesian wars, and all the galley battles. I was fascinated with Caesars conquest of Gaul and disaster when he tried to invade Albion (Britain). Since then, I have loved learning about Ancient and Medieval History.

So its kind of strange that until now I have been collecting Fantasy and Medieval armies in 10mm, and missed making any Ancient armies. So when I began planning to redress this omission, I was very blessed to be able to pick up from a fine gentleman on eBay a largish Roman Marian Republican Army. This was fantastic because I want in future to refight some of Caesars Gallic Wars. The army was originally based for Warmaster, but had the bases modified for DBA (I think). So I am in the process now of rebasing the entire army again for Warmaster. No mean feat, I tell you.

The Composition of a Roman Legion

According to my copy of the excellent Warfare in the Classical World , the Republican Roman Legion around the time of Caesar had benefitted from Marius' major reforms. Warfare in the Classical World states about the Legions after Marius:
The legion thus came to consist of 10 cohorts each of 3 maniples of two centuries of around 80 men, giving a total of c4,800. (p.153, Warfare in the Classical World, Warry, 1995)

So my dilemma in rebasing the army has been how best to represent the most basic contingent of the legion, that of the Century.

It just fells right to me that a Warmaster Unit should reflect a Century. Given that a Century consisted of around 80 men, and that I can fit 10 miniatures to a stand, this got me to thinking that the standard 3 stands of a WM unit wasn't going to really suit my desire for historical accuracy. However, if I make a unit (Century) consist of four stands, instead of the usual three stands, then there will be 40 miniatures in the unit (Century). Each miniature representing two legionnaires in real life.

How many Units to a Roman Legion?

So I'm thinking of the following arrangement for a Roman Republican Legion:

  • 1 unit = 4 x stands
  • Century = 1 x unit
  • Maniple = 2 x units/Centuries (8 x stands)
  • Cohort = 3 x Maniples, i.e. six units/Centuries (24 x stands)
  • Legion = 10 x Cohorts, i.e. sixty units/Centuries (240 x stands)

Note: Adding an extra stand to the unit increases the cost of the unit in Warmaster Ancients from 80 points to 110 points (rounding fractions up).

My eBay find currently gives me just one Century short of the first Cohort and two Centuries of the second Cohort. So its not a mammoth task to paint up these outstanding units/Centuries to give two Cohorts initially to the legion.

There is probably no way that I will ever paint a full legion of 240 stands. Practically, the legions were often undermanned due to detachments on patrol and sickness, injuries. For most battles too, I wouldn't really ever need more than two or three Cohorts to look impressive on the table as the Auxiliaries would also be standard with the legion, and these would be your standard 3 stands to a unit.

Stand and Shoot house-rule

Historically, the legionnaires at this time were armed with two Pilum, which they would throw at their enemy just prior to engagement. The pila would stick into the enemy shield and bend. This meant that the enemy would not be able to pull the pila out of their shield and throw it back at the legionnaires. Moreover, as the pila would be an extra weight on the shield, the enemies shields would be weighed down and useless to wield in defence. The enemy would therefore discard their shield. It was a highly effective strategy.

So this got me thinking that the Stand and Shoot rule for missile armed troops would work perfectly here. Essentially this reflects the Romans throwing their pila just as the enemy is about to engage. The legionaries were highly trained by this time and retained a closed order rank and file. So the enemy often came to them, or they closed on their enemies in disciplined order slowly. The pila was a fairly short range javelin and so the Legionnaries wouldn't be able to use this during the shooting phase like a missile troop unit, only when charged by the enemy. Historically it all comes together rather well. So I intend to try to playtest this idea when I can field my Roman army next.


The only consideration is that my opponent would have to agree to such changes and we would have to consider the option of suspending the Maniple rule from Warmaster Ancients, which permits stands of legionaries to Support themselves as though there were a Supporting Stand behind them in combat, if the Century becomes too powerful.

In the end it may be better to test this in a solo game and see how it pans out. If this all proves too powerful for game balance, I can always revert to the 3 stands per unit WM standard and ditch the Stand and Shoot house rule.

Still, it just seems right to me to have the Century comprise of four stands instead of three, and be able to throw their pila. I'll try to post some images of the army so far when its all based up again for Warmaster Ancients.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Whatever happened to the Red Duke? A Warmaster 3,500 point-a-side Battle Report - part 4



Turn 3 kicked off with two units of Ungors and a unit of Gors in the Beastmen centre using their Initiative to charge down a brigade of Skeletons facing them.

'Jim' just missed getting his commands across to the Shaggoth, the useless protoplasmic creature just shambling about where it was. The Minotaur Shaman followed Jim's example and failed to budge the Ungor Raiders and get them into a skirmish line.

Fortunately though, Malagor's orders were received by the brigade of Gors and their Chaos Spawn and they moved to defend the Standing Stone.

Malagor then ordered the Bestigors forward to cover the Beastmen centre-right, defending the other side of the Standing Stone.

The Gor Shaman on the Beastmen far left flank, in an attempt to bolster the defence of the Summoning Circle, attempted to order the Ungor ambushers forward to his aid, but he also failed to get his message across.

Finally, the Beastlord bellowed at the Minotaurs. However, the noise caused by all the braying of the herd meant that the brute failed to be heard above the din. That meant that the Beastmen Command Phase was over. Their heroes moved up to make the best of any future command rolls. The Gor Shaman headed into the Summoning Circle and Malagor took up position under the Standing Stone ready to draw on its energies.

At the end of their Command Phase, the Beastmen left flank remained wide open and potentially able to be exploited by the Red Duke!

The Ungor Raiders fired upon the Crypt Horrors scoring 2 hits.

Cop that!

Meanwhile the Gor Shaman in the Summoning Circle began his chanting, calling forth a Jabberslythe from the heart of the forest. If uninterrupted during the turn, the Shaman would succeed in calling the horror forth at the beginning of the next Beastmen Command Phase.

In the centre, the Minotaur Shaman attempted to cast Hunting for Gore on the Chaos Spawn but failed. Malagor attempted to cast Power of the Herd on the combat ahead of him, but not even the energies within the Standing Stone helped him cast the spell.

With only one fight this phase, it was down to the unit of Gors and the two units of Ungors (one of which was one stand strong!) to face down the brigade of Skeletons and hopefully gain some respect for the Beastmen after their failings this turn. The Primal Fury check failed to see the Gors/Ungors loose their heads and go postal on the Skeletons.

The Beastmen won the charge, forcing the Skeletons back 1cm with the loss of two stands to the Beastmen's one stand (and taking an outstanding hit).

The Beastmen press forward their advantage and in the ensuing heavy fighting results in a stalemate with the Skeletons loosing two stands and the Ungors one stand, with two hits outstanding. Both sides fall back and the Combat Phase drew to a close.

The battlefield at the end of the Beastmen's go during Turn 3


The Crypt Horrors, being gross but living creatures, were the only VC units capable of using Initiative this turn. That being the case, they took the opportunity to charge the Ungor unit involved in the previous Combat Phase engagement. These Ungors had become isolated, due to casualties during that Combat Phase, from the unit of Gors they were originally brigaded with.

The Mounted Wight King on the VC's left then attempted to order forward the brigade of Zombies, but the mindless automatons yet again failed to budge. The Lich also on the VC's left then also failed to get its orders through to the Skeletons near it.

Finally the Mounted Wight King at the rear of the VC line, who had failed all game so far to succeed in even just one order finally had a stroke of luck! Its grasp in the corporeal world finally breaking through enough to order a brigade of Grave Guard forward. However its hold within the corporeal world must have then faltered as it failed in its next order to move a brigade of Grave Guard & Zombies forward from the very rear of the VC line.

The Grave Guard move up finally.

The Lich on the VC's right finally managed to spur forward the brigade of Skeleton Cavalry, spurring forward to threaten the units at the Summoning Circle. The Lich must have been able to perceive on the Winds of Magic that the Gor Shaman in the Summoning Circle was up to no good!

Sensing that the danger must be great, the Lich then pressed the Skeleton Cavalry forward again, charging them into the Harpies at the Summoning Circle, quickly enveloping them.

Fortunately for the Beastmen, the Gor Shaman wasn't attached to the Harpies and so was not going to be destroyed if the Harpies lost and were scattered.

The Lich then attempted to move the surviving Skeletons from the fight with the Gor/Ungor brigade during the previous Combat Phase. The Lich wanting to move them forward to reengage the last remaining Gor unit that had attacked them. Despite its successes so far it failed and the Skeletons stayed put, leaving them open to a charge the next turn.

The Red Duke ordered forward the Ghostly Legion into the center of the VC line, covering a gap in their line.

The Duke then attempted to move forward the Terrorghiest that had stubbornly failed to move all game. Needing a command roll of 7, the Red Duke rolled an 8 and the horror remained where it was. With that failure, the VC Command Phase was over.

The Red Duke attempted to cast "Raise Dead" on the combat involving the Crypt Horrors and the Ungors, but failed. The Lich attempted "Vanhel's Dance Macabre" on the unit of Skeletons that were summoned into combat the previous VC Shooting Phase, but also failed. Then the Wight King attempted to cast "Vanhel's Dance Macabre" on the Terrorghiest but also failed. After such a run of bad rolls, the VC Shooting Phase came to a miserable end.

Only two combats during the VC's part of Turn 3, the Crypt Horrors vs. Ungors and the Skeleton Cavalry vs. Harpies at the Summoning Circle. If the Summoning Circle fell to the Skeleton Cavalry, the Gor Shaman would be overrun and forced to retreat to a friendly unit within 60cm, abandoning the circle and the summoning ritual to bring forth the Jabberslythe.

The first combat was the Crypt Horrors against the depleted unit of Ungors. The Crypt Horrors not only had the advantage of a charge into combat but also were attacking the flank of the Ungors. The resulting combat saw the Ungors suffer 5 hits against inflicting only 1 hit on the Crypt Horrors. Not surprisingly, the Ungors lost a stand and were forced back.

Naturally, the Crypt Horrors pursued the Ungors, who only had one hit left. Amazingly, only one hit was scored by both sides, despite the advantage the Crypt Horrors held in pursuing their quarry. The Ungors must have put up a vicious fight. But in the end the Crypt Horrors tough hide saw them survive the rumble unscathed and the Ungors were crushed into the dirt, the Crypt Horrors feasting on the gore of their demise. Having won the fight, the Crypt Horrors reformed their line.

Next was the Skeleton Cavalry up against the Harpies. One of the Harpy units was wholly within the Summoning Circle and so received Defended status in the ensuing combat. The fighting was vicious with the Harpy unit outside the Summoning Circle suffering a total of 11 hits, with nothing to show in return, and were wiped out to a stand! The combat saw the remaining Harpies lose and have to fall back 5cm, abandoning the Summoning Circle. Being flying units, the Harpies were not able to be pursued by the Skeleton Cavalry.

The Summoning Circle also blocked the line of sight to the Ungor Ambushers, so the Skeleton Cavalry were not able to advance against the Ungors on the edge of the forest. This also meant that the Cavalry were not able to occupy the Summoning Circle after combat.

Amazingly, the Gor Shaman was therefore able to remain within the Summoning Circle, and thus continue his ritual to bring forth the Jabberslythe. The horror was to appear at the beginning of the Beastmen's next Command Phase!

The combat over, the Beastmen had by now lost nine units to the VC's six units, and several more VC units were now down to just one or two stands!

Turn 3 drew to a close with neither side really having the upper hand.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Chaos Horde

Been a very busy time of late workwise, so will get back to updating the blog very soon.

In the interim, I found some nice photos of my Chaos Horde! I have been blessed to be able to have accumulated these bad lads and lasses over time via eBay. So I can't claim that the excellent paint jobs are my own sadly. Anyway, enjoy having a rummage through these images. The late afternoon images come from a game a couple of years ago. The last few are from me just arraying them on the table for a bit of a head count. Enjoy!