I’ve always had an interest in the Roman Empire, and the period where they dominated the stage in Europe and Africa, and fought against such opponents as the Carthaginian Elephants, and the Germanic hordes. I’ve also always liked the imagery of the Roman Legions outnumbered and marching en-masse towards the enemy, and then proceeding to unstoppably chew through them (watching ‘Gladiator’ numerous times helped). Many, many nations and tribes fell (the majority of the Brits, the Greeks, and the Gaul’s to name but three) before the rest worked out that a straight punch-up was liable to bring only defeat, while a combination of guerrilla war, massed horse-archers and mobile warfare would gradually grind the legions down (the Huns and the Persians spring to mind).
A Bit Like Warhammer…..
As an army the Roman Legions are a bit like Chaos Warriors - not that many of them but tough buggers to take down when they group together. A Roman force typically consists of massed infantry behind very broad shields and a very limited number of auxiliary cavalry (it would appear that Italians were afraid of horses so got the rest of Europe to do their riding for them). They advance until they contact the enemy, and then use superior battle tactics to wear them down - working as a unit rather than an individual.
A New Army
A few years ago, following a trip to Hardknott Roman Fort in the Lake District, I was filled with enthusiasm for the period, and decided I would collect a Roman army and then wait for an opponent to appear, and failing that I would use them as a substitute for something in Warhammer. I discovered the growing wonder that is Warlord games (http://www.warlordgames.co.uk/) and their new 28mm plastic Romans and ordered a box plus the flat plastic bases. Incredibly you get 30 plastic models to a box for a measly £17 (although you have to buy the bases separately but they are also very reasonable), and upon their arrival I made and based all 30. And then stopped. A lack of opponents was a concern, but it was mostly that I was too lazy to paint them at the time, and too poor to buy more.
A couple of brief flashes of hope (and 3+ years) later they are still unpainted and without an enemy (undefeated so far I suppose!). My regular opponent, Mr Holman, justifiably refuses to pit his growing Arthurian force against them on realism grounds, and the only Warhammer Ancients clashes at the RGMB club so far have taken place in 15mm form (and my pathetic Vikings definitely came off worse against the Norman menace).
Fast forward to today and I have rediscovered my interest in the Romans! A trip to Wroxeter Roman City (known as Viroconium Cornoviorum in Roman times) in Shropshire for the fresh air, exercise and curiosity was enough to kick-start a need to revive my fledgling Roman army and begin additions and a search for some opponents to grind into dust! Warlord games are once again partly to blame for this enthusiasm with their new ‘Dromedarii’ (camel riders) unit which look amazing!
I’m off to find a suitable Roman Legion and paint a few of my troops in those colours to get the ball rolling, should this stall then no more will be heard, should this succeed then pictures and calls for the enemy to come forth will resound!