Late Romans in battle

Got another battle in this week with the Late Imperial Romans and I think I am finally happy with iteration 6 of the roster. Three very different commands, and even with some poor PIP dice I never felt that I had PIPs in the wrong place.

The painting bench this week

Ink some WW2 Russian Zis-3 artillery and staff for Wednesday night’s game of Flames of War against Graham.

Paint up the last of the Old Glory 15mm Gothic archers to give me all 16 Irr Bw(I) for an Ostrogothic or Later Visigothic army.

Assemble the rest of the Conquest plastic Norman 28mm knights for a Norman Saga warband.

The Ridge

As promised, a photo of the ridge for Chalons, taken on some 3′ x 2′ boards for scale. As you can see, it will stretch past the centre line of the table and dominate the northern half of the battlefield. Controlling it will, I think, be critical to the flow of the battle.

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There will be a total of nine commanders involved in the battle, divided between the two sides.

The Romans and their allies:

  • Aetius, Last of the Romans, Magister Militum, Patricius et Dux.
  • Theodoric, King of the Visigoths.
  • Merovech, King of the Franks.
  • Gondoic, King of the Burgundians.
  • Sangiban, King of the Alans.

The Huns and their subjects:

  • Attila, Great Khan of the Huns, the scourge of God.
  • Ellac, Prince of the Huns.
  • Ardaric, King of the Gepids.
  • Valamir,  King of the Ostrogoths.

Refined battlefield for Chalons

It seems strange to refer to this as the battle of Chalons now, since we are re-fighting it on a battlefield outside Troyes, but this is the more detailed view of the battlefield that we will be fighting on, i.e. the chunk of it that fits on a 8′ x 4′ wargaming table, which (by my calculations) comes to around 4 km by 2 km.

Battle of Chalons Map (actually just outside Troyes)
Battle of Chalons Map (actually just outside Troyes)

As can be seen, the main feature is the ridge on the north side. The next post will show what this is currently looking like.

Saga and Saga dice

Tried two more games of Saga while on holiday up in Wales (my second and third) and really enjoying it as a skirmish game that really fits with its period. Bit worried about the forthcoming Byzantine list and also the heroes of the Viking age – would Athelstan have really trolled around with a 40 strong army? And certainly you shouldn’t be trying to model an Imperial Byzantine army with it. But it looks and feels right as a European Dark Age skirmish game for a period where many of the battles were just skirmishes. Hopefully they extend it bsck to the Volksvanderung era and Arthur, because it would fit that perfectly.
Anyway, I decided that trying to use normal dice as Saga dice wss adding another level of confusion to my overloaded brain, so I made some myself with the symbols from the Saga forum and some blank dice from blankdice.co.uk. 32 Saga dice for about a tenner in total. And they don’t look too bad?

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The Battle of the Catalunian Plains part 1 – where was it

This year’s battle for the Society of Ancients Battle Day is the Battle of the Catalunian Fields, aka the Battle of Chalons, in 453AD. It is regarded as a pivotal battle of late antiquity, stopping Attila’s Huns in their tracks and saving western Europe from them, although actually it doesn’t seem to have really had such an effect, and western Europe was saved more by his marital over-exertion and the inability of his successors to control their German vassals.

Anyway, next post will deal with the two armies. This one will be about where it was fought. It is one of those battles where we just have a few fragmentary accounts of what is going on, all of which seem rather unreliable. The primary source is Jordanes, a Romanized Goth writing in the 6th century. The consensus seems to be that Attila, on a up-til-then successful plundering expedition through Gaul, was besieging Orleans. Aetius, the Magister Militum of the West, came north from Ravenna, assumed command of the relic field army of Gaul and forged an alliance between the various Germanic tribes that had carved up most of Gaul between them by this stage, and who therefore actually had more to lose to Attila than Aetius did.

This combined army then moved on Orleans, forcing Attila to raise the siege. Attila then appears to start retreating back towards the Rhine, presumably happy with the plunder gathered so far and unwilling to risk his men in an unnecessary battle. At some point along this line of retreat, Aetius catches him and forces him to give battle. We are told that the site of the battle is somewhere near Chalons, and the only two physical details we are given about the battle are that there is an important ridge that is fought over at the beginning of the battle, and that after the battle the streams ran red with blood. Given that these streams are not mentioned during the battle, they cannot be one of the major rivers that cross the area though.

Most authorities place the site of the battle on the open plain between Troyes (on the Seine) and Chalons (on the Marne). Retreating from Orleans (on the Loire) to the Rhine involves crossing both of these rivers at some point. I think we can probably also assume that Attila, probably encumbered by considerable baggage, used the Roman road network to move his army around. The obvious initial route is Orleans-Sens-Troyes. At this point you reach the Seine which is the first significant obstacle and which is going to slow down your army as you cross it, probably by a single bridge. If Aetius is hard behind Attila then this is the first place that he can catch up, and Attila might end up in the awkward position of being caught with half his army on the far side of the river and out of action.

This line of enquiry was sparked by an article that Duncan found in an old French journal that outlined a possible battlefield to the west of Troyes. The road from Sens passes through a range of hills before debouching onto a plain in front of Troyes. On the north side of the plain, there is a prominent ridge, with the village of Montgueux on top of it. This seems to be a prime candidate for Jordanes’ ridge. There is also a small stream that appears to rise in the plain, near the modern village of Torvilliers, which would be the stream of blood. A snapshot of the battlefield from Google maps, annotated by me, is shown below, with the potential site for the battle that we have decided to use.

Possible site of the Battle of the Catalunian Plains, from Google maps.
Possible site of the Battle of the Catalunian Plains, from Google maps.

 

Late Roman battle

Tried out iteration 3 of the Late Imperial Romans last night. Not a great performance by me, but I think the command structure is getting better and I am slowly learning how to use the army. More thoughts here.

Nice roads, sir

How does PK do it. A seemingly unerring nose for the best terrain and figures. This time it is some very nice looking roads at: http://www.terrafirmastudios.co.uk/#/flexible-dirt-roads/4564861504. Must get some. Maybe I can then use them for unpaved roads and my SA Scenics roads as paved roads?

Talking of his recommendations, very impressed so far by the Old Glory 15s Gothic infantry from Timecast. They are a good match height-wise for the Buaeda barbarian infantry and Khurasan Romans and have a nice range of poses. Nothing matches the Legio Heroica figures, so the barbarian foot will be smaller than the Romans. Going to use LH Gothic cavalry for the nobles (Kn(F) in a Visigothic army or the armoured Kn(F) in an Ostrogothic army) and Khurasan and Old Glory figures for the un-armoured Kn(F) (or the Cv(O) in a Visigothic army).

Gothic cavalry

This week’s rather poor efforts on the figure painting front. Two elements of Gothic Kn(F) for my Late Imperial Romans. Not inked or based yet either. And I can’t get the shields to look right on the guys with the cloaks. The figures are Legio Heroica.

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Army List for Warfare

I took a War of the Roses and Tudor English army to Warfare this year in the 25mm post-500 AD period, and came a very pleasing 3rd. The army was mainly chosen because of the excellent Perry Miniatures plastic range for the period, and because its a simple and tough army that suits 25mm on a 6×4 board very well. The choice of generals was based on the army of Richard III at Bosworth, and hopefully everyone is in their correct livery and with correct standards and banners.

The Order of Battle was:

Richard III’s Command:

1 x Reg Kn(S) C-in-C, 2 x Reg Kn(S), 5 x Reg Bw(S), 1 x reg Art(I) = 16 ME

John Howard, Duke of Norfolk’s Command:

1 x Reg Kn(O) SG, 6 x Reg Bd(S), 6 x Reg Bw(S) = 24 ME

Henry Percy, Earl of Northhumberland’s Command:

1 x Reg Kn(O) AG, 3 x Reg Bd(S), 4 x Reg Bw(S) = 16 ME

William Stanley, King of Mann’s Command:

1 x Reg Kn(O) Inert AG, 3 x Reg Bd(S), 4 x Reg Bw(S) = 16 ME

Baggage Command:

8 x Irr Bge(I) Army Baggage

Pictures to follow.