Friday, May 28, 2010

Molto Marians

My reason for being an Ancients gamer is primarily because of my love for the history of the period.  I've heard it said that there are three major reasons people get into the hobby of Ancient Miniature Wargaming - the gaming aspect, the modeling aspect, and the historical aspect.  For most such hobbyists, it is probably some combination of these three reasons in varying degrees, but for me, if it wasn't for the history, I would probably find something different to spend my leisure time with.  And of my historical interests, it probably all started with the Romans.  I fondly remember as an elementary school student, hanging out in the town library, perusing an abridged copy of Livy, and being sucked into the world the Romans imagined for themselves.  Ever since, the Romans have been of special interest to me, and in particular, those Romans of the Later Republic - or as they are known as in many Ancient rulesets produced before Field of Glory, the Marian Romans.

Marius' Mules.  The image of the citizen legionary soldier resulting from Gaius Marius' reforms is iconic for Ancient wargamers.  No longer a militiaman, but instead, a weathered, disciplined professional with service terms of up to twenty years, marching long distances with all his equipment on his back, and although a skilled swordsman and fighter, a soldier winning more wars with the shovel than the pilum.

For most Ancient rules, the Marians are mediocre though - not at all resembling the conquerors of Marius, Sulla, and Caesar, and usually a bit of a disappointment to play for people new to Ancients with an itch to play one of history's most notable armies.  But with the Field of Glory rules, the Marians now have come into their own.  Not an over the top, "killer" army certainly, but definitely one with powerful troop types, that if competently handled are a legitimate threat to most opponents.

When Field of Glory was first published, like many other players, I wanted to give my Romans a try as quickly as possible.  I did that at first, and fell into the temptation of trying to make the variety of different troop types they get to work as a combined arms force.  I quickly stopped playing them though, for several reasons - one, because I was having trouble with the combined arms approach to this army, and two, because several of the local players who took up Field of Glory initially wanted to do Romans also, so I figured it would be better if I played different armies in order to give them more varied opponents.  Turns out that now that the initial enthusiasm for Field of Glory (and Ancients in general) among the casual local gamers has passed, and we are now left with only the more serious and committed players, there aren't that many Roman players any longer.  With that in mind, I thought it might be a good time to return to my first wargaming love.

Since I'll be bringing my Marians (or Late Republican Romans, as FoG denotes them) back out, I thought I might experiment with abandoning the combined arms approach and go with with the almost all legionaries all the time approach that can be found under the design notes for this army posted by Simon Hall on the Madaxeman blog.  That approach assumes that since the legionary battlegroups are so powerful on their own, why muck things up by adding other troop types that only give your opponent something else to fight while avoiding the best stuff you have.  Here is a copy of the list that I plan to try out:

CinC 1xFC
Sub-commanders 2xTC
Fortified Camp
2xField Entrenchments
4xLH Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Javelins, Light Spear
4xLH Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Javelins, Light Spear
8xLF Unprotected, Average, Undrilled, Bow
4xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen

4xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
4xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
4xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
4xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
8xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
8xHF Armored, Superior, Drilled, Impact Foot, Skilled Swordsmen
4xCv Protected, Superior, Undrilled, Light Spear, Swordsmen
11 Battlegroups, +2 Initiative, 798 Points

Basically, the army has minimal support troops, but an opponent won't break this army unless he comes toe-to-toe with at least some of the Legionaries.  I'm excited about trying this configuration as soon as I can break free for a couple of games.

As far as figure selection goes, up until now I've been using Old Glory 15's, but they are close to the first 15mm scale army that I painted once I decided to move to the smaller scale from 25mm.  They are alright I guess, but I've never really been satisfied with them, and I wanted to find something that I like better.  I have  settled on a combination of Corvus Belli Marian Romans and Testudo Caesarian Romans that will move into this army as soon as I get them painted up.  In the meantime, the Old Glory 15's will still continue to do yeoman's duty for me.

Below are several photos of my completed units from the different manufacturers for comparison purposes.

The top photo is of the Old Glory 15 figures. Serviceable I guess is the word to describe them.  In the middle is an eight stand unit from Corvus Belli.  I bought the standing version of these guys, because for heavy infantry (especially drilled ones) I like to have relatively non-dynamic poses with weapons in an upright position - makes them easier to rank up and I like the more uniform look better.  The bottom photo is of a four stand unit using Testudo figures - once again all in the standing pose.  I really like both the Testudo and the Corvus Belli lines.  Lots of character in the figures, and they were very easy to paint.  I especially like the shield patterns that come engraved on the Testudo figures, and I got the figures during a very lucrative clear out sale at Scale Creep Miniatures.  The Testudo figures are larger than both the OG 15's and the Corvus Belli ones, but they look fine to me as long as the figures are in separate units.  I have a hard time deciding if I like the Corvus Belli figures or the Testudo ones better.  If I have to choose, I think that I would go with the Testudo, but the Corvus Belli are also very attractive, and easily available in the US - I got mine from the Warstore, with delivery to my house in only 2 days time.

Anyway, I'm missing out on a local FoG gaming day this weekend due to a family trip to Cape Cod, but I really hope to get a chance to put these figures on the table before Historicon comes.

Given how much I enjoy the Testudo figures, I will have to check into getting via direct order from Italy some of their Thirty Years War 15mm figures once Field of Glory Renaissance is published this September.

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