Tuesday, 4 August 2009

6mm Romans: More Musings

Some more thoughts now on the 'experimental' project involving 6mm Romans, that typically threatens to become somewhat greater than the sum of its parts! Reinforcements have arrived from Irregular Miniatures, and in spite of my protestations regarding cost, Baccus has kindly provided some command and artillery figures which will figure in my next post on this subject. For now, though, I thought I'd share some more ruminations on the basing and make-up of the various units.

First off, I picked up some of Irregular's E4 Roman Heavy Cavalry, which to my mind look the part for Auxiliary Horse. Cast together, there is not a great deal of detail to each figure, and they would suffer in comparison to the cavalry supplied by Baccus, but at £0.50 for five figures on the block, the price is pretty good. Comparing them quickly to the mounted Roman Generals from Baccus, I would say the horse size and heft is pretty similar, although the riders are somewhat slighter in proportion.

Temporarily based as a Turmae-ish sized unit on 60x30mm:

Next we have Irregular's E7 Middle Roman Legionaries in 4 rank blocks, which I invested in to form Praetorian Cohorts.
Hollywood depictions aside, it seems that they and the Cohortes Urbanes of Rome itself were pretty much indistinguishable from the standard Legionary, but I wanted to differentiate them from the rank and file. There is an excellent discussion on their equipment on the Red Rampant Blog site, which is a great source of intelligently laid out information:

Opinion seems divided, but on balance, and quoting Tacitus, the historian of the 'Year of the Four Emperors' in which I am interested: "all that distinguished a Praetorian from a Legionary was his shield".
Although this could mean either colour or design, rather than size or shape, the longer, more oval shields on these guys are a great way to tell the difference:

In common with the E1 blocks, there are no command figures visible, (Although there is some suggestion of larger headgear to the rightmost figure in the front rank - the Centurion's position - an attempt to show a crested helmet? It's certainly too subtle to be really useful.) so I've been thinking of maybe adding the command strips from Baccus packs behind the rear rank, more to come on this in a later post....

Moving on to some more of Irregular's offerings, we have the E3 Armoured Auxiliary Archers. Now these guys are, and I make no bones about it, blobby, blobby and blobby, the compromise in sculpting a raised bow in 6mm meaning that unlike a larger scale figure, the casting only allows an 'all-in-one' approach.
The great advantage that these have over the otherwise superlative Baccus sculpts, is that they are at least in an active pose; Peter Berry's guys all look as if they are queuing up waiting for a bus! Archers should be 'arching' on the tabletop, rather than standing at ease....

It is, though, a big compromise, as these are not great looking figures, and for an amateurish painter like me, they make it hard to bring out any character on the finished mini; blobs of paint go on a blobby mini.....oh well!

The next quandry with these arrow jockeys is how to base them. I intend to make use of the Basic Impetus Rules with a few tweaks (They are available free online, and I'm cheap!), so they would come in as Missile troops, which to my mind should be seen in a looser formation than standard Infantry, but something about Roman bowmen just cries out for massed ranks.

Matched here with Irregular's E2 Early Armoured Auxilairies, who also face similar indecision as to their depiction, you can see the difference in visual impact:

A deeper unit would appear on a 40x30mm base, whilst the spread out approach would see them on a 60x30mm one:

The Auxilia, similarly, would have a loosely formed counterpart, as below. The Irregular Auxiliary minis are in a nice active pose, but unfortunately suffer heavily from that common bugbear of this manufacturer, namely miscasting. Their legs are extremely spindly, and their pilae/pilums are sometimes all but indistinguishable, or even absent on the casting. Given that they are mounted in blocks, this is not so noticeable, but again would be a poor contrast with the superior product from Baccus. Then again, the shield size is more in proportion than those of the latter company, and at £0.25 for six figs (That's £4.00 for 96), are definitely cheaper!

A new and rather slow burning Blog, that has some intelligent and incisive things to say about the output from Baccus, as well as displaying some brilliant photos, is Mike's Leadpile, well worth a visit:

So I'm not sure how to proceed with basing these men of the Auxilia, whether to depict them as proto-legionaries in close formation, or have them in a 'lighter' role, and therefore more widely spaced. I think even Historians debate as to how exactly they were deployed; were they really a distinct class of medium infantry, trained to open out in loose terrain, or were they close order troops that were recruited from non-Roman citizens?

Were they defined more by bureaucracy than by their tactical deployment. Discuss.

I know I'm still unsure.

There are a lot more things to play around with before I firm up which way to go with all this, including Artillery, and various Gallic/Celtic/German types to stand in for Batavians and Suebi,
so keep on the look-out for more on all this.......who said this was a subsidiary project again?

In the meantime, have a look at some great eye candy photos of Romans from Baccus over at the always inspiring Geektactica Blog:

maybe I'll be ordering more from Mr Berry after all.......


  1. These look really good and has given me much food for thought onthe viability of 6mm for my own stuff - particularly on the cost front. I would probably use Heroics and Ros if only because they are 30 minutes inthe car from me and I can see them in advance. the Irregular stuff covers a much bigger range though.

  2. Hi guys, thanks for the comments, now now Michael, we know you lot over at Angel Barracks are partial! Mind you, I think apart from 'character' figures, command, artillery etc, it looks like the majority of figures will be exactly that, the more of the E1 Legionary blocks I do, and the mass increases, the more I like them!

    Ogre, You are so lucky being only a drive away, I'd be too tempted to go and spend too much if there really was such a 'local gaming store' existing nearer to me, as it is, the postage is still a bit cheaper than the rail fare!

    I always find Heroics and Ros figs to be well proportioned, but just a bit too slight in heft, and therefore a bit difficult to paint in my usual blobby style; had to do lots and lots for various WWII Microarmour armies, so wanted to try something different for this and the NWF project elsewhere on this Blog.