Friday, 2 October 2009

6mm Romans: Year of the Four Emperors

Nero may or may not have been a 'fiddler', but by the middle of AD68, his rule was universally unpopular, and he was openly challenged by a number of Provincial governors, principal amongst whom were Lucius Clodius Macer, Gaius Julius Vindex and Servius Sulpicius Galba.

The Army of Germania Inferior, including the Legio I Germanica, V Alaudae, XV Primigenia and XVI Gallica, were despatched to Hispania to confront Vindex, but whilst Nero's back was turned, Galba marched on Rome with a newly raised Legio VII, and was promptly recognised by the Senate as the new Emperor. Nero just as promptly committed suicide.

Not everything was to be wine and roses for Galba, however, as the Army in Germany were miffed at having backed the wrong horse, particularly as they had defeated Vindex, and were now likely to be slighted by the new Emperor rather than rewarded for this feat of arms.
They therefore acclaimed their own commander, Vitellius, and lickety split, Galba was in big trouble.
Before he knew what was happening, another contender, Marcus Salvius Otho, plotted with the Praetorians, had him murdered, and declared himself the next incumbent.
The Othonian dynasty, however, was only to last for less than three months, when Vitellius defeated him at Bedriacum, and drank from the poison chalice of Imperial rule for himself; Otho, of course, comitted suicide.....
Not to be outdone, however, by the Western Empire, Vespasian in the East decided he would also have a go at the top job and headed for Italy, eventually defeating the Vitellans at Cremona and thereby ushering in the Flavian Dynasty....

Phew, confusing isn't it! In, out, in out, shake it.....well anyway, all this infighting forms the backdrop for the 6mm Romans project in that it sets up some great possibilities for Roman on Roman action, (as Caligula once said!) and saves me the trouble of painting up hordes of Gauls, Parthians or Dacians.

As you might remember from previous posts on this subject, the idea is to paint up some representative Legions to cover this period, and things are rolling along now that I have settled on the mixing of Irregular's blocks alongside Baccus minis for command and artillery. Some command bases are next up on the workbench with some Germanic allied troops, and this should give me enough to begin campaigning on behalf of whichever Imperial candidate takes my fancy.

You can see here some of the almost completed bases, which are just in need of some finishing off; they are distinctive in that they are examples of my first ever use of 'Static Grass', as up to this point I've normally just relied on painting, drybrushing and flocking. To be honest the jury is still out as to the appearance of said grass, as at this scale, it does rather resemble the shedded fibres of a tired old jumper rather than luxurious, verdant stalks of green.

I guess some more practise might improve things, although compared with some of the horror stories one comes across online (Green eyebrows on the user, etc), I think I got off lightly with most of it sticking to the bases, rather than to everything else.
One thing I did learn, if using a puffer bottle applicator as I did, then a plastic funnel is a very useful item in dealing with it, in order to decant the grass into the bottle beforehand, and after using it.
Another top tip is to have a small household paintbrush ready in order to brush up any spills, rather than using your hand, which can have hilarious green-coating on extremities-type consequences!

The campaign will start, I think, with the ambush at Locus Castorum in March AD69, when the Vitellans, led by Aulius Caecina Alienus, took on the Othonian forces led by Gaius Seutonius Paulinus, who as governor of Britain had defeated Boudicca/Bodicea some eight years before.

This will be followed up with the Battle of Bedriacum, which was a right old slanging match with eagles being taken, gladiators being slaughtered and outflanking moves aplenty.

I'll then move on to Cremona in October AD69, when the Western forces of Vitellius clashed with the Legions of the East supporting Vespasian. This grudge match was so closely contested that unusually the fighting went on right through the night, with a dawn finale and the death of Vitellius himself.

So, quite a bit to get through, and a lot more to paint in order to give enough troops for some nice big battles, but as you may see, the 'Mass' that I'm always going on about is gradually coming into effect:

The cunning plan of using the cast together blocks from Irregular as the backbone, means we can see 612 little Legionaries arrayed for battle below, although there are always plenty more to add!


  1. This is lovely. They really do make a statement grouped up.


  2. They look really impressive en masse - excellent work.

  3. Cheers, guys, getting there, anyway! More to come if I don't get sidetracked by something else small and shiny....and what are the chances of that happening? :-).

  4. These look great! Irregular minis might not look great as bare metal, but a good paintjob can make them stand out, and you've accomplished just that. I like the variety of sheild colours, especially the bunch in white-and-blue; reminds me of the flag of Nova Scotia.

    Can we expect to see Vitellius' (in)famous Batavian Auxilliary cohorts, and their countrymen the Imperial 'German' horse guards?

  5. Hi Mike, thanks for your comment, yes, I went a bit wild with the shield colours, but just wanted something different to make it easier to identify the various Legios on the table-top; the Irregular minis are definitely quick to paint up, but unfortunately their shields are really too small for Baccus' excellent shield transfers, hence my freehand efforts!

    Hope to expand things in due course, so yes, keep your eyes peeled for some suitably Germanic Auxilia and horse to come....

    Cheers, SteelonSand.