Romano-British Starter Army Under the Spotlight
With all of the playtesting of Dux Britanniarum that has been going on we have had a huge number of requests saying “Where can I get the figures?”. Naturally we pointed them in the direction of Gripping Beast for the 28mm option as, frankly, they tick all of the boxes for us. The quality of the casting is excellent, and the sculpts really seem to epitomise the period of Arthur.
Well, to make things even easier we had a chat with our chums at the Beast and the great news is that we are now stocking the first two ready-made armies, Romano-British and Saxons which provide you with all of the figures you’ll need to get started with your own Dux Britanniarum campaign set in the Age of Arthur.
We thought that the best way to show you the armies was to get one of each painted up by our good friend Matt Slade, a regular gamer of Lardy rules and something of a wizard with the brush. Today we’re going to take a look at the first of these that has just arrived on Lard Island and that had its inaugural game last night (more on that later).
The Romano-British starter Army is designed to provide you with seven Groups of figures plus four key characters. Starting at the top we have our Lord, his two right hand men and a champion. These will be some of the sharpest dressed chaps in your force, Matt has done two of these in blues which was a high cost product in ancient times due to the dyeing procedure. The leader of our force is Tribune Constantine of Calchwynned which is the Kingdom of the Chalk Hills in what we now call the Chiltern Hills. The Tribune has a red cloak as he is a soldier rather than a King. If, as the campaign progresses, he is elevated to a throne I will repaint that in imperial purple to show his status.
Next you have the Lord’s household troops, their title can vary but with our force here we are calling them Comanipulares. You get just one Group of these at the outset of your campaign with Dux Britanniarum, as your character progresses he will be able to afford a larger retinue of these, but we’re starting at the bottom here. Again these chaps will be quite well dressed, although I wanted this army to have a less upmarket look than my Verulamium Army. Verulamium was one of Roman Britain’s principle settlements and was a wealthy place, Calchwynned was a Kingdom founded by a dispossessed Prince from the north of England in around 480 AD so there is a distinct lack of cash, so a more lived-in look was what I was looking for (I’ll show you some snaps of my Verulamium troops in their finery a bit later so you can see the contrast). Here Matt has these chaps in the mail which only the best soldiers would be able to have among their possessions, with fine red cloaks which set them aside from the riff-raff, but their tunics are of plainer unbleached linens.
Below the Comanipulares we have the Milites, the regular soldiers of the Kingdom. There are two Groups of these and they make up the real nucleus of your army. These have a helmet in the Roman style but no armour. I really like the look that Matt has achieved here, with what is clearly an attempt by the soldiers to achieve some uniformity, but with varying shades and slight variations in styles betraying them as decidedly sub-Roman rather than Roman.
Then we have the Numeri, or the Levy. These are local farmers and tradesmen who take up arms when their Kingdom is threatened. These men have, generally, spears or the odd farm implement, a shield and nothing else. They are bare headed and their clothes are entirely without any uniformity. They look exactly like what they are, barely trained men who are ready to protect their homes, families and crops.
Finally the missile troops, in this case a Group of four lads with slings. The rules treat these as exactly that, young men who are too young to join the shieldwall but who have some value as they have probably learnt to cast a stone some distance and with accuracy whilst protecting their flocks from wolves on the hills.
So that’s the complete starter army. There are actually a few more figures which serve to allow your first round of reinforcements as you gain a reputation and attract more followers. This can be had, unpainted, for just £65 which is a great saving from standard list price.
I thought you might like to see a few snaps of my Verulamium force in order to get a bit of an idea how you can paint these same figures up to achieve a greater degree of uniformity. You can see some Milites here where I have gone for a greater degree of uniformity. The tunics are in unbleached linen but have a woven trim in red to show off the wealth of the city. The shields are generally different but there is a theme of red and white which, en masse, shows them off as a solid block of troops rather than the more ad hoc look of the Calchwynned force.
You can see how the Verulamium Comanipulares are also more regular in their appearance.
I should point out that I based these figures, I like to have all of the bases done to match my Warbases movement trays and Matt is happy to provide the figures based or unbased as his customers’ prefer.
Matt paints all his figures with Vallejo acrylic paints with a smattering of Foundry and Games Workshop for good measure. On these figures he has used the Little Big Man transfers but he is happy to hand-paint shields as well. He varnishes his figures with a high quality protective matt varnish which is long lasting and protects the figures as well as getting a nice flat matt look (and that is something I was very impressed with). Typically turnaround is three to four weeks for a Dux Britanniarum army sized force. You can drop Matt an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out his web site at http://www.glenbrookgames.co.uk