Tuesday, 28 June 2022

An East European Hamlet

Both the Late Medieval and Renaissance collections have grown with the addition of Polish, Lithuanian, Muscovite and Tartar armies. Their battles have been for the most part seen the usual forests, swamps, rivers, tracks and gentle hills. Lacking proper buildings or structures for hamlets were lacking until now.

The plan was to construct a rural hamlet with buildings similar to log cabins with thatched roofs.

The construction followed the same pattern as with other projects, a foam core shaped and glued to a 30mm x 40mm base, then in stages, covered with Milliput.

I worked with a few structures at a time as scoring the log walls would be time consuming, allowing time for each stage to harden, all seven pieces were done in less than three hours over the course of a day.

One feature remained and this were details to complete the log cabin look. Thinly rolled Milliput was placed at each corner, then scored to simulate the log ends. The initial attempt was messy, but subsequent pieces took less time and effort.

After undercoating, the walls were painted first, later highlighted with a thin coat of mid-grey. The effect was similar to the palisades done for the Goblin encampment. Tips were given a thin coat of flesh.

A church was intended as part of the hamlet, but I blundered its construction omitting the small tower or belfry before applying Milliput. Too late and so the structure was modified as a barn.  

Thursday, 23 June 2022

The campaign that never happened

Following the Battle of Utus 447, Attila withdrew from Rome eastern territories to replenish his army and plan his next campaign. In 450, one such plan was an attack on the Visigoth kingdom of Toulouse. Unfortunately, circumstances forced a change of plan prompting Attila to meet Rome the following year on the Catalaunian Plain.

This particular scenario presumes Attila does fulfil his original plan to invade the kingdom of Toulouse and Honoria, playing the dutiful sister of Valentinian, to accept her betrothal to a Roman senator.

The kingdom of Toulouse

Theodoric I had succeeded King Wallia in 418 and would lead the Visigoths against Attila together with one or both of his sons; Thorismund or Theodoric. Although allies are listed for the Later Visigoths, these enter into an alliance at a much later date, leaving the Visigoths to fare for themselves. The Suevi have migrated to Spain decades ago and the Burgundian were occupied elsewhere leaving the Visigoths with the personal bucellarii of the higher-ranking nobles, the gardingi and a mass of spearmen supported by archers. These would meet Attila’s army, essentially of similar composition to that used at Utus, near Toulouse.

We then have the following:

II/80a Attila’s Army

1 x general (Cv), 1 x sub-general (LH), 12 x horse archers (LH), 2 x Gepid (3Kn), 6 x subject warriors (4Wb), 2 x archers (Ps).

II/83a Later Visigoths

1 x general (3Kn), 1 x sub-general (3Kn), 2 x bucellarii (3Kn), 6 x gardingi (Cv), 10 x spearmen (4Wb), 4 x archers (Ps).  

 The Huns have a scouting advantage allowing them to place the terrain pieces, after each die cast for quadrant by the Visigothic player. Terrain pieces selected are; one BUA (hamlet), one gentle hill and two wooded hills.



The Visigothic army are caught on the open plain and prepare for battle with spearmen forming a centre, cavalry is positioned on the flanks and the commanders and their bucellarii form a reserve. 

The subject tribes and Gepid lancers face the larger enemy line with orders to occupy the Visigothic infantry while Hunnic cavalry would turn the Visigothic left flank. The open plain would offer the Hunnic cavalry plenty of room to utilise their favourite tactics. 

Advancing in right echelon, the Visigothic infantry had the support of light troops and the Gardingi. The latter would strike the Hunnic line first.

The Huns showered the approaching enemy with arrows and those facing the Gardingi threat feigned a retreat to a position on a hill to their rear. Both, the columns of spearmen and the Gardingi were faced with the question to continue their advance. 

In the centre, the subject tribes and Gepid lancers crashed into the Visigoth line with both sides incurred heavy casualties.

As the centre became fully engaged Attila sensed the moment was right to overwhelm the Visigothic left flank. Reserve Hunnic cavalry had skirted the battlefield to outflank the enemy line launched their attack. Seeing this, Attila launched a general assault to create a cauldron of death. Out maneuvered and outnumbered, the Visigothic left collapsed, leaving their king to call for a general retreat to Toulouse. Score Huns 8 – 4.

A convincing Hunnic victory, but this begged the question, could the Visigoths have won by deploying differently? Game two used the same placement of terrain, this time the Visigoths deployed in two lines, the first comprised all the infantry with the Visigothic cavalry positioned in a second line to deal with the expected Hunnic flank attacks, like Alexander and the Scythian.


Game two.

The battle’s opening followed a similar pattern, however this time, the Hunnic assault on the Visigothic left met with greater resistance.

Hunnic cavalry was easily repelled on the Visigothic left and in centre the Visigothic infantry were battering the subject tribes of the Huns.

Casualties mounted heavily on both sides as the Huns were foiled at every turn. Attila was forced to bring Hunnic cavalry from the left to support the right. Unperturbed by the losses incurred among the subject troops, Attila gambled on the Huns to turn the battle. After a long fight, this they did and secured an 8 – 6 victory for Attila.


All Hunnic losses fell exclusively among the subject tribes and Gepid lancers.

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Battle of Utus 447 – revisited

The Battle of Utus was one of a series of Late Roman scenarios that appeared at the blog in January of 2017. Sources give Attila the victory, however a number of modern historians are of the opinion the battle was indecisive with both sides experiencing heavy losses. Follow the link to find the original battle report of 2017. 

Since 2017, there have been a number of interesting ideas exchanged at the DBA Fanaticus Forum making a replay of the battle worthwhile. Scouting advantage has been suggested and how this should influence terrain advantage, further, psiloi ignoring enemy side support, a similar idea was suggested for LH and lastly, command size. 

The Replay

The Huns are invading and have scouting advantage. Rome as the defender still casts a die for quadrant placement, but the Hunnic player positions the individual terrain pieces. Choice of board side remains with the invader. 

The test games are played with 24 elements which allows the use of a larger board; optional terrain pieces are increased by one. Selected for the tests, one BUA, two wood, a wooded hill and road. As you will see from the previous battle, the positioning of the terrain is somewhat different. 

II/82b Eastern Patrician Roman 408 – 493 AD

1 x general (3Kn), 1 x sub-general (Cv), 1 x equites (Cv), 1 x equites (3Kn), 4 x horse archers (LH), 2 x equites clibanarii (4Kn), 4 x legionnaire (4Bd), 4 x auxilia (4Ax), 4 x German foederati (4Wb), 1 x archers (Ps), 1 x archers (4Bw).

II/80a Attila’s Army 433 - 453 AD

1 x general (Cv), 1 x sub-general (LH), 12 x horse archers (LH), 2 x Gepid (3Kn), 6 x subject warriors (4Wb), 2 x archers (Ps). 

The Battle

Rome deployed its infantry in the front line, on its extreme flanks, the equites sagittarii were positioned. Clibanarii and other heavy cavalry formed a reserve, these were positioned behind the auxilia on both flanks. Facing Rome, the Huns placed their subject levies in centre with an equal number of cavalry to either flank.

The battle opened with the Huns probing both Roman flanks searching for weaknesses. Responding, Rome attacked the Hunnic cavalry on their right by advancing the auxilia and supporting cavalry forward. On the Roman left, all units awaited the expected Hunnic assault and did not stir from their original position.

In rapid tempo, the engagement on the Roman right developed into a full-scale cavalry battle with the Huns suffering more casualties. 

The Hunnic threat to the left flank did not materialise as the legions made short work of the subject tribes in centre to seal a decisive victory. Final score, Rome 8 – 1


Not quite the result I had expected. Nonetheless, the scouting advantage and terrain placement worked to the Huns advantage, so did the combat change for LH. Ignoring enemy side support in close combat did prolonged their engagements by an extra turn. The decisive victory was due for the most part by an abnormal number of ‘twice as many’ results for Rome sealing the Hunnic demise. 

A second game was called for which used the same terrain and troop deployment. 


An invigorated Rome advanced its right and centre toward the Hunnic line and the Huns responded with a similar plan. The signal difference being the entire first line of Hunnic light cavalry on the left to support the main effort on the right flank. As the dust cloud dispersed exposing a second line of Hunnic cavalry, Rome continued its advance against the right flank.  

Both flanks were now heavily engaged leaving the centres of both forces to yet make contact. 

Rome’s left flank were greatly disadvantaged by the successive waves of light horse and Gepid lancers. Both Attila and his subordinate were in the thick of the fray, each inspiring their respective commands. 

Despite Rome gaining ground on the right flank, the left flank collapsed under the weight of the Hunnic horde. The treat to Rome’s centre became evident as were the total casualties suffered, the Magister Militum called for a retreat. Final score, the Huns 9 – 5. 


Losses for the Huns fell mostly on the light horse as the subject troops did not engage; nonetheless, making use of their mobility turned the battle quickly in their favour. The battle did have its moments; the Huns had the advantage with a score of 6 – 2 by turn six, Rome caught their wind, Rome brings the score near level at 6 -5. In the end, the Huns needed an extra three turns to reach victory.

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Goblin/Orc encampment

The Goblin/Orc encampment was an experiment to prove if circular structures were practicable to construct. If so, then the few steppe armies in the collection could then have their dwellings.

Pink foam, shaped and glued to 30mm round bases, served as a core for each dwelling. Working with three pieces at a time, the walls were covered, then the supports, doorway and stitching were scored while the Milliput remained soft. Dong the walls first, the piece can be easily be rotated between forefinger and thumb while scoring.

The walls took about three hours to harden (Silver Milliput) allowing a safe handling of each piece while adding a roof. Painting the huts followed the same style as those pictured in the Warhammer Orcs & Goblins book of 2000. Dark green base coat followed with a light shade of green, dry brushed. Exposed bits of base were covered with a sand mix, painted and sparsely covered with grass.

The walls are placed on 40mm x 15mm bases and covered with Milliput, formed an embankment to hold the cocktail sticks serving as a palisade. The palisade is later painted dark brown, dry brushed grey to appear aged and covered with sand and sparingly, some grass.

Viewing the photos, the encampment could use a few gate pieces and a central altar covered with trophies. This have been added to the list.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

A Medieval hamlet

After the recent sale of my Dark Age village, a replacement set was needed and this week, I began its construction using a system similar to the one used for the Celtic and Spanish village. However, some minor changes were made which worked to my advantage. 

Styrofoam blocks were cut to form six buildings. Cut and trimmed, these would be glued to 40mm x 30mm bases which would facilitate handling the piece while applying Milliput to the walls and roof.

The application of Milliput was spread over three sessions to allow adequate curing before the next session.   

Session one.

Cutting a 15mm length from each epoxy stick, this would be enough material to cover two walls of two buildings. Smooth the Milliput over the walls and trim the excess with a modelling knife. Keep finger tips wet to smooth the surface as dry fingers will shift or lift your effort. Using a modelling blade, I scored the timber trimming. Allow a few hours to dry. 

Session two.

Complete the coverage of walls then score the timber and doors as a final step. Excess Milliput can be used to fill holes or uneven spots on the roof. Allow a few hours to dry. 

Session three.    

The roof was next and all six structures were covered and trimmed leaving enough material to drape over the walls and gable. Using the back of the blade, I randomly made impression running the length of the roof, then, with short sharp strokes, scored the roof starting at the bottom gradually working toward the roof top.

Note: Allowing the Milliput to dry between sessions avoided the mistakes made in earlier projects, such as leaving finger impressions, scoring misshaped or covered areas losing its Milliput coverage. Keep finger tips moist and you will avoid lifting the material. Use the base to rotate your work. 



Session four.

All six structures were given a white undercoat. The walls were painted first with a thin coat of mid-grey, GW Layer, Administratum Grey. Next came the thatching; for this step I used GW Layer, Baneblade Brown mixed with GW Abaddon Black and thinned this so as to spread easily over the roof.

Session five

Allowing time for the walls and roof to dry, I dry-brushed GW Corax White – actually a pale grey. The effect is subtle and is not very noticeable in the photos. This was followed with a wash of GW Nuln Oil for each roof. Allow the Nuln Oil to dry before moving on to the next step.

The timber trim and the bases were the final step. One could choose other colour schemes for wall and roof, but looking at many photos of reconstructions and models I opted for a quick solution.


Time spent:  The first three sessions consumed an hour each, adding two or three hours between each session for the Milliput to cure, I would say this was a day well spent. 

The following morning, painting the buildings took very little time, but sufficient time to dry was needed before dry brushing. Total time spent painting was less than an hour.

Thursday, 28 April 2022

Histria 61 BC, the tests

The DBA3 army lists offer a good starting point for both Roman and Dacian forces. For appearances, the Roman player may wish to substitute Gallic and Numidian units for Macedonian or Greek mercenaries with the remainder of the list working well. The Dacian force should represent a confederation of allied tribes and here the Bastarnae units form an ‘allied contingent’ for movement purposes. 

Hybrida is characterised as ‘inept’ and avoid placement on the front line. Placement with the cavalry to form a reserve group at the start of the game was a better option. During battle, cavalry may support the infantry in combat, but move independent of any infantry formations. Although a subtle condition, this should reflect the skittish nature of Hybrida, who had been caught earlier in the campaign in an ambush and barely avoided capture by fleeing with the cavalry.  

Two tests were done, one using the standard 12 a side game followed by a second test of two commands for each side. The difference in number of elements coupled with additional turns needed to reach a decision could have a different outcome. As you will read, the second game demonstrated an improvement with die casts balancing out and the extra number of turns providing a tighter game.


II/49 Marian Rome

Main group: 5 x legionnaires (4Bd), 2 x auxiliary foot (4Ax), 2 x javelinmen or slingers (Ps). Reserve group: 1 x General (Cv), 2 x auxiliary cavalry (Cv + LH). 

II/52 Dacian

Main group: 1 x General (Cv), 1 x horsemen (LH or Cv), 6 x warriors (3Wb), 1 x javelinmen (Ps). Allied contingent: 2 x Bastarnae (3Bd) + 1 x javelinmen (Ps). 


Test one (12 elements)

The Dacians advances slowly forward offering the Bastarnae time to close on the Roman left flank. Seeing the threat, Roman auxilia and cavalry realign their front to await the Bastarnae attack. With the left secure, the legion to continued their advance.

The lines clashed, the legionnaires on the left of centre successfully pushing the enemy back, but the situation immediately becomes desperate as the Roman centre is swept away leaving the Ligurian auxilia horribly exposed. Seeing their demise, Hybrida flees the battlefield, 5 – 1 for the Daci.

Test two (24 elements)

Both sides deployed in a similar manner and with double the number of elements present an imposing appearance.

Following a similar strategy, the Bastarnae clear the crest earlier than expected. This proved fortuitous as both Dacian columns and Bastarnae met the Roman line at the same moment.

This resulted slightly more Roman casualties, but reserve units from the second line quickly closed the gaps.

As the battle raged on, Roman resistance began to wane as new gaps appeared soaking up the remainder of the reserve infantry. As yet, the cavalry reserve remained uncommitted as disaster loomed on the Roman left.

The Bastarnae effectively crushed the auxilia and light horse on the left flank while Dacian warriors were breaking through the Roman centre, leaving Hybrida no option but to flee the field again; 8 – 2 for the Dacian.



Two tests reached a historical result, which is good. The question remains however, can the Romans actually win this battle. The answer is yes, but that solution is for another time.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

A Dacian Conflict with Rome

Information about the battle of Histria 61 BC is very thin. The passage from Roman History, written by Dio offers a start point and additional pieces to the puzzle were found at the website, History Files. The latter, listed the possible tribes that confronted Hybrida and the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire was found useful in determining a possible battleground. Lastly, our picture of the battle would not complete without a brief biography of Hybrida, here we gain some insight to the general’s character, which may have played a role during the battle.   

From Dio’s Roman History, Book XXXVIII, 10

“In 72–71 BC Marcus Terentius Varro Lucullus became the first Roman commander to march against the Getae. This was done to strike at the western Pontic allies of Mithridates VI, but he had limited success. A decade later, a coalition of Scythians, Getae, Bastarnae and Greek colonists defeated C. Antonius Hybrida at Histria. This victory over the Romans allowed Burebista, the leader of this coalition, to dominate the region for a short period (60–50 BC)”. 

From TheHistory Files on the subject of the Bastarnae. 

“A varying mixture of Bastarnae, Dardanii, Scordisci, and Thracians have met each Roman campaign with a stubborn resistance. Following one particularly successful encounter for the Balkan tribes in this year, that unity is broken by the Thracian tribe of the Getae, who are known to Rome as the Dacians based upon their general geographical position. In 61 BC the Getae are part of a force that is led by the Bastarnae. Together they inflict a humiliating defeat upon the Roman army of the inept Gaius Antonius Hybrida (uncle to Mark Antony) outside a Greek colony at the mouths of the Danube, at the Battle of Histria. The entire Roman force is massacred, abruptly terminating Roman control of the region”. 

Searching a Geographic setting

“Situated on a peninsula, ancient Histria is about 5 kilometres (3 mi) east of the modern Romanian commune of Istria, on the Dobruja coast. The ancient seashore has since been transformed into the western shore of Sinoe Lake, as the Danube's silt deposits formed a shoal which closed off the ancient coastline. The current Sinoe Lake was at the time the open northern bay, while another bay on the southern shore served as the port. The acropolis with sanctuaries was established on the highest point of the coastal plain. The settlement itself, erected in the 6th century, was 1/2 mile (800 meters) to the west of the acropolis. The settlement had stone paved streets and was protected by strong wall. Water was collected along 12.5 mile (20 km) long aqueducts”. - Histria/Istria - Wiki 

With the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire, we gain a better impression of the Danube delta and the surrounding area of Histria if both topographical and map option are used. Any Roman force approaching the colony of Histria would need to traverse a series of forested covered hills, all ideal locations for an ambuscade. This was not the first time Histria had faced barbarian incursions and searching a few of these added more detail as to the nature of the terrain in the region. https://imperium.ahlfeldt.se/ 

Gaius Antonius Hybrida

Hybrida was elected consul in 63 BC alongside Cicero. His dealing with Cicero later gained him the governorship of Macedonia at the end of his term. Hybrida abused his rule as governor, robbing the provincials and invading the neighbouring barbaric lands of Moesia. The natives, in turn, defeated Hybrida on two separate occasions driving him out of their lands. Hybrida was replaced by Gaius Octavius as the governor of Macedonia in 59 BC and would be later prosecuted by Caesar and Crassus for mismanagement. He was found guilty and exiled to the island of Cephellenia. 

In this scenario, both armies form two groups with the Daci, as defender, placing their largest on the board first, followed by the Roman player placing both hist groups. The Bastarnae allies are now placed anywhere within the deployment area. Hybrida keeps close control over the reserve cavalry and are treated as an allied contingent for the scenario. – Wiki