Monday, February 8, 2021

On The Painting Desk- Early Republican Romans for Wars of the Republic


For those who read my goals for 2021, it is no surprise that I am working on an Early Republican Roman force to use with the upcoming Wars of the Republic ruleset from Osprey.  I believe they are set to be published in November of 2021.  So far, I have been playtesting the rules using my famous Paper Templates, but for the release this year I will want a much better looking army so I can help advertise the game with Batreps and the like.  Therefore, I need to get a usable army up and running by September or so.  

The first step was to decide on the miniatures and get them ordered.  I won't lie, the Victrix line of Ancients inspired me to write Men of Bronze and Wars of the Republic  in the first place. I really wanted an excuse to use those models!  Victrix models are the base of my Macedonian, Corinthian, and Spartan armies for Men of BronzeLooking at their line I decided the Republican Roman boxes would be great!  They had one set with Hamata (Chain Mail) and one with Pectoral Armor.  Fantastic.  

I went ahead and ordered both sets.  Then disaster struck!  The US Distributor I initially order from could not get them!  They went on back order.  This was the same time I ordered my Greek light cavalry and elephants.  I got those just fine, and they have since been painted up!  However, after waiting I saw them on a different Distributors site and got antsy and ordered them again, but I had the same problem!  Curse you Pandemic!  

Finally, at Christmas I got two boxes of models, 1 from each distributor.  The big issue is...... I did not get a box of Hamata.  I got two boxes of Pectoral Armor.  I guess this is going to be a VERY early Roman Republic army!  I'm talking like during the early Samnite Wars right when the Triplex Acies became a thing.  Bummer.  However, I now had models to paint and assemble! 

I am sure at this point, you have two questions.  First, you probably want to know what kind of basing you need to have?  Secondly, how many models do I need for an army in Wars of the Republic? Those are great questions whenever you start a new project!  Let's take a closer look at each question: 

1. What kind of basing do I need to have? 

If you have purchased and read Men of Bronze (If you have, Thank you!) you know that I believe in scale and model agnostic game systems.  I do not have time or interest in basing and re-basing my armies.  I want to play games, not rip finished dudes off of bases and put them on different ones!  Ain't no one got time for that! 

The game as written, uses units of 10 -15 models that are individually based.  However, the way the rules are written as a unit-versus-unit game there is no reason to use this scale or basing type.  It works just as well with unit's that are multi-based at 6mm, or 15mm in units of 4 to 6 per base, or 54mm models based individually.  You can learn more about the system I used in Men of Bronze on a different blog post, as the details there apply to this game too.   

2. How many models do I need for an army?

If you have purchased and read Men of Bronze (If you have, Thank you!) you know that I subscribe to a theory of having BIG BATLLES with small model counts.  I do not have the time, energy, or money to build huge armies of models!  Instead, I want big Ancients action with a manageable number of troops to paint.  I can only paint about 100-150 models a year, therefore I prefer a game system where I can get two armies done a year!  

Typically an army in Wars of the Republic is about 5-8 units.  That means about 50 to 80 guys if you use the same conventions as I did.  However, there is no need to do that.  You may choose to have 4 separate bases of 4 15mm per base instead for a unit, so about 80 to 128 models.  Or you could get really big units of 28mm if you want too, like this hobbyist!    

However, a new feature of Wars of the Republic is rules for fielding armies in "Wings" if you wish.  Therefore, you could have 3 Wings of 5-8 units per wing for a really big battle!  This is great for multiple players on a side or for those of you who DO have time, energy, and money for BIG BATTLES with a BIG model count!  

So for the start of my army, I went for the example army of a Triplex Acies in the main rulebook.  It looks like the following: 

1 unit of Skirmishers
2 Units of Hastati
1 Unit of Principes
1 Unit of Triarri

This is the size of army each "example" army was built to.  There is plenty of room to scale my army up if I want to, but this gives me a good base.  It also matches the Roman army I was using in many of my playtest games.  I had more than enough models with two sets.  

I decided to assemble them all on metal washers as opposed to the plastic bases from Victrix (or others).  I had some Hoplites on washers and some on plastic bases, and I found I liked the greater "heft" of the ones on metal washers.  That made them easier for me to handle, transport, and avoided accidents.  I went to my local hardware store and bought a bunch for a couple of bucks.  

My first "issue" was how to differentiate the Hastati, Principes, and Triarri from each other if they were all wearing Pectoral Armor?  My initial plan was to have the Principes and Triarri in Hamata (chain) and the Hastati in Pectoral Armor.  That plan was out the window now!  

The Principes and Hastati was easy enough.  I decided all the Hastati would be wielding their Pila.  The Principes would be wielding their swords.  I also made sure all the Principes had the pushed back "Corinthian" style helm like they had enough money to get the better gear.  The Hastati used all the other helmets, only their leader had the pushed back, fully enclosed helmet.  Once I paint them, their shield colors and transfers will also help differentiate them.  

The last challenge was how to make the Triarri look like veteran warriors and differentiated from the others, besides just wielding a spear?  The Victrix sets come with enough parts to make all 4 unit types of the classic Triplex Acies, so I had plenty of spear arms.  

Since I had two sets of Republican Romans in Pectoral Armor, I had more than enough "command" sprue parts and other parts.  The sprue came with with legs with extra greaves to make musicians and officers with two greaves instead of only 1.  The command sprues also had some different helmets/headgear, some more muscled cuirasses, and I had left-over Greek Hoplites bodies I could use to get more muscled cuirasses as well.  Finally, I decided to use left over Greek hoplite shields on the Triarri instead of the Roman's Oval Scutum shields to further distinguish the unit.  These guys were veterans that still had their father's more Hoplite style gear from the pre-Triplex Acies days of the Roman phalanx.  

  I went with the philosophy that early Republican Roman forces everyone brought their own gear, so they will be a bit more eclectic overall.  Especially the more 'veteran" troopers who have had a chance to get more gear.  Suitably kit-bashed the Triarri were ready to join their Hastati and Principes comrades.  When I expand the army I might make another Triarri unit like this one as the two together could possibly double as the core of a pre-Triplex Acies Phalanx army or even other Non-Roman Italian rivals?  That will be useful, especially if I ever do get the guys in Hamata.   

The last unit I assembled was the skirmishers.  These guys are not even the wolf-pelt wearing velites typically associated with Roman armies.  These are the pre-velite skirmishers where they were just dudes with Javelins and small blades.  Between the two kits, I easily had enough to build a unit of traditional Velites all in Wolf-pelts as well which I did.  However, I will not be painting those guys until I expand beyond the core force I need.  

As a note, I always paint the minis first, then paint the shields and then attach the shields.  Therefore, no one in the army has their shield yet!  

Now that I had a motley collection of soldiers assembled, it was time to go to the next step.  I sat down and brush undercoated the entire army because I was out of spray paint AND it was too cold to spray paint them anyway.  I was debating if I should use white, brown, or burnt umber.  The Burnt Umber worked very well with the 6mm Diadochi army, but ultimately I opted for the old reliable of white. 

 Now, it is time to sit down and batch paint their skin.  Frequently, I will batch paint the skin before I break it into a smaller unit-by-unit approach.  All that batch painting can make a guy go crazy.  

In addition to these, I also have painted 2 British battleships for Castles in the Sky.  At first, I thought these big ships were surplus to my needs.  However, as I have been in heavy playtesting for the game I decided I needed some more big ships for some hot battleship on battleship action!

So, for the next few weeks and months expect to see those 50+ Romans slowly getting painted up!  I didn't have many painting goals for the year because I knew those guys would keep me occupied for much of the year!  Until next time! 

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