Imperial Rome 25BC-425AD (Book II/56,64,78)

Click on thumbnails for larger images

Army Consist

Element Description of Troops
1x3Cv or 4Bd (Gen) The Emperor General
5x4Bd Legionaries
4x4Ax Auxiliaries
1x3Cv Cohors Equitata
1x3Kn Equites Cataphractarii
2x4Kn Equites Clibanarii
2x2LH Equites Alares
1x2Cm Equites Dromedarii
2x4Bw Sagittarii
4x2Ps Speculatores
1xArt Ballista
Camp Followers Two Men and a Donkey

Ancient Rome has a long and storied history, inspiring historians for over 1500 years with tales of conquest, intrigue, passion, decadence, and folly. The armies commanded by the Great Caesars spread Roman influence and doctrine both east and west in their day, and brought back riches to make Rome the most powerful empire of the day.

Rome is represented in DBA by a large number of armies, but these figures are meant to support the three Imperial armies specifically. They cover equipment and troops available from the successors of Julius Caesar to Constantine and the reformists who followed him. Though they could probably be used for a later, Patrician Roman army, they lack much of the Christian symbology present in that era.

I've always wanted to paint my own Roman army. I maintain that any true (or casual) student of history that plays DBA should have the Romans in their collection somewhere. As early as 2004, shortly after I finished the Spartans, I began collecting miniatures for the army. Most of the figures at the time were Essex, with some holdovers from Museum Miniatures, and the original intent was to use Veni Vidi Vici shield decals.

Around 2004 or 2005 I painted two test stands of Roman Blades with the decals, but the army went largely untouched for several years. Then, somewhere around 2008 I discovered this phenomenal range of Romans from Corvus Belli. I bought a large number of figures with the intent of expanding the army to cover the options of all three periods, and further found the marvelous shield transfers provided by Little Big Men in the U.K.

Shortly after my move back to Columbus, the Romans were all mounted on nails and painting had begun. In relatively short order I'd completed nearly all of the foot troops and had a healthy start on the mounted. Unfortunately, my interest in DBA was beginning to wane at that point, and the Romans sat on my shelf 2/3rds completed for six more years.

In a recent push to finish out old projects (and make space in the workshop), I dusted off the cobwebs and completed the last of the work. Though it's unlikely I'll be using them in DBA anytime soon, they still stand as one of my prouder accomplishments.

The army consists nearly entirely of miniatures from Corvus Belli, but there are individual stands from Essex, Old Glory, and Museum as well. I don't expect that any of the three options will fare well in open competition, but with DBA 3.0 expected on the horizon, you never know how the troop types might fare.

The Emperor General [1x3Cv or 4Bd (Gen)]

The primary General stand for the army presents the Caesar himself, clad in a flowing Royal Purple cloak, taking command of his 9th Legion forces.

The Cavalry and Blade options are entirely Corvus Belli (although the general might have been Essex.) There's no particular significance to the "9th Legion" except that a roman numeral "IX" was easier to paint on the banner.

Since I had so many extra figures, and since there are actually a few army options throughout the three lists that can require more than one Cavalry element, I opted to paint a second General stand that would be more ideally suited for the Eastern selections of the army. The Lorica Squamata seemed more appropriate there anyway.

Legionaries [5x4Bd]

The mainstay of the Roman forces, there are few more evocative images than the Roman Legionaries, here represented primarily wearing the heavier lorica segmentata.

These "beefy" Corvus Belli figures are really the whole reason I changed my figure choice. The equipment variety and detail in sculpting is incredible. Plus, I absolutely fell in love with the "irregular regular" figures in the 1x4Bd supplemental stand and used as the Camp Followers.

Auxiliaries [4x4Ax]

Though only slightly less heavily armored than their Legionary cousins, the Auxiliaries make up the remainder of the army and cover the all-too-important duty of protecting the bad going areas of the table.

Depicted wearing the lorica hamata and probably more chaotic than actual Auxiliary training would indicate, again the dynamic poses of these Corvus Belli figures were a large part of why I chose to do (and finish) the project.

I also opted for blue shields on the Auxiliaries to contrast with the red shields of the Legionaries. This was an entirely stylistic choice made simply to allow an opponent to easier differentiate the troops on the battlefield.

Cohors Equitata [1x3Cv]

There remains one additional stand of regular Cavalry for the army, being a general representation of the Cohors Equitata in either the East or the West. Again, the armor is vaguely more Eastern in appearance, but the figures could easily work on both fronts of the Empire.

Equites Cataphractarii [1x3Kn]

The heavily armored lancers that make up the 1x3Kn option in most lists represent one of two Middle and Late options for "heavy punch" in the army. This stand represents the influence of Sarmatian knights on the legions.

Although it is probably ahistorical, I opted to give the riders Auxiliary shields slung in a fashion similar to what Norman Knights would use in the 11th century. The figures are perhaps the only hold-over from the Museum Miniatures in my collection, and the shields gave them a nice visual upgrade.

Equites Clibanarii [2x4Kn]

The Eastern lists for the Roman Armies in particular included very heavily armored shock cavalry, the Clibanarii. These had both fully armored horses as well as riders and were often employed with typical Knight charge tactics.

Essex was one of the few manufacturers that had what I would consider properly foreboding looking Clibanarii, and I felt a combination of black and steel for the riders and bronze for the horse barding would look good in those eastern army choices.

Equites Alares [2x2LH]

Roman lists also usually call for one or more Light Horse elements, and here I diverged from where most players design their army. These figures are a bit heavily armored to represent the Equites Alares, but in a sense they could be viewed simply as under-strength units of the Equitata.

Part of the purpose of this army was to portray an army of nearly all Roman regular legions. As such, I didn't want to use the more typical mercenary groups of Moorish or Numidian mounted forces in the figure selection. I think the consistency across the army was worth it.

Equites Dromedarii [1x2Cm]

Eastern lists for the Romans include the often-overlooked option of Camelry. Although the army would probably not gain much advantage from them over a typical Light Horse (it would be rare that a Roman army would be likely to encounter dunes on the table), I wanted some of the uniquely eastern options to have their own specialized stands.

I had the dromedaries left over from the Tuareg, and although I was never able to find (or modify) Roman figures which were seated in the "proper" position, they give the overall appearance I was intending.

Sagittarii [2x4Bw]

Although it's only a rare option in the Roman army lists, Auxiliary troops exclusively comprised of bowmen were not unheard of in the Roman ranks.

These stands represent highly specialized, highly trained Roman archers fielded en masse. Although no army needs more than one stand, the excellent eastern archers provided in the Corvus Belli line convinced me to paint a second stand specifically for that use.

Speculatores [4x2Ps]

DBA and most game systems relegate the role of skirmishers in the Roman armies to either small groups of Sagittarii or mercenary slingers of lower quality than the regular troops.

Again in keeping with the desire to have a uniform, regular appearance to the army, and provided with the incredibly dynamic and detailed poses of these Corvus Belli western archers convinced me to go with a units representing the speculatores (or dismounted exploratores) instead.

Ballista [1xArt]

DBA 2.0 includes an annoyingly mandatory artillery piece as part of the Early Imperial Roman army. Though their use in Rome was widely documented, there are very few good examples of their use in an offensive capability.

As a mandatory element I was forced to dredge up a ballista from an Old Glory artillery pack to paint and use. The figures are particularly nice for Old Glory, and about as "beefy" as the Corvus Belli, so they don't look out of place. Most likely it will occupy the camp from the start in cases where its use is required.

Two Men and a Donkey [Camp Followers]

I originally had much more lofty ideas in mind for the Roman camp involving a brickwork aqueduct and architectural team, but constraints on the camp size in DBA plus a desire to simply finish the project caused me to back away to a simpler solution.

Instead, I pulled out the roman-statue Barker Marker that I'd made years ago and put together a simple stand to surround it. The figures represent two casual reservists, perhaps discussing whether they'll be called up to the front line of the battle, and a wayward pack donkey looking for a place to graze.

The Barker Marker can be removed as necessary to check zone distances, or to instead house the artillery piece as a replacement defender.

Please send any comments/criticisms/corrections to

Click to return to the Army Index Page

This page was last updated on April 26th, 2014 at 10:44 PM