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African Vandal

African Vandal

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Historical Overview Section


In the course of the Western Foederate Roman Empire's troubles in the early 5th century, the tribe of the Vandals, allied with the Early Alans, had established themselves in the Iberian peninsula. In 429, the Vandal King Geiseric, invited by the vicarius of Africa, Bonifacius, crossed the straits of Gibraltar with his people into Roman North Africa. With the local Roman forces severely weakened because of Bonifacius' revolt and subsequent death in 432, the Vandals were free to take over the province. In 439, Carthage fell, and during the next 20 years Geiseric established his rule not only over the Roman provinces of the Diocese of Africa, but also over Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and the Balearic Islands, which he conquered with the aid of a powerful navy. During the next decades, the skilled Vandal fleets raided the entire Mediterranean, sacking Rome and defeating an East Roman invasion force in 468 under Basiliscus. This defeat and the Vandals' pirate activity were a sore wound for Constantinople, further exacerbated by their domestic policies. The Vandals were fanatic Arians and followed a policy of separation from and persecution of their Catholic subjects. Nonetheless, the inability of the Romans to launch a campaign against the Vandal Kingdom resulted in a period of peaceful relations, despite occasional tensions, according to the terms of the "perpetual peace" of 476.

The situation changed however, when Justinian I, who aspired to recover the lost western provinces, ascended to the Early Byzantine Imperial throne. Initially, Justinian was occupied with the Iberian War with the Sassanid Persians, while in Carthage, the more tolerant and pro-Roman king Hilderic, the son of Huneric, who reigned since 523, had established close relations with the Roman Empire. This policy however aroused opposition among the Vandals, which resulted in his overthrow in 530 by his cousin, Gelimer. Justinian seized the opportunity, demanding Hilderic's restoration, with Gelimer predictably refusing to do so. Justinian now had his pretext, and with peace restored in the East in 532, he started assembling an invasion force led by Belisarius.

The Early Byzantine fleet approached the African coast unopposed in early September, and made landfall at Caput Vada (modern Ras Kaboudia) on 9 September. From there Belisarius marched his army northwards, towards Carthage, following the coast, accompanied by the fleet. During the march, he maintained strict discipline among his men, so as not to disaffect the local population. As the Romans advanced, Gelimer prepared to meet them. He murdered Hilderic, and summoned his forces to the south of Carthage, at the site known as Ad Decimum ("At the tenth (milestone)"). There he planned to ambush and encircle the Romans, using a force under his brother Ammatas to block their advance and engage them, while 2,000 men under his nephew Gibamund would attack their left flank, and Gelimer himself with the main army would attack from the rear, and completely annihilate the Roman army. In the event, the three forces failed to synchronize exactly. On September 13, Ammatas arrived early, and was killed as he attempted a reconnaissance with a small force by the Roman vanguard. Gibamund's force was intercepted by a 600-strong Hunnic cavalry unit, and was utterly destroyed. Unaware of all this, Gelimer marched up with the main army, and scattered the Roman forces at Decimum. Victory might have been his, but he came upon his dead brother's body, and apparently forgot all about the battle. This gave Belisarius the time to rally his troops and defeat the disorganized Vandals.

Gelimer fled with the remnants of his army westwards, towards Numidia, since Carthage was both left without garrison and its walls were in a bad state. After recuperating for a day, on 15 September 533, the Roman army entered Carthage, amidst scenes of exultation by its inhabitants. On Belisarius' insistence, the victorious army remained disciplined and did not plunder the captured city. Belisarius established himself in the Vandal royal palace, and started repairing the city's walls, anticipating a counterstrike by Gelimer. Indeed the Vandal king, having fled to the town of Bulla Regia, immediately recalled his brother from Sardinia. Thus reinforced, he marched against Carthage, and started to besiege it by cutting it off from supplies. The Byzantines sallied forth and the two armies met near the Vandal camp at Tricamarum in mid-December. The Roman infantry did not arrive until late in the day, so that the battle was decided entirely by the cavalry. The Romans repeatedly charged the Vandals, and managed to kill Tzazon. As had happened at Decimum, Gelimer lost heart at this, and the Vandals were routed. Gelimer fled again to Numidia, but in March 534 he surrendered to Belisarius.

Using the African Vandals in FoG

These guys are shock cavalry plus screen /supports. There are more competitive Cav Lancer armies, but they parlayed a shot term adventure into an empire histoircally and have been a favorite over the years to give to beginners to play. Fast, furious, fun and simple, win or lose and time for another game.

AFRICAN VANDAL LIST NOTES: Pre-500 for Alans, with Moorish Ally (129 pts for 4 BGs) to provide a moderate terrain, extra BG count, and a good skirmishing arm.

  • The core of the army is 6 BGs of Vandal superior lancers, 2 of them (A and B-) large at 6 bases intended to charge side by side and slotted to be led by generals in combat to give them extra punch, the other 4 allocated one in column for rear support and commanded by Gaiseric personally, one on either flank of the two large ones, maybe in echelon bank for flank protection (depending on circumstances), and one deployed late with the Alans to combine shoot and shock at a selected point on the field, or shift another Vandal BG over to have 2 of them supported by the Alans for a second major attack.
  • The Moorish allies are to delay, screen, and perhaps even flank march in some circumstances, though the last is unlikely since a key of the doctrine is to charge fast with the lancers before the enemy can be fully prepared. The non-Allied Moors are to operate independently to slow enemy movements, although they might also be deployed to screen the center in a double flank attack plan that divides the assault forces.
  • IC is key to give CMT bonuses for the undrilled horsemen and to stiffen the morale of critical units or move around rallying and bolstering. Gaiseric fight in the front rank only in the last extremity. Gaiseric was their best king and the other commander names are contrived based on other historical names.
  • +4 Initiative is likely to give the deployment advantage but second mover. Agricultural is not as ideal as Steppes as a rerrain option, but have to live with it and just make sure there is room somewhere for the attacks.


Q1:The Moorish LH go down on whichver flank is best, considering the available avenues of attack that the heavies might use. They can redeploy later if needed. The LF probably go near terrain, though they could be used to screen the lancers and recovered later.
Q2: The LH deploy based on where the Vandals will follow The one Vandal BG is either placed to signal the main attack OR used deceptively and placed where it may be expected to work with the Alans.
Q3: The two big BGs go down aimed at a target with one small one in column behind as rear support and a reserve. to be led by Gaiseric personally..
Q4: Either reinforce the main stirke force with Vandals E & F or put one or both elsewhere with the Alan cavalry to form a second strike force. .

Allied Contingents

  • Moorish, Later . Date restrictions: Before 500 Book: Decline and Fall Page: 11 - adds a handful of javelin light horse and light foot

User-contributed links about this army:

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army


You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
Order of march Dep Group Troops Type Armour Quality Training Shooting POA Impact POA Melee POA Special Number of bases

  • 1 1st Moorish Javeliinmen LF Unprotected Average Undrilled Javelins Light spear - - 6
  • 2 1st Allied Moorish Cavalry LH Unprotected Average Undrilled Javelins Light spear - - 4
  • 3 1st Allied Moorish Cavalry LH Unprotected Average Undrilled Javelins Light spear - - 4
  • 4 2nd Moorish Javeliinmen LF Unprotected Average Undrilled Javelins Light spear - - 6
  • 5 2nd Moors (max) LH Unprotected Average Undrilled Javelins Light spear - - 4
  • 6 2nd Vandals D Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 4
  • 7 3 Vandals A Thraderic Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 6
  • 8 3 Vandals B Hildemir Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 6
  • 9 3 Vandals C Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 4
  • 10 4 Vandals E Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 4
  • 11 4 Vandals F Cv Armoured Superior Undrilled - Lancers Swordmen - 4
  • 12 4 Alans (max; Cv taken rather than LH) Cv Protected Average Undrilled Bow - Swordmen - 4
  • Gaiseric IC - - - - - - - 1
  • Thraderic TC - - - - - - - 1
  • Hildemer TC - - - - - - - 1
  • Jaba (Ally) TC - - - - - - Ally general 1


Name of Army / Date

  • Using asterisks inthe edit mode creates a bulleted list in the actual site
  • This is a lot easier to do than easier than setting up tables
  • For FoG I suggest listing your army in order or march
  • with troop descriptions on each line, for example
  • 4 HF Armoured Average Drilled Impact Foot Swordsmen
  • 8 LG Undrilled Unarmoured Poor Bowmen
  • Dont forget to include your Generals !!!

Include any notes you want here, including comments on how to use - or play against - the army.

Remember to leave a line before you copy the above section as a template for your own list

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Created by admin. Last Modification: Tuesday 08 of January, 2013 23:24:22 GMT by admin. (Version 10)
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