Early Imperial Roman

Historical Overview Section

This era saw imperial legions being recruited solely on a voluntary basis and from a much wider base of manpower. Likewise, whereas Republican legions had been recruited almost exclusively in Italy, early Imperial legions drew most of their recruits from Roman colonies in the provinces from 68 AD onwards. One estimate places the proportion of Italian troops at 65% under Augustus in c. 1 AD, falling to around 49% by the end of Nero's reign. At the same time as the legions underwent these transformations, the auxilia were reorganised and a number of allied troops were formalised into standing units similar to legions. Rather than being raised re-actively when required, the process of raising auxiliary troops was carried out in advance of conflicts according to annual targets. Whereas the internal organisation of the auxilia had previously been left up to their commanders, in the early empire they were organised into standardised units known as turmae (for cavalry alae) and centuriae (for infantry cohortes).

Although never becoming as standardised in their equipment as the legions, and often retaining some national flavour, the size of the units at least was standardised to some degree. Cavalry were formed into either an ala quingenaria of 512 horsemen, or an ala millaria of 1,000 horsemen. Likewise, infantry auxilia could be formed into a cohors quingenaria of 500 men or a cohors millaria of 1,000 men. Mixed cavalry/infantry auxiliaries were typically formed with a larger proportion of foot than horse troops: the cohors equitata quingenaria consisted of 380 foot and 120 horsemen, and the cohors equitata millaria consisted of 760 foot and 240 horsemen. The vitality of the empire at this point was such that the use of native auxilia in the Roman army did not apparently barbarise the military as some scholars claim was to happen in the late empire. On the contrary, those serving in the auxilia during this period frequently strove to Romanise themselves. They were granted Roman citizenship on retirement, granting them several social advantages, and their sons became eligible for service in the legions.

By the final years of the first century AD, the legions remained the backbone of the Roman army, although the auxilia in fact outnumbered them by up to half as much again. Early in the 2nd Century AD Hadrian instigated a system of fixed border defences (Latin: limes) around the Empire's periphery, consolidating Trajan's earlier territorial gains, and leading to troops being stationed permanently in the provinces. As a result of more localized recruitment greater numbers of barbarous and semi-barbarous peoples were gradually admitted to the army. 235 AD the Emperor himself, the figurehead of the entire military, was a man born outside of Italy to non-Italian parents.

From the third century onwards, both Germanic tribes and Sassanid Persian armies pierced the frontiers of the Roman Empire, triggering a series of changes in the Roman army which were more organic and evolutionary than the deliberate military reforms of the Republic and early Empire. Roman forces also gradually became more mobile, with one cavalryman for every three infantryman, compared to one in forty in the early Empire. Additionally, the Emperor Gallienus took the revolutionary step of forming dedicated cavalry regiments, separating them from the mixed cavalry and infantry regiments of the past. A diverse range of cavalry regiments existed, including catafractarii or clibanarii, scutarii, and legionary cavalry.

Using the army in ADLG

  • hint 1
  • hint 2

Using the army in ADLG against Huns or similar

Assume you lost the initiative and are in a mostly open table. First, what is each side’s “theory of victory” in this match-up? If you don’t have conception or plan about how you win you probably won’t…

Romans: You need to force the Huns to actually fight you, while avoiding being flanked decisively. The base calculation here is that if you advance 2 UD every tu! rn, starting from 5 UD in at deployment AND keep the Huns in front of you in turn 5 you are 15 UD and in turn 6 you are 17UD across the table and at about that point the Huns have to fight or flee off the table. Now the Huns know this as well so they are going to try and avoid this and try and slide around your side so they aren’t going straight back, they will try and arrange to fall back somewhat diagonally to buy themselves more time/room, try to get you to spend time not advancing and pushing them, etc. The nastiest thing they will do is shoot then fall back and march to the other side of the table YOU MUST NOT LET THIS HAPPEN. Your job as a Roman is to nullify as much of this BS as possible and push them back or into a corner where they have to fight.

So how do you do this?

First, you deploy carefully. DO NOT leave multiple open flanks. Bow armed cavalry are basically just as expensive as legions so are unlikely to outnumber the legions. So you should be thinking in terms of one elements of HI for every cavalry. If a legion charge a cavalry it is a fight in your favor at +1 (armor) vs. +0 (elite) this is a good fight for the legion. Stay together don’t expose two flanks, you probably can’t avoid exposing one. The Huns might/will try and turn your flank. The one thing you don’t want to do is have your potent "Elephant+anything" groups isolated on their own – especially on the open flank. If you do that you can guarantee that the Hun will send every man on a horse to kill them. They are much much more vulnerable than the legions. This goes equally for small groups of cavalry or light cavalry in a Roman army. If you put them somewhere the shooty cavalry can get at them they will do it and do it hard. They can’t compete with masses of bow armed cavalry – don’t try. This is equally true for a Roman cavalry group. NO the Romans can’t take a few cavalry and “skirmish” with the Huns. That leads to a lot of dead Roman cavalry. They aren’t useless but you have to use them extremely careful.

Put that group in one of two places depending on the terrain. It either goes in the middle of your army OR it goes on the edge of the army next to a waterway. Both of these are dangerous locations for our Hun to mass cavalry and you would in fact like them to do so. Why? In either location you push forward and there is a line of legions that are placed to cut off the retreat routes. Sure they can just flee away but that is what you want and eventually the Hun is going to flee and want to turn to one flank or the other to find more space. This is the secret sauce if you will of pushing someone off the table. They need to make this turn while they still have table space to get out of the way. If they can’t march (and more on marching below) that means the cavalry is going to turn and move 3 UD one turn and maybe more 4 more UD the next turn. You need to be able to catch them before they squirt off to the side of your legion by any means necessary. Your ZOC extends out 1 UD and as you advance you can slide 1 UD to the side for free. Always be looking to get the Hun into a position they can’t turn away to the flank. Normally, a cavalry army needs to start thinking about this maneuver when they are about 5 UD from their base table edge at least.

5UD is usually the magic point as that is the last spot they can be assured of not fleeing off the table and being pretty sure they can turn and start moving sideways. When the Huns decide they are going to try and can opener your flank – be ready for that and start turning. Be ready to get heavy troops all the way to the table edge or nearly the table edge. This is a place the M Cav can help if you are careful. They move a bit faster so you can use them to fill the last little gap BUT they need legions supporting them or they are victims.

Get the rest of your army turning as well – remember you have a legion for ever MC Bow. Yes the LC Bow are annoying and will shoot at you and you want to keep them from getting behind you but fundamentally they aren’t that dangerous. Again M Cav + L Cav can help keep them corralled. Or you have “extra” width with the elephant/cavalry group to help. One key to remember is that you are marching on an interior line, behind your rear, so you have less distance to cover than the cavalry player. This can often let you match any big turning/flanking maneuver.

Once all this has happened do what you can to prevent the MC from being able to march move again. March moves are sneakily dangerous.

Your goal here to create a fight where the Huns are forced to fall back to and edge somewhere so they can’t simply keep retreating. That can be their back edge, your back edge, or a side – somewhere they are going to commit their troops. DON’T let them commit then slide sideways to an open part of the table. That is how you lose. If you have to this is the point to sacrifice some cavalry/light cavalry/medium infantry to hold them in place while the legions catch-up.

When you do this ALWAYS charge them every t! urn you can. It forces them back – closer to an edge and it stops half their shooting. Even better is if you can force them back and break up their groups. That over time will pip starve them and they will become less efficient and/or leave you elements you can scoop up by preventing flees. Similarly, don’t let your army get broken up into tiny groups. Each Corps can fairly easily support two groups, but once you are at three or more you risk being unable to charge due to lack of pips.

LMI and especially MI shooters are extremely useful here. DO NOT place them alone on your flanks as unsupported they are vulnerable and a good target. Nestled safely in the midst of heavy infantry they provide powerful firepower and are like all weak points in an unpleasant place to attack.

Terrain considerations:

Always try for the waterway, it is generally helpful. If you get a waterway don’t bother with the village it isn’t helpful as it most likely is sitting on your base edge on the waterway which is not a useful spot.
Don’t get overly obsessed with RGo especially of the fields/brush sort. Unless you have a lot of medium infantry – especially medium infantry that shoots (not a Roman forte) it doesn’t make that much difference. Its biggest value is letting LI stand up to mounted so it is of some value but not hugely. Next biggest use is dummy ambush markers preventing marches..
If you are somewhere that isn’t steppes/plains then you want DGo. The single most dangerous thing you can place for the Huns is a piece of DGo (or impassable) sitting on their baseline dividing up the deployment zone. This generally will compact their army which is good and even better dramatically cut down their ability to march away from your advance. Watch out as the counter-move to this is often to flank march. That is not terrible for you unless you deploy badly and get caught out by it.

15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

These are the textbook Romans with square shields. You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site

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Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
Huberts winning list from Central London 2017 Winter
Brilliant Gen
4 legionnaries Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
1 medium artillery Medium artillery ------
1 auxiliarii Medium swordsmen impact Elite
1 auxiliarii bowmen Bowmen ------
2 slingers Light infantry sling ----
Brilliant Gen
1 elephant Elephant Mediocre
3 Auxiliarii Medium swordsmen impact Elite
1 auxiliarii bowmen Bowmen ------
1 equites alares Heavy cavalry ------
1 numidian cav Light cavalry javelin ------
1 javelinmen Light infantry javelin ----
Ordinary Included Unreliable
1 equites alares* Heavy cavalry Elite
2 equites alares Heavy cavalry ------
1 numidian cav Light cavalry javelin ----
Fortified Camp

Derby 2017 200AP
3 Sarmatians Heavy cavalry impetuous
2 Numidian Cavalry Light cavalry javelin
3 Equites Alares Heavy cavalry
6 Legionaries Heavy swordsmen armour impact
2 Legionaries Heavy swordsmen armour impact Elite
3 Auxiliaries Medium swordsmen impact
Fortified camp

Madan's list from Roll Call 2016
Competent +1 (0p) built into the Cav...
Heavy Cavalry (2)-18p (inc general)
Equites Cataphracti (2)-20p
4 units 38p
Brilliant+2 (6p)
Heavy Swordsmen (4)-44p
MI Auxiliaries (4)-32p
LI Javelin (2)-8p
10 units 90p
Ordinary +0 (0p)
Heavy Swordsmen (4)-44p
LMI Bowmen (2)-14p
LI Javelin (2)-8p
8units 66p
Camp (1)-6p

Paul's list from Roll Call 2016
3 x Competent Generals

  • 2 Auxiliary swordsmen Medium swordsmen impact Elite
  • 2 Auxiliary swordsmen Medium swordsmen impact ------
  • 3 Auxiliary Bowmen Light infantry bow ------


  • 7 Heavy Swordsmen Heavy swordsmen armour impact


  • 3 Heavy Cavalry Heavy cavalry Elite
  • 2 Medium Cavalry Medium cavalry ----
  • 1 Light Cavalry Light cavalry javelin ----
  • 1 Equites Catafractarii Heavy cavalry impact ----

200 Points
List 84 Early Imperial Roman (eastern)
Command 1
Competent Commander 1
Legionary: Hvy Sword Armour Impact Elite 6
Command 2
Competent Commander 1
Legionary: Hvy Sword Armour Impact Elite 6
Command 3
Competent Commander 1
Auxiliaries Med Sword Impact Elite 2
Medium cavalry 2
Light Cavalry Bow 1
Competent Included
4 Legionaries Heavy swordsmen armour impact
2 Auxiliary Archers Bowmen
2 Equites Sagittarrii Light cavalry bow
4 Legionaries Heavy swordsmen armour impact
2 Auxiliaries Medium swordsmen impact
3 Light Infantry Light infantry javelin
2 Equites Alares Medium cavalry
2 Moors Light cavalry javelin
2 Equites Catafractarii Heavy cavalry impact
Fortified Camp

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