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

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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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