Nikephorian Byzantine

Historical Overview Section

The Byzantine Empire reached its height under the Macedonian emperors (of Armenian and Greek descent) of the late 9th, 10th, and early 11th centuries, when it gained control over the Adriatic Sea, southern Italy, and all of the territory of tsar Samuel of the Early Bulgar?s. The cities of the empire expanded, and affluence spread across the provinces because of the new-found security. The population rose, and production increased, stimulating new demand while also helping to encourage trade. Culturally, there was considerable growth in education and learning. Ancient texts were preserved and patiently re-copied. Byzantine art flourished, and brilliant mosaics graced the interiors of the many new churches. Though the empire was significantly smaller than during the reign of Justinian, it was also stronger, as the remaining territories were less geographically dispersed and more politically and culturally integrated

The soldier emperors Nikephoros II Phokas (reigned 963–969) and John I Tzimiskes (969–976) fought against the Rus and also expanded the empire well into Syria, defeating the emirs of north-west Iraq and reconquering Crete and Cyprus. At one point under John, the empire's armies even threatened Jerusalem, far to the south. The emirate of Aleppo and its neighbours became vassals of the empire in the east, where the greatest threat to the empire was the Fatimid Egyptian? kingdom. After much campaigning, the last Arab threat to Byzantium was defeated when Basil II rapidly drew 40,000 mounted soldiers to relieve Roman Syria. With a surplus of resources and victories thanks to the Early Bulgar? and Syrian campaigns, Basil II planned an expedition against Sicily to re-take it from the Arabs there. After his death in 1025, the expedition set off in the 1040s and was met with initial, but stunted success.

Sowing the Dragon's Teeth: Byzantine Warfare in the Tenth Century has translations of the two key military manuals of the era, the Praecepta militaria of Nikephoros Phokas and the revised version included in the Taktika of Nikephoros Ouranos - outlining the tactical system used by Byzantine armies in campaigns against Muslim forces in Cilicia and Syria. Products of experienced soldiers, the texts offer a realistic view of Byzantine warfare and reveal the sophistication of Byzantine military science. Eric Mc Geer places the treatises in military historical context; explores the factors that led the Byzantine army to fight as it did; and investigates morale, discipline, and leadership - all of which determined the difference between failure and success.

Using the army in ADLG

  • Skoutatoi can seem really good when you first start playing, but once your opponents learn how to survive the shooting and get into them coherently they become a large speedbump if deployed in an overly numerous fashion
  • Concentrate the spearmen into one command rather than hoping to use them to stiffen the Skoutatoi
  • Some Medium Cavalry Bow might dilute the high cost of the rest of the mounted force

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15mm Manufacturers supplying figures for this army

You can see some of the figures in the Ancients Photo Gallery also on this site. Many manufacturers produce just one "Byzantine" range, not specifying which era they are for (but most are Maurikian era I suspect). All generic "Byzantine" ranges have been listed here, together with any specifically noted for particular eras. For Latin or other allied troops, use Crusader or other knights of a similar timeframe. 700AD - in the Thematic list - is as good a date as any for round shields to start to change over to kite shields. For Varangians, consider using something from the Viking? page.

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  • Essex Miniatures - Several Byzantine ranges. 8 Maurikians, 7 Thematics, 10 Nikephorians & 5 Generic Psiloi for all eras in their Ancients ranges. For Nikeforians Essex have two lancers suitable to use, BZA14 Thematic Kataphraktoi and BZA23 Tagmatic Kataphraktoi. In addition, BZA20 Trapezitoi could be used as a lancer if the tunic is painted in such a way as to resemble quilted/padded armor. They also have four useable horse archers: BZA15, BZA16, BZA22, and BZA24.
  • Donnington 22 Byzantines, including a Belisarius general figure (a clue to them being fairly early maybe..) plus a 23-strong C12-13 range
  • Museum Miniatures - 17 Byzantines, reasonably early period.
  • Black Hat Miniatures (previously Gladiator Games) - 10 Komnenans in their Crusades range
  • Old Glory 15's - 12 Belisarians, and 22 codes in a "7th-13th Century Byzantine" range
  • Minifigs - 21 Byzantines, from C7-C11 in their Dark Ages range, 5 more C11-13 ones in their Crusades range
  • Irregular Miniatures - 21 Byzantines, with Nikephorian, Tagmatic, Thematic, Maurikian and Belisarian cavalry listed as well as CC7-10 oval-shield foot and C11-13 kite-shielded foot
  • Tin Soldier 21 10th & 11th Century Byzantines
  • Battle Line Miniatures (NZ) Same range as Isarus
  • Alain Touller - almost 20 Byzantines with both kite and round shields
  • Isarus - sold by 15mm.co.uk 18 Byzantines, kite-shielded lancers and round-shielded bowmen
  • Outpost Wargame Services 10 Crusade-era Byzantines
  • Khurasan Miniatures - 20-odd Nikephorian Byzantines (kite shield infantry)
  • Viking Forge - Generic range of 20 or so Byzantines, Tagmatic and Thematic cavalry are listed
  • 50 Paces/Miniature Wars - 10 -strong Belisarian (early) range including Belisarius
  • Splintered Light Their Sub Roman British woudl make reasonable Varangians as they have the right mix of hairyness combined with a bit of Roman-style drill and polish.

Army Lists

Sample army lists for this army
200AP from Patras 2018

Brillian Gen
4 Skoutatoi
1 LI Bow
1 HC Impact Bow Elite
1 LC Bow
Included Competent General
4 HC Impact Bow Elite
4 Skoutatoi
1 LH Bow
1 HC Impact Elite Bow
2 LI Javelins
Brilliant General

200AP from Estella 2016
Brilliant CinC
3 Skoutatoi (Mixed)
2 Varangians
1 LI Bow
2 Elite Cataphracts
1 Impact Bw Ordinary HCv
2 Impact Bw Ordinary HCv
1 LG Bow
Ordinary General
4 Elite Cavalry as above
1 LH
Competent General

300 points
Qty Troop description Troop type Quality
3 Skoutatoi ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen ------
1 Varangians with axes Heavy swordsmen 2HW ------
1 Varangians with spears Heavy spearmen ------
1 Tagmatic kavallarioi Heavy cavalry impact bow ------
1 Bow skirmisher Light infantry bow ------
Qty Troop description Troop type Quality
3 Skoutatoi ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen ------
1 Menavlatoi Heavy swordsmen 2HW ------
1 Varangians with spears Heavy spearmen ------
1 Skirmisher Light infantry javelin ----
Ally Brilliant
Qty Troop description Troop type Quality
1 Tagmatic kavallarioi Heavy cavalry impact bow ------
1 Horse archers Light cavalry bow ------
1 Tagmatic kavallarioi elite Heavy cavalry impact bow Elite
1 Slinger skirmishers Light infantry sling ----
4 Skoutatoi ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen ----
1 Varangians with spears Heavy spearmen ----
Ally byzantine Basil the Bedouin Slayer Brilliant
Qty Troop description Troop type Quality
2 Tagmatic kavallarioi elite Heavy cavalry impact bow Elite
1 Horse archers Light cavalry bow ------
2 Bow skirmishers Light infantry bow ----
4 Skoutatoi ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Bowmen ----

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