Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Warlord Games Early Imperial Romans: Legionaries and Scorpion - Review

Hi all, after having completed my first unit of Imperial Roman Auxiliaries I've begun to assemble the next unit, This is the Early Imperial Roman Legionaries, again by Warlord Games.

The Roman Legionary was the product of the Marian Reforms of 107BC, Prior to this the Republic drew it's armies from among the citizens who had to be of  a particular class and posses a certain amount of wealth, they had to fund their on equipment and were organised in to specific groupings based on the equipment they were able to fund.

The Marian reforms turn this on it's head, the army would become a professional army, no longer divided (quite so visibly) by wealth and status but instead organised and equipped after a standard fashion (though regional variants of armour, weapons, cloth etc existed). This was the birth of the Legionary.

The Legionaries in this box are the progeny of this genesis and are the classic image conjured in many a young boys head when he pictures a Roman due largely to the extensive use of Lorica Segmentata which despite only being used for a fraction of the life-span of the Roman Empire is almost always what we see a Legionary depicted wearing! 

The Lorica Segmentata is the predominant feature on these models and has received some good attention to detail right down to individual clasps and fittings that would have held it all together.
The period of it's use was from around the turn of the millennium until the late 3rd century. If you can ignore the fact that helmets in particular underwent a few revisions during this time period then that gives you a good range of combatants for these models to historically fight against from rebellious Gaulish tribes, to the invasion of Britain by Aulus Plautius, across to boarder wars with the Germans and the conquest of the Dacinsa and Thracia. If you're happy being slightly liberal with historical accuracy when it come to arms and equipment then the scope of opponents for this particular period of Roman plastics is probably one of the greatest and more widely documented of ancient history and will provide you plenty to get your teeth in to.

I am happy to tolerate a little ambiguity and as mentioned previously I intend to use mine to represent the conquest and post-conquest occupation of Britain from 43AD onwards (Claudius' invasion definitely does not count... it takes a little more effort to conquer us Brits than stabbing the English channel and collecting shells...).

The boxed set from Warlord games contains 20 Legionaries, including command, as well as a scorpion and crew. Previous iterations existed and contained 30 legionaries sans scorpion. I believe the switch to the newer box came as a result of the release of the Hail Caesar rues which heavily promote 20 man units as the standard size (in 2 ranks or 10 men) over a 200mm frontage.

The box costs £22 from Warlord Games direct or can be had from £15+ at alternate retailers. Even bought at full price at a cost of approximately £1 per model this represents good value when compared with other offerings from both historical and non-historical miniature manufacturers and whilst typically you'd expect the quality to suffer as a result of price I don't feel this is the case in this instance.

The legionaries come with separate arms, heads and shields which allow for a number of different poses such as throwing a Pilum, standing ready to receive a charge, getting stuck in with a gladius or simply marching to meet the enemy and whilst there is a good degree of different poses you can make The fact that the legs and torsos  are molded as one meaning it should still be fairly easy to rank up these miniatures, a problem which other manufactures suffer from due to overly energetic poses.

 Some of the detail, particularly on the command sprue (which is the legionary sprue with one half re-cut to accommodate the relevant bits). My favourite is the commander himself who has some very nicely sculpted and detailed armour and had/helmet.

Whilst the scorpion and crew, for me, is not the focus of this box, it's nice to have and also is fairly historically accurate in the each legion would be supported by a number of these warmachines, 60 for the Legion or 1 per century (which is conveniently what the 20 man unit is meant to be representative of on the gaming table). Warlord have gone to the same detail here too including sculpting the twists in the rope/sinew among other details.

The downside to all this intricate detail is that mold lines quickly become a significant problem, to get the best out of these models your are going to spend a good deal of time performing some careful prep-work before you'll be ready to get painting.

 I've Assembled 10 so far and whilst they went together nice and quickly enough the clean up work took around 1.5-2 hours and to be honest I could have done better (though it would have taken even longer!)

 Of particular trouble is the mold line running down the neatly sculpted sandle and armour plates which include a lot of small details, all too easy to remove with  a careless flick of the file.

This of course is difficult to help with 2 piece plastic molding technology and should be something most of us are familiar with.


Price - 5/5
At full price £22 may seem like a significant outlay however when you consider that not only are you getting a full and complete 20 man unit with full command but also an artillery piece with which to wage table top warfare on your opponent.
At £1 per model this is a steal when compared with the boxes of models now costing upwards of £25 for 5 (or £5 per model!!) from other manufacturers. I want lots of these boxes and I think this price is just about perfect. Not only thaty but once again you can buy individual sprues at pocket money prices which I am very grateful for and gives those of us on a budget a whole heck of a lot more flexibility when it comes to how we buy and build our armies.

Value - 4.5 / 5
There's a good deal of poss-ability available within this box set, a minor niggle is that your are unable to assemble a full unit wielding either 100% gladius or 100% pilum however this can be mitigated by using two boxes to make one unit of each, though this is only of any difference aesthetically, in game it would make no odds.
Coming from a Warhammer background the full command is a must for me and impactes greatly on my perceived value of the set.
The icing on the cake is the sheet of trasfers which, when applied with micro set and micro sol really make the models come alive for me.

Quality - 4 / 5
I observed no defects with this kit unlike the auxiliaries, however there are significant mold lines and clean up will take a substantial amount of time. Though mold lines are generally unavoidable some manufacturers have been making good advances in this regard in the way they cut their models ready for the sprue which reduces the number of flat surfaces likely to be at the mold join. this is obviously where the trade off on price come in with this set. It's not a deal-breaker though so do not write these guys off!

Features are deep and appear as though they'll be easy to paint and make the most off for use at table top distances. I'm a big fan of slightly exaggerated detail at this scale as it gives a bit more of a visual 'grab' even when viewed at typical gaming distances.

Accuracy - 3 / 5

Again, I'm no expert however I know that common consensus is now that the typical image we have all universally come to know and love of a full legion kitted out in lorica segmentata, bells and whistles on, is probably, definitely NOT accurate. Even when it's use was likely at it's height many men would have still been using lorica hamata which both preceded and succeeded the far more iconic segmentata. I'd have liked to have seen the represented on the sprue with a few such torsos.
I understand that this box is trying to represent the iconic and not the historic and for that I can forgive it because I love the iconic.

If you play historical games at all I don't think you can count yourself as a historical gamer without at least a small army of early imperial Romans, I can't think of a much better place to start than with a small fist-full of these boxes.

Don't forget to check out the unboxings of both the Conquest of Gaul;

and Starter Army;

Boxes for more pictures of these fantastic models!

Have you any experience of Hail Caesar? Do you have any comments? let me know, I'd be glad to hear it!

Thanks for reading.

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