Sunday, January 26, 2014


Over the last year or so I have been commissioned by Mick Hoddy to paint a considerable number of Romans (and Celts!). Mick was organising a recreation of Bedriacum. He very kindly invited me to join him and other members of the Herts Volunteers for the game. As I had disappointingly missed the Raphia game put on by Dave Marks I was determined to make it this time...and besides I still had those Lord of the Rings figures to drop off...

Above: view from Vitellian right flank, and below the general view from Othonian right flank, with the main Othonian army marching down the road.

The Battle of Bedriacum - 69 AD, the year of the four emperors. The emperor Galba had been murdered by Otho, and at the same time Vitellius had put in a claim for the throne and was marching on Rome with the powerful Rhine legions and Batavian auxiliaries. Otho's forces were a hotch potch of Praetorians, ex-marines, gladiators and legions...though reinforcements were on their way in the form of the Balkan legions. These reinforcements never arrived in time for the actual battle but I wondered if they might make a surprise appearance during the game....particularly as I was bringing with me the freshly painted VIII Augusta, a legion stationed in Moesia.
The rules we used were Hail Ceasar, aided by Martin Lampon's ADC system. I can now say a bit more with regard to ADC having now used it myself. It really does speed up play. This was my first game using the Hail Ceasar rules and I found that the system greatly enhanced my understanding of the rules which enabled me to get into the game quicker....and then take lots of pictures. I would highly recommend it!

Above: The main Othonian army marches along the road past Bedriacum to cross the river.
I didn't paint all of the figures on the table, so will be pointing out those that I did as in the Raphia Blog, another post with lots of "Ooh look I painted them..." Only this time, as I was actually there, I can give a bit more narrative about what is happening, that's on the basis I understood what was happening!

Above: View of Othonian left flank, with the Vitellian flank attack developing (I commanded these Vitellian flanking troops...) below a view of said flank attack from the Vitellian side.
Otho's brave Praetorians hold the gate to the can be dangerous!

Othoninan Gladiators, Legio I Adiutrix and Auxilliaries marching along the road, all painted by me. Will they make it across the bridge before the Vitellians cut them off?

Othonian left flank

Centre of the Battle lines, Othoninas closest to camera
Above and below: Vitellian legionnaries painted by me

Rear view of Vitellian legionnaries I painted.

Othonian Gladiators getting pumped up for battle in the town

Some of the troops I commanded on the flank, also painted by me
 Above: The centre, and below the Othonian Praetorian cavalry launch an attack to stop the Vitellians crossing the river by the ford...the first clashes

Closer view of the cavalry clash over the river ford, the only visible place to cross apart from the bridge, although Mick had some nasty surprises for the Othonians

 Above: Vitellian right flank under attack from cavalry.
My flank attack developing
Some of the Othoninan auxiliaries my troops are about to take on, painted by me

Othoninan Praetorians moving up to support the attack on the river
Othonian cavalry rushing up the road, painting by me
Vitellian auxiliaries advance to the river line on their left flank
The nasty surprise...the Vitellian auxiliaries are Batavians, they can swim and have boats; very big boats!

Above: My cavalry unit getting clobbered. I painted the unit with the green shields, so I didn't mind, they looked so nice while they did it (even if I do say so myself) Not a good start for me, but it got worse...

Above: The centre lines clash and in the background Othonian wagons have reached the bridge in order to pick up supplies from the town, as below the Vitellians attack towards it. Both Legionary units painted by me, great to see them getting stuck in!

Othonian wagons crossing the bridge, they need to pick up supplies from the town...its then that I remembered Mick mentioning in his briefing that we were short of supplies too, so in went my attack

My moment of glory, and I painted both of these units. However, my opening die rolls were disastrous, and my unit was wiped out there and then. And so was set my reputation as a crappy dice roller!
Meanwhile in the centre...

...the Othonians are pushed back to the town.
Othonian archers defending the river as the Batavian Cohorts try to cross. These were painted by me

In the centre Othonian cavalry try to relieve pressure on the bridge by charging into a unit of auxiliaries.

Vitellian pressure builds on the river as the Praetorian cavalry are beaten back
 The Emperor Otho watches as the Praetorian infantry move forward to the river
Now this was an interesting development; These were the Vitellian cavalry who beat the Othonian Praetorian cavalry to cross the river. Just beyond the heavy bolt shooter stood Otho himself. It was looking as if the game would be over very quickly! Fortunately for Otho the Vitellians did not succeed.
Above and below: My attack continues but my auxiliaries are taking heavy casualties and are being pushed back 
Below: a legion commanded and painted by me, contemplating charging some gladiators, after previous die rolls we're not sure about it...
They finally go in, my command is getting hammered, the only Vitellian not making any progress so far. 
The legion has gone in against the Othonian gladiators, and yes the legion was wiped out. Fortunately my other legion near the tree took revenge and wiped out the gladiators next turn
Increasing Vitellian pressure in the centre as the Othonians continue to be pushed back to the town 
 More figures what I painted
Finally the Othonian legion is destroyed and the assault on the town begins!
Above: my assault continues to flounder, though we are holding our ground at last
Vitellians crossing the river, and they are now building a bridge
Above and below: Othonian Praetorians painted by me
The Othonians crossing the bridge to relieve the town
 A very worried commander of said town, pointing to the exit?
An othonian cavalry thrust into the centre of the Vitellian line...looks tricky
 My flank attack is more defensive now than offensive, but slowly pushing back
The sneaky Vitellians have now built a bridge, bloody Romans... 
Above and below: although the Othonian wagons managed to get across the bridge is now blocked. Auxilliaries painted by me.
Vitellius supervises the attack on the Othonian wagons, and soon discovers that p### pots can be pretty dangerous; they didn't even have the manners to throw the Samian Ware at him.
 Above and below: General view of the river crossing
Below: Gladiators I painted still on the road
 Above and below: A unit of legionaries painted by myself
General situation: nearing the end now
 Above and below: The town is attacked and the Vitellian legionaries break in
At the end of the battle and my division has finally pushed the Othonians back, though taking extremely heavy casualties. 
 And the Vitellians on the left finally start to cross the bridge
The game ended as a Vitellian victory. The Vitellian left flank withstood the Othonian counterattacks by the Praetorians and managed to progress across the river. Great progress was made in the Vitellian centre, all Othonian resistance being smashed, the town taken and the bridge across the river blocked. The Vitellian right flank was pushed right back, but eventually managed to stand its ground, therefore making up for disastrous initial die rolls.
It was a great game, and I'd like to say thanks to the Herts Volunteers for the game, namely Mick Hoddy for the hard work of organising and setting it all up the night before and in the morning, and thanks for the invite; and thanks to David Marks, Martin Scott, George Lunn, Martin Lampon and David Mckenna for making me feel so welcome and making it a thoroughly enjoyable day!


  1. Glad you enjoyed the game , and thanks as always for having provided most of the fine figures on display from your fair paint brush . Great blog & photo's of what was an awesome game to watch unfold , even though as Umpire I was supposed to know what was going on :) Thanks for being such a good sport as well when all seemed lost in the shrubbery & not losing focus on your several back to back crappy die rolls :)