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"Most interesting opponent of Early Imperial Rome?" Topic

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24 May 2022 2:04 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Comments or corrections?

Field Marshal24 May 2022 1:37 a.m. PST

I am thinking a small ancients project. ( they all start small)The EIR legionaries are my favourite of all the ancients. Love the Gallic helm and segmenta. What would be an interesting opponent from the era to build?


PaulB24 May 2022 2:53 a.m. PST

I think Mithridates – wide variety of possible troops to choose from

BillyNM24 May 2022 2:56 a.m. PST

The Parthians – a classic contest betwen two very different armies.

Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 2:57 a.m. PST

Dacians with Sarmatian allies

eddy195724 May 2022 4:19 a.m. PST

Germans and Britons

korsun0 Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 4:35 a.m. PST

I second Dacians; gave the Romans a very hard time from the mid 80's AD right through until the early 300's. You get barbarian warriors with good martial ability, fanatical nobles, the legendary falx, excellent cavalry allies and strong leadership.
If not Dacia, then PaulB's nomination of Pontus is a good call.

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 5:24 a.m. PST

Another vote for the Dacians and Sarmatians.


Consul Paulus24 May 2022 5:30 a.m. PST

If you go with lorica segmentata, then Mithridates of Pontus is not from the same era. The Kingdom of Pontus ceased to exist over 50 years before lorica segmentata came into use.

All the other suggestions so far are valid for the Early Imperial Roman era, but if by "interesting" you mean an opponent that offered effective resistance over an extended length of time (Rome was able to defeat them in battle, but not extend the permanent Empire significantly into their territories), then either Germans or Dacians/Sarmatians fit the bill. The Rhine/Danube remained the effective frontier for a few centuries.

DrSkull24 May 2022 7:00 a.m. PST

The Jewish war might be interesting if you wanted to do skirmishes, or battles with fortifcations

Prince Rupert of the Rhine24 May 2022 8:08 a.m. PST

During the EIR Rome's best enemies were other Romans AD69 the year of the four emperors is an interesting period imho. Plus it gives you the chance to use the Praetorian guard and gladiators in your armies.

Swampster24 May 2022 9:27 a.m. PST

I agree with Prince Rupert. If the rules allow for different levels of experience, pitting smaller numbers of better quality against larger numbers of raw troops can make for an interesting match.

JAFD2624 May 2022 12:11 p.m. PST

Good suggestions.

"They all start small" – definitely true !

Note that most of Early Imperial is morphable to Middle Imperial, bring in Zenobia and the Palmyrans, and the Sassanids.

And of course, the Han Chinese are only a long march away…

sidley24 May 2022 12:48 p.m. PST

Although Dacians with their falx troops, zamolxix worshipping fanatics with Sarmatian allies look good. Certainly a good option. Can even use captured Roman artillery.
Parthian cataphracts and horse archers look good but make for a boring game with the Romans sat still on open terrain or a hill.
However my personal choice would be Ancient Briton with the hosts of war bands, light infantry slingers, light cavalry and colourful chariots. The terrain like in Dacia a lot more varied so gives the auxiliary infantry some woods and steep hills to,clear.

Bellerophon199324 May 2022 1:35 p.m. PST

Roman Civil War – Cremona is a great battle to build towards.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 2:07 p.m. PST

Germans – took a lickin' and kept on tickin'

Erzherzog Johann24 May 2022 4:26 p.m. PST

Teutoberger Wald – gave out a lickin' . . .

gavandjosh0224 May 2022 6:21 p.m. PST

Batavian revolt – "barbarian" Germans + roman auxiliaries (foot and mounted) and possibly other roman troops. Makes for a fairly even contest. Otherwise, any of other Germans, Parthians, Dacians, Britons, etc as above. Of course, there are always other choices such as the Jews or Armenians.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 10:25 p.m. PST

"I am thinking a small ancients project…"

That's what they all say in the beginning.

JJartist26 May 2022 5:00 p.m. PST

Other Romans. The opponents listed above either successfully waged asymmetrical war, or only won ambushes and other lopsided affairs. Most non-roman armies were more successful if they had Roman style or Roman troops in their armies.
The Parthians win because the Romans have no way to catch them.
The German win if they can hide in the woods and sneak out.

Those are the kind of scenarios one will need to develop.
The Pontic army evolved and for a little while avoided getting rubbed out.

Blue on Blue is the most contentious head to head game. Plus you can build allies for those forays outside the frontiers.



williamb27 May 2022 7:57 a.m. PST

By Zenobia's time the Roman legions were equipped with oval shields instead of rectangular.

Augustus27 May 2022 11:17 a.m. PST

Can we really say exactly when the lorica segmentata was in use? Best guess puts it at 1st Century AD and certainly in Teutoburg, but I would wager it was already in use longer than this.

Mister Tibbles28 May 2022 4:13 p.m. PST


Actually, this is a nice illustrated online article about the evolution of Roman armor. The changes were fluid.

I'm always curious what an OP decides after several replies.

Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy had a great article and scenario based on a small 28mm Roman civil war engagement. I'd have to look through my PDFs of the magazine to find it, and will if anyone is interested in knowing the issue. (I get the digital and print subscription._)

The Last Conformist09 Jun 2022 11:39 p.m. PST

Britons, apparently, as that's the one I got.

On the wargames table, Dacians with Sarmatian allies may be the most interesting, with a good variety of troop-types.

Reading about, Parthia stands out as a civilized empire rather than the barbarians on the other frontiers.

Damion10 Jun 2022 7:44 p.m. PST

Earliest evidence for segmentata is considered to be the arch of Augustus at Susa which dates to 14 bc. There's a frieze which shows soldiers with bands on their shoulders.

Erzherzog Johann12 Jun 2022 2:22 p.m. PST

DBMM lists the enemies of the Early Imperial Romans as:
Early Libyan
Meroitic Kushite
Ariarathid Kappadokian
Later Pre-Islamic Arab
Siricae, Iazyges, Later Rhoxolani Sarmatian
Armenian and Gordyene
Numidian and Early Moorish
Early German
Late Judean
Dacian, Carpi & Bastarnae
Ancient British
Scots Irish
Nobades & Blemmye
Early Imperial Roman
Later Moorish
Jewish Revolt
Middle Imperial Roman

Obviously some of these are only at very limited times in their own lists, but the range of options is pretty extensive. what is most interesting opponent will obviously be very subjective. It might be the history, the troop variety, the obscurity, the fame. And what turns out to be interesting may depend too on how the rules you'll be using reflect the various interactions.

Well supported suggestions so far have been Dacians (with Sarmatian allies) or EIR, both of which I agree could be good fun.

To me, based on the DBMM lists, Armenians look promising too in period for EIR – Cataphracts and horse archers, light foot archers and javelinmen, but also the possibility of Later Sarmatian or Alan allies.


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