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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dacians, a warband you don't meet every day

I'm painting up a Dacian army for our next Field of Glory (FoG) campaign.  Me falling for another lost cause is a bit predictable. "Barbarian" armies fare poorly in FoG but that doesn't stop me from falling in love with a new one every year. I loved the story of Sertorius in Hispania so I painted Lusitanians.  I loved the stories of the Celts and painted 3 Gallic armies to prove it. While most of the Dacian's story is lost to time, what's left is riveting. That's how I knew that it was true love! Let's hope it's a love that lasts.
I'm using Old Glory figs for my Dacians.  OG doesn't post pictures of all their ranges on their website so I was reluctant to put an order in.  Out of the box, I was pleased to see the Dacians are one of their better lines. The figures are well sculpted with lots of variety.

Dacian Falxmen:  Dacians can field up to 24 bases of falxmen in FoG so I painted up all 24. The downside is that they're unprotected Medium foot.  The upside is they're cheap as chips for superior foot with a heavy weapon.  If they survive the impact phase with legionaries, they'll be even in subsequent rounds of melee. Watch the face of your Roman opponent as you trade bases and he remembers falxmen cost 7 points a base and legionaries cost 14!
The falxmen were primed with Army Painter Brown Leather followed by block painting in an earthy and tight palette. Vallejo's sienna wash went over the base coat. Vallejo's wash is currently my favorite as it goes on thick and stays put. The last step is applying highlights. For shirtless fellows, I used 2 rounds of highlights on the skin as it did make them pop.

So about that backstory, the Dacians were a collection of up to 15 tribes in what is now Romania.  Located in and around the Carpathian mountains, they possessed abundant mines and resources, including hordes of gold.  In the lectures "Rome and the Barbarians," the Dacians are described as skilled stonemasons, metal-smiths and miners.  All 3 skills were crucial in their wars against the Romans. Their kingdom lasted from 82 BC until the Roman conquest in 106 AD.

The story goes hot when King Decebalus assumes the throne and unites the tribes. Cassius Dio described him as  "a man shrew in his understanding of warfare" who "judged well when to attack and chose the right moment to retreat."  His raids across the Danube and into the Roman province of Moesia culminated in the Roman Governor Oppius Sabinus being killed in the field.
Emperor Domitian and his Prefect of the Praetorian Guard, Cornelius Fuscus, traveled to Moesia to put things right.  Fuscus drove the Dacians back across the Danube and followed them through the Iron Gates. At the First Battle of Tapae, he was ambushed along with Legio V Alaudae. The legion was annihilated and Fuscus killed. The Dacian king received his name Decebalus after this battle, meaning as strong (or brave) as ten men.

Domitian launched a second expedition in 88 AD.  According to Dio, the Dacians slew a great number of Romans while suffering serious losses themselves.  Facing multiple threats, Domitian offered terms that were stunningly generous. Decebalus became a client king of Rome with a stipend of 8 million sesterces per year. He was also provided Roman engineers, craftsmen, and war machines. Decebalus used the Roman stipend and engineers to build new defensive fortifications in the mountains and to reinforce existing ones.Clever man, that Decebalus, as the Romans wouldn't let him rest after such generous terms.  

45 comments:

  1. Splendid looking Dacians! That earthy red and green combo is especially striking.

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    1. Thanks Moiterei! I struggle to find the line that shows irregular but not clown army. ;-)

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  2. Hi Monty,

    God (of war) save the Dacian!
    nevermind the Sarmatian!

    well done Monty!

    All the best

    Gilles " this is my wayyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!"

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    1. LOL, you're ahead of me! I was working on a version of this post where Johnny Rotten did the historical overview. It was a bit tricky so we get the straight version.

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  3. I did consider doing a Dacian army myself a long while back. Any thoughts on taking a Sarmatian ally contingent?

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    1. Bingo, Tamsin! I'm going to paint up 3 units of Sarmatian horse and maybe some archers. Sarmatians give me cavalry that can compete in period. Our group is very big on in-period games so thats a plus.

      Dacians got a bit better in v2 and with Heavy Weapon getting a + against all while canceling armor bonus. In theory, they look like they could be a fun faction to run. And hey, you have a very large Sarmatian army as I recall!

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    2. I certainly do have a large Sarmatian army. I've still got 60 more lancers to add to it (horses painted, riders still not prepped) as well.

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  4. Wonderful painting yet again Monty! Also a real nice historical write up.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Christopher, I appreciate that!

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  5. Lovely work, Monty, and up to your usual high standards!

    It's not every so-called barbarian who can win a war with Rome and survive to become a 'friend and ally', and the fact that the Romans were prepared to concede this indicates that they were on the back foot for a decade or two.

    Of course, when Trajan struck in 106AD, he did so with such overwhelming force as to leave no doubt as to the outcome!

    These guys are still something of a mystery. We know so little of their language or customs, so complete was the Roman genocide (no exaggeration here, BTW, it was a cultural and linguistic eradication). They clearly had the Romans pretty worked up to be so consistently portrayed in sculpture and in the histories.

    Looking forward to seeing further reinforcements as they arrive!

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    1. Thanks Evan! I'd love share a beer and this story with you as we're of like minds and interest.

      For anyone who love lost causes, this is another brilliant one. It is quite amazing to me what they pulled off. Decebalus made all the right moves and still, it was a forgone conclusion once Trajan marches across the Danube. Poor Dacians!

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  6. Great start to another army. Excellent history lesson too!

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    1. Thanks Jonathan! This one went a bit long. So much history!

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  7. Those are nice. You've got your system down now and can turn out great looking figures in a short amount of time.

    I had never heard of these guys before and I find it interesting that Rome was so generous with those they conquered. Was that type of strategy key to their long term success?

    That was cool what you did with the album cover!

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    1. Thanks Anne! It is shocking that the Romans were so generous. To my knowledge, Rome was never that generous to a foe before or after the Dacians. Contemporary authors record the treaty as a shameful treaty. Perhaps the Dacian King was a shrewd negotiator?

      And thanks for the mention on the album cover. I tried to do a tie in with Johnny Rotten giving the historical overview of the Dacians but it didn't make the cut.

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    2. I don't know a lot of details about the Romans and it's nice to learn something new.
      It would have been so funny if you had found a way to work Johnny Rotten into teaching history!

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    3. I got close but I couldn't close the deal. I knew I had to do a good job since many readers are in the UK and know the man, and his work, quite well.

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  8. Nice! Good to see the Old Glory figures painted up well for you. I'll be keeping an eye on this one mate, I've always been keen on Dacians but never took the plunge. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Nate! I was nervous about the order till I pulled the lead out of the box. Luckily, this is a good line for OG.

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  9. Cracking stuff Monty! Really enjoying these 15s you're working on ATM.

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    1. Thanks Michael! Yea, it's been an unexpected run of 15mm but I'm on my way to a deep Ancients bench!

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  10. Very nice St Monty patron saint of the lost causes!! I love fielding these types of army as they present more challenges on the table top right from the off. I will enjoy watching you build this one up with great interest. As always superb painting and basing really make these little guys rock!

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    1. LOL, you are a better player than I if you can win with these armies. ;-)

      The idea is so attractive and then the reality of brutal loss followed by brutal loss can be too much!

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  11. They look great and who can resist the curved blade signature/iconic Dacian weapon.
    cheers

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    1. Thanks Kiwi! Let's call them proto killer katanas.

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  12. Anarchy in the .... Roman Provinces! Well, where to start? Historical background : excellent...Paint job : excellent...basing : excellent...music : wow! That's a great post, with a great looking army, thanks for that Monty!
    Cheers,
    Phil.

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    1. That is perfect Phil! I can hear the song in real time and in fact, I was singing it just recently in my best English accent. My family told me to stop!

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  13. What a great start to the army Monty. The colour combos are really nice – the red and green are very striking against the lighter colours of the base.

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    1. Thanks Jonas. It's tricky but I now pick 3 colors and repeat them for irregulars so they'll look irregular but not too irregular. Does that even make sens? ;-)

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  14. Falx me, Monty ('scuse my French)!

    You've created another spectacular unit. Well done!

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    1. Thanks and love that line! I might try it this weekend with the Mrs. Probably get the eye roll.

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  15. love it
    why some people paint better than other ?
    because they always try to do better
    and that's what you've done with you new technic
    and thanks for history
    always a pleasure, discover them this morning (in france) as i wake up
    romanian foe are my friend !
    if you want a movie :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQOijvucerA

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    1. Marco, that is the kindest thing to say! Thank you so much.

      Now I need to check out the movie.

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    2. Wow, quite a spectacle and a cast of thousands, literally!

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  16. Impressive ! looke fearsome with the big "swords".

    Realy like your bases, very good !

    best regards Michael

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    1. Thanks Michael! I'll likely let the big swords lead the way.

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  17. Never apologise for the back story as I need all the history I can get! Great job Monty.

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    1. Thanks Michael! I'm of a split mind on long wordy posts. Thanks for letting me know it is useful and has it's place.

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  18. As always, wonderful job on the minis and great write up as well. Really need some time to catch up on your blog (sorry). I'm sure it will be time worth spent.

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    1. Jason, no worries! I sometimes think that each minute of blogging is minus a minute painting.

      Have you made it out to Fantasy Flight Game Center? It is the best gaming space in the TW with so many tables, you don't need reservations. Did I mention craft beer and a cook too? They did a HUGE Midwest 40K tournament a few weeks back. I looked but didn't see you.

      I hope life and gaming are all going well for you!

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  19. I remember when I did Romans that the Dacian falx caused the Romans to add more protection to their armour, lovely work by the way.

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    1. Thanks Fran and you are correct! That would have been a good bit of color to post up about the falxmen. Hmm, maybe next time!

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  20. They look great, Monty. I'm thinking these would make fine opponents for EIR. Best, Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean, they sure would! One day, I must do ancients in 28mm like you.

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  21. G'day Monty, sorry for being late to post a comment about your Dacian's which indeed, look bloody marvelous with good colors choices. Your Dacian units should hack their way through the Romans surely? :o)

    cheers,

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