African Vandals Triumphant!

I’ve always been fascinated by the Vandal Kingdom in Africa, the result of an extensive migration of Vandal and Alan tribes from Germania (central Poland) across Gaul to Hispania and later into the Roman north African provinces one step ahead of the expanding Visigoths. Under Gaiseric, they crossed into North Africa by boat in 429 AD, 80,000 strong. Whether they were invited, or just helped themselves, is unclear, but Count Bonaface soon came to regret their presence, for the Vandals advanced eastward from Roman Tingis. After several defeats, the Romans conceded lands to them in the Roman provinces of Numidia and Mauretania. Then following a Roman civil war and Bonaface’s death, the Vandals moved east again, capturing Carthage and claiming control over all of Roman north Africa.

Known as hard charging cavalry, the Vandals developed a naval tradition, conquering the Roman-controlled islands of Mallorca, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. In 455, they went so far as to sack the ancient city of Rome itself, thus giving “vandalism” its modern connotation. Two unsuccessful Roman military expeditions to North Africa followed, until the Emperor Justinian made peace with the Sassanids and leveraged the last resources of his eastern Roman empire to launch a major military expedition under Belisarius known today as the Vandalic War. After signal Byzantine victories at Ad Decium and Tricamarum in 533 AD, the Vandals were dispersed, the Vandal king Gelimer taken captive, and North Africa was returned to Roman rule.

What makes the African Vandals interesting as a wargaming army is that they are one of the few that can be fielded entirely as impetuous Knights under Triumph and DBx. The combination of quick-kills and impetuous advances make them a “fire and forget” army that relies on good dice rolling and you seldom need to do anything more sophisticated tactically than to line them up and charge.

Of course, against their two light horse heavy historical opponents — the Justinian Byzantines and the Later Moor — the Vandalic strengths become a weakness, as the missiles of the Byzantine and Moorish skirmishing horse tend to draw the Vandalic horsemen out of formation, where they can be overwhelmed from the flanks.

Here is my African Vandal army, built using figures from an unknown maker painted and purchased from MikeyGees on Ebay. I have been collecting figures for this army for years, but these were done and completely painted, and looked stunning. The shields in particular are standouts, which I’ve highlighted below. The only thing I did was base the figures, texture the bases and add tuffs.

Here are several shots of the Triumph! army, which consists of 12 elements of the amalgamated Silingi, Hasdingi, and Lacringi Vandalic Knights with the option off 1 element of Horsebow, representing the assimilated Alani who joined the Vandals during their migration in Hispania.

The Vandalic Army arrayed before the gates of Bulla Regia.
King Gelimer with his banner.
Vandalic Horsemen displaying their shields.
More Vandalic shields on review.
If you don’t like the idea of an all-Knight army, there is one option of Alani Horse Bow, depicted here as javelin-armed skirmishing horse.
A lone Vandal horseman stands guard in the gates of Bulla Regia.

So that’s one more off my bucket list for must-have miniature ancient armies. But now I’m pondering whether to invest in historical opponents. Lurkio has attractive ranges of Late Romans and Later Moors that would be perfect for the job.

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