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Civ: Eastern Romans/Early Byzantines


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(symbol of the Eastern Empire)

In the spirit of my Greek and Macedonian threads, I'd like to start talking about the Eastern Romans/Early Byzantines faction that'll likely go into 0 A.D. Part 2 if we get that far. ;) I'm not going to include any Byzantine units or anything in Part 1, even as Easter Eggs, but it might be interesting to discuss this faction when we're not focused on helping get art done for Part 1.

What I think we should aim for is to represent the Eastern Roman Empire, between AD350 and AD550. This is essentially the early Byzantine age for the region. We have a decent idea of how the Eastern Roman army evolved during this time period, so we can represent it with reasonable accuracy when compared to other factions. I don't have much to say right now as far as structure of the faction and how they should play, but here are a few things I would like to see and mention:

Shield Pattern Inspirations: The Notitia Dignitatum was a manuscript written in the 4th/5th centuries. It includes quite a few shield design patterns that will help us make plenty of shield variations for our Eastern Roman units.


Fundibulatores <Staff Slingers>: "The sling-staff is a staff 4 feet long, attached... to which is a sling (fund) made of leather, and operated with either hand, it discharges stones almost like an onager." -- Vegetius III.14. These men served in the 4th line of the late Roman battle line. Sling staffs were used well into the Medieval period.


Mattiobarbulus or Martiobarbulus <little Mars barb>: Soldiers of the era threw what are otherwise known as Plumbata instead if the venerable pila of the old legions. Plumbatae are much like large wooden and steel darts with a lead ball weight in the middle. If anyone remembers Jarts from the 1980s, think of them but with a lead weight in the middle. Because of this lead weight, soldiers were able to sling these darts over long distances before the enemy were able to close for melee. "If soldiers throw them at the right moment, it seems almost as if the shield-bearing infantry are imitating the role of archers, for they wound the enemy and his horses before they can get not merely to close quarters, but even within range of javelins." -- Vegetius I.17. Plumbatae were carried inside the shield of melee infantry in holsters, or in a bucket-style leather quiver at the hip.


(example of a Plumbata being thrown)

Heavy Cavalry

Along with Sarmatians and Parthians, should have pretty darn good cavalry, including:

Klibanarii (or Klibanophoroi)/Kataphraktoi: Armoured horsemen, they also carry standards. How can we distinguish between the two, Clibanarii and Cataphracts? Is one (Klibanarius) more heavily armoured than another (Kataphraktos)?


And possibly Hunnish Horse Archers and German Federated Cavalry. Speaking of "federated" troops...

Foedorati <Federates>: Barbarians who have been resettled within the borders of the empire on the promise that they provide light troops. Just use these to fill in the unit roster or do we represent this arrangement in some unique way?

Limitanei <border units>/Comitatenses <field units>: The Eastern Empire had a two-tier approach to the army (or a three-tier approach if you count Imperial guards units stationed in the capital of Constantinople). They had the troops guarding the frontiers (Limitanei) and the more heavily armed field armies (Comitatenses) to respond to any threat that made it past the border guards. The field units were held to high standards and took precedence over Limitanei in pay and provisions. Perhaps "Limitanei" would simply be represented in the "Basic" rank of units and the "Comitatenses" would be represented by the Advance/Elite ranks. But could there be another way of representing this two-tier approach?


Scholae Palatinae <Palace School>: These were the bodyguards of the emperor and fought mostly on horseback. They replaced the old equites singulares Augusti, the cavalry arm of the Praetorian Guard. These guys should definitely be Champion units. Perhaps these are the cavalry that can carry the flowing "draco" standards.


Tágma tōn Varángōn <The Varangian Guard>: These are Norsemen hired by the Byzantine emperors as their personal bodyguard. The Varangians were renown for their prowess in battle and their undying loyalty to their master. Unfortunately they were not created as a unit until the late AD 900s, making them too far out of our time period. We can use them as the Champion Infantry unit if we can't find something better. Otherwise I would like to include them as an Easter Egg unit.


(shield emblem represents the Norse god Odin)


The navy should be unique from the Western Imperial Romans, so we should include unique ships, even if they are slightly out of our time period. I nominate: Dromons (akin to a Greek bireme or trireme), Fire Ships (that explode), Greek Fire Ships that shoot fire. The Eastern Roman navy will look a lot like the ships available in Age of Kings.


Byzantine walls had an interesting "stripe" design inlay:


Another Example: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/78/Constantinoplewalls1.jpg

"Temples" can be Byzantine Churches. I know these are "later" designs, but I think we could make something that is distinctly "Byzantine."


Other images to look at for reference and inspiration:


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Nice stuff! I don't know much about the late Empire, but here are some thoughts:

1. As I understood, the Kathaphraktoi were more lightly armoured, but had bows as well as lances and maces. The Klibanophoroi/Clibanarii were heavier armoured and relied soley on melee power. So my idea would be to make the Klibanophoroi the Cavalry Spearmen and the Kataphraktoi the Champion Cavalry (for switching melee/ranged power) OR (if you dearly want to have the Scolae Palatinae as Champion Cav) the Cavalry Archer class (which would be more heavily armoured, but slower and more expensive than Hunnic or Parthian CAs)

2. As I understand it, this could be a possible infantry setup for the Byzantines:

Infantry Slinger: Staff slinger

Infantry Archer: Trebizond Archer (I read somewhere the finest archers of Byzantium came from Trebizond at the Black Sea

Infantry Javelinist: Either Plumbata throwers (though I think these bolts might be better off as a secondary weapon for melee infantry, akin to Pila of Part I) or (my preferred solution) Foederati Javelinists (Germanic).

To represent the Limitanei/Comitanenses issue, I suggest representing the Limitanei as Infantry Spearmen (and initial melee infantry at game start) for their guarding, defensive role (which Spearmen have in the game) and the Comitanenses as Infantry Swordsmen (the main offensive arm) as they were, as I understood it, used for campaigns rather then guard duties.

This gives the Byzantines all (CS) Infantry Classes (5) plus two CS Cavalry Classes (maybe someone else can think of a third kind of cavalry), a setup that is similar to the Carthaginians of part I (though with different nuances) and represents the cosmopolitan nature of the Late Empire quite well, I think. Maybe someone with more knowledge will see fit to correct me.:P

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I'm not sure if Constans was that expressive entering Rome, with his head staring straight ahead only dipping it when it passed under an arch, even though the arch might be several storeys in height and he a short, if athletic man. Perhaps a small thing that the likeless of Justinian from the Ravenna mosaics might be a little misguided as the work was large done in the Ostrogothic time with Justinians craftsmen making changes. There are little traces of feet or hands and nothing else around them showing how some figures were Stalin-like deleted. This would be a great prospect overall as the basic engine works very well. Not sure on a match-up as first rate later Roman infantry had to fulfill more roles, like say a rapid raid over the Danube to kidnap or something of the sort. The testudo and other formations still persisted.

Edited by Patricius
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It would be interesting to put the late Romans against Marius's mules :D

My money is on the mules, they were too disciplined.

Depends on the period and the army it's going against. If it is Marius' mules against a Praesental Army, I'll put money on the Late Romans. Also, I am a fan of Late Antiquity but are you guys gonna include any late counterparts such as the Franks or Alemann because it would seem odd without them.

Edit: Also I'll update my sources from IG on here. I think it's around 200something mb of stuff related to the 3rd-7th Centuries.

Edited by Gothic
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Including Vikings into 0 AD, that is not during the Viking Age, would seem weird. The Norse were small, and slowly developing their culture and trade around the Roman times. It is very difficult to find any articles about Pre-Vikings.

Scandinavia was going through the Iron Age around 0 A.D. I think there is plenty of literature, but as you say, it would be of limited interest due to their political/military insignificance at the time.

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the Vikings themselves fall outside 0ad's timeframe, though i would recommend including them anyway as editor-only units, with some Norse mercs being used as special units for different civs (like Varangians for the Byzantines here)

Edited by oshron
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