I really like probing flanks, screening and harassing until the enemy are
weakened or demoralised then charging in with reckless abandon.
I usually do much better with cavalry armies than infantry based ones.
Its not always successful by any means, but it is a lot of fun.
In the past I have owned Skythian, Parthian and Hun armies all relying
to a greater or lesser extent on the composite bow.
This time around I decided on an Alan Sarmatian army.
Essentially the core of the army is a mass of horse archers, though
there is evidence that Alans were more Hunlike, with shields and
javelins too, rather than on the Parthian and Skythian model.
The stand alone army is intended to be an Alan Sarmatian however.
The majority of my figures come from Essex Miniatures
All figures were painted by me using mostly Vallejo and Games Workshop paints. Static grass is
also by Games Workshop with grass tufts by Silflor available from Antenociti's Workshop.
All told when finished the army will run to about 500 pts and almost 250 figures, almost all mounted
Alan Heavy Cavalry
My Alan heavy cavalry is very much in the in the minority, with 3/4 of the mounted units being of the
horse archer variety. I could have a higher proportion of heavies but quite frankly, I like light
cavalry. I've finished four units of heavy lancers with one remaining.
I was disappointed in the Essex Miniatures Sarmatian cavalry figure. This is a single pose and
comes on either an unarmoured or an armoured horse. It is a western looking Sarmatian typical of
the Rhoxolani or Iazyges.
I am definately of the opinion that troops over time are quick to loot pieces of kit that they find useful
and that clothing styles would be much adapted and varied in an army which came into contact
with many different allies and enemies.
I wanted my Alans to look like a late 4th Century army and reflect that they were the most eastern or
Asiatic of the Sarmatians. To this end I chose a great variety of figures from Alan, Avar, Sarmatian,
Mongol and even Byzantine figure ranges. Some are even shielded.
The end result is an eclectic bunch on armoured or unarmoured horses, in mail or scale, or horn or
unarmoured, with kontus and/or bow.
Alans like other Sarmatians had access to small numbers of skirmishing archers.
Some of the below figures are actually Byzantine figures in scale armour with a simple helmet.
I rationalise this as men who have adopted some form of protection, through wealth or looting, but
not enough to hinder their movement significantly.
Where possible they look very like dismounted versions of the cavalry, though they could have
been from tribes subject to the Alans.
Tents are by Baeuda, figures by Donnington Miniatures. As with all my camps the tents aren't stuck
to the base allowing them to be replaced by tents, huts etc. I'm in the process of acquiring some
Asiatic carts with tents upon them for my army.
Alan Light Cavalry Harassing Some Eastern Roman Archers
So far I have painted the minimum ten units required, out of the fifteen that I actually have. In all I
worked out that I took figures from thirteen different packs to make the army.
In addition to figures sold as Alans appropriate looking Avars, Mongols, Byzantines, Huns,
Parthians, Palmyrans, Pechenegs, Skythians, Khorasanians, Chinese and Ilkhanid Mongols have
been included to give great variety. In all honesty the vast majority of Steppe warriors probably
looked very similar to each other and evidence to the contrary is often scant.
I used a holepunch on some card and added hide shields to around half of the unshielded horse
archers, plus the odd javelin. Some heavier horse archers wearing scale or mail were also included
along with some figures which had actually been used in the heavy cavalry units. I cut their Kontus
down to a more appropriate javelin sized spear.
I tried not to go to garish on the colour choices. I'm really not a fan of bright painted figures, unless
it is absolutely required. I prefer a more 'natural' look. Most of my Alans wear leather, natural wool
up from conquered enemies. In these cases they are sometimes quite decorative but I have tried to
stick to quite faded colours.
As an overall colour, red, perhaps predominates. This was the favoured colour of Scythian nobility
and may have been the case with Sarmatian nobles also. This 'red' ranges from a maroon, through
dark red and madder to quite a bright red.
The overall intention was to create an army of colour and variety with, believe it or not, no two
figures the same and hopefully a bit of wow factor thrown in for good measure.
I was very pleased that on their first outing as an army they thrashed some Early Imperial Romans
The Alans, on at least one occasion, also used axemen, though information is quite scant. Infact
there may be no real evidence for them whatsoever.
I decided to add a couple of units to my army however for a bit of variety, though I might actually get
some more. I decided to portray them as a subject people rather than as Alans proper.
I used Essex EGA07, Early German Axemen, and added a few spare shields to increase the variety.
I could also mix them in quite nicely with my Gothic infantry units.