Dave ‘Boycie’ Lawrence

Those readers who have visited our HQ store may well have seen a certain army of rather unusual-looking Romans in the display cabinets. Last week, I sat down and chatted with the man behind the force, Dave ‘Boycie’ Lawrence. Besides being one of our Operations wizards, he’s also a keen Hail Caesar player, and his Romans are the pride of his collection.

Dave’s army represents the XIV Legion ‘Gemini’, during the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 AD, and was chosen simply because it’s such an iconic campaign, especially here in the UK. While researching which of the four Legions involved in the invasion he wanted to portray, Dave had a chance encounter with a group of XIV Legion reenactors (it’s more common than you think if you drink in the right pubs!), which sealed the deal for him, and the project was born.

Now, this was back in the dim and distant past of Warlord Games, and we were just about to launch our first-ever plastic kit – the Early Imperial Roman infantry. Being the charming character that he is, Boycie managed to get his hands on a massive pile of pre-production test sprues, which gave him the basis for his force. To get the really ‘regimented’ look for his Legionaries, he divided the three poses on the sprue into their own units, choosing to have each 24-man block represent a single cohort.

Because Dave’s absolutely mad, he’s set himself the challenge of representing the entire Legion, including their supporting Auxiliaries. Some twelve years later, he’s about halfway done, and the project now includes an awesome variety of models from all across our Roman range! One unit in particular I was drawn to are his Eastern Auxiliary Archers – I’ve always thought they were some of the most characterful sculpts in the range, and it’s great to see them in an army – even if they would be a little chilly in the British winters!

Of course, there is something of an elephant in the room here. We’re all used to seeing Romans in glorious, martial red tunics, but Dave’s force is wearing… blue? Before we strung him up by the ankles in the staff room, he was given a chance to explain himself…

As it happens, the red tunics are something of a ‘Hollywood-ism’. While red certainly was favoured as a military colour, it was by no means universal, and the Legions would frequently procure replacement clothing locally when on campaign. Woad, used to produce a blue dye, was readily available in Britain, and would have been a cheap and easy substitute when (presumably much thicker) winter tunics were required. Fair play, Boycie, that is a good answer!

Dave’s method of painting has been refined over the course of this project. To stop himself going completely mad, he tends to paint in batches of eight, and slightly varies the shade of blue between each unit to give a more realistic variation in dyes, as well as a pleasing effect on the tabletop. He usually takes a couple of weeks to finish each unit, working in regular short bursts, and although this has been a very slow-burning project, like most of us he got a lot done over Lockdown. By his reckoning, he ‘only’ needs to do three more cohorts of Legionaries, two more of Auxiliaries, and four and a half cavalry units. Oh, and some more war machines. And some more command stands…

The hardest question to answer for any wargamer is usually to pick their favourite unit from an army, but Dave had a quick answer to hand. He’s put a ton of work into his divisional command stands, using a wide variety of models from across our ranges – can you spot all of them? One of the next stands will be for a Celt-themed Auxiliary division, which will give Dave even more opportunities to flex his creative muscles – we might have to revisit this article in a year or two.

Build Your Own Cohorts

Well-drilled, and clad in his segmented armour the Legionary was the lifeblood of the Roman war machine – there was no kingdom or state that could withstand the unforgiving Legions of the Roman empire…

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