Finally I find the time to picture the last of my first four SAGA points here. I had started with a bunch of bow-armed levies, but they were a real pain. More on that when they are finished and ready. Hence, I overcame my issues with painting horses and pulled an elite formation of cavalrymen up the list.
Despite conventional view mounted troopers weren't necessarily considered an elite. They were better paid for sure. But since Roman soldiers suffered heavy deductions by default to remunerate for their equipment and provisions, it is likely that a cavalryman was also charged for his horse's maintenance. Hence his additional pay would've been just a compensation for that. Of course, mounted troops were literally never that "down to the earth", and they often shared a certain self-concept of superiority (in fact, that's why mounted servants could transform themselves into noble knights during the Middle Ages). However, Roman cavalrymen weren't obviously trained to attack formed infantry. Rather they would've tried to outmanoeuvre enemy formations or mop up those already on the run.
SAGA handles this quite nicely as it makes fighting from horseback a real advantage only for specially trained warriors (e.g. Norman knights). That seems adequate for the 3rd century, when infantry tactics were still predominant in the Roman army. Of course, at the end of the same century things had eventually started to change, as mobility and shock trooper abilities became more important, institutionalised in field armies made up largely of cavalry.
Actually, I had fun painting these fellows. The horses are particularly well sculpted, and I love their ornate gear, especially the shaffrons, which are traditionally interpreted as parade equipment (a nonsense!). For the riders I chose hexagonal shields, a shape variably attributed to Celtic/Germanic cavalrymen, provincial or Imperial guard troopers (equites singulares/praetorians) or even seaborne soldiers (classiarii). Despite the confusion, these shields have a particular look that says 'elite!'. To emphasise this I gave them individually coloured equipment and clothes as well. The yellow crests are, again, inspired by one of Peter Connolly's illustrations.
These men are to protect the warband's leader, who's already painted, varnished and photographed. So, stay tuned!
Painted July 2012. Models by A&A Miniatures, decals by Little Big Men Studios.