Dacians (60 BC -106 AD)
|1x 3/4Wb or 3Cv||Dacian Command-in-Chief with his retainers.|
|1x 2Lh||Mounted Dacians armed with javelins. Trajan's Column shows a small party of Dacian horsemen that appears to have fallen into a marsh or through thin ice into a river. The Bastarne, reputed to be of germanic origin, may have also fielded some mounted troops.|
|6x 3Wb||Dacian warriors worshipped the god Zalmoxis with human sacrifices and believed that death in battle would earn them a place in heaven with their God. This belief apparently made Dacians fanatical fighters, but also encouraged resort to suicide to avoid capture in defeat.|
|1x 3Bd||Falxmen. The Falx (falces) was a heavy, curved blade swung with two hands. In some drawings, it appears to be a scythed blade attached to the end of a stout wooden handle. In others, it is more sword-like, taking on an "S" shape. It could easily remove a limb, causing such apprehension among the Roman soldiery that special groups of legionaries were outfitted in arm and leg armour (vambraces and greeves) as opponents for the falxmen. The Bastarnae were renowned falxmen, and referred to by Appian as "the bravest nation of all."|
|2x 2Ps||Bow armed Dacian skirmishers.|
|1x 3Bd or 3Kn or 2Ps or Art||More falxman, Iazyges Sarmantian allies, skirmishers or captured Roman artillery.|
The Dacians are foes of the Illyrians (I/47), Gauls (II/11), Sarmatians (II/26), Marian Romans (II/49), fellow Dacians (II/52), and Early Imperial Romans (II/56) including one Marcus Ulpius Traianus (Trajan) in particular. The Carpi also fight Middle and Later Roman (East).
A low aggression, rough terrain army, the Dacian warband and psiloi will be able to use their native hilly, wooded countryside to good advantage. Blade gives some stability and Light Horse the threat of raiding the camp, while the option of a Knight or Artillery provide useful tools against foot or mounted opponents respectively.
The primary tactic for Dacians against Imperial Romans will be to get their Warband (and the optional Sarmatian Knight) into close contact with the Roman Blades, while the psiloi and Light Horse serve primarily to protect the flanks, screen the Roman cavalry, and/or provide flank overlaps.
Against the Knight-heavy Sarmatians, the best strategy is to retire within the walls of the oppidas. But lacking that option, choose the Artillery element and a mounted General and let the rest of your army use channeling terrain to nip at the flanks of the advancing horsemen.
The Illyrians auxilia army matches up reasonably well against the Dacian warband, denying the Dacians the advantage of bad terrain. A Cavalry General and Sarmatian knight option coupled with a lightly terrained board may do the trick.
Dacian warband against Gallic warband promises a back and force shoving match. Gallic chariots/cavalry pose a threat unless neutralized with a Dacian Cavalry General and Sarmatian knight option.
Marian Romans offer a feast of tempting Blade targets for Dacian warband, but you can't ignore the Roman equites.
A palisaded circular hillfort or section of stone city wall (oppida) nestled on a hill are typical fortifications. Given the Dacians' reputation as raiders, a cart stuffed with loot and/or procession of bearers seems appropriate.
The typical Dacian soldier carried a large oval shield, short sword and javelins. Body armour was rare; soldiers wore a basic tunic split at the neck and sides, with baggy pants gathered and tied at the ankles. Cloaks are seasonal. Stripes and checks are appropriate, as well as natural, undyed wools and cloth. More well-to-do Dacians would have decorative patterns on the hems of their tunics and cloaks and/or fringed cloaks.
Rulers of Dacian society showed their rank by wearing caps and better quality clothing. Leaders might have Sarmatian-style armor and helmets. Osprey shows a Dacian chieftain wearing a bronze Phyrgian helmet, iron leaf-scale armor, black wood tunic and trousers embroidered in red and white at the hem and lower legs, and a "tartan" wool cloak.
Based on the Dacians depicted on the Roman memorial at Adamclisi, shields, scabbards, and quivers could be quite elaborately decorated. Veni Vidi Vici sells Dacian shield transfers (BB2) for 25mm scale.
Bastarnae (left) were reputed to fight bare-chested, with baggy pants, a skull cap, and their falx.
Dacians are available in 15mm scale from Donnington, Essex, Lancashire, and Rafm. Essex' range includes: (DC1) Light Cavalry, (DC2) Asstd. javelinmen, (DC3) Asst'd. spearmen, (DC4) Asstd. Falxmen, (DC5) Asstd. archers, (DC6) Command pack, and (DC7) Bastarnae Falxmen.
Foundry offers an extensive Dacian range in 25mm, including 5 chieftains, 2 standard bearers, and 17 warriors in assorted poses. Old Glory and Amazon also offer 25mm Dacian ranges.
Newline Design offers a range of Germans and Dacians in 20mm, including the must-have falxmen in baggy pants.
Pendraken offer Dacians in 10mm.
Later Celtic/Gallic and German figures may also work if carefully selected for dress and equipment.
Trajan's campaign against the Dacians is recorded in detail in a carved column. One of the principal resources regarding the weapons and heraldry of the Early Imperial Roman army, it also depicts Dacians in numerous scenes of battle with the Romans. Useful carvings also appear on the "Tropaeum Trajani" a victory memorial build at Adamclisi in Dobrogea.
Christopher Webber has an excellent page on the Dacians, including pictures, historical notes, and links (many of which are currently broken).
One of Osprey's early offerings is Rome's Enemies: Germanics and Dacians (Men-At-Arms 129), by Peter Wilcox (Stackpole, Dec. 1984), which includes color plates of typical Dacian warriors.
Last Updated: March 14, 2004
Questions, comments, suggestions welcome.
Send them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.
Credit: 54mm painted Dacian from the St. Petersburg Collection.