Dimachaerus (Sine Scuto)

Gladiatoris - Dimachaerus (Sine Scuto)


The Dimachaerus fights with two machetes (machaerae) or two swords, one in each hand. It’s a complex and spectacular technique that allows him to make double attacks, even against two different foes at the same time. He protects himself with a helm and metal bracers (manicae) in both arms, but he’s very exposed to enemy attacks.

At Level III, the Dimachaerus gets his Circle of Swords, a special attack that allows him to roll 1 counterattack Damage Die (i.e., not blockable) against a rival in a two-hex radius… this way, he can defeat two enemies with one attack! He also features a reliable special defense, Dancing Swords (+1 Block). And, since Level I, he has Two Swords, a special skill that allows him to reroll 1 Damage Die, even a Fumble (except when counterattacking). Combined with the blue team ability to ignore the first Fumble or Slip, this warrior can disregard up to two Fumbles in every attack; he’s never afraid to miss a strike. He’s rightfully appreciated by lanistae!

Dimachaerus (pl. dimachaeri): Gladiator type who fights with two poignards (machaerae) or with two swords, one in each hand. He normally fights against another dimachaerus. To fight with two swords is demanding, because it requires using one sword to parry the rival’s blows whereas the other sword is used to attack. Therefore, there are few gladiators who choose to fight as dimachaeri. The dimachaerus also uses helmet, manica and greaves (ocreae).

Excerpt from the glossary of GLADIATORIS, checked by Alfonso Mañas.

Design process

Gladiatoris-Dimachaerus of the prototype (Foundry Miniatures, modified)In our prototype, we had a marvelous mini from Foundry Miniatures.

When designing our own Dimachaerus, we started once again from Alfonso Mañas’ initial sketch, and his research data. There are a lot of misunderstandings about this concrete gladiator.

Gladiatoris-Dimachaerus of Alfonso Mañas (April 2014)

Gladiators, the great spectacle of RomeAs I explain in the pertinent part of my book (p. 78), we know the name of this gladiator class thanks to two inscriptions (and because Artemidorus mentions it as a specific gladiator class). We deduce from the etymology that they fought with two machetes (di+machaerus), and because of that, we have identified as dimachaeri three gladiators fighting with two machetes, daggers and swords on visual sources (pics 30, 31 and 33 from my book).

Nevertheless, none of them seems to be equipped with the proper gear for the gladiator class named dimachaerus; looking at pic 30 we see they are two provocatores, in pic 31 he’s a scissor like the ones in pic 38, and in pic 32 they are two essedarii. What can be concluded thenProvocatores?

We can jump to two conclusions. First, it’s obvious that fighting with two machetes or swords was a technique sometimes used by other gladiator class (as in the three pics I talked about before).

But at the same time, there it is certain that a specific gladiator class named this way existed (as Artemidorus said), but no visual representation has survived to these days that would allow us to know how they were equipped (as is the case with the gallus, the samnita, the cataphractus and the andabata). My sketch was an hypothesis. Therefore, in Gladiatoris we can depict the dimachaerus with total freedom (respecting, of course, the general gladiatura conventions): the only thing we have to observe is that they are armed with a machete in each hand.

Alfonso Mañas’ notes on the Dimachaerus.

Gladiatoris - Dimachaerus 'bind him"David early (March 2016)We loved the gear and weapons used by Gannicus, from Spartacus: Gods of the Arena (Michael Hurst, Rick Jacobson and Jesse Warn, 2011), and we wanted something equally spectacular; bracers with shoulderpads and no helm to match with the other blue gladiators.

Alfonso: “Of course he could wear a manica in each arm (in fact, I think it’s logical to think so, since he couldn’t wear a shield). He should also wear two shinpads, because he could attack with any sword.”

The Leopard is the blue team’s Great Beast, and I decorated his shoulders with its fur.

Gladiatoris - Dimachaerus edited by Alfonso MañasAlfonso: “It’s essentially correct, but the pieces’ spirit is not Roman. I mean: he can wear two high shinpads, but they should look like the ones worn by thraex in our sources. The trident is the retiarius‘ weapon and it makes no sense on the dimachaerus… but since it follows the internal logic of the game (it’s the logo for his team), we can use it. But we should present it as in the decorative motifs of the gladiators’ shinpads.

The same goes with the belt: it doesn’t have the shape of a gladiatorial belt and the trident should appear in a Roman way; also, I wouldn’t have tridents on both shinpads and belt: Romans didn’t repeat a motif that much on the same gladiator’s gear. We have to also romanize the subligaculum.

At first sight, it reminded me of the Masters of the Universe action figures. 😉

I’d also remove the leopard furs from his shoulders (absolutely not documented on gladiators or venatores) and I’d put a helm on him (the retiarius was the only gladiator class that fought without a helm).”

Although we had initially agreed on going without the helm, our historian accepted that in case of a female Dimachaera (but finally discarded): “as we have no visual sources for dimachaeri, we could have a female one without helm, as the only two representations of gladiatrices show them without helm (…). I would certainly prefer a female dimachaera to justify some licenses like this one (…). Not wearing a helm was justified in the gladiatrices’ case because they wanted to see their face and hairstyle.”

But we had no choice, as blue gladiators cannot wear more than a little armour (with their only Defense Die at Level I), and Alfonso gave up and accepted our decision (of course, we explain it to our players every time we show our miniature).

DIMACHAERUS_06 bWe started to model some 3D sketches, and trying out several Circle of Swords stances, without not a lot of success. We tried even more stances than in the Retiaria‘s case!

Finally we tackled the issue from another angle: how would a geek with two swords charge into attack? That’s obvious: with both blades pointing to the floor and an angry, ferocious look, Wolverine-style. It’s a great stance to jump into the Arena.

The detailed model looked very fine, and even if we had to fight Alfonso a little about the shinpads, he liked the miniature right from the start.

DIMACHAERUS_ + HulkAlfonso: “It’s also great from the front, David. It reminds me of Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk (The Incredible Hulk, 1978), but that’s not so bad. I’d modify the length of the blades, it’s excessive even for a spatha.”

Haha! Very well, now we had a good nickname form our Dimachaerus Ferrignus. 🙂

The sculptors shortened a little the blades, added back buckles to the belt, and the miniature was ready to fight.