Sunday, January 31, 2021

NT Rules: Ancient Army Lists V - Crusades

 Let me first start out by saying that the title for this series - the Ancient Army Lists (for Niel Thomas' rules from Wargaming: An Introduction) is a bit of misnomer for this particular entrance in the series.  By this point in his timeline, Thomas has moved on from the ancient world, into the firm middle of the Medieval world.  The armies covered here are those involved in the middle and later Crusading period.

As a reminder, the earlier articles in the series are:

 As I pointed out in some of the earlier articles, there are many additional lists for each of those periods covered in the longer, and more complete, treatment on the topic in Thomas' book dedicated to this period - Ancient and Medieval Wargaming.  Those rules have a little more to them, and a little more nuance, than the rules in the Introduction book.  Having said that, in many cases the army lists will transport to the earlier book.  What is different, is the grouping of the periods.  In his more advanced book, Thomas, for instance, groups what are here list periods I, II, and III into one chapter, entitled the Classical Period.  The army lists covered here from the Introductory book are present, with additions of other armies from the period such as Parthians and Numidians.

What is interesting, however, is that the army lists from the Introductory book jump from the Imperial Rome period, all they way up to a thousand years later, into the Later Crusades.  Absent are Late Antiquity, the Early Medieval period (or Dark Ages), and of course the Viking Age, if you choose to interject such between Early and High medieval periods.  There are some fascinating armies and wargaming possibilities covered in that millennium between Second century AD and Twelfth century AD.

However, space in the Introduction book is limited, and perhaps a better choice of Medieval representation could not be made than to cover the Crusades - an iconic chapter of medieval warfare that is always popular.  Thomas skips a general introduction to this period (covering 1180AD - 1290AD), rather he chooses to get right into the first army list - the Later Crusader army.  This is representing the Western Europeans armies on crusade in the Levant, during the events generally thought of the Third through Sixth crusades.  This covers the battles of the Crusader states (Kingdom of Jerusalem, Principality of Antioch, etc.) as well as the battles between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.  It continues to cover the armies of the west, up until the events of 1289 (Tripoli) and 1291 (Acre).


 Here is a list of the units in the Later Crusader army:

Knights Templar (Heavy Cavalry, Extra-Heavy Armor, Fanatical) 0-1 unit
Knights Hospitaller (Heavy Cavalry, Extra-Heavy Armor, Fanatical) 0-1 unit
Other Knights (Heavy Cavalry, Extra Heavy Armor, Elite) 0-1 unit
Turcopoles (Light Cavalry, Light Armor, Bow) 1-3 units
Infantry (Mixed) 2-6 units

The Infantry is Mixed, and here that means that each 4 stand unit has 2 stands of Heavy Infantry (with Heavy Armor), and 2 stands of Heavy Archers (with Medium Armor and Crossbows).

This army has two special rules associated with it:

  1. Fanatic units never have to check morale, but they may never withdraw from combat.
  2. Mixed units will always have the Heavy Infantry targeted first, until only Archers remain.

The Later Crusader army is for the player that likes to charge his enemy, and stomp him into the dust.  Not that this will always work, but it is hard to envision the army being successful any other way.

The army list that is presented as an opposition to the Later Crusaders, is the Saracen Army, which can represent the different armies of the region who were opposed to the Crusaders and their establishment of states and principalities (Saladin's Ayyubid Egyptian army, or the Fatimids, Khwarismians, or even the Mameluks).  This army is an interesting foil to the Later Crusader army.

The Saracen player can choose his army from these units:

Guard Cavalry (Heavy Cavalry, Medium Armor, Bow, Elite) 1-2 units
Heavy Cavalry (Heavy Cavalry, Medium Armor, Bow) 1-2 units
Turcomans (Light Cavalry, Light Armor, Bow) 1-2 units
Infantry (Heavy Archers, Light Armor, Bow) 2-4 units

The general ruleset does not allow Heavy Cavalry to be armed with bow, however that and some other concerns are covered by special rules for this army:

  1. Saracen Heavy Cavalry may be equipped with Bow
  2. Saracen Heavy Cavalry may move before they fire
  3. Saracen Heavy Cavalry are allowed to make a 180 degree turn (about face) any number of times during movement
  4. Saracen Heavy Archers move as Warband, however they fight and shoot as Heavy Archers

This army allows for, and may demand, considerable more finesse than the Later Crusaders army.  Every unit is armed with a bow, which helps, however with the exception of a pair-up between Turcopoles and Turcomans, the Later Crusader has better armor, and often, better morale.

A really interesting battle would be between a Fatimid army (this list) and a Sunni foe, such as the Ayyubid army (also this list). 

Finally, this section also introduces a third army.  The Mongols, which are according to the author fought just about everyone (including the forces represented by the Saracen list given here), except for the later Crusaders.  More about that below...


 The Mongol player has this army list to choose from:

Guard Calvary (Heavy Cavalry, Bow, Heavy Armor, Elite) 0-1 unit
Cavalry (Heavy Cavalry, Bow, Light Armor, Elite) 1-3 units
Horse Archers (Light Cavalry, Bow, Light Armor, Elite) 4-7 units

This is an all mounted force, unlike the Saracens which include infantry archers.  It will make for an interesting foe to fight the Saracens, and others.  The army, as presented in the book has a few special rules associated with it:

  1. Mongol Heavy Cavalry may be equipped with bow
  2. Mongol Heavy Cavalry may move before they fire
  3. Mongol Heavy Cavalry may make an about face (180 degrees) any number of times during their move, without penalty

 These of course are almost identical to the Saracen list of special rules, which is what makes them an especially worthy foe for the Saracens. The addition of the foot archers for the Saracens might make all the difference in the world, if the terrain is friendly.  However, if the terrain is mostly open, with little space for the Saracen infantry to have a rough spot (woods, rubble, etc) to anchor against, then they may be overrun by the Mongols.  It would be a good fight.


One other way to fight the Mongols would be against a Northern Crusades army.  This is something, here, of my own inventing, but owes a lot to similar army lists in other games.  I would rework the Later Crusaders army list into a Northern Crusades army list as this:

Teutonic Knights (Heavy Cavalry, Extra-Heavy Armor, Fanatical) 1-2 units
German Knights (Heavy Cavalry, Extra Heavy Armor, Elite) 0-1 unit
Lithuanian Cavalry (Light Cavalry, Bow, Light Armor) 0-2 units
Sergeants (Heavy Cavalry, Heavy Armor) 1-3 units
Foot Sergeants (Mixed) 2-4 units

The Foot Sergeant units are Mixed, and here that means that each 4 stand unit has 2 stands of Heavy Infantry (with Heavy Armor), and 2 stands of Heavy Archers (with Medium Armor and Crossbows).

This army has two special rules associated with it:

  1. Fanatic units never have to check morale, but they may never withdraw from combat.
  2. Mixed units will always have the Heavy Infantry targeted first, until only Archers remain.

 This last army list could be a challenge to the Mongols.  It would still have a hard time in the battle, as the Teutonic Order did have a hard time vs the Mongols in history.  With the Fanatic Order knights, and the Elite other knights, this is an interesting mix of morale grades, but it would be very interesting (and fun) to field.  Maybe a playtest should come up soon...

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

NT Rules: Ancient Army Lists IV - Imperial Rome

 The fourth period that Neil Thomas covers for his Ancient Warfare rules in Wargaming: An Introduction is focused on the Imperial Roman period, or as it is titled in the book, "Imperium Romanum: 25 BC to AD 130".  This covers the Roman army, following the Marian reforms (which took place during the Republic Period), and beginning in 25 BC with the rise of Augustus as the first Caesar of the Imperium.

This period is focused on the wars between the Romans and their more northern Barbarians, the Germans and the Gauls.  The period starts, as stated, with Augustus, so after Julius Caesar\"s famous campaign in Gaul, however the army list looks very much like it could be used to represent Julius\" famous exploits.

The book presents two army lists for this period, one representing the Romans, and one representing a norther Gallo-German Barbarian army.  

The author presents the fact that at the scale of the rules, the differences between the two armies (Gauls, and Germans) are negligible.  Other rule sets, such as the classic WRG army lists, present differences in troop types, morale, training, weapons, and even fighting density (the Germans generally being in denser formations for most of the represented tribes).  Those rules (the WRG rules), however, have a much more tactical focus, than these, in terms of classifying the troops.  Here, Thomas has taken the approach similar to Phil Sabin in his works (such as Lost Battles) whereby ancient infantry is simply divided up into heavy infantry and light infantry (based on the fact that heavy infantry is expected to stand in the battle line).  One further distinction made, at least here, is with Warband, which are somewhat lesser heavy infantry, but also with the ability to fight well in rough terrain.

 The Roman army here is represented by the following units:

  • Legionaries (heavy infantry, heavy armor, Elite) 3-6 units
  • Auxiliary Infantry (warband, medium armor) 1-3 units 
  • Auxiliary Archers (light infantry, bow, light armor) 0-1 unit
  • Artillery 0-1 unit 
  • Auxiliary Cavalry (heavy cavalry, medium armor, Elite) 1-2 units


The Roman player is then presented with fielding a battle line of Legion units, with a few support choices.  The Elite cavalry is nice, possibly representing mercenary or foederati tribal cavalry, but with better equipment (hence the medium armor).  But, it is not present in sufficient numbers to deliver a winning battle, only a supporting role.  This leaves the Roman player in the enviable position of playing an archetypical Roman battle plan - a steady onslaught of well equipped, well trained infantry. 




The Barbarian army is composed of the following units and availability:

  • Warriors (warband, light armor ) 3-6 units

  • Skirmishes (light infantry, javelin, light armor, levy) 1-2 units

  • Archers (light infantry, bow, light armor, levy) 0-1 unit

  • Chief’s Bodyguard (warband, light armor, Elite) 0-1 unit

  • Cavalry (heavy cavalry, light armor, Elite) 1-3 units

The Barbarian player is faced with the fact that his army is outclassed, as in real life. He must rely on a ruse de guerre or clever use of rough terrain, in order to balance the odds.


Several options exist for a more balanced game. First, the Barbarian player may be given either a few additional units, or additional rough terrain.  Second, the Barbarian warband units can be made larger (6 stands), this is what the Tactica rules do.  Third, battles could be fought as part of a campaign, or series of games, with the Romans having a more difficult time of recovering losses between battles.  I had an article in Yaah! magazine featuring such a campaign for Commands and Colors, it would work with these rules, as well.


There are many other possible army lists available for this time period, some of which are in Thomas’ longer book on Ancient and Medieval Wargaming, but here these are the only two.  Satisfying games could be fought with Roman v. Roman, as a civil war or rebellious province scenario. Equally, a war between two Barbarian tribes might be fun.


For fun, and to recreate a British Barbarian army, replace the Cavalry and Chief’s Bodyguard units with Light Chariots (make one of them Elite). That should give a satisfying Boudicca’s revolt feel.



Spanish Armada paper ships

I got some nice Christmas loot from very fine people who were nice enough to gift me.  I used part of it to order some books, and one of them is the Spanish Armada book by Peter Dennis.  This is a period I am interested in, but will probably never build models for, so using paper ships works fine for me. The book also has a nice bit of introductory history, some paper modeling tips, and a set of wargaming rules.



The ships can be put together with simple rectangular backgrounds, if you want to build them fast, or you can trim the white away, and have nicer looking models (the picture below was pasted to the Facebook Paperboys group, by Peter Dennis himself, showing the models trimmed nicely).



If I get to these in 2021, and do a game, I will post pictures. Also a review of the rules is coming.  There are a bunch of books in the Paper Soldiers Series, including many on land campaigns, and at least one more naval book - on Trafalgar.  It might be on my list, after all I still have some Christmas loot.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

19th Century Imaginations during the pandemic

One thing I have been working on, during the pandemic, has been the gathering of a large collection of 15mm figures related to the Russian forces of the Russo-Turkish war of 1878-79.

This includes Russian units, and also Bulgarian and Romanian.  Eventually, I would like to also do a similar sized force representing the Turkish forces, but in the meantime I am playing around with some Imaginations ideas for gaming.  That leaves with considering different fictional match ups.

in the past, my 19th century imaginary foes were the Margravate of Furstenberg, and the Cantons of Rumpwhistle. In 28mm, I would use ACW union troops for Furstenberg and Confederates for Rumpwhistle. I also introduced a third, relatively neutral nation based on Danish forces - the Kingdom of Elsinore.  Sadly, I sold off those 28mm figures, but I retain the fictional navies that I built.

Now that I am switching gears to 15mm, I can resurrect the army of Furstenberg, based on my Mexican-American war U.S. troops.  Rumpwhistle is out of luck in this conflict, except as a naval power (I can use my Spanish American war Spanish forces as Rumpwhistle colonial troops).  The new nation will likely be the over extended Romani-Bombastia Empire (Romani for short).

In the west, Romani has hegemony over several client states (notably Vulgaria, and Bromania).  Both are home to ethnic Romani peoples, and border Furstenberg and several smaller Balkanized states.  Howeve, in the vast eastern hinterlands of Romani, there are border skirmishes the Chow Empire of the Jade Dragon in the north, and the dangerous mountain regions of Boruckistan in the south.  The Romani Emperors have long sought after control of seaports on the Chow Sea, but those are also contested by naval and colonial forces from Furstenberg, Rumpwhistle and other nations.

This will give me plenty of scope for all sorts of fictional conflicts, using figures I already have, as well as naval actions.  The trick will be devising rules and games that will reward solo play, and in a small battle space.

Pictures of troops and notional maps will follow.  I hope to post a battle report soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Battle of Strasbourg - a committee game

In order to make up some gaming time, while the whole world is shut down in a semi-quarantine state due to the Novel Corona Virus pandemic, I hosted and refereed a committee game based on the battle of Strasbourg, 357AD, where Caesar Julian (and a council of advisors) decided what to do in response to King Chnodomar, head of a Germanic horde (Franci, Burgundi, and Alamanni), crossing the Rhine river (at Argentoratum - modern day Strasbourg) into Gaul.

Below are the briefings, maps, etc, that I provided the players.

From the Battle of Strasbourg Wikipedia page

Julian - You are Caesar Julian responsible for the defence of Gaul.  You are new to military command and it is very important that you make a name for yourself with the troops and increase your reputation.  The Emperor Constantius has been successfully campaigning in the East.  He is jealous of you and has been undermining everything you have tried to do.  He has said that you are not capable of dealing with such a military problem as this and consequently has dispatched troops under one of his generals (Richomer) to deal with the barbarian incursion.  You have to decide whether you will wait for Constantius (and his main army), thereby risking losing credibility in the eyes of your soldiers, or attack now and secure fame for yourself.

You were raised in a Greek speaking household, and spent your youth at schools in Athens.  You were raised as a Christian, but your study of the ancient philosophers has convinced you that it would be better for the empire if it returned to it's Pagan Roman roots.  This position is not always popular with the men.

Your inclination is to attack now before Constantius' troops come and take all the glory.  But being a prudent man, you have called a council of your senior officers to ask their advice.  After you have listened all you want (at least three game turns), you will make your decision.  Remember, the only thing worse than losing glory to Constantius, would be to fight on your own, and lose.

What you know about your council:
Sebastian - Your best officer, although a German by birth.  One of the best officers in the Roman army.  An excellent tactician and very popular with the troops.  He has recently replace Trajan as Master of Infantry.

Victor - A Sarmatian by birth.  He is known for his cautious approach.  He is the Master of Cavalry.  He is responsible for scouting reports.

Richomer - Master of Offices.  German born.  He commands the Household Guard of Emperor Constantius, who have arrived to assist you.  He has come with a message telling you in part to share the danger and to not rashly commit yourself to the risks of decisive action, single handedly.

Trajan - Former Master of Infantry.  Born in Rome, proud of being a true Latin.  You had him replaced by Sebastian because Trajan is lazy, incompetent, and he was very critical of you in front of the men.  He is dangerous and probably has his own eye on the throne.  Be careful.  However, he has friends in the court of Constantius.

Equitius - A kinsman of yours, and Marshal of the Court (the Court of Constantinople, the capitol of the Empire).  He has a high sense of honour and you respect him.  Just like you he is very respectful of the old ways, and has high regard for the Senate.  He is the highest ranking Civillian Official present in all of Gaul, second only to you in most matters.  But he is a civillian without a military appreciation for things.

Potentius - A very highly regarded junior officer.  The young soldiers like him, the old soldiers respect him.  He is going to achieve great things.  He is the son of the former Caesar of the West, but you were not responsible for assasinating your predecessor.  You don't think Potentius has any ill will towards you.



Sebastian - You were born a German, but have been a loyal Roman soldier your whole life.  You are Master of Infantry of Julian's army (the field army of the Western Provinces).  The only infantry you do not command, are the garrison troops of the fortresses.  You are a capable, seasoned officer and very popular with the troops.  You are without a doubt the best commander on Julian's staff and what you say carries a lot of weight.  Many of the junior officers will support you, whatever you say.  Trajan is your enemy, as he was the previous Master of Infantry, but was removed from office by Julian and replaced by you.  He has connections with Constantius, however, so Julian retains him as a senior officer.

You, like many of your men, are a Christian.  You have nothing against Romans of other religions, but the one difference you have with Julian, is he wants to return back to the older Roman pagan ways.

Your aim is to get Julian to attack the barbarians now.  If he does, you will probably gain a great deal of credit for victory, as it is well known that you are his best general.  If he waits, Constantius' generals will certainly steal the glory.

What you know about the council:

Victor  - A Sarmatian by birth.  Master of the Cavalry.  Cautious.  He is very beloved by his horsemen, mostly because he kept all of them alive during the recent civil war.  He is very protective of his cavalry, but is still a good commander in battle.

Richomer  - Master of Offices.  German born.  He commands the Household Guard of Emperor Constantius.  A very good officer, with very good troops. 

Trajan  - Former Master of Infantry.  Born in Rome, proud of being a true Latin.  He hates you, you took his job.  He was not very good at his job, but blames Julian and You for losing it.  Be careful.  However, he has friends in the court of Constantius.

Equitius  - Marshal of the Court (the Court of Constantinople, the capitol of the Empire).  He is distantly related to Julian.  Very important, but not to the army.

Potentius - A very highly regarded junior officer.  He is the son of the former Caesar of the West.  You like him, but do not know where his loyalties are.


Victor - You were born a Sarmatian, but you have been a loyal Roman soldier your whole life.  You are Master of Cavalry and equal in rank with Sebastian.  Together you are the senior army commanders, although Trajan is along, out of respect.  You don't like this situation - you have spent the past decade very carefully keeping your cavalry alive and well, in spite of the bloody civil war fighting.  For that reason, many of them are seasoned veterans, and very loyal to you.  This coming fight that Sebastian and Julian are itching for will be very dangerous and could cost many lives.

You, like many of your men, are a Christian.  You have nothing against Romans of other religions, but the one difference you have with Julian, is he wants to return back to the older Roman pagan ways.

You are responsible for the border scouting along the Rhine river, and you think that the barbarians do not pose a pressing threat, and you would be better of waiting for reinforcements to make certain of victory.  Your aim is to convince Julian to wait.  If it is going to be a battle, your aim is to keep your cavalry safe.

What you know about the council:

Sebastian - A German by birth.  Master of the Infantry.  An excellent commander, and not afraid of a fight.  He is very loyal to Julian, and will see this battle as a way to make a name for the young Caesar.

Richomer - Master of Offices.  He commands the Household Guard of Emperor Constantius.  A very good officer, with very good troops.  He was born a German.

Trajan - Former Master of Infantry.  Born in Rome, and somewhat proud of being a true Latin.  He hates Sebastian, who took his job.  It is unsure what his feelings are towards Constantius.  He may not be the best battlefield commander.

Equitius - Marshal of the Court (the Court of Constantinople, the capitol of the Empire).  He is distantly related to Julian.  Very important, but not to the army.

Potentius - A very highly regarded junior officer.  He is the son of the former Caesar of the West.  You like him, but do not know where his loyalties are.


Richomer - You were born a German, but have been a loyal Roman your whole life.  You are Master of Officers, the commander of the Imperial Household Guard, sent by the Emperor Constantius to tell Julian that he should wait for reinforcements.

Personally, you think Constantius is just jealous of Julian as the barbarians don't seem so strong.  For political reasons you must convey Constantius' message and be cautious of contradicting him.  Your aim is to give Julian the best advice you can without damaging your standing with Constantius.  If there is to be a battle, your 2,000 household guards are the best troops in Julian's army.

What you know about the council:

Sebastian - Master of Infantry for Julian.  A very good commander.  Maybe the best in Gaul.  He was born a German.

Victor - Master of Cavalry for Julian.  Cautious, but good.  Has miraculously kept his cavalry alive during the recent, bloody civil wars.  He was born a Sarmatian.

Trajan- A senior officer.  You don't know much about him.  He was born in Rome, a true Latin.

Equitius - Marshal of the Court (the Court of Constantinople, the capitol of the Empire).  Supportive of the government, and that means the Emperor.  But you don't think he cares which Emperor.

Potentius - A very highly regarded junior officer.  You don't know why he is in the council, but he is likable.


Trajan -  You used to be the Commander of Infantry, until Constantius replaced the former Caesar of the West, with this young upstart Julian.  For some reason he doesn't like you, and replaced you with that popinjay Sebastian.  You have heard some ugly things about Sebastian's past, and when you spread rumors and spoke ill of him, you were replaced.  You were born in Rome, and represent one of the true Latins, who should hold all the real positions of power in the Empire. 

Your aim is to discredit Sebastian.  You don't really care who gets credit for the battle, Julian or Constantius.  In battle you will not command the main battle line, but probably the secondary infantry (auxilliaries, archers, etc.)

What you know about the rest of the council:

Sebastian - You don't like him. A German by birth. He has your old job. Not fair.

Victor - A good officer of Cavalry.  A Sarmatian by birth.  But what good has the Cavalry every done?  And he is a Sarmatian! Victor tried to stay out of the fight all during the civil wars, maybe he is a coward?

Richomer - The officer of the Household Guard.  A German by birth.  Here on Constantius' orders.  Maybe if you work well with him, on Constantius orders you may replace Sebastian?

Equitius  - A high ranking civilian.  He is a Greek by birth.  He controls the paychests of the soldiers, and also is very loyal to the capitol (Constantinople).

Potentius - Another cavalry officer.  For some reason the other officers (Sebastian and Victor) like him.


Equitius - You are Curator Palatii, Marshal of the Court.  You are the highest ranking official in Gaul, except for Caesar Julian.  Julian is a distant cousin.  You are Greek born.  You are a civilian with only limited military experience, however you control the paychests, and have been asked by Julian to keep the soldiers up to date on pay.  You are very conscious of your position and feel yourself above all this military riffraff, especially those who rose from the ranks of barbarians, like Sebastian, Richomer and Victor.  From your perspective, it seems more prudent to wait for reinforcements but you will advise whatever seems honourable for you to try and impress Julian.  You are very loyal to the capital at Constantinople, and to whomever is Emperor.  Is it possible that Julian will make a better Emperor than Constantius?  It might be good for the stability of the Empire to have a learned man in charge.

What you know about the rest of the council:

Sebastian: A senior officer, who was born as a German.  He is a good leader, or so the other military men tell you.

Victor:  A senior officer, who was born as a Sarmatian.  Also a good leader, but you understand that he is very cautious.  His men are responsible for scouting, and may be useful to try to get parlay messages out to the German leaders.

Trajan: A senior officer, who was born as a true Latin, in Rome.  He is currently out of favor, and was replaced by Sebastian in his job as leader of the Infantry.

Richomer: You have had dealings with Richomer before.  Although he was born a German, he has a taste for the finer things in life.  But he is also a first rate military man.  He commands Constantius' household guard, and will be sure to keep an eye open for those who are loyal to the Emperor, and those who are loyal rather to Julian.  Be careful of him.

Potentius: A young man.  Like all young men, he is more interested in women than he should be.  Perhaps that is a weakness?  The other military men like him, perhaps he shows promise that you just don't see.


Potentius: You are a junior officer, but from a very noble family which adds weight to your opinion.  Your father was the previous Caesar of the West, however, he was kiled by his own men at the end of the recent Civil War.

You have found a home in the army, and are a very skilled cavalry officer.  You hope to rise in the army, and want your record and achievements to recommend you to higher service in the Empire.  You admire successful senior officers like Sebastian and Victor.

You want to attack now and get the battle over with.  If you wait for reinforcements, the barbarians might do untold damage.

What you know about the council:

Sebastian: A senior officer, commander of the Infantry.  Very responsible, and very talented.  Your father and his men spoke of Sebastian as if he were the best general in Gaul.

Victor: Another senior officer, commander of the Cavalry. Also very responsible and beloved by his men.  The junior officers under him tell you that Victor is extremely popular with his men, because he kept them out of the recent Civil War battles, and kept most of them alive, when so many other Roman soldiers were killed on one side or the other.

Trajan: A senior officer, but one you want to be like.  He has a reputation for being lazy and incompetent, but for some reason, he served on your Father's staff, as his master of Infantry.

Equitius: A civilian.  He is very important at court, and is very loyal to the Empire.  You don't think he is a military man.  He seems to know many important women, and who knows?  A politically connected wife might be good for your military career.

Richomer: Another legendary senior officer.  He is the Master of Offices for Emperor Constantius, that means he is the commander of the Emperor's Household Guards.  He has brought 2,000 elite guardsmen here to help Julian.  He also has brought messages from the Emperor.



The idea for the game came from one of the Wargaming in History volumes - Goths, Huns and Romans by Simon McDowell.  As detailed in the book, the ideas for particulars in the scenario are based on Valens' battle of Adrianople, but using the terrain and historical persons from the Julian situation.  It was a lot of fun, and the players had a good time.  I think next time I try this, I will insert some more structure, as it was too easy for the more eager players to overshadow the less eager participants (that could have been a product of being online, though).




Thursday, March 19, 2020

NT Rules: Ancient Army Lists III - Punic Wars

The third period of armies covered for the Ancient Warfare rules in the Wargaming: An Introduction book is the Punic Wars.  This is a great period of history to study, and also a great topic for wargaming, and these armies are interesting.  Neil Thomas handles it well, by presenting two versions of the armies, one for the main part of the campaigning when Hannibal was in Italy.  Then he gives a second set reflecting the battle of Zama where we start to see some brilliance on the Roman side.

Hannibal was able to use his mixed army with great success for what I think are two reasons. First, he has a good mixture of forces at his control, and second he was a military genius.  Years ago, I read Tony Bath's Hannibal's Campaigns, which is perfectly written for a wargamer, taking care to detail the armies and battles very nicely. Another great source is Warfare in the Classical World by John Warry. Warry has an informative chapter on the Punic Wars, but really there are a ton of references and resources out there on this rich period.  Both books, and a library of others, can be found at Amazon.


Thomas gives a good army list for Carthage, showing the variety of troops.  There are enough Infantry units to have a battle line, supported by elephants, and a variety of cavalry and skirmish infantry.

1-3 units African Infantry (heavy infantry, light armor)     
1-3 units Gauls/Spaniards (Warband, light armor)               
1-2 units Skirmishers (light infantry, javelin, light armor, Levy)       
0-2 units Elephants                         
1-3 units Numidian Cavalry (light cavalry, javelin, light armor)    
1-2 units Gallic/Spanish Cavalry (heavy cavalry, light armor, Elite)

The Infantry units are respectable, and the elephants present a choice. They are a tough foe for the Romans, but since they are one stand units, they will crumble fast.  The skirmishers and Numidians are extremely useful, but won't win a battle on their own.  And the same goes for the Gallic horse.  This is a tough army to run since we aren't all Hannibal Barca, but it does present some problems for the Roman player. 

The Roman army, however, makes up for a lack of diversity, by  having some heavier units.

4-7 units Hastati and Principes (heavy infantry, medium armor)
0-1 units Triarii (heavy infantry, heavy armor, Elite)      
1-2 units Velites (light infantry, javelin, light armor)    
0-1 units Roman Cavalry (heavy cavalry, medium armor)         

The Velites will win man-to-man and unit-to-unit vs the Carthaginian skirmishers, if he can close. The Roman Cavalry will probably fare poorly vs the Gallic Cavalry.  That leaves the impressive battle line Infantry. Can they withstand both the elephants and the warband?  The triarii are a luxury item, but taking them leaves little room for support troops.  It comes down to a matchup pairing the discipline of Roman Infantry, vs Carthaginian finesse.


As mentioned, there is a second version of each army(Carthage and Rome) representing the period of fighting where Rome grew much more aggressive, strategically.  This was under the command of Scipio, when he pushed the war out of Italy and back to North Africa.

At this time, the Gauls were beginning to lose some faith in their Carthage allies, so the list represents a situation where the Gallic (or Spanish/Iberian) soldiery was still willing to fight for Carthage (promises of pay or booty), the Gallic/Spanish Cavalry is no longer available. Perhaps the Nobles sensed a futile effort? They were willing to fight in Europe (Italy), but reluctant to go to Africa?

The second big change is that the majority of the Numidian now saw the situation as being allied to Rome, a better deal than Carthage.

Finally, to reflect the hardening of some of the African Infantry, there are now some proper veterans n the army, fighting as an elite cadre.

To reflect these changes, change the two cavalry lines on the Carthaginian army list, to the following three lines:

0-1 units Numidian Cavalry (light Cavalry, javelin, light armor)
0-1 units Carthaginian Citizen Cavalry (Heavy Cavalry, Medium Armor, Elite)
0-1 units Hannibal's veterans (heavy infantry, heavy armor, Elite)

The Romans, after years of fighting Hannibal now have a different mix of troops, which includes their new comrades the Numidian, these changes occur.

Reduce the number of Hastati and Prncipes units, to 3-6 units.
Numidian Cavalry are now available (light cavalry, javelin, light armor) 1-3 units

With these changes, the later battles of the war can be fought.

Friday, March 6, 2020

NT Rules: Ancient Army Lists II - Alexander the Great

The second period of armies for the Ancient Warfare rules in Wargaming: An Introduction, covers the army of Alexander the Great, and his chief foe - Persia under Darius III.

The army list in the book is listed as covering the period from 340-323BC.  Several of the major battles of the period are against the Persians - and indeed, the two army lists presented are for Macedonia (under Alexander), and the Achaemenid Empire (Persia, under Darius III).  There were other battles, other than against the Persians. 

In the beginning of the period, while Alexander is still just prince, under Phillip, he fights one of his most famous battles, Chaeronea (338BC). His foe at this engagement is a Greek style polis army, with Thebans and Athenians present.  In fact, the book suggests that for such an army, the Greek Army list from the previous period be used, with the modification that the hoplites be modified to having Medium Armor, instead of the Heavy Armor.



The other adversaries that Alexander faces, that are not represented here in this article, include the Scythians (light horse archers, from the Black Sea area) at the battle of Jaxartes 329BC.  Also, the Indian army of the Pauravas at the battle of the Hydaspes 326BC.  Both of these armies would be fascinating to see, and they are represented in Neil Thomas' later, more detailed treatment of ancient warfare, in Ancient and Medieval Wargaming.

Other than the battles listed above, the other non-Persian foes that Alexander faced, were always during sieges (and the campaign in the Swat valley region around the Khyber Pass - the battles fought against the locals were very one-sided).  And so armed with army lists for Alexander, and Darius, we can refight the famous battles of Granicus (334BC), Issus (333BC), and Gaugamala (331BC) and finally the battle of the Persian Gate (330BC).

Alexander's refinement of the Macedonian war machine is a great evolution over the earlier Greek Polis Hoplite army.  Several equipment and technique improvements occurred, and rather than just having a static battle line, the army in the hands of the Macedonians (Phillip and Alexander, and Alexander's successors) becomes a very dynamic and aggressive tool.  This comes about with great numbers of cavalry (heavy such as the Companions, and light such as the Thessalians), and more reliance on light infantry.  With these adaptations, the army can use the phalanx (the battle line of pike, or sarissa, wielding heavy infantry) as a strong central anvil, and the cavalry and light infantry can harass the flanks of the enemy until they crumble under the push of the phalanx. 

Phalangites (Heavy Infantry with medium armor)                                3-5 units
Hypaspists (elite Heavy Infantry with medium armor)                         0-1 units
Agrianians (Light infantry with javelin and light armor)                      1-2 units
Cretans (Light infantry with bow and light armor)                                0-1 units
Companions (elite Heavy Cavalry with light armor)                             1-2 units
Thessalians (elite Light Cavalry, with light armor and javelin)             0-1 units

The Hypaspists are the select, elite heavy infantry of the army.  They might be employed on one end of the Phalanx, and used for the "killing blow" against the enemy battle line.

Two options allow the players to represent some non-standard historical theories.  The first allows the Hypaspists to be fielded as Warband rather than Heavy Infantry.   I'm not sure I agree, but it is there.  Second the Thessalians could be reclassed as Heavy Cavalry. 

Against the army of Alexander, the army of Darius would face them multiple times (and many sieges).  This new Persian army differs from the model of Xerxes, 150 years earlier, now being based on a battle line that could be split between heavy archers, and heavy cavalry (which can make up more than half the army).  In an effort to face the Macedonian Phalanx, there are several examples of the Persians hiring Greek Mercenary heavy infantry.  These are good units, but not quite the level of the Phalanx.  In several of the battles under Darius III he would try to adopt a certain stratagem or element of surprise against the army of Alexander.  One of those is present in the army list - the Scythed Chariots.



Persian Cavalry (Heavy Cavalry with light armor)                                         3-5 units
Paphlagonian Cavalry (levy Light Cavalry with javelin and light armor)      1-2 units
Scythed Chariots                                                                                              0-1 unit
Kardakes (levy Heavy Archers with bow and light armor)                             2-4 units
Greek Mercenary Hoplites (Heavy Infantry with medium armor)                  0-2 units

With a minimum of four mounted units, (up to a maximum of six units), this army will lead the player commanding it to trying some interesting maneuvers against the army of Alexander.  Standing in the battle line, even with Mercenary Hoplites making up the core, winged on both sides by Kardakes, would be a risky toss of the dice vs the Macedonian phalanx.



Upon Alexander's death, the empire would of course be divided up into five successor states, and they would wage the wars of the Successor States on each other.  Each successor, or Diadochi, was a general or presumed family heirs of Alexander's.  These included Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus, Seleucus and Epirus.   I would suggest, without resorting to the army lists and rules from Ancient and Medieval Warfare, that a generic Successor Army might look like this:

Phalangites (Heavy Infantry with medium armor)                                3-4 units
Hypaspists (elite Heavy Infantry with medium armor)                         0-1 units
Agrianians (Light infantry with javelin and light armor)                      1-2 units
Cretans (Light infantry with bow and light armor)                                0-1 units
Companions (elite Heavy Cavalry with light armor)                             1-2 units
Thessalians (elite Light Cavalry, with light armor and javelin)             0-1 units
Elephants                                                                                                0-2 units