Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Rethinking Iberian warfare: Were ancient guerrillas in Iberia a myth?

I was rather excited last week to discover that Prof Fernando Quesada-Sanz, an archaeologist working on Iron Age Spain was about to have his work published in English translation by Pen & Sword on 30 September 2016.

Have a butchers at the cover:

Looks like your typical Iberian with scutum and the odd caetra, right?

Have a closer look. They're wielding long spears, not javelin and falcata.

Quesada-Sanz has argued, based on archaeological finds, that the typical wargamer's image of an Iberian warrior as scutarii - wielding heavy javelins, cut and thrust falcata, and shielded by the long oval scutum - only became commonplace in the eastern and southern coast of Spain after contact with Carthage and Rome.

Before the book comes out you can read a summary of his thesis in this review:
"[T]he round shield was the main defensive weapon of the Iberians from the end of the sixth century B.C. Indeed, the scutum-type oval shield appears only late, at the end of the third century B.C., under the influence of the Carthaginians and the Romans, and becomes common only during the second century B.C.
"In the same way, the author's typology, which is the first of its kind, demonstrates that the spear, not the javelin or the sword, was the main offensive weapon in the Iberian area from the sixth and fifth centuries to the end of the third century B.C. Otherwise, according to anotherof the author's studies (Arma y símbolo: La falcata ibérica [Alicante 1992]), he qualifies the supremacy of the falcata in Iberian weaponry: the massive diffusion of this weapon, which first appears in the fifth century, is in fact limited to the southeastern part of the peninsula (Bastetania and Contestania)."
Lots of implications here for wargaming the resistance of the peninsula to Carthaginian and Roman conquest.

The takeaway message appears to be:
  • For battles with Carthage and Rome up until the end of the third century BC, long spear and caetra would be more prominent amongst Iberians. It is possible that they may be dominant for Celtiberians after this period, unless the Celtic influence there also transmitted a form of scutum. We will have to see what the new book sheds light on.
  • Note that the Second Punic War runs from 218 BC to 202 BC. I.e., the end of the third century BC, meaning that the spear may be more dominant amongst Iberian troops than previously adopted by Punic War gamers.
  • If you already possess an Iberian force that is predominantly armed with javelins and falcata then you still have some wiggle room to describe them as a depiction of a hybridising force. The same goes for the use of Montefortino style helmets (jockey-style) that only crop up via contact with Rome and Carthage. (On the Montefortino being introduced via Rome/Carthage rather than by Celts, see this article by Fernando-Sanz).
Now, the question wargamers may have is whether the Iberians fought in close order, mass 'heroic' battles ala the Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians, or whether they favoured a small band guerrillero-style raiding approach?

Quesada-Sanz has his response to the 'myth' of Iberian guerrilleros in an article from Ancient Warfare here. Amongst the observations:
  • The Iberian peoples fought in battle line comprised of line infantry backed up by light infantry and cavalry. There were sophisticated formations such as gaps in the line for cavalry to charge through, and the opportunistic adoption of infantry wedge formation by the Celtiberians.
  • "[F]ar from being the Hispanic sword par excellence, the falcata was only typical of the Bastetani and Contestani in the Southeast and then in a 4th to 2nd century BC context. The weapon was quite rare in the rest of the Iberian-inhabited regions and almost unknown in the northern and western areas of the Peninsula."
  • There is an 'antenna' sword with a leaf-shaped blade used by the Celtiberians that is not often seen in miniatures.
  • The article contains a nice list of 20 pitched battles between Iberians, Celtiberians and Romans between 210 BC and 133 BC.

Hat tip to Emilio on TMP for these links.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Review: Victrix Carthaginian Warriors

I'm assembling my Carthaginian army on a 'single nation, three unit' basis. Starting with the Africans I build up a standard unit, a small unit, and a small unit of skirmishers. Then I move to Iberians, Italians, then Celts before I rinse and repeat. I may intersperse cycles of assembly with painting once I get some practice in on some lumpy Warlord/Immortal Greek slingers. It's been a long time since I've wielded my brush.

There's nothing like actual assembly to learn the strengths and weaknesses of a given kit. Here's my take on the first of several Punic releases by Victrix: their Carthaginian Warrior multi-set in 28mm.

Victrix Warriors of Carthage

The great Carthaginian general Hannibal led a multi-ethnic army primarily comprised of subject nations and mercenaries. Carthage was a trading empire, they favoured buying soldiers rather than waging war themselves. Hannibal and his family were atypical members of Carthage's small military class. Atypical in their ability to wage war for so long without being crucified (a traditional punishment for failed generals) and atypical in their talent for waging war (and thus avoiding the former fate).

The core of a Carthaginian army would be drawn from the subject Libyan or admixed Liby-Phonecian population surrounding Carthage. These would serve a role comparable to citizens of Greek or Italian city-states: forming a spear-armed phalanx and cavalry corps. The bulk of the army would be drawn from Numidian, Iberian, Gallic, Greek, and/or Italiote mercenaries. Rather than get them to conform to Carthage's pseudo-Hellenic methods, the foreign mercenaries were employed in their customary ways of war. In Hannibal's case, as a student of Alexander and Pyrrhus, the overall approach to war was a Hellenic combined arms one, as argued by J.E. Lendon in Soldiers and Ghosts.

'Warriors of Carthage' is very much a starter set for building core units in an army of the Second Punic War. It comes with 24 Libyan spearmen equipped in the hoplite style, with somewhat shorter spears than their Greek counterparts. There are another 24 spearmen equipped as Hannibalic veterans, armoured in Roman or Celtic chainmail, presumably stripped from the dead at Trebbia and after.

If you wanted one or the other, well too bad, you're getting both. You're also getting 14 Libyan javelinmen whether you want them or not. At a price point of around 50p per figure that's pretty good, so not an awful lot to complain about. However, the mandatory inclusion of Libyan skirmishers may dampen the demand for the soon-to-be-released Numidian infantry.

There's enough figures here for building one to two units per type, depending on your system. I got away with two boxes for my army. I am unlikely to ever get more than one additional box.

If you've read Duncan Head's Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars (AMPW) you will find much that is familiar here and in Victrix's Punic Wars range overall, with some minor deviations. The sculptor(s) for the Victrix range clearly drew heavily, and in many cases, directly from AMPW's descriptions and illustrations. This may be for better or for worse, depending on how you view AMPW's accuracy.

Readers familiar with discussions on TMP, The Miniatures Page, in particular the perspective of the late Allen Curtis, who authored Warhammer Ancient Battles' Hannibal and the Punic Wars supplement, would know that a number of AMPW's interpretation of Carthaginian arms and armour have some question marks above them.

The figure numbers listed above include two sprues of three command figures: a unit leader, a standard bearer and a musician. The musician is garbed in a knee-length tunic and is unarmored. The leader and standard bearer are interchangeably in metal cuirass and scale armour. One wishes for more scale armour figures.

Command sprue. Unit leader, standard bearer and musician.

The detail on the command set is great. So great as to raise worries of them overshadowing the personality figures that are, as of now, only available in metal from other manufacturers. Relic's Hannibal looks like it can hold its own against these sculpts.

Carthaginian Spearmen

Warriors sprue. Three regular Libyan spearmen, three veterans, two Libyan javelinmen.

Multiple head options are included that range from pointy capped Punic helms to plundered Roman Montefortino headgear. Arms are spear only, apart from command who get the obligatory sword. As per AMPW, the Carthaginians here employ a spear that is shorter than the doru of the Greek hoplite.

Libyan Spearman shields are modified versions of those found in Victrix's Greek range, with the only difference being a thicker vertical cross bar on the reverse.

Head talks of recessed shields used by Carthaginians, so I find it odd that in an otherwise faithful rendition, Victrix recycles their convex Greek hoplite shields here. To my knowledge, only 1st Corps has gone down the route of recessed Carthaginian shields as per AMPW. Is it too cynical to speculate that recessed shields would create problems for applying shield transfers?

Nonetheless, given the wide adoption of Greek arms and armour by the Carthaginians, the typical hoplite aspis is plausible.

Though it won't be much noticeable on the final painted figure the sculpting issues with the shield-bearing left hand of Victrix's Greek hoplites has been resolved here. The left hand is better proportioned and is no longer a squarish block.

Punic citizen spearmen at ease, and only at ease.
No wonder the Sacred Band got wiped out at Krimisos.

The veteran spearmen only have scuta as a shield option. Some additional aspides would have leant themselves to the hybrid scavenged look of the veterans. As it is there are only enough aspides to shield the three regular Libyan spearmen. However, six scuta are provided. I would have thought the aspis to be commonplace and the scutum to be an ad hoc or late adoption for Libyans in Carthaginian service. Victrix appears to think otherwise; their Carthaginian citizen spearmen also come with scuta only.

(EDIT: There's some speculation by Duncan Head in Slingshot 272 that just prior to the Second Punic War the Carthaginians employed the theuros and may have introduced it into southern and eastern Iberia during their conquests. If this is the case and the aspis had been replaced by the theuros then the extra scuta provided could be suitable if the upper and lower rims were trimmed to make them less Roman.)

It is notable that the regular spearmen and veteran spearmen have mutually exclusive spear positions. The regular spearmen only hold their spears at the ready. The veterans all have theirs in an attack position. This is an odd decision. It could have been otherwise. Their Greek hoplites offer considerable flexibility in arm positions. Customisability is the niche strength of plastic kits.

A thrusty veteran I knocked together just for this review.
I've made him with comparable kit to a number of metal designs

so you can see the differences.

As it is, each of the three regular spearman bodies has a single spear pose, bar one body which has two. With four variant poses with no effective degrees of angling the spear, one is facing a diversity of poses comparable to metal figures where four variant poses is common. This leaves price and the sculpt quality as the only strengths for the Victrix Libyan spearman to rest upon. Thankfully, it's cheap and the detail is crisp. But I am still left unsatisfied with the range of possible poses.

The spears and javelins in this and subsequent set are much more slender than the 'tree trunk' shafts found in the later Greek sets. They are more fragile as a result, but look more realistic. I may try the strengthening trick of applying thinned down white glue on them after painting.

Libyan Javelinmen

A stronger example of customisation and realisation of AMPW are the 14 Libyan javelinmen that are included in the kit. 14 is an odd number by today's wargaming standards. Not many games recommend units in sizes divisible by seven. 16 would have been a better number.

Anyway, on to the good news. The head varieties for the Libyans cover exactly the tribal varieties listed by Duncan Head in AMPW. Front shaved, side shaved, mohawked and so on are available so that you could have levies from a single tribe or several mixed together. This is a nice touch.

Also good news is that in comparison to some of Victrix's other bareheaded offerings (Greek peltasts and Iberian warriors) the Libyans don't appear to have overly big heads. Though this probably has more to do with the partial absence of hair on much of the skull. The Libyan heads appear well-proportioned.


The Victrix Carthaginians have only one direct competitor in 28mm plastic kits, Agema Miniatures, who only make slim plastic Hannibalic veterans with metal heads. Sadly for Agema, few slender miniature lines of other nationalities are available. The Victrix figures fare well in terms of sculpt quality and build. In terms of chunkiness, they are of above average 'chunk' and should blend nicely with models from Crusader and A&A. I'll post up some comparisons once my command figures from those ranges arrive.

The options in this kit should allow you to play battles from the First Punic War until the Third Punic War. There was talk somewhere of Carthage having vast stores of chainmail when the Romans plundered it, so the Hannibalic Veterans could be used for the last stand.

For historical sticklers (and such is this hobby) the spearmen probably aren't suitable for the earlier wars with the Sicilian Greeks. Those would be Punic citizens rather than Libyan subjects (though there's little physical difference for the miniature hobbyist) armoured with metal cuirass and can be had from manufacturers such as Crusader. Victrix makes unarmoured Citizen Spearmen with Roman-style scuta, but they're probably not much use beyond the second line at Zama or possibly some battles in Iberia.

  • Well sculpted figures overall.
  • Libyan javelinmen have very dynamic poses and hairstyles reflective of the literature.
  • Libyan javelinmen have well-proportioned heads compared to previous Victrix ancient releases.
  • Good mix of helmets on the spearmen. There's a few extra for head swaps on other kits, the forthcoming Greek Cavalry kit comes to mind.
  • Price point: around 48p per figure, less if you shop around. Contrast to £1.12 to £1.50 for metal from various manufacturers.


Three rows of bellybuttoned linothorax.
There's a similar hole in the javelinman on the right, but less noticeable due to the folds.
  • Some of the figures weren't cast with sufficient plastic. There were 'belly button' holes in some of the Libyan spearmen, with similar, but less noticeable, holes in the folds of some of the Libyan javelinmen. EDIT: I should add that I only had this problem on one out of my two boxes, and even then only on three out of seven sprues.
  • Poses for the spearmen are restricted by troop type. Standing spears only for the citizen spearmen, thrusting spears for the veterans. Not as much variety as one might expect for plastic unless you starting sawing and greenstuffing. Surely mutually interchangeable arms for both types could have been designed?
  • Missed opportunity for a convex shield for the spearmen. Not a big loss, but if you're going the route of AMPW, why not go all the way?

EDIT: GurKhan of TMP kindly informed me that the AMPW interpretation of a "recessed" shield as concave was a mistake, based on a misperception or poor description of the shields at the altar in Chemtou/Chimtou, which can be seen here. One example is this:

The central portion is clearly recessed but it is far from concave and the pronounced curvature after the rim and before the centre clearly makes it a derivative of the Greek aspis employed by hoplites.

More examples of such shields can be found on scarabs found at Carthage:

Coin #635

Some interesting discussion on Carthaginian arms and armour is here.

EDIT2: Turns out GurKhan is none other than Mr Duncan Head himself! :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Republican Roman Army Roster

Detail from the Ahenobarbus relief showing (centre-right) two Roman foot-soldiers ca. 122 BC. Note the Montefortino-style helmets with horsehair plume, chain mail cuirasses with shoulder reinforcement, oval shields with calfskin covers, gladius and pilum.

Here's the roster for my planned Roman purchases. It represents a consular army under the control of a Roman consul, four legions in total comprised of two pairs of Roman and Allied legions. Any additional troops can be added to the ranks of the Allies. If there's need for it to represent a larger force, such as the four legions at Cannae, each unit can just stand in for double scale. One can't really go much smaller than this.

The force below can be built out of four or so boxes of Victrix legionnaires. I'd use one box of chainmail armoured legionnaires for the triarii, a box of pectoral armour soldiers for the Roman hastati and principes, and two boxes of the Allied Italian legionnaires.

The cavalry would be best supplied by Aventine Miniatures' Republican Roman range (with the Late Etruscan cavalry suitable as Allied horse) as they are designed to be cross-compatible. Aventine even resculpted their horses to suit Victrix. Nice of them.

Republican Romans (Unit size in brackets) [Points cost] #bases
8 figures per manipulus

LEGIO ROMANA I - 7 units [171 points]

2 x Velites (8) [26] 4
2 x Hastati (8) [46] 2
2 x Principes (8) [46] 2
1 x Triarii (8) [28] 2 x 80mmx25mm
1 x CONSUL (General) [25] c100

LEGIO ROMANA III - 7 units [146 points]

2 x Velites (8) [26] 4
2 x Hastati (8) [46] 2
2 x Principes (8) [46] 2
1 x Triarii (8) [28] 2 x 80mmx25mm
1 x Commander c80

ALA LATINA DEXTRA - 8 units + 1 skirmisher [178 points]

2 x Velites (8) [26] 4
2 x Hastati (8) [46] 2
2 x Principes (8) [46] 2
1 x Triarii (8) [28] 2 x 80mmx25mm
1 x Roman medium cavalry (6) [19] 1
1 x Cretan archer skirmishers [13] 2
1 x Commander c80

ALA LATINA SINISTRA - 10 units [203 points]

2 x Velites (8) [26]
2 x Hastati (8) [46]
2 x Principes (8) [46]
1 x Triarii (8) [28] 2 x 80mmx25mm
3 x Allied medium cavalry (6) [57] 3
1 x Commander c80

32 units + 1 skirmisher = 33 total + 4 leaders [698 points]

2 x Tarentine light cavalry (6) [20] 4 
Various additional Italians - to be built out of the smart Aventine Late Etruscan and Italian Hill tribes ranges.


Carthaginian Army Roster

One of Hannibal's nellies fails an Attrition roll
whilst crossing the Alps.

Here is the initial list of units I intend to assemble starting with the Carthaginian forces. The idea is to achieve an optimal blend of cost and flexibility to game a range of scenarios and systems.

I've listed them in hypothetical Hail Caesar divisions based on nationality.  A list for a given battle would look quite different. This one shows the maximum force deployment capability. I find there are too few army rosters on wargaming blogs. I hope to redress that.

Numbers in brackets indicate the models per unit. This doesn't necessarily conform rigidly to the HC rulebook. Given the rather dynamic poses of the Victrix models I'm using it isn't always possible to get a figure to fit neatly into a 20mm x 20mm box. The rule of thumb employed here is to standardise frontage on multiples of 80mm (a small unit) and fit in enough units with varying depth to offer a sense of solidity. A standard unit is on an 160mm frontage.

Warband infantry are less than 32 figures partly due to cost and time for assembly, and partly to give space for a dioramic setting of a horde charging out of formed lines towards the enemy. I find 17 to 20 figures in charging positions fits pleasingly within an 160mm frontage and depth of 100mm, which would normally hold 40 upright, well-behaved models on HC assumptions.

Points costs are marked in square brackets, just for force comparison purposes with the Romans (posted later). The number of bases are indicated to plan adequate base purchases. The funny codes after commander names are possible base circumferences for a command stand diorama.

It really does take an awful lot of advance planning if one is to order units efficiently.

The whole lot below are enough to fit in an 8' wide battle table in a pseudo-Cannae setup. So pretty much Hail Caesar ready.

Carthaginian Army (Unit size in brackets) [Points cost] #bases

African 1st Division - 5 units + 3 skirmishers [208]

3 x Libyan HI Veterans (16) [108] 6
2 x Liby-Phoenician Medium Cavalry, Guard (6) [42] 2
3 x Libyan Javelinmen skirmishers (8) [33] 6
1 x General - Hannibal [25] c100

African 2nd Division - 10 units + 3 skirmishers [265]

3 x Libyan HI Spearmen (16) [87] 6
4 x Numidian light cavalry (6) [76] + (Massinissa stand) 8
3 x Elephants [69] 3
3 x Numidian Skirmishers (8) [33] 6
1 x Commander - Maharbal 1 80mmx100mm + 1/2 c60mm

Iberian 3rd Division - 9 units + 3 skirmishers [207]

2 x Caetrati LI (8) [24] 4
4 x Scutarii MI (16) [92] 8
1 x Celtiberian Warband (20) [28] 2
2 x Slinger Skirmishers (8) [24] 4
1 x Balearic Slingers (8) [13] 2
2 x Iberian medium cavalry (12) [54] 4
1 x Commander - Mago c80

Italian and Gallic 4th Division - 7 units + 2 skirmishers [197]

3 x Samnite MI (16) [69] 6
1 x Oscan Allies MI (16) [23] 2
2 x Gallic MI Warband (17) [56] 2
1 x Gallic medium cavalry (10) [27] 2
2 x Oscan skirmishers (8) [22] 4
1 x Commander - Hasdrubal c80

31 units + 11 skirmishers = 41 total + 5 Leaders [877 points]

Top Up

2 x Italian Allies (16) [46] 4 - Brutii etc.
2 x Gallic MI warband (Victrix models) (17) [56] 4

2 x Tarentine light cavalry (6) [20]  4 - Need to research more on the links between Taras and Hannibal's War

Here's what I have currently or will do soon once the mail arrives:

Initial Order

African 1st Division - 6 units + 2 skirmishers [172]

2 x Libyan HI Veterans (16) [36]
3 x Libyan HI Spearmen (16) [87] 
1 x Elephant [23]
1 x Libyan Javelinmen skirmishers (8) [11]
1 x Balearic Slingers (8) [13]
1 x General [25]

African 2nd Division, Cavalry - 6 units + 2 skirmishers [140]

2 x Liby-Phoenician Medium Cavalry, Guard (6) [42]
4 x Numidian light cavalry (6) [76]
2 x Libyan Javelinmen skirmishers (8) [22]
1 x Mounted Commander

Iberian 3rd Division - 6 units + 2 skirmishers [121]

2 x Caetrati LI (8) [24]
2 x Scutarii MI (16) [46]
1 x Celtiberian warband (20) [28]
1 x Elephant [23]
1 x Javelin skirmishers (8) [11]
1 x Slinger Skirmishers (8) [12]
1 x Commander

Italian/Celtic 4th Division - 6 units + 2 skirmishers [124]

1 x Libyan HI Veterans (16) [36]
1 x Samnite MI (16) [23]
1 x Oscan Allies MI (16) [23]
2 x Oscan skirmishers (8) [22] - double as Velites
2 x Gallic MI Warband (17) 
1 x Gallic Cavalry (10)
1 x Commander

24 units + 8 skirmishers = 26 total [557 points]


2 x Scutarii MI (16) [46]
1 x Ligurian LI (16) - use kitbashed Velites


Sunday, 11 September 2016

DELENDA EST ROMA! - My 'Enemies of Rome' project

This blog is to act as a record of my progress - or lack thereof - in completing an 'Enemies of Rome' wargaming project in 28mm miniatures.

1st Century BC-Head and shoulders bust sculpture.
Naples Museum. 


(Wargamers looking for the miniatures bit can skip to the Project Outline at the bottom).

As a one time student of colonialism and empire in the modern period, I discovered the literature and thought of ancient Greece and Rome in the course of exploring the intellectual referents of the Bush-era neoconservatives. These architects of the 'New American Century' and the Iraq War were rather fond of Thucydides' account of the Peloponnesian War, also an influential book in the 'glass half empty' corner of contemporary international relations theory.

I wanted to understand what made contemporary Western imperialists tick. So, I started reading Thucydides and related material in the period, availing myself of the nicely illustrated Landmark series. While Thucydides remains amongst my least favourite writers of this period, I found the overall tale of imperial conflict between Athens and Sparta to be quite fascinating.

I also rediscovered miniature wargaming around this period after a brief reacquaintance with Warhammer Fantasy Battles. The High Elf army I was playing with leant itself to 'combined arms' action in the manner of Alexander of Makedon, whereby shock cavalry would complement a solid infantry phalanx. At least, this is what was successfully argued by Seredain the Cavalry Prince, the nom de guerre of a High Elf player on the Ulthuan forums.

This was entirely appropriate considering that most of the Warhammer armies had their roots in real life sources from classical antiquity. The High Elf army blended in Greek, Persian, and medieval European influences. The tactical advice was sound. In the relatively short run that I was once again active in Warhammer I didn't lose a single battle, mainly because I had a tactical plan that fit my army and my opponents often did not. Work and real life caught up, Warhammer started to drift towards a place I didn't enjoy, so I migrated to ancients with the release of the Hail Caesar ruleset.

This sparked a far longer interest in tactics and generalship in the ancient period. An interest that now finds me building up the army of Hannibal and Rome's other enemies.

Given Rome's substantial influence on modern Western imperialism, fighting Rome in the ancient world, by mustering armies of the people eventually conquered by them, offered some outlet for proxy aggression after all my immersion in anti-colonial studies. Perhaps I should have called this blog 'Beautiful Losers'.

Scale Shift

When I first considered this project four years ago I had initially opted for the 15mm scale due to budget constraints. It proved rather hard for me to find a manufacturer that produced Carthaginian and Republican Roman ranges that I was aesthetically happy with. Scale creep was a particular problem for 15mm. Basing was likely to end up a concession to DBx players, the majority of the local ancients scene, though I had no intention of going down that route.

I eventually plumped for Corvus Belli's Carthaginian range, which had fairly complete Iberian, Celtic and Numidian lines that fit. I was enthralled with projects by glorious mad buggers such as Olicanalad who had played out a Hannibal: Rome v Carthage campaign using Commands & Colors for the battles.

(For those interested, here's an alt-map of the game board by Mark Mahaffey).

I ordered most of what I needed from Corvus Belli before I got sidetracked by work for a few years, during which time CB shut down its ancients lines and went all out for Infinity.

When my ancients bug bit again (as an afterthought to the discovery of the free RPG Mazes & Minotaurs; what if D&D had been based on Greek roots instead of a European hodge-podge?), I looked at getting some Romans to face my Punic forces.

Sadly, the Republican Romans I was holding out for were by Warmodelling/Fantassin, which has suffered some financial troubles and, last I checked, were out of production.

Fortunately, two historical occurrences led me to 28mm. First, was the discovery that Victrix had churned out a fairly extensive line of Republican Romans and Hannibalic forces in plastic, bringing the price point to that of 15mm. The second factor was Brexit, which lowered the sterling enough to make it attractive to go all in.

Perhaps it was the early years with Warhammer that made 28mm seem like a 'natural' scale to me. Perhaps it's failing eyesight and the detailed sculpts of today that also have a strong appeal. I had also picked up some 28mm Greek hoplites before my hiatus. There was unfinished business at this scale.

I bought a box of Victrix Athenian hoplites from my local FLGS to assess their quality. I was satisfied and punched in an order before the pound recovered any further.


Here is a broad outline of the project.

Victrix Carthaginians (from their website)

Step One: Build up a sizable Hannibalic force comprising:

  • Africans (Carthaginians, Libyans, Numidians)
  • Iberians (Iberians and Celtiberians)
  • Celts
  • Italians (non-Romans from the South and North: Samnites, Brutii, Lucanians, Etruscans)
These would be the main troops to fight Rome in scenarios derived from the Second Punic War. Each nationality could also be expanded for battles before and after the Punic Wars. Hamilcar's conquest of Spain, the Numantine Wars, the Social Wars, the Samnite Wars.

These along with my Greek hoplites could be used as the basis of a Syracusan army in a pinch. There is a lot of diversity and flexibility in this period provided one is willing to take on a relatively large army project. The benefit is that parts of your Punic army can war against each other during different periods, though this veers into poorly documented and hypothetical territory. But this is what standard scenarios and pickup games are for. Until I acquire the Romans these are the kind of small scale games I could play. There's the 'Eagle Rampant' variant of Lion Rampant skirmish rules that could serve if my forces are particularly small.

Later on, many of the above nationalities can be parts of Roman armies against the Hellenistic kingdoms, another culture and region that interests me. That Pyrrhic line from Aventine is so tempting.

Victrix Republican Romans (from their website)

Step Two: Build up a four legion Republican Roman army.

  • Two Roman legions (Velites, Hastati, Principes, Triarii)
  • Two Allied alae (ditto)
  • Plus cavalry wings
This would represent a fairly standard two consul republican army. It could be expanded to suit with some of the Italian allies of the Punic army, who would mainly bolster the ranks of the hastati.

Side project: I mentioned earlier that there's unfinished business on the Greek front. I also have plans to build up an army that could represent the forces of Spartan king Agesilaus II, friend of Xenophon, who led a dogs of war force on an imperial expedition in Asia. I've long loved the aesthetics of the bronze Corinthian helm and am rather fond of Xenophon's escapades and work.

I may get rather bored of assembling and painting 12 phalanxes of hoplites, but the task will be made easier by three of those units being the lovely Steve Saleh Spartans from Gorgon Studios plus a whimsical single unit of his naked Spartans from Foundry. I've got some weedier Warlord/Immortal Spartan and Classical Greek hoplites that would serve as neodamodeis, perioikoi and Peloponnesian levy allies. The beefier Victrix hoplites could serve as mercenary remnants from Xenophon's 10,000.

Plus, there may even be some games involved as at least one local player is willing to deploy Persians if I make good on my hoplites and there's some owners of the Victrix kits lurking out there.


I'm fairly agnostic on rulesets provided they meet my criteria. I like those that lend themselves to fairly fast play, minimal geometry, historical scenario battles, and avoid tournament-oriented min/maxing. This rules out most of the DBx family and derivative rulesets such as Impetus. It also rules out WAB though the rules structure is eminently familiar to me. I'm just no fan of individual model removal.

The rulesets I'm gearing towards are Hail Caesar for the casual scenario group play, Lost Battles to scratch the simulationist itch, Commands & Colors: Ancients in miniature for one-on-one fast play, and possibly the intriguing grid-based To the Strongest! by BigRedBat who runs an inspiring blog for the 28mm ancients miniature enthusiast.

Enough writing for now. Onward with assembly!