Having just got back from the Pompey pillage, where I used a Syracuse army I thought I would share some thoughts about how it went and lessons learned.
The Syracuse army is effectively a variation of a Greek Hoplite army. Knowing that Pompey uses a variety of scenarios and that can mean a fair bit of terrain I didn't want to go without some open order troops. The choice was between Peltasts and Spanish Mercenary warbands. Given that the Spanish could have light armout to boost their defence value and a second unit could have throwing spears. I chose the Spanish. This was a two edged sword when your strategy is about maintaining a coherent battle line with your phalanx units, the warban meant that they could suddenly pop out of the battle line as their impetuous nature took over.
In retrospect I wonder whether the Peltasts might have been a better choice as they would give more control and if I took mercenary peltasts their cohesion value would have been higher than the warband.
The main component of this army was the heavy infantry and there were nine phalanx units. Only one of these was a mercenary phalanx which have a better cohesion and are also a trained phalanx than the standard phalanx. They were all give light armour as I was certain that there would be a reasonable amount of shooting that some of the armies might have and points were not an issue as this was a 1,500 point tournament.
The mercenary phalanx more than paid for itself as the slightly better manouverability of a trained phalanx was really helpful for the unit on the end of the battle line which sometime needed to move a little more without having to also drift.
To complete the army there were six skirmisher units. Three units with Javelins, two with bow and one with sling. This was basically my shooting and my bow consistently proved their worth even assainating an elephant on one round of shooting in one game. The javelins were fielded in units of two bases and came in useful in acting as 'gap' guards and I did not have to sacrafice any of them in my games. Occassionaly they gave away momentum tokens when taking a single shooting casualty and they had to take a break test, but overal I was pleased with their performance.
The real strength, such as it is of this list, is the number of commanders that I could have '8'. The general is a standard nine cohesion value, but the ability to put a commander in every unit likely to face combat and not worry about losing one to shooting was a real benefit. In fact I only lost one to shooting in 5 games. Some of the armies I faced only had 4 commanders, although their elephants seemed to compensate for this.
The army won two, one winning and one losing draw and one heavy defeat. Practice games were generally stalemates.
So how could it have done better, apart from rolling better dice and your opponent not rolling really well
(I am sure dice can sense when you begin to lose hope that random fluctuations will even themselves out eventually
This army is relatively slow and you have to advance steadily to maintain your battle line and keep your shieldwall benefit. Three to four inches a turn can make for slow progress across the battlefield. The open order troops can off course help here as would cavalry, unfortunately the best cavalry available to them, ironically called 'heavy cavalry' only have javelins and light armour! There no mercenary cavalry available, oh for some Gallic or Spanish cavalry! Because it takes a while to get into position and your opponent is often reluctant to take on phalanx head on until they have to, if there is no time limit to games this would not be such as issue, but the clock ticks inexorably on.....
The army also lacks punch, as whilst commanders add extra attacks there are no superior shooters or fighters in the army or anything that can modify defence values. It is possible to chose a single unit of superior hoplites, but then you must chose a 'Tyrant' as your army general and he only has a cohesion of 8! I am not sure the trade off is worth it.
It was intersting experiment to move away from my normal Greek army, but next time I think I might be back with some Spartans