Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Bob Stradling
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Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby Bob Stradling » Tue May 12, 2020 9:17 pm

So, you are thinking to yourself – lockdown is the right time for a new army and you are attracted to a Warband Army out of the Classical Army supplement – the question is which warband army is right for you?

Let’s dive in and think about the different armies you could have.

There are lots of good things about Warband armies, as well as some downsides to consider.
The upsides first, they generate extra momentum tokens if they make a successful charge, and if they win the first round of combat, you read the combat resolution one line lower, so almost guaranteeing at least a push back (if you win :D ).

The main downsides are that they are impetuous so you are sometimes forced to charge something you don’t want to, like a unit of superior fighters in a phalanx and with a defence value of 4+, this will not end well. A bit like adding the extra strong chili sauce to the kebab in that little shop that you swore you would never go back to after last time.

The other down side is that they tend not to have a lot or armour available to them so can die in droves, and their leadership tends to be pants so if they start to run they tend to keep going. On the upside they often have a lot of commanders available to them and often they come with an extra attack, which can make all the difference when you need to win the first round of combat.

Wining the initiative is really important if you are a warband army, as is avoiding huge multi-unit combats as that dissipates the benefit gained from your extra momentum tokens when charging. Oh and you can never disengage a warband unit, so once you are in combat you are there to the end, which may not be too long.

You have three variants with two types of warrior. Both are Open Order have Javelins and Shield and the Highland Warriors have a better leadership than the Lowland chappies. They can also take halberds if you are so inclined. Never sure if they are really that useful except against D2 cataphracts.
They have some useful supporting cavalry and they have commanders that add +2 Cohesion and +3 attacks, what is not to like.
Some might complain that the Open order chappies are more brittle, which is true, but the 8” charge can be really useful when you generate extra momentum tokens when you charge, I may have mentioned this before!

If you like some steady troops to mix in with your warbands then this army could be the one for you. They also have the evade ability, but how that works with the impetuous rules is one I have yet to work out! In theory evading away to lure an enemy unit out of the line to be counter charged sounds great, it is just putting the theory into practice. They can add heavy throwing spears which negates the evade ability, but who doesn’t like a heavy throwing spear.

A rarity in a warband army the Ligurians can have two units of superior fighters and they have light armour to boot! You can field these chaps either in close order or open order and have a mix of the two. Great commanders, the only downside is that there are no cavalry available and no allies either.

A really interesting mix available with up two units of hoplites available to provide a little solidity to your battle line, however you can only have open order warbands, but they can have large shields (a must have) and one can even have light armour! There are some cavalry available to them, but they are more show ponies than decent fighting troops.

Introduce two new units to the warband world. Fanatics and chariots. The chariots can be fantastic and are both mobile and hard hitting, the downside is that if you cannot have the good noble cavalry and the chariots together.
As for the fanatics I would leave them at home, I have never been convinced by the stubborn ability and that is all that they have.
Again, you can have a mix of open and close order warbands and some interesting allies are available to you.

With up to 60% of your force being mercenaries and two types of warband unit available to you you could make this a warband army, but there again why?

There are three different time periods, the earliest one would be the most warband friendly as you can have chariots and some reasonable cavalry. The real point of interest is the ability to use a scythed chariot or two!

Northern Britain
Open order warbands with good supporting cavalry and chariots.

Your choice here is between throwing spear and halberd to equip your warbands with. Some reasonable supporting cavalry. However, a dearth of open order troops. Your Sarmation allies may be helpful. You can also have a wagon tabor to try and block off a flank. It may work. They can be stubborn but why would you.

Early German
Allowed both close and open order warbands with some reasonable supporting cavalry. Again, they can be stubborn but why?

Slave Revolt
Only open order warband, but they can be tooled up so that they can either be D4 or D5

British Tribes
Open order warbands and chariots with the potential for some Roman allies.

All open warbands and interestingly there can be formed units of archers which is quite unique for a warband army. The allies available to this list can also help to provide some variety.
Last edited by Bob Stradling on Wed May 13, 2020 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby MartinG » Wed May 13, 2020 8:33 am

Nice summary Bob. So which will you go for? I should add that Warbands will gain a little extra edge in version 2 of the rules!

I have had good fun with the Gallic army and its chariots, it does depend on the quantity over quality phenomenon but can be very satisfying. Andy S and I have tried hard to do well with Ligurians but no success yet. I have had some tough games against Thracians as well, but my favourite is Spanish. Indeed I have just painted another unit of Spanish cavalry, which I now find is my 7th...but they can be used in so many armies!
"No one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way"

Bob Stradling
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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby Bob Stradling » Wed May 13, 2020 6:14 pm

Having just finished painting some chariots I would try out a list with them in it first of all either Ancient British or Gallic. I know Mike had some joy with his 1st Armoured division in his Ancient British Army.

If I was going without chariots I would consider an open order army with throwing spears/javelins where the minor chieftain had +3 attacks. Perhaps Illyrian or slave revolt. I have some old Foundry gladiator figures that would make good commander figures. Then try and have enough units to flank the enemy!

If we are allowed to play together again by the time Warfare comes perhaps I will consider it.

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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby lero » Wed May 13, 2020 11:54 pm

I have a german and a thracian army and plan to buy some dacians from victrix when available.
German with spear option are cheap, especially in open order, they can have two superior cavalries with escorts that counter lack of armor for at least one of them. Mix of open and close order gives some flexibility and small units of skirmish (3 bases) is good to earn some times against shooting. The only drawback is the D6 for all infantry.
Thracians are very interesting with a good heavy cavalry and the getae horse archers too... The option of greek ally is to consider to get a good big phalank to attract shooting, while your warriors speed to contact enemy. Use of 4 bases highlanders with 6 bases lowlanders enables you to charge on one unit with 3 bases wide with both units (each ones of yours is also 3 bases wide so your leaders contact a base). With minor chief for each, you throw 7 dices for halberds and 8 dices for javelins, so 15 dices with 2x2 momentums for the charges. The 6 bases lowlander is useful for depth bonus as your opponent will be attracted by D7 falxmen...
With Dacians, Sarmatian allies are good quality cavalry, Bastarnes gives you closed order option and evade/warband open order are very fun to play.

Bob Stradling
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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby Bob Stradling » Thu May 14, 2020 12:53 pm

Hi Lero, thanks for your insights. Do you find units with only 4 bases in open order are a little brittle?

I must admit the warband army that I would take if I could would be Franks, unfortunately their starting date is just too late, although they do overlap with a number of lists in the book.

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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby serenity » Thu May 14, 2020 7:51 pm

Not in the classical book but found in the ‘to the ends of the earth’ supplement are the Kushites.

Open order warband, with chieftains at +3 in combat. You also get some open order archers as well as skirmishers.

What makes them a bit different from your usual warband army is that you can have a couple of elephants. There’s a fair number of cavalry too (up to 60%) including a couple of superior fighting noble types with upgrades to heavy armour and a bow.

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Re: Warband armies in the classical period - choices choices

Postby lero » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:09 pm

Hi Bob,
4 bases warband of course is not a brilliant idea alone ! But just aside a good phalanx or an other 6 bases warband, it gives you 2 momentum for charge and as they are D7, attract hits so the other unit still have +1 depth bonus. And you put them 4cm behind the line, so shooters will have other mandatory targets. The only real drawback is a failed warband test at the wrong time... especially against unit who can shoot them ! But they cost only 52pts, and I take only two of them. They also could be use as supporting unit in line of battle, as they are open order, they move well and can stay before at rear of bigger unit ! And they can do something against D2/D3 units where other Thracians are helpless...
I read warband will have some extra in the V2, GREAT ! (and they need it IMHO)

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