Building an Early Imperial Roman army for Warhammer Ancient Battles
In the first century AD the Roman army was the most efficient, numerous and successful military force that the world had ever seen. Stretching from the Irish Sea to the mountains of Iraq, the Roman Empire was protected by a standing army of 300,000 professional soldiers who rarely tasted defeat.
The focus of this article is to put together a 1,000 point Early Imperial Roman army for Warhammer Ancient Battles from about the middle of the first century AD. This is the army that had just invaded Britain, could be found patrolling the Rhine, on garrison duty in Judea or hunting bandits in North Africa.
The army is divided into 4 components – characters, legionaries, auxiliaries and archers – and will require the purchase of 2 box sets and 4 blister packs of warlord Games miniatures. All up the cost is about $160. The points are based on those in the current edition Warhammer Ancient Battles rulebook. These points are also compatible with some lists that are yet to be published. I haven’t included the exact points values of all the models so as not to get bogged down in the detail.
All the models should be based on 20mm square bases, such as those Games Workshop sells. This starter army is completely infantry, which is the strength of EIR in any case.
Every army needs a General, and Warlord produces a nice blister pack that has both foot and mounted options. Though not necessary, it’s always good to have an Army Standard Bearer as well, also available in a blister. In my opinion Warlord’s Aquilifer is one of their finest models, as good a reason as any to field one. Together these two models will help hold your army together, and are worth about 200 points
The Warlord Imperial Roman Legionaries box set has 30 plastic legionaries, including a centurion, signifier (standard bearer) and cornicen (musician). Being elite troops, this gives you far more than you need for one unit. So I would recommend buying an additional metal legionary command group blister and you will then enough figures for 2 units of 16 legionaries (with one left over). These two units will be worth about 550 points.
3. Auxiliary infantry
Auxiliaries were just as important to Rome’s military success as the legions, though they received a lot less publicity due to their non-citizen status. Warlord will be releasing a plastic box set in June, and whilst the contents haven’t yet been disclosed I am betting on there being 30 models (of course, the existing metal range is just fine as well!). I would recommend making two units from this box. The first is a unit of 20 auxiliaries armed with thrusting spears with full command. This provides a solid infantry block to support the legionaries. The remaining 10 models can be formed into a skirmishing unit armed with javelins to harass the enemy or take on their skirmishers. The great thing about auxiliaries is that they excel at both of these roles. The combined value of these two units is about 330 points.
Archers were very common in the Roman army, and they will provide your army with vital long range firepower. A blister of 8 Auxiliary Archers will give you a good starting point, and worth about 70 points.
So, you will end up with the following units in your army:
• Army General, either mounted or on foot.
• Army Standard Bearer
• 2 units of 16 legionaries
• 1 unit of 20 auxiliary spearmen
• 1 unit of 10 skirmishing auxiliaries
• 1 unit of 8 archers
With around 1,150 points worth, you can easily field a 1,000 point army with the option of changing the army composition around slightly.
To increase this army to 1,500 points is simple. An extra unit of legionaries, perhaps using the Veteran or Praetorian Guard box sets would be a great start. A unit of Auxiliary Cavalry will provide you with a solid cavalry option, or perhaps you would prefer light Numidian cavalry as skirmish screen. More Archers or some slingers will increase the armies ranged attack options, as of course will some legionary artillery such as scorpios, which again are fantastic models. Finally, you may add some barbarian allies as some expendable allies. The sky is the limit.