Assyrian army

Assyrian army

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wargaming Atlantis Part 1 - Armies

Just off the coast of Greece in the Cyclades group there is an island called Santorini. Actually, it’s part of a group of islands.  Used to be one island until the whole lot blew up one day.

Strangely, people on Santorini don’t say it’s Atlantis. It was an island, it was a very much a Naval/trading Power, bull motifs abound, red/black/white stone, etc, - sounds like Atlantis to me, so although quite happy to look on it as such in this case  – other contenders can stand in line!

So, Atlantis makes a good potential setting for a campaign that allows the use of a few armies that would otherwise never meet.  My own main armies are Greek, Persian, Macedonian, Assyrian and Egyptian...
The Atlantis story was told in Classical Greek times. On that basis, Classical Greek armies (or a version of) sorts them. The volcano went off when Egypt and Assyria were around, so I can use them. Finally, Minoan and Mycenaean troops used pike, hence Macedonians…

The Armies

Long ago I moved most of my armies over to DBX and since then most of my (solo) battles have used variously modified versions of DBA or HoTT – actually I find HoTT often works quite well for historical battles and has the added advantage of allowing the use of fantasy features.


 Atlantis was an aggressive nation with a large and powerful fleet. As the Greek states were able to raise and send a large army to besiege Troy, it is assumed that Atlantis has the capacity to project its power across the Eastern Med, basically as implied by Plato.  As it was a central hub with contacts over the known world it would be able to hire mercenaries and employ exotic units.

The core of my version of the army is a cross between Classical Greek and Minoan. As an Empire it would have access to subject races. I’ve gone for using my Macedonians. There are four parts to my version. Firstly, noble cavalry as a bodyguard. The rich citizens are hoplites on the Greek pattern. Next, the citizen levies form a pike phalanx. Finally mercenaries include Cretan archers, Western barbarian warband (they look like Gauls) and exotic elephants from Africa. Incidentally, if I wanted to be really silly then the last few remaining mammoths didn’t die out until about 1700BC so...

This gives an army consisting of 2 x 3Cv (including general), 2 x 4Sp, 4x4Pi, 1x Ele, 1x 2Ps, 2x 3Wb.

 In terms of shield blazons for a dedicated army there are two obvious candidates. The classical Minoan symbol would be the bull, so a bull’s head would work for Crete (if treated as a separate entity) or dolphin – a frequent motif in art of the era. I have an army of old figures I bought off the Internet that is being designated for Atlantis alone, so I’ve used a bull’s head for the noble cavalry, guard infantry and elephant, with the dolphin/fish on the levy pikes. The elephant itself is by Garrison.


The Greeks

The main protagonist of Atlantis was Athens. Greece being a hotch-potch of city states it’s obvious that at least a couple of other states need to be represented. In my case, the choice is Corinth and Sparta, Corinth being one of the earlier major states and Sparta being – well, can’t imagine a Greek setup without them, especially in a more or less fantasy setting. I suppose one of my states should really be Mycenae but I’m sticking to the Classical rather than Archaic route.  Using a Classical basis, the three states need to be distinguished in some way.

I’ll start with the Corinthians. For these I simply use 10 x 4Sp and 2 x 2Ps. Standard hoplite army.

For Sparta, two things I wanted. Firstly, a king. Secondly, to use the Hippeis as actual cavalry. So the General is a 3Cv element. Not wanting the rest to be all hoplites, I’ve again gone for 2 x 2Ps, leaving 9 x 4Sp for the rest.

This leaves Athens. Classical Athens used Scythians as a police force and at least once hired Thracian mercenaries. So, again fitting in my own version of an army I use one each 2LH, 2Ps and 3Wb (prefer Wb to Ax for Thracians) to represent these. That leaves 9 4Sp elements.

These would make a good basic campaign; Troy could be included – I look on these as early Persians or Medes in this scenario. Others could be Lydia or Phrygia. Assyria could exist inland but an Assyrian excursion to the coast could meet an Atlantean expeditionary force to Asia Minor or Palestine. Egypt offers the chance of both Atlantis and Egypt fighting over Cyprus. Options are only limited by imagination and available armies.

Again, it’s well worth pointing out that most of the armies/countries here didn’t exist before about 800BC – my ‘Atlantis’ was long gone by then. One of the things that I find amusing is when I see people arguing over things like correct uniform or army compositions for mythical or completely made up armies, troops or races…

Fantasy elements

If you use HoTT rather than DBA you have the option of using elements of Greek and other mythologies.  Some of these are quite easy – a Minoan or Atlantean army could, for example, use Minotaurs as beast elements. A Phrygian option could be looked on as Colchian – Hydras would make good Behemoths. There are plenty of possible ‘monsters’ available, just pick the ones that suit.


  1. Not to mention Heroes and even the intervention of a god, esp if pitting Geek vs Romans.

  2. The gods I've got already... though non of them are very Geekish :)