A Better Kind of “Polybian” Army for DBA

The army for Polybian Romans (II/33) in DBA represents the Republican Roman army from 275BC-105BC.  It should include, not only Roman infantry but other Italian infantry as well.  The list, as it stands, is not very representative of a Republican Roman Army whether it existed in the Pyrrhic Wars, the Punic Wars or the Macedonian Wars.  According to Polybius, the Romans formed their armies in 4 legions, 2 Roman and 2 Allied.  1 army was led by a Consul or Proconsul.  In theory, at any time, their could be 4 consular armies in the field for a total of about 80,000 men.  Each Legion composed of Velites, Hastati, Princepes and Triari.  The first three lines were each of 1200 men and the last of only 600 men.  This left a total of about 4200 infantry.  To this were added about 300 cavalry.  In looking at the list, we have the following units.

6XBd, 2XSp, 2XPs 2XCv (1 general).

Proportionately, this does not work out well.  Part of the problem is, the Romans are creatures of habit.  They deployed the same way every time they fought.  The other part of the problem is that the list does not account for various other allies.  In Africa, they would have Numidians.  In Greece, they would have the Aetolian League.  Even in Italy, they would have Celts and other allied infantry that were not accustomed to the Roman ways.

So to work out this issue, first lets look at how the Roman part of the army should look.

4XBd Hastati and Princepes 1XSp Triari 2XPs Velites 1XCv Roman/Italian Cavalry

That’s 8 units leaving us with 4 units to form allied contingents for the army.

  1. In Sicily during the first Punic War, Rome could have Syracusian Allies.  3XSp 1XPs
  2. In Africa we have Numidian allies 2XLH 1XPs 1X(Hd or Ax).  This would be Masinissa’s hastily raised army for Zama or his army during the 3rd Punic War.
  3. In Greece we have the Aetolian league for allies 2XPk 1X(Ps or El) 1XCv.
  4. In Italy, not only are their loyal Italian subjects but there are newly conquered city states whose loyalty is questionable.  There are also the Celts from the North.  This list could also be used for Rome in Spain. Here we could have 2X(Ax or Wb) 1X(Cv or Lh) 1X(Ps or Ax).
  5. Finally, I should also include an army for the middle east.  These would be Pergamenid with 2XAx 1XCv and 1XEl.

Using any of these options will not only bring the Polybian Roman list a little closer to its historical counterpart but it will also make the list a little more interesting.


6 Responses to A Better Kind of “Polybian” Army for DBA

  1. Dale Hurtt says:

    Very interesting ideas John. Really great way to use lots of different figures too!

  2. germaniac says:

    excellent ideas! samnites are cool!…*for the naval battles I use steve jackson “ramming speed” metagaming microgame/ @ milwaukee

  3. Phil Ball says:

    Do we think that the Hastatii should be classed as blades ? They were lightly armoured and Marius did away with them for a reason so would they not be better portrayed as Auxilia. It must be bourne in mind that in reality the Romans didn’t fare particularly well against the Carthiginians and yet I have found this is not the case in a DBA game…

  4. Gary says:

    Hello John
    I have been looking at this issue and how to represent this army

    The legion was made up of 10 cohort EACH containing hastati princepes and triari.
    In the dba army the bd is the legion and the spear is the allies
    If I was to represent the legion not an army I would do 10 bd. 2ps and 2cv

    For dba I am mounting my velites as ps
    My hastati princepes and triari together on my bd stand to represent a legion
    I will mount my allies as sp
    And my cavalry as cv

    So I wouldn’t under the army or legion representation mount the triari as spear

    I think this is how dba is looking at it

    I like your Allie summary

  5. acarhj says:

    I could definitely see 10 bd as part of a legion. However, the Triari are still armed with long spear. Would they be better represented as a blade but with +1 vs Mounted?

  6. […] is also unhappy with the Roman DBA army list for similar reasons. So he has come up with a A better kind of Polybian Army for DBA. John does two […]

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