Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Milgamex Tactical Ancients Armies Overview

While researching Milgamex Ancient Warfare rules, I also came across some references to another publication of Milgamex - their ancient army lists.  Intrigued, I bought a copy.

The dry details
Milgamex Tactical Ancient Armies 2900 - 1250 by Arnold Hendricks, copyright 1977.  Stapled booklet with 44 pages with thicker card cover.

There are about 140 ancient army lists.  It also covers off Middle Earth with 9 army lists and about 3 pages of special creatures and associated. rules.  Rather than list out the armies - they cover eastern and western armies - here is a picture of the index of the ancient armies. Click to enlarge.

The book also contains 1 1/2 pages of WRG rule variations and interpretations; and a 2 page map of Eurasia with complimentary text on the locations of many of the civilisations. 

Target audience
The army lists are targeted to compliment the WRG 5th Edition Ancient Rules for both army lists and defining the wargame depiction for all the troops types.  Other things to note:
  • There are no points.  The army lists are used to assist in defining an armies units, but the unit point cost is that used by your rules.
  • The troops are described in WRG 5th style - MI, LMI, LI, Irregular, Regular etc.  Weapons description is slightly expanded to that is WRG.
  • The lists are aimed a a 1:20 figure scale as per WRG 5th. But really they could be used at higher representation.
  • The lists are aimed at games that use figures formed into units such as WRG 5th.  This is important as you select units from the army lists, not figures.

Army selection
Most armies lists of that time, and still are, a list of troops/figures/elements with minimum and maximum allowed to be purchased.  This may be expanded with potential updates to troops types and other restrictions such as "if you buy these, you must also buy these other troops".  Examples are WRG Ancients and Armati.  While common, these are other types of army lists such as Rally Round the King with a half the army's units defined and the other half is randomly diced for. Milgamex Tactical Ancient Armies uses a different type of selection.
Each army lists has four columns for unit selection: required troops, standard troops, limited troops and special troops.  Each column has zero or more unit types.  Each army list will also define recommended sizes of units in figures and also if there are any other special limitations such as "infantry units cannot exceed cavalry units".  Here is a picture of the Early Imperial Roman 0-200AD list.  Click to enlarge.

Required troops
The first column of troops types is the required troops.  Each army must have 1 or more units of each type listed in this column.  These are the only mandatory troops for an army.  In this instance the army must have a least one unit of HI Legionaires.  The army could be all HI Legionaries.
Standard troops
The second column are the standard troops.  Each army can have zero to unlimited units of standard troops.
Limited troops
The third column are limited troops.  Each army can have up to 2 units of each of the special troops types listed.  Also, the number of special troops figures cannot exceed that of the total of required and standard troops.  In this example, special troops are the Marines and LI Barbarian Allies so anywhere from 0 units to 2 Marine units and 2 Barbarian Allies units could be chosen.
Special troops
The last column are the special troops.  An army can have up to one unit of each of the special troop types listed. And the number of special troops figures cannot exceed the rest of the army.
The special cases are always in terms of proportions for various units and/or troops types.
The organization section is where unit size in figures is defined.  Not all army lists are as prescriptive as this list. Unit sizes are based on historical patterns adapted to the 1:20 figure to man ratio.

This gives an average army size.  You increase the minimum number of required troops and the maximum number of limited and special troop types for larger games.

What do I think?
It is a new method of selecting army units I had not come across before.  I am not sure it is better or worse than other systems.  I do like that it is focused on units and not figures.  I find I use them to look up troops types in preference to the WRG Ancients lists.  I do not know how well they would go (or did go!) for tournaments.  But for pick up games they are easier to use than the WRG Ancients lists as they are a less lenient on the different types of units you can acquire.  I tend to play historical scenarios so the lists are not so useful in that context.  But I shall see if I can apply them to other games.  It would not be hard, especially as the unit types are well defined and so it is simply a matter of converting the WRG description into the ruleset troop definitions.


  1. I played with these rules with a buddy over 30 years ago. And I found it to be easily playable. Much more so than latter more complex rules that were as unplayable as Advanced Squad Leader with all the mods.
    If only I can get a copy of the rules other that my old photocopied ones that are falling apart.

    1. I had to pay a lot to get these army lists, and I waited for about 28 months for the rules to come up on eBay for a reasonable price, and even then they were missing the reference sheets; these I eventually got from (the late) Allen Curtis via The Miniatures Page.

      I did like the rules when I played with them a few years ago. I wish I had found them when the only rules that were being played in my city was WRG 6th. I may have not stopped playing ancients for nearly 15 years if I had dicovered the Milgamex rules!