These notes are intended to help anyone who is putting together army lists for Warmaster Ancients. It is divided into two sections: ‘Principles’ and ‘Guidelines’. In both cases these describe how I dealt with the original lists and list development. They reflect my own approach to the game and how the armies are represented. It would be perfectly possible to apply other, even contrary, principles – and that might be exactly the right thing to do in some contexts. For example – if your aim is to re-fight a particular well-documented battle or campaign then you would doubtless want your lists to reflect that. In such instances you might want to draw a distinction between troops that you wouldn’t draw distinctions between in a more general context.
Each army is themed to a historically recognisable original – and is intended to be broadly representative of the original in so far as this is practical on the tabletop.
It’s impossible to represent all armies on the basis of equal knowledge – we know lots about some armies and little about others. Such is life. Warmaster represents tactical ‘types’ in very functional terms - thus the game does not always represent differences in armament or organisation – it is not intended to do so.
There is no need to draw armies on a consistent basis in terms of the time period covered or the cultural area represented. Some armies can be drawn from a single battle, others from a campaign, others from a broad cultural tradition. The same general culture might spawn several lists – including a very broadly representative list as well as specific lists representative of a limited geography, time period, theoretical drill model, or whatever.
Troop type representation is broad by function – e.g. ‘skirmishers’ might be slingers, troops with javelins, bowmen, grooms with sticks and stones, and so forth – the point is that they skirmish not that they do so with particular weapons. Troops armed with bows or missile weapons can have these subsumed into close combat if their primary role suggests it. This is often the case with units that combine missile armed and spear armed troops. It is usually the case with units that carry missiles used at short range such as darts. It is worth putting a note to this effect in any description. A single army list entry can represent a variety of comparable but historically distinct troop types and often does – it is necessary to note this in the descriptions.
There is no intent to represent every type of unit, warrior or device, for which some kind of evidence exists – nor is it mandatory to draw differentiations of broad type on the basis of specific instances. The idea is to maintain an overview appropriate to the game system – however, such instances might be more useful in army lists representing specific armies. E.g. A Roman list for the wars against Palmyra could include ‘Palestian Auxiliaries with clubs’ as an elite upgrade if you were so minded (but read the accounts of Herodian and Zosimus first) Such instances might be used as character notes where armies otherwise lack them and where evidence is otherwise scarce. E.g. Cataphract Camels in the Parthian list.
The number of different entries should be the least number required to meet the criteria noted under ‘principles’. There are good design benefits from this – it obliges you to decide how the army functions as a whole and thus emphasises its distinct character. The existing armies exemplify this principle quite well and should serve as examples of how this might be done (I wrote this before WAA – which are a little more liberal – the principle still holds). Where you want to represent a unique unit or some relatively obscure unit as a ‘character note’ then this is best handled as an ‘upgrade’. This means you don’t get multiple units in large armies.
All armies have minimum requirements for units that are considered to be their main fighting troops. The ‘minimum points per 1000’ should fall into roughly the same value for all armies – usually 300-370. If you go above or below this you have to be very careful to work out the permutations. Very careful. Minimums are usually 0, 1, 2, 4 or 8 reflecting the brigade rule structure. E.g. there’s no point in having a minimum ‘Hoplite’ value of 3 or 7 although points values can sometimes constrain this. Minimums have to leave enough points over to give the player some choice to tailor the army – note that this will vary from the first to subsequent ‘1000’s because of the general.
Minimums and maximums, where provided, will dictate the battlefield role of the units to some extent – so be careful not to base this solely on literal proportions of manpower. The min/max dictates the way the army works as a whole. This sometimes means it’s not practical to represent different historic units with different entries – you have to amalgamate them to prevent the type being over represented tactically. Where you do this make a note in the description. Elite units are usually provided in maximums of 1 or 2. This makes them hard to fit into brigade formations in small armies – this is OK.
Presentation should follow the format used on this web-site for the presentation of armies as far as possible. That includes the background and troop type notes. There’s no need to include these in a development set of lists of course. Always best done at the end in my experience.
Armies should as far as possible be enjoyable to play and reasonably competitive – they do not all have to be equally good in all situations – they certainly weren’t in reality.
Mutual playability is most important in respect of armies that are contemporaries and least important in armies that are most distant in time or geographically. Some armies will play strongly in specific terrain – some will play poorly in specific terrain – so it was in fact and so it is on the gaming table. Don’t worry about this too much.
Stats and troop capabilities are generally set within their context – i.e. what is ‘armour’ for an Old Kingdom Egyptian might not be ‘armour’ to a Norman Knight. This is typical of the way Warmaster represents troops by role rather than by detail of equipment. Note that this cuts both ways – armoured troops could be placed in a lighter category if their role suggests it. This is most noticeable with the heavy cavalry – where the category covers both unarmoured and armoured horses and riders with varying degrees of protection. This is intentional! Although ‘armour’ is described in fairly literal terms in the rulebook it actually reflects a unit’s ability to withstand combat – so it represents morale, training and determination as well.