Preliminary Rounds: Pyrrhus in Sicily
(Scenarios for Warhammer Ancient Battles)
By Jeff Jonas (from the Journal of the Society of Ancients, Slingshot)

"What a wrestling pit I now leave for Rome and Carthage to fight over!", claimed Pyrrhus of Epirus as he extricated his armies from Sicily in 275 B.C. With this comment, he predicted the upcoming conflict between the budding super powers over that island.  However, the notion that within a hundred years Rome would defeat both Carthage and the Hellenistic empires- the very empires that were represented by Pyrrhus when he first brought his trained "Macedonian" style army to Italy at the request of Tarentum, would have been preposterous to him indeed.

The “Eagle” King

Although, his “Pyrrhic Victories” against Rome are fairly well known about, and gamed often, little is known about his Sicilian adventure. After Pyrrhus was ejected from Macedonia, and closed off from eastern ambitions, he jumped at an invitation to help Tarentum in the "heel" of Italy to fend off the expanding Romans in 280 B.C. His army crossed a very stormy Adriatic and thus began Rome's first exposure to the Macedonian style phalanx, and war elephants.

SicilyMap.GIF (122008 bytes)

Diagram 1: The key cities of Sicily involved in Pyrrhus’ campaign, and the later 1st Punic War

The core of Pyrrhus’ army was 5000 Macedonian pikemen, along with other phalanx’s recruited from Epirote regions “along the Macedonian style”. Pyrrhus’s army also contained a small force of highly effective Thessalian cavalry, and some Rhodian slingers, among the other usual Peltasts and supporting troops. Of course his most famous asset was his force of Asian war elephants, which no Roman soldier had faced before. Encountering much tougher resistance than expected, his forces combined with a large number of allies finally defeated the Romans seriously at Asculum.  This led to the Roman “peace” party convincing their constituents that  Rome’s legions were useless against the Epirote elephant corps and a treaty was drawn up which forced Rome to evacuate most of her gains in southern Italy. Cineas, (Pyrrhus’ “Right Hand Man”) was in Rome for the signing of this document when a Carthaginian fleet of 120 warships suddenly appeared off Ostia harbor under a admiral named Mago. The Carthaginians told the Romans they were ready to ally with them as long as they continued the war with Pyrrhus. The sullen Romans were rejuvenated by this new “alliance”, and cancelled the signing. This Carthaginian fleet sailed to invest Syracuse in Sicily- and as part of this new era of cooperation they ferried Romans troops to Rhegium in an attempt to remove some “Bandit” Campanians that had emulated the Mamertines across the straits of Messina.

Pyrrhus still had the upper hand militarily, but his Tarentine and Greek allies were weary of his heavy handed leadership. In their short sighted view the threat from Rome was ended and Pyrrhus should find work elsewhere. Because of these recalcitrant allies he realized that total conquest Rome was beyond his reach.  Pyrrhus began to look for greener pastures. He didnt need to wait long as Macedonia was once again in turmoil as the Galatians had overrun the frontiers were running amok well into Greece. Closer at hand, he received entreaties from civil war torn Sicily which was about to be gobbled up by Carthage (whom he must have been somewhat peeved at as they had ruined the treaty with Rome). Of the two choices the Sicilian gambit fit in well with Pyrrhus’ concepts of Grand Strategy. Since the eastern realms were firmly in the hands of powerful dynasts such as the Ptolemies, and the Seleucid Empires, Pyrrhus believed that an easy conquest of fragmented Sicily would be just the first step in a follow-up conquest of Carthage itself.  With Carthage in hand Rome would become a mere nuisance and he would have the power to be a “player” with the Hellenistic Kingdoms.  Pyrrhus's ambitions are related by Plutarch in his dialogue with Cineas, "We can make it (Sicily) the spring-board for much greater enterprises. How could we resist making an attempt upon Libya and Carthage, once we come in reach of them?"1

Springboard to Sicily

During the summer of 278 B.C. B.C. Pyrrhus assembled 60 warships and enough transports to ferry 10,000 troops and roughly 500 cavalry (presumably his Agema horsemen and remaining Thessalians) and his 19 odd elephants over to Sicily. Garrisons were left in Tarentum to keep them from getting “ideas”, and a sizeable force was left in Locris to support his Italian allies. The Tarantines were happy to see him off, but Pyrrhus left his allied Samnite tribes completely in the lurch, which they never forgot.  New Roman Consular armies spent most of their efforts punishing them for joining the Tarentine alliance. The leaders in Rome were no doubt thrilled by this turn in fortune, getting rid of Pyrrhus without having to risk another battle against his elephants!

The straits of Messina were closed by the Mamertines and the bandits at Rhegium so Pyrrhus’ armada sailed from Locri and dodged Carthaginian naval patrols and landed at Tauromenium just south of Messana. The local tyrant, Tyndarion immediately declared allegiance. His forces joined Pyrrhus as they sailed to Catana where he gained yet more allies. Apparently half of the Carthaginian fleet was blockading Syracuse and the other 60 ships had been split up and were unwilling to contest the Epirote fleet.

The Epirote intervention couldn't have come at a better time, as a Carthaginian army reportedly of 50,000 men was spread over a large area blockading the land approaches to Syracuse. Pyrrhus's elephants and professional army caused the besieging forces to scatter. Pyrrhus's army had surged to more than 30,000 infantry and 2500 cavalry. He occupied Syracuse and gained a further 140 ships and plenty of siege machines. Two warring leaders of Syracuse, Thonon and Sosistratus buried the hatchet and joined Pyrrhus’ cause. They had each been waging a civil war with 10,000 Sikels each, many of these troops joined in with their leaders.

Pyrrhus didnt sit still for long and immediately began marching against Carthaginian held cities. Acragas (Agrigentum) fell to his new General Sositstratus when they ousted the Carthaginians, and added 8000 troops “as good as the Epirotes” to the army. Next Heracleia, Selinus, and Segesta fell as the Carthaginian armies helplessly fled for fear of the elephants. One can only think of how miserable the conditions were for the Carthaginian mercenaries as they retreated through unfriendly territories, without food, with Sikel partisans picking off stragglers. Casualties must have been enormous from desertion, starvation, and disease (much like the famous retreats through Spain during the Napoleonic wars, where armies lost more men marching than in battle). No wonder that the Carthaginian leaders shied away from land battles and relied on their naval superiority to attempt to stem Epirote advances.

The remnants of the Punic forces were swept from their holdings and bottled up on the northern coasts in walled cities such as Eryx and Panormus. Pyrrhus invested these in turn and both fell to assaults when he had reduced them with his siege train. At Eyrx, Pyrrhus led the assault through a breach and the entire Carthaginian garrison was put to the sword. At last Pyrrhus was actually achieving the heroic deeds that his lineage from Achilles demanded! He held games and festivals to play up his success.

The last of the Carthaginians hunkered down in their rocky stronghold at Lilybaeum and were bottled up by the vengeful Sicilians and Epirotes. Lilybaeum was at the end of an Isthmus and difficult to approach, if the city couldn’t be stormed immediately a long siege would be the result. Instead of risking an assault Pyrrhus was content to blockade the port and gathered his veterans to take care of the only other serious threat to his control of Sicily- the Mamertines.

Mamertines in the City

The Mamertines were quite an interesting bunch. The were originally mercenaries from Campania hired by Agathocles of Syracuse in his wars against Carthage during the previous century. Upon his death these unruly thugs were paid off and told to go home (they must have been very tough indeed as many Syracusan mercenaries were executed or sacrificed in battle to avoid paying their wages, a fact not lost on Pyrrhus). They must have liked Sicily’s climate so much that they decide to move in! After marching into Messana (288 B.C.) with it’s strategic and lucrative ferrying position at the narrow straits, they rather unpleasantly killed or ejected the city’s male population and took the name Mamertines (The War God’s Men). Soon they expanded outward setting up tax collectors and bands of brigands to extort the local countryside. With the opposite side of the straits at Rhegium held by brother Campanian mutineers from the Roman army, they had a monopoly on transit fees and extorted all shipping going through the straits.

The Mamertines were being aided by the Carthaginians who obviously wished to stir up a “Second Front” against Pyrrhus and “buy time” at Lilybaeum. The Sicilians cried to Pyrrhus to rid them of these pests, and he jumped at the bait, seeing more glory in this than possible stalemate at Lilybaeum. Gathering up his good troops he set about killing Mamertine tax collectors, and reducing their strongholds. The Mamertines made a bold stand and attempted a major battle but were defeated and fell back behind the walls of Messana. With such a swift dispatch of these pesky brigands, Pyrrhus was heralded as “King of Sicily”. His son Alexander, borne by yet another wife, Lanassa (who was a daughter of Agathocles), was appointed as heir and his dynasty seemed secure.

Incomplete Victory

The Carthaginians spent this time well, reinforcing Lilybaeum with a fresh army and fortifying the isthmus with a wall, anchored on the flanks by massive towers. They actually began negotiations with Pyrrhus and attempted to bribe him into peace terms to save their last stronghold in Sicily.

Pyrrhus now received word that Rome was again on the march and the Tarentines and Lucanians who once were in a such hurry to see him leave, now desperately wanted him (or his elephants) back. The Sicilians urged him to ignore further distractions and expel the Carthaginians completely.

Pyrrhus decided that Italy could wait and demanded that Carthage totally withdraw from Sicily. His grand strategy seemed to be working and his "conquests" were at a zenith. The Romans were still unable to break the will of his allies supported by Cineas and Epirote mercenaries, Carthage was reduced to one toe-hold at Lilybaeum, and the Mamertine threat had been squashed. He chose to end the war in Sicily first, then he could turn his full attention back to dealing with Rome from a much stronger position.

The Epirote forces were again gathered before Lilybaeum with a full siege train and Pyrrhus ordered an assault on the outer works. The Punic engineers had used the gained time well and the wall and towers across the isthmus had every square foot covered with war machines. The Siciliotes threw themselves against these works but were shot down by the volumes of enemy fire. Even the Epirote veterans were unable to make headway against such a stacked defense. Pyrrhus attempted to knock out the towers with his own artillery but with little success. The Carthaginian fleets kept the fortress supplied and harassed his operations.  Pyrrhus began to curse the Syracusans for the galleys that lay unused in her harbor. The attackers called off their suicidal assaults and turned to mining operations in the rocky ground, but the defenders were easily able to countermine and thwart any progress. One must pause to wonder how Pyrrhus’ assault would have faired if he hadn’t allowed the Carthaginians the extra time to build these outer works.  By now he must have realized the serious mistakes he made by leaving Lilybaeum when it was within his grasp, and refusing the Carthaginian peace terms which would have allowed him some time to consolidate.

Two more months of operations gained no headway, and as casualties mounted the fickle Sikels were less than enthusiastic about continuing the assault that they had demanded from Pyrrhus in the first place. The siege was called off and Pyrrhus’ aura of invincibility was heavily shaken.

Sicilian Backstab

The “Eagle King” as some called Pyrrhus was disgusted by this defeat, and his impatient mind immediately came up with a new “end around” plan that would solve all his problems. Like Agathocles before him he would carry the war to Africa and ignore Lilybaeum altogether.  Pyrrhus began to conscript crews to man the empty Syracusan fleet. At first the Sicilian cities responded, but there was an immediate chill in relations with their new "savior" as his demands became more autocratic. He ordered press gangs to round up oarsmen, but this only led to rioting. Obviously Pyrrhus was wearing out the hinges on this "Springboard".

In time he created a spark which unraveled all of his gains. The two prominent Syracusans, Thonon and Sosistratus, decided it was time to rub out their benefactor. Pyrrhus had reason to fear the power of the "Sicilian Backstab" , as the fate of mercenaries under Syracuse could be volatile once the war ended and they wanted their paychecks.  Also, the betrayal a generation before of  Alexander of Epirus in southern Italy could not have been far from Pyrrhus's mind. As soon as he suspected treason from these supporters he arrested them, although Sosistratus escaped. Thonon was executed, this led to a bewilderingly swift collapse of Pyrrhus’ little empire in Sicily, as all the cities, not just Syracuse rose in revolt against him.  Sositratus showed his true colors by not only raising forces of Sicilians but turned to the Carthaginians and even the hated Mamertines for help!

The Epirote army was cut-off from support, still guarding Lilybaeum. The Carthaginian army went on the offensive but Pyrrhus and his terrorizing elephants drove them back yet again. But his position was untenable, with the Sikels waging guerrilla war on his lines of communications, this time he had no choice but to retreat. Arriving back at Syracuse, Pyrrhus received word that the Romans were also pushing the Tarentines and Samnites back on all fronts. Utterly incapable of dealing with the Sicilian uprising, he decided to do what any unwanted sheriff would do - get out of Dodge!

His general Hiero was placed in charge at Syracuse, this fellow was trustworthy because he had married one of Pyrrhus’ daughters, and eventually as Tyrant (then King) of Syracuse he was quite influential in  the wars to come.

Tomorrow is another day

The Carthaginians must have been overjoyed that without hardly any military success on land or sea they had sent Pyrrhus packing back to Italy to become the thorn in the side of the Romans again. They along with the Mamertines turned the retreat of the Epirote force into a rout by destroying 70 ships and capturing his flagship in the straits of Messina. Despite this disaster, the "come-back kid" Epirote King seems to have retired to Italy with more troops than he brought in! Cooperation between the Carthaginians, the Romans, and even the Mamertines was at an all-time high as a force of 10,000 revenge seeking Mamertines landed at Rhegium in order to deflect Pyrrhus’s attempt to capture that town. As he packed up and left for Locris, they ambushed his rear guard and succeeded in killing two of his precious elephants. Pyrrhus personally intervened and although wounded in hand to hand combat, he dispatched their champion  "A man of giant stature clad in shining armour..."2  by reputedly cleaving him from head to groin with a mighty blow. This broke the will of the pursuing Mamertines and Pyrrhus finally arrived back at Tarentum with 20,000 foot and 3,000 cavalry.

Pyrrhus's final adventures are beyond the scope of this article, suffice to say that after he was ejected from Italy,  he continued to stir the pot in Greece, until as fate would have it, he was killed by the famous "piss-pot" (or a tile, but that’s not as ironic) thrown from above while he attempting to storm Argos with his elephants.... After all his adventures, Pyrrhus'  is most famous for getting Rome and Carthage allied against him, but the simmering pot he left in Sicily inevitably embroiled these two empires in the first Punic War.

Gaming Pyrrhus’ Sicilian war

Gaming possibilities abound for Pyrrhus' campaign in Sicily, but most of the actual actions are poorly documented, so at best generalized scenarios can be created, and the fact that Pyrrhus' ultimate demise came from political ineptitude rather than his military talents would make for a very involved and complex "campaign" style game. However it is an interesting situation, especially since there are four "players" including Pyrrhus, Carthage, the Mamertines, and even Roman intervention is a possibility. Players may attempt to recreate Pyrrhus' early victories with some conjectural battles against the Carthaginian and Mamertine foes. Currently, I have been having the most enjoyable games with Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) and the following scenarios are based on that ruleset, but any of these ideas can be swiftly converted to any popular ruleset.

Three particular events of the Sicilian campaign lend themselves to good game scenarios. The first is Pyrrhus’ lightning campaign that pushed the Carthaginian forces back into their coastal strongholds. The second is Pyrrhus’ over whelming defeat of the Mamertines. The third is the rear guard battle where the revenge minded Mamertines harassed Pyrrhus’s retreat up the toe of Italy with Carthaginian naval support. A game of the assault of Lilybaeum would be difficult to “balance”, as it seems more akin to a “Over the top” style charge. But maybe a Carthaginian player who has been defeated time and time again deserves to set up a nice “solitaire” scenario, and just shoot Epirotes as they futilely attack the ramparts!

WAB Battle Campaign:  Round 1: Rear Guard

The Carthaginians were unable to risk an all or nothing battle against Pyrrhus, but they might have contested his initial forces at Syracuse, which makes for an entertaining "what if" battle pitting the earlier Carthaginian army “sans elephants” against Pyrrhus’ Hellenistic army. (It is surmised that exposure to elephants in Pyrrhus' army prompted the Carthaginians to scrap their archaic chariots and begin their own elephant corps). Carthage versus the Epirotes, is always an interesting match-up since both sides have access to a variety of diverse units and both forces need to win with "combined arms" tactics.

This scenario is based on a hypothetical rear guard action where the Carthaginians have made a stand to allow most of their army to escape through the marshes and swamplands that surrounded Syracuse. Pyrrhus is striving to break through the rear guard so he can scatter the retreating Carthaginians with his concentrated force.

In WAB's Armies of Antiquities (AoA) supplement is a basic starter list to create both the Epirote forces, and, with some minor fiddling, a Carthaginian force which represents a "Pre-Punic war" era army. An attempt to recreate Pyrrhus's army is fairly easy to glean from the AoA booklet Although I have provided a balanced OOB as a guideline, players should feel free to pick a Carthaginian and Epirote force from their respective AoA lists.

Army Lists for Pyrrhus’ Sicilian Campaign

(L/S/M, stands for Leader Standard bearer and Musician if added to unit).

The Epirote Advanced Guard


Army General: Pyrrhus himself, riding a warhorse and armed with sword, Kontos, or thrusting spear, heavy armor and a large shield (if not wielding a Kontos- of course). I would add that Pyrrhus would benefit from the "Warriors of Legend" attribute that allows a re-roll of a failed “to hit” die roll and one failed “to wound” die roll per turn, also the legendary warrior may re-roll his last armor save once! This brings his total points to 197 (including 10 points for the Warriors of Legend ability).

Battle Standard Bearer  heavy armor, large shield, warhorse 90 points


9x Thessalian cavalry (Shock Cavalry) (L/S/M) light armor, shields, throwing spears and javelins 294 points

10x Tarentine light cavalry (L/S/M), javelins, throwing spears and shields 195 points


24x Macedonian Mercenary phalanx (veterans) (L/S/M), 375 points

24x Chaeonian Phalanx (regulars) (L/S/M), 255 points

24x Molossian Phalanx (regulars) (L/S/M), 255 points


16x Illyrian Peltasts (L/S/M), armed with javelins, thrusting spears and shields 143 points


12x Acarnanian skirmishers (mercenaries) (L/S/M) javelins and shields 65 points

12x Rhodian* skirmisher slingers (mercenaries) slings and shields  72 points

(*Any  unit hit at short range by Rhodian slingers suffer -1 to their armor saves due to their lead sling pellets)


1 Elephant with Howdah mahout and with 2 crewmen with Light armor, and javelins 170 points

30x Samnites (Barbarian List: Mountain Tribesmen) Light Infantry, (L/S/M) mixed weapons and shields 165 points

(Total points 2276) (169 figures)

The Carthaginian Rear Guard

(A&M: the unit is subject to the “Allies and Mercenaries” special rules).


Army General: Bomilcar* armed with warhorse, light armor, large shield 150 points

(* I just like the name Bomilcar, a change of pace from the myriad’s of Hannos, Hamilcars and Barcas!)

Army battle standard armed with warhorse, light armor, large shield 85 points


10x  Punic Heavy cavalry (L/S/M) armed with throwing spears, shield, light armor 205 points

12x Numidian light cavalry (Barbarian list), armed with javelins and bucklers 144 points


24x African Spearmen (L/S/M) armed with thrusting spears, shield, light armor 255 points

24x African Spearmen (L/S/M) armed with thrusting spears, shield, light armor 255 points


24x Spanish Scutarii, Light Infantry (L/S/M) armed with thrusting spears, shield, throwing spears 159 points

32x Ligurians (Barbarian List: Mountain Tribesmen) Light Infantry (L/S/M) A&M, Mixed weapons, shields 175 points

32x Celts (Barbarian List) Warriors (L/S/M) A&M, Mixed weapons, shields 175 points

24x Greek Mercenary Hoplites (Greek list) (L/M) A&M, armed with light armor, thrusting spear, large shields 298 points

12x Ligurian Javelinmen (Barbarian List: Skirmishers) A&M, javelins +bucklers 48 points

12x Numidian Javelinmen (Barbarian List: Skirmishers) A&M, javelins +bucklers 48 points

10x Libyan Javelinmen (L) A&M, javelins +bucklers 55 points

10x Libyan Javelinmen (L) A&M, javelins +bucklers 55 points

10x  Moor (Barbarian list) archers A&M, bows 50 points

3x light Chariots* (use the same stats and costs as Persian Light chariots- page 13 of AoA, only substitute throwing spears and javelins for bows, and add the option of light armor +2 and large shields +2. (L/S/M) 114 points

(*Chariots were last recorded as being used by the Carthaginians in 309—about 20 years before, but it’s fun to add these  Punic Chariots to this very colorful force!)

(Total points 2272) (241 figures)

Setup and special rules

Armies: Both armies may be of any comparable point size, 2275 is the size of the sample armies above. The Epirote army should be picked from the AoA  “Alexander and Successors” list and must contain Pyrrhus, and may not contain Scythed chariots, up to 1 elephant must be taken, and is equipped with Howdah. The Punic host should be built from the AoA “Carthaginian list”, Celts would not be numerous at this time, and players should only have a few Iberians, and instead of war elephants (which were not available at this time) the Carthaginian player may take light chariots from the “Persian list” armed as above for 33 points each.

Game length: should be whatever the players are accustomed to but at least 7 turns may be needed.

Terrain: The game should be played on a standard  8’ x 4’ table, no hills should be allowed, only woods and marshlands should be placed, these should all be obstacles to movement, but only trees block Line of Sight. At least two marshes must be placed as in the diagram below, other wooded terrain may then be added. Players takes turns adding a woods section to their half of the table, (roll D6 to see who gets first placement) till one player passes, the other player may then either place one last wooded terrain feature or also pass. Once the last terrain is setup then go to deployment.

Diagram 2: Basic Terrain set-up

Setup: Follow the “Surprise Attack” scenario on page 79 of the WAB ruleset. Both players commence setup.

Victory: Standard victory points (WAB page 85), however if Pyrrhus is killed then the game is counted as a “Smashing” Punic victory, whatever the final results.

Special rules:

Campaign losses: both sides should be aware that the following Campaign rules (WAB page 94)  are in effect. Veteran units, and Victorious Generals are in effect.

Carthage: All their special rules apply from the AoA booklet, in addition, after both sides deploy, one unit of Numidian or Libyan Infantry Skirmishers may be placed in any woods as long as they are not visible to the enemy, or in the enemy deployment zone.

Epirus: All the special rules from the Alexander and Successors list apply. In addition, since the Carthaginians have not yet faced war elephants, any elephant causes “Terror” in ALL Carthaginian units until any unit survives a round of hand to hand combat with one. After that the normal elephant rules apply, note that the Epirote units are “Used to Elephants”.

Campaign victory

Players can play “one off” games or they can link a number of games to create something of an on-going  campaign framework for their Epirote  vs. Punic games.

At the end of each game both sides tally up and compare their victory points.

If the Epirotes win by 500 points or more then the battle is regarded as a “Smashing victory”, the Carthaginians are humbled and their forces flee to the Northern Sicilian Coastal cities of Panormus and Eryx. Pyrrhus is pleased by his feat of arms, and the Sicilians and Syracusans flock to his cause, he presses on to invest the demoralized foe, and events flow to their inevitable outcome…. So as usual in his career Pyrrhus wins victories but loses wars.

If the Carthaginians win by 500 plus points they too earn a smashing victory . Pyrrhus’s support ends and he is evicted from Sicily, Carthage is able to conquer Syracuse and is in a much better position to contest Rome in the upcoming 1st Punic War…and maybe even wins!

I either side wins by less than 499 points then the battle is still a victory, but nothing to write home about.  After each game (win or lose) the Carthaginians fall back to the next city along the coast in the direction of Lilybaeum, and regroup.(Gela if you wish to follow the map above) Both sides may recruit new armies from their AoA lists within the above restrictions/guidelines, but the winning side gains an extra 150 points of new recruits.  (Pyrrhus must take these new recruits from the AoA Greek list- no Spartans, Sacred Bands, or Thracians however! These represent Sicilian allies joining the cause). Players then set up a Round 2: Rematch scenario.

Round 2: Rematch

Players may use their initial 2275 army points from the list above plus any extra recruits based on the outcome of the last game’s results. Note also the status of Victorious Generals and Veteran Units if any.  Play proceeds as in Round 1 except players dice for and place terrain as normal. Any WAB scenario (1-8) may be chosen by the winner of the last match, however he may not choose Ambush or Last Stand (unless his opponent agrees of course).

If the Carthaginians won the last game then they are a bit more accustomed to Elephants and they revert to their normal effectiveness. However, if they lost the last round then all their troops suffer from Terror as stated above. Also the Epirotes are better at scouting out “Punic trickery” and no “hidden” Punic skirmishers are allowed if Pyrrhus won the last game, but if he lost then the Skirmishers may hide as detailed above.

Note that until one side or the other wins a “Smashing Victory” play can se-saw back and forth with the winner of the last game gaining a points advantage, and thus having a better chance of winning big and ending the campaign.

(If Pyrrhus’s forces lose two “Rematch” games in a row then his “fickle Sikel” allies turn against him and he immediately slips back to Italy and oblivion- Carthage wins a decisive victory! If Carthage loses two “Rematch” games in a row, then they are scattered as if the Epirote player won a “Smashing Victory”.

WAB Battle Scenario:  Mamertines on the run

The Mamertines are such an enigmatic force, they were originally Campanians and are depicted on coins as having no armor with Hoplon and throwing spears, although some or all of them may have worn full panoplies since they had the cash to buy them. They most likely had access to many light infantry like other Itialiote armies and decent cavalry. But since they were brigands I think they fit more into a Barbarian style force than the tidy AoA Greek list.

I suggest that the Mamertines use their stats from the WAB Barbarian List.

The following types of units may comprise a Mamertine army:

(Units are subject to “Warband Psychology” except noted)

Characters: up to 25%

0-1 Chieftain, may have heavy armor +4, large shield +2 along with other weapons listed (no chariot option).

The Chieftain is the general.

0-1 Battle Standard, may have heavy armor +4, large shield +2 along with other weapons listed (no chariot option).

Infantry: at least 50% must be infantry.

Warriors at 8 points, instead of mixed weapons they are armed with large shields, and throwing spears. They may have Light armor for +3 points.

Mountain Tribesmen (Peltasts) at 7 points, they have javelins, shields, and throwing spears.

Skirmishers at 4 points, are armed with javelins and bucklers, one unit may have bows instead  for +1 point each.

Cavalry: up to 25% may be cavalry

Noble Cavalry, may be armed as listed (not subject to “Warband psychology”)

Light Cavalry, may be armed as listed (not subject to “Warband psychology”)

This creates quite an interesting force which looks like a Hoplite army but reacts more like a unruly band of bloodthirsty Brigands! The lack of central authority is represented by the downgraded general. Campanian cavalry were well regarded, therefore I’ve removed the “Warband” rules for them.  The Warband overrun rule adequately simulates the fear that opponents had for these “War God’s Men”.

There are two scenarios that immediately come to mind to pit this Mamertine force vs. Pyrrhus’ veterans.

1) Booty call….

The is a (1000 pt.) Skirmish battle (WAB Scenario 8) in which the Mamertines have sent a force to save their extorted loot from being overrun by Pyrrhus. Directly in the center of the table, set-up two Mamertine wagons full of booty with a small force (12 maximum Peltasts guards). The wagons may not march move and their speed is 6” per turn, they are immune to psychology but may be broken in hand to hand combat. The wagons have 3 wounds each and toughness 5, and weapon skill of their drivers is 2, with one attack, all other stats are 0.

Setup after that would be straightforward, both sides deploy then commence action. The Wagons are worth 100 victory points each  to the Mamertines if they survive, if the Epirote force captures or destroys them both (including routing off the table), the whole Mamertine force must immediately pass a panic as they are most demoralized about losing their payola. Elephants cause Terror to all Mamertine units. Otherwise normal victory points apply.

2) That’s your Elephant…

This game is  based on the Mamertine attacks against the Epirote rear guards as they retreated from Rhegium. The scenario is best played using the Surprise attack rules (WAB Scenario 3). The Epirote force must have at least one elephant, and it is the first unit to be deployed. Pyrrhus must begin the game off the table, he enters the game at the start of turn 2 from anywhere on his baseline edge. Normal elephant rules are in effect as the Mamertines are more “used to the beasts”. If an elephant is killed or stampedes off the table, then the Mamertines gain 2x the normal victory points for them. Any one Mamertine infantry regiment within 6” of where an elephant begins it’s stampede or is killed becomes frenzied. One Mamertine warrior unit may have two hand axes, instead of their throwing spears and shields at no extra cost. Otherwise normal rules and victory points apply.



I hope that these scenario ideas spark some interest in gaming this “side-show” campaign. Pyrrhus showed all of his talents and all his failings in the Sicilian adventure. Pyrrhus influenced the 1st Punic war by sparking the use of elephants by Carthage, the Romans copied Pyrrhus’ fortified camp design, and Hannibal read his book on tactics and ranked him amongst the top three generals of all time. But Hannibal was another general who could win battles but not wars!

1 Plutarch : The Age of Alexander, page 399.  Tr. Ian Scott-Kilvert, Penguin Edition, 1980.

2 Plutarch : The Age of Alexander, page 413.  Tr. Ian Scott-Kilvert, Penguin Edition, 1980.

I really want to hear your comments and criticisms. If you use this scenario for a game please give me any details you can!

JJonas@SOE.sony.com or  JJartist@earthlink.net

Created by Jeff Jonas 1/00