Tally Ho!

Saturday 3 June 2017

The Battle of Zama - an Armati scenario

Our most recent game fell on a bank holiday so we had a slightly larger turn-out than usual for a regular club-night. So this week we fought a larger game and restaged the Battle of Zama. This was the final battle of the 2nd Punic Wars and pitted Scipio Africanus against Hannibal uncomfortably close to the very gates of Carthage.

The Romans and Latins deployed in their traditional 3 ranks supported by a strong force of Numidian cavalry. Hannibal deployed his infantry in three ranks  (Mercenaries, Citizens, and then Veterans) with elephants in front to disrupt the Romans.

The Armies

For the refight we few compromises were required due to the figures available. The Roman 2nd and 3rd lines each consisted of 6 units, split 50/50 between Romans (7 [2] 0) and Latins (6 [1] 0), all deployed in width. They were preceded by a first line of javelin armed skirmishers and supported by 2 units of Triarii. The largest comprise was on the flanks, as we only had few units of Numidian cavalry. So the Romans had 2 deployed facing the Carthaginian 1. Ideally we would have doubled or tripled this. We ignored the Numidian infantry mentioned by several authors that appear not to have fought on the day.  

Latins on the left of the line

Romans on the right of the line

Numidian's on the right

Italian cavalry

The Carthaginians deployed in three main lines with Hannibal's veterans forming a reserve at the rear. The first line was composed of elephants and supporting skirmishers.  To allow our elephants to stretch we used just one model per unit. The second line was  composed of Celts and Celtiberian's with the third line of Spanish foot (6 [1] 0) and experienced citizen infantry (6 [1] 0). Again all infantry deployed in width. 

Punic right - citizens and celts

Right of the Punic line

Left of the Punic line

Punic left flank

Special Rules

The main special rule applied to the elephants. We allowed a mixed light/heavy division to manoeuvre and act as single entity. Also breaks in this division did not reduce initiative as this was expected to be a largely sacrificial force. Elephants were not Key for the same reason.

The second special rule was that all infantry were allowed to breakoff from combat and ranks could interpenetrate without penalty. This would allow lines to reinforce each-other if needed.


Troops were deployed as described above, with the Romans in three main lines matching the Punic forces. Both sides had cavalry to their flanks and enjoyed a superiority on the own right.

View from the Roman right flank

View from the Punic left flank

The Battle

The battle opened in line with history as Hannibal sent forward his skirmishers and elephants in an attempt to weaken the Roman's line. They in turn responded by pressing forward on the flanks and deploying their own skirmishers in an attempt to kill the elephants before they hit the main line.

Velites advance

Romans and Latins prepare to receive the elephants

Elephants supported by Libyan Javelinmen

Elephants with Celtic skirmishers

The first major clash was in the centre of the table as the Punic first line tangled with the Roman skirmishers. Usually skirmishers are deadly to elephants but on his occasion they were only to kill one of the beasts and somewhat enrage the others. Sensing they were loosing the skirmishers retreated behind the Roman second line to regroup.

Punic forces attack

Patiently the Romans wait

Skirmishers clash

Roman skirmishers withdraw

On the Roman left the Italian cavalry clashed with their Punic opposite numbers. Honours were pretty even, with the Carthaginians making an error in deploying their second rank too close to the fight and risking its loss.

In the centre the elephants trundled into the waiting Romans and met with some initial success in breaking a couple of units from the second line. However the elephants lower Fatigue rating meant they tired first and were destroyed by the Romans. The impetuous Celts had been drawn close to the fight and so many were swept away by the routing elephants. At this stage things suddenly looked pretty even.

We have nt mentioned the Romans right where they had the advantage so far - suffice to say that with numbers on their side they were able to push back the Punic cavalry. Hannibal deployed part of his reserve veteran infantry to counter this and stabilise the flank.

Stomp stomp

Romans fight-off the elephants

Ouch - two elephants
With the elephants destroyed there was a short pause while Hannibal reorganised his troops and resumed his attack. The remaining Celts were thrown against the Roman second line to weaken it further. Crucially the Punic forces were able to defeat the Italian horse and so turn the left flank of the Roman line. This was the fatal move with the Romans reaching breakpoint and so a win for Hannibal.

Roman second line somewhat fragmented

Hannibal turns the flank

Hannibal overseas the coup-de-gras


An interesting refight and easily the largest Armati game we have fought so far. Although the elephants killed as many Celts as Romans they did weaken and pin the Romans for most of the game. The difference though as that the Punic Calvary were able to exploit their advantage and create a flank attack whereas the Romans became bogged-down and could not influence the outcome.

It would probably have been more decisive though had we been able to scale-up both sides Numidian cavalry units and give the Romans a larger force on their right.  


  1. A spectacular game and well done to the elephants!

  2. It was nice to dust them off and see them in action. In Armati they are fairly poor so might not feature too often.