During the 6th century BC, Carthage began to assert itself as the dominant military power in the Western Mediterranean. King Mago I, who came to power in 550BC, instituted a largely mercenary army. The Carthaginians were somewhat weary of sending their own citizens into battle, so the mercenary army idea must have worked nicely for them. This list covers Carthaginian armies from the ascension of Mago I until the end of the war against Pyrrhus of Epirus. I have started off with the early sublist, which finishes in 410BC.
The army’s offensive punch comes from its command element (either a Heavy Chariot or Cavalry element), a Heavy Chariot, and a Cavalry element. The Heavy Chariots are from the Chariot Miniatures range, sold by Magister Militum. They look to be based on Libyan style chariots, and the crew have helmets based on a coin from 237BC. The chariots should look a little different, being rectangular but without the ‘quilted’ leather sides, and the helmets are rather too late for the list, so I’ll be replacing both at some stage. The cavalry are from Corvus Belli. You have to pick and choose a bit from within the packs to get early style helmets. I should really replace the general’s escort with converted figures from the cavalry pack one day. One thing worth noting about the Corvus Belli Mounted troops, or at least the Carthaginians, is that their fit to their horses is not good at all. The riders’ legs are splayed way apart and there is no way of changing that, and the figures are also designed for very flat saddles.
Providing a firm base for the army are six elements of Spears. The Spears are a mixture of Corvus Belli figures (with their thureo shields replaced with hoplons), representing Carthaginian citizens and Xyston Sacred Band figures representing Libyan mercenaries and the Sacred Band itself. There’s nothing wrong with the Xyston Carthaginian citizen figures but I happened to have a few packs of the Corvus Belli ones, so I just needed to buy the shields.
It was a bit of a hassle getting the Corvus Belli hoplons to stay on as their convex shape means there is not much area to glue. Also the convexity made the use of shield decals a bit more difficult. I’d recommend the Xyston hoplons as they are less convex and they have a helpful ‘clip’ inside to attach the shield to the figure’s arm. Little Big Men Studios also do a range of Carthaginian shields that are designed to use with the Xyston hoplons. I used VVV decals for mine and I’m quite happy with them apart from a few wrinkles caused by the shields’ geometry.
The Xyston figures are perhaps a little too well equipped for representing the Libyan mercenaries – they should maybe have figures without greaves and maybe in lighter armour, but since they have the right helmets and the armour is not too terrible I chose them over the others I’d seen. The Xyston figures are only a millimetre taller than the Corvus Belli ones, by the way, and I actually found it easier fitting them onto the bases than I did the Corvus Belli figures because the Xyston figures were often side-on to the base.
For light troops the army has two Psiloi and an Auxilia. For these you have a choice of Spanish, or Ligurian, Sardinian, Corsican, and Balearic islands troops. Wanting my army to have more of a Tyrrhenian Sea/Western Med feel I wanted to avoid the Spanish. Because Chariot are the only manufacturer who makes Ligurians, and I haven’t seen any Sardinian or Corsican figures in my travels (the former wore very fancy helmets with all sorts of projecting horns), I went for Chariot for all my light troops, for consistency. So here we have some rather small Balearic slingers and Ligurian medium infantry.
For a camp I went for a bit of a mixture. Usually I do two 40mm bases that go together to make one scene, but this time I have a pretty basic trader and his wife with baggage (nicel stuff from Baueda) on one base, and a little diorama of Hamilcar, leader of the Magonid Dynasty, at the Battle of Himera. There are various Greek accounts of how Hamilcar met his death. Herodotus has it that he through himself into a fire as a sacrifice to the gods when he saw the battle was lost. The splendid Hamilcar figure is from the Xyston Carthaginian Generals set, converted with a wire-and-green-stuff torch. He is wearing a mix of Italian equipment, which is fine given that he would have had plenty of mony to spend and the Carthaginians were such avid traders.