The Numidians Advance
[Tony pulled together this army out of old Airfix figures so that he could wargame with them using Wargames Research Group's DBA rules. For the un-initiated, DBA (or De Belles Antiquites) is a nice simple fast playing set of wargame rules for fighting ancient battles, requiring only 12 elements per side (an element is a number of figures stuck onto the same base, from 2-7 depending on the troop type). They are designed for 2 mm, 10 mm, 15 mm or 25 mm figures. The scale best suited for 1/72 (20mm) plastic figures is 25mm (they actually fit nicer on the 25mm bases than 25mm metal figures. The later are just too big!).
DBA recreates combat with no record keeping and a minimum of dice rolls. All elements are classified according to how they fought, not according to what they were armed and armoured with. They are placed on identical width bases, and square off to fight each other. Each element has a basic combat factor versus foot or mounted depending on what classification it is, and these factors are affected by terrain, supporting ranks if applicable, and whether your flanks and rear are secure.
It is quite easy to create an [infantry] army out of one box of plastic figures. The battles are played on a 4' by 4' surface (for 25mm armies), which should be able to be picked up from a second hand building supplier with little trouble. Thus, when these rules are combined with plastic figures, they are ideal as an introduction to wargaming.
They require very little financial outlay to get started, are quick and easy to learn (most people having grasped the hang of the rules half way though their first game), widespread (it would be hard to find a group of Ancient's wargamers that doesn't contain someone who plays DBA), and, most importantly, DBA is fun to play. For more information about DBA Click here.]
I put these armies together a few years ago to give my Romans something
other than warband bashing to do. The historical accuracy of these
conversions is not as good as I would like and I ask you to take them with a grain of salt. This was the best I could do with figures that were available at the time. You might like to view this as an exercise in conversion possibilities. Consult the references at the end of this article for an accurate picture of what these figures should look like.
At the time of writing (mid-1999) it is now possible to get all the figure types shown here straight out of the box from the Hat Carthaginian range.
Numidian DBA Army #53 (215 BC - 25 AD)
Here is my DBA Numidian army configured as -
- 5 x 2LH
- 4 x 2Ps
- 1 x El
- 1 x 3Cv Cavalry (Spanish/Gallic bodyguard)
- 1 x 4Bd (Imitation legionaries).
Moorish DBA Army #65 (25 AD - 700 AD)
Here is my DBA Moorish army configured as -
As you can see many of the figures are interchangeable with the Numidian
- Numidian/Moorish Light Cavalry
- 7 Airfix French Napoleonic Cuirassiers.
- 7 Airfix Romans - chariot horses. These are about the only bare back horses I know of.
The rider is based on the French Napoleonic Cuirassier. The cuirass becomes
the tunic. Everything else is cut off or scraped off. Cut down the helmet so that it becomes the hair. Paint the cuirass area and the head with a coat of PVA white glue to smooth over defects. The dark skin colour hides the conversion work also.
The shield is a washer glued to the figure with super glue, the hole covered with a piece of paper from a hole punch and then given a coating of white PVA glue to smooth the surface out. Alternatively the shield could have been made from a small headed thumb tack.
The javelen is made from a pin cut to length.
- The shield is probably too large for the figure and a smaller sized washer should have been used.
- The chariot horses used have some sort of collar around their chest which I didn't cut away but rather relied on painting the horse a dark colour to camouflage it somewhat.
- Numidian/Moorish Light Infantry (DBA psiloi)
- Airfix Robin Hood. These figures, long out of production, have been re-released by Hat.
The hood at the back of the figure was cut away as was the bow. The javelin
is a pin cut to size.
The shield is a washer glued to the figure with super
glue, the hole covered with a piece of paper from a hole punch and then
given a coating of white PVA glue to smooth the surface out. Alternatively
the shield could have been made from a small headed thumb tack.
The tunic sleeves have been painted skin colour thereby making them part of the arm.
- The reference material shows the tunic as shorter and more bunched at the
shoulder than is displayed on this conversion.
- Numidian Gaulish Bodyguard Cavalry (DBA cavalry)
- Torso - Airfix Romans
- Legs - Airfix ACW / 7th Cavalry
- Horse - Airfix ACW / 7th Cavalry
- Shields - Loose shields from ESCI Barbarians
The Romans are cut in half as are the 7th Cavalry riders. The legs are then
pinned and super glued to the Roman torso. The shields were added to the
figures and glued in place. The javelin is a pin cut to size. Gaps at the
torso join can be filled by painting the join area with PVA white glue.
Indeed a coat of glue over the figure will help hold it together.
The Roman helmet was painted as gallic style helmet with neck guard painted as hair.
The rider's pants went into high boots. The pants were pained in a dark
colour as breeches and the tops of the boots were pained flesh colour and
the bottom as shoes.
- On a personal note these figures are the first conversions I ever undertook. They were done way back in 1972 as Roman cavalry. With new shields, moustaches and painting the back of the helmet as hair they have been recycled as Gauls.
- Airfix 7th Cavalry have long been out of production. However if you look at through the Napoleonic cavalry produced by Revell, Hat and Italeri you should find something that will suffice.
- Numidian Imitation Legionaries (DBA blades)
- Aifix Romans. These figures have been out of production but now have been re-released by Hat.
The figures are used straight out of the box with no conversion required
other than painting the skin a dark colour.
- The Airfix Romans come from the Early Imperial period and can be used to represent the Roman style troops of Tacfarinas (circa 20 AD). It is probably an anachronism to use these figures with the elephants of the Republican period. Purist could instead use Romans legionaries from the Hat Punic War range.
- Numidian Elephant (DBA elephant)
- Elephant - Toy elephant from a packet of zoo animals from a toy store.
- Crew - Airfix Robin Hood undergoing the light infantry conversion described above.
- Mahout - Airfix French Cuirassier coveted along similar lines as the light cavalry above.
The blanket is made from heavy paper such as cartridge paper. Cut rectangles pieces of paper out and try them out on the elephant until one looks right. Then covered both sides with PVA glue until soaked and mould it onto elephant body and let it dry. When dry paint the elephant.
The howdah is constructed from cardboard (from an art supply shop) and is essentially an oblong box. The sizing was done by eye. It is constructed from 4 pieces which form the sides. Cut these out and glue them together. A channel was carved fore and aft into the underside of the box with a knife until it sat well on the elephant. The howdah was then glued into place.
Finally the painted crew and mahout were glued on.
- The elephants are the African forest elephants species which were smaller than Indian Elephants used in the East and stood 7-8 feet (2.15m - 2.45m) tall at the shoulder. In 20mm scale you want a model elephant about 25mm high at the shoulder.
- An alternative for the mahout is to bend the legs under the figure so it crouches on top rather than riders astride the elephant. You can do this by putting the figure in hot water, bending, then setting the legs in the new position in a container of cold water.
(To contact the author, click here.)
Barker, Phil. and Scott, Richard Bodley. DBM Army Lists, Book 2 and Book 3.
Barker, Phil. The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome, WRG
Head, Duncan. Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars, WRG
Warry, John. Warfare in the Classical World, Lansdowne Press, 1980.
The DBA Page Reference - An article on Numidan and Moorish DBA armies may be found here
If you are interested in finding out more about wargaming with plastic figures, please visit Nick Grant's DBx Wargaming with 20mm Soft Plastic Figures.