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ARMATI TWO Army Lists review

"Ho stranger passing by; stop and read this or I'll cry."

These new lists have been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait and it comes free with the new ARMATI rules. There are more than 150 armies which divide into five periods: Biblical, Antiquity, Age of Empires, Triumph of Cavalry, Age of Chivalry. The writers do recommend that players stay within the relevant period for games, but it is in no way necessary to do this. For the most part the lists consider the effect a specific type of troops would have within their specific period(s). Thus it can be argued that within his period a Selucid Cataphract would have the same effect as a French knight in his era

Those who have followed the WRG/DBM lists over the years will be aware that it is impossible to confine all armies to specific periods and Armati has to wrestle with the same problem. While the DBM approach has been to issue a plethora of lists over many books, Armati is following a different path by providing a large base of armies within the rule book and developing a service to add to the number online (more about this later in the article)

This may be the first complete army list to have been revamped over the Internet. Contributors world-wide have had (sometimes stormy) discussions on the armies of the period over a period of three years. In some cases it became obvious that the jury is still out concerning composition of many of the armies required. Not just among the contributors but between Historians and archaeologists. In such cases two lists have been provided, allowing the player to decide which school of thought will be embraced.

There was some justifiable complaint about the old lists favouring civilised armies and some attempt has been made to address the problem without the balance tipping too far the other way. Have the writers succeeded? Only time is going to reveal the answer to that question.

So what have we got for the money we didn't have to pay? Let's consider the periods:


Perhaps the biggest expansion, with 11 new armies provided. The choice includes:
Hittite, Hyskos, Canaanite, Kushite Egyptian, Libyan, Middle Egyptian, Early New Kingdom, Nomadic (Midianites etc), Neo-Hittite, Sea Peoples, Mycenaean, Early Hebrew, Davidian Hebrew, Philistine, Assyrian, New Kingdom Egyptian, New Babylonian, New Assyrian, Nubian, Elamite, Uratarian, Late Hebrew.

This section has aroused much discussion, leading to the introduction of a new class into the rules. The light chariot. Many complicated systems were considered to represent these newcomers, the final decision being to count the chariots as their cavalry equivalent. This worked well in play testing and gave an indication of why chariots might have lost popularity historically. Light chariots formed up deep have a flank like the side of a cricket pitch!  For some reason the authors seem to have decided that the warband was a later innovation in the history of warfare and I can’t claim to be happy with the Philistine list which seems to have too many troops capable of working in rough terrain. Then again I am a wargamer and thus expected to moan about lists.


Early Achaemenid, Early Carthaginian, Early Etruscan, Spartan, Theban, Greek, Campanian. Samnite, Early Roman, Alexandrian Macedonian, Thracian, Late Achaemenid, Alexandrian Imperial, Indian, Ch’in, Chou, Han, Scythians,

Quite a choice and nice to see so many Chinese in this section too.

Age of Empires

Moors, Republican Roman, Later Carthaginian, Antigonid, Eumenid, Lysimachid, Ptolemaic, Nabataean Arab, Early Selucid, Later Selucid, Pyrrhic, Galatian, Later Macedonian, Bactrian, Indo- Bactrian, Hsiung-Nu, Ancient Germanic, Marian/Caesarian Roman, Pompian Spanish, Sertorian Spanish, Pontic, Armenian, British, Pictish, Gallic, German, Ancient Spanish, Spanish, Parthian, Trajanic Roman, Dacian, Sarmatian, Aurelianic Roman, Palmyran, Numidians.

This is a good place to stop and consider how a list army is constructed. A good example is the one covering the career of Sertorius the Loyal. During his short career this one-eyed general was a severe threat to the stability of Rome. Building around a core of devoted Spanish troops he successfully created an army capable of beating the Roman contingents of Metellus and Pompey. This brought him support from Roman rebel detachments of considerable size and led to his death when an ambitious officer had him assassinated. His army was versatile, colourful and exotic and looks like this :

Age of Empires Sertorian Spanish CR: H3: L5 BP:2 Initiative: 4

Missile Prot
3 Light Heavy Infantry # 4[1]2 +1 Javelins and Sword Core
2 Warband (Celtiberian) # 5[1]3 +1 Various Core
1 Light Cavalry (Spanish)
2[0]0 +1 Various Core
2 Heavy Cavalry (Spanish Nobles) # 4[0]0 +1 Various Core


3 Warband (Celtiberian) # 5[1]3 +1 Various 6
3 Cohorts (Roman/Sertorian) # 6[2]2 +2 Pila/Sword 11
6 Light Heavy Infantry (Scutarii) # 4[1]2 +1 Javelin 7
5 Skirmish Infantry
3[1]2 +2 Javelin 2
2 Skirmish Infantry (Balaeric)
3[1]2 +2 Sling 2
1 Skirmish Infantry (Cretan mercenaries)
2[1]1 +2 Bow 2
1 Heavy Cavalry (Roman/Sertorian) * # 4[0]0 +1 Various 10
1 Light cavalry (Spanish)
2[0]0 +1 Various 7

Core terrain 1 Rough Ground

Bonus Terrain (5 Max): 5Gentle Rise: 4Steep Hills: 2Rough Ground

*Roman cavalry may be used only if all Romans are bought.
Roman Cohorts and warbands may not be in the same division.
In Armati, only key units count towards the final victory. These are the units that a player must kill to win the game.

The Command Rating (CR) line gives how many heavy (H) and light (L) divisions may be used, the basic army Break Point (BP) and the initiative (INIT) die bonus before unit splits occur.

The first section is the core of the army and all these figures are compulsory. The second Bonus section is a shopping list where a player can purchase additional units from an agreed points allocation, usually 75 points. The numbers in ( ) give unit costs. So buying the three Warbands would cost 18 points.

The first number on a line is the number of units allowed , with a following description of the type of troop. Where the three numbers are shown, the first number is the frontal value in melee, the second the flank/rear value and the last the factor in special circumstances e.g., cavalry against elephants. finally comes a protection bonus for die throw protection against missile fire. Usually +1

All pretty straightforward really. Those who want to compare this with DBM lists can do so, by multiplying the numbers by three as a rough guide.

The lists are easy to work out (fun even), but there is a tremendous scope for tinkering with the factors. A chart for constructing an army list is provided free at the Strategos, Warflute and Armati groups site. Those of a lazier disposition can pick up the required numbers from the many lists in the rules.

Warbands have impetus against others in the first round of melee. If they win the opponent is dealt a very hard, but not necessarily fatal blow.

Roman Cohorts COH and some others in the lists are very nimble, being able to wheel and turn in the same move.

A very real flavour of the army in use can be gained from the structure. Some armies are powerful but all have nemesis armies. There are no real super troops either. Everything has its counterpoint. Heraclian Byzantine is a very tough army, but Sarmatians, who usually get stomped in the lists, can take them.

A DBM player would immediately notice there are no costs for generals. Each player gets one free general and that’s it. This is an indication of design philosophy. The game of Armati commences at the exact moment the two armies reach effective bow range and battle commences. The orders have been given, formations decided. Now is the time!

Terrain is straightforward too. One piece is provided free and more may be bought from the list.

Triumph of  Cavalry

This section includes: Late Roman (Western), Late Roman (Western) 400-493AD,  Late Roman (Eastern), Hun, Visigoth, Early Byzantine, Heraclian Byzantine, Sassanid Persian, Belisarian (Gothic Wars), African Vandal, Italian Ostrogoth, Italian Ostrogothic, Slav, Avars, Bulgar Empire, Early Frank, Asiatic Hordes, Late Tang, Romano-British, Arab conquest, Umayyad Arab, Almoravide, Abbassid Arab, Arab Emirates. Fatimid Caliphate, Thematic byzantine, Bagratid Armenian, Carolingian Frankish, Lombard, Pecheneg, The Russ, Spanish (Feudal), Andalusian Arab, Nikephorian Byzantine, Norman, Early Saxon, Saxon, Late Saxon, Viking, Pre-Feudal Scots, Anglo-Normans, Early Crusader, Saracen.

With this section comes a significant change. In previous sections most Light cavalry have been a non-key unit. Now all cavalry with only one or two exceptions become key units and their loss counts to victory points. This means these troops have to be handled with care. Armati is full is simple little subtlety like this.

Another feature of this period is the decline in effectiveness of civilised infantry with a consequent rise in the power of cavalry armies. While it is possible to play games throughout the full historic span of the lists, there are advantages and disadvantages to having armies in each period.

Age of Chivalry

11th century Byzantine, Comnenan Byzantine, Seljuk Turk, English (Feudal), Welsh, Scots, Irish, Later Crusader, French, Sicilian, Nicean, Byzantine, Early Ottoman Turk, Early Swiss, German Imperialist, Burgundian, Wars of the Roses, French Ordonnance, Italian City States, Mongols, Russians, Hungarian, Teutonic Order, Polish/Lithuanian, Sung Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Italian Condotieri, Catalan Grand Company, Flemish Commune, Burmese, Tibetans, Late 14th century Ottoman, Timurid.

Another feature of each section of the lists is army specific rules or allowances. The Wars of the Roses English army for instance has an optional rule system for line relief. Late Saxons have a feature, which allows them to stiffen Fyrd units as was done at Hastings.

How do these rules measure up against DBM? There is a distinct flavour to each period and the types of army come in all mixes.

No specific super troops have emerged over the process of time. The best army still remains a combined arms force, but all cavalry nomad armies and all infantry forces have done well in conventions and continue to do so. While skirmishing troops with bows can be as effective in Armati,  as in DBM, but the opportunities to pick armies with this troop type in profusion are limited. Since the lists operate at a simpler level, cutting out the use of sub-generals and allies, they are easier to utilise than DBM while retaining a high degree of sophistication that caters for exotic units such as Samurai Chungen and Bastarnae with falx and some careful choices in army construction. The importance of the number of divisions in an army either heavy, or light has great bearing on the way an army is used. An army with three heavy divisions facing an opponent with five heavy divisions is going to have to watch his flanks.
It is to the authors credit that they have paid attention to the results of conventions and the three-year input of  wargamers. Much of this work was done by the site members of  Armati@yahoogroups and individual wargames clubs

And other sites will soon be available with free resources, discussion and add on armies as these are approved. The rules are provided in loose-leaf format so that later army additions can be added to the package without the necessity of another rewrite of the rules

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