miniatures, ancient history, Macedonians and Successors,
Alexander the Great battles campaigns scenarios for
Warhammer Ancient Battles
Ancient Miniatures and Historical Gaming
Archers: Common mercenaries
a whole, is not a level country like Thessaly: consequently, whereas
the Thessalians mostly go on horseback, we Cretans are runners, since
this land of ours is rugged and more
suitable for the practice of foot-running. Under these conditions we
are obliged to have light armor for running and to avoid heavy
so bows and arrows are adopted as suitable because of their lightness.
Thus all these customs of ours are adapted for war. ~
Plato, Laws 625
the term for archer in a Greek army. As
stated on the previous page, Cretan Archers can be used with Greeks,
Macedonian Successors, Syracusan, Roman Republic, Marian (or Caesar's)
Rome, Carthage, to name some but not all possibilities.
The photos on the Early Successors page had
my Cretans with blank bronze pelta shields. I've wanted to upgrade them
so that seemed like a good excuse to create a little source and
resources page. The following photos are of Relic and Wargames Foundry
28mm Cretan archers metal models.
I have some new plastic ones from Victrix that I will add in the future.
These shields represent the process of setting about to find and execute
a wargames unit when there is little concise reference available. The
first thing is to decide if transfers or painting is how one wants to
work. Since the design area of these pelta shields is very small I
decided I would wreck my eyes painting designs.
The first step is a little research online. Of course all sorts of great
artwork exists online at the stroke of a Google. Sadly much of it is
ripped off from publications, but such is the way of the internet.
Places to search for ancient shield designs often start with the above
mentioned illustrations, but if you search coins and pottery art you
often find more (and often you find the source for the illustrations!).
Search for : crete coin symbol shield, and you will find plenty of
I put together
a sheet of common Cretan shield illustrations, Game art, and coin art.
As you can see Cretan symbols have a mix of geometric and animal
patterns mixed in with other
common Greek shield devices like Bull's heads and Pegasi. Other coins
suggest city origin is worthy of a moniker. Patterns representing the
labyrinth of the Minotaur are obvious Cretan symbols. Once I created
this reference sheet I started deciding which were too complex and which
to give a try.
I painted some colored backgrounds (I stuck
to earth tones) on the centers of the shields and then went to work. I
decided I wanted individual designs. Since these are mercenaries they
would expect to have their own gear, not provided by the state. The area
of the designs were very small - some are an eighth of an inch in width.
These designs are probably smaller than painting a 15mm hoplite shield
(which is just crazy IMO :) So some of the line work will be a but
wobbly, but at arms reach they look ok.
Left to right: Symbol of the city of Aptera,
common snake, bull's or Minotaur's head, common sun disc solar
Left to right: Labyrinth stylized, labyrinth
detailed, stylized labyrinth gate, amphora vase, common geometric
Left to right: Common geometric
circles, Knossos labyrinth symbol, Stylized Labrys ax, common
Persian bows are also large, and consequently the Cretans could make
good use of all the arrows that fell into their hands; in fact, they
were continually using the enemy's arrows, and practiced themselves in
long-range work by shooting them into the air." ~ Xenophon
Cretan Archers 28mm by Wargames
Foundry left, Relic
Miniatures center, and Wargames Foundry again on the right.
I've chosen these Foundry and Relic
miniatures for this project. I have had many Cretan archer models over
the years. You can see the old 25mm figures here:
Foundry and Essex figures have done yeoman service over the years.
Newer and better (and larger 28mm) figures abound now. I decided to
combine some of the "World of the Greeks" Wargames Foundry line with the
Relic miniatures Cretans. They are a good match size wise and the poses
work well together. They wear the head fillet which is a very common
style for Greeks. Helmets are possible too, and the small shields are
bronze faced peltas.
seem to be brawlers and unlike many archers would also close in with
their swords and bucklers. There is a story during the Third
Macedonian War where Cretan archers were left on their own to defend a
pass against Roman Legionaries. The Cretans struck back with their
swords and used bundles of arrows in hand to hand. They were defeated
when no heavy support came. But it speaks volumes that these light armed
archers were willing to try to stand up to the heavy legions.
Cretan archers became part of the elite troops in Alexander the Great's
army. Their willingness to do any task asked made them indispensable in
the constant sieges and battles across all sorts of rugged terrain from
Thrace to India. They became part of the Royal Army that always
accompanied Alexander. In India they faced the difficult task of
stopping the last desperate charge of king Porus at the head of forty
war elephants as he attempted to crush the bloodied and worn down
phalanx. Alexander personally ordered the Cretans to stand firm and
shoot down the mahouts. This needed some steel nerves, as they would
literally have to wait until the could see the whites of the enemy
rider's eyes to have any chance of hitting them as the terrifying
elephants thundered close.
I intend to
update the Essex figures at some point, and I as I stated when I finish
the plastic Victrix archers they will show up here.
Oh yes, I also have an officer to lead the Cretans. In Alexander the
Great's army it was Eurybotas of Crete was the toxarch of the Cretan
After Eurybotas was killed at Thebes, he was replaced by Ombrion of
More to come... watch this space. Thanks
to Marcia for the very fine photos.
Miniatures on this page:
Miniatures Wargames Foundry