Starting to think
about developing a naval wargame set in the Punic Wars era, I laid down some
ambitious goals. The game should be easily playable. That means that it could
not be too complex. However I also wanted to mix in lots of details, especially
in the boarding and fighting phase of the game, while staying a relative fast
game with simple intuitive rules.
striking for the Navarchus game is that it is not turn based. Both players play
every phase of a round simultaneously (or at least in the direction of the
Furthermore the most important phases of the game are both ordering and
manoeuvring as well as shooting and fighting boarding actions with individual
models, where most games focus on only one of these details.
wanted to make giving orders a part of the game. In the past, and especially in
naval warfare, it must have been very difficult to exchange information during
important in games with galleys. I wanted to incorporate the feeling that it is
difficult to change direction of the large war galleys, and react to the enemy.
Therefore I chose not to use the old turn based gaming, but decided to let the
position of the ship influence the order of moving and shooting. Many naval
warfare games make use of lots of tokens and/or keep information on paper. In my
opinion this diminishes the aesthetics of the game. The use of a grid is fine
for a board game, but not for the game I had in mind. I wanted to keep the game
area as clean as possible.
warfare games do not make use of soldier models. I wanted to have a game in
which the actual boarding and fighting of the soldiers is an important part, but
also visually attractive. I even wanted to incorporate the different fighting
skills of the types of troops like sailors, marines and artillery. This makes
this project a challenge of its own. Because manoeuvring the vessels is best
done on a 1/600th scale or smaller, and fighting with model soldiers is best
done on a scale of 1/100th or larger. The 1/300th scale is a compromise between
macro and micro Wargaming. This game is best played with 3 to 8 galleys on each
highlights of Navarchus are:
Not turn based but simultaneous play.
Few modifiers to keep the game easy.
Several types of crew.
(archers, artillery, marines, sailors)
Rules for giving orders over distances.
Hidden order system.
Influence wind and weather.
Rules for use of sails.
Manoeuvring restrictions to simulate momentum
Templates for movement
of all types of vessels.
Collision, beaching, stranding and sinking rules.
Shearing (oar raking)
Missile fire for archers and bolt throwers.
Rules for the effect of fire.
Boarding actions with individual models
Rules for the use of the Corvus.
Influence of officers on morale.
The Punic Wars
In the third century BC
two states were on the brink of becoming mighty empires. Rome and Carthage. They
had had friendly contacts for more than a century, but now they were about to
expand their frontiers into each other’s territories. The western Mediterranean
was to become their battle field.
Three wars were fought
after which Carthage was destroyed. The first war started after a dispute
between Messana and Syracuse in 265 BC. Both Carthage and Rome were asked to
help. Soon the war escalated and the possession of the whole of Sicily became
the objective of the war. Carthage ruled the seas, while the armies of Rome were
better on land. Carthage lost and had to pay an immense tribute and lost Sicily,
Sardinia and Corsica.
Rome didn’t had a large
fleet at the beginning of the Punic Wars. No more than 20 war vessels are
presumed. Carthage had a large and powerful fleet of over 150 war vessels. Yet
Rome managed to defeat the Carthaginians at sea. In 261 BC Rome ordered the
building of 100 quinqueremes and 20 triremes. They had seized a Carthaginian
vessel and used the numbers on the wooden planks to reconstruct the building
plan. For a long time people thought this was incorrect, but nowadays, in
Marsala in Sicily, resides a Carthaginian wreck which has numbered planks.
The Corvus, an entering
weapon which could turn in various directions, caused much confusion on the
Carthaginian side during the first Punic war. The Carthaginians were much better
sailors, but the Romans brought their superior land warfare to the sea with this
device. 28mm wooden model The sharp hook was dropped into the deck of the enemy
vessel and the Roman foot soldiers rushed on board. The only drawback was that
it made the Roman ships top heavy. During storms whole fleets were destroyed as
they tipped over quite easily.
Rome was still defeated at
the first engagement at the Lipari Islands. At the Battle of Mylae the Romans
won, due to the use of the Corvus. Battle after battle at sea was won by the
Romans. Rome lost a couple of large fleets during storms, but stubbornly rebuilt
their fleet again and again. At the end of the war the Romans had gained much
experience that they could even win without the use of the Corvus as they
demonstrated in the battle at the Aegates Islands in 241 BC.
The second Punic War is
also sometimes called ‘Hannibal’s War’. Hannibal was the son of a Carthaginian
general who fought in the first Punic War. He swore to never make peace with the
Romans. After extending the territory of Carthage in Spain, he boldly crossed
the Alps in 219BC with his famous army with war elephants to wage war against
Rome for 10 years. He destroyed consular army after consular army. Hundreds of
thousands of Roman Soldiers died. He was unbeatable. But with Rome now in
control of the Mediterranean Sea, Hannibal received little help from Carthage,
and in 205 BC the famous Roman consul Scipio ‘Africanus’ conquered Spain soon
after Sicily had fallen in Roman hands. Now Rome dared to cross to Africa. At
the battle of Zama, Hannibal was defeated and the second war ended. Hannibal
eventually fled Carthage due to Roman political pressure. He fought two sea
battles against Rome and their allies, before committing suicide.
The third war from 149 to
146 BC was likely to be provoked by Cato the elder, who kept saying that
‘Ceterum autem censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam’; ‘By the way, I think that
Carthage should be destroyed’. Carthage was easily defeated, besieged and
totally destroyed. The same year Rome destroyed Corinth. The name these three
wars receive was ‘the Punic wars’ . Within a century Rome also conquered the
rest of the Mediterranean Sea. After which the proudly called it ‘Mare Nostrum’;