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A miniature tabletop naval warfare game for scale 1:300 

In the third century BC Rome was growing in power, but Carthage stood in the way. The Carthaginians had controlled the Western Mediterranean for more than a century using a fleet of hundreds of war galleys. By coincidence the Romans captured one of these vessels. And because all parts of the vessel were painstakingly numbered Rome could now build its own fleet. Within 6 months Rome possessed a fleet of 120 war galleys. The war for the Mediterranean could commence...



  Naval Wargame

If you ask me what I like about ancient naval war gaming, I can easily answer: I like the impressive war galleys, and I love the tactical manoeuvring.

I also like the multitude of tactics that were available to the commanders of the time. A Navarchus could choose different formations and tactics, like using missile fire to win the sea battle, or use closing-in tactics. A Trierarchus could choose to ram the enemy, board it, shear it, or try to sink by setting the enemy on fire. He could use ballistae, archers, marines, but also the famous ‘Corvus’ to attack his opponent.

It is this large amount of opportunities that makes naval warfare in the Punic wars era so much fun.


The Game  

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.

Most 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 wind).

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.

Furthermore I 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 the battle.


Manoeuvring is 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.

Most naval 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 side.

 Other 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)

Order phase

Rules for giving orders over distances.
Hidden order system.


Influence wind and weather.
Rules for use of sails.

Movement phase

Manoeuvring restrictions to simulate momentum
Templates for movement of all types of vessels.
Collision, beaching, stranding and sinking rules.

Contact phase

Shearing (oar raking)

Shooting Phase

Missile fire for archers and bolt throwers.
Rules for the effect of fire.

Boarding & fighting

Boarding actions with individual models
Hand-to-hand fighting.
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’; ‘Our Sea’.


  Where to buy


The rulebook Navarchus LIGHT can be found here:

ISBN 9781291569544
EditionPublished 19 July 2015
Language English
Pages 24
Binding Saddle Stitch
Interior Ink
Full Color
Weight 0.16 kg
Dimensions 5.83 x 8.27 in / 148 x 210 mm (A5)
Costs: € 10,00


The rulebook Navarchus can be found here:

ISBN 9781291569544
EditionPublished 07 October 2013
Language English
Pages 74
Binding Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
Weight 0.16 kg
Dimensions 14.81cm wide x 20.98cm tall (A5)
Costs: € 5,00

The rulebook Navarchus in colour can be found here:

ISBN 9781291617696
Published 03 November 2013
Language English
Pages 77
Binding Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Full colour
Weight 0.36 kg
Dimensions 21,59cm wide x 27,94cm tall (Letter)
Costs: € 25,00

The Navarchus Templates can be found here:

Published 08 October 2013
Language English
Pages 13
File Format PDF File (A4)
Size 3.45 MB
Costs: € 1,00



Thursday, 6 March 2014 New 1/300 Rules.
Richard Evers, a Dutch wargamer and Author from club Militia Brabantia has published new rules for 1/300 galley warfare.
The rules are for larger models than I have now decided in favour of and thus are for skirmishes and smaller actions as are Eric Hotz's. They use Bacchus miniatures and seem to be sponsored by this company which produces a wide range of suitable miniatures. As he states, he loves the idea of manoeouvre between galleys and the move is suimultaneous, using templates to simulate the capabilities of ancient galleys.
Here is the link to get a taste of the rules online and buy them. They can be purchased in b/w or colour and a template set is available seperately. It is interesting for me to see a set with movement templates when I have myself spent a lot of effort to develop templates for use with models but decided at last that they were unecessary and they went onto a darkly smoking acetate funeral pyre with few tears shed over them. The cost is v. reasonable for the b/w set and goes against the current terrible trend for expensive rules full of unnecessary colour fotos but if you like the fotos you can choose to pay more and get them. I may buy them and review them but I have gone through a process of deciding that this scale is not for me. It is great for deck fighting in detail and skirmishes but does not allow a real fleet action in my opinion. I also think that simultaneous movement is actually unrealistic for sailing / rowing actions..but that does not stop it making a good game.
I think the customised Hotz ships he uses look great for these battles.I am also in favour of NO HEXES !..great.
I hope these rules raise some more interest for galley warfare. !!



If you have any comments on the rules, suggestions or if anything is unclear in the rules, don't hesitate to mail me.

I hope you enjoin the game as much as I do.

Richard Evers



Miniatures used: Bacchus:

Galleys used: Roman Seas: