Army Showcase: Ptolemaic Egyptians (Macedonian Successors)

Something a bit different for today’s post! 28mm Ancients!

My Ptolemaic Egyptian army was started for a campaign using the Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB) rules. Remember them? You are old, like me!

I had always liked the look of the Macedonians but liked the fact that their Successor armies were a bit more varied and exciting. This is as they started to recruit more varied mercenary troops, whilst the levies of the wider Alexandrian Empire start to take a more prominent role in the military: the breakup of the empire meaning fewer and fewer Greek colonists are settled in the various successor states.

So, who were the Ptolemies?

Following the death of Alexander the Great in 323BC, his generals took over various parts of his empire and very quickly started fighting each other. These successor states took names from the generals who ruled each territory, so you end up with the Seleucid, Antigonid, Ptolemaic Empires, named after Seleucus, Antigonus, Ptolemy, etc.

Ptolemy and his successors rule Egypt, a slice of the Middle East and some Mediterranean island possessions, including Crete.  As Pharoahs, they also take on the worrying tradition of marrying their sisters, causing a physical and mental deterioration in many members of their family. Whilst the successor states warred with each other, Rome defeated Carthage in 146BC and then started to rapidly colonise the rest of the Mediterranean.

Eventually, the successor states are all subjugated, the last being the Ptolemies, at this time led by potentially their most famous ruler, Queen Cleopatra, in 30BC, after she offends a certain Julius Caesar.

The Army:

Our campaign was set earlier than this, solidly in the era of Republican Rome and was focussed on a made-up territory in North Africa that the Carthaginians and Egyptians were struggling over. It used the territory charts in the back of the old WAB book. Starting armies were limited to 1000 points but as the campaign went on you could discover new territory. Depending on what you discovered, you could then manufacture war machines (if you found forests), increase the amount of characters you could recruit (if you conquered towns and cities) and so on.

However, the core of the army was based on infantry, which suited me fine. The Macedonian army and those of all of the Successor States were based around the pike phalanx. So I immediately built and painted two! The models are Warlord Games with the command groups coming from Crusader Miniatures:

Although the Greek colonists still formed the core of the army, being in such small numbers, it was necessary to support them with local levy (with the downside that arming the subjugated population did sometimes lead to armed revolt against the colonising power). Miniatures are 1st Corps:

To supplement these levy troops and maintain a large enough army, it was also necessary to recruit mercenary troops. With the power of Rome on the rise, this period brought into fashion many units modelled on legionaries.

In this case the heavily armed Thorakites  (1st Corps) made it into my army to give it some attacking power:

As did some more lightly armoured Theurophoros, who can form both battlelines and a skirmish screen as needed (1st Corps):

Finally, what is any kind of Macedonian army without Companion Cavalry? These guys are fast and hit hard. Unlike many of the other Successor States, who moved towards heavily armoured Cataphracts, the Ptolemies retained a lighter armoured cavalry arm (Warlord Games, with Crusader Miniatures characters)…

Albeit, this was probably down to the fact that they could recruit elephants for a true shock unit! (1st Corps)


When painting this army, I tried to use a neutral linen colour to tie everything together. This was done using the old Citadel Foundation paints; Khemri Brown as a base and Dheneb Stone as a highlight. In modern day Games Workshop equivalents that would probably be closest to Gorthor Brown and Pallid Wych Flesh.

Each unit then got a spot colour to try and distinguish it from the crowd, be it the shields of the Thorakites and Theurophoroi, or the blue and yellow Egyptian head-dresses of the Levy.

However, the most distinguishing feature of the army must be the shield designs, which are transfers from Warlord games. The unified design really helps to tie the disparate elements together and make it look like a (semi) professional force!


So how did the forces of Egypt fare in this campaign? Well, I can’t tell you. Mainly because we never got around to playing it! This army has been ready for about 18 months and never played a game. Other projects, challenges and game systems (I mainly blame Studio Tomahawk for releasing Saga II, if I am honest) have got in the way.

Hopefully one day it will take to the field, returning with their shields rather than on them,  but for now I just hope you enjoy looking at it half as much as I did painting it!

Have you ever painted an army for a campaign you have never run? A battle that never happened? Do you play Warhammer Ancient Battles, or have another preferred 28mm ancient rules set? If you do, or have any other thoughts about this post, please comment below, and please consider following us on other social media listed here:

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