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"Spanish Scutarii Q?" Topic

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424 hits since 13 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Maxshadow13 Mar 2019 5:32 p.m. PST

Is there a current consensus on how the Scutarii fought?
Mobile like Thracian Peltasts or wild hairy charge like Gauls?

Checking in because my Ancient wargaming was all WRG and decades ago though I've noticed there have been changes to the way some troops have been classified while I was away.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 7:54 p.m. PST

Still to this day, most wargaming rules broadly classify the Spanish into the traditional three categories: Lusitanians (skirmishy), Iberians (loose & flexible), and Celt-Iberians (wild & hairy). Other ethnicities get lumped into those three. If there are other variations in published ancients rules, I've missed them so far.

The more I read about Spanish tactics and military history before subjugation to Rome, the more I doubt this is a complete enough picture. The Spanish peninsula was inhabited by multiple cultures that were only vaguely related, and we already know the major differences listed above. I bet there were quite a few minor but important differences as well. When I was researching this topic for a Punic Wars Spanish campaign, I decided the Edetani, Turdetani, Bastetani, Contestani, Oretani, etc. may have had yet other approaches to tactics that just aren't well documented (at least not right now how many documents disappeared in the last 2200 years?). I'm inclined give the peoples in more rugged areas of the peninsula more skirmishers, looser massed formations and less staying power; and the more sedentary peoples living in cities across the south more massed troops and cavalry.

I'm also inclined to vary the staying power of Spanish troops based on their relationship to the alliance they fight for. There are lots of stories of Spanish doggedly resisting to the last man, and plenty of other stories saying they broke and ran early. I suspect this probably comes down to what they were fighting for. The troops fighting for their own freedom or to defeat an invader should fight harder, the troops fighting because they're conscripted or recruited for money should fight less, uh, doggedly.

I've encountered a published revision (can't find it again…) that claimed the Spanish scutarii must have fought more like the Roman legionaries because their panoply and tactics were superficially similar (shower of javelins before contact, fighting in loose formations with short swords behind big shields). They clearly didn't fight as well as the Romans in pitched battles, so I'm not sure re-rating scutarii the same as legionaries is warranted. It's possible some Spanish city-states might have had a similar level of organization, drill and training as Roman infantry, but I doubt it was many.

- Ix

Maxshadow13 Mar 2019 8:24 p.m. PST

Thanks for the interesting response Yellow Admiral. I didn't even think to consider the city states.

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 1:11 a.m. PST

I experimented a little with some DBA troop type definitions in a somewhat abstract DBA campaign I wrote to play the Iberian Campaign of the 2nd Punic War as a fun see-saw 2-player game. The Iberians appear as pawns and mercenaries in the contest between great city states, but each tribe has a somewhat different mix of troop types. (Note: I've never actually playtested this campaign, so it may have some egregious flaws in it.)

- Ix

GurKhan14 Mar 2019 1:51 a.m. PST

The article the Admiral was referring to may be Fernando Quesada Sanz's "Not so Different" – PDF link

His site at link is well worth it for ancient Spanish warfare, and many of his articles are available there (

And/or buy the book – link for the English edition.

RelliK14 Mar 2019 5:22 a.m. PST

Book has had its pre order pushed ahead for more than 3 years.

GurKhan14 Mar 2019 6:33 a.m. PST

Oh dear. Well, the Spanish original was good :-)

Maxshadow14 Mar 2019 11:33 a.m. PST

Thank you GurKhan. That's a fantastic read!

Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 12:18 p.m. PST

The article the Admiral was referring to may be Fernando Quesada Sanz's "Not so Different"

I love Sanz's writing. Every time I read one of his articles I want to paint ancient Spanish. grin

- Ix

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