Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Celtic War Chariots

We have previously considered British war chariots so now let us hear from Julius Caesar who actually saw them in action.

“In chariot fighting the Britons begin by driving all over the field hurling javelins and generally the terror inspired by the horses and the noise of the wheels is sufficient to throw their opponents ranks into disorder.  Then, after making their way between the squadrons of their own cavalry, they jump from the chariots and engage on foot. In the meantime, their charioteers retire a short distance from the battle and place their chariots in such a position that their masters, if hard pressed by numbers, have an easy means of retreat to their own lines”

Caesar goes on to say.

“Thus they combine the mobility of cavalry with the steadiness of infantry; and by daily training and practice that even on a steep incline they are able to control the horses at full gallop, and check and turn them in a moment.”

We have expert warriors who skirmish from chariots and can dismount and charge and fight before being carried off to safety.  How? I wondered are they represented in Pulse of Battle and Ager Proelii.   Both are very good rule sets but they only reflect the skirmishing role. So here are my thoughts on how to represent Celtic chariots on the table (Piquet style).

Being men who trained daily the chariot warriors are Specialist for missilery so up 1 dice size for javelin throwing.

Chariots are no more vulnerable to difficult terrain than other cavalry and are treated the same way.

The crucial mounting or dismounting takes one movement segment on a Movement card. The chariot warriors end up facing their foe and the chariot at one move segment's distance faces their own sides original battle line. On an even dice roll providing they have enough movement left the warriors can close and melee with their enemy. Otherwise they wait until their next Movement or Melee Card.

As elite warriors once dismounted they count as Ferocious for melee paying as usual a Morale Point for the upgrade.

They are a Small Unit of two bases and fight dismounted as two bases too and as such are disadvantaged in melee and more vulnerable to impact of casualties.

So there we have it, a hard hitting unit that must be used carefully if you want to preserve it.  Supporting cavalry is probably a good idea just as Caesar said. Of course Caesar said he faced 2000 chariots and 1000 highly trained and motivated warriors supported by light cavalry would have been a handful for a mainly infantry force.


  1. Nice figures, I do like the Picts, especially those funny shaped shields.

  2. Great looking chariots and minis, beautiful colors!

  3. Thanks Ray, the dismounted figures are Donnington from their lumpy period. Btw I had a thorough read of your Crimean battles-top stuff!

    Glad you liked them Phil. I've got a feeling they are are going to go down fighting on the table.