Legio Wargames

Pharsalus 48 BC



Pompey vastly outnumbered Caesar, especially in cavalry. He had 11 full strength Legions and 6700 cavalry whereas Caesar had 9 Legions and only 1000 cavalry. Many of Caesar's Legions were woefully understrength, especially the VIII and IX Legions which had suffered serious casualties earlier in the campaign.


To balance the game and make it manageable I decided to scale the Legions down to 5 on each side with Pompey's being full or over-strength and Caesar's being under-strength. Caesar had thinned his Legions out in order to keep the same frontage as Pompey so this seems a reasonable way of representing things. Scaling the Legions down by half still gives the visual impact of a lot of troops but does not mean you have to paint up thousands of figures. Having scaled the legions down by half I then decided to use a scale of 1 stand representing a cohort of roughly 400 men, or 200 men in the case of understrength units. Caesar stripped out his third line to provide 6 cohorts to support his cavalry. I chose to represent these with 3 stands.

Caesar's legions were all hard bitten veterans. Although Pompey had some experienced Legions, including 2000 evocati (re-enlisted veterans), his ranks were swelled by relatively untested non-Italian allies along with the survivors of Crassus' Syrian army.  


Although Pompey was said to have 6700 cavalry but only 3600 are named in the sources these are:

     600 Gauls

     500 Cappadocians

     500 Thracians

     500 Gallic and German auxiliaries from Egypt

     800 'Shepherd Slaves'

     300 Gallatians

     200 Syrians

These were all deployed on Pompey's left flank. He may also have had some Pontic Cavalry on his right. The 'Shepherd Slaves' are sometimes interpreted as Patrician cavalry. Whatever they were I have interpreted them as raw troops given the overall poor performance of Pompey's cavalry.


In order to balance the game (and assuming that the victors may have exaggerated Pompey's numbers) I decided to represent only the named units using a scale of 1 stand representing 300 men.


Caesar had 1000 Gauls and Germans. The Germans may have had light infantry attached to them. To further bolster his cavalry, Caesar detached a number of his fittest Legionaries and re-equipped them as light infantry (antesignani) to work alongside the cavalry. I also chose to give Caesar a completely unattested unit of light cavalry on his left flank, simply to balance the game.

overview 1 mid


The armies deploy two bowshots apart on a plain bounded by a river on one flank and high ground on the other. Pomey's forces are on the left, Caesar's on the right

Republicans G. Pompeius


Right Wing L. Afranius

Pontic cavalry, 4 Light Cavalry, C Grade

Spanish caetrati, 4 Skirmishers, C Grade

Cilician Legion (3 lines) 10 armoured. Legionaries, B Grade

Spanish Cohorts (2 units) 8 Auxiliaries, B Grade

Evocati, 2 armoured. Legionaries, A Grade


Centre M. Scipio  

1st Syrian Legion (3 lines), 11 Legionaries, C Grade

2nd Syrian Legion (3 lines), 11 Legionaries, C Grade


Left Legions  D. Ahenobarbus

I Legion (3 lines) 11 armoured. Legionaries, B Grade

III Legion (3 lines), 11 armoured. Legionaries, B Grade


Cavalry T. Labienus

Macedonians, 2 Heavy Cavalry B Grade

Gallic Auxiliaries, 5 Heavy Cavalry, C Grade

Shepherd Slaves, 8 Heavy Cavalry, D Grade

Syrians, 4 Light Cavalry, D Grade

Thracian cavalry,  5 Heavy Cavalry, C Grade

Gauls & Galatians (3 units), 9 Heavy Cavalry, B Grade

Cappadocian cavalry, 5 Heavy Cavalry, C Grade

Cappadocian infantry, 4 Light Javelinmen, D Grade

Cretans, 4 Archers, C Grade

Caesarians.  J. Caesar  


Right Wing C. Sulla

Antesignani, 4 Light Javelinmen, A Grade

Gallic cavalry, 4 Heavy Cavalry B Grade

German cavalry, 4 Heavy Cavalry with attached infantry, B Grade

Veteran cavalry, 2 Heavy Cavalry A Grade

Greek javelinmen, 3 Light Javelinmen, C Grade

Greek Archers, 2 Archers, C Grade

Reserve Cohorts, 3 armoured. Legionaries, A Grade


Centre D. Calvinus

X Legion (2 lines) 8 armoured. Legionaries, A Grade

XI Legion (2 lines) 8 armoured. Legionaries,  B Grade

XII Legion (2 lines) 8 armoured. Legionaries,  B Grade

Reserve Line, 3 armoured. Legionaries, A Grade.


Left Wing M. Antonius

IX Legion  (2 lines), 8 understrength armoured. Legionaries, A Grade

VIII Legion  (2 Lines) 8 understrength armoured. Legionaries, A Grade

Reserve Line, 2 understrength armoured. Legionaries, A Grade

Aetolian cavalry, 3 Light Cavalry, C Grade

Balearic Slingers, 4 Slingers, C Grade

Order of Battle  for a game with Legio VI Julia Augusta