Friday, September 8, 2017

An Enemy of Byzantium - The Bulgar Empire.

A Bulgar army of heavy and light horse, spearmen and

It has generally been my habit to build TWO armies in any given period:  an army I like, and an enemy I like. The rivalry between the Bulgar and Byzantine empires had been raging off and on for centuries already by the 950-1050 period of these armies, during which time, Constantinople itself had come under siege. But here, the days of Khans Krum and Tervel were long past, and  Tsar Simeon the Great had passed on a generation or so earlier. Although the Bulgarian Empire was conquered and subjugated by 1018, the campaign was a long one, fueled by the determination of Emperor Basil II. Nor did the Byzantines have everything all their own way. 

Bulgar Nobles (Essex)

Bulgar Nobles 
The Bulgar Tsar leading his nobles into battle
  • Heavy cavalry armed with javelins and bows.   They don't seem to have favoured the lance, but all were double-armed, rather than the 'mixed arms' Byzantine units.
  • Bulgar Noble cavalry have a shooting range of 3 grid areas.
  • Optional rule (suggestion only): Bulgar noble cavalry add 1 to their d6 die rolls when shooting at enemy light and heavy cavalry.

A prototype Bulgar Army.  This one would comprise just
46SP.  Two more archer units would bring it up to 50SP.
 Bulgar Horse Archers

  • Light cavalry 'double-armed' with javelins and bows.
  • Optional rule (suggestion only):  Bulgar Light Horse add 1 to their D6 die rolls when shooting at enemy light and heavy cavalry.
  • Number of light horse units should be not less than the number of heavy horse (excluding the commander).

    A note here.  If adopting the +1 shooting rule for double-armed mounted troops, one ought to award the same option to the Byzantine Trapezitai, double-armed with lance and javelin.  That would make them a formidable adversary indeed!

Slav Spearmen... I'd call this WIP, had any progress been
made on them in recent years.

Slav Spearmen
  • Count as 'Barbarian tribesmen (SP3) or 'Poor' Heavy Infantry (SP4) at player's option.  See table.
Slav Archers
  • Light infantry armed with bows.


Unit Name
Unit Type
(grid areas)
Weapon Range
(grid areas
Bulgar Nobles
Heavy cavalry
Horse Archers
Light Cavalry
Slav Spearmen
Slav Archers
Light Infantry


Bulgar Army.

A 50 Strength Point Army:

I will offer the two Armies here, but will repeat them with pictures in a subsequent posting.


  • 2 Bulgar Noble Heavy Cavalry @ 3SP = 6SP - ELITE
  • 2 Bulgar Noble Heavy Cavalry @3SP = 6SP - AVERAGE
  • 6 Horse Archer Light Cavalry @2SP = 12SP - AVERAGE
  • 4 Slav Spearmen Units: Barbarian Tribesmen @3SP = 12SP - AVERAGE
  • 4 Slav Archer Light Infantry @2SP = 8SP - AVERAGE
  • Bulgar Commander @6SP = 6SP

    Total:  18 units plus commander: 50SP
Note 1: If the Slav Spearmen were rated 'POOR' Heavy Infantry, @ 4SP each, then the 2SP units (archers or light horse) could be reduced by 2.

Note 2:  I really don't like the word 'poor' in this context.  It sounds unfairly disparaging to troops who, lacking in experience, training and/or motivation, fall short of the average military standard. I just wish I could think of a better term!  Perhaps if 'poor' were to be taken to mean 'unfortunate'...?


  • 1 Kataphraktoi unit @4SP = 4SP - ELITE
  • 4 Kavallarioi units @3SP = 12SP - AVERAGE
  • 2 Light Cavalry units @2SP = 4SP - AVERAGE
  • 1 Varangian Guard unit @ 4SP = 4SP - ELITE
  • 4 Skutatoi units @4SP = 16SP - AVERAGE
  • 1 Javelin light Infantry @2SP - AVERAGE
  • 1 Slinger Light Infantry @ 2SP - AVERAGE
  • Byzantine Strategos @6SP
Total: 14 units plus commander: 50SP.


  1. Very nice Ion, will you be playing on the Memoir'44 board?, the DBx elements fit the hexes very well.

    1. They do, don't they? That was serendipity if you like! I've certainly been thinking about recruiting it for Portable Wargames.

  2. What a nice (and unusual for me!) looking army!

    1. Thanks, Phil. Unfortunately they have been sadly neglected over the years, and really require a fair bit of repair work and touching up. 'Ancients' was never one of my major war gaming interests though I do enjoy the history.