Assyrian DBM Armies
Mike Schubert, Pretoria Wargames Club

The Lists & Introduction

There are basically four DBM lists for Assyrians in book 1, these are:

15 - Later Amorite: Old Babylonian & Old Assyrian (1897 BC - 1595 BC)

25 - Middle Assyrian & Early Neo-Assyrian (1365 BC - 745 BC)

45 - Neo-Assyrian Empire (745 BC - 681 BC)

52 - Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid (680 BC - 609 BC)

Of these the last three really represent the Assyrian army characteristics and uniqueness as such to me, and these I intend to discuss here. The unit designations that I will be using are those used in the currently popular DBM rules, while the figure catalogue numbers are those as used by Essex miniatures for their 15mm figures.

The first (i.e. List 25) represents the Assyrian army when it threw of the yoke of Mitannian overlordship and started to make its mark in history up to the time of Tiglath-Pileser. The second (i.e. List 45) represents the Assyrian army after the reforms brought about by Tiglath-Pileser up to Sargon II, whilst the third (i.e. List 52) represents the Assyrian army of Sargon II and that of his successors up to the fall of the Assyrian Empire respectively.

Being armies of the Chariot ages (i.e. Later Bronze Age and Biblical Age) they naturally all have chariots with the tendency of them becoming less numerous and more shock orientated towards the end of the second period (i.e. from the late 670 BC to 609 BC). The horse borne cavalry in the meanwhile replaces the light chariots and takes over their roles in warfare. Besides being cheaper (no chariots to be maintained) they could also go through terrain where chariots could not.

The chariots change from Cv (S) via Kn (O) to Kn (S) and all are regular to boot. The cavalry change from Cv (I) representing the crew and horses of a light chariot (i.e. 2-horse, 2-crew chariot excluding the chariot) to spear and bow or just bow armed Cv (O) and finally to Cv (S) with cloth/leather horse armour.

The infantry consists mainly of close combat troops (Bd, Sp) and loose combat troops (Ax) with the main emphasis being on the Ax. The other infantry consists of a very light smattering of archers (Bw) and bow and sling armed skirmishers (Ps) with a few javelin and shield armed types (Ps (S) thrown in for good measure, not to forget hordes (Hd) for those who "must" have them.

The close combat troops start out as regular Bd (F) with attendant Ps (O) support in list 25, and are represented by a few Guard spearmen (Sp (O) in list 45. They end up as both superior (S) (4 - 6) and ordinary (O) (2 - 3) with inferior (I) (0-4) being also available for good measure, all being regular and almost all having Ps (O) support elements in list 52.

The loose combat troops (i.e. Ax) start out as irregular with Ps (O) support, and become more regular in list 45, some even becoming superior all having the attendant Ps (O) support, which is optional for the irregular Ax in list 45. They end up as completely regular, 2 being superior and up to 4 being ordinary in list 52.

The archers are fairly minimal numerically being mostly irregular and inferior types with up to two elements of the ordinary variety available in list 52 and are non-compulsory in all three lists.

The light troops are mainly bow or sling armed Levy, with provision for up to four elements of javelin/shield armed variety in the last two army lists.

The Ps (O) support for the Bd, Sp and Ax makes them tougher to crack by mounted troops and it would be advisable to use them even if optional. When the opponent is mainly infantry armed the Ps can be pushed ahead of the Bd, Sp and Ax element that they are supporting and used to break up the opponents line and/or slow the opponent down.

Do not underestimate inferior bow, they are cheap but can still take out the more expensive mounted troops. Avoid getting them into hand-to-hand combat though.

List 25: - Middle Assyrian & Early Neo-Assyrian (1365 BC - 745 BC)

Here one can combine 2-horse 2-crew Cv (S) chariots with 3-horse 3-crew Kn (O) chariots for that extra punch or just use the Cv (S) option for all the chariots. You can take from 13 to 21 chariots including from 1 to 3 for the generals. All of the general's chariots and up to half of the others can be upgraded to the 3-horse, 3 crew Kn (O) version.

The Kallapani (equid drawn platform with mounted infantry on it (Cv (O)) is optional here (0 - 2), providing more Bd (F) plus support in it's dismounted form.

The cavalry Cv (I) makes its appearance as elements of one horse archer and one mounted spearman with shield. I somehow do not think that it would be a good idea to use them in a generic competition (i.e. all armies from all four books), but against armies of the same era they might not be such a bad idea, as the other armies (i.e. Neo-Hittite) are sitting in the same boat.

Include at least 2 to 4 elements of archers even if they are inferior, because they still have that nasty tendency to winkle out opposing mounted elements. Include a fair amount of Bd (F) (8 - 20), but have the irregular Ax (O) (0- 40) make up the bulk of the infantry (you are limited in the number of elements of the Bd(F) that you can field in any case).

The Levy archers (0-20) can be deployed as either Bw (I) or Ps (O), the choice is yours.

If you look at other armies of the same period, you will find that their spearmen are not Sp as one would expect, but are Ax, with the New Kingdom Egyptian army being the exception to the rule here. Inclusion of at least one scout (LH (F)) element is almost a must (lists 45 and 52 have this as compulsory), using the scout to slow down the enemies advance and to sniff out where he is hiding. It makes a major difference between knowing where your opponent is and not knowing where he is (this becomes particularly apparent in computerised wargames such as Steel Panthers and Steel Panthers II).

I don't know how well this army would do in a competition; it might have some trouble against Knight armies with all that open terrain resulting from the new terrain set-up rules. With the infantry consisting of Bd (F) and Ax and no spearmen lurking about to slow it down, this army is however fairly nimble with the slowest elements moving in 3-inch segments.

The Bd (F) elements are quite lethal against bow elements, but have the fast factor disadvantage counting against them. Judging from battle reports found on the Internet, the army is well able to take care of itself, provided that you don't get too impetuous. What helps here though is that those elements (the chariots and the Bd (F)) that can easily get impetuous tend to behave themselves, being regular.

List 45: - Neo-Assyrian Empire (745 BC - 681 BC)

Here your chariots start out as 3 or 4-horse 3-crew Kn (O) chariots and end up as 4-horse 4-crew Kn (S) chariots. The amount of chariots that you can take is less than in list 25 (up to 3 generals and 2 to 8 others). The cavalry consists of 2 elite (O) elements and up to 8 (I) elements that can be upgraded to (O) towards the end when you upgrade your chariots to Kn (S). The lone mounted scout element is compulsory in this list, with the Kallapani also making it's appearance here (2 - 4), providing more Ax (S) plus support in its dismounted form. The C-in-C's chariot element can also be exchanged for a horse borne element, but remember that once changed, you cannot change it back again. Up to 2 elements of Arab camelry (Cm (O)) can also be included for variety's sake for the effect that they have on opposing cavalry.

The foot contains some footguard elements (0 - 2 or 4) which can either be R Bd (F)/R Ax (O) or R Sp (S)/Ax (S) depending on the earlier or later time period, with one optional attendant R Ps (O) support element. The rest of the infantry being Ax both regular (10-20) and irregular (10-30) with their attendant Ps (O) support, which is optional for the irregular Ax. Up to 4 of the regular Ax can also be upgraded to superior status.

A further reserve of inferior irregular Ax (Ax (I)) and optional support (*8 - 12) can also be employed as can an emergency reserve of hordes (I Hd (O)) (**20-50). The tribal levy equipped with bow or sling (Ps (O) (4-20)) and up to 4 with the javelin, shield combination are also available. Archers are provided for in the shape of up to 4 elements of Elamite archers (R Bw (I)).

This army is even more regular than the previous one, with some of the Ax and the levy still being irregular. The superior Knight chariots (Kn (S)) towards the end make it more lethal in the anti-foot sense, but the ordinary cavalry (Cv (O)) offset this when you come up against opponents who have more mounted than you. It is advisable to make use of the support elements for the irregular Ax even if they are optional, as it makes the Ax elements tougher against mounted opponents.

In my opinion there are enough Ax elements available in the army without having to resort to using the reserves.

List 52: - Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid (680 BC - 609 BC)

This list has even less chariots than before, 1 to 4 for the generals and from 2 to 5 others, all R Kn (S). On top of that the sub-generals can alternatively be cavalry (ordinary at the beginning, and superior towards the end). The cavalry, (4 to 16 elements) start out as ordinary Cv (O) and get upgraded to Cv (S). Once again the mounted scout and two Kallapani (2- 4) are compulsory, the dismounted Kallapani crew being the same as for list 45. The C-in-C's chariot element can again be exchanged for a horse borne element, but remember that once changed, you cannot change it back again. Once again one has the option of including up to 2 elements of Arab camelry (Cm (O)) in one's army.

From 2 to 4 guardsmen (Sp (S)) can be included with one Ps (O) support being optional. The infantry is further sub-divided into Elite and Line troops. The Elite troops consist of 1 to 2 Sp (S) and 1 to 2 Ax (S) each with its attendant Ps (O) support. The Line troops consist of 2 to 3 Sp (O) and 2 to 4 Ax (O), again each has its attendant Ps (O) support. The levy is once again in evidence with 4 elements being compulsory. Archers are provided for with up to 2 elements each of Elamite (R Bw (I)) and Egyptian (R Bw (O)). An emergency levy consisting of 8 to 12 spearmen (R Sp (I)) and 10 to 50 hordes (I Hd (O)) can also be included, the spearmen once again having their attendant Ps (O).

The army as such is much more cavalry orientated with the infantry starting to go towards the shieldwall (i.e. hoplite) types. The only nuisance is that one cannot have both of the Cv (O) and Cv (S) options (All/0 being the case here) at the same time. As most of you well know, the superiority falls away against other superior cavalry with version 2 of the DBM rules, and having the rear support that Cv (S) is not allowed to give, can be decisive in some cases. The rear support elements of the Spearmen and the Auxillia are is once again in evidence here.

Many DBM players regard this army as being one of the most lethal book one DBM armies. Once again most of this army is regular with the exception of the levy Ps and the hordes.

Unfortunately the command that has spearmen in it will be rather slow (2-inches moves for 15 mm figures) all the way unless it gets high die rolls to speed it up, with the others being rather quicker off the mark. On the other hand all those spearmen elements create a solid wall for your other troops such as Kn (S) chariots to hide behind and to be let loose "like wolves upon the fold" as a certain famous poem goes.


There used to be a dearth of Essex figures for the Assyrians, but that changed completely when their Middle Assyrian and Neo-Assyrian ranges appeared on the market. I had wanted an Assyrian army from way back when, but could not build up one due to lack of figures. I know Chariot Miniatures also make Assyrians, but getting hold of the figures was another matter, and the guys who where importing figures into South Africa where importing Essex figures.

Needless to say, as soon as the Assyrians arrived on the scene, I got stuck in and now have a Neo-Assyrian Later Sargonid army painted up, that with more additions could easily be turned into a Neo-Assyrian Empire army. Besides that a Middle Assyrian army of which 200 points worth has been cleaned and is waiting for its undercoat, with the balance for a 450 point expectant and waiting.

Quite a few of the figures from the Middle Assyrian range can be used for both list 25 and 45, with some of them also being suitable for the Sp (I) in list 52.


Here the Middle Assyrian 2-horse chariots (BSE58, BSE60) can be used as Cv (S) by discarding the shieldbearer, or as the 2-horse Kn (O) versions straight out of the packet as such. The 3-horse chariot (BSE61) is ready as it is, with the general's version being produced by discarding one of the four horses from (BSE59).

Both the Middle Assyrian 4-horse chariots (BSE59, BSE62), and the Neo-Assyrian chariots (BSE75, BSE77) can be used for the 4-horse, 3-crew Kn (O) option, by discarding one of the spearmen in the Neo-Assyrian chariots.

The Neo-Assyrian chariots (BSE75, BSE77) can be utilised for the 4-horse, 4-crew Kn (S) chariots. Strangely enough no umbrella/umbrella bearers are supplied with the royal chariots, as the umbrella was a mark of royalty, but I suppose those who are good with that type of thing can manufacture something suitable.


The Middle Assyrian horse archer (BS63) and the Middle Assyrian medium cavalry with javelin and shield (BS64) should be used as Cv(I) elements with one of each of them per element. These same figures can be used as Cv (O) by using 3 figures of the same type per element as can the Neo-Assyrian horse archer (BS80) and the Neo-Assyrian medium cavalry with spear and bow (BS79).

Both of the horse archer types (BS63, BS80) can also be used to represent the mounted scouts (LH (F)).

I would suggest that you use the Neo-Assyrian armoured cavalry with spear and bow on the unarmoured horse (BS78) as the Elite Cv (O) in list 45 and as Cv (O) in list 52 in conjunction with the two Neo-Assyrian medium cavalry types (BS79, BS80).

The Neo-Assyrian armoured cavalry with spear and bow on the cloth armoured horse (BS78a) should be used as the Cv (S). The mounted Neo-Assyrian general (BS76) can be used in conjunction with either (BS78) or (BS78a) (with a cloth-armoured horse when used with BS78a) depending on whether the element represents Cv (O) or Cv (S) respectively.


Here I would suggest that you buy the equivalent amount of the Neo-Assyrian (BSE91) and the 2-equid Neo-Elamite (BSE104) variety, so that you can put one each of the Neo-Assyrian spearman with shield and of the Neo-Elamite archer on them together with the driver to represent the dismounted elements. Chariot Miniatures have the dismounted infantry figures included with the cart to be mounted on the same base.

Close Order/ Close Combat Infantry

The Bd (F) is best represented by the Middle Assyrian spearman with the rectangular wicker shield (BS65) to distinguish them from the Ax. The Neo-Assyrian armoured guardsman (BS82) and the Neo-Assyrian armoured spearman (BS83) with the long shield and the Neo-Assyrian armoured spearman with the round shield (BS83a) can be used for the superior spearmen. In essence (BS82) and (BS83a) are almost the same, the only difference being the size of the shield, with that of BS82 being the larger of the two. The Sp (O) as used in list 52 can be represented by either the Neo-Assyrian medium spearman (BS86) with the long shield or (BS86a) with the round shield both being unarmoured except for small disks on the front and back. I would suggest using the Middle Assyrians (BS67 and BS69) for the Sp (I) as in list 52 to differentiate them from the others. The Neo-Babylonian Spearman (BS97) and the Chaldean Spearman (BS100) as well as its Neo-Elamite equivalent (BS105) can also be used as alternatives for the Sp (I) types.

Loose Order Infantry (Ax)

A mix of the Middle Assyrian (BS67, BS69 and BS70) can be used to represent the irregular Ax (O) for lists 25 and 45, (BS70) being the one in a running pose with separate javelin. The regular Ax (O) can be represented by either of the Neo-Assyrian (BS86a and BS89), with once again (BS89) being in a running pose with separate javelin. For Ax (S) I would suggest either to use (BS83a) for an armoured version or alternatively (BS86a). The Ax (I) in list 45 can be represented by a mix of the Canaanite javelinman (BS33) and the Amorite javelinman (BS35).

Support (Ps (O))

These can be represented by the Middle Assyrian (BS68, BS71) and the Neo-Assyrian (BS87, BS90) with perhaps the Neo-Assyrian armoured archer (BS84) as support element for the footguards and other elite foot troops, provided that they are armoured. They can also be used to represent the Bw type archers with the exceptions of (BS71) and (BS90) which to me seem to be in a too wide legged stance for close/loose order archers. Other viable options for archers are the Neo-Babylonian (BS98) and the Neo-Elamite (BS106). For the Egyptian archers (Musraya) in list 52, the Old Egyptian medium archer (BS16) or its New Kingdom equivalent (ANK7) can be used, although (BS16) may be a more accurate depiction of an Egyptian archer of that period. The Neo-Elamite archer (BS107) is the obvious choice for the Elamaya in lists 45 and 52. I would suggest using a mix of the Middle Assyrian medium archer (BS68) and the Neo-Babylonian (BS98) for the Bow option of the Levy archers in list 25.

Levy (Ps (O), Ps (S))

Here the Aramean archer (BS73), the Aramean slinger (BS74) and the Aramean Javelinman (BS72) can be used. The Amorite archer (BS36), the Kharu archer (BS37), the Sea-Peoples mixed archer (BS116) and the Neo-Elamite archer (BS107) are possible alternatives for the archer type. The bow-armed figures mentioned above can also be used for the Ps (O) support troops. The Neo-Hittite slinger (BS47), the Neo-Babylonian slinger (BS99) and the Martu slinger (BS123) offer other alternatives for the slingers, with the Chaldean javelinman (BS101) and the Sea Peoples mixed javelinmen (BS117) being alternatives for the javelinmen.

Hordes (Hd(O))

A mix of the Aramean figures (BS72, BS73, BS74), the Canaanite javelinman (BS33) and of the Amorite javelinman (BS35) can be used to represent these. Any of the slingers, archers and javelinmen from the BS range can also be incorporated (see under Levy above), the more different ones the merrier it becomes, these are hordes after all poorly peasants/villagers that have been seconded to fight with whatever weapons they had available to them.


A good idea might be to use a particular colour as identifier for the elements of a command such as a green sash/plume or even just the rear base edge. Not only does this make it easier to identify the elements of a command during and after a game when you have to pack your figures away again, and also to differentiate between the casualties of the different commands for determining when the breakpoints have been reached.

What I have done with my Neo-Assyrians is to differentiate between the different classes (i.e. I, O, S, F) of the same type by using different colour tunics. This is even more important if you use the same figure for more than one class, and allows you to differentiate at a glance between say ordinary Ax and their superior equivalent. I have even painted the supporting Ps (O) elements in the same colour tunic as that of the elements that they are supporting.

Try to distinguish your generals from the rest of the run-of-the mill troops by using grey horses and/or more colourful or different tunic edgings/fringes. If you look at the Assyrian figures you will see that most of them have a fringe at the bottom edge of their tunics or at least over the groin area.

Now for some basic guidelines:

Helmets where iron, with a brass/gold edging for officers.

Scale armour was either bronze or rawhide.

Belts can either be in various shades of leather (brown) or red leather or its green equivalent, the last two colours being a crimson shade of red and a grass green respectively (Humbrol have a red leather shade available in their range of paints).

Boots can be in various shades of leather or light grey.

The kings as represented by the Middle Assyrian generals (BSE58, BSE59) and the Neo-Assyrian general (BSE75) can be further distinguished by white or crimson tunics with perhaps crimson of purple fringes and a white or crimson crown for the early or later kings respectively.

Tunics can be any of the following suggested colours:

Reds: - Earthy red, red, brick red, crimson, maroon.

Blues: - Dark blue, deep blue.

Greens: - Dark green, rich dark green.

Yellows: - Golden yellow, yellow-ochre, cream (unbleached linen).

Purples: - Plum, Tyrian purple (which was reserved for royalty).

Greys: - Light grey, medium grey (unbleached wool), dark grey.

Browns: All shades.

Others: - Black, silver, gold, white.

These shades are just suggestions, as there as there are many more shades to chose from. I would suggest using the brighter shades for your elite troops, whilst sticking to the more mundane hues for your lower class troops.

On top of that the tunics and kilts where often decorated in zigzag patterns. Although this takes patience to repeat this in miniature, the result looks stunning.

I found that WW2 and Modern camouflage colours lend themselves well for the representation of the hues used in the ancient periods as they are already toned down for the camouflage effect, which in a way represents the natural dye colours. The browns in particular are handy when painting horses. Somebody once suggested adding a tiny drop of brown to the other colours to tone them down for that earthier feel.

By thinking of what natural colourants the people would have had at their disposal in those ancient days, and as long as you don't chose any of the Neon colours or weird colours such as pink you are pretty safe in your choice.