White Shields: Phalangites were the backbone of the Pontic army during the First Mithridatic war. Plutarch reports that at the Battle of Chaeronea, Archelaus employed 15,000 freed Roman slaves in phalanx. The Romans jeered with rage when they realized they were facing former slaves and quickly waded in to get at the "real" soldiers on the battlefield. It was no easy task. The former slaves were boiling with hatred for the Romans and fought with tremendous courage. The slaves knew they faced victory or crucifixion and they fought hard, forcing Sulla to reinforce Murena's position. The Romans managed to get slingers and javelinmen into the rear of the phalangites. They showered them with missile fire until they broke and ran.
Bronze Shields: While the slave phalanx held up the Romans, Taxiles led his Chalkaspides or Bronze Shields against Sulla. The Bronze Shields were the elite phalangites of the army but even they could not stem the Roman tide. Once the Pontic army started to rout, the Bronze Shields phalanx formation collapsed. Spears and shields were discarded and once they turned their backs to run from the Romans, the slaughter began.
After the First Mithridatic war, Mithridates recognized that his phalangites were outclassed by the Roman Legions and the Roman style of fighting. He subsequently disbanded his phalangites and hired Roman officers and expats to train and rebuild his army to fight in the Roman style.
These 48 Xyston figures painted up fairly well and quickly. As much as I'd like to field a Pike army in Field of Glory Ancients, the thought of painting 200+ of these fellows makes me weak in the knees. I'll circle back and paint up another stand for each unit so I can deploy them as "Large Units" in Impetus.