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Ancients wargaming - attempt 328

I'm not exactly sure why, but my optimistically announced reboot of ancients wargaming seems to have taken the 'failboat' into the sunset. I could blame Guy for running from one wargaming project to another. We certainly tease him enough about that on the WSS podcast, but it wouldn't be fair. It's been a busy year and what hobby time I had has been devoted to other projects I can play with friends closer to home. I suppose this how these things seem to go.

However, a leopard can't change its spots. The ambition to play with small legionaries and scale hoplites never goes away. The tide in the wider wargaming world seems to be turning too. This spring Mortal Gods and Men of Bronze were published, then in summer SPQR came along. The former and the latter are very much skirmish games with a somewhat 'flexible' attitude towards history. That's perfectly fine - I'm certainly not after a strict simulation (assuming that's possible) - but not what I'm looking for. The review of Men of Bronze in WSS 103 left me a bit cold. I'd really like to try To the Strongest sometime, but I don't see myself painting large armies. Perhaps it'll all come back to WAB again, as it has for Guy. And perhaps not.

TooFatLardies is developing a new ancients set based on their Sharp Practice rules, which would require slightly fewer figures than WAB. I understand its focus would be on the role of morale in ancient warfare, based on the theories of Lendon's Soldiers and Ghosts (which I recommended before, but I'm a fan...). That I could totally get behind! For now, all of this has just led to a few purchases. It appeared I had no Imperial Roman figures at all. Shock horror!

In the meantime, I was disappointed to discover that apparently - but please correct me if I'm wrong - nobody manufactures Roman cavalry in 28mm wearing masked helmets. We featured an article a long time ago that 'cavalry sports' helmets are for sports ánd battle after all.


8 thoughts on “Ancients wargaming - attempt 328”

  • Ian C-M

    Do give To the Strongest! a try. Great plastics available, use the dip method for speedy painting, get your mind round grids and it's a joy. After years away, it's rekindled my love of Ancients. Amd if ancients ain't about large armies, I don't know what is...

    • Jasper Oorthuys
      Jasper Oorthuys October 9, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      True, but I'm a slow-poke painters and I take pride in making my stuff look good. Maybe I need to think about a small scale for big battles...

  • Mike Adams

    Jasper, I would like to propose you build your collection in a way that scales up from skirmish to battle. The trick is in the basing. Start with individually based models, then put in a few doubles, then later triples (in one rank) for heavy foot and quads (in two ranks) for medium foot ('medium' meaning neither heavy nor light). Make sure your heavies are on a tighter frontage compared to the others. That's the essence of the system. This will be compatible with Mortal Gods, SAGA, SPQR, Lion Rampant plus big battle rules like Hail Caesar, War & Conquest, etc. Ideally you would use a single rule system that would scale upwards as well, but that rule set doesn't exist yet (although the original WAB came close). So far, so retro... but the really great thing is you can now do this with laser-cut round, oval and pill bases for a more 'organic' and realistic look - the best of both worlds! Let me know if you think it's worth an article in WSS.

  • Wim Van den Berghe
    Wim Van den Berghe October 9, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    Hi Jasper,

    I'm (too) a long-time player af all kinds of ancient games. Here at the local club, we started playing To the Strongest again, after a lapse of around a year. We use mostly 28mm figs on a 15 cm grid, meaning a normal sized unit is around 16 figs. Which is not that large unit size. A skirmish unit as only 4 figures. I've also played with my very old 15 mm armies on the same grid, where I use a lot more figures, and which looks more like a real battle. But you could use a smaller grid to start of with. When you use a 10 cm grid, a units frontage is only 7 to 9 cm, with maybe 2 ranks deep. Now I went a bit nuts, and recently bought one of those very large gaming mats with a 20 cm grid. I still need to paint a lot more figures for a battle of that size, but eventualy I will get there! As I mostly have Greek hoplites and Macedonians, I think I know which battle to refight first! Anyway, do try To the Strongest, highly recommended! Ah, and by the way, until now we never had an argument about the rules!

  • Alex Hewlett

    Hi Jasper

    Have you come across the illustrator Peter Dennis's "Paperboys"? Not instant armies, but very quick compared to painting, and drawn by a professional military illustrator, so they look great. A good way of getting large numbers of stands onto the battlefield very quickly.

    I'm a great fan of Ancient Warfare, and haven't seen them reviewed there; not sure whether you've reviewed them in WSS. Available in ancients; dark ages; medieval; ECW; Marlborough; AWI; Jacobites; Peninsular; ACW; Texan war of independence; plus buildings and ships. A canny range then...

    • Jasper Oorthuys

      We've certainly reviewed the Paperboys in WSS in the past. They are indeed very nicely drawn, but fussy me likes the miniatures. Sigh ;-)

  • William Hubbard
    William Hubbard October 10, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Gripping Beast makes a nice set of plastic Imperial Roman cavalry, some of which have masked helmets:

  • Mike Smith

    My rule set Table Top Battles uses a 2” square grid. I sent you a copy for review. The book has been around for a long time and is still selling albeit very slowly. I would be interested to know what you “ Big Table gamers” make of them. Mike Smith. Portsmouth UK.

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