Friday, December 19, 2008

SoA Wargames Championship 2009

Following an increasing level of interest from members, the Society of Ancients will be running its Wargames Championship again, in 2009.

Once so well established, amongst ancients players, it was known simply as The Championship. Technology has now opened more opportunities for interaction and enjoyment through the Society's website, its Yahoo Group, and members' personal blogs.

The format will be very much the same as in previous decades - players are responsible for organising and reporting their own games, and may play the same opponent not more than twice. Both players must be Society of Ancients members, and any recognised set of rules or gaming principles may be used. Result of games will be accepted by post or email. Full rules can be found here ....

Current members of the Society of Ancients are encouraged to contribute their ideas about the Championship to the organisers through the website, or in debate with members through Slingshot and the mailing list.

Non members can find out more about the Society at (a new Society year begins on Jan 1st, and membership can be taken out through the website)...

The Society of Ancients at Warfare 22-23/11/08

The Society of Ancients will be at Warfare this weekend. We will be presenting two games over the course of the event. On Saturday we will be refighting the battle of Issus using Philip Sabin’s Lost Battles. On Sunday we will be featuring a medieval encounter using Neil Thomas’s Ancient and Medieval Warfare. Both games will be large, 28mm, presentations and there will be opportunities to join in.

We will also have a membership stand attached, where you can find out more about the Society of Ancients, browse recent issues of Slingshot etc. Membership of the Society of Ancients costs just £20 per annum, worldwide. We can now take subscriptions either for 2008 or 2009.

As a special package available at Warfare, new members signing up at the show for 2008 can register for 2009 at the same time for a combined fee of just £30. You will get the first 5 issues of 2008 from the stand. This big discount is funded by the savings we make on postage, so, unfortunately, is only available in person, at shows.

Come and see the Society of Ancients at Warfare: join in the games, join up or renew, just have a chat about ancient warfare and wargaming. We’d be pleased to see you …

Find out more about the Society of Ancients at

Friday, September 19, 2008

Slingshot 260

ss260 cover
Sorry for not posting in what seems like the longest time. I'll type in my excuses later. Anyhow, just to prove I haven't been completely idle, Slingshot 260 has now gone to the printers. According to those same printers, this issue should be mailed to members next Friday (26 Sept).

This issue is 60 pages long, not including the cover pages. It's published in the same format introduced with issue 258.

The contents of Slingshot 260 are as follows. For games articles, I've indicated the relevant rule set where it's not immediately obvious from the title; with historical articles I've tried to indicate period if a similar issue applies.

  • Guardroom (reader letters and errata for previous issues)
  • Macedonian Military Culture and World Impact: Perspectives & Impressions, Part 3, by David Karunanithy
  • Putting it all together – New light on an old friend, Part 1 [Sasanians ], by Doug Melville
  • [ DBMM ] Spartan Expeditionary Forces 415-302BC, by Jim Webster
  • [ DBMM ] It’s the Bishop – The army of Synesius, bishop of the Pentapolis, 400AD-412AD, by Jim Webster
  • [ DBA ] Campaigns for Wargamers 5 – The Barons’ War, 1264, by Paul Burton
  • The Case Against Points, by Gareth Griffiths
  • My First Try at Running a Warmaster Ancients Tournament Campaign, by Marc Adda
  • Naked Guys with Pointy Sticks: the Armies of El Dorado for DBMM, by Dave Turner
  • Demonstrating Field of Glory at Valhalla 2008, by Richard Jeffrey-Cook
  • Poitiers Using Warmaster, An SoA Battle Day Report, by Grant Thomas
  • The New DBMM Army List Books, by Phil Barker
  • Comparative Religion 102: A comparison of FoG and WAB, by Craig Woodfield
  • Subordinate Commanders on the Wargames Table, by John Hastings
  • Rules Design Forum: Ancient & Medieval Wargaming, by Neil Thomas
  • Rules Design Forum: The Arcane Warfare Project, by Jerboa
  • WAB at Historicon, by David Daly
  • “Hannibal’s Army”, by Ian Stephenson, Reviewed by Richard Naylor
  • “Syracuse 415 -13 B.C.”, by Nic Fields, Reviewed by Phil Steele
  • “Special Operations in the Age of Chivalry, 1100-1550”, by Yuval Noah Harari, Reviewed by Phil Steele
  • The Wars of Alexander’s Successors 323-281. Volume 1: Commanders and Campaigns, by Bob Bennet and Mike Roberts, Reviewed by Jeff Champion
  • Hadrian: Empire and Conflict … at the British Museum. Exhibition Reviewed by Mark Watson
  • Figure Reviews:28mm Sumerians; Romans and Celts, Reviewed by Alastair McBeath & Mark Watson

I'm looking for articles for the November issue, and would appreciate any submissions by the end of October.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Slingshot 259

The latest issue of Slingshot (number 259, July 2008), the bi-monthly publication of the Society of Ancients, has gone to the printers and first copies should arrive with members this week.

This issue is 60 pages long, not including the cover pages. It's published in the same format introduced with issue 258.

The contents of Slingshot 259 are as follows. For games articles, I've indicated the relevant rule set where it's not immediately obvious from the title.

  • What Have the Mongols Done for Us?, by John Walsh
  • Macedonian Military Culture and World Impact: Perspectives & Impressions, Part 2, by David Karunanithy
  • A Wise Man Never Sleeps, by Alan Colquhoun
  • [ Armati ] Cats May Look at Kings, by Mark Grindlay
  • The 5th Annual Society of Ancients Battle Day – Poitiers 1356 AD, by Richard Lockwood
  • Battle Day – Poitiers under Days of Knights, by David Edwards
  • Battle Day – Poitiers using Arcane Warfare/Arcane Battle Composer, by John Hills
  • Battle Day – Poitiers with DBM and AMW, by John Graham-Leigh
  • Battle Report: Stirling Bridge – 11 September 1297, using Day of Battle III , by Chris Parker
  • [ Warmaster ] The Samurai – The Battle of Chungju 1592 AD, by Rick Priestley & Rob Broom
  • The Akkadians at Challenge – DBMM Tournament 2008 Report, by Steve Rathgay
  • [ WAB ] Coffers of the Suffetes, by Dave Pauwels
  • A Field of Glory at Caesar’s Challenge, by Steve Neate
  • Legion DBA 2008, by Jo Russell
  • Warmaster Ancients Campaign Report, by Dane Stephens
  • FoG in Birmingham – UK Games Expo 2008, by Nik Gaukroger
  • Comparative Religion 101: A Comparison of DBMM and FoG, by Ray Briggs
  • AMW – A Reply to “Zesty Ancient Warfare” and Some Additional Classical Army Lists, by Neil Thomas
  • “Immortal Fire”, A Supplement for Field of Glory, Reviewed by Tim Thompson & Rob Van Der Laan
  • “Legions Triumphant”, A Supplement for Field of Glory, Reviewed by Tim Thompson
  • Figure Reviews – 28mm Celts, Romans and Early Saxons, Reviewed by Mark Watson
  • Guardroom

There have been a few delays with this issue, for which apologies. Hopefully they'll have been addressed with the next issue. Issue 260 is now in layout and will I hope go out in early September. I'd encourage any contributions for that issue to be in to me by mid-August, and any letters for Guardroom to arrive by end August.



Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Games Coverage Update

This is what I have, before 259 goes to press. So in each case the first bar shows what's available (in terms of submissions, by aggregate number of words), including the content of 259. The second bar shows what's already printed, and the the third bar shows the overall number. It's really the first bar which indicates the health of what I'm getting, in terms of submissions. Per the previous post, there's now plenty of FoG, and suddenly plenty of Warmaster Ancients. And not enough WAB.

Slingshot 259 update

Slingshot 259 is just about ready to go. I think we now have the running order down; there's been some last minute juggling of content. We're going to try and use the inside covers this time to give us a little more space, so I'm awaiting a clarification on that from the printers. I was hoping it would go to the printers this week, but it now looks like being early next. Allowing 10 days for the printers to do their thing, this probably means 23rd-ish of July for the issue to go out.

The good news is that the last minute juggling leaves us almost a complete issue ready to go for September. Given vacations, I'm keen to get 260 ready by early August, and I'm hoping that 260 goes out in early September, at which point we've finally recovered on the delay which has been in the system since January.

I'll post an update on submissions shortly - there has been a late surge in Warmaster material, in particular, so with the regular content coming in for other systems, and the expected amount of Field of Glory now coming through, it's only WAB, of the main systems, where I'm suffering from a continual shortfall of material. One correspondent suggested I write some myself - quite right as well, and I'm working on something which might make the November issue.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Another Games Coverage Update

Another update - a recent surge of articles for a variety of systems, plus various reports for the SoA Battle Day (which of itself encourages variety, given that the same battle is played across a series of tables with a variety of different rules) has left us looking pretty healthy. I'm a bit surprised by the drop-off in articles about AMW though.

ABC = Arcane Warfare. The above should be a good guide to the contents of the next Slingshot, as I'm putting it together this week.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Games System Coverage - Update

A slightly different, and updated, view of the current state of contributions ... now three columns per system, with the first showing unprinted material, the second material already printed, and the third is the sum of the first two, indicating overall contribution per system. Right now, I'm about 2 weeks from finalising the next Slingshot and have enough material to make an issue (or will have when I've written my bits) but would like to get some more material for, in particular WAB, WMA and DBMM, to get some variety. Note the surge in FoG material since the last chart (one battle report, two reviews). I have some Impetus material promised also (but not here yet).

I've added Day of Battle (DoB) and Days of Knights (DoK) since right now I have an article for each in the next issue, and it's good to have material for lesser known systems. Anyone out there who would like to write about systems not on the above list, feel free - I'm keen to promote variety.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Credit Where Credit's Due

Thanks everyone for the flood of kind comments on the latest Slingshot, which have included words and phrases like "astonished", "astounded" and "kicking and screaming into the modern age". As the maxim goes - "under-promise and over-deliver".

Anyhow, some thanks and distribution of credit:
  • Some people have commented on the "intelligent ordering of history and game content" - that is actually Nick Harbud. I send him stuff in a random order, and he tries to make sense of it and get the articles to finish in the vicinity of the page breaks, and in an order that clusters like content together. He also processes the pictures to try and make sure they'll work in a black and white PDF, and is entirely responsible for the internal look of the magazine. We decided for the previous issue to revert to a 2-column layout, and a number of people have commented on that also, I think at the font size and for the type of content we're running, it makes sense.
  • On the wider issue of the new covers and the external format - the issue has been floating around the committee, with a strong direction to improve the external formatting of the magazine, for some time (thanks in particular to Phil Steele, for eventually stopping reminding me that a book is judged by its cover), and one of the issues has been the ability of our printers to support any such change. So we had to change printers as well. The new printer is Joshua Horgan, who are coincidentally also the new printer for the Pike and Shot Society's Arquebusier magazine (OK, it's no coincidence - several of the committee members are also in the P&SS, and Phil took a reference from them at a recent show).
  • David Edwards, the society's secretary, painstakingly proof-reads each issue of Slingshot before its going to publication.
  • Richard Jeffrey-Cook had the unenviable task of trying to disentangle our mailing account from our old printer Printall (who were by the way fine about all of this) and move it to Horgans. Richard, as society's treasurer, has also ensured that sufficient budget has been set aside to maintain the new format, and page count, through the rest of 2008
  • And of course, many thanks to the various contributors who've set aside time and thought to provide such excellent content for the issue. But - please send more!
Anyway, hopefully this shows, firstly it's a team effort; and secondly I owe a lot of people a beer.

Society of Ancients Web Store up and running

Today's big marketing push - the SoA web store is live on the new site. Well done to our webmaster, Peter Barham. Use the navigation bar on the left to move between mass purchases of games and mass purchases of publications. My top buy - the DVD, which contains all the issues of Slingshot from just before the ice age up to and including 2005 (but it's only available to society members, so make sure you join up at the same time). By the way, I'm not sure people realise that the subscriptions are by calendar year - whenever you subscribe in the current year, you get all the issues for that year so far, and then get the issues sent through for the rest of the year, as they come out.

Couple of other announcements as well - if you re-upped your subscription in time (I think before the end of February) you also get an incentive, which has been for quite a while a game - this year's game is called "Roma Invicta?", is written by Garrett Mills and Phil Sabin, and provides a strategic perspective of Hannibal's campaign in Italy, 218 to 216BC. Now, we've had a number of production delays with this, and ultimately it ended up with the same new printers who published the latest Slingshot. It's just arrived with members in the UK, and you should also be seeing it further afield in the next few days.

And ... there is a new mailing list for society members. If the committee has your email address, you should have received an invitation. We've started it to try and provide a closer means of communication between the society's committee and the membership. I plan to start running polls on it as regards various thoughts we have for Slingshot. So if you haven't responded to your invitation, please do so!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Games System Coverage


As promised previously, some statistics on the gaming material I get sent. The chart here measures all the gaming material I've had, by system, by wordcount, since taking over as Slingshot editor. The "available wordcount" is the currently unpublished material. Some of it (for example Paul Burton's DBA campaigns articles) sit in a queue, since they're meant as a series. Most of it though is a measure of what I'm currently being sent. The "overall wordcount" includes the material unpublished at the time I took over from Nik, the "available" unpublished stuff, and material which arrived in the intervening period, and was published in either 257 or 258.

The "misc" category includes game systems not currently tracked in the main chart - there are for example articles using the Day of Battle and Days of Knights rules. It also includes general gaming articles such as the "design roundtable" in 258.

258 having just gone out, the cupboard is somewhat bare. Hopefully, the material will come to replenish the supply. I do in particular get a nice steady supply of DBA articles. And it's still the case that the numbers are so small that one article can skew them. That Armati spike is one article. But if you're wondering why your favourite system isn't getting the love - see above.

Anyhow, I plan to proactively seek new material for those systems not currently covered. Hopefully the numbers will look a lot healthier in a few weeks.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Slingshot 258 Delivery Update

I just got back from a week's holiday in Istanbul, to find my advance copy of Slingshot 258, and a note from the printer to confirm that this issue would be mailed to members on 30 May (i.e. yesterday); I'm guessing the first copies will start arriving in the UK on Monday. Your feedback is welcome. I should add that this wouldn't have been possible without Richard Jeffrey-Cook having successfully untangled the complex web of arrangements around our Royal Mail account, which had to be transferred to the new printer.

Having seen an actual copy of 258, I'm extremely pleased. I think we still have a bunch of stuff to do on the internal aesthetics to bring the look and feel up to date; it's also clear that we need to be careful on what kinds of images take best advantage of the new paper quality. I would expect to see further tweaks on format in July.

Something I didn't mention yet was that the last SoA committee meeting agreed to fund Slingshot at a page count of 60 pages through the end of the year; that's 60 pages of content, with pretty much no advertisements (where "pretty much" glosses over the two boilerplate society information pages, an event notice for Conquest 2008 and a competition notice, so leaving those aside it's about 57.5 pages, and I expect to regain at least one of the inside pages back for boilerplate next issue). So I expect to go round and canvas for more material to fill it shortly. I've been tracking the amount of system specific material (ie how much DBA, how much DBMM, how much WAB material) I've received since starting the editor's job with 257 - I'll pull together the latest statistics this week as I think it makes interesting reading.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Slingshot Covers

Apart from the change of cover format on Slingshot 258, you'll notice something perhaps more controversial, which is that it has a 28mm miniature on the cover (kindly provided by Warlord games, so even more controversially, it's a plastic miniature). Are we going down the Wargames Illustrated route?

At the point I took over Slingshot, there were relatively few of the trademark pen-and-ink illustrations available for cover duty. In fact, by "relatively few", I mean none. The cover of 256, Nik's last issue, is actually a re-use of a previous illustration. For 257, we attempted to process a relatively low resolution picture from the Ermine Street Guard (a British group of Roman army re-enactors) to make it work for black and white, which I think worked reasonably well, but isn't ideal.

258 gave us a further issue, because the potential quality of picture is very good - the covers are (or should be) photo quality, and protected with laminate. And, as the first colour picture, we wanted to make a splash. I looked through the stock of illustrations we have, which were apposite to the material. I have some pictures of museum artefacts which work in colour, but none that matched the content in the magazine. I've been promised some more re-enactor photographs, but none arrived in time. We did have some miniature photos which were very good indeed. The one which most fit the cover format was the Warlord picture, and the Warlord miniatures are reviewed in the magazine. Having been through the exercise, it makes sense as to why Wargames Illustrated, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, etc, use miniature shots on their covers - the artistic focus in the wargames hobby is primarily on painting figures, not drawing illustrations.

This isn't an apology for using miniatures on the covers; I intend to use them again moving forward. But to reflect the magazine's range of content, covering both pure historical articles as well as gaming, I plan to rotate the covers between historical and museum material, re-enactment shots and pictures of figures (and for that matter illustrations if they're good enough). The design is intended to allow use of "un-colourful" content such as marble statues - the background colour for the cover will also be rotated so hopefully that compensates for the sometimes reduced colour in the cover shot.

I'm including here a draft cover which I'm unlikely to use. The picture is of a statue of Augustus, and the photo was taken by me in the Berlin Pergamon Museum, on a recent visit (more shots shortly to be available in the website gallery, when I finish setting it up). Anyway, it shows the intent for the other types of cover we may use going forward.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Slingshot 258

This just went to the printers. We expect this issue to be posted by the printers to society members on 30 May. This issue is 60 pages long, and is published in a new format,  with colour covers, perfect binding and improved paper stock. The contents of Slingshot 258 are as follows. For games articles, I've indicated the relevant rule set where it's not immediately obvious from the title.
  • Macedonian Military Culture and World Impact: Perspective and Impressions, Part I, by David Kurananithy
  • Spartan Spartans, by Jim Webster
  • Charles I of Anjou A Medieval Prince, by Gavin Pearson
  • The Red Snake, by Steve Neate
  • African Revolts: Firmas, Gildo and Mascizel 372 to 398AD,, by Jim Webster
  • WAB Tournament Report I: Havoc XXIV - April 2008, by David Daly
  • WAB Tournament Report 2: Havoc XXIV - April 2008, by Tucker Saglio
  • The Gods of Ancient Wargaming, by John Gibson [DBM]
  • Lost Battles: Reconstructing the Great Clashes of the Ancient World - Review by Gavin Pearson
  • Command & Colors Ancients Club Competition, by Andrew Lawrence
  • Rules Design Round Table, with Phil Barker, Richard Bodley Scott, Jervis Johnson, Rick Priestley and Lorenzo Sartori*
  • Ancient and Medieval Wargaming - a Reply to Graham Evans, by Neil Thomas
  • Zesty Ancient Warfare, by Steve Neate [Neil Thomas rules]
  • DBA Northern Cup 2008, by Martin Smith
  • More Campaigns for DBA, by Gareth Griffiths
  • A Dinosaur Returns to Jurassic Park, by Phil Barker
  • Campaigns for Wargamers 4 - Attila the Hun, by Paul Burton [DBA]
  • The 2008 Welsh DBA Open, by Martin Smith
  • Field of Glory - Review by Nik Gaukroger
  • Dogs of War: Canine Use in Warfare from Ancient Egypt to the 19th Century - Review by Duncan Head
  • Warlord 28mm Early Imperial Romans - Review by Mark Watson
* - note, for the purposes of full disclosure, this is actually a series of interviews combined together. At no point did they sit round the same table. Or if they did, it wasn't mentioned to me.

Also note:
  • The annual incentive game, "Roma Invicta" has also gone to print. The same new printers are being used for both Slingshot 258 and the incentive game, we hope Roma Invicta will arrive with society members in the next couple of weeks.
  • The society website now contains pages which include errata and additional material for each issue. Right now there's neither but in the event material is posted it should appear at