Wednesday, December 12, 2018

L'Art de la Guerre in Spain

...where Madaxeman gives some lively and informative AARs on the Spanish games at Estella, with all sorts of goodies like historical battle videos to flesh out the battle reports.

More here.

A list of ADLG events past and future here.

A map with clubs that play ADLG here.

ADLG continues to be the premier tournament ruleset and grows in popularity. Comments as to why welcome...

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Society Conference 2018

By all accounts the annual Society Conference at the Chesford Grange Hotel in Warwickshire on the 24th to 25th November was a great success. Here is an account by Duncan Head:

I’m not long back from the Society Conference, the third of the “revived” series, which was held in the Chesford Grange hotel in Kenilworth. It was a really enjoyable weekend, possibly the best yet.

The Conference proper is held on Saturday and Sunday, but quite a few of us arrived on Friday night and spent some time in the bar and the restaurant renewing acquaintances, meeting new people and generally chatting. Attendees were in the high twenties, though a few were only doing one day.

 Phil and Sue Barker honour us with a visit.

Saturday, after a brief welcome from organizer Richard Lockwood, started with our first plenary session, Mark Fry talking about Bronze Age chariots. Mark’s not happy with how chariots are handled in most wargames rules, and is working on a new way of portraying chariot warfare. 

After his talk we broke up into several gaming sessions, and I took part in a game with Mark’s new work-in-progress chariot rules. Wheels of War is based on the popular Wings of War WWI air combat game, and gives players one chariot each to represent the individual manoeuvre of chariot warfare. Six of us played, three chariots a side, wheeling, manoeuvring, shooting arrows and javelins and in one case colliding rather messily. The Blue team, which is to say mine, emerged triumphant (thanks more to luck than judgement, I feel – though misjudgement on the other team may have played a part!). Still in development, but potentially a very good and different game.

Chariot Manoeuvres

Mark Fry rolls across the desert.

On Saturday afternoon we heard Matt Bennett and Roy Boss talk about the Normans in Italy and Komnenan Byzantine warfare. Two short half-hour presentations in the plenary slot is a new idea, and I’d have been happy to listen to a full hour from each of them.

For the Saturday afternoon games, I joined Matt for one of the three Komnenan-era Armati games he and Roy were putting on, in our case playing on the Byzantine side in a refight of Dyrrhachium. A narrow victory for the East Romans – we got off to a good start, looked to be getting in serious trouble, but were finally victorious thanks largely to my partner managing to sandwich one lot of Norman milites between two Byzantine cavalry units. I’m still not hugely keen on Armati, but it runs smoothly when you have someone on the table who knows the rules.


 Duncan Head reverses history.

 Then off to the Conference dinner, where we spent just a little too long waiting for the overstretched hotel staff to serve up the food. When the post-dinner games turned up – Northampton in 1460, Call it Qids (for those who hadn’t had enough chariots yet) and Gladiolus – I put in one game of Gladiolus, and was luckily spared by the crowd after being speared by Richard Lockwood. A reasonably early bed-time since I was on show the next morning. I must be getting old.

Sunday morning started with me talking about Telamon with the 2019 Battleday in mind, and then more games. I joined in a six-player workshop session run by Richard Lockwood to develop a new classical warfare system using mechanisms from Dux Bellorum and other rulesets. We played Macedonians against Persians, and I took one Macedonian cavalry wing. Cavalry units are fragile, and I certainly charged in sooner and more rashly than Alexander would have done, eschewing his careful preparations because I couldn’t think of what else to do.

After a few moves cavalry and skirmisher units on both sides were evaporating like raindrops, including one of my two units of Companions. The heroes were the Thracian light cavalry on my extreme right, who destroyed the Persians’ Scythian horse-archers, worryingly refused to move immediately after that (units dice against their Courage to see if they move; the Thracians obviously needed to breathe their horses) but then charged into the flank of a low-morale Persian colonist cavalry unit, destroyed it, saw the next Persian unit along (weakened by destroying the Companions) break on a morale test for seeing routers, and then charged down to hit a fourth Persian unit, in melee with the surviving Companions, and help destroy that one as well.

At the end the Macedonians had won both cavalry wings with one or two units standing on each wing, while the phalanx was locked in combat with Persia’s Greek hoplites just waiting for us to ride in and save the day.

 Richard Lockwood in a commanding pose.

Final session in the afternoon, and I played in Phil Steele’s DBA-plus game of Pharsalus, with lovely 10mm armies on purpose-built terrain. Phil was trying to simulate the multi-line nature of Roman battles by fielding two DBA armies (not necessarily 12 elements each, but close) as the advance and reserve lines respectively. The two advance lines fight, supported as players think fit by the reserves, until one reaches demoralisation point. Then both advance lines are removed except that the winner may leave one or more elements in place, depending on the margin of their victory, and lines are redressed for the main event. 

Our advance-line clash took longer to resolve than Phil expected but eventually the Pompeians (I commanded the Pompeian advance line) won, though only by a margin of one element. Interestingly we had also destroyed several elements of Caesar’s reserve line – including two of Caesar’s three veteran legionary elements, and discovering the mechanism Phil was using to reflect their toughness was a bit of a shock! At that point I left to make an early start for home, but I gather that in the second phase of the game Pompey managed to reverse history and defeat Caesar’s weakened main line.


Pompey's camp at Pharsalus

All in all an excellent weekend. I’m certainly up for next year’s.

And a summing up by Roy Boss, President of the Society:

This was our best Conference so far, with informative and entertaining presentations and some really good games. The talks ranged from the Biblical period to mediaeval so there was a good range of topics.

My wife used to teach infants and was always delighted when the boys in the class were ‘engaged’, that is engrossed in a group activity. Well the members who attended the Conference were definitely absorbed in the action. Notably there was loud involvement in several of the games which is always a good sign.

I was very pleased for Richard who puts in an enormous investment of hard work across the weekend to make sure the event goes smoothly. He can be very satisfied with the result. We could happily take about 50 people as a maximum so the good news is that there is room for more of us to enjoy the 2019 event.

One thing we would happily include is shorter presentations, so if you have enough material to speak for say fifteen minutes on wargaming or an historical topic then we will happily give help with visual aids and even where to get information.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

𝗥𝗲𝗰𝗼𝗻𝘀𝘁𝗿𝘂𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗼𝗳 𝟲𝘁𝗵 𝗰𝗲𝗻𝘁𝘂𝗿𝘆 𝗔𝗻𝗴𝗹𝗼-𝗦𝗮𝘅𝗼𝗻 𝗵𝗲𝗹𝗺𝗲𝘁

In 2009 the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver metalwork ever found was discovered near Litchfield, in Staffordshire, England. The 5,1KG collection of over 3500 items included a fragmented helmet which experts studied and then reconstructed over 18 months using cutting-edge technology and ancient craft techniques.

Two replicas of the helmet have been completed and will go on display at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Slingshot 321 with the Printers

..and will appear shortly. Here is a brief overview of the contents:

The debate continues on Egyptian chronology whilst readers examine How Hard does a Horse Hit and Wargaming War Wagons from Issue 320.

Procopian Warfare
Roy Boss examines the armies and fighting styles of the era of Justinian to see if there is a commonality.

A Different Take on Taginae
Chris Hahn wargames the small but important pre-battle skirmish in which a body of Gothic cavalry attempted to force a passage through Roman infantry to the Roman rear. The article is accompanied by diagrams giving an overview of the main battle itself.

Fun Fighting Fives at Falkirk
David Knight plays Roman-Pictish skirmishes at Big Roman Day at Falkirk against 5-year-olds - and gets trounced by one of them!

Argentoratum, AD 357
Patrick Waterson examines the battle between Julian and Chnodomar of the Alamans to see how well-merited Julian's reputation for generalship really was.

The Society Championship Needs You
Denis Grey describes how the Society's annual Championship works.

Slingshot Figures Reviews
28mm Carroballistae by Warbases, 28mm Late Mediaevals and 15mm Parthians by Irregular Miniatures

Slingshot Book Reviews
Empire State: How the Roman Military Built an Empire
The Komnene Dynasty
Triumph! Ruleset

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Society Annual Conference November 2018

When: 24 - 25 November 2018

Where: Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth
A reminder that the Society of Ancients Conference 2018 will take place over the weekend 24th and 25th November, at the same venue as the 2016 and 2017 Conferences, the Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.
The aim is to get together as a Society and to exchange ideas on wargaming in the ancients and medieval periods. And to enjoy playing some good and varied wargames!

The weekend will contain a mixture of presentations and wargaming sessions in small and larger groups. Already confirmed as a speaker for 2018 is Duncan Head, author of the legendary Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars and many other books.

The cost for the weekend is £189, which includes the two full days at the Conference, buffet lunch both days, the Conference Dinner on the Saturday evening, bed and breakfast Saturday night, and teas and coffees, fresh fruit, biscuits and cakes etc throughout the days.

Single day attendance (without the B&B and Saturday Dinner), including the lunch, is available for around £45 per day (also held at last year's cost).
For those arriving on the Friday evening we have negotiated a Conference bed and breakfast rate, which should also be booked in advance though us. This also remains held at last year's cost, at £105.

Because the Society is required to pay the venue in advance for the Conference we will require full payment four weeks before the Conference. However, in order to reserve your place we will initially be taking deposits, either by the Society website PayPal route or by cheques made out to the Society of Ancients and sent to the Treasurer. These deposits are non-returnable unless we are able to find someone else to attend in your place. The deposit cost is £45 (as it was last year).

More details here:

Thursday, October 18, 2018

𝗔𝗻𝗰𝗶𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗕𝗮𝘁𝘁𝗹𝗲𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗲𝘀 𝗖𝗹𝗮𝘀𝗵

A new Ancients system with the rulebook and army lists currently available for free (who can resist that?), which promises a fast game that is easy to get into - only the first 12 pages of the 24-page rulebook are necessary for play.

The rules incorporate disorder, loss of morale, orders and much else in a very compact package that has been playtested and fine-tuned for years. More here:

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Slingshot 320 with the Printers

Here is a list of contents with short summaries:

The debate continues on the historicity of the Bible.

The Sack of Chang’an - Part 2
The concluding half of Nicholas Spratt's article on the Tibetan Empire examines its formidable army.

Paraitakene with Commands & Colours
Playing the Battle Day battle with one of the fastest and easiest Ancients systems around.

Paraitakene with Tactica 2
A much larger and historically more nuanced system puts pike and elephant through their paces.

The Apogee of the Athenian Fleet
Periklis Deligiannis examines how the navy of the great Greek power reached its pinnacle just before its final fall.

Wargaming War Wagons
Chris Hahn looks at the historical use of this unusual weapon and how that use is replicated by popular rulesets.

Building the Lykian Hoplites
Duncan Head shows his techniques for assembling and painting the Hoplites employed at Paraitakene.

How Hard does a Horse Hit?
Justin Swanton calculates the impact power of a horse against infantry.

A good crop of reviews included themed reviews on half a dozen books on Agincourt.

Monday, October 1, 2018

THIS is how you do a battle report video!

Chal of Little Wars TV umpires the Battle of Dertosa - without telling the players that they are actually playing the Battle of the Trebia in which Mago has a nasty cavalry ambush waiting on the Roman left flank. 

A couple of censor beeps when the Roman commanders learn the truth, having advanced their line well forward and leaving their rear vulnerable - just as their historical counterparts did.

Video here:

 Players all good to go: two Roman commanders on the right and two Carthaginian commanders on the left. Chal umpires in the middle. The Romans are confident: who can resist their masses of heavy infantry?

The moment in the game when Chal informs the players that this is actually Trebia and Mago is ready to spring into action from the ravine on the Roman left. If looks could kill...

Their flanks in tatters, the Roman centre makes a desperate attempt to burst through the Carthaginian line and head for safety. Hannibal's life is on the line: will he die and lose the battle despite his earlier success?

Monday, September 24, 2018

big Battle DBA with really big figures the Hereward Wargames Show in September. 54mm figures in a Punic Wars battle that drew quite a bit of attention as well as a trophy for a magnificent looking game.

Battle report anyone?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Slingshot 319 with the Printers

Slingshot 319 is with the printers and will hit your postboxes* soon. Here are the article titles with a short summary of content.

Kinging it in Ulster – Part 2by Mick Hession
The concluding half of the account of the opportunistic knight de Courcy's attempt to carve out a lordship in northern Ireland.

Tackling Telamon with l'Art de la Guerreby Chris Hahn
The first of a four-part series that recreates the Battle of Telamon (when a Gallic raiding army in Italy became the patty of a Roman burger) using four popular rulesets.

War elephantsby Patrick Waterson
Tracing the history of the war elephant examining the different ways the elephant was used in battle.

Paraetacene Writ Large with DBMMby Duncan Head
Recreating the famous Successor battle with huge DBMM armies.

Becoming an Ancients Wargamerby Keith Flint
How a confirmed WW2 gamer discovered what a good thing Ancients warfare is.

The Sack of Chang'an – Part 1by Nicholas Spratt
How many people know that Tibet was once an empire that humbled China and conquered its capital city? The first part of a two-part article that describes the apogee of the realm of Lhasa.

Origins of the Macedonian Infantryby Duncan Head
Who founded the Macedonian heavy infantry and what did it originally look like? Duncan Head answers these questions.

Slingshot Reviews
A set of reviews on five books that study the Second Scottish War of Independence.

*If if doesn't hit your postbox that is either a) because the postman was chased away by your dog, or b) you don't have a subscription. We can do something about b) –

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Slingshot 306 about to hit the streets

...or at least the postboxes.

Here are the contents:

Battle Day Pack - Paraetacene - 𝘣𝘺 𝘙𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘓𝘰𝘤𝘬𝘸𝘰𝘰𝘥
Paraetacene with l’Art de la Guerre - 𝘣𝘺 𝘊𝘩𝘳𝘪𝘴 𝘏𝘢𝘩𝘯
Holiday in Cambodia, Part 1 - 𝘣𝘺 𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘭𝘢𝘴 𝘚𝘱𝘳𝘢𝘵𝘵
Twilight Triumph: the Battle of Chalons - 𝘣𝘺 𝘑𝘶𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯 𝘚𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘰𝘯
Wargaming Belisarius vs the Vandals - 𝘣𝘺 𝘚𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘯 𝘔𝘢𝘤𝘋𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘭
Slingshot Reviews: Scipio Africanus - Greater than Napoleon - 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘋𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘏𝘦𝘢𝘥
Slingshot Reviews: Pyrrhus of Epirus - 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘺 𝘔𝘺𝘢𝘭𝘭
Slingshot Reviews: God’s Wolf - 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘦𝘸𝘦𝘥 𝘣𝘺 𝘕𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘏𝘢𝘳𝘣𝘶𝘥

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Saxon Shore is Burning

The deluxe second edition of the popular Society of Ancients game is now available for order. With the mapboard and counters now doubled in size, the counters printed on extra-thick board, and the artwork completely redone, you have a game that gives full value for its price.

Here is an extract from the ruleset:

This is a two-player simulation of the Barbarian Conspiracy of 367 A.D. Against Roman Britain. In that year the Scotti of Ireland, Atacotti of Western Scotland, Picti of Eastern Scotland and the Saxoni of Upper Germany/Lower Denmark joined forces to take advantage of the withdrawal of the province’s three legions to the continent in one of the interminable Imperial Succession disputes. Britain was rich and prosperous but under-defended, so the Barbarians were able to loot and pillage up and down the country, running riot and killing the Count of the Saxon Shore. The Romans were eventually able to restore order and by 369 A.D. the province was secure again, though permanently weakened.

The game components consist of 
  • a mapboard - two sections measuring 58cm x 42 cm, together forming a map of Britain 58 cm x 84 cm
  • 400 counters, each measuring 18mm x 18mm, with replacement and spare counters
  • a reference sheet
  • a rulebook
A 6-sided die is also required.

The counters are printed in thick card and will require cutting out. They are one-sided and do not need to be glued back-to-back with each other.

The game is designed for 2 players, but may be played by 3, 4 or 5 players. there is one Roman and four Barbarian factions: Scotti, Picti, Atacotti and Saxoni. One player takes the side of the Romans, the others take the side of the Barbarians. In a 2-player game the Barbarian player will control all the Barbarian factions. In a 3-player game one Barbarian player will control the Scotti/Atacotti and the other the Picti/Saxoni. In a 4 player game one Barbarian player will control the Scotti, one the Picti and one the Saxoni. Barbarian players dice each turn for control of the Atacotti. In a 5-player game each Barbarian player controls one of the 4 barbarian factions.

At the beginning of the game the Roman player has at his disposal a single fleet, two commanders (one Dux and one Comes), 36 steps of infantry and 24 steps of cavalry, and initially controls all the towns. He is also able to set up 23 forts along the coastline in Roman territory.

Each Barbarian faction has one chief and 40 steps of infantry. The Scotti and Saxoni each have three fleets whilst the Atacotti and Picti each have two. The Roman are thus heavily outnumbered but start from well-fortified positions.

The game lasts for 10 turns. The objective of the Barbarian player is to destroy as many Roman towns and forts as he can, and demolish Hadrian's Wall, whilst the Roman player must hold on to as much as possible until the end of the game.

A turn sequence incorporates attrition for units in woods or bog, lightning strike raids by Barbarian troops transported by fleets, overrunning of small detachments by larger forces, pitched battles, desertion of demoralised Roman troops, the sacking of towns and forts, and the arrival of reinforcements. Roman commanders and Barbarian chiefs play their part in organising attacks and contributing to their forces' combat factor.

 Combat can be resolved either by dice or by using 'scissors-paper-stone' (quicker and more fun).

The game plays to a tense finish, as the Romans yield as slowly as possible, using their cavalry and strong fortifications against a numerically superior foe until the last turn of the game, when the legions finally arrive from the continent to save the day.

The game is available for £15 (£12 for Society members) from the Society website. Click here for more details. And happy gaming!