Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World by Owen Rees – Review

I have waited for this to be published since receiving and reading the previous work of Owen Rees, Great Battles of the Classical Greek World and A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC by Marc G DeSantis.

Where DeSantis looked at the trireme then three wars (Archidamian, the Sicilian Expedition, and Ionian War), Rees breaks his work up into the following parts:

Part 1 – The Persian Conflicts
Chapter 1 – The Battle of Lade (494 BC)
Chapter 2 – The Battle of Artemisium (480 BC)
Chapter 3 – The Battle of Salamis (480 BC)

Part 2 – Archidamian War
Chapter 4 – The Battle of Sybota (433 BC)
Chapter 5 – The Battle of the Corinthian Gulf (429 BC)
Chapter 6 – The Battle of Corcyra (427 BC)

Part 3 – The Ionian War
Chapter 7 – Battle of Erineus (413 BC)
Chapter 8 – The Battle for the Great Harbour of Syracuse (413 BC)
Chapter 9 – Battles of the Ionian Coast (412-411 BC)
Chapter 10 – The Battle of Arginusae (406 BC)
Chapter 11 – The Battle of Aegospotami (405 BC)

Part 4 – Turning of the Tide
Chapter 12 – Battle of Catane (396 BC)
Chapter 13 – Battle of Cnidus (394 BC)

The book, Great Naval Battles of the Ancient Greek World was published on 10 January 2019 in Hardback, Kindle and ePub versions. The author is Owen Rees and Pen & Sword Military publish it. The book is 218 pages line and its ISBN is 9781473827301. The URL to the book is https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Great-Naval-Battles-of-the-Ancient-Greek-World-Hardback/p/14504

As you would expect there is also an introduction, glossary, conclusion, endnotes, select bibliography, acknowledgements and index.

While DeSantis covers various parts of the Peloponnesian War in greater detail than Rees, Rees is working to a broader canvas so appears to concentrate on only those battles he consider relevant to the argument.

Rees, as expected, starts his book with a discussion on the trireme, a tool central to any story concerning Greek naval warfare. He also looks at the differences between the different poleis, noting for examples that while a trireme normally carried a marine complement of 14 (10 hoplites and 4 archers), Athenian triremes generally had less to enable them to maintain their manoeuvrability while Corinthian triremes that specialised in boarding generally had more.

Rees follows with a brief discussion of Naval tactics covering the usual diekplous, kyklos, and periplous. The last section of the Introduction is where Rees discusses what a Great Battle is. He also notes that the Battle of Catane is included as part of the Hegemony period but notes its importance as a battle between Syracus and Carthage is perhaps for exposing Carthaginians to quadriremes and quinqueremes for the first time.

Leptines had already shown himself a capable commander, having been in charge of the fleet since the siege of Motya, at the latest. Within his fleet he is said to have had thirty superior ships, a crack force of the same number which had confronted the Carthaginian armada at the beginning of their expedition. It seems extremely probably that these thirty ships, or at least a proportion of them, were of the new designs: quadriremes and quinqueremes. This ships were bigger and more powerful, propelled forward for four or five men to each oar (an attribute which most likely gave the ships their names).

Rees covers each battle in the same manner, initially with a background, referencing a primary source. He indicates as a heading within the chapter the source used and the chapters within that source. After the back ground, the forces are identified (or estimated). The description of the battle itself follows, again with the source identified. There is a map outlining where Rees believes the opposing fleets deployed and then each battle section finishes with a discussion of the aftermath.

I am really enjoying this book (as I did his Classical Greek Warfare and DeSantis’s Naval Warfare of the Peloponnesian War).

Rees has an easy to read style and his book is a delight to read. I do recommend grabbing a copy of this (which is actually on sale currently at Pen and Sword), grab a good java, put your feet up, and then smell the salt in the air as you read of these classical battles of the past. For a wargamer, this will likely drag you into another period. For the general reader of military history, it will remind you of the importance of naval warfare in Classical Greece, as well as suggesting where the quadriremes and quinqueremes of the Punic Wars may have come from.

Well worth purchasing.

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Dark Age Campaign Set – the Figures needed

Baccus Sudanese doubling as Andalusians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

I spent some time this week having a look at the figures needed to make up the Dark Age set. Recall in Dark Age Campaign Set I identified six Dark Age armies to build the set around, being Viking, Andalusian, Anglo-Saxon, West Frankish, East Frankish and Leidang.

First decision was the figure range and while both Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros have the same ranges available, the pricing of both companies is near enough to the same to just pick one range on appearance.

I do like Heroics and Ros, especially for World War 2 and Modern wargaming but for Ancients, Baccus is a very nice range of figures so I decided to build the set with the various Baccus ranges.

Baccus Goths doubling as Hairy Dark Age barbarians – photo taken from Baccus Catalogue

Some “repurposing” parts of the Baccus range was necessary to achieve the six desired armies (and to be honest I am thinking of adding a Slav army to round it all out … but not yet). For some of the East Franks and the Norse Leidang I am opting to use some Goths from the Roman range. The Andalusians are being drawn from the Saracens in the Crusades range – using mainly the Seljuqs and Sudanese.

I have calculated that to achieve the desired results here, I will need to purchase 30 packets of figures from Baccus. This will amount to around £152.00 not counting postage 😦

The figure count (and therefore the painting queue) will grow by about 1,500 foot figures and 300 mounted figures, plus/minus.

I think I may break the order up into chunks and will plan to develop this project over the coming 12 months. In the meantime, I have a lot of modern naval in 1/3000 scale to paint up (not to mention 1/3000 scale World War 2 and World War 1).

Time for another planning session I reckon – off to the pub!

Collision Course – DBA Competition

Davis Lawrence is running a DBA competition called Collision Course in Canberra, ACT, Australia on Sunday, May 26, 2019 (See flyer CCV Flyer).  Brief details:

  • Venue: Austrian Australian Club –Heard St Mawson ACT
  • Date: Sunday May 26 th 2019
  • Time: 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM – first game starts at 10:30AM
  • Rules: DBA 3
  • Scale: 15mm

Cost to enter is AU $18.00 but there are discounts

You can contact David on:

CCV Flyer

Dark Age Campaign Set

Having studied History at University (when I was supposed to be reading Economics) I always feel a little less than professional when I refer to the Dark Ages as the Dark Ages – but it fits. The glory days of Rome were well past and there were many years to go before the golden age of the Renaissance appeared. Even in China we had just come out of the Tang Dynasty and were heading into Five Dynasties. (907–960) and then Song Dynasty. The glory days of Yuan when the Mongols took over China were not until 1200 C.E. or so.

I have always had an interest in the Norsemen however, especially as I did study the Vikings in those misspent university years. The project Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start came as a result of reading some historical fiction around Erik Bloodave. I have been doing some research over a Tim Horton’s coffee or two and have settled on the following armies. I intend to purchase enough figures to build them so that they can be used for both DBA version 3 and Basic Impetus

Army Name DBA Army Basic Impetus
Viking Army III/40b Viking Army 850-1280 CE 14.8 Viking 789-1066 CE
Andalusian III/34b Andalusian 766-1172 CE 18.3 Later Andalusian 961-1072 CE
Anglo-Saxon III/24b Anglo-Saxon 701-1016 CE 14.9 Later Anglo-Saxon 789-1016 CE
West Frankish III/52 West Frankish/Normans 888-1072 CE 15.3 Normans in Normandy 900-1072 CE
East Frankish III/53 East Frankish 888-1106 CE 15.11 Eastern Franks & Ottonians 898-1125 CE
Leidang (Norse) III/40c Leidang 790-1070 CE Haven’t worked this one out yet 🙂

I had to do a bit of converting troop types and rules to work these together for two different sets of rules. Firstly there was base sizes. I did consider using 60mm base widths with 30mm depth for pretty much everything as both rules would work with that as they both use base widths for measuring ranges and move distances. However one thing I am very short on in the Philippines is space, so a 2′ x 2′ (or 60cm x 60cm) playing area was the first constraint. I then decided that I would use standard DBA/DBM bases of 40mm frontage. As both sets of rules use base width measures it would still work OK.

The second task was to determine a conversion between Basic Impetus and DBA trop types. I settled on the following conversions:

DBA Troop Type Basic Impetus Troop Type
4Bd FP
Sp FP
3Wb FL or S
Ps S
4Bw T
3Cb T
3Ax FL (Irish)
Cv CM
LH CL
3Kn CP2 or CP1
7Hd FB

I reckon by the time I finish I will have a few more to add to the list.

As for basing, as I am using 6mm figures, I am planning on  basing 4 x 6mm figures for what would be a single 15mm figure on a 40mm base for the likes of 4Bd (16 figures to the base). For loose order (3Ax etc) then 12 figures to the base (normally 3 x 15mm figures). Light troops will be 6 to 8 skirmishers. For mounted troops I will be using a ratio of nearly 3:1 for all except Light Horse. So 3Kn will have 9 or 10 figures on the base. LH will be 4 figures on the base.

It just so happens as well that I believe the next issue of Slingshot from the Society of Ancients (Slingshot 324, May/June 2019) will have an article about a Dark Age campaign using 6mm Viking figures, among other things. In fact, just checking their Twitter feed there will be DBA Danelaw Campaigns as well as Tweaking DBA 3. I’m looking forward to that issue (and joining the Society of Ancients is recommended for anyone interested in Ancient Wargaming).

As for figures, I really only have a choice between Baccus 6mm and Heroics and Ros. Both have good ranges of Dark Age figures. For the Andalusians I will need to trawl through the Crusader ranges. Most likely that will be Baccus who have a larger range of Saracens and Seljuqs. Goths (as a nice hairy barbarian type) will also make an appearance in these armies doubling for some of the Finns and Slavs or Rus.

And yes, just what a wargamer needs, another project and more figures. I think I will slip off now and start my modern Soviet fleets in 1/3000!

Moving Right Along – Wargaming Tasks – 2019 update!

I indulged myself in January 2019 when I posted Wargaming Tasks – 2019 – another indulgence I am sure! Apart from the miserably poor painting performance over the period 2017 to 2019, I noted some other items on the list including:

  • Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
  • Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
  • 1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
  • 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
  • 1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
  • The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
  • Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
  • Dystopian Wars fleets, and
  • Peshawar and the 2mm armies and aeronefs

Well, I can say that in April 2019, flat out at work though I was, I did find some painting time over Holy Week here and have managed to continue painting a couple of nights a week. Anthony’s World War 2 British are now set for return to Anthony on my next trip through Singapore.

Well except that the 2-pdr and 6-pdr needs one more coat of paint or two 🙂 Late Update (May 2nd): the 2-pdr and 6-pdr are now finished as well. Job completed, finally!

I also managed to spend some time working on repurposing my Middle Imperial Romans – these were painted by a paint shop and were organised for SPQR (Polemos rules) but I decided to re-purpose them to DBA and Impetus – using a 40mm base.

I also managed to start work on my modern Soviet Naval group by starting to read the Naval Institute Press’s Admiral Gorshkov. A review of that will be coming soon as well as photographic progress of the painting of that fleet.

I also managed a few book reviews, principally Silver State Dreadnought – The Remarkable Story of Battleship Nevada; Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume 2 – Julian S. Corbett – Review; World Naval Review 2019 – ed. Conrad Waters – Review; and Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – by Martin J. B. Farebrother, Joan S. Farebrother – Book Review. I have another 7 or 8 books in the reading and review pile. The next one is likely to be dealing with Coastal Forces which runs the risk of distracting me from my 1/3000 naval and ancient wargames and lead me into 1/1200 coastal forces!

I also still have in the queue:

  1. 6mm 1815 Prussians – Heroics and Ros figures
  2. 6mm Napoleonic Poles – Baccus 6mm
  3. Some 6mm Napoleonic German states – Adler figures
  4. 6mm Baccus Napoleonic Brunswickers and Dutch Belgians
  5. My 1/3000 Russo-Japanese War fleets – with about half of the vessels repainted into more correct colours
  6. A 6mm Baccus English Civil War starter set – both sides. I am trying to decide however whether to use them for the English Civil War or the Thirty Years War. That internal debate should keep them off the painting queue for some time
  7. Heroics and Ros 6mm Greeks for yet another Ancient project. I am still waiting on the delivery from Rapier Miniatures, but I fear these are the first order to the Philippines to go astray as it has been over 6 months now Update (May 1st) – I just received an email from Stefan at Rapier (not bad, about one hour after posting this) to note that the parcel was sent but they will send again. Brilliant service guys – thank you.
  8. Heroics and Ros 6mm modern French for Cold War Commander
  9. Fujimi 1/3000th Pacific War World War II ships. These are nice, see Fujimi Navwar 1/3000 Naval Vessels Ready for Paint for images
  10. Seven fleet packs from Navwar – 1/3000 scale ships, for:
    1. Modern British
    2. Modern Dutch
    3. Modern French
    4. Modern Italian
    5. Modern US
    6. World War I Argentinian
    7. World War I Brazilian

So, add to that the other stock items here such as the fleets from the Battle of Matapan, Philippine Sea and Jutland and I am likely to be busy for a few years yet!

 

Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – by Martin J. B. Farebrother, Joan S. Farebrother – Book Review

Something a little different for me although I guess like many wargamers, I do have at a minimum a passing interest in model railroading. My father was a fan of model railways and had an extensive layout in HO under the house in his retirement, with an Australian outline layout, particularly the New South Wales Government Railways. As a small child I had asked for a train set which I played with for about six weeks and which left my father hooked on model railroading for life. I diverged and became a wargamer but had spent many a pleasant hour with Dad talking railways, photographing them, building model kits for him and generally being one of his sounding boards when he needed some advice about some sticky issue with wiring or weathering or painting figures for his layout.

As a wargamer I have enjoyed various model railroad conventions and will from time to time pick up model railroad magazines, if only for modelling tips for terrain to use in a wargame.

This book covers a topic that crosses the boundaries between military history, model railroading and wargaming. Pen and Sword Books are releasing a series covering the Allied Railways of the Western Front (or rather more correctly I suppose, Triple Entente Railways of the Western Front). The first book in this series looked at the Arras Sector. This release covers Allied Railways of the Western Front – Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – Before, During and After the First World War. It has been written by Martin J. B. Farebrother and Joan S. Farebrother and is from the Pen & Sword Transport imprint. The book is 256 pages long and was published on 30 January 2019 (ISBN: 9781473887633).

The book covers the metre gauge networks built prior to the war, then the build up of the light (60cm gauge) railways around the French sector and then later the British and Dominion sectors. The book has a number of contemporary illustrations of both rolling stock as well as terminals and goods sidings. There are also illustrations of preserved narrow gauge locomotives from the period that are still existing in museums.

The book is well researched and follows a detailed process chapter by chapter where the flow of the text is secondary to the information passed along. In parts it is a difficult read however a fresh cup of a good java eases that problem.

The structure of the book is to look at the Somme Sector chronologically which shows the development of the narrow gauge rail systems from 1888 through to the commencement of the war in the Somme department as well as the Oise and Aisne departments, then during the First World War. The First World War sections are a general 60cm gauge light railways during the war (1914-1918); the light and metre gauge railways of the Somme battlefields 1916-16 March 2917; 17 March 1917 to 20 March 1918; 21 March to 7 August 1918; 8 August to 11 November 1918. This is followed by post war sections of the light railways of the Somme Sector 12 November 1918 t0 1974; metre gauge railways of the Somme department 12 November 1918 to 1955 and metre gauge railways of the Oise and Aisne departments 12 November 1918 to 1955. The main text of the book is rounded out with a chapter on things to see and do now.

To book has many maps of the railway lines and the connections between the 60cm narrow gauge and metre gauge lines. Also illustrated are the track plans to various stations. The track plans of the smaller stations and depots, many of which would provide an excellent track plan for the shunting puzzle are also mapped.

There has been a growing interest the railways of the First World War and model railways in particular with, for example, the Amiens 1918 OO9 narrow gauge railway modelled from the First World War being a good example.

This book is a very good summary of the railways of the time with a great deal of information contained. It has been well researched and from my perspective it has dominated my reading over the last few days, covering a topic that I knew nothing about but that I have now been researching further. I can recommend this book to those interested in the history of railways as well as readers into military history, particularly of the 20th century. It will also interest narrow gauge model railroaders and railway modellers who have more esoteric tastes than the regular modellers. It will also find some interest among the wargaming community, especially those taking more of an interest in the First World War.

This is a book I found particularly interesting and I am happy to recommend it. Best, it is on sale at Pen and Sword currently with a good discount (April 2019).

Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start

As if I did not have enough half finished and unstarted wargames project, I am about to add another one to the list. I really must get organised with more painting time though and start to clear some of these.

It has started with this book. A modern telling of the tale of Erik Haraldsson known as Bloodaxe. Erik Bloodaxe lived from the late 7th century until he was finally assassinated in 954 C.E.

The book has been (and still is) a ripping read and of course it has fired my interest in adding some Vikings to my wargame collection.

As I mentioned in Another Project – Vikings in 6mm, I have a fine collection of Two Dragons Vikings here in 15mm but I want to build the Vikings in 6mm. I originally started thinking about just two armies in 6mm and set them for DBA and/or Basic Impetus. That would have required about 400 figures all up using the basing scales I use of 15mm base sizes and 3 or 4 6mm figures for each 15mm figure.

Baccus 6mm – EMV01 – Armoured Spearmen. Image from http://www.baccus6mm.com web catalogue

Wargamer’s megalomania has now clicked in and I am thinking that 10 armies would make a nice collection. With those I could probably morph a few other traditional enemies if I wanted to.

So Baccus 6mm Vikings are nice and while the ones illustrated to the left from the Baccus website are based on a 60mm base, basing on 40mm will look similar, just 4 figures per rank less.

So, adding to the Vikings (DBA army III/40b) I am looking to add:

  • Northern Slav (III/1a)
  • Breton (III/18)
  • Anglo-Saxon (III/24b) – two of these 🙂
  • Andalusian (III/34b)
  • Leidang Army (III/40c)
  • Norse-Irish (III/46)
  • West Frankish (III/52)
  • East Frankish (III/53)

Thinking about a Pre-Feudal Scots as well – such is the megalomania!

So, I will need more than the original 400 digures considered and this will therefore go from being a nice little project to a big one.

The option other than Baccus is to use Heroics and Ros figures who also have their Vikings, Saxons and Normans and could therefore provide most of the figures here. This will lead, of course, to a few days pleasure planning and combing through catalogues.

I am also still considering the naval side with some additional bits, such as 6mm Snekke and Drakkar from Heroics and Ros. Another option is the 1/1200 scale Viking and Saxon vessels from Navwar.

Let the planning begin!

 

Another Project – Vikings in 6mm

So one thing that I have come to hate is the “Read Sample” option on Amazon Digital Books. You get about 30 pages at the start of a novel and then if you are hooked, you end up buying the whole book.

This was one. Many of the settings in this are found in the Trondelag which is where I spent most of my time in Norway. Familiar areas and towns such as Lade are included.

I find the description of the way of  life of the men of the Nor Way fits with the historical records (O.K., the sagas) as well as the archeological evidence that I studied at University.

So, after 30 pages of reading I decided that I needed to buy the book (in Kindle version) and it has become my lunchtime reading this week. The only problem is that now I am tempted to build some wargame armies … sigh, another project to add to the growing list!

I have a fine collection of Two Dragons Vikings here in 15mm, a gift from friend Lee but in keeping with my latest passions, I want to build the Vikings in 6mm. I would want to build two armies in 6mm and set them for DBA and/or Basic Impetus. I figure I would need about 12 elements of Vikings which would be 192 figures plus some extras. Need to build two sides so that is 384 figures. I would also need some opponents but I have not read far enough into the book to see who the enemies were in this story. It could be Normans although Erik bypasses the French lands of Hrolf, the brother of Harald Finehair (Erik’s father) and heads further south. I can see that I am going to buy to build a second force.

As for figures, around 400 Viking figures would give me two armies. Baccus 6mm have some lovely figures as well as a boxed set for £57.50 plus postage of Vikings. The set contains over 700 figures however (megalomania bubbling to the surface). Baccus also make Saxons and Normans which are likely to make up the basic figures for opponents.

It appears as though Andy at Heroics and Ros has finished his reorganisation after Heroics and Ros moved. They also produce Vikings (and Saxons and Normans). The also do some interesting additional bits, such as 6mm Snekke and Drakkar among others – plus crew for the vessels. There is an attraction in that along with the fact that I could get roughly the same number of Vikings from H&R as Baccus for about £57.60 plus postage.

Decisions, decisions. Curse you Amazon “Read Sample”!

P.S. Oh and the book is a ripping yarn to boot!

 

Blitzkrieg Commander IV – a Quick Read … not a Review

Blitzkrieg Commander IV Cover

I mentioned that Blitzkrieg Commander IV was being released at Salute last Saturday. Those of us with digital copies however managed to get our hands on it a couple of days sooner than those waiting on physical copies.

It is much better than BKC III was. The army lists have been corrected, at least the ones I had a look at seemed to be better aligned with Historical organization and equipment.

I’m looking forward to some downtime soon so I can read these in detail and maybe organise a little Soviet on Soviet action to test them out.

I believe the hard copies of the rules are mostly in the post to those who ordered BKC III previously, us digital folks already have our copies. World War II micro armour has suddenly just become more interesting, just as I have a mountain of modern Poles and French to paint for Cold War Commander!

Slingshot 323 – Arrived in Manila

Rather, it arrived in the office today. It arrived in Manila on March 28 then spent until April 4 making its way the 5 kilometres from the airport to Makati where the office is. Still, it is an anticipated read every two months and with postal times, it gives me a wargaming fix between the digital editions of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy turning up.

Also, in perfect timing, it arrived immediately before lunch, so it was sandwiches today, manageable in one hand and no dangling bits flicking chilli sauce everywhere and spotting magazine and shirt. Sandwiches also left one hand free.

So, what is in this read?

The issue starts off with a continued “fiery” discussion of the New Chronology of Egyptian Dynasties as well as the Jebel Barkal temple. Both these discussions have been moved to the SOA forum to keep relevance and stop us all hanging on for two months for the counter-arguments or the gracious folding of a position.

Aaron Bell discusses the Battle of Thapsus between Caesar and the Pompeian forces there led by Scipio and Juba. While a battle I knew of, for some reason I had never really got around to reading about it in detail. Lunch stretched a little past the hour today.

Of particular interest to me is David Kay’s use of 3D printing to produce 6mm accessories. Now that honourable number two son has a 3D printer and is printing Dystoptian War type vessels I may pay more attention that when he is telling me than in the past.

The refighting of the Battle of Arausio with DBA from Andy Offer was also interesting to me.

Of a high interest as well is the item by Periklis Deligiannis in the Battle of the Kalka River. After a fair time living in Mongolia I still have an interest in Mongol goings on. I also have this battle at home in a board game which I have not even punched the counters on. I may get that down off the shelf this weekend – the article is tonight’s post dinner reading.

Also including in Slingshot 323 is:

  • Over by Vespers: a Mediaeval Scenario Game – by Anthony Clipsom
  • Inventing Early Bronze Age Scenarios – by Steven Neate
  • The Long, the Short and the Flat: the Origin of the Longbow – by Anthony Clipsom
  • Slingshot Figure Reviews: 15mm early Imperial Roman Equites Auxiliares – by Mark Grindlay
  • Slingshot Figure Reviews: 28mm Viking Age Scots – by Thane Maxwell
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Roman Heavy Cavalry (1) – by Duncan Head
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Ptolemy I Soter, a Self-made Man – by Jim Webster
  • Slingshot Book & Game Reviews: Pandemic, Fall of Rome – by Gavin Pearson

If you are not a member of the Society of Ancients but have an interest in Ancient History and in particular wargaming, the Society’s membership fee is well worth the cost. Recommended.