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!

 

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!

 

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.

Wargaming Tasks – 2019 – another indulgence I am sure!

Back in 2017 I wrote a post, a Self Indulgence – the Wargaming Tasks for 2017 which was, really, a self indulgence. Doubly so as I achieved the following in the two years since then … painted 24 tanks for the Cold War Poles, 12 for the Cold War Danes and prepped the rest of the Poles. So, the painting queue then is still there in the painting queue now.

I also noted that apart from the items illustrated in that painting queue (none of which have had anything done to them), I had a few other items on that 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,

I am pleased to report that over the past two years, while doing some work on Anthony’s 20mm World War II British, they are not yet finished (although I am planning on correcting that error tonight as I reckon they are my painting block).

I did complete the 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes … mostly. There  is a useable army there with reinforcements in the form of some Leopard tanks but there are still about 12 bases of Infantry that can be painted and added to that army to finalize it.

The 1/1200 Coastal Warfare boats and ships have been based and undercoated and I have also added Italian MAS boats to the collection.

And that is all.

So, to all of the above, which is still outstanding I have added to the paint queue by either order or bringing from Oz:

  1. 6mm Prussians – 1813 Napoleonic Prussians. I actually started these back on 2010 but have bundled them up and brought them over from Oz – Heroics and Ros figures
  2. Some 6mm Napoleonic Poles – Baccus 6mm I think
  3. Some 6mm Napoleonic German states – Adler I think (actually I need to sort points 2 and 3 out one Saturday afternoon)
  4. 6mm Baccus Napoleonic Brunswickers and Dutch Belgians (on order) – don’t ask me why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time
  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 started 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, and Rapier Miniatures, 6mm Greeks for yet another Ancient project
  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 you can see that if a wargamer never dies while ever he has items to paint, I should live tp about 150.

Oh, and to add to all that, I brought a couple of boardgames back that I really want to get some game time on!

My painting queue, an indulgence indeed!

 

Little Wars TV – a Favoured YouTube Channnel

One of my favourite YouTube channels is the Little Wars TV channel. I come home from work, late at night, set the TV to YouTube and tune in to see what is up with the guys this week. The guys re-fight battles, review rules and generally behave and talk like wargamers behave and talk. This week I enjoyed the refight of that well-known battle of Hannibal’s – Trebbia. The Romans were defeated historically in this, Hannibal’s first battle on Italian soil and most ancient wargamers know the Battle of Trebbia so it is hard to get the Romans to walk into the trap that is set there. The Little Wars guys do it well. It is also great looking at the way they have based and used 6mm figures for the game – with all figures based in 40mm square bases. They do give the impression of two armies facing off against each other.

Recommended!

The Next Step – Normans

In When Inspiration is Failing Along Comes Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 97 I mentioned that I was developing an interest in the Anarchy – Stephen and Mathilda’s brawl with each other over the English crown in the period 1135 to 1153. I spoke of Normans. I also mentioned that it was leading me to consider another wargames project so last night I did some more reading and research.

The Anarchy was some 70 years after William’s invasion of England so in fact, we are not talking about Normans as such but rather the Anglo-Norman successors of William’s invasion. The English barons supported Stephen so we are dealing with the Anglo-Normans.

Mathilda’s supporters included Robert of Gloucester and the Battle of Lincoln in 1141 pitted Robert against Stephen so Anglo-Norman vs Anglo-Norman army. Later Henry, Mathilda’s son, invaded with some knights so I can find an excuse to add a Feudal French force. The Normans also invaded Sicily so add a Sicilian opponent. Other enemies over the period involved include the pre-Feudal Scots and Scots Common, the Welsh, and lastly the Anglo-Norse. A fine collection of forces for a matched set.

When Inspiration is Failing … along comes Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 97

Like all good wargamers I have about 30 half-started; half-completed; or part-planned projects either in the painting queue (that will be those boxes over there), or scratched as notes on a piece of paper as the planning sessions start (and the figures for those will be in those other boxes over there or manufacturers catalogues filed away in the file system here).

And then along came Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy Issue 97 and I was saved – or at least project number 31 started to take shape in my mind’s eye.

The main theme of this issue is “Weird War”. Basically, alternate outcomes or what-if scenarios based around World War 2, and there are seven articles on that subject, articles such as a “What if?” assassination mission – Kill Stalin; Weird War II airborne operations – Operation Redrow; or Weird War II pulp adventures – Lieutenant Liberty and the Doom Platoon.

However, there were some other more mainstream articles included such as the perils of Ptolemaic Pachyderms – Elephant Archos; the Swedes vs. the Dutch in North America – The Battle at Fort Mosquito, 1655; and the one that caught my imagination, the Empress Matilda’s flight – Bitesize battle: escape from Oxford.

The article about Stephen and Mathilda caught my eye principally because several days before I had watched an historical piece on Netflix on the Empress Maud and Matilda. Coupled with that is a desire to have a reason to get some Normans (not that I ever really needed an excuse to buy more figures). The article discusses the escape of Mathilda from Oxford Castle in the winter when the castle was invested by Stephen’s forces. I am sure this provided the idea for Sansa’s escape from Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones.

Anyway, I digress, and who doesn’t like a good digression? Mathilda and Stephen tilted for the English crown in the mid 12th century. Both were Normans and this period of Norman history makes a change from William’s Wars or the Normans in Sicily. Anyway, as the tale goes, Mathilda was the daughter of King Henry I of England, and was his sole legitimate child after the death of his son Prince William in the ‘White Ship’ disaster.

She was married to Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire (hence the title Empress), and then when he died in 1125, to Geoffrey Plantagenet, Count of Anjou.

She was supposed to be the heir to the English throne, however in 1135 Stephen of Blois claimed that Henry I had changed his mind on his deathbed and recognised Stephen as successor to the throne. The English barons backed this claim.

That is when the trouble started and a period known as The Anarchy commenced.

Stephen was more popular than Mathilda, as she was viewed as a foreigner and a woman who was married to one of the hated Angevin enemy. She was also proud and overbearing, arranging everything as she thought fit, according to her own whim.

Trouble started in 1141 when the Battle of Lincoln took place between Stephen and Matilda’s half-brother Robert, Earl of Gloucester. After fighting bravely, Stephen was overcome and captured and taken before Matilda who immediately had him imprisoned in Bristol Castle. He was later released.

Both Stephen and Mathilda were captured at various stages and escaped (the escape from Oxford being one such).

Henry, Mathilda’s son by the Count of Anjou also got involved, bringing some knights to England but they were defeated by Stephen’s men.

In 1153 Stephen agreed to the Treaty of Westminster with Henry of Anjou. This stated that Stephen should remain king for life (in the event this was less than one more year) and then Henry should succeed him.

Upon Stephen’s death in 1154, Henry was crowned King Henry II, the first of the Plantagenet line of kings.

So, what’s not to like about this period? A few armies of similar structure bouncing around England and a reason to expand the lead-pile … curse you Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy!

As for figures, well it will be 6mm scale for the space challenged and Normans of an appropriate ilk are available from:

  • Heroics and Ros – a range I remember from many years ago – Normans, Saxons, Vikings and a Medieval range
  • Baccus 6mm – a lovely range of 6mm Normans, Vikings and Saxons
  • Irregular Miniatures – a large range of figures but where the casts as not as clean or detailed as H&R or Baccus

For those interested, Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy have a number of well known folks from the wargaming world writing regular columns in the magazine as well such as Rick Priestley and Henry Hyde.

The magazine is recommended … as are the Normans!

A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC – Marc G DeSantis – Review

Apart from reading Great Battles of the Classical Greek World by Owen Rees, at the same time I was also reading A Naval History of the Peloponnesian War – Ships, Men and Money in the War at Sea, 431-404 BC published by Pen & Sword Maritime in 2017, ISBN 978 1 47386 158 9.

The book is the result of DeSantis’s research for his previous book, Rome Seizes the Trident, where he looked at Rome’s eventual defeat of Carthage at sea by the application of simple tactics against a more skillful opponent along with steadfast resolve. The Athenian fleet (skillful mariners) were brought low by Syracusan blunt force, prow-to-prow tactics.

The Peloponnesian War was largely decided by battles and a strategy at sea. When Athens’ control of the sea crumbled, so did its empire. The classical sources used for the book are Thucydides, Plutarch, Diodorus and Xenophon.

The Naval History of the Peloponnesian War commences with a number of maps of the area of operations as well as a map of the Battle of Arginusae. The book is then divided into 5 main parts parts 3 to 5 consisting of the usual split of the war:

  1. Introduction
  2. The Trireme
  3. The Archidamian War
  4. The Sicilian Expedition
  5. The Ionian War

There are also a Preface, Conclusions, Notes, Bibliography and Index. The itself book covers the naval history of the 27 years of conflict that was the Peloponnesian War.

DeSantis outlines the struggle in the Introduction, noting that Sparta supported by Persian gold eventually overcame Athens although it was the loss of the Athenian fleet at Syracuse that signaled the end for Athens rather than any action of Sparta.

DeSantis traces the war from the sources, first looking at the causes of the war presented by Thucydides as he saw it and he mostly relies on Thucydides’s narrative to 411 BC. Xenophon picks up the tale from then along with Diodorus of Siculus. Plutarch of Chaeronea writing some 500 years or so later in his Parallel Lives looks at the biographies of the Athenians Themistocles, Cimon, Pericles, and Alcibiades along with the Spartan Lysander. Lastly the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia also mentions wartime events including the Athenian seaborne campaign in Asia Minor in 409 BC and the Battle of Notium in 406 BC. These then are the classical references used by DeSantis.

DeSantis covers the economics of the naval build-up of Athens, noting that the 100 talents (600,000 drachmae) in silver extracted from the Laurium silver mines was sufficient to build 200 triremes. He then notes that Pericles estimated the same cost for each year of war against Sparta.

In the second section the author examines the trireme (triers in Greek) with Thucydides identifying Corinth as the first to construct a trireme although there is a competing theory that the trireme may have actually originated in the east with the Sidonian of Phoenicia (trikrotis naus) or the Phoenicans themselves constructing the first such vessels.

The construction of the triremes of Athens is covered including details of where the wood and pitch was sourced from along with the number of men required to move a trireme up the 1 in 10 ramp into its shed (140) as well as take it back into the water (110). One thing that had not occurred to me before but perhaps should of is that there were different quality triremes. The best were known as exairetoi (selects) while others were identified as first, seconds or thirds. Old vessels were converted for troop transport – with a converted trireme able to transport 85 soldiers.

Tactics are covered with discussions of sailing with the wind and under the power of oars. Masts and sails were generally taken down before battle and preferably left on shore to lighten the load in the trireme prior to battle. The main battle manoeuvres are described, being the diekplous and the periplous. Less skillful fleets relied on coming alongside and boarding the enemy.

Rounding out his review of the trireme, DeSantis covers shipboard fighting, funding a fleet, the officers on board, payment on campaign, and propulsion.

DeSantis then moves on the Archidamian War which started when Corcyra and Corinth came to blows over Epidamnus. He looks at:

  • The Battle of Sybota
  • Potidaea
  • The Athenian empire and rival coalitions
  • The Battle of Chalcis
  • The Battle of Naupachus
  • The Attack on Piraeus
  • The Revolt at Lesbos
  • The Second Battle of Sybota
  • Pylos and Sphacteria
  • Strait of Messana engagements
  • Expeditions to Corinth and Corcyra
  • Attack on Nisaea
  • Delium
  • Brasidas’s campaign
  • Amphipolis
  • Meude
  • The Peace of Nicias
  • The Fate of Melos

The next part covers the whole hubristic disaster for Athens that was the Sicilian Expedition.

Lastly the Ionian War is examined. After the defeat in Sicily, the Athenians were spurred on to lock down their Ionian allies, and ensure Euboea in particular remained within the empire. The author looks at:

  • Alcibiades’s seduction of Timaea, the wife of King Agis
  • Alcibiades’s undermining Persian efforts to assist the Peloponnesians
  • The Battle of Cynossema
  • The Battle of Abydos
  • The Battle of Cyzicus
  • Alcibiades and the Athenian plundering expeditions
  • Action off Mytilene
  • The Battle of Arginusae
  • The Battle of Aegospotami

DeSantis concludes with the eventual defeat of the Athenian Empire.

While there were many land battles throughout the Peloponnesian War, it was at sea that Athens was at first strong, then later faltered.

I very much enjoyed this book, especially as I was reading it at the same time as Great Battles of the Classical Greek World. There was some overlap between the two books so taking an alternate view on some matters was a benefit.

If you are a naval tragic like me, and an ancient history addict as well, this book will serve well as an overview of the Peloponnesian War from the naval perspective. Thucydides and Xenophon are still the main sources to read but DeSantis’s book is both easy to read and factual.

This is a good book providing a good amount of detail and covering one the more exciting stories from Ancient Greece. I am now looking for my copy of Thucydides to read further into this conflict again, one that I have not looked at for about 30 years. Recommended.