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.
I recently had a look at and reviewed Daniel Mersey’s Wargamer’s Guide to the Desert War. I am fortunate to have received a copy of Mersey’s Wargamer’s Guide to the Early Roman Empire to have a look at.
The book is paperback of 126 pages so slightly longer than the Desert War, was published by Pen & Sword Military on 4 July 2017, ISBN: 9781473849556. It is one of the range of wargame books being published by Pen & Sword. Best of all, it is on sale currently.
The book follows a now familiar format, although in this case, it contains seven chapters:
The Roman Empire 27BC t0 AD284 – an overview of the history of Rome and its wars over the period of the Early Roman Empire
Armies, Organization, and Equipment – covering, well, the armies, their organisation and equipment. A generalised discussion of the organisation covering the Romans; Britons; Caledonians; Dacians; Germans; Palmyrans; Parthians; and Sassanids
The Key Battles – covering (briefly) the battles of Teutoburg Forest; Idistavisus; Medway River; Cremona (Bedriacum); Mons Graupius; Tapae; Issus; Lugdunum; Nisibis; and Emesa. These sections within this chapter briefly describe the battles then provide suggestions for wargaming the battle
Wargaming the Battles of Rome – covering Facing the Might of Rome; Command Structures; Missile Fire; Legion versus Warbands (and Cavalry); the Role of Auxiliary Infantry; and Getting the Right Look
Choosing Your Rules – a summary of a number of rules, including: Armati II; Aurelian; Commands & Colours: Ancients; De Bellis Antiquitatis; Hail Caesar; Kings of War Historical; Legio VI; To The Strongest; War & Conquest; War Games Rules 3000BC to 1485AD; Brink of Battle; Broken Legions; De Bellis Velitum; FUBAR Medieval; Lord of the Rings Battle Game; Of Gods and Mortals; Open Combat; and Song of Blades and Heroes
Choosing Your Models – a look at some of the main manufacturers in various scales including manufacturers of 28mm, 20mm, 15mm, 10/12mm and 6mm. This chapter also discusses scale for each of those figure sizes. There is also a handy table of manufacturers and the ranges they cover (refer point 2 above for the ranges)
Scenarios – presents the setting up of some scenario based battles to provide some variety in the games we play
There is also an index and a list of titles for further reading.
This book has found a welcome place on my bookshelf (actually, coffee table as it has become the favourite for flicking through with a cup of coffee this week). Mersey has set a standard for his Wargamer’s Guides and continues to deliver to that standard. Whilst much of the historical content is familiar to me it is good to be able to read that from another gamer’s perspective. There are 8-pages of eye candy in the middle of the book with painted figures from Simon Miller, Daniel Mersey, Barry Lee and Wargames Illustrated to encourage the reader to whip out the paintbrushes and finish off those Early Imperial Romans.
Mersey discusses the troop types against the very familiar descriptions of troops found in the old Wargames Research Group Series of rules, particularly the 6th edition. He discusses their use in battle, their formation, speed and armament.
I am now torn between completing my Desert War Armies or dragging out the Early Imperial Romans, getting them sorted then building some Britons, Germans, Dacians or Palmyrans for opponents. Hmm, now that I think about it I have some Sassanians tucked away here somewhere as well.
Well recommended for its general nature but also for the inspiration it provides.
Christmas has gone and so has New Year’s Eve. I avoid making New Year’s Resolutions, partly because reflecting on what you are doing and what you will do is something that should be an ongoing process. Having said that, in nautical terms, i am getting very broad across the beam although I have a good deal of ballast to counter that. It is time to slim up so that is one task on my 2017 and beyond.
Work also will be interesting this year as one contract finishes and I chase another. I will be looking for something to start around July or so.
I did reflect on those things that went well and those that failed in the year just past, however, a product of the odd beer and a relatively quiet New Year’s Eve back in Manila. It is, however, time to think about the plans for the coming year, doubly so as a week has already gone.
Simply … I did next to no wargaming, or painting. I also managed to add another few kilograms overall to my already portly body shape. I kept getting great ideas, especially for wargaming projects, but managed to not spend anytime actually starting any of them. Worst of all, I missed getting back to Oz and visiting mother for about 8 months, which was very frustrating.
There were some high spots however. Settled well into the second year of working in the Philippines and had the project progressing well. I also managed to read a lot, thank goodness for Kindle and a decent smartphone – I get to read almost anywhere.
So, as I had a little spare case this year, I spoiled myself with some Christmas gifts, and they will form the basis of the 2017 wargaming efforts.
First off was the two Warships I had missed from 2014 and 2015. I had not had a chance to purchase these before but they went into my Christmas stocking this year (it was a big stocking). Warship 2014 is the 36th edition and contains a variety of articles including a detailed technical description of the Queen Elizabeth (the UK’s only aircraft carrier – I guess because the French had one); details of Germany’s Braunschweig and Deutschland classes; the Italian aircraft carrier Cavour; IJN armoured cruisers; the escape of the Jean Bart from Saint-Nazaire; the submarine Mariotte; the IJN light carrier Ryûjô; Russia’s turret frigates, the Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Spiridov; and some other articles.
Warship 2015 is the first I have seen available in a Kindle format. It was tempting to acquire the Kindle Version, especially as it was half the price of the printed version, but I just could not give up the feel of the paper versions of this publication yet. This issue contains among other items, the Battleships of the Patrie Class; Postwar Weapons in the Royal Navy; the Tragedy of the Submarine Mariotte; Developments in Modern Carrier Aviation; and an early surface engagement between British and Japanese surface forces in WW2. I am looking forward to finishing Warship 2014 to get into Warship 2015.
Warship 2016 is the first of the recent series to come without a dust jacket (why did they call them dust jackets?). It long the previous 37 editions is a mix of different articles concerning naval matters from various periods of essentially 20th and 21st Century history.
This edition has articles on the Bougainville colonial sloops; an Italian colonial sloop Eritrea; the Japanese Asashio class destroyers; Fugas class minesweepers; divisional tactics at the Battle of Jutland and the conclusion to the Naval War in the Adriatic theater in WWI. There is also a piece on the use of ‘highball” on a ship – from the target ship’s perspective, in this case the French battleship Courbet.
I finally got around to acquiring a copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis, my favourite ancient wargaming rules. Plans for 2017 include not just learning these but getting some games in. I have a number of armies in Manila in 6mm and as the playing area is 2-foot square (60cm x 60cm) I also have the space to game.
This will likely make a nice project for 2017. More on that later in a separate post. I can. however, see my 6mm Numidians and 6mm Romans coming out for some early games and also provide an incentive for me to complete my DBA 6mm terrain pieces.
I had not been part of the kickstarter but these rules look to be a good alternative to Aeronef. I also acquired the dice and turn rulers.
I purchased some opposition for my 1/300th scale modern Danes. These are in the form of some Heroics and Ros 1/300th scale Poles. We will have sometime this year some T-55s out against some Centurions. This will be part of a separate little project, part of which will be to complete the Danes and relocate them from mother’s garage to the Philippines. These will be used with Cold War Commander. I must admit, whilst the GHQ castings are superb detail wise, I still like the Heroics and Ros for wargames figures.
Naturally, having purchased Imperial skies one needed some Aeronefs to go along with the new rules. Brigade Models Christmas discount helped me to acquire Argentinian, Brazilian and BENELUX fleets for this game and for use with Aeronef as well. I also acquired some Italian ‘nefs in the purchase along with some Russians to round out my Peshawar project, if I ever get back to that.
I really am looking forward to getting some paint on these models.
Last of the stocking fillers was the Baccus 6mm English Civil War boxed set. This consists of butt-loads of figures, bases, buildings and Polemos rules. I will admit up front that I purchased these to play with the Impetus Rules however the beauty of the Polemos basing is that I can also use these as based for bopth Polemos and Impetus.
I started these chaps about two years ago or so — soon after I finished the Numidians. They have been sitting, about 25% finished, just above my painting table where I could not miss seeing them gathering dust. I decided last week that to combat a large degree of stress in my professional life I would finish these off.
All that had been completed before were the velites (two bases front to the right in the picture to the left). The others had been undercoated and the cavalry was half painted.
Of course, it had been so long since I painted them that I could not remember the paints and flocks that I used doing the basing.
I managed to match them off quite well at the end and I like the way these guys look at the moment. Best of all, I can now play 6mm DBA here and finally get around to teaching the lady the game. She likes kicking my butt in chess so this should be a lay-down misère 😉
Just for reference and because it has been so long ago, I arrayed the Numidian figures on the playing surface next to the Romans. I built the Numidians with all options so picked 12 of the most interesting (that’s the 12 around the elephant) and then put the rest of the figures in a third group.
As you can see there are quite a few more Numidians than Romans. That Roman Army, however, has absolutely no choices except for the choice of a general on foot or on horseback. I just assumed that with the amount of close order foot there I would never really think about taking the general other than as the mounted option.
I still have to get around to doing camps and such but that will be later in the project.
I’m not sure what will be next under brush. Maybe the 6mm Japanese World War 2 tanks, perhaps a DBA Parthian Army (seems appropriate as I am reading Peter Darman’s Parthian Dawn at the moment – and feeling very horse soldierly as a result) or even the next army in the Singapore Wargames Project – Gauls or Spaniards.
I will leave you with a parting picture – this for the non-wargamer reading this so they can get an idea of scale.
So, I tried the first few 6mm decals tonight (four down, 150-odd to go). My initial reaction was that it is really quite fiddly. Tonight I put four decals on the figures and will leave them to dry overnight. Tomorrow I’ll hit them with some decal set which should soften the decal and have it grip the shield underneath (boss included).
The boss on the shield will not line up with the dot at the centre of the decal
I may have put the decals on rotated 90 degrees
The whole thing will crap out anyway
After decal setting, the decal won’t set
I must admit, in the future, I think I will paint shield patterns, especially in 6mm. To do that, I think I’ll find some fine-tip coloured pens and use those to make the pattern.
I think were I to use decals again, especially on 6mm Roman shields, I would remove the boss before painting and leave the black dot at the centre of the decal as the hint of a boss.
One of my favourite podcasts has been The History of Rome. I have spent many an interesting hour driving to visit my mum near Coffs Harbour or my kids in and around Canberra, listening to this podcast on my iPod as the kilometres sped past.
This has been an ambitious project of Mike Duncan, to cover the History of Rome in podcasts and currently he is up to an episode called The Broken Bow. In his own words he describes this episode as:
In the early 450s a string of deaths changed the political dynamic of Roman world. Between 450 and 455 Galla Placidia, Aelia Pulcheria, Atilla the Hun, Flavius Aetius and Valentinian III would all die- leaving the stage wide open for the next generation of leaders.
Also, an announcment [sic].
I believe the announcement is that he is completing this series around 476 – the traditionally accepted date for the final collapse of thw western Roman Empire. I shall miss this although I must admit, I am still around episode episode 120 (I do only listen to the podcasts when driving north or south from Sydney after all).
As a wargamer, I have found this series remarkable … and I am sure that the purchase of some of then 6mm Roman figures I acquired not so long ago are the result of listening to some of these episodes.
This series I can thoroughly recommend as a good primer.
This weekend is a busy weekend. I’m meeting my old boss from Korea, CW, at 2 for a couple of beers at Changi and then this evening on to Beerfest Asia 2011. I suspect that as a result of these two cultural events, tomorrow will be spent reading … but picture books only. Saturday morning though I got on with a couple of things whilst doing the weekly washing. I managed to finish painting the base board (more of that in a later post) and also to write up the Polybian Roman Army.
The Polybian Roman army reflects the Romans organisation at the time of Rome’s struggle with Carthage and Hannibal in particular during the Second Punic War. To that end the classical symmetry of the Roman Army is reflected in the structure of this army.
Probably the best initial wargamers source for information on the DBA Polybian’s in particular is at the Fanaticus website – and in particular the notes on the Polybian Romans.
The general element and bodyguards
Roman or allied cavalry. Could also be Spanish or Gallic Cavalry instead of native Roman or Italian allies
The Triarii – the veterans of the Roman Army and generally those that formed the third line. Armed in the traditional way of a long spear and shield – in many respects the Roman version of a hoplite
These are the Hastati and Princeps – and are those that perhaps did the majority of the fighting. Armed with the new pilum and trained in its use as well as the use od the short Roman stabbing sword
These are the Rorarii or Velites. At the start of the period, Rorarii which were lightly armed skirmishing troops. These later evolved into the Velites, light infantry armed with shield and javelins and wearing the famous wolfskin.
There are no variations possible with the Roman army. What is listed about is the Roman Army in its only variation. IN many respects this reflects Rome well.
As with the Numidians mentioned previously, I am using four 6mm figures for each 15mm figure recommended in the rules for infantry. The Velites will therefore have 8 figures on the base and the Hastati, Princeps and Triarii will have 16.
The cavalry and the general are scaled to three 6mm figures for each 15mm figure recommended. The 3Cv bases will therefore have 8 or 9 figures on them (I’m still undecided exactly on how many to use).
The terrain requirements for this army are listed as Arable. This means that as I make the terrain I will need to make sure I have the following for this army:
Steep Hills – two are needed
Gentle Hills – two are needed
River – one needed – it should cross the entire board
Waterway – one is needed
Woods – two are needed
Built Up Area (BUA) – one is needed and this is one of the compulsory features
Roads – one is needed as this is the alternative compulsory feature to the BUA. It should be long enough to cross from one side of the table to the other
This the organisation of the figures and terrain for the Polybian Romans. The picture at the top of this is the figures and bases sorted and organised for the eventual painting
So I finally collected everything. I have the baseboard (thank you Doug for the idea), paint, materials for terrain, figures to make 7 DBA armies from around the time and area of the Punic Wars as well as pre-cut bases to base on it all.
A can of Tiger beer and a planning session gave me the plan. The project will follow the following order (well, that is the plan at the moment at least).
Paint the base board. The reason for starting with this is that I feel it will be a basically straightforward job, fairly quick and give me something complete to look at to encourage me for the other parts of the project (especially as there is another wargaming project at the back of my brain at the moment as well).
Cut, assemble and make the terrain pieces. again, something reasonably quick and there are a couple of techniques I want to play around with.
Paint and base the army with the least number of figures to deal with. This will be the Numidians. Whilst they are not part of the base set, there are some Numidians present in some of the armies anyway so the extra bases will be painted at the same time. They will give me a head start to some of the forces as well as giving me something pretty to look at.
Start on the main 6 armies. When it gets closer to this time I will decide on the order to take.
OK – ready to start. As I mentioned earlier I’ll be blogging the progress as this will help force me to keep to the plan.
To the left is a close up of some of the figures. The wooden bases you can see are 40mm x 30mm in size and the figures are just over 6mm small.
I mentioned that I was going to build this set using 6mm figures from Baccus 6mm. There are seven armies being prepared over time but I thought, as it was payday last week, to buy all the figures at one time.
Two orders were therefore sent to the nice Mr Berry of Baccus (his shopping cart got overloaded halfway through the order ) and if previous deliveries are anything to go buy, a nice parcel should arrive at the office next week.
The order was for the following:
Greek Bolt Throwers
Psiloi – Bow
Psiloi – Javelins
Hastatii w pilum
Spanish Heavy Cavalry
Spanish Light Cavalry
Celtic Infantry, stood
Celtic Heavy Cavalry
Celtic Infantry, charging
This will be enough figures to make the seven armies with leftovers.
Later I will break up the armies into their contents. In the meantime, the next step is to an email an order to East Riding Miniatures for bases for the figures. I will be using the standard DBA 40mm wide bases for this.
Yesterday I detailed the terrain to be purchased for the project. I mentioned earlier as well that once I started looking at possible armies, one of the campaign sets popped up as an obvious choice. The 2nd Punic War campaign has a good group of armies all of which are fairly competitive and that together will make some interesting combinations for big battle games.
Of course, given the usual wargamer’s megalomania, I could not just leave it at that six but decided to add a seventh, just for interest sake. All these armies will be made with Baccus 6mm figures and based on 15mm sized bases.
The Iberian option was selected rather than the Celtiberian or Lusitanian options as the Iberians fought with both the Carthaginians and the Romans
This is the extra one added to the set – purely because it just makes sense for some variety. Interestingly I also have a Numidian army to paint for Polemos Ancient
OK, these then are the armies to be purchased and painted.