A Wargamer’s Guide to the Early Roman Empire – Review

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:

  1. The Roman Empire 27BC t0 AD284 – an overview of the history of Rome and its wars over the period of the Early Roman Empire
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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)
  7. 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.

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Games Night – Command and Colours Ancients and Catan

Command and Colours Ancients - Scenario one - Syracuse v Carthage - just when I wanted cards for the left and centre I got them for the right
Command and Colors Ancients – Scenario one – Syracuse v Carthage – just when I wanted cards for the left and centre I got them for the right

Tonight was games night. Packed myself and Command and Colors Ancients, the basic set, eventually into a taxi and headed up to Bukit Timah and Anthony’s. Dinner was cooked by the nice Filipino lady at the Korean Restaurant under Anthony’s condominium. Bulgogi for him and kimchi bokumbab (kimchi fried rice) for me.

The kimchi must have got me fired up.

We started with Command and Colors. The first scenario is reasonably well balanced unless you get a wicked distribution on the cards. We both got wicked distributions.

This was as much a learning (for him) and relearning (for me) exercise as I had not played this for two years.

Overall the game went fairly smoothly with just a couple of rule errors brought about by unfamiliarity again. It took Anthony a few turns to get into the idea of the game and start to see how the command and control worked. It was a close fought game with the final result 5 flags to 4.

We then decided to play Nor’s Christmas present – Settlers of Catan. I have never played this before so I was very interested in seeing how well it worked. It works well. Like all good games, it is a simple game to learn but it can be a difficult game to master. I particularly like the way that you can sometimes have to rethink and alter your strategy half way through the game as one of the other players strategies cuts across yours.

I’ll definitely be looking at playing more of Catan in the future. Oh, and it was a nice win for me on my first game – build cities, build cities!

A great Friday night in good company.