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.
I was sorting the jumbled figures from the move and in one box I have Numidians and Romans, part based for Baccus’s Polemos SPQR rules. I’ll come back to the Romans later. The Numidians, however, are basic and are extra to my current Numidian needs. I have an all-options 6mm Numidian army already based for DBA. The question becomes, what to do with these blokes?
The stock consists of 80 general javelinmen type figures and 40 general cavalry figures. So all figures are armed with javelins (or short spear in 6mm), a shield and no armour. Tunic Colours are mixed and the figures have a Caucasian appearance.
Any suggestions as to what this can be morphed into. They will be re-based on standard DBA 40mm bases and ideally will have a number of figures backed onto the bases to make them look like there are more than there are.
Before I outlined the possible plans for the weekend and they were:
Go out and drink beer
Get back into wargaming items
Whilst it was a tough choice as one does enjoy the odd tipple, what finally worked was to drink beer of Friday night (way too much as it turned out) and then I got into some wargaming related stuff today. First cab off the rank was to repair the existing figures after their move from Singapore to Manila. They looked a little messed up when I opened their box:
Figures were jumbled all over the place and there were a number of bent spears. I was more worried about anything that had broken off. Fortunately, nothing was broken off, just a lot of bent spears and the odd paint chip. The paint chips were not seriously noticeable so I have decided to leave them as they are. Now these three DBA armies are ready for battle again.
All the figures here are 15mm scale with the Later Hungarians being from Essex Miniatures, the Nubians are old series Gladiator Games and the Koreans are Alain Touller Figurines.
Later Hungarians – these guys did most of the damage as there are four really heavy bases in here
Finally, I received my copy of De Bellis Antiquitatis version 3.0 (DBA 3.0). Of course, ordering it was a joy but receiving it was a bit of a trial. Ordered and paid for through Amazon UK, the book was dispatched air mail on 4 November 2014. Judging by the Post Office stamp on the parcel, it arrived in Manila on 5 December, a full month later. Eight days was the turnaround to Kuala Lumpur so obviously the flight from KL to Manila takes 22 days.
It then took from 5 December to 12 December to work its way though the Philippines Post Office and for me to get a card to collect the goods from then Post Office. I collected the rules today.
Whilst I can’t understand why the Philippines Post Office does not just deliver books as there is no duty payable on them, I can understand it taking 7 days to get the notice to me as there was a distraction called Typhoon Ruby here so I won’t complain about that last delay.
Still, it’s good to have a meaty read for the soon-to-be-flight back to Oz for Christmas. From what I have seen so far, I am looking forward to playing with these rules in then future.
I spent 10 minutes over coffee this morning at the office and got around to ordering DBA 3.0. It is the first book I’ve ordered for delivery in Manila so I am curious to see whether there are duties payable or not.
There are a couple of other books (actual ones with paper) that I want to get but I think for that order I will have them sent to Mum’s in Oz and pick them up over Christmas.
In the meantime, I’m starting to think about DBA 3.0 seriously now and perhaps a December competition in Kuala Lumpur on the way home to Oz for Christmas!
Over the last week or so, when the stress levels have been peaking, I’ve been reaching for the brushes to finish off some half finished projects here, even if that meant a new focus for those projects. The Parthians were one such army. Originally I had planned to make these a Warmasters Ancient army but recently having been yet re-invigorated for DBA, decided to reorganise it as a DBA Army. I like the way these guys look so much that I am thinking of a 6mm Parthian DBMM Army … just thinking mind.
I had originally planned on 6 to 9 cataphracts per base but in the end decided on two ranks of 6 cataphracts, looking sufficiently heavy. I will also admit that reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series left me thinking “regular looking irregular forces” — hence the regular colour schemes per base. I also needed some generic Auxilia type troops so pressed some Romans I had laying around unpainted into that role.
So, I give you, the NRL All-Stars Cataphracts — also known as DBA II/37 Parthian.
Roman Auxiliaries masquerading as Parthian Spearmen
The NRL All-Stars Cataphracts
The full army arrayed
The Parthian Light Horse
The NRL All-Stars – or rather, the NRL Cataphracts!
It wasn’t deliberate, honest. I guess the problem was that I had just watched the Rabbitohs vs Roosters game on the weekend on Sentanta Sports here in Singapore and then settled it to to paint the Parthian Cataphracts.
I had already painted the general as a test base for colours, basing etc, and decided to paint the Cataphracts in one bunch. I had also decided that there would be 12 figures per base so that they looked really solid. I think that effect is now apparent. But as for colours?
I was reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series and he kept describing the cataphracts as quite brightly dressed and uniformly dressed kingdom by kingdom. The general’s base had white cloaks so I thought the first batch of cataphracts would have red cloaks. I had also decided to paint the kontos rather than just leave it as natural wood. I painted the kontoses (kontosii?) green. I had the National Rugby League (NRL) Rabbitohs colours by accident.
I then painted the second batch with yellow capes, third with blue capes and the last lot with green capes. After painting the kontoses I now had four elements in the colours of four NRL teams – Rabbitohs, Roosters, Eels and Raiders.
I therefore give you … The NRL Cataphracts.
It was accidental, honest yer honour. In future I won’t paint figures after watching an NRL Rugby League game!
I wanted a bright, uniform theme to the Parthian Cataphracts, especially as these generally were the bodyguards or professional troops of the various Parthian kings. I thought, a different cloak colour for each element as there will be 12 figures per element and we will have a pretty uniform look. Not sure why but I thought, colour the lances as well.
This desire for brightness in the Cataphracts was further fuelled by reading Peter Darman’s The Parthian series.
Sigh, I fear there is a rugby league theme developing in the painting of the Parthians – to the left I give you the South Sydney Rabbitohs!
I just had a look at the other part painted figures next to the painting table and I can see the Parramatta Eels their. Possible also Easts Roosters and maybe one other.
Should not paint Parthians in Rugby League season!
I thought I would finish the basing of the test base to see how they came out. I’m quite happy with these and shall get cracking on the rest of the figures.
I also tried a really, really close up shot of the base. Remember these are 6mm Rapier Miniatures figures and the painter, me, is a gentleman of more fulsome figure … hence, fat-fingered. Still, I think they look nice!
Someone did so the short painting period before bed tonight to relax and help me sleep was to prototype the 6mm Parthians. As I mentioned before I am using 15mm scale base sizes and increasing the number of 6mm figures on the base. So, for example, close order infantry (blade, pike, spears etc) will have 16x6mm figures, on average, on a base. Close cavalry (knights, cavalry etc) will have 8 or 9. Light horse four. Psiloi 6 to 8 figures and so on.
The Parthian cataphracts posed a question for me though as they were generally fairly linear and if I worked on there being 9 figures on a Cavalry base, the cataphracts should have 12. Two ranks of Cataphracts just did not look right so I think I will scale them to seven to a cavalry base, but in a boot-to-boot line across the base – as in the second rank below.
Below are three shots of the general base for the army. Image shows general, standard and trumpet as well as cataphracts and that is how the other bases should look, I think.