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
III/40b Viking Army 850-1280 CE
14.8 Viking 789-1066 CE
III/34b Andalusian 766-1172 CE
18.3 Later Andalusian 961-1072 CE
III/24b Anglo-Saxon 701-1016 CE
14.9 Later Anglo-Saxon 789-1016 CE
III/52 West Frankish/Normans 888-1072 CE
15.3 Normans in Normandy 900-1072 CE
III/53 East Frankish 888-1106 CE
15.11 Eastern Franks & Ottonians 898-1125 CE
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
FL or S
CP2 or CP1
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!
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.
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!