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.

‘Worlds’ Wargames Championships and Cancon 2013

January 2013 sees the ‘Worlds’ Wargames Championships being in Canberra, Australia. A range of competitions are scheduled, and if you or any wargaming buddies have any travelling plans at this time, please let them know their participation would be warmly welcomed.

At this stage, I believe at a minimum, the competitions on offer will be DBA2.2, DBM3.2, DBMM2, DBR, FoG-R, FoG-A, FoW and others.  The followinghas been posted and feel free to pass it on to anyone else.

”For those who weren’t aware, Cancon; the largest wargames competition/convention in Australia (probably the Southern Hemisphere?) has been confirmed as the ‘Worlds’ event for 2013.

Cancon is traditionally held every year at the end of January over 3 days in Australia’s Capital, Canberra, and attracts huge numbers of gamers in many different competitions, display and participation games. It is also strongly attended by traders such as Eureka, Essex Australia, and many others.

The DBMM event is currently being organised (likely to be offered in 15mm only) in conjunction with some of the local players from the Canberra Games Society, and I am strongly encouraging those of you who can travel, to consider making a holiday out of the experience and enjoy Australia.  The large contingent of British, South African and other gamers who made it to Melbourne for the 2005 IWF DBM competition can confirm that it is a lot of fun, (and apparently Aussies make real easybeats (great band though). Perhaps we are a bit too much like our one-day cricket team really. 😆

By a happy coincidence, 2013 is also the centenary of Canberra’s founding as the capital of the Commonwealth of Australia, and there will be a lot of events going on, in and around the city at that time, with something for everyone. See http://www.canberra100.com.au/ for some details.

Canberra also houses a truly world class military museum in the Australian War Memorial, and any historical gamer should find something there to appeal, whether it is the Japanese Mini-Sub trapped in Sydney Harbour, Lancaster G for George or the WW1 Aircraft.


Canberra is located a short motorway drive from Sydney, about three hours – I do it once a month on average and would recommend a coffee stop at Goulburn at the big Merino which will enable visitors to have some good teasing material for the championships. By any standards it is a beautiful city, easy to get around and a great base whether you want to visit wineries, the sea or the Snowy Mountains (although snow in January is a rarity in Australia). Late January is essentially just a little past halfway into the Australian summer, so a really great chance to warm up from the Northern Hemisphere winter – just be sure to pack your sunscreen (50+ is recommended for the Aussie sun)!  Canberra also has a thriving and extremely varied restaurant and dining scene, excellent arts facilities, national museums, galleries and so on, so there is plenty to do for partners and kids.


Canberra Games Society will be the hosts, and we will do our best to look after visitors and make sure you all feel welcome. So if you ever wondered how much a Koala could bear, or wanted to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, why not do it to coincide with Cancon 2013 and take 3 days to have some fun games and possibly win a World’s Title!



Setup Friday 25th January 2013

Day One: Saturday 26th January

Day Two: Sunday 27th January

Day Three: Monday (Public Holiday) 28th January

Thomo’s Armies 2 – Ostrogoths

image The first of my collection of hairy barbarians. The Ostrogoths were one of the two Gothic tribes or branches. The others were the Visigoths – we’ll get to them in the near future. The Ostrogoths big claim to fame was the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy when they took over the Western Roman Empire.

Theodoric the Great was the Ostrogothic ruler at the zenith of Ostrogothic power. The Ostrogothic kingdom was conquered later by Justinian’s army in the Gothic War of 535 to 554 C.E.

The army I have here is the Early Ostrogoths (although I can probably morph ((morphing is the making of other armies from available figures not specifically designed for that army)) the Later Ostrogoths from available figures).

The main strike power of the Ostrogoths comes from their mounted forces. There is no clear description of these mounted soldiers in the ancient sources and there are, as a result, a couple of interpretations of their armament and fighting styles. One description has the Ostrogoths using a long spear or kontos two-handed with no shield. Perhaps the more accepted interpretation however has them armed with a heavy spear and/or javelins as well as a shield. They were likely supported by foot archers.

The figures for this army are from Essex Miniatures and the army was originally made for the DBM Rules. Under the newer DBMM Rules, the army list for what I have looks something like:

Quantity Description Cost Total
1 C-in-C – Irr Kn(F) 19 19
2 Sub-general – Irr Kn(F) 19 38
32 Cavalry – Irr Kn(F) 9 288
18 Archers – Irr Ps(O) 2 36
12 Archers – Irr Bw(I) 3 36
6 Camp – flocks and herds – Irr Bg(I) 1 6
Total 423

“Ostrogothi” means “Goths of (or glorified by) the rising sun”. This has been interpreted as “gleaming Goths” or “east Goths”.

Thomo’s Armies 1 – Late Roman


This is the first of a series of posts to the Hole covering Thomo’s Armies (OK, for some of my readers, Thomo’s Toys!).

The Late Romans I have are in 15mm and made up of Essex Miniatures. They are shown to the right laid out. The single figure to the rear is the Commander in Chief of the army. I originally built this force for use with the DBM rules from the Wargames Research Group but have never got around to using them.

I can’t claim the credit for painting these either. They were painted by Emily Barr (I think it was Emily) – one of Tony Barr of East Riding Miniatures’ children. His son also painted some of my armies.


Here the legion is deployed with light infantry archers in support behind the legionaries awaiting the arrival of some nefarious enemy or other.

I should get around to reorganising this army for DBMM. I’ve looked through the other mainstream ancient wargames rules, Field of Glory (FoG) but haven’t got around to playing with them. I suspect that the figures I have for here will work just as well in a FoG army if I even get around to playing that. The good thing is that the figures can also be used for DBA.

The last image here is another view of the main battle line with support.

imageHere most of the cavalry can be seen as well as a good percentage of the infantry.

The surface these troops are deployed on is the Games Workshop games mat – a really good surface for wargaming on.

Next Thomo’s Armies will be some hairy barbarian types, followed after that by the Sumerians – the first full 15mm DBM army I painted and the only army I have that I have never won a game with … ever!  😦

Some DBM on YouTube

I don’t often YouTube here in the kingdom, partly because of the bandwidth at the hotel and partly because of the Saudi censors … sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

However, the wargamers in Malaysia sent some links to some Madaxeman videos on YouTube about his efforts in the 2007 Swedish Wargames Championships. The videos are of DBM games and a hoot.

I’m not sure where Game 1 is … if I find it I’ll add it here under a comment.

DBM Championships Sweden 2007 – Mrmadaxeman’s Game 2 Vikings against Fanatic Berbers

DBM Championships Sweden 2007 – Mrmadaxeman’s Game 3 Vikings vs Ugaritics

DBM Championships Sweden 2007 – Mrmadaxeman’s Game 4 Vikings Meet Their Waterloo

Really brightened this wargamer’s weekend.

Mad Axeman’s website is also a great place for a wargamer to spend some time as well 🙂