Damned Historical Fiction – Sub-Roman British and Arthur!

I knew it would happen. I was reading David Pilling’s Ambrosius for my midnight read with a glass of Dr. Feelgood before retiring for the evening. I thought I could control the urges but the addiction was too strong.

We’ve been in Enhanced Community Quarantine here not for 37 days with at least 9 more days to go, but also with many rumours that the government will extend for an additional two to four weeks.

So in those evening hours, after a glass and a read and just before drifting off to sleep, one’s mind turns to thinking about … Sub-Roman British.

I’m thinking, “it can’t be too hard and won’t require many figures, after all I have a fair spares box from the Vikings in 6mm – the Project Start project which interestingly is a project I started one year ago, then got distracted with some ships.

So, I thought that I could use the the left-over Ostrogoths from that project and use them as your fairly generic hairy barbarian types. That project also provides some barbarian cavalry and archers as well. Once the post returns to normal I would just need to get a few Late Roman types for some of the cavalry and the more Roman looking infantry. Of course that purchase would need to wait until post is flowing freely in the Philippines again and Baccus 6mm recommences moulding. The Anglo-Saxons for the Viking project can be re-purposed. In the Sub-Roman Britain time they were all basically dense warband in wargaming terms. In the Viking times, they had become a little more organised and had a few warband but must were densely packed spears. Voila, instant transformation.

And I was going to eave it there, honest guv’nor, I was.

I started to read book 2 off Pilling’s Leader of Battles Series and started to think back to the Sub-Roman British of Ambrosius’s time. The same army would do for Ambrosius or Artorius, however, why not reproduce Vortigern’s army as well?

And if I cam going to do Vortigern’s, perhaps I should consider the hairy Scots, the Irish, Welsh and Picts of the time. Yes six armies would make a lovely campaign set again, with Ambrosius and Vortigern sometimes combining to see off the Scots and Irish, at other times facing each other across the field of battle.

So, another project to plan and an excuse to rifle through the leftover boxes on the weekend to see what I really need to purchase later to complete this set.

What is worrying is that there are three more books in the Leader of Battles series following. Still, I am resisting the urge for Artorius to travel to Gaul and assist against the Visigoths … I would need more figures for that and as a responsible wargamer I could not consider doing that … yet!

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.