My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Ancient rules buying binge!

I've been on an ancients rules buying binge of late. I joined the Thracians Yahoo forum (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thracians) and an interesting comment was made that Fields of Glory did not simulate peltasts too well - in fact many rules did not. I asked what made up a "good peltast simulation" and one of the things that came out of the conversation was that the new Warrior rules simulate peltasts well and that basically they are an extension of the old WRG 7th Edition. So, I bought them.

One of the local club members has some rather large armies (large by DBA standards) and I found that it was so he could game Fields of Glory, which I tried once, and DBM or DBMM (although he no longer favors DBM). I promised to try another game of Fields of Glory, so I bought them too.

Every time I want to know about some oddball element in DBA, for example the simple Warband element in the New Kingdom Egyptian army, and ask what it represents, someone invariably says "according to the DBM army lists..." (or "DBMM army lists..."). So, seeing as I was buying the DBMM army lists from the UK, I thought "what the heck, let's get the rules too". Of course, DBMM is currently going through draft of version 2, so my timing is impeccable.

I was reading through the 2009 issues of Slingshot that I received last month and for the SoA Battle Day they wrote up all of these rules systems playing the same battle, each with their own twist. One of those rules was "Conquerors and Kings", which is a grid-based miniatures rules set, much like its sister rules "Square Bashing". So, I decided to pick them up in the same order as Warrior and DBMM.

I can't remember how I heard about Mr. Sabin's Strategos rules, but I heard that they too were grid-based, so I decided to give them a try. I found out that the last version was an appendix in the book "Lost Battles", so I decided to buy those rather than the second version from SoA.

Of course, I picked up a free copy of Hoplomachia from The Perfect Captain. As I have a fondness for Greek Hoplites, I had to see if I could try these rules.

Last, but not least, I decided to go back to the Warrior Kings Yahoo forum (http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/warriorkings) and pick up the last version of these rules (they are free). I have played both Warrior Kings and Warrior Heroes, the fantasy version, and liked them quite a bit. (At one point I even developed a set of AWI rules based upon the principles in these games with an eye towards having them published through Two Hour Wargames.)

So, I have been doing a lot of reading of ancients rules of late. Here are some very high-level impressions:

Warriors: Whew! I am too old for rules that thick. Maybe if I started playing them, my memories of WRG 7th would kick in and I might even like them. I did like the orders and the reactions. In fact, the reactions in Warrior Kings reminds me of a simplified version of the reactions in WRG 7th, so Warrior's may be pleasing also. If I can just get through it, Goes in the "Some Day" pile unless I run across someone who knows the rules well enough to lend me a hand.

Fields of Glory: To learn more about the rules - as I did not have a great impression of them after my first game - I joined the FoG Yahoo forum (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/FieldofGlory) to get an idea of the discussions, tactics, and kinds of problems people encounter with the rules. The interesting tidbit that came out is that the game is apparently a lot faster to play once you get the hang of it, which was my complaint with my first game. Basically their design philosophy is to roll buckets of dice to even out the luck - a common design - and to make the game more weapon system oriented. (I would probably get hate comments to this post if enough people read my blog!) It doesn't seem like a bad rules set, only that it is different and takes longer to get to a conclusion than DBA. I do get a sense that all of the extra bases are just so you don't have to do bookkeeping. If you tracked losses, you might be able to use single element battle groups.

DBMM: Supposedly this was what Barker intended to progress to from DBA. When some people didn't, and they developed BBDBA and Giant DBA, I gather than DBM and DBMM just kept evolving on its own. Personally, I don't have a problem with Barker's English. You just have to be aware that he is precise and that you cannot gloss over his sentences. You must read every word, to the end. There are some complexities that, on face value, look like they might be hard to adjust to, but if you stick with the simple armies - like I did with DBA - until you get acclimatized, I am sure the games will probably be longer and richer. Doesn't go the route of FoG and replace single dice throws with buckets of dice. Rather, it replaces an element with buckets of elements, so your luck averages out by having more single-dice combats rather than fewer multi-dice combats. I could be wrong though.

Conquerors and Kings: These rules really need an editor and a new edition. For seemingly simple rules, they have certain concepts and explanations spread across the pages. The one review I read AFTER I bought the rules panned them as collapsing under a simple tactic of shoving all of your forces into a single square. Put another way, there are no tactics. I look forward to seeing whether this is true or not. One thing I noticed is that their basing requirements simply match DBA basing, but requires four bases per unit. This is unnecessary. You could just as easily use four single figures or four blocks per unit, or a single base and bookkeeping or markers and get the same effect. I look forward to trying them as I like the simplicity of grid-based games. No measuring rules!

Strategos: Just got the book Lost Battles and I really have not read enough to get an impression. Just joined the Yahoo forum too. These rules came up because someone mentioned them on the Fanaticus forum when someone else suggested playing DBA on a grid.

Hoplomachia: I had always wanted to play these rules in the past, due to my interest in Greek Hoplite warfare, but the first time I read them the (literal) use of Greek made it to hard to play. This time around I stuck to reading the rules (which have been updated) and it makes sense. I like the reaction system built in and look forward to trying Thracians against Hoplites.

Warrior Kings: This time I downloaded the highly expanded version, rather than the original first edition. They add quite a bit to the rules, but they do not become burdensome. I look forward to seeing how melee and missile works out, but I think there is still a missing rule that Ed T. clarified for Warrior Heroes. These rules are good for solo as once the troops start moving forward, they are largely driven by reaction.

Let me know about other ancients rules you may have and still play. (I just realized that I left out Command and Colors: Ancients...)

2 comments:

  1. Have you tried Impetus? I'm planning to look at it soon. It looks quite promising and I've a friend who's very keen on it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, I have not tried Impetus. I game with someone who is going to give it a go so I thought I would let him do it first.

    His complaint about DBA (despite having 160+ armies): the 6-1 roll kills you (i.e. luck plays too great a role).

    ReplyDelete

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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 50 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ (although I have a townhouse in Houston, TX and a small home in Tucson, AZ) working on a contract for "the next two years" that is going on five years now. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").