Today I want to show you something that I have going on as a side project if you like… Ancients. Ancients and especially (Early Imperial) Romans have intrigued me for a long time. Those steady blocks of infantry in gleaming armour, those ragged lines of the (commonly known as) barbarians… all this has a certain charm. I always shied away from it due to the numbers of minis and resulting costs involved. That changed a couple of years ago when Warlord came out with their plastic Romans and Celts and I took the leap. I think you still need a lot of metal minis, but the basic cost sure has come down. Right now it is lingering a bit for two reasons, but more on that later. Lets start with the Romans:
These are what Warlord sells as Veterans (I have replaced the damaged shields with mint ones). I do not think that there is anything like a “veteran unit” within a Legion per se. I guess if there is something like that, it would be the first cohort and that is what these men will represent with my forces. In fact these minis do not really stand apart from the other Warlord Romans since they are virtually the same minis… They just have Manicae armour on their right arm, but this is about the only thing. The Centurio (since these men represent the first cohort the Primus Pillus) and Optio are metal minis and I sculpted the Manicae on to make them fit in. The Signifier and Cornicen are conversions, too. l sculpted crocodile vests and helmet covers onto them, inspired by the one that can be seen in the British Museum in London. So at one time my Legion must have served in Egypt. Otherwise I used black shield transfers from LBMS instead of the normal red ones that come with the minis.
These are the Warengines. Four Scorpio catapults and two Ballistae. What you might be able to see it better on these photos… I have opted for red tunicas with my Romans. I know most historians these days agree that they were white, but I wanted the classic look I have gotten to know from movies in my youth.
These are the Balearic Slingers. Now back when I dipped my toe into this project (which for me usually means buying vast amounts of minis) these were the only slingers available. Back then I did not feel like mixing with other manufacturers, plus I am not even sure any other company did Legionary slingers in 28mm. So I made do with them, even though I felt they were too high-profile for what I had in mind. But I might one day add some Legionary slingers now that Warlord actually released some.
And the current command. Two Tribunes and the Aquilifer. While the minis above were done with the Armypainter, I wanted these to stand out a little more, so they were painted the classic way. As were the next minis.
Again these have more of a Hollywood look. Mainly because I wanted them to look menacing. So their armour is a dark gun-metal black with bronze inlays, black tunicas and horsehair crest. The one you can see in the background with the red and white crest is meant to be the Optio. I felt tit hard to set him apart without going for different colours in a unit where everyone is wearing a crest.
Next up re their opponents, the Celts (although I also have minis for Parthians lying around as well):
These are the warriors. Right now a wild mix of “normal” warriors, naked fanatics, fighting women a few Druids and slingers. Many of these were done with the Armypainter again, with the more characterful minis done a classic way.Hope your are able to make out some details on this photo (all photos are linked to larger versions by the way)!
And their chief. I really liked this mini when Foundry announced it in 2009 and wanted to buy it at Salute. I could not though since [quote:] “We do not sell specific minis at shows!”. I wonder what I was supposed to buy… something I did not specify or in turn want? Bought it via their website together with a huge batch of Napoleonic Russians when they had a sale later that year, although I had to go via an intermediary in the UK due to the well-known fact that they force you to buy in Euro, but work with exchange rates from the time when Margret Thatcher with still Prime Minister.
Unfortunately the minis themselves were not any more pleasant to paint since the minis lacked detail and were generally quiet wooden. Plus he faces and especially the eyesockets were a pain in the behind.
These are the Chariots for the Celts. Looking at the photos now it dawns on me, that the left hand one on the second photo still needs a warrior to ride in it!
And this is the level where this project has stood for about two years now. Why? Well for one thing, this project is mainly being painted by my better half and she has had too much to do with work and courses she has to take for work to paint at all during those past two years. The other thing is rules, since I am quite undecided which ones to use. Most ancient rules call for quiet specific basing and I would not want to rip everything off its bases once I have decided on a different set of rules (it might be bad with those minis I have painted and based as singles so far anyway). So let’s go through my thoughts on rules, shall we:
Most important for me is that the rules give a real life feel and that the results should be realistic. The rules should also reward the use of real life tactics, making forces the most effective if used like they were historically meant to. But they should also be fun and easy to play without bogging you down with excessive charts and rule-reading during play.
Now i have decided against Warhammer Ancients, Hail Caesar and DBA / DBx. Warhammer is too much Warhammer for my taste (I never liked the basic concept too much) and too little history. Hail Caesar falls in much the same category for my taste. It lacks some of the power gaming aspects of Warhammer, but is too much on the fun side and too little on the historic simulation side for my taste. DBA / DBx is geared way too much towards tournaments and being able to pit any force against any other even if the never met in history. So having ruled these out, which ones are in the running right now?
Field of Glory
FOG is quiet well know since it hit the market a couple of years ago. While it also allows you to pitch forces against one another that never met in history, it lacks the extreme tournament feel of DBA / DBx. The fact that you need a large tabletop to play chariots or cavalry in 28mm is not really a problem for me. The people I play with use it in 15mm as well (in fact we played yesterday evening) so I wold have a ready base of players. Plus it seems to lead to some good historic results.
On the other hand, I feel that the rules are quiet complex and complicated. Some of my friends have a good number of games under their belts and still there was a fair amount of rules reading involved yesterday. The tables are complex and the text not always easy to comprehend either. (I make a living by understanding texts that are anything but easy to comprehend, so this last aspect means something.) Plus they are very much geared towards terrain being re-arranged at the beginning of the game. I like games that look good and terrain that is that easy to shuffle around does not look too pleasing anymore IMHO.
Just like FOG they have created a huge fellowship in recent year, especially here in Germany. So it should be easy to find players as well. From what I have seen the results seem as realistic, but the rules are easier to play. What I really like are the bases, which allow you to create little dioramas, which would cater for my visual preferences.
The downside I see is, that each unit is represented by only one base. So there are no formation changes, so tactics only come from the way you arrange and move your units, not from formation changes. Although I am not too sure if there was actually as much formation flexibility in ancient times as some rules give us.
Now these were published recently in Miniature Wargames 345 by James Roach. I am deeply impressed by the AARs on his blog. While these are geared towards the Punic Wars period, it seems not too hard to adapt them to Early Imperial Roman (something James confirmed). They are easy and fast, yet seem to lead to quiet realistic results as well. A bit plus is that these rules are not too strict on basing and Impetus style basing would work for them as well.
If there is one downside to them, it is th fact tha they are little known and that it might be hard to get people to play.
Now other rules I have eyed were “Crusader” and “Clash of Emprires”, but honestly… I can not really comment on them.
So what do you people think? I know a lot of you readers play ancients as well, so what are your observations? Please let me know, since it might help me make a decision!