In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Legions of Doom!

I've had this blog for a year now and haven't really talked about my ancient armies yet.

For quite a long time I was a very serious ancients gamer. But not your usual "I have a 1500 pt tournament winning army" sort of ancients gamer. For one thing my collection of Penguin Classics ancient primary sources is pretty extensive.
OG15mm legion L faces Essex legion R
I hate tournament games. I've also never been able to get into the WRG or DBx rules. The whole power-gaming tournament mindset leaves me cold. Plus there are too many acronyms and arcane rule clauses. The generic vanilla flavouring of DBA just took all the fun out things too. (Although I have to admit than when I've played DBA as part of the battle resolution in a campaign game it was pretty brilliant.)

I tried Tactica when it came out but it was unplayable if you didn't build the exact Tactica orders of battle. Which takes all the fun out of planning your army. Those rules did at least break the WRG/DBx strangle hold.
15mm Goths. OG and Chariot minis.
15mm Late Imperial Infantry. Essex and Viking Forge minis.

15mm Late Imperial Limitani. Chariot minis.

15mm Late Imperial cavalry wing. Chariot, Essex and Viking Forge minis.
Then Warhammer Ancient Battles came along. Very pretty. Seemed fun. But the rules broke down in the way that all the other Warhammer games did; you won or lost your game in the army list design. And there were too many gimmicky troop types and special rules. I do still get out the WAB source books I bought, mostly just to peruse the pictures though.

So I wrote my own; Legion & Empire. Miniature Wargaming in the Roman Era. Playtested it to death until all my regular gaming buddies were sick of ancients and had two different publishers fold under me.
Army command stand. Corvus Belli, Essex and OG figures.

Division commander. Corvus Belli, Essex and OG figures.

Cavalry command stand. Corvus Belli figures.
Around this time I was influenced by Simon McDowell's book Romans, Goths and Huns. My armies are based in the way he outlines in his book. He has fleshed out his rules on his Comitatus website.

Now the wargaming community is set buzzing about Hail Caesar!, the ancient version of Black Powder which is due to be released by Warlord Games sometime this year. Articles by Rick Priestly discussing the rules (here and more here) sound very promising. A fast moving game with big armies that don't require a slavish adherence to a set basing scheme. Emphasizing scenarios and having fun? Sounds perfect. I think I've changed a lot as a gamer and ironicaly no longer have the time, energy or patience for a detailed game like Legion and Empire.
15mm OG Spanish light infantry javelinmen

15mm OG Balearic slingers.
I've got quite a myriad of ancient figures that haven't seen a game in a few years now. All my armies are 15mm and a mix of Old Glory, Essex, Corvus Belli, Chariot and Viking Forge miniatures. The VF minis are some of my oldest. The sculpts are crude and the legionaries are in the muscled leather cuirass that reconstructions had them in before Simon McDowell made  his convincing arguments for chain armour.

For armies I have Spanish, Late Republican/Caesarean Romans, Late Imperial Romans, Goths, Huns and Sassanid Persians. The Spanish either fight the Republican legions in their own defence or become auxiliaries when my legions have a civil war amongst themselves. The Goths and Huns perform the same functions for my Later Imperial legions. Plus I've tried to build baggage and terrain elements as well.
Rubber Temple from Miniature Worldmaker
Resin cast house.
Scratch built Middle eastern house.
OG Numidian LC escort Essex minis baggage train.

Herd of goats. Falcon minis. 
Sheep with shepherd and helpful dog. Corvus Belli.
Cattle. More Corvus Belli.
Corvus Belli wagon.
Sassanid pack camels. Essex mins.
Essex Roman artillery.
Another legion. OG 15mm.

Huns. Chariot minis.
Hopefully Hail Caesar! will inspire me to paint up some of the several more Republican legions I have in the box. I've always wanted to do a big battle between Caesar and Pompey.


  1. Nice looking figures, I've got Rep Romans and Carthaginians and am really struggling to find a good but fun set of rules, I've not looked at Black Powder, the price has frightened me off so far. I've lost count of the amount of rules I've bought and then filed in my ebay sell box.

  2. Great looking armies and buildings.

  3. Blimey...that´s a lot of ancients!!!

  4. @Ray: it is a worry isn't it? What sort of game are you looking for? "Legion and Empire" is very detailed. Simon McDowell has some great rules over on his website I got my copy of BP from for about $30Cdn. I plan on doing the same for HC.

  5. @Beccas: Thanks. The pictures kinda suck. Took them a few years back. Too much lighting I think has washed them out.
    @Paul: There's LOADS more; the pictures of my Spanish and Persian armies have gotten lost somewhere! :^D

  6. Kames:

    Very ice work! With my eyes, I just can't do 15mm any more. Thankfully there are plenty of new 28mm for me. :)

    Regarding WAB: I still very much like the books, and the key is to remove the points list(s). Don't care for them and a good gamer shouldn't need them, anyway. Design your scenarios to teach lessons about maneuver, tactics, Horse versus foot, small & powerful versus big and weak, etc, and you won't need a points list.

    But, you still have some nice units and terrain!


    Tim Kindred

  7. Rubber Temple? There was god named Rubber?

  8. Very funny. Remember the latex rubber terrain from 'Miniature Worldmaker' that Robin Empy and Phil McQuarrie used to sell at Hotlead?

  9. Very nice. I use a similar mix of figures as you for my Romans and Carthaginians: OG15s, Chariot, Corvus Belli and more latterly Essex. Also have an MA in Eng Lit, but that's another story :)


  10. It's a little odd that you slam WAB because it has a point system, and employs "special rules", and then look forward to the Black Powder derived "Hail Caesar". Especially since both rule sets were written by Rick Priestly and Jervis Johnson.
    I hate to tell you, but on pages 178-181 is the point system for Black Powder. Granted the authors down play the importance of the points and state that they have not play tested them vigorously.
    Black Powder is also chalk full of "special rules" for the different troop types and abilities. I'm sure Hail Caesar will also continue in that vein. I never understood why having "special rules" to provide flavour and uniqueness to the armies, seemed to act like Kryptonite to some war gamers. This distinguishes a Roman Equite, from a Mongol horse archer, from a Sassanid Clibinari.
    As someone who drives 9+ hours each way, to play in the HMGS-E WAB tournaments, I'll also challenge your notion that a good WAB General is simply a good WAB list writer. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If you looked at all the Roman lists you would find that they are all different, and reflect the personality of the player. Ask your buddy, Don Perrin, about that. His Romans are pure Don!
    There are at least 4 interesting Ancients rules sets coming out in the first half of 2011, 3 of them from ex-GW employees, of which Hail Caesar is but one. Should be interesting.

    Ralph Krebs

  11. Hi Ralph
    Yes I am aware of the points system in BP. But it's so low key it is easy to ignore. And I didn't 'slam' WAB for points systems and special rules. I said I didn't like it because it played like all the other Warhammer games; you win or loose in the army list (at least that's been my experience). The special rules in BP and I assume HC are fairly minor and they recommend in BP that you use them quite sparingly.
    You like WAB and so does Don. More power to you! I don't. I tried it a couple of times and it didn't float my galley. HC promises to deliver the kind of game I'm in the mood for right now.
    But different horses for different courses. It'd be a boring old world if we all enjoyed the same stuff (I know the hardcore DBx tournament guys would disagree but that's another soapbox).
    If you want to run a WAB event at Hotlead I'd be happy to reserve you a table.

  12. @Prufrock: The Corvus Belli figures are great arent' they? Someday money allowing I'd like to build a Principate Army and a Celtic army from that line. Lots of nifty packs like Roman fatigue parties and marching troops.

  13. The figures look very nice. I too struggle to paint 15mm because of my eyesight, but these have ot me wanting to try again. Looking forward to the Hail Caesar rules as well!