Home Forums Ancients What's your favourite ancients ruleset and why?

This topic contains 135 replies, has 74 voices, and was last updated by  Dave Knight 2 months ago.

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  • #2774

    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    Back in the day, I used to play quite a lot of ancients games using WRG 5th (I think it was 5th, the one before everything went funny…) But in recent years, I haven’t done much other than Commands & Colors Ancients (which I do like, up to a point, though I do get fed up with being stymied by simply not having the right cards in hand).

    Anyhoo, I’m thinking of starting again with classical ancients (Greeks, Persians, Romans and whatnot) and wondered what your thoughts are on the current crop of rulesets. Personally, I’d probably collect sub-28mm miniatures, simply because of pressure on space, and already have a pile of unpainted 6mm stuff, but might happily creep up to 10mm, 15mm or maybe 20mm.

    All thoughts welcome.

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    #2781

    @Henry: You and I discussed this a little bit the other day but allow me to extrapolate a tad.  Currently I am enjoying the Hail Caesar (HC) rules.  They are the focus for a buddy and I to do some Ancient Rome (me) vs Celt/Ancient Briton/Gauls (him).  We chose Hail Caesar because we are already familiar with Black Powder.  In many ways Hail Caesar is similar to Black Powder.  Overcoming the first hurdle of being comfortable with a set of rules is a big plus for me.

     

    If you want a period/conflict specific rule set then you may want to pass on Hail Caesar.  One thing to keep in mind is you have a lot of freedom with basing etc in Hail Caesar.  In theory you could base your ancients for different rules and then also use them for HC.

     

    Don’t know if scale will be a major factor for you in choosing the rules you use or not.  But, my buddy and I are using HaT Industrie 1/72 because they’re dead cheap.  For $7.50 USD (roughly 4.5 GBP) you could pick up 1 box of :

    Option 1) 45 Imperial Roman Legionaries

    Option 2) 12 Imperial Roman Cavalry (Praetorian or Auxiliary)

    Option 3) Republican Roman Infantry (Hastati & Velites OR Triarii & Principes)

    The same is true for other HaT Industrie 1/72 products of similar type.  Zvezda makes some gorgeous plastics too.  In 1 box of Imperial Roman Legionaries (Set 8043) you get 54 legionaries at a cost of $17.99 USD aka roughly 10.5 GBP.

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    #2785
    Aventine
    Aventine
    Participant

    I am always on the look out for a new set of rules. I play 15mm and 28mm.

     

    I have been playing FOG since they came out and have become fond of them. I have tried Hail Caesar and while I enjoyed them I found them a bit loose. More recently I have had a go at Impetus, the basic version with evade rules added, they work very well for a big quick game and are pointing me towards the full set.

    I have read a few of the WAB successors but not being a WAB player I am not being pulled that way yet. Might of Arms also gives a good game.

    I have yet to find the set to end all, gone are the days when everyone or at least nearly everyone played the same set WRG!

     

    Cheers

    Keith

    Keith
    Aventine Miniatures

    #2804

    Steve Johnson
    Participant

    Well it’s Dux Bellorum for some nice, smallish ‘Dark Ages’ games, with Hail Caesar for larger ones. As mentioned above, being from the same stable as Black Powder means I can spend more time on the game than trying to remember various rules from different rulesets.

    #2866

    Simon Miller
    Participant

    Hi Henry,

    Aside from the rules that I’ve been writing*, I also have a lot of time for Command and Colors.  No two games are the same, and there is a combination of lots of luck yet also a good deal of skill.  A lot of people seem to be enjoying Impetus, and the big bases really do permit great modelling; trouble for me that is I don’t like measuring and want grid-based.

    As far as scale goes, I don’t think scale matters so much these days, with so many rules being based around units with the same frontage, and no figure removal.  I was looking at a chap’s Republican Romans in 6mm on LAF, today, really lovely.  Have seen some lovely 10mm armies, too.  Ancient armies have lots of long pointy sticks, and pikes don’t look great to me in 6mm, so I might look at 10 or 15mm if it was me.

    Simon

    *Regarding which I am naturally somewhat biased

    #2878
    John Grant
    John Grant
    Participant

    At the moment I am happy using Hail Caesar – I don’t really enjoy games that are too prescriptive, the looser the better for me. I remember having headaches after an evening playing WRG 6th Edition, not for me anymore.

     

    John

    It's just toy soldiers.

    #2879
    Olaf Meys
    Olaf Meys
    Participant

    My rules of choice are WAB (1st ed, with some errata, not 1.5 or 2), Battlestandard Ancient Rules, and a homebrew set. Why? Because I find them easy to use, and they work for me.

    I also rather enjoyed WRG 6th and 7th, and the odd game of DBA.

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    #2884

    Hello Henry,

     

    I would recommend spending some time with Simon’s rules if you haven’t already. The trick is in getting used to the idea of using a grid rather than measurement, but if you can manage that they give a good game.

    Another one attracting attention at the moment is ‘Sword and Spear’.  It has a really interesting activation mechanism, but I’ll need to play it before being able to recommend it (or otherwise).

    I also have a soft spot for Commands & Colors: Ancients, but my favourite set is Lost Battles by Phil Sabin. Can be a bit dry for some, but for historical accuracy, speed of play and solo-friendliness it’s the tried-and-true option for me.

     

    Cheers, Aaron

     

    #2887

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    I’ve been mostly playing Impetus over the last couple of years, thought I’ve played a couple of games of Hail Caesar and am about to try the new Sword and Spear rules (which I’ll be reviewing on my blog when I do) which seem ok from a read through. I have my stuff on Impetus bases (80mm wide, variable depth depending on unit type), which can be used with any of those systems. I think Impetus is still my favourite, though as I said, I haven’t actually played S&S yet.

     

    Over the years I’ve played a lot of different rules (started with WRG 6th ed, went through loads of others), and Impetus is the one I’d go for if I had the choice of game to play. DB* and FoG left me cold, I’d rather go back to WRG 6th again than those rules, if that helps give an indication of my tastes.

    #2897

    Paul Young
    Participant

    Went from WAB to Clash of Empires for a while, but as so few people were playing it in my neck of the woods (Perth, West Australia) I thought I’d give Hail Caesar a try. I  gotta admit to really enjoying the underlying KISS principle, and it seems I’m not the only one as a fairly decent-sized HC community has sprung up over the last couple of years.

    Cheers,

    Paul

    #2904

    Gareth Humphreys
    Participant

    I like FoG but I really wish the movement rules weren’t such a massive pain in the backside 🙁

    #2910
    Phil Sherlock
    Phil Sherlock
    Participant

    Hi

    I have played a lot of ancients rules over the years, but we use Basic Impetus now. We find it an excellent system, and has the advantage of being free, so it would be easy to give it a go.  There are many army lists available online for free also.

    http://www.dadiepiombo.com/basic2.html

    The rules are only a few pages long, but you get alot of game for very few rules. We would only check the rulebook very rarely.

    They feel right and give believable results, the game is quite quick so we normally get in two games per evening ( we swap armies for the second game).  The armies are quite small and can be played using WRG basing sizes.

     

    Philip

    Today is a good day to diet

    #2915
    Oh no....
    Oh no….
    Participant

    Dux Bellorum using 12cm frontages and usually 2 ranks (large units). We’ve had battles using over 100 pts and they play well, also give a fun game.

    Quick to pick up with some “fun” elements; mead, priests, challenge (general/champions duel). Definitely recommended.

    #2928

    Trebian
    Participant

    Henry,

    For simplicity & cost I’d go with Neil Thomas’ “Ancient & Medieval Wargaming”, using a mixture of Hat & Zvezda 1/72 figures.

    I’ve played a lot of games in your target area (see these posts: http://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Ancient%20%26%20Medieval%20Wargaming), and they play really well. Everyone claims their rules are “fun” and “easy to learn” and mostly that’s because they’ve grown up with them. Hail Caesar may be great, but the rules are buried in a 200 page book. The AMW rules cover about 4 sides of A4 max and are learnt in 10 minutes. Honest. Sure there are holes in them but the system is easy to tweak and if you’re playing with friends it isn’t an issue.

    The figures are based on standard element sizes so shifting to other rule sets is fairly easy.

    Trebian

     

     

     

    #2929
    A Lot of Gaul
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    I’ll add my enthusiastic recommendation for Hail Caesar. Over the years I have played (at least one time) some 20 different rule sets for ancients. HC has a command and control system that models battlefield ‘friction’ in a very elegant way, and helps to keep games from becoming stale or overly predictable. The rules also have a flexible ‘tool kit’ approach that allows me to use just about whatever basing system I wish, and to add special rules that give my units and armies the ‘flavor’ and characteristics that best match my view of how they behaved historically. The rules are also a pleasure to read, and tremendously fun to play.

    Having said all that, it is also important to note that Hail Caesar was designed primarily for scenario-based play amongst friends in a relaxed, social setting. If your preference is for very precise, tightly written, competition-oriented rules, then HC may not be your cup of tea.

    Cheers,

    Scott

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by A Lot of Gaul A Lot of Gaul.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by A Lot of Gaul A Lot of Gaul.

    "Experience is the teacher of all things."
    ~ Gaius Julius Caesar

    #2947

    Doug Melville
    Participant

    I still very much enjoy DBMM2. No two games are ever the same, and it really gives the feel of a big battle. I do enjoy command and colours as well, and DBA. Have tried a few different sets, including FoG – but always go back to DBMM.

    #2954
    mog
    mog
    Participant

    Having receently ‘returned’ to the hobby.. I’m collecting and basing up my new Romans (28mm) for Hail Caesar as that certainly seems to be the ruleset of choice at my club. However, I used to play DBA and DBM with 15mm. DBM started to get bogged down.. but I still rate DBA as one of the best games ever 😉

    Played Neil Thomas AMW rules solo and they are quite good fun, if a little abstract (?)

    Depends on what complexity and what ‘scale’ you want to play at I guess. (Quite enjoyed WAB for Arthurian games, as it felt like a heroic big skirmish game)

     

    #2957
    Piyan Glupak
    Piyan Glupak
    Participant

    I play DBA.  I tried DBM, but found it difficult to learn on my own.  I tried DBA to learn some of the concepts, and found I liked it better.  Later, DBMM came out, and although I was fairly sure that I was playing it reasonably correctly, I found that I could play the same armies quicker and with more fun.

    When I started with DBA, it was version 1.1.  Nowadays, I tend play the ‘+’ unofficial amendments to version 2.2.  Although I will try version 3 when it is published, I am unlikely to take to it.  (I tried an earlier draft of version 3 and didn’t like the new movements.)

    Why do I like DBA?  It is easy to teach new wargamers, the games don’t take a lot of space, you don’t need big armies so you can paint appropriate enemies as well, and the games are quick, and often exciting.  I can get several games in in one session.

    #2976

    I used to love DBM but got fed up with the manoevring tricks. Tried FoG which was so so. Impetus is ok but I find the shooting to be over powered for my tastes. I’m trying Sword & Spears tomorrow which I have high hopes for.

    I may just end up using Kings of  War without the fantasy elements though.

    Ferb

    #3009
    A Lot of Gaul
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    Ferb –

    If you are considering KoW for historical battles, you may find the following site to be of interest:

    http://www.hourofwolves.org/?view=articles&which=KingsOfWarHistoricalAncientCombat

    Cheers,

    Scott

    "Experience is the teacher of all things."
    ~ Gaius Julius Caesar

    #3015
    Allen Curtis
    Allen Curtis
    Participant

    After the fiasco that wound up WAB, I’ve been shifting to large “scenic” bases: first for Impetus, then for Dux Bellorum when I want something a little simpler.  You may have seem my short piece in WS&S on adapting DB for other ancient periods.

     

    Allen

    #3021

    Ferb – If you are considering KoW for historical battles, you may find the following site to be of interest: http://www.hourofwolves.org/?view=articles&which=KingsOfWarHistoricalAncientCombat Cheers, Scott

    Thanks for the link, looks like just what I needed. 🙂

    #3035

    Nick Bellamy
    Participant

    Another vote for Impetus. Tried most sets over the year – like the mechanisms and the non-IGO UGO activations. Tried Hail Caesar, which has much to like, but for me (personally) it didn’t do pike formations well (my main period), didn’t like double width large formations (instead of double depth) and Imperial Romans seemed either under pointed or over powered against natural barbarian enemies IMO.

    For Impetus I love the large bases for a single unit and the play is faster than FOG but has a little more depth than HC.

    Just my thoughts – no right or wrong – its all down to personal preference 😉

    #3046
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Another vote for Impetus here 🙂

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #3059

    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    This is fascinating, guys, thank you so much and keep them coming! Looks like I need to try Impetus for sure but also intrigued by A Lot of Gaul’s suggestion of Kings of War for historicals, so I’ll look into that. I’ve played precisely one game of DBA with, of all people, Dan Mersey, he of Dux Bellorum fame, who loves DBA. Found it intriguing, but have a feeling I’m after a little more ‘granularity’/period-specific feel. Have played a few games of Black Powder, so might have some affinity for Hail Caesar… Was also wondering whether any of you play Warmaster Ancients?

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  Henry Hyde. Reason: Spelling!

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    #3066
    A Lot of Gaul
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    Henry –

    Just to clarify for everyone, the Hour of Wolves and Shattered Shields site is not mine. KOW is a bit too abstract for my taste, but I thought that Ferb and others might find the site useful.

    In the past I have played Warmaster Ancients, which is the rules system ‘ancestor’ for both Black Powder and Hail Caesar. A few years ago, I wrote a little summary comparison between WMA and HC in response to a question on the BoardGameGeek site:

    http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/659828/difference-between-hail-caesar-and-warmaster-ancie

    Cheers,

    Scott

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by A Lot of Gaul A Lot of Gaul.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by A Lot of Gaul A Lot of Gaul.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by A Lot of Gaul A Lot of Gaul.

    "Experience is the teacher of all things."
    ~ Gaius Julius Caesar

    #3067

    Simon Miller
    Participant

    I played a game of Warmaster Ancients, once.    There were some mechanics that left me feeling uncomfortable; it seemed that the closer one got to the enemy, the more manouevrable one’s units were.  However I was up against a very game-y player, and he may have been bending the rules.  I have heard it suggested that Hail Caesar does some of the same things that Warmaster does, but rather better.

    Hail Caesar is, as someone else posted, a good game if one’s mates are affable and chilled and rather less good if they are competitive or had a hard day at work.   Also, because commands often fail to activate, it’s best if each player has a couple of commands and some decent generals.  Playing Black Powder, I once had a friend who failed all his rolls and couldn’t move for around 90 minutes of game play, and who consequently lost the will to live.

    #3071
    quidveritas
    quidveritas
    Participant

    I have never found a set of Ancients rules that I liked.

    The Die is Cast is a well thought out rules set that often produces acceptable results

    http://www.3vwargames.co.uk/rules2.htm

    I play Warhammer Ancient Battles because that’s the only game played locally

    Neither is strongly endorsed but they are a place to start.

    #3072

    Nick Bellamy
    Participant

    Hi Henry – we played a lot of WMA before moving to Impetus. Really enjoyed the rules for a fun game but the rules for skirmishers were broken IMO. Rick Priestly published two attempts to fix but by then we had decided to move.

    Essentially you roll 2d6 against generals quality(with mods for 2nd + subsequent order, proximity to enemy etc) – roll under the required number and move – you can give any unit or group 3 orders on the trot. The rules have no movement restrictions (aside from a couple for pike) so that heavy infantry moves exactly the same distance as light infantry and has the same restrictions/effects in respect of terrain. Also you can move in any direction and alter facing as you wish with any troop type so long as they don’t move further than their allowance. A bit too manoeuvrable for our tastes.

    This gave rise to the second issue we didn’t like – a unit facing an enemy at even spitting distance would not be prevented from moving to the side of the enemy unit and charging in the flank whilst the opponent stood and took it (no reaction or opportunity/counter charge either) if they could pass enough orders. This happened often enough to become silly in our view.

    Chariots are a little strange also – based on half the frontage but double depth (so front is the short edge of an oblong rather than the long edge) OF standard base. This means that you can get 2 units of chariots into the frontage of a standard infantry unit. They have the same firing stats as archers (shorter range?) which meant that if in range 2 units of light chariots shot twice as many dice as a full unit of archers. They could also evade if charged. This made the Egyptians mobile weapons platforms which could shoot any opponent off the table.

    However, if you aren’t to concerned about these aspects then the game give a simple fast play and great fun game and contains some interesting mechanisms. IMO HC was essentially WMA version 2 following the cancellation of WMA by Games Workshop.

    Cheers

    Nick

    #3129
    Gaz
    Gaz
    Participant

    Has anyone tried War and Conquest? Seems to have the turn structure of Impetus with WAB-like game mechanics.

    #3147
    Steve Burt
    Steve Burt
    Participant

    I also started with WRG (4th edition, then 5th and 6th).  Played DBA, DBM, DBMM, WAB, Armati, Warmaster Ancients, C&C Ancients, Neil Thomas AMW and lately Field of Glory

    FoG is not bad – a bit dry, but gives a good game. I like DBMM but unless you play it regularly, it’s impossible to remember (or maybe that is just me).

    However, we recently tried a new set called Sword & Spear. This uses a very nice activation mechanism with both players involved in each phase. A very interesting set of rules; units have  a fixed frontage, so I was able to use by sabot bases which take 4 DBx/FoG bases (or 6 for large units), which speeds up the game a lot as you are never moving individual bases. We completed a first game with 14 or so units a side (so around 200 figures a side), Gauls v Romans, and that took about 2.5 hours.

    Pretty impressed with these rules; lots of interesting decision points. Details here http://polkovnik.moonfruit.com/

    #3150
    Paul Cox
    Paul Cox
    Participant

    Yes, I’ve been playing War and Conquest since it came out and all of my gaming group have switched over to it from WAB.  However given that it calls for figure removal and Henry is intending to use the smaller scales, it might not be for him.  More generally though, I feel it improves over WAB in a number of ways.  Combat is simpler and follows a more logical order of roll to hit, roll to save, roll to wound.  Combat effectiveness of personalities is toned down from WAB and they are often better giving you command benefits than being placed in a unit.  They add a number of additional ‘strikes’ for the unit in melee, but as per the unit’s own stats, so if they are part of a unit, it had better be an elite one rather than a unit of levy (as it should be)!  Finally, the turn system is IGO UGO, but with the possibility of changing order each round, so there is the possibility of an IGO UGO; UGO IGO sequence (this can be modified with expendable command points known as Strategy Intervention Points).  This makes the development of the battle far less predictable and really adds an element of excitement to the pre-turn phase.

    One can nit-pick about various aspects: our group is frustrated by the fact that phalangites seem consistently outclassed by hoplites;  I have also heard others complain about the missile effectiveness of large units of skirmishers, but overall I think W&C gives a really good game and we are pleased to have made the change fromWAB, which we’d played for ten years or so.

    Cheers

    Paul

    #3179
    Gaz
    Gaz
    Participant

    Thanks Corto. I have an unopened copy of WAC that I plan to road test as soon as I can get my first armies painted. Impetus may also get a try based on recommendations here.

    #3193

    Piquet.

    Because you never have to cut your fingernails.

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    #3200

    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    Nice to see my Sword & Spear rules get a few mentions on this thread.

    To find out more about these rules, here are links to some reviews:

    http://ytg.com.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=160:swspreview&catid=50:historical&Itemid=74

    http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=354231

    http://www.meeplesandminiatures.co.uk/

    Also, there have been a few AARs posted on my forum. These give you a good feel for the look of the game and how it plays.

    http://polkovnikproductions.freeforums.org/sword-spear-f4.html?sid=e826400ccc63b8a5a6ed31dc1ae86fa0

    Mark

     

     

     

    #3240
    Greg M
    Greg M
    Participant

    After the fiasco that wound up WAB, I’ve been shifting to large “scenic” bases: first for Impetus, then for Dux Bellorum when I want something a little simpler. You may have seem my short piece in WS&S on adapting DB for other ancient periods. Allen

     

    Hello Allen,

    I did not see this – which issue is it in?

    #3304
    Midpoint
    Midpoint
    Participant

    Another vote for Impetus. Troop types feel like they can be used how they were.

    #3402
    Oh no....
    Oh no….
    Participant

    Started of with Legion, by Al Margolis I think, then WRG 5th and 6th, Armarti plus glanced at others along the way. Can’t stand DBA! Finally came across Dux Bellorum before it came out, it gives a great game plus you can you single bases a la DBA or larger multi base units which look miles better. We’ve adapted it for Greeks and Persians and had a good refight of Platea.

    #3407
    pilgrim
    pilgrim
    Participant

    Another Impetus player \ fan

    On the whole troops behave as I would expect from my grasp of history, and the large bases make units easy to move around and look good.

    I also like the ability to plan huge sweeping moves and then see them collapse around me when my dice inevitably fail me

    #3426
    Allen Curtis
    Allen Curtis
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Allen Curtis wrote:</div>
    After the fiasco that wound up WAB, I’ve been shifting to large “scenic” bases: first for Impetus, then for Dux Bellorum when I want something a little simpler. You may have seem my short piece in WS&S on adapting DB for other ancient periods. Allen

    Hello Allen, I did not see this – which issue is it in?

     

    It was in WS&S issue number 70, entitled “Strategos Machon”.  The main point was using DB for the Hellenistic period, but I had a bit to say about the history of ancients basing as well.  I was pleased to receive a positive comment from Dan Mersey.  Guy would like some more army lists covering Rome and the Hellenistic east.  If I live long enough…

    Allen

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