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

This topic contains 134 replies, has 73 voices, and was last updated by Usagitsuki Usagitsuki 2 weeks, 4 days ago.

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  • #6716

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    I tried to persuade my club that Brunanburh was correct (but with Graeco-Bactrians in place of Romans, obviously, since that’s my main ancients army), but they were having none of it, sadly.

    #6726

    Henry Hyde
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Henry Hyde wrote:</div>
    Really interesting post, Doug, and much to ponder. I like your idea of a rating system.

    On the one hand, I agree, it is useful, but on the other, since it’s highly subjective (I’d rate DB* a hell of a lot lower than those for playability, amongst others), I’m not sure it wouldn’t just encourage arguments.

    LOL! 

    One man’s meat…

    Editor, Battlegames
    http://battlegames.co.uk
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    #6750

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Nick the Lemming wrote:</div>

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>Henry Hyde wrote:</div> Really interesting post, Doug, and much to ponder. I like your idea of a rating system.

    On the one hand, I agree, it is useful, but on the other, since it’s highly subjective (I’d rate DB* a hell of a lot lower than those for playability, amongst others), I’m not sure it wouldn’t just encourage arguments.

    LOL! One man’s meat…

     

    Quite apt, seeing as how I’m vegetarian. 😀

    #6799
    Adam Hayes
    Adam Hayes
    Participant

    The game we tried at the weekend in preparation for the SOA Battle Day in March, threw this subject into stark relief. The game mirrored history pretty much to a tee, so scenario objective acheived(?)  Our post-game discussion was about how or whether to tweak it so that there was more to life for the Indian players than inevitable doom at the pike ends of the deadly Macedonians.

    http://wargamewarrior.webs.com/apps/blog/show/42625983-hydaspes-test-game

     

    Piquet doesn’t usually suffer from any charges of predictability, so there is every chance that some very minor tweaks could change a stroll in the park to an edge of the seat nailbiter for the Macedonians. We will see on the day. *

     

    (*2 practise games would be an indulgence!)

    #6823

    Trebian
    Participant

    I recently did a refight of Hydaspes back in December, but using AMW: http://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/hydaspes-here-we-come.html

    Porus was played by Richard Lockwood, who is the SoA Battle Day organiser. What I have found with a number of rule sets is that if you up scale the game and use a lot of kit many of the minor niggles in the rules go away, often because the loss of a single unit is of much less importance. Of course, once you do get a lot of units on the table it becomes even more important that the rules are simple and play quickly.

    Trebian

    #6912

    Anonymous

    <snip> Too many ancient rule sets allow commanders the ability to manoeuvre all over the table. the reality was they couldn’t. The main battle line was everything and if it was disordered or punctured, you were doomed. So few rules try to reflect that. In the words of Julius Caesar, “alea iacta est” – once your army is drawn up and committed to the battle events are largely beyond your control. Alexander the Great sought to influence the battle by placing himself at the head of his “armoured fist”, not by sitting in the rear and issuing God-like orders. Arty Conliffe’s “Tactica” attempted to recognise this, but had a clunky movement mechanism. I generally hate movement rules in wargames and I hate getting rulers out to measure things. Consequently, Phil Sabin’s “Lost Battles” appealed in its eradication of rulers and its more abstract approach to the the battle while concentrating on achieving a historically valid result. Unfortunately for me, there were too many tables and rules to learn – I’ve watched him effortlessly referee many a game at wargames shows but fear that such an easy command of the rules is beyond me. My own set is a meld of Tactica and Lost Battles with a few mechanisms from other sets thrown in. I’m excited to try Sword and Spear that I have read through a few times – they seem well thought out. However my initial impression is that units can still wander about the battlefield with little regard for a formed battle line or the need to secure their flanks. IMHO exposing flanks in an ancient battle should not be a calculated risk by the General that he can live with but a folly for the men on the ground who cannot live with it and are very likely to run away if put in that position. <snip>

     

    Yes, after too many years of WRG and so on I quit Ancients because the rules were Napoleonic war in Armor in most cases (Just IMHO) until I bought a copy of Tactica which (despite limitations in who you could fight (which I support) and some clunky mechanics (which I did not support) seemed reasonable historical rules.  No one else locally would even consider it because, “It limits my tactics,” which meant to me that you did not have the control to play Napoleonic combat in armor games.  My armies never saw the table top and I sold them off and have never played MEDANC games except some so called skirmish rules (when nothing else was available) for decades.

     

    From where I sit nothing has enticed me since and it dropped off my build armies/play games list long ago.

    Tactica works but it seems leprous to many and it is broken in some respects.  I don’t play tournaments where NKE can fight War of the Roses because, even though I play Fantasy, VSF,  and Science Fiction I think you have to draw a line somewhere and before 1492 and after 1913 is where those lines are for me when playing historical themed games.  YMMV but, as my youngest used to say, “Whatever…”

    So, I guess my favorite set of rules is, “None of the above.”

     

    Which is sad in some ways.

    #6962

    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    From what I’ve read in Sword and Spear, because not all units move at the same time, it is very likely that during a battle your battle line of Heavy Infantry will become totally disjointed, either during or after the turn. To me this doesn’t seem right at all. Command and control in ancient battles seems to have been rudimentary. 

    Yes, your line of heavy infantry may become disjointed. This is because I believe it is difficult to get a large body of men (say 10,000 or move) to move at the same rate and maintain a line. But it is best if you do maintain a solid battle line, so if your line does become disjointed, you should wait for the slower units to catch up.

    Also, group moves are available, which makes it easier to maintain a battle line. A group move must be straight forward.

    I acknowledge that the rules make manoeuvres difficult, but with the right dice throws, units can pirouette all over the place.

    Well, when writing a set of rules, you can either make complicated manoeuvres automatic (which would be unrealistic, and would, as you say, allow units to pirouette all over the place), impossible (which would also be unrealistic and make for a pointless game), or restricted in some way. In Sword & Spear they are restricted, as they require a higher action dice than a straightforward move. Now as you say, with the right dice throws, in theory units can piroutte all over the place. In practice this doesn’t happen , because :

    1 – you don’t tend to get dice rolls good enough to manoeuvre many units

    2 – when you do get good dice, you often want to do other things with them such as giving units shooting or combat bonuses

    3 – the rules reward you for maintaning a solid battle line – if you send units piroutting all over the place you will find some of them isolated and defeated piecemeal

    4 – commanders have a command range which restricts the ability to activate units – if you send units off in all directions you will end up with some out of command

    If you look at some of the battle reports on the Sword & Spear forum you’ll see that generally battle lines are maintained, and units don’t pirouette all over the place. Here’s an example, from a recent Hannibal vs Alexander, “what-if” battle, after two turns, just before the main battle lines engage :

    And another from a similar position in a Romans vs Gauls game. You can see that one unit of Gallic foot has not kept up with the advance. Quite reasonable I think.

    Both of these pictures look like what I think an ancient battle should look like.

    You can see the full reports (and many other) here:

    http://polkovnikproductions.freeforums.org/battle-reports-f9.html

     

     

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Mark Lewis.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Mark Lewis.
    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  Mark Lewis.
    #7067

    Brunanburh937
    Participant

    Hi Mark – thanks for your post – it’s always good to hear from the author of a set of rules. I take your points on board. I’m trying to finish up a couple more units before playing through my first game of Sword and Spear.

    As I said in my post, my view of the game was just from reading the rules. It’s good to see that in reality units do keep together. I’m really looking forward to test-driving these rules as the mechanisms seem clever and simple.

    #7083

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    Mark, that reminds me – did you get the email I sent about the Golden Horde / Ilkhanid Mongols lists?

    #7103

    Mark Lewis
    Participant

    Mark, that reminds me – did you get the email I sent about the Golden Horde / Ilkhanid Mongols lists?

    Yes – I’ll get a chance to look at them this weekend. Back to school this week so been busy :).

    #7113

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    I know the feeling…Had committee meetings etc for most of today myself.

    #7153
    armchairgeneral
    armchairgeneral
    Participant

    Just another vote for Hail Caesar from the few games played so far.

    Played a lot of WRG 6th in my teens (because I was unaware of much else) and concluded it was a dry, soulless set of rules – that 33 factor morale test you can keep!

    Moved on to Shock of Impact which were a lot better and then gave up Ancients for a long time.

    A friend then persuaded me to start a Viking army inspired by the  WAB Shieldwall supplement. I had some good games with WAB but disliked the figure on figure detail so moved onto HC when it came out for the reasons well put by Scott (Lot of Gaul) above.

    #7167
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Played a lot of WRG 6th in my teens (because I was unaware of much else) and concluded it was a dry, soulless set of rules – that 33 factor morale test you can keep! Moved on to Shock of Impact which were a lot better 

    I gasped at that.

     

    Were there two sets of rules called Shock of Impact?

    Because the set I’ve got open in front of me*** has a 42 factor morale test. It also has a ‘disobedience’ test with another 10 factors, and an ‘obedience’ test with a further 9.  Then there’s the cavalry 30 yard reaction test against infantry with 22 factors. When you finally get to the fighting, it’s got 19 shooting and 30 bloody melee  variations. The battlefield role definitions are a wonder – Shock, Shock(M), Shock(I), Shock(C) anyone? No? OK chuck in Basic and Missile as well then. I’ll pass swiftly by the three pages of possible manoeuvres and special formations because I’m beginning to get. One. Of.  My. Headaches…

    Oh and don’t forget the two double-sided A4 quick reference sheets – WRG had one double-sided A5.

    Essentially, what Messrs Beck and Bussey did was take WRG and bolt a load of unnecessary tat onto it. It was the wargaming equivalent of a Barry boys’ motor (Google it) 

     

    We played SoI back in the 80s. Once.   I think a couple of units might actually have got into contact, but we were all longing for death by then so I could be mistaken.

     

    ***I’m working from home. Ha!

     

     

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

    #7177
    yorkie
    yorkie
    Participant

    Ive played a number of the rulesets mentioned in this thread, and my favorite, by a long way is Impetus. I agree though that it needs a second edition, alot has been added to it or clarified over the years, it would be nice to have a new book with everything in one place.

    Steve

    http://stevenkelly1.blogspot.com/

    #7195
    Allen Curtis
    Allen Curtis
    Participant

    “Allen – the Cimbri and Teutones  were Germanic tribes, not Celtic.”  I did not say otherwise; you may be responding to someone else.  But lord knows by then they’d been wandering around Celtic lands both in the east and west long enough to have developed a somewhat different character than they had in their original homeland (they covered a goodly portion of the modern Schengen Area, after all).

    Actually, Arausio was a failure of the political nature of Roman generalship.  If it hadn’t been for petty jealousy between the commanders, the disaster would not have happened.  Normally, the only way to replicate that sort of thing in an ancients wargame is to put players who loathe each other on the same side.

    I’m disinclined at any rate to draw too many distinctions between Celts and “early” Germans.  Tacitus nonwithstanding, our knowledge of the Germans of the period is limited.  And as Divus Iulius discovered later–as did others–in the area of the modern “Low Countries” the distinction between Celt and German was often blurred, with tribes claiming either origin living side-by-side and with no clear-cut cultural boundary.  Is there really much difference between an ambush in the Alps and an ambush in the Teutoberger Wald?

    And then there are my favs, the Ligurians, who show considerable Celtic cross-cultural influence, who continued to give the Romans fits right up to Augustus.  For the WAB supplement Hannibal and the Punic Wars, I gave the Ligurians a lot of “chrome”, but not over-poweringly so.  But that begs the question (to get back to the topic): should an ancient ruleset and accompanying lists make rigid distinctions between various ethnicities of “barbarians”, when our historical knowledge of them is weak and the historical examples of their performance few in number?

    Allen

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by Allen Curtis Allen Curtis.
    #7221
    Meic Kelly
    Meic Kelly
    Participant

    I really like Hail Caesar for Ancients, have War and Conquest and really like the way these read though have to confess haven’t played them yet, they actually have a decent index, which I find useful.

    Did try Basic Impetus, and must admit I liked them.

    If I was to be honest for a big game I don’t want individual figure removal anymore, if a system calls for it and I really liked it I look for a modelling solution as a work around. If I want to move individual figures I’ll play a skirmish set.

    Cheers

    Meic

     

     

    Command Base http://meicwargames.blogspot.co.uk/

    #7293
    armchairgeneral
    armchairgeneral
    Participant

    <div class=”d4p-bbt-quote-title”>armchairgeneral wrote:</div>
    Played a lot of WRG 6th in my teens (because I was unaware of much else) and concluded it was a dry, soulless set of rules – that 33 factor morale test you can keep! Moved on to Shock of Impact which were a lot better

    I gasped at that. Were there two sets of rules called Shock of Impact? Because the set I’ve got open in front of me*** has a 42 factor morale test. It also has a ‘disobedience’ test with another 10 factors, and an ‘obedience’ test with a further 9. Then there’s the cavalry 30 yard reaction test against infantry with 22 factors. When you finally get to the fighting, it’s got 19 shooting and 30 bloody melee variations. The battlefield role definitions are a wonder – Shock, Shock(M), Shock(I), Shock(C) anyone? No? OK chuck in Basic and Missile as well then. I’ll pass swiftly by the three pages of possible manoeuvres and special formations because I’m beginning to get. One. Of. My. Headaches… Oh and don’t forget the two double-sided A4 quick reference sheets – WRG had one double-sided A5. Essentially, what Messrs Beck and Bussey did was take WRG and bolt a load of unnecessary tat onto it. It was the wargaming equivalent of a Barry boys’ motor (Google it) We played SoI back in the 80s. Once. I think a couple of units might actually have got into contact, but we were all longing for death by then so I could be mistaken. ***I’m working from home. Ha!

    I have neither set anymore  so I am at a disadvantage .  I can’t remember anything now about SoI except it was good fun to play once you got to know them. I do remember the WRG 6th morale test was so off putting it was often said “Oh they’ll be alright”

    But anyway there are much better rules around now so I am mystified why people are still using them.

     

    #7309
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I may go back to DBA some day. Maybe not and all my 15mm armies sit in the same boxes these past 12 years.

    #7311

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    I may go back to DBA some day. Maybe not and all my 15mm armies sit in the same boxes these past 12 years.

     

    If you want a simple system that’s easy and fun, and plays quickly, I can recommend Sword and Spear. It’s far superior to DBA in every way in my opinion.

    #7312
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    No one else does Ancients around here any more so..It’s not a pressing need for me.

    #7460
    Not Connard Sage
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    But anyway there are much better rules around now so I am mystified why people are still using them.

     

    I certainly don’t. Impetus are my set of choice, as I think I’ve already said on this thread.

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

    #7514
    Piyan Glupak
    Piyan Glupak
    Participant

    I may go back to DBA some day. Maybe not and all my 15mm armies sit in the same boxes these past 12 years.

    You would have a choice at the moment, if you were to do that.

    The latest currently published official version of DBA is 2.2.  For some time, version 3 has been officially very close to being published, and indeed, might be published very soon.  From what I have seen on the Fanaticus website, and also from my impression of an early draft of version 3, DBA version 3 seems to be very different from earlier versions.  A lot of American players have done some house rules/line edits for version 2.2 and called it ‘2.2+’.  (I believe that many members of ‘WADBAG’ – Washington Area DBA Gamers – were heavily involved in the 2.2+ project.)  So now, there are people who play 2.2, 2.2+ and version 3.

    I have heard of groups who still prefer the original DBA 1.0 or 1.1.  To be honest, there is quite a lot to be said for those versions, although I do like the army lists for the version 2/2.1/2.2/2.2+.

    My personal  preference is for 2.2+, but others will differ.

    #7519
    Will McNally
    Will McNally
    Participant

    Sticking with Hail Caesar myself, as it provides both an easy pick up game for club nights and also nice easy to run big games. The only downside is getting confused over the differences with Black Powder.

    #8066

    WOLFSHANZA
    Participant

    Played WRG 5th, 6th and 7th moving on to SOI back in the days. Just got back into ancients with Hail Caesar and like the game. Seemed to go pretty quickly. Seems almost everything ya need are in the QR pages. Have FOG but only played one game quite a while back, hard to find players close.

    #8156

    Natholeon
    Participant

    Well, this thread has inspired me to purchase Mark’s Sword and Spear rules, and I have to admit, after a read through I really like what I see. Now I just have to paint up a couple of armies to play it with…

    #8158
    yorkie
    yorkie
    Participant

    Ive never heard of sword and spear until i read this thread. I have so far resisted the temptation to look at it, as I am happy with Impetus but im tempted…… I really dont need any more Ancients rulebooks!

    Steve

    http://stevenkelly1.blogspot.com/

    #8230

    Nick the Lemming
    Participant

    Steve, there’s a review and a couple of AARs on my blog if you want to see whether they’d suit you or not. Which reminds me, I have another AAR I should put up on there…

     

    The rules are also dead cheap (especially if you buy them on pdf) so if you are tempted, it won’t break the bank.

    #8284
    willb
    willb
    Participant

    I have been using Scutarii from Hoplite Research using 6mm and 28mm figures.  The most recent games were Raphia and Asculum at The Pacificon Games Exposition.


    The following two battles were fought with 6mm figures</p>
    http://18clovehamhock.blogspot.com/2014/09/raphia-at-pacificon.html</p>
    The following is Asculum from an earlier mini-convention.

    http://18clovehamhock.blogspot.com/2014/04/return-to-asculum.html

    While both were large battles, the games lasted about 3 hours each.  The rules encourage the use of historical tactics, allowing Romans to use multiple battle lines and relieve the front lines as they grow fatigued.  Although Raphia and Asculum are intended for multiple players, the second battle report shows that a single player can handle the entire battle and complete it in a reasonable amount of time.  The mechanisms are not complex and players know them after the first turn.  The rules include a points system for equal point games and allow reasonable sized armies on a six foot table.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by willb willb.
    #8612
    Secret Squirrel
    Secret Squirrel
    Participant

    Haily (Priestly) Caesar and Warmaster (Priestly) Ancients are my two favourites for large battles.

    Have also dabbled with Saga which is fun.

    It's me

    #9932
    Tarty
    Tarty
    Participant

    Impetus – Enough control without it being too god like. Sometimes it seems you have no control …. I like this very much and sits right in my mind for ancient warfare.

    #9980
    willz
    willz
    Participant

    My gaming buddy Andy and me played “Hail Caesar” last night, we really enjoyed it.  Especially liked the flexible movement system from 0 to 18 inches .  Neither of us have played ancient’s before and it was enjoyable and fun, it was only a learning game but I won one and drew one and that’s excellent by my track record.  Plus Andy built and painted all the figures so I won’t have to buy any? hmmmmm.

    #10227
    Altius
    Altius
    Participant

    This may be a symptom of growing older, or just much busier, but simplicity has become a greater selling point for me. I don’t want to spend a lot of time looking up some obscure rule point or exception and I don’t want to plow through chart after chart to resolve a charge. These days, I gravitate more toward rules that I can essentially carry around in my head. Hail Caesar, I think, does a nice job of walking that tightrope between complexity and simplicity. The rules are very easy memorize but are still able to give character to your units – as much or as little as you want.

    That desire of mine for simplicity has lately extended to basing. I’ve become a convert to the Impetus style of basing units on a single stand. I’ll admit that a big factor for me is the aesthetic quality of it, but it’s also practical. I started doing that for Dux Bellorum, putting each unit on a 120mm x 80mm base. It works for DB, it works for Impetus, and I can easily make it work for HC. My feeling is that the the formation of the unit is less important to the general. All he cares about is putting the unit in the right place. It’s the captain’s job to line all the boys up, and the unit would naturally adopt whatever formation is suitable for the situation and the troop type.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 5 months ago by Altius Altius.

    Where there is fire, we will carry gasoline

    #10779
    Sparker
    Sparker
    Participant

    Hail Caesar for me everytime! Realtime C2 issues, but simple and elegant mechanisms, and from the same stable as Black Powder. What’s not to like!

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #10831
    Garry Grant
    Garry Grant
    Participant

    We have a small group playing Hail Caesar.  Used to play WAB but we find that Hail Caesar works well and allows an element of uncertainty that makes the game ‘interesting’.  While the the Rules are relatively simple they have intricacies that become clearer the more you play.  Last weekend Gauls gave a Republican Roman army a bloody nose by being aggressive even though one flank failed their orders for 2 moves!     Have bought Sword and Spear and will certainly give them a try.

    #10834
    kyoteblue
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    Just saw that DBA 3.0 has come out so I will pick them up around the Holidays and see if I like them.

    #11194
    madaxeman
    madaxeman
    Participant

    I’ve added a game report and a review of L’Art de la Guerre on Madaxeman.com. http://www.madaxeman.com/reports/Art_de_la_Guerre_review.php

    I;d second pretty much all of the stuff above – basically it’s close enough to DBM to be very easy enough to pick up, but different enough to be a different game, and at £27 GBP for all of the rules and lists what’s not to like?

    tim

    (caveat – I did help translate the rules as a favour to a friend at our club, but I’d actually never played them before I played the game in this review).

    see more of this rubbish at www.madaxeman.com

    #11562
    DM
    DM
    Participant

    DBA is my favourite set, for a variety of reasons (and interestingly we’ve been chatting about this via email between the Slimbridge club members).

    I am not an ancient/medieval aficionado but I like to dabble and collect interesting armies. DBA has allowed me to build up a number of matched sets of armies over the years, starting with the Wars of the Roses, then on to Viking/Saxon/Norman, Roman invasion of Britain, and then a few odds and sods such as my beloved Palmyrans, Parthians, a few Greek armies and my Teutonic knights. It is quick enough to get  a number of games in during a decent session (we used to run a DBA league at work, played 3-4 games in an evening) or to play out  a campaign in a day. And simple enough to pick up the rules and play after a quick read through – important for me as I play so many periods and genres that i don’t have time (or these days the brain power) to remember the minutiae  of more complex sets.

    I’m currently using 2.2 with some local mods (mainly “no BUA”), but started with 1.0 when I was in the old Southampton club in the 1980s (it was there that the WotR campaign kicked off). I have a copy of 3.0 (very nicely done), not sure if I’ll change over though.

    #11574
    yorkie
    yorkie
    Participant

    I think im going to get the DBA 3.0 rules, I did like Dba, but got tired of all the geometry not to mention to constant arguments online about it…. The new book looks pretty good.

    http://stevenkelly1.blogspot.com/

    #16354
    Adrian Bryan
    Adrian Bryan
    Participant

    For me it’s DBA and BBDBA, the games are simple to play you don’t get bogged down with pages and pages of rules, and with BBDBA the games can look impressive also.

    #20249
    Nic Wright
    Nic Wright
    Participant

    I’ll add another voice to back up Hail Caesar (again, with a couple of reservations) for massed ancients and Dux Bellorum for smaller ‘Early Medieval’ games.

    Really looking forward to getting into Sword and Spear, but our group has been distracted lately with real life stuff (babies and what not) so it may be a few weeks yet before I give it a go. Simon’s To the Strongest also look rather good.

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