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

Viewing 28 posts - 121 through 148 (of 148 total)
  • Author
  • #109494
    Henry Hyde

    Thank you everyone for all these fantastic answers. I just happened to pop back to this thread because I’ve just interviewed Richard Lockwood of the Society of Ancients on my Battlechat podcast, now nearly four years since the last post on this thread!

    So, of course, if you’re reading this, what ancients ruleset choices would you make now, several years on, and why? Do you think there have been any major developments in the period? What rulesets do you feel have now faded from view? Have new figure ranges affected your choice, or are you still happily playing with the same stuff you had back in 2015?

    Editor, Battlegames
    Battlegames on Patreon
    Author, The Wargaming Compendium


    Checked the original post for this topic and noticed it was started five years ago.   I started playing ancients back when WRG just changed from third edition to fifth edition.   Over the years I have played many different sets.  Most have been fun.  Some have been more tedious than need be and a few have been ancients in name only.

    What I want in a set of ancient rules is the ability to duplicate the Gallic charges described in Caesar’s “Conquest of Gaul” where there are thousands of barbarian warriors charging across the field without small groups of them halting,  for a much smaller, but well trained and led army to defeat a much larger army of less capable troops even if elephants are part of the opposing army as Alexander did at Hydaspes,  and finally a set of rules where the winner does not duplicate Pyrrhus victories, but instead breaks the opposing army while suffering very few casualties.  Also to be able to field a full Republican Roman consular army on the table.

    While I still have all the ancient figures that I had back in 2015, there have been additions to the armies I had and some new armies have joined them.

    A Lot of Gaul

    I still like Hail Caesar for all of the reasons mentioned earlier, and I have recently played several enjoyable games of Swordpoint and To the Strongest!. I like Swordpoint for the Momentum tokens that can be used to influence initiative and combat rolls, adding ‘fog of war’ and encouraging aggressive play. I enjoy To the Strongest! for its grid-based movement and diceless card (or chit) system for initiative and combat resolution.

    I am also quite keen to try Age of Hannibal, since years ago I was a big fan of Chipco’s Fantasy Rules!, and AoH is built (with royalties paid) around many of the same mechanics as FR!.


    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    Deleted User

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

    Can I suggest you look at FoG; R & add some of its slightly looser mechanisms?




    I’m still playing DBA and DBMM.

    I prefer DBMM for the spectacle, the limitation to command and control, the depth of the rules and the fact they build a convincing narrative, and feel like a big battle. Ancient skirmishes, such as are modelled in some of the other sets (work out the figure and ground scale based on archery ranges), just don’t appeal to me in the same way.

    DBMM is a truly good game, hidden away in a text that could have been substantially rewritten and wrangled into a modern and much easier to use format. The ‘cottage industry’ mentality of WRG meant squeezing the word count and dispensing with niceties like pictures, examples, guidance and explanation.

    I do like Command & Colours as well for a giggle, but for me it is too constrained for me to enjoy multiple replays, with just a little too much randomness in the card play for my liking.

    Arguably Armati is one of the best representations of particular periods, but the tendency to discover on deployment reveal that you have lost, but have several hours to suffer through, doesn’t appeal much.

    I’ve also played Crusader recently, but frankly it just feels like a buckets of dice skirmish set, with very old fashioned mechanics.

    --An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --


    I vacillate between Hail Caesar and Impetus but have not tried Impetus 2. My basic requirements are for generally single base units and playable in 6mm with games generally in the 3-4 hour range, So far, those two work for me with both having merits if somewhat different.

    The tree of Life is self pruning.

    A Lot of Gaul

    I am also quite keen to try Age of Hannibal, since years ago I was a big fan of Chipco’s Fantasy Rules!, and AoH is built (with royalties paid) around many of the same mechanics as FR!.

    UPDATE: I recently ordered and received a coil-bound print copy of Age of Hannibal. After a few test plays, I find that they really strike a ‘sweet spot’ for me! Although the authors are particularly fond of the Punic Wars, the rules in fact cover the Classical period from the Peloponnesian war to the fall of Rome. For historical scenarios, army sizes can range from roughly 30 to 100 bases per side, but players are encouraged to use whatever size armies they already have.

    The rules are simple yet surprisingly subtle, with plenty of tactical depth and decision making opportunities. There are numerous special traits and abilities that add historical flavor for individual commanders and units. Although the rules author does prefer games based on historical scenarios (the rulebook includes scenarios for Issus, the Trebia and the Sabis), he has also included a simple points system for pick-up games. Very enjoyable!


    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field


    Cool! I, too, have just acquired ‘Age of Hannibal’. I’ve read through it but not yet played. However, I’m going to test drive it with 25/28mm figures based for Impetus. I’ll never have the space required to use the number of bases the rules seem to be aimed at. So, I’m looking at using Basic Impetus armies. A quick calculation indicates that a BI army is roughly 700 points in the AoH system. I like the simplicity of the mechanics, though, and I don’t think the reduction in the number of bases will make much difference. I’m not sure I like using D10s for combat and rallies–perhaps too much randomness there. I’m thinking about using 2D6. That should slow down the destruction of units by putting the average roll on a bell curve (around 7)–not a bad thing since I’ll only have ~15 units in an army rather than ~40. I’m not sure how it will affect rallying.

    Of course, since I’ve not even played a test game yet I’m just talkin’ out my arse! Can’t help but tinker!

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    A Lot of Gaul

    On page 16 there is an optional rule for decreasing randomness in AoH by using a d8 rather than a d10 for all close combat roles, so you may wish to try that as well.


    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    Steve Williams

    I still think my favourite ancient ruleset is still Vis Bellica I like the C&C and the big bases and the scouting and hidden movement. I am enjoying ADLG at the moment though as its simple,quick and lots of people I know play it so I can always get games

    telzy amber

    I liked WRG 5th and 6th. I played DBM through various and sundry versions. FoG which I didn’t like. I did like Comitatus v1 quite a bit. Comitatus v2 I couldn’t understand. I’m not really fond of ADLG but no one plays it, here.


    We still mainly play CnC Ancients on Hexon terrain with he odd diversion via Neil Thomas’s various Ancient rules offerings.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    Steve Burt

    Having gone through WRG 4th,5th,6th,7th,DBA, DBM, DBMM, Field of Glory, Hail Caesar, Strategos, Sword & Spear we’ve ended up with ‘To the Strongest’ as our go-to set. Unlike most of the other rules listed, you can actually finish a large ancients battle in a couple of hours, there are plenty of interesting player decisions, and it is fun. The grid and use of cards really speeds things up a lot.



    Having gone through WRG 4th,5th,6th,7th,DBA, DBM, DBMM, Field of Glory, Hail Caesar, Strategos, Sword & Spear we’ve ended up with ‘To the Strongest’ as our go-to set. Unlike most of the other rules listed, you can actually finish a large ancients battle in a couple of hours, there are plenty of interesting player decisions, and it is fun. The grid and use of cards really speeds things up a lot.


    I can’t say I have ever had any problem finishing a DBM or DBMM game in three hours. For good or ill…  but then I believe firmly in what Montrose said. ‘He either fears his fate too much, Or his deserts are small, That dares not put it to the touch. To gain or lose it all.’


    --An occasional wargames blog: http://aleadodyssey.blogspot.co.uk/ --


    Still playing Phil Sabin’s ‘Lost Battles.’ To answer the OP, because it fits with my idea of how an ancient battle was fought (which, I guess, is likely to be most people’s answer for their own preferred set). It takes a ‘grand tactical’ approach, so no ‘pilum chucking sub-phase’ etc. It is aimed at recreating historical battles with a variable scale so you can use as many figures as you like.

    Dave Knight

    Pulse of Battle, DBA and Lion Rampant

    I find that experimenting with diffwerent rule sets is fun

    Thaddeus Blanchette

    Odd that no one here has mentioned Triumph! from the Washington Grand Company. Triumph! seems to me to be DBA done right.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    Tony S

    Although I’ve tried quite a variety of rules, the only one I’ve consistently played and kept returning to for the last 20+ years has been DBA.  I’ve come to like Big Battle DBA more than the regular games, but for a fast, fun multiplayer campaign you can’t beat 12 element DBA!  The final third version of DBA is, IMHO, the best.

    That said, I’ll play Hail Caesar and To the Strongest for the occasional change.   (I actually like HC better than its predecessor Black Powder, but for some reason I can’t quite articulate, I like the ECW “For King & Parliament” more than its predecessor TtS).

    ian pillay

    Armati II gives a pretty good game, not sure if the rules are still available. It was these rules that got me into historical gaming during my youth at the local club.

    I like NT rules, AMW and those presented in wargaming an introduction. As mentioned previously, they fit on 4 sides of A4. Not hugely detailed but give a decent game utilising ‘standard’ basing so elements can be used for  a variety of other rules without rebasing.

    Good look on this particular foray!


    Tally-Ho! Check out my blog at…..

    Alan Hamilton

    We have been playing the same set of “Slim’s Rules” for over 50 years with very few modifications.  They were written by Slim (John) Mumford based on the (then) current wargame styles of Featherstone and Bath in particular.  We used lots of figures then and still do – Airfix, Garrison and Miniature Figurines 20mm.  My original forces were based Airfix Romans, Ancient Britons and converted US Cavalry, Bedouins and Robin Hood sets (the zoo sets provided zebras as mules, war elephants etc).  Lots of dice (d6), some manoeuvre until battle joined and, of course, simple and fun.

    PM me if you want a copy.


    My current favourite is Basic Impetus V2.  I’ve figured out its points system so the armies can be scaled up and additional troop types catered for.  it’s very cheap as a pdf…..and as most of the book is army lists you only need to cope with a few pages of rules in the game itself.

    It has flaws in layout, it has some dodgy translation.  However on the whole it works well and quickly….and is better than the original free V1.  Haven’t bothered to buy full version in its V2 edition because BI2 covers all you’ll need unless you’re wanting a tournament set.

    I’m also happy to play To the Strongest…..and have come up with a hybrid of this and BI2 for the smaller engagements common in the Dark Ages sic.

    There's 10 types of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.....

    Shaun Travers

    My favourite rules are Armati II, great game and difficult decisions throughout the game.  I have not played them in about 4-5 years though.  My own rules, Ancient Battlelines Clash, are really just an attempt to produce a solo friendly Armati II-like game that plays in about 20 minutes 🙂


    Of the generic rule sets for Ancient Warfare, I agree that Armati II are great. Much overlooked, and deserve better.

    My personal view is that most generic sets like DBx, Armati, Impetus even AMW etc were all originally written around the Classical period for Greece/Macedon/Rome and then expenaded outwards. They often give a good simulation for things like Successor battles, but otherwise there’s a bit of “Eh? What?” when you use them for others. They may work as a game, but I’m not sure they’re a great simulation.

    That’s why if I’m doing anything other than Classical Battles I prefer to tailor my rules to the period, and that’s also why I wrote a specific set for Sumerian Warfare and published them: https://wargaming4grownups.blogspot.com/p/wargaming-for-grownups-rules.html

    Nicholas Gaukroger

    After a bit of a break I refound my enthusiasm for ancients 18 months or so ago. Have been playing MeG (Mortem et Gloriam) since then. I like the interleaved movement system which keeps both players involved all the time and that you can play a game with lots of figures to a decision in a reasonable time.


    About a year ago I was introduced to Mark Lewis’ Sword & Spear rules, published by Great Escape games. I started GMing S&S games this past spring, and I like ’em.


    I like ’em because they play well in a club environment with up to 8 or 10 players in a game, keep everyone involved and entertained, and give a clear win-or-lose result in three hours of play on a club game night.

    The S&S rules are well written and understandable, explained with many examples of play. S&S covers all ancient and medieval periods, so may be too generic for specialists, but I think there’s enough chrome applied to the different troop types and army lists to distinguish Bronze Age from Early Iron or Classical. F’rinstance, chariots are not just cavalry with wheels, there are archery chariots vs spear chariots, tribal militia archers are different from regulars and so on. S&S are big-battle rules for big armies, they are not suitable for small skirmishes or pre-state warfare, and will require armies of c. 50 to 80 stands of figures per side. They are scale and mounting-agnostic, and can be played using any size figures mounted to any consistent system, although playing with bigger troop stands increases movement distances and shooting ranges, so requires a bigger playing area.

    As written, S&S is designed for one-on-one games, with a nod to multi-player. I hack the rules a bit for club play, by organizing my armies into multiple divisions, each with its own player-commander, and giving each commander his own set of activation/command dice which apply only to his own command.

    This is the first rule set in years that’s motivated me to bring out my large collection of WRG-mounted 15mm Bronze and Early Iron age armies and play with them. Here are a few snaps from the first scenario I ginned up, that I ran for two different local clubs, and they asked for more. It’s The Battle of Wawat, a pitched battle between a Memphite Egyptian army (just before early New Kingdom) and a Napatan Kushite army, to raise the Kushite siege of an Egyptian fortified town in disputed territory:


    The upcoming game will be The Battle of Mt. Gilboa – The Deaths of Saul and Jonathan. Philistines vs. Israelites for all the marbles.



    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    Deleted User

    I harbour an ambition to play a game of WAB. I can play it without looking at the books, it’s easy to understand and easy to learn, I’ve got all the rule books and supplements I’ll ever need.  I don’t have a lot of hobby time and I choose to spend that time collecting and painting, I’m just not that bothered about rules or even, dare I say it, playing games.  I like the spectacle and think of it as a tableau, take a few nice photos, then back in the box.



    Dave Hollin

    currently Age of Hannibal by LWTV although I developing my own ruleset for solo play

    Stephen Holmes

    I played Ancients as a secondary interest during the WRG numbered rules, and happily moved on to DBA. Then the rules-lawyer / micrometer brigade ruined DBA.

    Since then I’ve revisited Ancients about every 5 years.

    The last “dip” tried, and was disappointed by, Warmaster and Hail Caesar.

    Next time out I have To the Strongest / Sword and Spear on my wish list.

Viewing 28 posts - 121 through 148 (of 148 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.