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    Avatar photoMike

    What is it about the very broad era does it for you?
    The cynic in me, from looking at games at shows and stuff would suggest it is just line up and march into melee and there the highest roller wins.

    Or is that mostly as I have seen 28mm armies of hundreds of figures on tables that will only allow a few inches of forward movement before contact?



    Hmm, when I was doing ancients, I was doing either 15mm DBA or 6mm Basic Impetus. What inspired me was partly the diversity of units and dress, plus the personalities involved.

    Avatar photoVictoria Dickson

    There’s a Rock/Paper/Scissors nature to the troops available, it’s not all rocks clashing against each other.

    The number of armies available.

    The variety of historical match ups between completely different army types is something you don’t really see much elsewhere, outside of Colonials.

    And they’re just so damn pretty. ūüôā


    Avatar photoPatrice

    You can do small skirmishes and adventures with Ancients as well as in any other historical or fantasy context.

    Last year we ran¬†short games at the¬†Miniature models convention in Lorient with two squads of Romans, a handful of gladiators in revolt, about twenty Germanic warriors, and some slave traders…¬†

    But it’s true that’s not what most Ancient players like to do.


    Avatar photoOB

    The history is fascinating, tactical variation massive and as noted above its pretty.




    Avatar photoRod Robertson

    Spectacle and diversity.

    Cheers and good gaming.

    Rod Robertson.

    Avatar photoRob young

    Can’t do everything.

    When I started in wargaming there was Airfix. My choice was basically WW2, ACW or Ancients. So I had lots of Airfix tanks, Romans and Ancient Britons. When I ‘found’ lead figures in 1970 I resented the thought of paying for lead WW2 figures but seemed quite happy about Greeks and Persians – those periods pretty much continued. Simply nothing else has managed to break their stranglehold.

    Rob Young

    Avatar photoMartinR

    Like any period, why not? Depends what you want from a game.

    Personally I  prefer refighting historical battles, and there were certainly plenty of those before the Dark Ages, even if our knowledge of some of them is maddeningly vague (which is of course half the fun, and a great excuse to field flaming pigs or camelphracts).


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


    All of the above!

    Avatar photoPatG

    The spectacle, love of the history, my ancestors painted themselves blue and collected heads….

    Avatar photoJohn D Salt

    The cynic in me, from looking at games at shows and stuff would suggest it is just line up and march into melee and there the highest roller wins.

    Or is that mostly as I have seen 28mm armies of hundreds of figures on tables that will only allow a few inches of forward movement before contact?

    In fairness, I have seen this “line up along the baseline and mutually advance” nonsense in all periods, although obviously after the invention of firearms a certain amount of shooting is expected before the melee. Although I find it an acutely daft proceeding in my own period (the cordite-and-spitzer era), it is perhaps not a complete misrepresentation of the way some of more clumsily-fought battles of history were conducted — a little command and control goes a long way when nobody has phones, or even Aldis lamps (classical reference to Julius Caesar there).

    The thing that makes ancients for me — as a mere dabbler in the period — is Phil Barker’s work of sheer quivering genius, “De Bellis Antiquitatis”. Having had various encounters with WRG Ancients (long the only Ancients game in town) from 4th edition onward, I was always disappointed by how little the tabletop battles seemed to resemble the maps in my much-thumbed copy of Arthur Banks’ “Atlas of Military History, Vol. 1, to 1500”. I also had little time for competition gaming, which used to account for a very large part ancents gaming — I was rather taken aback on my first visit to Exeter University’s wargames club to be pounced upon by a Greek law student who demanded my advice on the best 2,500-point army to beat Seleucids. When DBA arrived, not only had the points values gone, and all that tedious casualty-totting-up (or fatigue-totting-up, in seventh edition) with it, but the very highly streamlined and easy-to-get-into game produced results that seemed to resemble the battles in Banks’ atlas much more closely. Centres could be thrust through after an army’s formation had been disrupted, a flank could crumble, or the army could be worn down by a whirling cloud of light horse. For the price of a couple of quid and the time taken to read four pages of battle rules, here was four thousand years of military history served up on a plate. Quite shamelessly, I played DBA with counters, which, with some home-made measuring rulers and coloured card cut-ut terrain, did a good deal to preserve my sanity in hotels and compounds in Saudi Arabia. I also play Commands and Colours Ancients and WWW’s Ancients, both similarly simple games, and I really do intend to punch the counters on “Alexander’s Battles” one day soon, but DBA is what does it for me.

    As I am old enough for compulsory Latin, the classical history thing also appeals strongly to me. We were taught the origins of “a Laconic reply”, “a Parthian shot”, or “a Pyrrhic victory”, and the significance of the phrases “the die is cast” or “take these men for your example”, but the context comes much more alive when there’s a wargame in it, and Lake Trasimene makes a better game than it does Latin translation. And, while Western education until recently stressed the Greek and Latin roots of our culture and language, one need not spend long around ancients to start to see an even broader and more colourful canvas opening out. On one level, bar the odd flaming pig or fire-lance, the variety of ancient warfare is limited to hitting people with sticks, or throwing rocks or sticks at them. On the other, one has names to conjure with in the Abbasids, Akkadians, Achaemenids, Antigonids, Galatians, Gepids, Ilkhanids, Khazars, Pergamenes, Rhoxolani, Sarmatians and Skythians, and one can pick DBA armies from Africa, China, India, the Far East, or pre-Columbian America. There has been a certain amount of fuss lately about “decolonising the currculum” in history, and Oxford University has apparently just begun to appreciate the fact that quite a lot of history happened outside Europe; ancient wargamers have known about this forever.

    All the best,


    Avatar photowarwell

    I like to play with swords.

    And a cavalry charge is more fun when they’re not shooting bullets at you.


    Avatar photokyoteblue

    I love DBA and played the hell out of it for years, but DBM/M killed ancients locally. I moved on to FOW/ Team Yankee.

    Avatar photozippyfusenet

    I’m kinda iffy about ‘ancients’ in general, but I have a soft spot for chariots. A chariot is a sweet ride:


    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    Avatar photoRob young

    What’s not toi like about chariots?

    And elephants.

    Hit a ‘stopped’ phase over last few days so… started painting another general’s chariot. It was the only thing to do.

    Rob Young

    Avatar photoOB

    The rules journey is an interesting thing. ¬†I started off with WRG rolling through various incarnations all the way to the 7th edition. ¬†By then I had WRG fatigue. ¬†I loved DBA, was bored by DBM and liked DBMM. ¬†Nowadays I play Piquet variants and find them much more satisfying. ¬†For quick games I like Lion Rampant. ¬†Quite a change around but I’m happy with it.


    Avatar photoPatG

    Rules – An old version of WRG and some Airfix plastics got me back into gaming after decades away. This was followed by DBA2 and HotT then DBMM came out. While I enjoy DBA, DBMM played at the 100 or 200 point level really does it for me. It gets away from the 12 piece a side chess game while fixing some of the more egregious micromeasurement issues of DBA2. ¬†I will add I haven’t played DBA3 yet.

    Avatar photoDeuce

    It’s hard to say why I like ancients as opposed to any other period (it’s not the only period I collect, mind). One of the major factors is certainly that it’s a period I’m interested in anyway. If I don’t have that “spark” I just can’t get into the period: I need a bit of enthusiasm and excitement to keep me going and periods that have attracted my interest away from the gaming table are more likely to provide that. It probably helped that I’d been re-reading Robert Harris’s Cicero novels not long before Salute, which put the idea in my head.

    Ultimately I’m a collector at least as much as I’m a gamer, so the tactical possibilities of a period play second fiddle to the concept and aesthetics.

    If I was really trying to nail down a reason, beyond a vague “it appeals to me”, I might suggest that it’s the only pre-modern* period where uniforms are really standard. If you want “sword and shield” type gaming and uniforms, it’s either ancients or fantasy. There’s something rather satisfying, I think, about lines of identically-equipped Romans grinding over everything in their path – or conversely, if that’s not your thing, putting together a colourful army of Gauls or what have you and breaking up that uniformity a bit. There is a huge variety of troop types and options available, probably more than in any other gaming period (of course, the “Ancients” period is also by far the longest historical period, so that’s perhaps not surprising). In flavour terms, there’s something in it for everyone, I think.

    Because it’s less well-documented, too, it tends to attract slightly less anal types than the 18th century and Napoleonics, with a bit more freedom for individual expression, which makes it more attractive as a fun period.


    *By which I mean modern in the historical sense, not the wargaming sense.

    Avatar photoSane Max

    Interesting…. I would have said it is because I love Ancient History. But I am fond of most history, including wwii and I had not played a single wwii wargame until about 5 years ago.

    I suspect it’s because I started out gaming in Fantasy Roleplay. I first played a wargame as the end-point of a d&d campaign, in which each character was given control of a unit (and nearly all died hahaha) and Historical Wargaming seemed like the next step.

    Avatar photoPatG

    Oh and this had a lot to do with it:

    1. They cover about 75% of history, so there’s not very much else to choose.
    2. I can’t resist phalanxes (I play a lot of pike and shot too).
    3. Elephants, tartans, chariots, lots of big shields….
    4. The fact that you have to get up pretty close to affect your enemy, so there has to be lots of manoeuvre, rather than standing back and blasting each other with explosive shell, coupled with the limited communication technology, so it’s difficult and risky to do such manoeuvre.
    5. My actual name is Alexander.
    Avatar photoCameronian

    Variety mainly. They got elephants. Generally these days rules are either HOTT (so long ago seems like fantasy anyway) or Command and Colours using miniatures (bad decisions can be¬†blamed on the cards). They got elephants in case I didn’t mention it¬†

    'The time has come" The walrus said. "To talk of many things: Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--Of cabbages--and kings--And why the sea is boiling hot--And whether pigs have wings."

    Avatar photoA Lot of Gaul

    1. A longstanding fascination with Ancient military history and the colorful, larger-than-life personalities involved;

    2. The pleasure I find in researching, building, painting and ‘commanding’ Ancient armies;

    3. The sheer visual spectacle.

    P.S. Like PatG, the books by Peter Connolly were a tremendous early influence for me.

    P.P.S. Maintaining secure flanks and an unbroken battle line were in fact key factors in many Ancient battles. That being said, the ‘line up and roll dice’ phenomenon occurs in wargames of many different periods, and unless set up intentionally, simply reflects a mismatch between table size and the number of units involved.

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field


    Ah, Connolly! One of the great fantasy writers of our time!

    Avatar photoDeleted User

    I don’t do Fantasy & Ancients is as close as it comes for historical gamers.

    Magic, anyone? Heroic leadership. The civilisation-barbarism dichotomy. Oh and pointy sticks.



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