Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Year end round up

The end of year has rolled around far too soon, yet again.  I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking that...

In some ways it wasn't such a great year for hobby stuff. I have barely managed to paint 100 figures, but did get a complete Pompeian army out of these by combining them with some previously painted figures I got from a purchase a couple of years ago.  I suppose one new game-able army is better than nothing!

In other respects though it wasn't a bad year; there was a period when gaming didn't seem very important, but after getting through that and recovering some enthusiasm I've probably developed a more philosophical attitude to the whole shebang. One thing that came out of it was the decision to just do what I want to do and not put pressure on myself by committing to anything that might end up seeming like work.

Other good things are that the youngest is now old enough to be trusted around miniatures, and he's turned out to be quite interested in models and what not. This last week I've made up three 1/100 Spitfires for him and the girls and they've enjoyed playing around with those.

Although not so enamoured of figures, the girls have come to love 'basic' Dungeonquest, so it's a lovely time. Our eldest is pretty good at Othello and I think she's going to have a good analytical head on her.

I was lucky enough to get a few good games in. Ones that stand out are the spectacular Modern Spearhead game that Luke hosted for Pat and I in January, and the multiplayer game of Machiavelli that we got in about the same time. I also have a PBEM Russian front game on the go with a fellow blogger - which is proving to be both a headscratcher and a lot of fun - and earlier in the year there were a couple of good 6th Fleet scenarios played out with Brad from Hexsides and Handgrenades.

There wasn't time enough to meet up with fellow gamers Pat and Luke much this year which is something that I regret, but when we did get together it was well worth it. Hopefully we can make a bit more of it happen in 2015.

On the blogging front, there was a dry spell, but the continued support from readers has been overwhelming. I started this blog as a way to document what I'd done and motivate myself to improve my painting enough for it to be photographed, but it's ended up becoming a hobby unto itself. There are too many people to be able to thank you all individually for your comments and encouragement, but it has been and continues to be much appreciated.

Anyway, to finish, I quickly painted some Xyston Thebans to get me over the hundred minis mark for the year, and with a few more to do yet it would be nice to get an army done in the New Year sometime.

BTW, those are clubs on the shields, not chicken drumsticks ;-)

And one of the boy learning how to prep from some grumpy old man...

Happy New Year to you all, and I hope 2015 brings you health, wealth and good things in great abundance.


Friday, December 26, 2014

Varnish in the Boxing Day sun...

Nothing like the smell of varnish on a crisp morning!  Hope everyone had a great Christmas, and all the best to you for the new year.

Monday, December 22, 2014

W.I.P: Cataphracts

After a discussion on the SoA forum that touched on the battle of Magnesia, I was tempted to set up the table last night for another go of the Lost Battles scenario. In looking at the OOB I remembered that I still needed to paint up a couple of units of QRF cataphracts that I had bought for this very battle a few years ago.

Fortunately, half of them were already primed, so I thought I might quickly paint them up and do the battle over the New Year break.

I'm trying a different technique for the armour: metallic paints followed by a wash of Tamiya smoke mixed with a little black.  I'm now in the process of painting in the details, but I think it works better than the gray undercoat and wash which I use for lorica hamata and similar.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hard times for model shops.

I popped into the local Ma and Pa plastic model shop in town the other day to have a browse and a wee chat with the owner. I got put onto him ages ago by a mate who used to build the odd Normandy diorama, and over the years we've got reasonably friendly. As my only local hobby contact, I look forward to our occasional conversations about painting, kitsets or terrain. He has masses of stock and even though I don't build plastic models I can get lost in there looking at what he's got in or what he's currently building and thirty minutes will go by in a flash.  He's a really nice guy, so I always try and buy a few things from him when I'm in that part of town; flock, paint brushes and such like.

Anyway, I must have caught him on a bad day, because when I asked how things were going he replied with uncharacteristic seriousness. It turns out that business is bad going on worse, and that it has got to the stage that his sons are not interesting in continuing with the store when he retires. Ten to fifteen years ago, he reckoned, he used to have a lot of customers through his shop, mostly children, and mostly on weekends. They'd get model kits as presents and spend their pocket money to get more, they'd ask to look at the displays he has, would ask for advice on building and painting, and would use the track he has set up for radio controlled cars. Nowadays, by contrast, the children don't come in at all. The customers he does get are all largely adult males who were once modellers as children.

To lighten the mood he joked that I could take over the store when he was gone, but he may have been a bit more serious than he let on.

We nattered on for a while and in commiserating with him I asked whether he had tried selling through the local version of ebay.  He shook his head and said that he didn't want to do it because a) he likes talking to his customers, not just selling to them, and b) some internet buyers can be very demanding, and that dealing with those kinds of people is exhausting and can put your reputation at risk.

There wasn't much I could say to cheer him up, but I agreed with him wholeheartedly that it was very sad to see a once-popular and much-loved hobby no longer able to compete for attention against other forms of entertainment.

It made me think about our own hobby. I'm not much of a proselytizer for wargaming, but I would hate to see wargaming going the same way.  The thing wargaming has in its favour over modelling is that it is a broad hobby with many facets to it.  There's room for the modeller, the painter (and the painting services user...) the  casual gamer and the competitive gamer. You can be a rules writer or a rules lawyer; a social type or a misanthrope. It's not only about building things, but also about using them in an imaginative way, and I think there is more satisfaction to be had in employing your troops on a tabletop than there is in only seeing them on display in a glass case.

And what about the no kids situation? I don't know if this is such a big problem with wargaming.  My parents were not wargamers, and with the odd exception, nor were the parents or relatives of my wargaming buddies. I came to organised wargaming (ie, with rules and self-painted figures and whatnot) in my early thirties, when I had some disposable income and less desire to spend that income on nights out on the tiles.

So, while my friend's hobby store situation is a cautionary tale, I don't think wargaming needs to worry just yet.

But I'd like to throw this open to readers.

Is there a correlation between model making and wargaming?  Does it worry you if associated hobbies start to feel the pinch?  Are kids of your acquaintance interested in  modelling or wargaming?

Are wargaming parents important? In your experience, are they a pathway into the hobby for youngsters?

It would be good to hear your thoughts.

To finish on a happier note, here is what I got from the model shop the other day. 1/700 buildings, dirt cheap, that will work splendidly with my 1/300 figures. I would never have found these over the internet, and in my view any hobby would be much the poorer without people like my model shop mate who keep things going with their knowledge and enthusiasm.

Dux Bellorum, Shipwreck and DBA 3.0

Well, our long-awaited, oft-delayed game day finally happened today.  Luke brought down some Dark Age figures and we had a crack at a few new sets of rules.

First up was Dux Bellorum. Luke took the Romano Brits with their cavalry while I took the Saxons with their, well, lack of it.  [Edit - see Luke's account of the day here]

The table was fairly open, with a bit of wood on my right and a hill for Luke's shieldwall (low aggression but hard to hit) to sit on. As my men were warriors (high aggression and cohesion but not so great in the protection stakes) the plan was to advance forward in two groups with a flank guard on each respective end and we'd see what happened

Opening deployment. Saxons on the right.
It started off reasonably well as we drove off one lot of cavalry on our left, but wasn't so flash on the right, where we got the worst of the opening exchanges as the noble Romano-Brit cavalry ploughed into our lower quality types. We did sneak our flack guard around the side, but it didn't seem to help much.

Ouch - 6 hits to 2 on our right. Not pretty!
We were starting to take some casualties from Luke's lone unit of bow, so the call came to rush the hill using our quality and numbers to win there while we held off the horse on our right as long as we could.

More carnage on our right, and not in a good way...
Our attack on the centre and left met with good initial success, destroying the flank guard horse and the bows in the first two turns.  It was harder going against the shieldwall on the hill, but our numbers would tell, it was to be hoped...

The fight for the hill commences.
The race against time... whose flank will win first?
At this stage there was some defeatest talk from the Romano-Brit side of the table, but I would hear none of it, sagely reminding our guest that I had form when it came to losing the unloseable.

Our right held out just long enough - even killing off a unit of horse - for us to get into superb position against the spears on the hill.

Three units converge on the left flank of the poor spearmen on the hill.
One more hit on the spear would force a bravery test for the Roman remnants and swing the game our way.  Sadly for us, a champion arose, and the spearmen resisted all 11 of our attacks.  On their own strikes, the spearmen then hit with 2 out of their 3 and pushed us back instead.

You've got to be joking!!
Their cavalry then charged home with zest on the other flank, destroying two units in one turn and forcing the decisive bravery test for a famous Romano-Brit victory!

Arthur? Arthur Pendragon? Is that you?
It was a thoroughly enjoyable game. It's not often I find myself making battle noises, but I'm afraid I was guilty of it in this game. It was so good I didn't even mind losing the (apparently) unloseable yet again!

Second game was Shipwreck. Unfortunately, we didn't get very far because we seemed to be on different wavelengths from the designer and just couldn't make sense of apparent discrepancies. After about 90 minutes we decided we'd try something else.

And so we turned to DBA 3.0.

I took the Saxons again, but we couldn't effectively guard our open flank against the Armorican horse and got beaten soundly in this terrain.

Rinse and repeat (should probably have changed the terrain!).

So, three games down and my poor Saxons had taken a hammering.  We decided it was time to bring out the bigger guns - DBA 3.0 in double scale.

This looks more like a battle!
Despite some uninspired camp placement from myself as the Gauls (actually, let's not stop there, it wasn't only the camp that was deployed averagely by the Gallic host...), it was nothing that a few good combat dice couldn't remedy.

Romans advance and outflank us with psiloi on the left.

Lines clash, Gauls get pushed back.

Lines clash some more...

We get an overlap, roll three good dice and three Roman units, including the commander, die...
So, a great day's gaming, and thanks to Luke for making the trip down.

As a final word, I do like Dux Bellorum, but I don't think I'll upgrade to DBA 3.0. It's not a game I'm going to play solo (I still haven't played 2.2, which I went to much effort to track down a copy of a couple of years ago!), but it is nice to have a battlefield uncluttered by markers.  It'll likely be a 'play other people's copies' type of game.  That said, my shelves bear silent testament to the 'oh well, just buy it anyway!' attitude, so I may relent in future.

The other major thing to take away from today's session is the need to get some Shipwreck clarifications.  We really want to get this game working.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dux Bellorum game

With a game day up tomorrow I decided that I'd better actually learn the rules we're going to play, so with that in mind I had to pack up Ukraine '44 and get Dux Bellorum to the table.

My Dark Age armies are not yet painted, so I used Gauls and Romans (of the Caesarian variety) to test the rules out.

Initial impressions are positive. There's room for skillful play and it is about the same level of complexity as Basic Impetus. It seems to include the things I liked about Basic Impetus (smaller game, discrete units, fast-ish play) while removing the things I didn't like so much (those nasty post-melee tests!).

What does concern me though is the balance between the various troop types. Will have to look at the odds a bit more closely and play a few more games before coming to any conclusions however.

This game was played out of period of course, but it still seemed to work OK.

Here are a few shots (the little flocked things with arrows/spears in them are casualty markers; the other green disks mark Leadership Points):

I also did a stop motion video of the action which you can see here:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ukraine '44, turns 3 and 4.

Here's some more of the action from my solo game of MMP's Ukraine '44.

(Note, all photos can be enlarged by clicking on them)

Picking up where we left off here, the Germans continue to fall back in the eastern sector under Soviet pressure. Panzer divisions are used to keep the corridor to the west open and maintain control of the all-important road junctions, vital for supply.

The Soviets continue to press the ever-shrinking German perimeter, making gains west of Terabovlya and contesting Kopychintsy.

With their supply roads under threat, the Germans mount an efficient counter-attack north of Chertkov, destroying one Soviet division and opening a gap in the line which the Soviets will have to divert forces to plug, 

Elsewhere the pull back continues.

After the attack, German motorized divisions in the western areas reorder to defend the Chertkov-Kopychintsy line and those in the east that can be safely pulled out of the defensive perimeter withdraw into a more central position.

The Soviets continue their advance, making headway all along the line, putting particular pressure on in the north.

Successful Soviet attacks destroy two infantry divisions and open up three clear avenues of advance. An assault in the south forces the defenders out of Brichen Sat, while the siege of Ternopol continues in the north.

The German road network is now under direct threat. If they wish to keep the ground supply corridor to the east open, the reserve panzer divisions will need to be committed to the front lines around Kopychintsy immediately.

Map of the area.  Boxes show where the key struggles are underway.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A good week

This has been a fine week on the gaming front.

First off, a Japanese game designer whose work I greatly admire got in touch and in passing invited me to attend a Kyoto playtest session of his newest design. Unfortunately, work commitments meant that I couldn't make it this time around, but he invited me to go along to another session next year. I'm quietly thrilled about this, to put it mildly.

Second, I managed to win a copy of Victory Games' 2nd Fleet in an auction the other night. I've played a few Vassal games of Sixth fleet with Brad from Hexsides and Handgrenades, so I was pretty pleased to be able to find another in the series at a reasonable price.

Thirdly, Ukraine '44 has been on the table this week and it's been most enjoyable moving pieces around and seeing how the game ticks. It's just the level I like to play - operational, lots of manoeuvre, both sides have different strengths and weaknesses, you can keep all the rules in your head, there's plenty to think about strategically, and yet it's over and done with fairly quickly.

Fourth, an old Commands and Colors: Ancients offsider dropped me a line about Ukraine '44 and we've decided to crank up the Vassal engine for a PBEM game.

Fifthly, after spending some time with Simon Miller's To the Strongest! rules, I'm inspired to sit down with my own grid/card ideas and try to pull them into better shape. It would be nice to put on another multiplayer game next year.

Good point the sixth, an associate (who shall remain nameless at this point) is sneaking a day off work on Monday to come down for some ancients gaming.  One (or perhaps more) of DBA 3.0, Sword and Spear, To the Strongest! or Dux Bellorum will get on the table, and we hope to finish things off with a debut game of the modern naval rules, Shipwreck.

All in all, things could be much worse!

Finally - and this is not game related - I've rediscovered an old batch of tapes filled with songs recorded on acoustic guitar and an old four track from around 2001-2003. After listening to a few bits and pieces, it may turn out that some of them will be worth revisiting. It's quite nice to find a snapshot of one's younger self and not be entirely embarrassed by it!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ukraine '44, turns 1 and 2.

Details of my solo game of Ukraine '44.

Turn 1 - Soviets attack all along the line east to west, while driving north to south in an attempt to reach the Dnestr.

Turn 2 - Germans pull back and try to set up a defensive line to hold a line north to south and prevent a breakthrough to the Dnestr.

Soviets test for cracks in the line, besiege Ternapol in the north, and look to isolate the defending Germans south of the Dnestr.

Minor losses on both sides.

Turns three and four continue here.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Learning Rules

Well, given that I teach for a living, you might think that I would say that!

Nonetheless, I find that learning rules generally pretty much sucks. I have a four stage process that I seem to follow. It starts with irritation, proceeds quickly to outright disdain but will, if I play the game a few times, likely gradually turn into grudging admiration, and assuming I continue to  play, become a lapdoggish sycophancy which causes me to growl if anyone says a bad word against either the designer or the designed.

It therefore fills me with suspicion on those rare occasion when I do find a ruleset that I like from the outset. As you can perhaps guess, I encountered this rarety last night. The game is Ukraine '44, by Yasushi Nakaguro, published by MMP, and on the topic of the Kamenets-Podolsky, or Hube's, pocket.

Map is a screenshot taken from here.

The rules are short, very clean (ie, you don't need to download screes of errata), and they make excellent sense. It's true that they are very much standard hex and counter with few bells and whistles, but the little things that have been added really appeal.

For example, the game keeps unit strength hidden. Units are placed on map on their generic side which shows just nationality and unit type, and they are only turned over when a combat is declared. After the combat they are turned back to their generic side again.

Simple but effective.

As another example, unit stamina is variable and losses incremental. It's not your standard 'take one hit, flip counter; take a second, remove counter' system. If your unit has, say, 6 steps, you simply record losses by means of a marker hidden under the unit counter.

Again, simple and effective.

In bigger games this would seem like an invitation to counter clutter, but as in this game there is a stacking limit of only one unit per hex, it is not a problem here at all.

The third thing I like is the combat system. It looks like your usual CRT is in play (calculate odds, find column, roll die, apply results) but it's not.

It includes flanking - which gives a positive or negative die roll modifier - and lovely rules for when odds are lesser or greater than those on the CRT. In most games, odds over of the maximum on the CRT (in this case 4:1) would be wasted. Here, they are not; a 5-1 simply means that you add a 1 to your die roll. A 7-1 means that you add 3.

Once more, simple, effective, and this time intuitive to boot!

There's more to this CRT than meets the eye...

Anyway, having apparently skipped most of the rules learning process and jumped immediately to the lapdog sycophancy stage, I've set the map up, and I'm genuinely excited about giving it a whirl. The only problem I can see for a solo game is what to do about the hidden unit strengths.

Do I...

a) Play it as is, allowing both sides to check their counter strengths during their own moves, and then try to forget that information during the other side's turn.
b) Play it as is, but don't allow myself to check the counter strengths until combat is declared.
c) Play it with the counter strengths revealed throughout.

I'm leaning towards C, but I think I'll first have a browse on boardgamegeek and see if anyone else has tried to play solo and see what they did.

And the reason why I can actually play a game?  Because I spend the weekend putting in a new wall of shelves in the little closet room we have off the master bedroom, meaning that a lot of the junk that was cluttering up the hobby room floor space could be moved in there instead.

Happy days!

I put together a shelf, but do you think they call me the shelf maker? No...

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Back in Japan!

It's nice to be back in Japan.

I've just returned from a month in New Zealand visiting my parents and attending my sister's wedding. It was not a planned visit, but the old man got some bad news about his health recently and my wife and I thought that it would be good if I went back to spend a bit of time with them and give a hand where I could.

Thankfully, the old man is doing much better than the initial prognosis suggested. They were told he had an inoperable brain tumour but when they sent him up to Wellington for a biopsy the doctor who was going to do it turned out to be a German chap who had only been in the country for three weeks; he took a look, said 'blow the biopsy, I'll take the whole thing out' and, bless him, he did. The old man's not quite in the clear yet - there's another one in his lung to take care of as well - but he's looking good and there's a lot more hope for him than there was five weeks ago.

While I was over there I helped the folks to 'rationalise' some of the items they had about the place or in storage. I did the same to my books and LPs, which gave me a good chance to look over what I have there. It would be nice to be able to put the books up on some shelves again and crank up the old record player! Still, one day...

In other good news, my wife and kids came over for the last ten days or so of my visit, and it was great for them to be able to experience a bit of the Kiwi lifestyle without being overly busy. They enjoyed it, and my parents loved having the chance to get to know their Japanese grandkids better.

To top it off, on returning here I found a couple of wargaming books from the Book Depository plus a box from a TMPer who was looking to get rid of some 15mm Byzantines had arrived. I now know why the shipping for the figures was reasonably hefty: it's a massive haul! There are Late Romans, Assyrians, and all kinds of bits and pieces in addition to said Byzantines. Here is a picture of them as I start to sort them out.

The box was chock-full of Tabletop Games, Minifigs, Asgard, Viking Forge, Essex and various others figures I'm not yet sure of the make of. Happy days!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pompeians done.

Well, it can be done - even after all motivation seems to have been lost and all inspiration gone, something can for some mysterious reason click!  The quick pace was mainly due to the fact that all but 76 of these were already painted, and so most just needed touching up and bringing into line.

The basing is to allow 16 'average' units of 18 men for  Lost Battles. They will be matched for Civil War battles by Caesarians having 16 units of 'veteran' units of 12, with a few extras to top some up to 'average' size as needed for larger battles against a common foe.

Nice to have another army done.

The cavalry will be drawn from my Gauls, Republican Romans, Numidians and, once they are painted, my Greek/Eastern types.

I'm going to be away for a month after this and don't expect to be able to blog much in that time, so will probably see you all in November at some stage.

Until then, cheers, and many thanks for all the encouragement you chaps have provided as I try to get back into the swing of things again.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Outline of Bill Butler's Scutarii Rules

Scutarii 2nd Edition (2014) is a set of wargames rules for ancient battles written by William (Bill) Butler and published by Hoplite Research.

Disclaimer (or laying my cards on the table): I know Bill through the Lost Battles group, and when I heard that he had some rules coming out I offered to write up a battle report and post it here. Unfortunately, I have not yet had a chance to put on a battle, but I thought I would do a quick outline of the rules in the meantime. The copy of the rules I have is the final play-test version, so there may be some changes between this and the published version.


One turn is equivalent to about 15 minutes, and when using 40mm frontage bases one inch on the table equates to 50 paces. Each base usually represents around 500 men, though this may go as low as 300 or as high as 600.

The game can be played using all figure scales and caters for the standard basing systems.

Unit classifications

Units can be in open or close order, and are classified by movement type (mounted, foot, naval), defense factor (based on armour), melee factor (based on weapons), missile factor (bow, sling or artillery), training (drilled, undrilled, fanatic and so on, rendered as a morale factor) and morale grade (elite, average, poor, Roman trained, which modify the melee factor).

A unit of triari might, for example, be classed as follows:

Move: 300 paces
Attack: 4
Defence: 6
Morale Factor: 10
Notes: drilled, elite

This means that the unit will move 6 inches, roll 4 d10 on attack, require enemy units to roll higher than 6 to score a hit on it, when fresh will successfully pass morale tests on a d10 score of 10 or less, can make formation changes, and will get a +1 on attack dice rolls.

Turn order

The turn order is fairly standard, though melee is simultaneous and conducted up to twice per turn. Morale checks are taken before movement, so this becomes an important consideration in deciding who will move first.

  • Initiative (decided by die roll or scenario rules). Winner decides whether to move first or second.

  • Army moving first conducts morale checks as needed.
  • Army moving first moves and conducts missile fire. Non-moving side conducts defensive fire.
  • Both sides resolve melee combat for units in contact with the enemy.

  • Army moving second conducts morale checks as needed.
  • Army moving second moves and conducts missile fire. Non-moving side conducts defensive fire.
  • Both sides resolve melee combat for units in contact.

  • Repeat the cycle.

In combat, units roll a number of d10s equal to their attack factor. Results higher than the target's defense factor cause a hit. As you might expect, there are modifiers that may apply here, either by adding or subtracting attack dice or by modifying the defense factor. Missile combat follows the same process but is less effective against some types of troops than others. For example, open order troops get a saving throw when hit.

When engaging multiple enemy units attack dice are apportioned as evenly as possible between those units.

Depending on the depth of the formation adopted, friendly units may be able to share out hits amongst troops behind the front line.

Roman units have certain advantages. They get a pila bonus when fighting other infantry, they are able to conduct line relief, and they do not get overlap bonuses against them. On the minus side, they may not distribute hits to the units behind.

Aside from usual outflanking tactics, key in-game tactics seems to be to get overlaps (ie, side support) against enemy units thereby allowing more dice to be brought to bear, and by exploiting disorganised units, which melee with only half their usual attack dice and cannot share out hits amongst other friendly units.

In defense, depth and mutually supporting units are rewarded.*

* Without playing the game it is difficult for me to properly assess combat, so I will need to return with more comments at a later time.


As units take hits or are put into stressful situations they will at various times be obliged to take morale tests against their morale factor. If the d10 score is higher than the morale factor, the test is failed. The morale factor is modified by various considerations such as the number of hits that the unit has taken, proximity to routers or, more positively, to a friendly commander.

A failed morale test causes a unit to become shaken or to rout immediately. If it fails a test while already shaken, the unit will certainly rout. Units do not recover from their shaken or routed state unless rallied by a general within 100 paces (20cms), and units may not recover hits, so a unit which has taken more hits than it has morale factor is destroyed.

In an interesting twist, units which score very low on their morale test can become enthusiastic. enthusiastic units, as the appellation suggests, have their blood up and are eager to get to grips to the enemy. This has both positive and negative aspects to it!

Disorganisation and recovery

As mentioned, disorganised units are far less effective in combat than fresh units. Disorganisation occurs as a result of being on bad terrain, being shaken, evading, being contacted by terrifying enemy or not charging and not making contact.

Units recover from disorganisation by remaining stationary and 100 paces or more fromenemy units.


An army wins by driving the other from the field or, where the field is shared, by a points system.

Units and formations

Most units will be comprised of four bases in double rank* of one base, but options exist for using more bases in a unit. The game supports some formations, but in most cases these will be open order or closed order.

* Thanks to the rules author for pointing out my error.

Points and scenarios

The game includes a points system and a number of scenarios for a few well known battles such as Bibracte and Asculum. There are no army lists, but the author includes suggestions on how to convert army lists from other rules systems.


These rules are for people who already know a reasonable amount about ancient warfare and who want a toolkit for devising their own scenarios for casual or convention play. The rules give scenario designers flexibility, support multi-player games, and with experience are said to play to conclusion in around three hours.

The interactions seem to be in line with those of other rule sets, with victory going to the side that can best exploit its advantages to wear down the enemy and then induce a final, contagious rout. Reports on the yahoo group suggest that turn order can be crucial as the game enters its final stages, and being able to force the enemy to test morale before one's own tests are due can make a big difference to the outcome of closely-fought contests.

My impression is that the rules come from a do-it-yourself mentality; that players who share this mentality will enjoy the rules and be able to use them to suit their own style of game; that if you want competition games and cast-iron interpretations this will probably not be the ruleset for you.

Regarding rules completeness, the play-test copy implies rather than spells out a couple of key points, namely how a unit is destroyed (the answer is by taking more hits than its morale factor and thus being unable to rally) and whether the d10 is valued at 0-9 or 1-10 (the answer is 1-10).

Given this, it is possible that other rules questions will come up during play, but Bill responds quickly and supports the game as best he can through the yahoo group and by email, so I don't think that gaps in the rules or errata will be much of a problem.


The rules can be bought in hardcopy from Lulu for US$30. At this stage they are not available in an e-publishing format.

In the US you can also order Scutarii from On Military Matters.

Support can be found on the yahoo group Domus Scutarii, where Bill will happily answer any questions you might have.

Want-to-play factor

I am keen to give these a go. All that I require is space, gaming motivation, an opponent and a duty free weekend!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pompeians continue apace.

Am now a quarter of the way through the Pompeians (or, as required, the blue army). Still need to be flocked, obviously.

This is what's left to complete the blues. I hope to take advantage of my recent good run and get through them before I take off for NZ next week, but that may be a little optimistic. We'll have to see how the stocks of gin and soda water hold out!

And the Caesarians (or, as the case may be, the Red army) still to do. Pshaw! Almost finished ;-)

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