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"Best Ancient/ Medieval rules for HUGE battles..." Topic

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15 Jan 2019 8:13 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Comments or corrections?

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2018 11:48 p.m. PST

When trying to recreate the largest of the Ancient & Medieval historical battles which rule set works the best.

As to "huge" let's say historical battles where both sides when combined totaled over 80,000 troops.

platypus01au17 Jun 2018 1:18 a.m. PST

Well, we've played 1000 AP battles using DBMM. With 3 or 4 people per side. That works out to around 250 elements a side. At the nominal scale that is ~60,000 troops a side.

Whole thing can be done in 3 to 4 hours if everyone knows the rules. We use an "object of power" that the CinC's exchange so everyone knows who's turn it is.

These games are the funnest games I have ever played. They really show what "fog of war" really is. Nothing like the look of horror on the CinC's face when a subgeneral meekly tells him that his flank is broken!


Winston Smith17 Jun 2018 5:42 a.m. PST

I would avoid Newbury "Fast Play" Ancients.
Trust me.

arsbelli17 Jun 2018 6:22 a.m. PST

To the Strongest! and Hail Caesar both work a treat for huge multi-player battles.

Personal logo Parzival Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 6:43 a.m. PST

Broad question. "Works the best" at what and for what? Two-player battles or multi-player battles? Units as single stands or as multiple stands? Units capable of altering formation while still being a distinct unit (thus, multi stand)? Are you trying to do the glorified chit thing, where a single stand is a unit of hundreds to thousands of men, using specific ratios, or are you just wanting something that "looks big"? (I presume for logistics sake, that you're not using 1:1 representation and/or individually based figures.)

For two-player, multi-stand maneuverable units that "look big," my favorite remains Warmaster/Warmaster Ancients. I know it can be done as a multiplayer game, but I've never tackled that myslf.

Dervel Fezian17 Jun 2018 6:53 a.m. PST

What Parzival said, best is relative.

I like Triumph! for Ancient and Medieval battles. It scales well so you can play it "zoomed out" with smaller armies representing larger per figure soldier counts or you can "zoom in" and use more maneuver elements to get more figures on the board.

I have used it for everything from Kadesh to Hydaspaes to Hastings. The rules are easy and fast enough to play a massive battle with two players and engaging enough to have teams play opposing commands. In the smallest scale it generates a result in about an hour, in triple size (my favorite zoom level) it plays in about 3 hours.

princeman17 Jun 2018 7:17 a.m. PST

To the Strongest and Tactica. We only play massive ancient battles with over 900 figures per game.

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 8:29 a.m. PST

Big Battle DBA. To date, I've played with up to 5 regular DBA armies per sideand the game plays quickly and smoothly.

pvernon Supporting Member of TMP17 Jun 2018 2:51 p.m. PST

For large battles I use "Art of War" by Rocky and Doug.

evilgong17 Jun 2018 6:55 p.m. PST


Martin Rapier17 Jun 2018 11:10 p.m. PST

Lost Battles is designed to fight huge historical battles, and tbh, so is Command and Colours Ancients.

Anything with elements and a variable ground and troop scale will do (One Hour Wargames anyone?).

But those first two are our go to sets for likes of Cannae etc.

Dexter Ward18 Jun 2018 2:30 a.m. PST

To the Strongest

10mm Wargaming18 Jun 2018 4:20 a.m. PST

I would recommend Hail Caesar Rules. Hope it helps.

As always, comments are appreciated.

Take care


Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP18 Jun 2018 8:41 a.m. PST

Glad to hear a couple votes for Hail Caesar. That's one of the rule sets I'm looking into.

BelgianRay04 Jan 2021 2:11 p.m. PST

Uesugi Kenshin wants to play historical battles not chess with DBM

blank frank09 Jan 2021 7:42 a.m. PST

If your looking to re-fight actual battles BBDBA is good for this purpose as it actually states what the troop size a base is, so you have a useful starting point for translating the numbers involved into elements. You still have to make a judgement on sizes of commands and sub generals.Here it can be quite difficult. Yes Lost Battles by the historian Phil Sabin is very good. He views his rules as tool to try and understand what actually happened in the battle.The command and colors ancients website is a great resource for ancient battles. I reckon every key battle is listed.

Asteroid X15 Jan 2021 10:57 p.m. PST

Whatever happened with the project?

nsolomon9901 Mar 2021 2:41 a.m. PST

To play large battles and get historical type results I would've that you'd really need rules with a strong command and control system. Something that might, insofar as is possible, replicate the historical command systems.

Since you want to play large battles that suggests you're prepared to commit more time and therefore you can accept some system more sophisticated that just rolling a D6 for pips.

nsolomon9901 Mar 2021 2:43 a.m. PST

To play large battles and get historical type results I would've that you'd really need rules with a strong command and control system. Something that might replicate the historical command systems.

Trebian Sponsoring Member of TMP01 Mar 2021 10:53 a.m. PST

As usual, everyone recommends their current favourite rules. The answer is that it's horse for courses, and depending upon the number of players the best answer is probably the simplest rules that you reckon everyone knows.

For over 10 years now I've been running big refights with my 1/72 plastics (that is, 12' long table with wall to wall figures more or less) when I can get everyone together on a bank holiday. For these games we use Neil Thomas' rules from "Ancient and Medieval Wargaming" with a few home grown tweaks. They're fast, and newbies will be comfortable with them inside 10 minutes. Here's a sample game from December 2019:


Beaky Nose10 Mar 2021 3:59 p.m. PST

To The Strongest and Hail Caesar work pretty good.

Riothamus28 Dec 2022 4:57 a.m. PST


greenknight4 Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Jan 2023 6:16 a.m. PST

Nice to see this thread come back.

Riothamus15 Jan 2023 11:31 a.m. PST

always a good idea to explore this

rhacelt31 Jan 2023 6:40 a.m. PST

I vote for Hail Caesar. It works with two players or twenty.

Tricorne197124 Apr 2023 9:40 a.m. PST

Usually have multiplayer games with several hundred figures per side on a 16" table. Our house version of Tactica seems to work best (enhanced morale rules, push-backs etc…). Tactica II has excellent points, but it does not work well for our large games that need to be completed in an evening without several amendments. I would still recommend the rules.

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