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"Rules to get started?" Topic

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von Erlach15 May 2019 2:15 a.m. PST

Hello there,
I was looking to get started with ancients (Republican Romans and Successors) in Baccus 6mm. I never played army level games, well except for a bit of WFB a couple of years ago, and I was wondering what rules could be nice to get started, not too complicated but still interesting.
I have a PDF for Warmaster Ancients, is it good?
I have also heard good things about Age of Hannibal, and heard a lot (good and bad) about DBA and its cousins.
Thanks for your time. :)

Dexter Ward15 May 2019 2:45 a.m. PST

WFB isn't an army level game – it's a big skirmish!
Warmaster Ancients is a great game but not terribly historical, and the cavalry basing is incompatible with any other set of rules.
DBA is a fantastic set of rules, and real army level game. Get the latest version (3) which comes as a hardback book and is considerably better explained than older versions.
Field of Glory is also a good set, but more complex.
Alternatively, our current favourite set is 'To the Strongest' which is great, easy to understand, and plays fast, using a gridded table; you could use a small table if using 6mm.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP15 May 2019 3:28 a.m. PST

You might consider "Conquerors and Kings" by Peter Pig RFCM .

Here is a battle report that might interest you.
Because it is played on a grid you can change the grid size to fit whatever figure size you are using.

PDF link

Dervel Fezian15 May 2019 4:17 a.m. PST

I have played a lot of different Ancient and Medieval rules over the years.

Starting from Chainmail, Warhammer Ancients, Tactica, DBA2.2, DBA 3.0, DBM, Medieval Warfare, Command and Colors… Etc…

I now use Triumph! for all my historical and fantasy mass battles.

I like them because not only are the rules very clearly written, they are straightforward enough that you play the battle not the rules.

Easy enough to teach new players and use for large convention battles and challenging enough to keep you coming back to play again.

Also, the historical army lists are available online in a searchable database.

McWong7315 May 2019 4:21 a.m. PST

Latest edition of DBA is a good starting point.

coopman15 May 2019 5:30 a.m. PST

DBA 3.0 or Triumph! would be my recommendations.

lkmjbc315 May 2019 6:08 a.m. PST

DBA 3 is your best starting point. It is is inexpensive, well supported, scales well, and has an active community backing it.

Lots of good videos on YouTube. Lots of supporting books and modifications…

Joe Collins

French Wargame Holidays15 May 2019 6:55 a.m. PST

Great army set in advanced Impetus, up to four commands, ideal for 6mm as you can field large armies, each base represents 500-800 men, so large battles look outstanding especially in the smaller scales. It is really good at representing the roman formations also, and rewards depth. I have seen a number of people use the 28mm base sizes to really amp up the visual size of a big battle

My two cents
Hercé Salon de Guerre
Mayenne, France
"Walk the battlefield in the morning, wargame it in the afternoon"

advocate15 May 2019 6:55 a.m. PST

I'd consider To the Strongest, if you don't mind playing on a grid
A simple set of rules with difficult decisions to make.
Because it's grid based, any basing scheme would work, but I would recommend 40mm frontage elements for 15mm or below, and 60mm for larger scales. That way you can use the troops for very many current rules.

parrskool15 May 2019 7:11 a.m. PST

It depends by what level you mean by "getting started". For beginners I suggest the Neil Thomas Ancient Wargames rules book. This is not only easy to understand, but gives you advice and a range of periods to try out. easily adaptable for all figure scales.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP15 May 2019 7:20 a.m. PST

I'll second "To the Strongest." We have played it quite a bit at the club. Easy to teach to complete noobs but makes for challenging decisions for the commander.

DBA leaves me cold. It is very, very abstract – all armies are exactly 12 stands, for example. And I like bigger games. 24 stands on a 2x2 field, with just a spot or two of terrain. No spectacle involved. And the die roll for Pips can dominate a game. Very easy to lose to the pip die.

williamb15 May 2019 7:24 a.m. PST

"Lost Battles" by professor Phil Sabin is a set of army level rules published in both paperback and hard cover. It includes orders of battle for quite a few engagements involving Republican Romans and the Successors. For Successor phalanx units I would recommend Rapier Miniatures over Baccus. Their pikes are less susceptible to bending and are held correctly as described by Polybius in his histories.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 May 2019 8:48 a.m. PST

We use Hail Caesar which is pretty easy – I would also agree with To the Strongest because although we don't play it members of the group who have played it at other places really like it

I also agree with Extra Crispy that DBA may not be the best set of rules for a beginner

jefritrout15 May 2019 12:43 p.m. PST

While I play mostly ADLG, I would be another voice for To The Strongest as a good beginning set of rules. Our club plays it quite a bit and enjoy the game. TTS also plays really quick.

lkmjbc315 May 2019 1:00 p.m. PST


All armies are exactly 12 stands…
Weird… the guys in this book must be playing it wrong!

Great Battles of History for DBA 3

Only two of the armies in the that whole scenario book are 12 elements!

The part about luck also seems wrong. The same folks win the major championships every year… this simply can't be the case if luck was the major factor.

Joe Collins

A Lot of Gaul15 May 2019 2:07 p.m. PST

@von Erlach,

You mentioned Age of Hannibal in your OP. I can confirm that AoH is an outstanding set of fast-play, army-level Ancients rules. It is straightforward and easy to learn, ideal for beginning players. The rules are designed for use with 6mm-15mm figures based on 40mm square stands, although larger figures can be accommodated with a few adjustments. The mechanics are simple, yet surprisingly subtle, with plenty of tactical depth and decision making opportunities.

Age of Hannibal includes all of the usual troop types, as well as a number of special abilities designed to match the capabilities of historical units. For example, Roman legionaries can throw pila and exchange units in combat. Commanders have an important role to play in bolstering unit combat performance and rallying disordered troops.

As the name implies, Age of Hannibal works very well for the Punic Wars. Although designed primarily for scenario-based play, AoH also includes a points system for pick-up games. The rules are fast, furious, and tremendously fun to play. For more information and a video AAR for the Battle of the Trebia, check out the AoH page at the Little Wars TV web site: link

P.S. I am not a WFB player, but Warhammer Ancient Battles – which is based on WFB 5th edition – sure looks like an army level game to me: TMP link

Dexter Ward16 May 2019 2:46 a.m. PST

Warhammer Ancient Battles is not an army level game; look at the missile ranges. Bowshot in real life is roughly the same as the frontage of a typical unit (as it is in DBA, Field of Glory, To the Strongest, et al). Bowshot in WAB reaches two feet – consistent with the units being at about 1:10 scale. Either that or you are going to need a very big table to field a dozen units each two feet wide. There are also no command and control restrictions of any kind; again not consistent with an army level game.

williamb16 May 2019 8:16 a.m. PST

The book you are referring to is for historical battles. Otherwise, per the rules all armies are twelve bases. DBA is definitely not about luck, but it is also not for beginners unless there ae people knowledgeable about the rules to help them learn. The major advantage of DBA is that armies are small and don't require a lot of figures.

A Lot of Gaul16 May 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

Dexter Ward wrote: "Warhammer Ancient Battles is not an army level game; look at the missile ranges. Bowshot in real life is roughly the same as the frontage of a typical unit (as it is in DBA, Field of Glory, To the Strongest, et al). Bowshot in WAB reaches two feet – consistent with the units being at about 1:10 scale."

In the ancient world, a "typical" unit could vary in width from 8-16 yards (approximately 7-14 m, depending on depth) for a Macedonian syntagma or 10-12 yards (9-11 m) for a Middle Republican Roman maniple, up to 60 yards (54 m) for a Late Republican Roman cohort. Clearly much depends on what is meant by a "typical" unit in "real life."

The maximum range for an ancient composite recurve bow in "real life" is usually estimated at approximately 200-250 yards (180-225 m). That is 20 times the average width of a Macedonian syntagma or a Middle Republican Roman maniple, 4 times the width of a Late Republican Roman cohort, or roughly equivalent to the width of an entire Late Republican Roman legion deployed 4 cohorts wide in triplex acies.

In games terms…

In DBA 3.0, an "element" (i.e. unit) is defined as a single base of figures, and "in the standard game, each element represents 1/12 of the army, whatever its size." Bow range is given as 3 Base Widths (BW). So in DBA 3.0 terms, bow range is 3 times the width of a "typical" unit.

In Field of Glory (FoG), a unit can be anything from 2 to 6 bases wide (80-240 mm using 15 mm figures), while effective bow range is 4 Movement Units (MU), or 4" (100 mm). So in FoG, bow range is 0.41-1.25 times the width of a "typical" unit.

In To the Strongest (TsT), a unit is 1 square wide, while bow range is 2 squares. So in TsT, bow range is 2 times the width of a "typical" unit.

In Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB), a "typical" unit using 25/28 mm figures is 8-12 figures (160-240 mm) wide, while bow range is 24" (600 mm). So in WAB, bow range is 2.5-3.75 times the width of a "typical" unit, which on average is quite similar to DBA 3.0. In other words, the bow range is longer in WAB, but the units and playing surface are also proportionally larger.

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