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"Ancient and Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas" Topic

Ancient and Medieval Wargaming

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Who asked this joker28 Apr 2008 10:41 a.m. PST

I just picked up Ancient and Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas. This is a review of the book.

The book is a complete wargame package divided into four sections. Each section deals with an era of antiquity. They are as follows:

Dark Ages

Each section is divided into five chapters. The first chapter is a historical overview of the era. It deals with the political and historical motivations of the combatants of the time.

The second section is a chapter on wargaming in the era. The troop types are defined here and the rational behind each troop is explained as well.

The third chapter is the rules themselves. These are basic rules for wargaming using miniatures for any scale. They are outlined as follows:

Each unit is comprised of four bases deployed in two ranks. A base is removed whenever 4 hits are recorded. Hits are carried over from turn to turn so you will need markers numbered from 1-3 to mark excess hits. When the fourth base is removed, the unit is eliminated.

The turn sequence is as follows:
Phase 1 Charge Phase where all charge movement is done
Declare charges
Move Chargers
Defensive fire
Melee contact

Phase 2 Regular movement
Move all units that don't charge

Phase 3 Fire bow armed troops

Phase 4 Melee

Phase 5 Morale Checks for melee

Movement is a simple affair. Each unit has a certain amount of movement points in cm for 15mm figures. The must move straight ahead but can make upto a 30 degree wheel at no cost. Any more (including about face costs a half move). Light troops can make a wheel for free.

Missile fire is done by rolling 1 die per stand against a target in range. For each 4+ scored, one hit is recorded. The target gets a saving throw to negate the hit. As mentioned before, 4 hits causes 1 stand removal. With the exception of the biblical period, missile fire does not cause a morale check.

Melee occurs between units in contact. It is worked out in a similar fashion to missile fire except you get a certain amount of dice based on matchup. For instance, heavy troops throw 2 dice per stand against warbands in the open. Each 4+ scores a hit. Each armor save negates the hit. Each 4 points removes a stand.

Morale checks are forced if a unit loses a stand in melee. For each stand lost, roll 1 die. If the number is greater or equal to the morale number, the morale check is passed. If the number is less than the morale number, remove another base. If you are throwing 2 dice and fail both, remove 2 bases.

The fourth section is the army lists for the era. They outline the armies of the era and their capabilities including the special rules for that army and their troops. each army has 8 units. The army lists detail each type of unit and the minimums and maximums for each type. You have 4-6 core units and the 2-4 optional units bringing your total up to 8.

The final section is a battle report outlining the blow by blow action to give you a feel for how the rules work. The show how the game is played and tell you why a special situation occurs as well as some tactical insight from the commanders and why they made the move they did.

Fast 1-2 hours game time for a standard game
Easy to understand
Very approachable in that you need perhaps 80 infantry and 30 cavalry for an army
Great source of information to get someone into Ancient gaming.

No generals. A rudimentary command system would have been nice
Phalanx units in the early Greek armies and the Macedonian armies are represented by the same rules. I would have liked to see the units as two different types.
No rules for involuntary retreats. Something about being pushed back in melee would be nice as well.

Over all I am very pleased with the book. It is a fine introduction to ancient and medieval wargaming. The author took a stance of making a game that is both easy to understand and fun to play while leaving enough tactical variation so that players can make some interesting decisions with their troops. I recommend these rules to anyone that wants a largish simple game that can be played in a couple of hours or less. This would be a great game for Dad's to introduce their kids to Miniature wargaming.


Disclaimer: There may be an error in the turn sequence as I don't have my book with me.

normsmith29 Apr 2008 1:45 p.m. PST

The rules are very stable, so you can easily 'bolt on' extra house rules to cover extras. There is a good Yahoo group at link

pigbear07 Apr 2009 3:32 a.m. PST

This seems to have gained zero traction. I found the book for cheap over the weekend. Now I'm trying to find out if I should read it.

Asterix Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2009 1:00 p.m. PST

(DISCLAIMER: I was weened on Tony Bath's Ancients rules some 40 or so years ago. Evolved to DBA which I still like very much.)

I bought Neil Thomas' WARGAMES: AN INTRODUCTION recently and after reading that I immediately both the more "advanced" set of Rules ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL WARGAMING. Judging from back issues of THE SLINGSHOT (The Society of Ancients magazine) I would have to take issue as to whether Neil's rules have "zero traction." I think that there are a number of reasons why a particular set of rules appeal to some and not to others. I like Neil's rules because they take me back a bit to the Tony Bath days of yore. That isn't everyone's cup of tea. A second reason for my inclination to Neil's rules is that while I have three principle wargaming opponents, they are geographically spread out across the western 2/3rds of the US, and we can have months (or in one case years) between a battle. One can pick up Neil's rules and quickly review them and then get on with it. Other rules aren't quite that convenient.

Just my opinion and experience. I do think that DBA has more to offer viz thoughtful engagement of one's enemy, though.

PaintsByNumbers04 Oct 2009 11:50 p.m. PST

Why should anyone actually pay to get a copy of rules that have no innovations beyond the early 1970's? Why not just scribble your own recollection, or dig out some old house rules or a copy of an old gaming magazine with rules?

ochoin deach11 Dec 2010 5:20 p.m. PST

We're considering using them for the basis of a Punic Wars game & "bolt on" some complexities re: command & Morale & to make them a Big Battle set.

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