Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, Nov 6 2019 09:03PM

Last weekend I had the pleasure of once again attending the Society of Ancients annual conference. It was, as ever, a most enjoyable weekend with good company, good games and some excellent talks.


There was a bit of a Wars of the Roses theme this year which suited me perfectly. Mike Ingram gave a fascinating account of Bosworth based on the new battlefield archeology and a detailed look at primary sources which overturn most of what we previously thought we knew about the battle. I highly recommend his book recently published by Helion.


I reprised my toy soldier game, very loosely based on Bosworth. The simple rules can be found in the rules section (medieval) on my website: This Weak Piping Time of Peace.


This time it was Henry Tudor who met his end in hand to hand combat with King Richard. So now the score is one-all.


Following an excellent talk on the little known Battle of Edgcote I took on the role of Robin of Redesdale.


Despite high moral purpose, bravery and determination, we were driven from the field thanks to the untimely intervention of the Earl of Devon.


We did have the satisfaction of killing off the young Henry Tudor who was observing the battle. So Henry died twice over the course of the weekend.


The Gangs of Rome game looked most interesting although I did not manage to take part.


Author and Classicist Harry Sidebottom entertained us with tales of the Third Century Roman crisis before a most congenial dinner.


And I did my part with a talk on the Vandals.


There were many other games which I did not participate in ranging from chariot warfare through to classiacl Rome, the Dark Ages and the high Middle Ages. In my view this is an event well worth attending.


By smacdowall, Oct 31 2019 04:20PM

Bosworth is the subject of the Society of Ancients Battle Day game next spring. It has therefore become my next wargaming project.


I already have a reasonable WoR collection thanks to the excellent 28mm Perry plastics which tempted me at Salute several years ago. They have since been augmented by Perry and Front Rank metals. I am now in the process of painting up the appropriate command groups for Bosworth — more on that later.


My interest in the Wars of the Roses goes back much further. I was inspired as a mere 8 year old by the excellent Britains WoR Swoppets and fought many a boyhood battle between the red and white roses on my bedroom floor.


My original Swoppets Knights collection is still in fairly good condition. Taking a break from painting some 28mm French pikemen for Henry Tudor, I wondered if the Swoppets could see action again. I quickly wrote up some simple rules and called up a friend for a Toy Soldier game very loosely based on Bosworth.


I divided the men up into eight contingents: Henry Tudor, Oxford, Chandée and Stanley for the Red Roses; Richard III, Norfolk, Brackenbury and Northumberland for the White Roses. For this first game Stanley and Northumberland would not have any historical restrictions preventing the players from using them as they wished.


First blood went to Richard III’s more numerous archers as they shot up the advancing Red Roses.



A fierce hand to hand combat developed in the centre with initial advantage going to the whites.


This turned around in subsequent turns with the White Roses being forced to retire.


Richard III led his mounted knights on the right flank to attack Tudor and Stanley who were advancing towards him.


A ferocious mounted combat ensued which swayed back and forth as more men joined the fray and Richard’s archers supported the Yorkist attack from a distance.


Then disaster struck. Richard was killed in hand to hand combat with Henry. The Tudor dynasty had begun!


The game was great fun and hugely satisfying. It was fantastic to see the old Britains knights on the battlefield again. The rules worked well — providing a simple and fast moving game.


I will reprise the game at the Society of Ancients conference this weekend. The rules: This Weak Piping Time of Peace are available as a free download from my website here.











By smacdowall, Nov 30 2018 04:11PM

The autumn Society of Ancients weekend conference is rapidly becoming my favourite fixture in my wargaming calendar. Resurrected by Richard Lockwood 3 years ago from the original residential weekends run by the Society in the 1980s it gives aficionados of the pre-gunpowder era a chance to meet and engage with like-minded people.


I, for one, enjoy the banter, discussion and interaction with fellow wargamers as much as I enjoy playing the actual games. The beauty of a residential weekend is that we have plenty of time for this.


I highly recommend the conference for anyone with an interest in ancient and medieval wargaming. Details on the Society website. You do not have to be a member to attend.


This year I once again ran my Warlords and Rebels game aka Somewhere in Gaul AD 430. I first put on this on back at one of the original 1980s conferences and again at two years ago. It is a multi-player game with the participants role-playing Goths, Saxons, Franks, local rebels and several competing Roman contingents. There is as much or more diplomacy and skulduggery as actual combat.


The full original scenario can be found in my 1991 Goths, Huns and Romans book, and more detail in my blog post from the 2016 conference.


Here are a few photos from the 2018 game:



The set up. Most troops starting off table
The set up. Most troops starting off table


The Roman field army advances, barely a Roman in the contingent
The Roman field army advances, barely a Roman in the contingent


Bacaudae rebels and Goths face off close the the village
Bacaudae rebels and Goths face off close the the village

The only actual combat was an attempt by the Goths to storm the village
The only actual combat was an attempt by the Goths to storm the village




By smacdowall, May 1 2018 02:26PM

On 7 April I took my 6mm Macedonians (reinforced by Geoff Fabron’s) to The Society of Ancients Battle Day at Bletchley. Now in its 15th year, the Battle Day aims to refight a historic battle with different rules-sets and miniature scales. You do not have to be a member to attend. With 15 games this year we almost matched the record of 17 in 2015 for the show down between Alexander the Great and the Indian King Porus at the Hydaspes.


Eumenes line with the silver shields on the right
Eumenes line with the silver shields on the right

I have a reasonable collection of Macedonians in both 25/28mm and 6mm scales. Given the large numbers of troops involved at Paraitakene (close to 40,000 on each side) I decided that 6mm was the best scale to go for. Deployed en-masse 6mm miniatures look really impressive on the table top and you can replicate the sweeping cavalry actions on the flanks even on a relatively small table. Six by four feet was all we needed. It helped that Geoff had a significant number of 6mm Macedonians so that I did not have to paint up too many more to field the two armies.


I decided to scale the armies at one 20mm square base representing approximately 400 infantry, 150 cavalry or 10 elephants. This was roughly one 6mm miniature to 25 men or 10 elephants. Technically a light infantry base modelled far less men than a close packed heavy infantry base but I chose to ignore this for the reason given above.


Antigonus advances in echelon
Antigonus advances in echelon

I deployed both wargames armies as they had been deployed historically. Then I allowed the players do decide their own tactics. The rules I used were my own Legio VI designed for 6mm big battles and stripped down to represent only those troops used in the early Alexandrian successor battles. These (Legio VI Diadochi) can be downloaded for free from my website. www.legio-wargames.com/rules.


Elephants on the rampage
Elephants on the rampage

Just as it had been historically, the elephants looked intimidating but actually had little impact. There was some elephant on elephant action and the gods (the dice) favoured Antigonus. This helped to partially neutralise Eumenes’ elephant superiority. In several cases some elephants broke through the enemy ranks causing disorder, in other cases they rampaged and did the same to their own troops. For this to have a significant impact it required other troops to quickly follow up to exploit the enemy disorder but none of the table-top generals were able to do this.


Antigonus turns Eumenes' left
Antigonus turns Eumenes' left

As our game progressed it looked for a moment that we would get the opposite result from the pre-Battle Day encounter. Antigonus kept the left wing of his phalanx well away from the deadly Silver Shields and punched through on the right. The Eumenes player, however, was able to brush aside Pithon’s light cavalry to move in on the left flank of Antigonus phalanx supported by elephants. The result, therefore, was inconclusive.


The SoA Battle Day
The SoA Battle Day

It was a great day out as ever. Of the 15 games played at the Battle Day the results were relatively even. Antigonus won some, Eumenes won others. This is not particularly surprising. In an even odds battle on flat, featureless terrain, victory was down to the skill of the table-top generals and a goodly amount of luck. In almost all cases it came down to a simple matter. Could your strong right wing turn the enemy flank before he could do the same to you?


Gauls ready for Telamon
Gauls ready for Telamon

The 2019 Battle Day will feature Telamon (Gauls v Romans 225 BC). In 2020 it will be Bosworth (1485) which ended both the Wars of the Roses and King Richard III. So I need to get painting more Gauls.


The Suffolk Levy on the way to Bosworth
The Suffolk Levy on the way to Bosworth

I already have quite a good Wars of the Roses collection. The 2020 Battle Day will give me the focus to concentrated on some of the more important Bosworth contingents.







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