Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Trouble With Ancients

I am a battle guy. When I think of miniature wargames I've never been one to get stuck on points or equal sides, I more often get set on scenarios and particularly historical battles. Maybe it's just the history geek in me, or too many readings of The Face of Battle, but that's just where I am. When I take on a project, what usually drives my interest is a famous battle. Cowpens in the American Revolution, Battle of the Wabash in the Wayne's Legion era, Chippewa in the War of 1812, those are the visuals that helped me get going. I also was able to either find rules, or create rules that helped me realize my visions.

Ancients are different. I have purchased more sets of Ancients rules than any other period, or maybe I should say periods. WRG 6th and 7th editions, Legion (you're probably too young to remember them), The Universal Soldier, Tactica and Tactica Medieval, Warhammer Ancient Battles, DBM, others unnamed, and now Fields of Glory and Medieval Warfare. The problem with each of these rules sets are points. Everyone wants to play them as a competitive set of rules-make your army, set up the terrain, line your troops up and have at it. I guess what I want to see is Chaeronea, Pharsalus, Clontarf, and Agincourt. Maybe it's because ancients rules cover such a wide range of history-4,500 years-that such is necessary, I don't know.

Yes, there are some rules systems that have catered to specific epochs of the ancient/medieval millieu-WAB and FoG come immediately to mind. However, with some special exceptions, those are still tied to the rules and point systems, which may not effectively represent historical armies. Those that come immediately to mind are Republican Romans and Hundred Years War combatants. Naturally, I beef because these are the armies I have or am building in 25mm. However, no rules set have ever properly allowed the Roman Quincunx to exchange ranks, and I haven't seen much that convinces me that English longbowmen function properly. It would be nice if there was something more period specific. Even the army lists recommended in Medieval Warfare and Fields of Glory show the English and French knights as mounted, though the Goddamns never mounted their knights except for a small reserve according to a well established system, and les Crapauds decided that arrowstorms were too tough on horseys to fight mounted after Crecy. Excuse the notable exceptions. This is all a product of catering to the ancients at tournament generators crowd. Makes me a little crazy. Just give me a set of rules in which I can fight the battles with lots of little men.

1 comment:

El Grego said...

Hello Kevin,

If you do find a great 'point-less' rules set out there - let us all know!

Nice blog too - keep it going.