Search Glorious Little Soldiers

Wednesday 14 December 2016


Back in the day a novelist /historian called Alex Hailey wrote a book called "Roots" purporting to be about his own ancestry. It was made into a TV series and actually wasn't half bad.
 Some time later the debunkers found out that  he had- at least in part been guilty, perhaps, of  some terminological inexactitude. This did not detract from the book being readable or the TV series being amusing.
 .This really appropos of not much except that the Twats Tiny Tactica Tournament didn't happen as planned because of chaps crying off at the last minute.
 Nevertheless 3 of us turned up at the pub- still wanting a bit of Ancient amusement of a more or less historical nature. So as a light alternative to Tactica I put a couple of the old "Classics" in my bag and told the lads if they didn't fancy Tactica how about either Terry Wise or Don Featherstone (actually Tony Bath). In other words we were going back to our Roots !
 It quickly transpired that Terry Wises' ancient rules didn't really work and I still can't fathom the melee system so we switched immediately to Tony Bath's set in Featherstones War Games of 1962 vintage. This without any  dislocation or disorganistation  or indeed any change at all  of either army. Like many older rules both these sets are "figure-driven" rather than "mechanism-driven".so it means that you can paly either as you like.
 Troops were 15mm- my own Marian Romans- commanded by Andrew and Shaun our resident Ancient Man using his Samnites. I umpired and this was really an exercise in seeing if theses ancient Ancient rules would work with two armies based differently and with no points systems or army lists  or other modern fol-de rol to get in the way. Yes I know the Marian Romans never fought the Samnites but Shaun reckoned that they had never yet been out of the box and it was time. So we streached a point. Andrew commanded the Romans . Shaun simply emptied his box of Samnitesand battle commenced. . No points systems or Army Lists were harmed in the making of this game.

My 15mm Marian Romans . All Blue Moon. Mostly painted by John Reidy.

 You know what, I've played a hell of a lot worse. It quickly transpired that there is little new under the sun. I'd not played these at all since school  with Airfix Romans and Ancient Britons with a few Hong Kong rip offs to add variety. (I recall some plastic Greeks that were basically pantographed down version of Britains ) They felt a lot like a cross between WHAB and Tactica- especially WHAB. The IGOUGO system slows things a bit but that could easily be altered to an "orders and Simultaneous movement" system without touching the actual mechanisms- which are dead simple.Dicing for "initiative" (ie choosing to move first or second) add a bit of spice
 Morale could do with a bit of fiddling, simply to vary the troops quality but basically the rules are pretty sound and faster moving than WHAB and possibly WRG 5th or 6th though we'd need to play a few more games to be sure of this. Like Tactica these were  a little dice heavy but not so badly that it took the game from the players control. The players were always in charge of their own decisions.
 These rules were of course a simple introductory set and none the worse for that. By today's standards definitions were a bit wooly and certainly would not suit the "win at all costs" types who need to have the far end of a fart defined to stop them cheating. It would be no big deal to add a little more period specific detail if you wished but all the basics are covered for those who have a modicum of useable brain cells.
Crunch Time- Just before the deciding melee. Shaun's Samnites in the more open order will get chewed up by the Roman mincing machine..

For the record the Samnites went down to a bloody defeat after an heroic resistance. The main Mellee in the centre swung back and forth but the Linen Legion could not quite match the power of the better armoured Romans Legionaries. What luck was about did seem to run Andrew's way(for a change did I hear muttered?)  but it was still a very enjoyable exercise as well as going some way to proving as Andre put it- "You don't HAVE to pay £30.00 for a book full of pictures and a few rules"

I will have another bash at these simple rules  with different armies. But equally I'll still use Tactica or WRG or possibly Hail Cesar as the mood take me. After all its not simply about finding  a game you can win at is it?
 Once again our thanks go to Jean the Landlady- in extra measure- for providing a splendid Christmas dinner  with all the trimmings as well as the usual fine beer.

Looking forward to some good games next year- Including the postponed TWATS  Tiny Tactica Tournament.


  1. The only muttering about luck was "about bloody time!". In all seriousness though, it was a good afternoon and a nice counterpoint (rules wise) to the rather expensive modern's game a few weeks back.

  2. I was so pleased to read this post as it reminded me of many ACW gmes I played, just a couple of armies, a scenario and a set of rules. No army points count or cneed to counting Victory points at the end of the game !

  3. Thanks lads- Of course the G.D.D.s would be well agin this kind of stuff as it doesn't set them on a pedestal- (made of pound notes !!! ) and make out that "game design" is something special.

  4. Do you find WRG5 or 6 fast moving? I always found them so slow as to be unplayable. But then patience is not my long suit. WRG7 was an improvement, but not much of one. I found a nice simple rule set on someone else's blog that I tried out about a year ago. I quite like them. Fast and decisive, if a little chancy.

  5. Ion - WRG 5th and 6th move reasonably well- especially with an Umpire. 7th was Glacial but then perhaps I didn't play it enough. My opinion of the whole DB set up is both weel known and largely unprintable

  6. Made me think of some forty of years back when Donald Featherstone's book was the basis of all my wargaming and I was introducing a friend to the hobby. We set up an ancients wargame with my Airfix barbarian (Ancient Britons and Robin Hood figures) against his Romans. I sent my troops forward against his expecting a melee type of game. Whereas he simply retreated his Romans and used his archers to exterminate my troops from afar. By the time I actually made contact I had so few troops left I was pretty rapidly defeated. I shouldn't really blame the rules but I did feel that archers were a bit overpowered in them.

    1. Or perhaps you opponent had too many- but its true Featherstone games can be very bloody - but that is easy to fix simply make the "volley groups" bigger