Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Neil Thomas' Wargaming an Introduction: A Romans vs Britons Command Challenge

Following on from the last Polemos: SPQR game, I used the same scenario (see link for details) for a game of Neil Thomas' Wargaming: An Introduction.

Orders of Battle:


2 units of Light Horse (Light Armour, Javelins, Levy)
2 units of Chariots (Light Armour, Javelins, Elite)
1 unit of Warband (Medium Armour, Elite)
3 units of Warband (Light Armour, Average)
2 units of Skirmishers (Light Armour, Javelins, Levy)


1 unit of Cavalry (Medium Armour, Elite)
1 unit of Cavalry (Medium Armour, Average)
1 unit of Numidian Light Horse (Light Armour, Average)
1 unit of Veteran Legionaries (Heavy Armour, Elite)
3 units of Legionaries (Heavy Armour, Average)
2 units of Skirmishers (Light Armour, Javelins, Levy)
1 unit of Archers (Light Armour, Bows, Average)
1 unit of Artillery

Given the extra units on both sides, the break point of each army was raised to 3 units.

The Battle:

The toy soldiers line up again to have at it, Britons (bottom) against Romans (top)

A closer shot of the central mass of the Britons' warbands (I modified the deployment slightly before starting)

And their legionary foes

First blood to the Britons - their light troops pin-prick, advancing and retiring to avoid being charged by the heavier Roman cavalry

More harassment, from both sides!

The red markers indicate that real effectiveness has begun to be lost on both sides

Another angle

The same type of fighting, but on foot, continues on the opposite flank

Finally the Romans trap a unit of Light Horse and have nearly destroyed it!

Heavy losses on both sides - the other Roman cavalry unit is down to its last couple of bases as a result of persistent harassment!

The state of the battle - the mounted troops of both sides are mainly exhausted; the Britons still have their chariot units in reserve (bottom-right) but the infantry combat has begun and the Romans seem to be coming out on top! (centre)

A closer view - better armour and more efficient fighting skills give the Romans their advantage

The Britons suddenly switch their chariots to intervene on the other flank!

However, the Britons' warbands are crumbling under Roman pressure...

And finally the remaining Roman cavalry triumphs opening up this flank - with their left smashed and their centre about to crumble, the chariots were unable to cause enough damage quickly enough to stave off defeat!
 Game Notes: 
Although giving a broadly similar result to the Polemos SPQR game, there were some telling differences too.  I won't re-hash (much!) my previous comments comparing the two rulesets, but rather concentrate on three things:

There are ways for tribal foot to win in SPQR on an open plain - it is really hard to achieve this in W:AI, the melee factors are just too unforgiving.  In SPQR, charging in, led by a decent general and double-ranked, they have a decent chance of rupturing that line of legionaries...
Light Chariots are essentially a skirmishing arm in W:AI, but they pack a powerful shock impact in SPQR, which changes the way an Ancient British army is best played
The skirmishing mechanism in each of the rules is surprisingly similar, but they are more effective in W:AI by miles.  Why?  Because W:AI is a set which favours attrition, SPQR is all about shock.  Broadly speaking, W:AI then much increases the importance of light troops.  The differences in mechanisms also favour the skirmisher in W:AI, because it is much easier, by judicious use of tempo, to catch skirmishers in SPQR whereas the systemic predictability of W:AI enables a moderately careful player to keep skirmishers just out of reach (generally).

One thing I have found over the last month or so is that there seems to be far fewer good scenarios written for Ancients (pre-Dark Ages) than for other periods - or at least there were in the old wargaming magazines!  Obviously there are fewer written records, but it isn't just that.  I think partly it is because ancient armies are often more individually distinctive than their opponents, so it limits the ease of transplanting the scenario.  I think there used to be more thought given to big battles too in other periods: when considering Leipzig 1813, then there is some recognition that it is going to either need a different rule-set, a lot of bath-tubbing, a big multi-player game, or whatever.  But in old articles about, say, Munda or the Sabis, there doesn't seem to be much recognition that the whole thing was apparently not that much smaller than Friedland, and rather bigger than Salamanca.  Were people really going to play that on a club night with WRG 5th edition?  More on this at a later date...

Anyway, a very good time had by me, using Baccus 6mm and Rapier figures.


  1. Another excellent game and rules' comparison. Since Thomas tends towards an attritional model and SPQR a shock model, which do you prefer in ancients combat?

  2. Hmm, very tricky...I think in general I prefer shock. However, I slightly prefer the implementation of DBA's shock model to that of SPQR, and I prefer the mechanic of Neil Thomas to that of SPQR; however, I also think that SPQR is probably the most accurate overall in balancing the combat factors!

    What I intend to do at Christmas or in the New Year is tie a lot of this stuff together in a post or two, as a kind of "what I have learned in my year of attempting the 10x10 challenge".

    1. A recap will make for enjoyable reading.

    2. I am with Jonathan - a recap post would be great. No pressure :-)

  3. Then I will try my best to oblige...