Friday, May 17, 2024

A Battle In Germania: Playing Three Ages of Rome

 Three Ages of Rome (3AoR) is written by UK wargamer Philip Garton for the Helion Books war-games series (published 2022).  Garton has a number of ancient and early modern rules to his credit.   Even though it is written with massed armies in 6mm and 15mm in mind, I found 3AoR an easy and quick way to play an Ancients battle using my 28mm figures, using the recommended adjust of +50% to movement and ranges for 28mms.

Troop types are quite simple and familiar to old school gamers, with infantry  being either Massed, Skirmish, Adaptable (can change formation from Massed to Skirmish, eg Roman auxilia).  Cavalry can be Massed or Skirmish. There are also unit types for Pike Blocks for Hellenic themed armies, artillery, archers, and rabble.   Different troop types can be armoured or unarmored, shielded or unshielded, etc, which matters in missile and melee combat.   Troop quality can be either Raw, Trained, or Veteran, and commanders can likewise range from Political to Normal, to Veteran.   There are rules for setup (which can depend on how many units in an army confer a scouting advantage) as well as discerning omens before a battle!  Once the troops are fielded, every turn players each choose one of three possible orders:  Attack, Hold, or Withdraw.

My existing collection allowed me to field three units of Roman auxilia (2 trained, 1 veteran) and two units of cavalry (1 trained, 1 veteran).   The Germanii had a veteran unit of armoured infantry with their chief, four units of unarmored massed infantry with shields (2 raw, 2 trained) and three units of javelin armed skirmishers (all trained).   I used bases I'd bought years ago for GW's War of the Ring and they worked fine, as 3AoR is basing agnostic, though it has recommended base sizes for those that want them.

Turn order can be determined randomly by cards or dice.  I gave the Germanii a slight advantage because their commander was Veteran.   In the first turn the Romans were roughly handed and pushed back on the wrong foot.   The red shock markers indicate morale states.  In 3AoR units have four morale states:  Sound, Disordered, Disrupted and Routed.   Units can rally and improve their morale at the end of the turn under certain conditions, but the more threatened they are and the worse their morale, it gets harder.   Units with decreasing morale are more likely to be destroyed in melee.  Thus the rules have a nice feel for that Ancients tipping point when armies begin to disintegrate.

The above photo shows how the battle can become chaotic as units swirl and the battle line breaks up.   The longer units fight, the more fragile they become as disruptions and worse become sticky.  In the above photo, the German bodyguard and the centurion's unit, both Veteran, clash while the Germans move a unit in to prevent another Roman unit from intervening in the decisive battle.

Combat in 3AoR is very simply resolved, always using 1d6.   Units shooting or melting get 1 or 2 dice, and regardless of the type of roll required (shooting, melee, saves, morale) a 4 or better on a d6 always succeeds, though there are some basic modifiers (eg, for unarmored, disrupted, etc).   The basic mechanism is thus easily learned and quite simple.  There are some other clever touches, such as testing to see if units move into close proximity to enemy massed units (depends on the troop rating of the attacker/defender).

The game ended when the Roman veterans threw better than the Germanii veterans, who, having no path for a rout, were destroyed and the Germanii chief captured.  A very close game.

 3AoR divides Roman history into Ages of Expansion, Empire, and Decline, and includes army lists for each of these periods.   It includes a few sample scenarios based on famous battles, and allows players to build armies using a simple points system.  

I liked these rules a lot, they are accessible, give a clear result, and while I am not an experienced Ancients gamer, they felt right to me.    I would recommend them to others, and look forward to trying them again when I get a few more units ready for the table.

Thanks for reading, cheers and blessings to your dice!

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Saturday Workbench: Victrix Roman Archers

After saying in my last post that I was treating my newfound hobby fascination with Ancients with caution, I've spent the day chopping and glueing a set of Victrix early imperial Roman auxiliary archers.   I found it fairly simple to assemble them, each figure has only five parts - body, arms, head and quiver - and yet there's a satisfying number of poses. 

The Victrix set comes with a dozen western and a dozen eastern Roman figures, so I started with the western ones first.

I then started looking at the dozen eastern figures still on the sprues and got to thinking that they looked exotic enough to serve as Easterlings or Haradrim in a Middle Earth setting.   I never did like the Easterlings that Games Workshop released for their LOTR range, but these figures would do nicely, so I got to work.

I was pleased that I could find a use for all of the figures in the set, though these eastern fellows will get put in a box for now while I think about what other historical figures might pass for Tolkien's Easterlings and Haradrim.  Parthians, maybe?   What are your thoughts?

Cheers and blessings to your glue and clippers,


Monday, May 6, 2024

A Small Ancients Diversion: Victrix 28mm Roman Auxiliary

 I've always tried to be careful about overextending my hobby energies into too many periods, but I often fail.   A few years ago, when Clash of Spears was all the rage at my local gaming store,  I painted a Germanic war band and developed a fondness for Victrix figures.    A little fiddly to put together, but they come with a pleasing range of options and they paint up nicely.    So I thought that my Germanii could use some opponents for solitaire play and decided on, of course, Romans.    My friend James likes to say that the auxiliaries made up the backbone of the Roman armies, rather than  the sexier legionaries, and so that was my next step into the world of ancients wargaming.

Here's the first set complete, and tucked into 8 figure bases from now defunct 4Ground that I bought for GW's War of the Ring rules.

A very mean and scary centurion in the middle.

Shield transfers from Little Big Men.  Once you get the hang of applying them, they're quite easy to do for a whole unit.

On manoeuvres in the forests of Germania.  What could possibly go wrong?

Very easy figures to paint, I quite like how the mail shirts look from this angle.


There's a lot of competition to get into the painting queue these days.  On one desk I have a regiment of Union ACW infantry, and on another desk I have a Prussian SYW musketeer regiment just getting started, but I think once they get done I'll return to Romans.  I have some Baleric slingers and some auxiliary arches to paint next.    

In the meantime, there are rules to master.  Clash of Spears is too tactical for what I have in mind.   I am currently playing with Three Ages of Rome, written by Philip Garton and published by Helion.  Hope to have an initial report here soon.

Cheers and blessings to your brushes!  MP+

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