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!


  1. Your vivid descriptions truly immerse the reader into the heart of the battle. The strategic twists and turns keep the adrenaline pumping. therapist development center coupon code


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