Wars of the Republic Review

07 February 2022
Well illustrated, well presented, and a good price.

This article originally appeared in issue 466 of Miniature Wargames. You can pick up your issue of the magazine here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

Last month in Forward Observer we had a first peek at a new set of wargaming rules covering the wars of Republican Rome, from the First Samnite War to the end of the Gallic Wars. These are written by Eric Farrington and are designed as 28mm (but flexible), with no re-basing needed for troops you may already own. The rules use D6 and D3 and have a five phase turn: Points allocation (“Calculate Commander’s Gaze”); Bid for Initiative; Activations; Resolve Melees; and End. Sixty or so pages in length the core rules cover twenty, plus there’s special and advanced plus six historical scenarios covering 450 years. These scenarios often invoke specific rules for the battle, so – for example – at Cannae, the Romans are subjected to visual issues because of (historically recorded) wind blown dust and this is dealt with via a (optionally random) ‘Complications List’: these eleven ‘snafus’ cover everything from Bad Auspices to the time of day and poor water or food supplies that might affect troops ability to fight so that sounds like a lot of fun.

The game system that underlies this is largely based on Mr Farrington’s Men of Bronze mechanics but he has tried to refocus on several particular areas. The rules are designed to force decision making and player engagement throughout the game but – at the same time – keep the rules quick and simple and enable big battles to be played with fairly small armies.

For those already familiar with his previous Men of Bronze this may be a big draw but that’s not to say that this is simply a ‘re-skin’. There are five notable changes which the author has put in place to cover Charge Distances; Support Placement; Creating a separate melee phase; Firing into a melee; and Wavering after ‘Courage Loss’.

There are, of course, a large list of troop types; army lists for the scenarios; that section on campaigns; plus a host of special rules including lots for the many formations and weapons types. I would view this as a solid set of rules for playing campaign style games rather than a dedicated tournament style system (not that there isn’t a whole slew of other sets of competition Ancients rules...) but I think it would favour more in depth and congenial play. Being an Osprey it is, of course, well-illustrated and presented and a good price.

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