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Pandemic Fall of Rome – A perfect storm!

Caesar’s double bed is warm

As an unimportant clerk

Writes “I do not like my work”

On a pink official form

The Fall of Rome has been blamed on many factors. Auden may have blamed creeping bureaucracy whilst others look to the  class struggle or Christianity to explain the demise. The latest release in the Pandemic series by Zee games allows you to assess whether you may have indeed been able to steer the Empire away from its eventual demise, in the West at least. We all may think that we could do a better job than the boss, or Prime Minister or President, but are we really that special person who can add to a massive organisation and not make it worse. I looked to James for advice……..

The game is of modest complexity but the production values are very high. The board and cards are a delight and look like they will stand the test of time. The rules are pretty straight forward but I left the ungentlemanly conduct of actually reading them to James! The Pandemic series is very popular with boardgames and one of its strengths is its aim to engender cooperative play in the aim to stop the spread of disease initially but now other topics and eras are in the game teams sights. Likening the migrations of the Barbarian hordes to the spread of disease might offend the Politically correct but the simulation does work. The cards drive the Barbarian tribes down various routes and it is the Empire’s job to stop them.

But this is the late Empire of course and you do not have the resources to fight off every incursion. Rather, one must ally with some tribes , and recruit them as federatii, while facing down others. The game is card driven and the mechanism is very effective. James chose to be a military hard man and proceded to battle through the Goths in the East. I was a Roman leader tasked with placating the hordes but the Saxons were oblivious to my overtures unfortunately. It does take a bit of getting use to, having to work cooperatively, but the game is a classic of state craft.

Our cities were rapidly sacked but our armies were victorious. Fortress building was our preferred strategy and the revolts were quashed but do tend to depress the resources available to the state. Our charm offensive won over all but one of our opponent tribes and victory all depended on a climatic battle against the Saxons in Mogontiacum in present day Belgium.

James won the massive battle but the Saxon invaders weren’t wiped out in time. The enclave at Gesoriacum on the coast meant that the Empire was lost as the cards literally run out( playing time in total about two hours). It is a classic boardgame and I whole heartedly recommend the game. The mechanism is slick and yet subtle. The game is fast paced and involves the players in the action from the start. The potential for conversion to a play aid for miniatures is obvious! Buy this game and banish those Winter blues. Stay close as the next post will be the runners and riders for the Epic Godendag wargaming weekend!

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Blucher- Blunders on the Taff

It’s a strange sort of individual who frequents the Great Western Public House on a Friday afternoon in January. Amongst the homeless, the down trodden and a few ageing Cardiff City football hooligans sat the elder fathers of our movement. Chris was at the bar trying to get a pensioner’s discount on the one pound fifty breakfast whilst Colin explained his intention to transport us to a balmy day in April 1809, the Battle of Sacile. After some discussion of personalities we decided to sit Colin on the other side of the table from Chris and for me to direct the glorious French Armee!

The Austrians were ensconced in a tight defensive position above Fontano Freddo. It would take all my insight to come up with a workable plan. Steve , being inexperienced would launch a headlong assault on the heights, Jackson would bypass Vigonovo and roll up the Austrian right through the forests of Roverado. In order to help general Jackson with the heavy woodland fighting, I thought it wise to give him Sahue’s cavalry division…

Barbou’s Division led the assault up the slopes. The VIII Korps looked confident but it was decided to soften the Korps up with the heavy artillery of the Reserve. Steve was so confident that the attack would progress well he diverted half the Third Division to take possession of Fortano.

Meanwhile the Second Division took up position to the left of the village. General Jackson sent his light cavalry out wide to probe Martin’s flank! The assault on the Talponedo heights proceded a pace and the front line of the Austrians started to crumble.

Three times Steve assaulted the rise and three times his gallant blue coats were sent back down the hill. Claiming that the assault had only been a feint, we hastily amended our plan. General Jackson was to be given priority and our right would try and hang on to the gains in the town and its environs.

Archduke John looked dismayed as the advance of the French left restricted the redeployment of the reserve cavalry. Chasseurs and Hussars were locked in a swirling melee on the left of the line. They even managed to best their heavier German opponents. The Austrians fell back into the woods with only their Grenzers holding up the sweeping French advance.

The Austrian right wing may have been discomforted but their centre remained strong with fresh troops as yet uncommitted. Having been battered all day, the Archduke gave the order to move down the hills.

It had been a glorious day! The Blucher rules are great fun and the battle proceeded without any rules disagreements or “discussions”. I think they really capture the essence of the period and we were all very jealous of Colin’s collection at the end of the day. The French felt that they had done better than the actual commanders on the day and the Austrians could claim a commanding position at the close. We would have to leave the post game analysis to tiffin. Happy New Year to all our readers.

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Desperta Ferres ruleset- unit statistics

Not the most inspired title for a blog post I know but a big thank you to everyone who has volunteered ideas and suggestions so far. Before we go any further, could you put your mind to the following categories and think if there is anything missing from the unit statistics. I think we are decided on the central marker of combat effectiveness that is termed “valour”. Keen correspondents will remember that I originally favoured “Virtus”, i.e.manly bearing, but this was too Roman for some and too sexist for one😳. The alternatives were “pluck” or ” mettle” and these may reappear later if ever we get to later periods and conflicts. I like “valour’ because it centres the game on the actual heroes and sometimes villains who we are seeking to represent. Each unit will have a rating from two ( nervous militia) to the superlative value of eight for household troops, palace guards and so on. The number will be the starting point for the number of dice used for shooting and combat.


The choice of defence value is deliberate as the intention is to incorporate armour and what we might call “shelter” or “cover” . Some troops may be lightly Armoured or have no armour but their open formation allows them to minimise hits. Would we need four defence values to cater for plate armour or dismounted cataphracts?

Defence could also be augmented by formation like the Roman tortoise or Barbarian shieldwall?

I do think we are on to a winner with ranged shooting. I always find it hard to run some Nomad or Eastern armies without the ability to inflict damage from a far. Here we would be departing from DBA. On a similar note shooting would be at a disadvantage when from horseback or harassing skirmishers.


Maybe a necessary complication for those troops who are just about fit to be on the battlefield. They would already have a low valour score but should we penalise their ability to charge an enemy too?


The wargamer’s favourite, the Parthian shot, is not limited to Parthians if they have the agility ability. These troops could shoot and then evade. If auxilia and similar were given this they could stand in the battle line with the legions and not be penalised by terrain. Agile troops could be disadvantaged against the less mobile adversaries in a combat in open ground perhaps. Giving the agility ability to mounted troops would depict troops like the Huns where there has been an artificial division between light horse skirmishers and medium cavalry. I do remember Richard Bodley Scott saying that he nearly merged the two categories but for the clamour of older gamers.

Formations would therefore be either “massed” or “loose”. The armylists would have to decide which armies could field the troops who were worthy of course.

Impetuous and Shock

Proper wargames need these two! Gallant knights and screaming warband have to be impetuous, forced to charge if in range of an enemy. Shock would be the term for the brutal swordplay of the legions or else the impact of a Swiss pike keil.

In summary then, for each unit in the army we would need the following to be noted in a roster, or displayed by counters; 

Valour, defence value, shooting ability, dubious, impetuous, massed or loose formation, agility and shock. As mentioned in conversation, it would be a rare unit and an expensive unit to have more than a few of these abilities. Please keep sending in your thoughts, next up will be a discussion on the unit depictions on the tabletop. As always, thanks for reading!

All images from the Superlative Total War series.

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Desperta Ferres – Awaking the Iron in 2019!

Have you ever felt that slightly uneasy feeling when the uninitiated stumble across evidence of our hobby? I could have blamed my sons for leaving their books downstairs, I could have run to throw the wargames ruleset behind a potted plant but I was interested to see what “outsiders ” thought of the books. After the initial catcalls, the main thrust of their opinion was how complex it all looked. Admittedly the rulebook was Field of Glory, not noted for its accessibility, but not the worst set of rules by any means. I think Field of Glory may have been the last in that series of rules, beginning with the Wargames Research Group in the Seventies, that sought respectability in arcane charts and angle measurement. I could have said how academic and complex that my hobby was. However, I am definately increasingly drawn to the simpler, faster rules sets.

The last few games of the current “industry leader”, L’art de la Guerre, had left me in a quandary . I love the games but a good half of the people I play still find it too complex for those who don’t play so regularly or are new to the hobby. The old warhorse of De Bellis Antiquitatis was fondly remembered by all and there inspiration lay. The game mechanism is easy to understand by the increasing number of new players and by using “big-bases’ or Impetvs bases, the armies are collectable in weeks, rather than years.

For old veterans like myself, I can still play LADG but those gorgious larger bases are a great attraction ( as above, Unknown collector). Most importantly, I can fit a whole army in a box file to smuggle on the train to the Gamestore on a Friday evening. We wouldn’t be true wargamers if we didn’t want to alter and amend the rules as written, and this is where your opinions are sought….

Over the next twelve months, we have set ourselves the task of writing a fast-play, low set-up cost system that is specifically designed to appeal to younger players, students on modest means, prisoners and old folk with an inability to remember anymore than six facts. I might also add that the game should be able to be played to a conclusion in an hour, with the opportunity to expand to multiplayer and longer games. What will follow over the next few weeks are my ideas, many of them ‘borrowed’ from other sets, but I would love to hear from you. So, no small task, a free set of rules to span the whole of military history before 153os A.D. ( and definately not CE)! If you still get emotional at the end of 300 Spartans or don’t feel embarrassed to make gun noises while pushing toy soldiers around a table, then you would be more than welcome! Next post, army size and basing! We’re off !

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Boxing Daze

Our Christmas Day message was the three hundredth post on this much maligned blog. The Christmas haul fitted neatly on the arm of my chair, thank the good Lord that I had prepared for such an eventuality by gathering “gifts” that people “would have wanted me to have!”As if fourteen thousand views weren’t enough of a gift from the blogosphere, there are plans afoot to raise the already frantic level of activity that we can hopefully enlist some of the now vast readership into.

I wish I was the sort of person who could gain sollace and comfort from pictures of shrubs clinging on to coastal rocks, or else footsteps in the sand? The clan did venture into the Beacons this holiday but the boys were busy throwing rocks at a carelessly abondoned burnt out Ford Focus and then their cousin slipped on the rocks. Ah, to be at peace with nature…..

Nevermind Budha and Ghandi, you and I are made of sterner stuff….

“Orient yourself properly. Then, and only then, concentrate on the day. Set your sights at the Good, the Beautiful and the True, focus pointedly and carefully on the concern of each moment. Aim continually at Heaven whilst you work diligently on Earth. Attend fully to the future, in that manner, while attending fully to the present. Then you have the best chance of perfecting both.”                                            Jordan B Peterson

The orientation process begins this holiday period. Whilst die Fuhrerin is choosing floor tiles I made for my “daughter’s room”………..

The old Canadian Peterson may have some stern words for such a scene but plans are underway to bring order to the chaos. By the end of the holidays, the American Civil War project should have reached a milestone, all existing troops based  (including some reinforcements on their way from France- Forgotten and Glorious miniatures. The rules are of course using a Blucher variant by the superlative Oldmeldrumwargamesgroup

Don’t lose heart, we intend to revivify the wargaming world with the revelation of what the wargaming world needs is another wargaming set of rules! Don’t scoff! The plan is to develop a set that can act as an introduction to the hobby. My main concern was that the current sets are still too onerous to get new blood into our hobby. As my old grandfather used to say, ” who wants to go balls deep into ten manuals before jumping into bed!”

DBA and Impetvs are currently being scoured  for ideas, with a healthy dose of Aurelian and L’art de la Guerre. The first army to get the makeover will be my Hun host so keep reading in the New Year. Basing miniatures has been the biggest chore in December but the painting table still has; Classical Indians, Medieval Germans, Lorrainer allies, SAGA Normans, Venetian archers and two elephants!

After two hours I could see the floor and stage one of the operation was complete. Tomorrow I’ll start the process of writing the timeline for our movement’s new project. And if by magic, there on top of a bookcase was another English Civil War regiment I.e. In addition to the two Pikeman’s Lament forces that need basing. I urge you too to review your schedules and join me once again in another year of roller coaster excitement! Five thousand visitors can’t be wrong! ( Except that visitor from the Far East who keeps looking up photos of an American “actress”😡😳)

God Bless those who keep their rooms tidy!

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Christmas Wishes from the Despertaferres Tercio

Dear Friend, 

We are writing to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

It has been a very busy year building the Tercio and under- achieving at “work”.

We look forward to all the challenges and opportunities in 2019 but, with such steadfast devotees like yourself, we would never have lost the Empire.

The plans for different tournaments, insults and toy soldiers are all well advanced and include a major initiative to stamp out over ” exhuberance” at branch meetings.

To all our members who have passed away this year, we raise a glass , adopt a manly pose and call ” Presente!’

We look forward to staying in touch over the next twelve months and wish you a peaceful and heart warming Christmas.

With all best wishes

Miguel Sanchez da Ferres

Jeffe of the Cardiff Syndicat Obero Despertaferres

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Godendag 2019 Field of Glory Doubles

Godendag 2019. January 19th and 20th
Venue: Firestorm Games Cardiff

 A timely reminder for the Field of Glory community!


The tournament will be a doubles event played using FoG AM version 3.0. All games will be played on standard 6×4 (ish) tables and the event will be run as a 4-round Swiss-draw competition. 

Period: Any army from the new Book 3. This book should be available at the end of November. If it isn’t then any army will be allowed from 1040 onwards using the old lists.

Players will submit three army lists of the same army, one at 900 pts, one at 1000 pts and one at 1100 pts. Each army must be at the same date and same sub-option if appropriate, if an army has the option where all troops must be either Medium Foot or Heavy Foot, all three versions must have the same option. The list checkers decision is final.


During the tournament each team can use the 900 point army once, the 1000 point army twice and the 1100 point army once. The decision on which army will be used must be decided prior to the pre-battle initiative being decided. The umpire will check at start time which army each team is using and this information will be available to both teams prior to the PBI being decided.
Umpires: Dave Ruddock, TBC
List Checker: Phil Powell ( Please get lists to Phil by 7th January.
Bookings will be via the Firestorm website