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Mortem et Gloriam- For those who are about to die…

Today is my birthday! A benchmark in any one’s life, fifty years old. Fortunately it also my son’s birthday so instead of wasting money on drunken excess, I can take my wife’s kids off to build-a-bear workshop and invest in much needed soft toys. I don’t think they will expect the bear that I intend to build and leave in the shop😏

This week’s game reminded me of just how many years have passed. It is now over twenty five years since a fresh faced youth approached Richard Bodley-Shipman to join Newport Wargames Club. Now we have lost that old goat to the world of computer wargames and he can only be contacted through various dark web addresses. It was about this time, I embarked on competition wargaming with the West Country Berk-ley Vale gang. How we laughed as Mssrs. McGlynn and Unwin ridiculed our best painting efforts and brought up arcane rule amendments that meant forests could move and dice rolls were cocked “because” in Slimbridge “you will find, all the tables aren’t flat!”😥

Mr. mc Glynn of course encouraged my entry into competition gaming. Helpfully he told me how Polybian Romans were a terrible choice in D.B.M and he was right. He did suggest the use of a waterway, but his advice was to put the feature in front of our army and not on a legal flank. But, the Republican Roman army has always attracted me. All those stout legionaries conquering in the face of huge losses and incompetent general’s, you can see why I was attracted.

My army had two “TUG”s, tactical groups, of elite legionaries on the left. To their right I positioned, three legions in their manipulator formation. Mortem quite neatly allows the hastati and spear armed veterans to be in the same formation. My brilliant plan was to position my Thracians in the rough on the left, careering out of cover in the first turn. However, the dispositions are not written down in this game system and the wily Damian countered with some very mean looking “kettle-men”. In fact I was lucky, my whole ally contingent was not unreliable. The cards dealt need just one less colour card to make them very unhappy hillmen indeed.

The Selucids army facing me would always be a tough opponent. I was expecting imitation legionaries and Galatians but Damion brought an earlier pike heavy version, with far too many elephants in the centre and cataphracts on my right.

My counter was to put my Italian medium foot into the rough ground in front of the cataphracts and bravely position my equites behind my legions. I did have some spear armed veterans here too. I would like to give them their real name but predictive text keeps changing it to “fairies”. In the end, that was quite appropriate.

My gallant attack on the left was matched by Damian’s own Thracians. My javelin armed Thracians, proxying for Numidians, made his cataphracts pay but the fight for the rough ground was costing me dearly. Three hits on the cataphracts was a moment to savour though. Mortem shooting is fast and deadly. Good cards allow one to recover some losses but never enough.

In the centre, my legionaries thought better of taking on the Selucids elephants. Their accompanying velites contented themselves with adding some hits to Damian’s skirmish screen. Skirmish units are quite sizeable in Mortem but can also be pushed back without hinderance by formed troops. A neat rule to stop stone throwing peasants halting phalanxes.

But Damian was smiling and that either means money is being exchanged or that he has a devious plan. As my wallet had already been emptied by investment in my ADLG Indians, it could only mean disaster. On my left, the last gasp of Damian’s cataphracts forced my Numidians to retire. On my right. The heavy cavalry tore through my legions. The Roman noble horse being conspicuous by their absence. It had been a great game but the Republic would have to fight again to gain victory.

Thanks for reading! Fifty years old and still coming second!😅

Filed under: Wargaming

About the Author

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The wild ramblings of an infamous wit and wargames guru. One of nature's true gentlemen who devotes his time to the care of his two sons, i.e. giving realistic tactical advice in Fortnite games, and recreating great moments of military history using inch high toy soldiers. Currently a leading light in the Cardiff Dice Studz who meet regularly at Firestorm Games ( formerly Ali Baba's Carpet Warehouse), Trade Street, Cardiff, sunny Wales, U.K.


  1. First runner up, is surely a better description!
    What kind of friend doesn’t let you win on your 50th birthday 🎂🎂🎂😁
    Happy Birthday pal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Louen

    Happy Birthday! You’re officially “old” now…
    which sounds worse than it is, afterall, now you can blame losing games to old age.
    You can use free “senior rerolls of botched dice rolls” – just say your hand was shaking and you didn’t mean to release the dice this early, and that you want a reroll – I actually had this happen to me and after the initial WTF-moment I let him have the reroll to reward his originality and for giving me a good laugh. 🙂


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