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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 !


  1. That Olde Sanity Clause

    HoTT is also a good substitute for DBA (yes, I know they are from the same stable) but it’s an easy way to get ‘newbies’ or even fantasy gamers to unexpectedly be lured into historical gaming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Funny you should say that! The last time I spoke to Old RB Scott that was the only set he was interested in playing! That’s definitely the size of set that I think we should be aiming for. I will add that to the reading list😉


  2. Played first game of To the Strongest today; it’s lack of dice throwing will mean it’s not to everyone’s taste I’m sure, but big bases and fast play make it very accessible….I think! Good luck with devising your own rules.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was knocked out by the armies painted for that system. Am I right that you can play it with dice replacing the cards? Did you find the grid a restriction??


      • No dice required, just numerous decks of player cards or numbered chits in a bag. Grid system is an antidote to those players who get hung up on mm accuracy of movements and angles etc. Very few numbers / tables to worry about but some good touches of detail which add character to different types of ancient armies.


    • I have to admit I tend to that approach too! Can we use that as our maxim? I do think you get what you aim at. If we write a set that goes into multi tables and charts then often new players ( Young and old) simply will not commit. I do think we have to keep the painting commitment down at least to start with….

      Liked by 1 person

      • When it comes to engaging with people at an entry level I’m often reminded of something I picked up on a training course back in the year dot, KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. I’ve no doubt you will hit the right level and that the results will be awesome.


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