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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.


    • Happy New year old boy!
      Got as far as unit sizes but still working on combat/ firing. Difficult to think of something new. More cider may help tonight!
      Best for 2019


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