Wednesday, 9 October 2019

The Legions of Rome; the Catuvellauni of the Downs - Ancient Sharp Practice


When my mind drifts back now, it is images rather than a coherent narrative which present themselves to me: mist rising from horse lines in the thin keen wind of a morning by the Danube; long marches, the men ankle-deep in mud behind creaking wagons, as the beech and ash woods of Germany enfold us; a hill-top in Northern Spain, when snow fell below us in the valleys but we lay on dry, iron-hard ground under the stars; grizzled centurions lashing at the transport horses, yelling at the legionaries to put their shoulder to a wheel that was spinning as if in mockery of their efforts; a boy with blood oozing from his mouth as I rested his dying head on my arm and watched his leg kick; my horse flinching from a bush which parted to reveal a painted warrior, himself gibbering with terror; the sigh of the wind coming off a silent sea; the tinkle of the camel bell across desert sands.  Army life is a mere collection of moments.” (Augustus, Alan Massie)

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One of the wonderful things about watching a new wargaming period evolve, and a new set of rules coming together, is the impact it has on the imagination of wargamers.  Something along those lines is happening at Lard Island these days.

As some of you might know, Richard and Nick have been play-testing a new set of rules for Ancient warfare.  No doubt there’ll be more of this in future TooFatLardies Oddcasts, but for the moment, let’s just call the rules “Ancients Sharp Practice”.  Or, if you prefer, “Infamy, Infamy” – a name which might raise a smile if you’ve ever seen a particular “Carry On” film from the 1970s.




Both Richard and Nick – but particularly Richard – have been hard at work developing the rules, painting the figures and brushing off some of the terrain we made for Dux Britanniarum.  In doing so, they’ve been building on the terrific work of other Lard-enjoying wargamers who’ve already been using the “Sharp Practice” rules for the Ancients era.

Exciting times indeed, and doubly so when you see the troops being arrayed on the tabletop for the first time.  



Last night’s clash was set three miles from where I live – near the small Hertfordshire village of Wheathampstead.  These days, the village is a very pleasant stopping point for cyclists on the Chiltern Cycle-Way, or a flashing blip on the B653 as you drive past on the way to either the M1 or the A1, travelling somewhere else.  

But in the first century AD (or CE), it was the frontier between Rome and Britain.  The local tribe, the Catuvellauni, were fierce, proud warriors who may well have led the British resistance to Julius Caesar in 54 BC.  The tribe minted coins, and built impressive defences – still visible today at ‘Devil’s Dyke’, just a long stone’s throw from the playing fields where my son’s football team plays on a weekend.  



I digress, but only to mention that history has a way of catching up with you in the most unexpected of places.




On the tabletop, we witnessed a truly impressive array of British chariots, warbands, slingers and skirmishers facing off against a force of Roman legionaries and auxiliaries, advancing through wooded terrain to quell a Catuvellauni insurrection.  Already, some of the features of the game are coming to the fore – the balance between different methods of fighting (Roman corporatism against tribal heroism), the importance of cohesion and control, the focus on the decisive moment of the melee.  It’s shaping up to be a very fine set of rules – and, like Dux Britanniarum, all the more interesting for your humble Blogger being on the ground floor of the Temple of Venus, so to speak.

I know, dear readers, I know – I’m hopelessly biased.  But hopefully you’ll still enjoy some of the battle reports to come….

Take care and fare you all well until next time, Citizens of Rome and proud daughters and sons of the Catuvellauni!



29 comments:

  1. Yes this does indeed look interesting! There are some ancient projects I would very much like to start or in some cases re-start so looking forward to seeing where this goes.

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks for dropping by, Chris. I shall certainly try and update here (and on the Oddcast) as things progress!

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  2. Very interesting project,I do of course have some early Imperial Romans knocking about the place, maybe I should dust them off and even prime them!
    Best Iain

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    1. Dusting off, priming and painting may well be a great idea, Iain - very best of luck with that project!

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  3. Wonderful minis and terrain. Love the map you posted.

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    1. Thanks Chris! The map is the UK Ordnance Survey Map of Roman Britain - which is a lovely document. I think it is available online, and perhaps still in print. Definitely something to lose a few hours looking at ;)

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  4. You just know that this going to cause a storm of interest when it is realised.

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    1. Thanks Michael - I hope so, as Richard and Nick are working hard at it. I'm sure a great many of us have Ancient armies sharpening their spears and burnishing armour, ready to take the field again once it arrives!

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  5. Great stuff, Sid. Thanks for that.

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  6. Looks great, wonderful minis and nice report!

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    1. Thanks very much Phil....more to come in with the Ancients theme, soon...

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  7. Great stuff, looking forward to more developments.

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  8. There is probably an equivalent in other hobbies, but for wargamers nothing compares to the excitement of becoming lost in a “new period”. It becomes all consuming. I salute you and the other Lardies as you venture down this new path!

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    1. It's a good feeling, isn't it, Andy? The 'getting excited' and 'getting inspired' bits. Choosing figures and terrain. Chatting to friends. Seeing what people have done before and thinking how you might put a different twist on things. It's a great, collaborative endeavour and a load of fun!

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  9. Marvellous stuff. It's happening! It's happening! :)

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    1. It is happening indeed, Snowcat! Thanks for dropping by!

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  10. Excellent. The last thing I need is a new project but I will certainly buy the rules when they come out. I have a lot of Caesarean Romans from Foundry I was considering selling a few months ago because I couldn't see any use for them but this has changed my mind. Though now I'll have to buy opponents for them!

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    1. Hang onto your Romans, Kym!! And search out those catalogues for some new figures, maybe... :)

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    2. I always loved the Foundry Gauls and Germans, but Caesar in Britain would also be very interesting... where to begin! ;)

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  11. Great looking game. Best sellers here we come.

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    1. I have a feeling that you, Lee, Postie and the other Rejects will love it.

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  12. Looks great, I'm looking forwards to this coming out.

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    1. Great to hear from you, Scrivs - I'm sure you'll enjoy it when it arrives!

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  13. See what you‘ve done there Sid? No finally my resolve to do exclusively 20th century warfare finally crumbled and instead of painting up some much needed support for my BEF I find myself putting brush to some 3rd century Romans... this better be good! I blame you... and those other two buggers ;-)
    Really looking forward to some more on the rules as well as to the time period you‘re likely to cover.

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  14. The second phase of the World of Warcraft classic has been withdrawn, how do players feel about the new online honor system?FFWOW

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