Wednesday, January 09, 2008

And then there were Saxons...

Four of my 28mm Early Saxon Raiders by Musketeer Miniatures.

A brief break from the main proceedings to quickly mention my brief sojourn in the world of Warhammer Ancient Battles. I only very recently tried out WAB - it was an attempt to try out a historical game which I knew was extremely popular and so was likely to be easy to get games going for. It seems a thoroughly solid ruleset yet suffering from the same weaknesses as its Fantasy parent (which are personal gripes and are expanded upon a little in the post below), which is not unexpected as the rules are essentially unchanged (minus the magic and dragons obviously). Generally bigger units and larger armies are seen than in fantasy (a good thing) however what struck me was the general unsuitability of the figure scale to the size of tables being used. Most games seem to be on the GW standard 6x4 foot table but with so many 28mm soldiers ranked up in units commonly 5-7 men wide table realestate is quickly filled. This leads to the hilarious site of a couple of hundred Roman legionaries advancing as a solid wall down the table so close to each other that they not only prevent the enemy army from tactical manoeuvring vis-a-vis flanking movements and the like (there are no flanks when you have set up cheek to jowl, table edge to table edge) but also prevent friendly units from manoeuvring. It looks silly, it is silly. Wargames are abstractions, they are designed to play well and give results that are pleasing and possible whilst allowing the opposing generals to, to some extent, employ tactics and strategy that influence or decide that result. When something such as the scale of the models or the size of the playspace becomes such a hinderence to the employment of strategy to the extent that fundamental elements of the generals arsenal such as flanking manoeuvres become impossible then something is seriously wrong. Wargames are not and will never be (while remaining fun) accurate simulations of ancient warfare but seriously I think we can do a little better.

Still I have to say I like WAB despite this, and certainly at smaller scales (less soldiers not less height as it were) or on bigger tables it can be great fun. Personally I have put it on the back burner for now while I concentrate on my American Civil War project, but who knows I may be back (If I can find the patience for painting all those models).

A 28mm Early Saxon Raider by Musketeer Miniatures. One of a handful I painted in November. A superior sculpt, Musketeer stuff seems very good indeed and they have a couple of great ranges for WAB.


Sigmar said...

Excellent post Mr Burnstone.

I concur there are some inherent issues in the Warhammer series (both fantasy and battles). Thankfully the games remain fun.

Unfortunately, there is a lot more emphasis in the game on suitable army selection to counter your enemy's army selection and less down to tactical movement on the battlefield.

Sigmar's Warhammer Blog

Keep up the good work, it's a nice neat blog.

Mr Burnstone said...


Thank you for your kind words, and for posting the first comment on my blog!

I too still think the Warhammer series are fun games and can be very fulfilling. Fantasy in particular really fostered my love of wargaming in the first place. Unfortunately I feel at the moment its not really giving me what I want from my limited hobby time so thats why I am off into the wider wargaming world to sample a few other options. Still I imagine there remain a fair few games of Warhammer in my wargaming future.

Thanks again!