Saturday, 15 February 2014

Hail Caesar - Coming Soon to JJ's

I have taken the plunge and initiated a journey into the world of spear chucking and shield humping that is Ancient Wargaming.

The rule set I have decided to work with

I should make my credentials clear right from the word go, and those who know me will know, that I have only ever dabbled in ancient/medieval wargames and it has always taken a back seat to WWII and Napoloeonics. That said I have owned 15mm Punics and a few 28mm Wars of the Roses, but haven't really got into any period. In addition I do enjoy the occasional sortie into painting figures from the ancient-medieval periods as the work I have done for friends with their collections will illustrate. There is a different palette of colours to work with and the variety needed to present the less uniformed appearance of units requires working up combinations from the colour wheel that are less familiar when working in horse and musket.

My start point for my Imperial Roman Collection

The other revolutionary change that is about to happen on JJ's Wargames is that I will be featuring 28mm figures in my collections, where I have spent the last few years consolidating my collections around 15/18mm to allow me to streamline my terrain around a common scale. So why go into 28mm now I hear you say? Well the answer is based on a lot of thought by yours truly in terms of having a collection that shows off the undoubted visual appeal of a larger figure scale with a period that will require a minimal amount of terrain inclusion. Lets face it most ancient battles were in open ground, so that means a few larger trees and the odd bit of 28mm river and road material. If I want to go for field works and the odd temple building later that might be something else to add in time, but other than that the terrain mat and underlying hill arrangements should suffice.

I wanted to paint some horses so a few Roman cavalry to start things rolling

Well that's all very interesting, but why now and why Imperial Romans?

Simple, I have two driving factors influencing this project, firstly my enjoyment in working my way through the Mike Duncan, History of Rome pod cast over the last 18 months which has been a real joy to listen to and has worked up the creative juices to start putting paint to models. Any wargamer understands the need to scratch an itch when it develops, and Mr Duncan has really fired up the imagination with his highly entertaining and often amusing recounting of the story of Rome. 

The pleasure has only heightened by discovering a like mind in my younger son Will who has carried on his Latin studies to A level and in the process developed a passion for classical history that in turn has inspired his old man to learn more. I  introduced Will to the delight of listening to Mr Duncan and we both take turns in chatting about the pros and cons of various Roman Emperors and the way the empire developed over time together with the military implications. This usually ends with a plea from Will, "you've got to do Romans Dad".

All the guidance for putting the first armies together - looking forward to the read

I am a passionate enthusiast for wargaming and think our hobby is a fantastic way for young people to get into history as well as art, reading, travel and learning about why the world is the way it is. As a parent I am keen to encourage my lads to think about the hobby as something they might want to do as a past time, if not now, certainly later when creative leisure time will become a bigger part of their lives. So as a big believer of don't put off to tomorrow what you can do today I have ordered the figures to start the new collection and kindle Will's love of the classics. In fact the last thing he said this morning on his way to work was "When are the Romans coming Dad?"

The first of my Enemies of Rome

Well it's not just the Romans, I've also included a few Dacians to start the Barbarian collection to stick it to the Roman invaders. As you can see I have taken the Warlord "Hail Caesar" figures and rules as the foundation for the collection, based on the fact that Will and I want to get going sooner rather than later. Unlike Napoleonics where my own ideas are clearly defined on what I want to do with that period, this collection has to be more "off the peg" and so I can produce units quickly from their great range of figures. In addition the ability to use a large amount of plastics and the cost savings that implies means that the collection should grow quicker than otherwise. The painted illustrations from their associated painters are also a great inspiration and I am looking forward to trying to match the styles on show. One other factor that influenced me towards the Hail Caesar rules is the preference towards not removing figures as casualties but instead maintaining the look of the game by keeping the units on table with casualty markers. This is a start point, I'm sure I will make changes as we proceed and I have my eye on a computer rules option as well.

So there we are, something new to go with my Peninsular War project for 2014. The Oporto/Talavera project takes precedence and I have discussed the terrain build with Will's older brother Tom for Oporto which should be our Easter project this year. Next up will be the 4th Legere with a correction coming later to my previous 2nd Legere unit as I missed an important distinction that I had the information for but overlooked - thanks Ray, good shout.


  1. Great news from a blog readers stand point. I've always loved Romans myself but have steadfastly refused to enter ancient wargaming. I will enjoy reading your exploits and I hope you can create a collection in my stead..... and I will resist the temptation

    1. Hi Gozza, thanks for your comment, I'm putting this moment of weakness down to Will's pester power.

      Please be careful when you follow the progress of this project as I don't want to be held responsible for leading you astray, and as always the usual disclaimer of "all readers of this blog do so at their own risk and the blog owner accepts no liability for those readers being encouraged to stray into collections they had resisted for years".