Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Dacian Wars Project Update

One of the fun aspects of keeping a blog like this going, over time, is that you get to see how projects percolate into fruition as ideas are worked on and refined.

None so than the current project focused on the Dacian Wars of Domitian and Trajan where I posted about ideas to build a collection around back in December 2015 and even constructed a campaign module using the Hail Caesar campaign book scenarios and linked campaign as a basis for that collection.

I have that campaign in Cyberboard ready to go and have taken forward the plans around the collection to set up the games involved, as recent posts have illustrated.

That said, as I have thought about this collection the plan has broadened into a wider scope taking into other Principate campaigns that would be fun to do such as the Year of the Four Emperors in 69 AD and the campaigns of Germanicus into Germainia following the Varian disaster.

The linked scenario, ladder style of campaign battles is great, especially for involving groups of players fighting separate scenarios as part of the greater backdrop and I still intend to develop that plan.

However I was keen to explore the idea of having a campaign where the armies and set ups were entirely in the hands of the players as results of the decisions they took in response to events and circumstances, with armies manoeuvring on a map that encompassed the normal fog of war.

The whole idea being, to create battles that have that all important context behind them and thus give meaning to the result.

The last few weeks I have been bringing those ideas together with the help of other peoples ideas such as James Roach and his great blog and lovely collections over at 

James' collections are an inspiration to the kind of games I plan to develop around this period and he has some great ideas around those I have outlined here.

The map you can see of Dacia and the neighbouring tribal and Roman regions, now hanging in my games room, is my own creation based on those ideas, as are the cards I have put together using a great site highlighted recently on TMP by Anatoli who also has a video clip up on his own blog page on how to produce such cards.

The really cool thing about this system is that armies on the map are in full view of all the players with the fog of war being built into the campaign by the cards and how they are played. Not only that but I now have a system of generating my armies and relating the result of any tabletop battles back to the map in lost strength-points without too much book-keeping and mental stress.

I aim to give the system a stress test using a simple die combat system to replace the figures on the table while they are still being put together, so I'll do a post about that going forward.

Talking about constructing armies for the tabletop also reminds me that I am also in the process of recreating my map world on to the table; and my 15/18mm terrain collection will not be fit for purpose, hence a build project similar to Trajan's own efforts, all be it in a smaller scale, is now going ahead.

This week I finally got some time over the Easter Bank Holiday to get stuck into my Roman buildings that I have been acquiring in the time between now and that post back in 2015.

With all the Napoleonic work completed, I now have time to give this part of the project my attention and as you will know, I love the aspect of the hobby that is putting things together.

Like plastic figures, MDF has revolutionised our hobby and I have thoroughly enjoyed constructing my Villa, Temple and Fortress together, not to mention a few wagons and carts.

This lot are now awaiting the addition of roof tiles and then, after sealing with a PVA wash, to have a good lick of paint together with some interior finishing.

In addition to these, I have a Roman marching fort to get done, plus loads of new trees and scatter terrain to build and those river sections will need a bit of tarting up before they can grace the table.

These buildings are just the start as I have to get some appropriate German/Dacian hovels and a Roman Limes tower, as seen above, plus enough wattle fencing to shake a stick at.

All the buildings are from Warbases and the wagons are from 4Ground, that I picked up from Colonel Bill's Store.

Colonel Bill's

My river sections are from Products for Wargamers

Products for Wargamers

Finally thank you to Martin and Diane over at Warbases who sorted out an issue with some pieces on my city gate that was resolved quickly and helpfully.


  1. Good to see the Dacian stuff is still progressing. The city gate looks very nice.

    I agree that, after plastic figures, the improvements in laser cut MDF is the biggest advance in wargaming material in many years. Now that vehicles like your carts can be accurately made from MDF, the opportunities for development are vast.

    Keep up the good work.


    1. Cheers Vince, I have really enjoyed putting these together and I think they will make great table scenery once they are painted up.

      I finished putting on the tiles yesterday which has really added to the look and was a bit of a challenge when it came to doing the temple, but they have come out great.

      I think you have to put a bit of effort in with mdf to make them work which for me is part of the fun.


  2. Hi JJ :-) what are your thoughts on the river terrain from products for wargamers?

    1. Hi Robert, I can only comment on the river sections you see in the picture, which come as seen. They are as good as anything I could produce but at the price save me the bother of cutting and preparing the mdf.

      I also like the fact that the river is brown which I always feel is more typical of Northern European rivers, but it would be easy to add a slight green tinge to the shallows and give them an extra gloss shine.

      That is what I meant by tarting up, as well as adding some more ground cover with static grass and some waterside vegetation to help soften the banks. I thought the rivers were good value.

      I have just ordered some of their prepared ground bases for cluster terrain without any texture so I can do my own. Not many of the mdf companies seem to offer this simple product. MDF is not nice stuff to go sawing and breathing in so I am happy to leave it to the companies and pay for that. I will put some pictures up of their bases when they are done.


  3. Thanks JJ :-) as I get older I'm looking for more ways to save time too and river terrain is top of my list so I appreciate the recommendation :-) I hear what you say about terrain mdf bases I made 20 6x4 wargame boards and terrain for my tournaments 10 odd years ago and cutting them out and sanding the edges is alot of messy work! :-) As ever very much enjoying your blog! :-)

  4. What an interesting and beautiful project, sounds fabulous, love the buildings and the gates!

    1. Thanks Phil, well I hope to develop some fun interesting and eye-catching games going forward.