Sunday, 12 November 2017

Paper Liburnian-Dikrotic Pentekonter/Lembus

Here is a wonderful simple model of a 'Roman Liburnian / Fleet Liburnian' in 1/72 scale.

Some more photos at photobucket HERE.

The modeller, who has copyright and has made the model available for private use on the web, is a member of 'Mondorf Mens' Club' , 'Kallboys' - a group who unashamedly enjoy mens' stuff like bowling, modelling and drinking (in moderation). KALLBOYS.
Thier linked model forum, with some nice diorama etc. is HERE.

The ship is a two-tiered, 50-oared galley based on John Coates 1995 reconstruction of a Liburnian. The Liburnian had much in common with the original ramming warship, the ancient dikrotic pentekonter, and with the Lembus as used by the Illyrians and Macedonians in the 3rd century BC. The Liburnian became the workhorse of the Imperial navy and was similar to a modern frigate, in that it was a modest vessel with a modest crew but flexible in patrolling sea or river. Such ships may or may not have a ram fitted. No 'Liburnian' has been found yet but we have sculpture and paintings which give the main evidence for what they looked like.

The model would be great for wargaming with figures, just make it a waterline version and build in stiff card.

You can download a nicely made  PDF with full instructions so you just have to print and cut and build. It might be fiddly in places but replace card struts with matchsticks etc. Oars with split satay sticks etc

The PDF is in German but if you cannot figure out how to translate this you probably could not build the model anyway.

The model was put up on Papermau, a great blog for paper models, so I link there and you can make the jump to the PDF from there. PAPERMAU. Happy building !

If you think the model is good, why not leave an encouraging  comment at Kallboys or Papermau ?

Friday, 10 November 2017

Olympias in All Her Glory

I bumped into a new short video of Olympias in action last summer.
The Greek Navy makes some PR trips with a crew of navy and public every now and then apparently. This is not a selected, trained crew but still good to see it under oars.  Filmed with a drone maybe?
As winter comes on in northern latitudes this film is very inspiring...

A film from 2016 also...courtesy  Hellenic Maritime Navy Etiquette and Public Relations Directorate

see HERE
 BONUS vid.... an homage to the trieres. Graphics, music and Greek language.
see HERE

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Romans v Seleucids : Ad Mare Bellum

Another test battle. Abbreviated.

I tried this to see what would happen with a strong but outnumbered fleet in these rules. Also to use light ships and more with missiles and boarding.

The Seleucids had-
Squadron  A 2 Fours 4 Threes 4 Lembus
(here Lembi are dieres/bireme, Lembi were more on a par with a Three than a ship's boat...)
Squadron  B 2 Eights 4 Fives 4 Fours
Squadron C as A

Romans had-
2 x Squadron : 5 Fives
1 x Squadron : 1xDeceres 4x Fives with corvus

The Seleucids advanced and sent the light flanks out wide to try and stretch the Roman line.
The Romans opened the right to match the length of the enemy flank. Kept the other squadrons tight.

The flanks meet before the centre and there was an exchange of ships which favoured the Seleucids who had more light vessesls. Even if they meet and lose to a Five then a companion ships comes up and takes the Roman in the side.

The sequence problem reared its head a few times. At this point, for example, the Roman(Red cards)  knows he has the next two phases to himself.

The centres come to grips and the heavy ships cannot knock each other out frontally quickly. The Roman flanks are overwhelmed and the Seleucid flanks come in to close the net.

At this point a cat jumped on the table and the Romans ran for home under cover of the chaos.

Seleucids 1 : Romans 0


1) Light ships can still sink heavy from beam attacks. The heavy cannot reply suffciently with missiles to keep them off.

2)Bow-on ramming is nowhere near as bloody as in Poseidon's Warriors. It is about right I think - usually stalemate between equals or heavy ships have upper hand.

3)Manoeuvre is not very decisive. I think limiting turns is needed in addition to  separating speeds according to classes.
I used :
Ships up to FOUR can turn 60 degrees in 1 inch.
Ships Five to Six can turn 45 degees
Larger turn max 30 degrees

A contact on a turn inch is a collision not a ram.

This means the sequence a player is choosing to move ships is important. No fudging and saying ' oh, it will fit after they have all moved and it is tidied up'. Ships need space. Big ships need more space.

This means speeds need adjusting too -

Three =6 inches.
It is universally accepted that the Three is the fastest galley it is possible to construct.
Others less than Five =5 inches
Five to Seven = 4 inches
Larger =3 inches

4) Boarding and  deck fighting lacks something. A marker is needed for LOCKED and CORVUS.
Multiple combats need a system.

 I used...
'Each combat is diced separately. and is simultaneous.'

5)Deck crews/marines : a trireme crew will inflict much more damage on a larger ship's crew if it wins. A step reduction rather than just 'halving' is needed.

I used...
'Crew hits give -2 to Marines strength and Shooting Strength. Not to Artillery.'

6)Artillery and shooting. It seems odd to have different Shooting and Marines factors. The argument for a concise set of rules should support a single deck soldiers factor and they shoot as well.
Artillery shown by letter for size of piece. Dice when a CREW hit and a piece is lost as well.

I will use  (X) light/poor troops,  X standard troops, [ X] heavy/better troops.
Where X is a combat factor equating to the number of men.
Shooting will use the X number.
Fighting will use X -2 for the light,X +2 for the heavy troops, otherwise X.

7) No difference between a Six and a Seven and Eight and Nine

8) A WRECKED ship is diced for to see if it sinks. Usually, ancient galleys did not sink but settled in the water , possibly capsizing.
I used :
A WRECK is still manned and can be boarded and defend itself. It counts for a prize if taken.
A 'sunk' WRECK is an 'ABANDONED' ship. It cannot be taken as a prize and has no crew, it drifts.
This means an extra marker...

9) Corvus in boarding. If two ships are LOCKED with a Corvus then it should not be possible to separate the ships until both ships are in control of one side. By its nature, the boarding bridge could not be raised again in a combat situation.

10) There is no provision for a rammer getting stuck.

I used:
ANY ram contact dices to see if the attacker has its ram stuck fast in the target. They will not be separated again by any means during the game. When wishing to break contact throw 2xD6 score 2 or 12 and it means you are stuck.

11) Acute angle ramming down the side of a targe is, as with all sets of galley rules, a potential problem. Acute angles aid defence but are great for atttackes to penetrate lines. There is no intended rule for oar sweeps clashing.
I used:
If a ship cannot fit into the gap to get its ram in contact with the  edge line of the target's oar sweep then no attack can be made. If its oar sweep will touch before the ram then no attack can be made.
Alternatively, allow this touching of oarsweeps to cause a DAMAGE on BOTH ships with no throws for KOing artillery.

12) DAMAGE'd status is very comprehensive. It affects, Missile factor, deck combat and speed and contributes to wrecking. What does it represent?

I used:
DAMAGE is oars broken/rowers killed, steering, hull damage.
Speed is halved. Turning is one class worse.
Corvus is made ineffective by listing, damage or operators killed.

13) Usual problem of keeping young cats out of the room when dice are rolling and small counters are being moved.....too attractive !

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Toblerone Fleets

I updated the simple paper fleets to use for trying out galley rules. Or, maybe they are all you need.

There are two sheets of the simply-made models. Use different shades of blue for the card bases and then the two fleets are easily differentiated.

Click HERE to find the fleets AND A QRF FOR AD MARE BELLUM

HERE is where I have used them to test Poseidon's Warriors.

HERE is where I have used them to test Ad Mare Bellum.

It is easy to make a marker scheme for AMB

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ad Mare Bellum

To War at Sea ! is where we now go with David Manley's  set of rules from Long Face Games.

I bought these as a PDF download for a fistful of dollars .i.e. 1 dollar per finger from Wargame  Now 7 dollar I think. This is crazily cheap for the effort it takes to make a set of rules. One can buy them without deliberating too long. The format is not what you get for a hardback full colour tome but neither do you expect it. There are some colour illustrations....

I reviewed the initial appearance of the booklet HERE. I have now done some test games. I did them with card printouts because I do not have 1/1200 models.

Some oddities here. A Five(quinquireme) could have 120 fighters on deck and gets 6 as its combat factor viz. deck fighting. A Three(trireme) could have max 40 men on deck but usually 12 or so - this gets 4 deck fighting factors ... The Five can shoot but the Three gets no missile capability..a bit odd. Fours and larger were by definition closed ships so designating them C-cataphract is a bit redundant and then they only get a minus 1 in shooting as a benefit.. .
Anyway, it is traditional to quibble with the data tables in a set of rules and they can alway sbe amended to one's own liking so this is no real problem.
Then the characteristic of 'Stoutness' - not a very ancient term, could equally be called 'Bottom'. Why not plain old 'Strength' or 'Defence'? Maybe DISPLACEMENT is a good alternative, an indication of the bulk and strength of the hull.

Early optimistic formations - need to be tighter
No real fleet lists but, rather, suggestions for proportions of types. It was also tnecessary  to decide if the whole fleet must stay within 10" of the commander or this means a squadron staying within 10" of its commander - must mean the latter. (page 6). No points system.

A small metre square table is envisaged with shallows, rocky shores and sandy shores. Terrain advice is minimal. I used a small table with no terrain features.

Card sequence - scary if enemy gets his cards in a row
Each side gets three impulses randomly mixed and sequenced by using cards. I could not really see why this is superior to IGOUGO on a dice throw, One problem is that if side A drew two or 3 of its cards then the other side  know for certain they have 2 or 3 successive moves to use uninterrupted. I tried dicing for the sequence and deducting 1 to the side which was  first in the last go. Uncertainty remains at all times. It may be possible to let individual squadrons move rather than the whole of each side without wrecking the game...even more exciting.

This game is not big on moving and manoeuvre. So much so that skilled nations get a +1 in combat for being good rather than any capability to do extra stuff in their physical movement. Sailing ships cannot sail within 60 degrees of windward and nor can they tack..They never turn at all ? Ships turn at the start of a move and half way through  but not at the end. I presume this is to stop sneaky stuff in getting in ram attacks at sides . The different classes do not seem to be suffciently different in capabilities. However - this is a justifiable trade-off one can make to give a more playable game with many ships. I used 60 ships without any problems. There are no special rules for diekplous and periplous. Ships back at half speed. Larger and smaller ships can turn equally well.

Plunging in to open formations gives a lot of beam attacks

There is no mention in the rules of formations or special rules for them. I ended up, after some games with a lot of sneaking-in beam rammings, with squadrons adopting tight phalanxes and the manoeuvre being in squadrons rather than risking individual ships doing heroic actions. This is a good feature of the rules - more realistic tactics get rewards in the game.

This was OK but a bit repetetive with the dicing formula. 'Engines' 'fire' in this game..aaarrggh.
With the number of dice I was throwing a simple score needed to do damage would have been nicer, but the results did not give too much carnage which was ok.

Maybe taking off a stone or arrow marker when an artillery piece has shot is better than adding a puff of cotton smoke - both have to be adjusted at the end of the turn . Engines only FIRE in one of the three impulses but there is no restriction on which one. Shooting arcs and LOS are rudimentary and a simple LOS allows all weapons to shoot at a target. Maybe the centre of the ship should be used.

Not much technical detail. Move to contact and you're in. No minimum run-up or speed necessary. Again this is an OK trade-off at this scale. A different formula for stern, beam and bow attacks makes a nice variation of results possible. Not too onerous and gives a spread of results. Does not equal the carnage of 'Poseidon's Warriors' unless very unequal types are clashing. Could easily be tweaked.

This could be done with small troop blocks in 1/600 or larger. In 1/1200 it is just dice and a few markers but relatively painless. The shooting allows for softening up a ship then nailing it with boarders. Again, realistic. Not much detail for the corvus or other boarding devices. Boarding inclined nations get a +1 for their art. Tweaking possible.

Multiple attacks - there is no advice how to adjudicate them.

General level of chaos and damage can be quite satisfying : essential to try and keep some ordered squadrons in reserve
The much-loved splintering of oars is not catered-for specifically  but ships can be 'DAMAGED' or 'IMMOBILISED'.  Simple collisions cannot occur.

The combat results are a bit uneven. Repeated 'halving' gives needless calculation when a subtraction would do the job, surely? A second 'CREW' hit in one phase does no further damage for some unexplained reason. Also the 'CREW' seems only to mean deck fighters. A 'Damaged' ship loses some of each of its boarding, shooting and moving capabilities - it seems to represent a mix of physical damage and crew casualties.

Fify percent rule. Modify it to taste.

There were some crucial clauses that were hidden away a bit but once found they were easy to remember. I may make a better QR sheet than the one provided.

The layout is more old WRG than decimalised heirarchical referencing but I prefer that. Just read and try them a few times to get to grips.

Make some nice markers if you have nice ships!

These rules seem to have been playtested. Others do not have that quality. They work well with a lot of ships. The action and results gives a flavour of a big galley battle even if the element of manoeuvre is somewhat lacking. If you use multiple squadrons and more than one line or try and sneak ships through in columns you can get some authentic tactics going.

There is no excess complication but most things are represented. If a certain aspect is your hobby horse then just modify the rules to your taste.

I would change the characteristics chart and make a 'fleet generator' table.

These rules beat the Sof A Corvus rules and Poseidon's Warriors in my opinion. They do not use a grid - great ! The enjoyable part of them is picking on a few enemy vessels with missiles then finishing with boarding or getting a squadron in on the flank and watching the enemyl line flee in panic.

Let's face it,  7 dollars and some ink and paper is not much for a galley-lovers' blood sweat and tears. The fact that they give a fun game that feels like an ancient galley battle 'em and try' em.
Let battle commence!

Now I think I will try some games with my 1/350 models.....and a big game.

And I put up a QRF same place as the Toblerone simple fleets.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

New Book on the Stocks : Launched 30/10

Marc Desantis who wrote the title 'Rome Siezes the Trident' has another launch from Pen and Sword.

click HERE to visit
I will put a short review of each up soon. Pen and Sword have put out a lot of titles with ancient naval connections in the last couple of years. They are a very mixed bag. The format PandS choose: 300 pages, few maps, 10 or os sides of figures/fotos is a bit limiting. But no one else is putting much out....

Wednesday, 11 October 2017


I have decided to put my video links up.
On the page accessed by clicking on VIDEOS                    ►          ►

Most on YTube, of course.  I will put them up as I have time and inclination, just good to have them all in one place. I have no time to review them but I will not link to crap.