Viewer's Choice Celebration MiniCampaign

It has now been over 20 years since I launched "With MacDuff On the Web" and nearly 10 years since I launched my 2 blogs: Gathering of Hosts and Battle game of the Month.

To celebrate the years and the friends and the million hits I've decided to run a 3 game mini-campaign in late October. By popular vot e it will be set in the mid 18th Century.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Something New Played - 20mm Punic Wars!

On Saturday I joined 2 friends for a 20mm Ancients game using Sword & Spear. I cut my teeth on 20mm Ancients but its been a long time since I've seen a table full of them.

Newline metal and various plastic miniatures.
(and an old Garrison representing me)
This was my first exposure to the Sword & Spear rules. Like most rules, they had somethings that I liked and some that I was less keen on. As a game I had no quibbles at all. They are designed to keep both players actively engaged at all times and succeed well. One game is not enough to properly judge but in broad terms they did seem to encourage broadly historical deployments and battle plans. Most importantly it was a fun and engaged afternoon of social gaming.

My one quibble, and it may be that I've  missed some subtleties, is that, like most ancients rules, there was no feel of the primitive nature of most armies command control mechanisms or of rigidity and importance of battle lines/phalanxes. Yes, there were 'beyond command radius' penalties and a very limited group move option when not attacking, but I suspect that it would be hard to do a good reenactment of an historical battle without a lot of voluntary fudging. A rather timely reminder since I'm about to back up and refresh my own Shock era rules which, frankly, would deserve the same criticism.

Overview just before the first Shock.

Its a good thing that assembling the sort of well ordered, well painted armies that our host provided takes a lot of work because the sight of them was almost enough to give me an urge to go back there and do it right this time!  Obviously time to get the lads in Blue and Grey out to scratch the 20mm itch!

For more pictures and a report on the actual battle please see Jeff's Armchair Commander blog.


  1. Those 20's do look sweet. I think one of the other players may have already posted on this, but anyway, they though that in Sword and Spear, skirmishers did not work so well against the heavy infantry, but did do better out on the flanks. I have the rules and will re-look at them with that in mind because so many battles should see skirmishers operating in front of a heavy enemy front line.

    I wonder whether the activation system is so clever and important, that 'managing the mechanic' might get in the way of the 'feel'?

    1. I think that the idea of Skirmishers in front of the battleline is one of time and place, not universal. Unless they are able to retreat through gaps in the main battle line they would just be on the way. They would be in advance of the main army prior to the battle but would often clear away well before the real battle began. I think the numbers matter as well. Some minor states relied on skirmishers as their main force but they didn't normally accept battle on the plain if they could avoid it.

      On your second point, one game is not enough to judge. With some rules a mechanic fascinates a new player to affect his play but after time he is able to look past short term advantage to focus on the big picture, other times the short term mechanics do rule. Too soon for me to judge.

  2. Rule quibbles aside, it looks like a stunning game. Ancients are another area that, were time and money infinite, I could easily lose myself. Phalanxes, legions, and sieges have always had a certain appeal.

    Best Regards,


    1. They were very nice armies, so much tidier and consistent than my own!

      Ancients were my big thing for years but despite a lingering interest, and a willingness to play, I'm not tempted to go back.

  3. Always been my main things - to the extent that I can never get into other periods. At the moment, making lots of DBA armies and chariots - you can never have enough chariots, elephants or pointy sticks.

    1. yeah....but somehow...I just ..lost that hoplite feeling and its gone, gone, gone.....