SoA Battleday 2018 Report

A very successful 15th annual Society of Ancients Battle Day was held in Bletchley on 7 April 2018.

The day started with the traditional Introduction to the Battle talk, once again done by Phil Sabin. Phil talked through the salient points of the battle, what we know and what we have to assume, and discussed the different approaches of modern scholars in interpreting the battle. The open discussion that followed allowed the attendees to pose their questions and suggest their own ideas.

Then it was on to the gaming!

To match the fifteen years, we had fifteen different games:

Armati in 15mm; Big Battle DBA in 6mm; four Command & Colours games (in 6mm, 15mm, 20mm and 28mm); two DBMM games both in 15mm; Hail Caesar in 6mm; Legio VI in 6mm; Lost Battles in 28mm; Piquet Archon in 28mm; Rameses in 15mm; To The Strongest in 28mm; and Warlord Advance Guard in 28mm.

As a result of so many games and around 70 attendees, the hall was full and we had two games overspill into the side rooms. The gaming was hard but fair, and a great day was had by all.

This year the awards for the two main prizes were judged by providing voting slips to all the attendees.

The Black Hat Miniatures and Magister Militum Prizes for Best Terrain was awarded to Phil Sabin and the Lost Battles game for his ever-green realistic effects using small stones and model trees on a coloured carpet tile base. Phil has been using this for many years now at the major wargames shows, and remains as effective as ever. His set up drew well over half the votes!

The Warlord Miniatures Prize for Best Game went to Paul Murgatroyd and his Big Battle DBA game. This was fought on a fairly small table with 6mm figures but with clever terrain effects on the cloth and the massed ranks of 6mm figures on 60mm wide elements, the overall spectacle of a “big battle” certainly impressed many and was a deserved winner of the award. Though what a confirmed 6mm man will make of a 28mm Macedonian Army boxed set remains to be seen…

The Society would like to record its very grateful thanks for the generous gifts of prizes from Black Hat, Magister Militum and Warlord.

Meanwhile, the more spurious prizes of painted figures representing the name of the award were distributed as follows:

  Eumenes of the Day went to Andrew Brentnall in the 15mm Command & Colours game for a classic roll up of the Antigonid left wing.
  Antigonus of the Day  was a difficult one, as there seemed little news of any great acts by Antigonus in any of the games. So turning it on its head, I awarded the prize to Toby Partridge playing the part of Pithon in the DBMM game, who had crashed through the wing of Eumenes and was winning the battle while Antigonus struggled and made no headway on the other flank, thereby Pithon being seen as the great conquering hero to the Macedonians in the army and perhaps putting him pole position for an attempt to take over the Antigonid army.
  Companion Cavalry of the Day was an easy one to award to Daivid Barnsdale playing in the Rameses (current prototype name for the rules under development by Vincent Auger) game, whose Companions stormed through the opposition, went on to flatten Eumenes, and then even when fatigued they managed to beat their final opponents and hang on to the end of the game without breaking despite all these winning combats and sustaining heavy losses along the way.
  Silver Shields of the Day was another tricky one, as they seem to have had a pretty ordinary day on the wargames tables and there were no proposals for the award. In the end the prize went to Pete Manning in the 20mm Command & Colours game, for leading his Silver Shields into combat against the enemy phalanx and having them go bang and evaporate in the first round of combat – a reward for sudden and catastrophic failure from a position of invincibility! More practice on the dice rolling needed there Pete…

Many thanks for the generous donation of the figures by Aventine Miniatures.

So that makes fifteen years of Battle Day now, where we get members to put on games using their preferred set of rules, all together on the same day in the same venue. We should also mention the games that take place across the world, put on my members in the USA and Australia for example. It is great to see the Battle Day being taken up by the memberships wherever they are based!

For the record the fifteen battles have been:

  • 2018 Paraitakene, 317 BC
  • 2017 Arsuf, 1191 AD
  • 2016 Pharsalus, 48 BC
  • 2015 Hydaspes, 326 BC
  • 2014 Montaperti, 1260 AD
  • 2013 Chalons, 451 AD
  • 2012 Plataea, 479 BC
  • 2011 Kadesh, 1274 BC
  • 2010 Zama, 202 BC
  • 2009 Callinicum, 531 AD
  • 2008 Poitiers, 1356 AD
  • 2007 Cynoscephalae, 197 BC
  • 2006 Dorylaeum, 1097 AD
  • 2005 The Sambre, 57 BC
  • 2004 Gaugamela, 331 BC

And for 2019? Well this will be the clash between two consular armies of the Roman Republic and an army of Gallic tribes resisting the former’s expansion into northern Italy: Telamon 225 BC.

At the same time, to give everyone more time for preparation, the 2020 battle was also announced – Bosworth 1485 AD. This should need no introduction!

A selection of photographs taken by Mark Fry on the day as well: