Welcome to the SoA Forum.  You are welcome to browse through and contribute to the Forums listed below.

Main Menu

Raphia: A Reappraisal

Started by Chris, May 27, 2024, 07:18:33 PM

Previous topic - Next topic



As announced in the 'Games last Played' sub forum, I recently staged a refight of Raphia.

Below, see the title and the first 300 words (approximately) to either entice you to click on the provided link or to move on to other, more interesting, topics in different sub forums.

In addition to a battle report, I also look at the history of refighting Raphia, offer brief comments on the source material, and provide detailed orders of battle.


With regard to the battlefield's size and appearance, I set up my 10.5 feet by 3.75 feet table and then covered it with a simple light brown (i.e., desert-colored) sheet. A similar minimalist approach to preparing the model landscape for a miniature reconstruction of the well known 217 BC/BCE contest between the large army of Antiochus III (the Great) and equally large army of Ptolemy IV has been used by many other more accomplished as well as traditional historical wargamers. In researching this Hellenistic engagement, I made a note of Simon Miller's comments about the alleged nature of the ground at Raphia. In a post to his well-known-in-the wargaming-community blog, dated 26 April 2016, the accomplished rule writer and conductor of some simply spectacular demonstration/participation games at a fair number of wargaming shows explained: "I have plans to make the terrain more arid . . . since the site of the battle was probably covered in sand and scrub." He continued, relating that the prolific Jeff Jonas had told him "there were limestone outcrops and cacti" present on the otherwise comparatively flat and featureless plain. Anyway, the terrain "problem" solved, I turned my attention to the depiction of the formations and troops that would do battle on a 39.37 square-foot tabletop.

With regard to the representation of armies, I employed my usual (or unusual) method of fabricating two-dimensional color counters. I have been wargaming this way since 1992, approximately. Evidently, I was a foreign exchange student, then graduate, and finally an advocate (mostly silent) of what could be called "The Perkins School." (In the March 1980 issue of Slingshot, then subtitled as the 'Official Journal of the Society of Ancients,' a fellow by the name of Jon Perkins offered readers a one-page summary of the advantages to playing at ancient or medieval war with cardboard armies.

Here is the link:

Imperial Dave

very nice indeed Chris and much appreciated for taking the time to do this
Slingshot Editor

Jon Freitag

Chris, your research and level of minute detailing are first rate and overwhelmingly impressive.

I don't buy the argument that
"fighting with a movable coloured battle-plans"
brings forth a sense of universal
"disgust of conventional wargamers...(and) heresy"
in response to this method of fighting battles. 

We are free to choose our own methods and media for recreating battles.  If colored cardboard counters work for you, who can argue with your approach? Not me, for sure.

Do you remember the uproar among the miniature wargaming community when GDW's System 7 Napoleonics cardboard counters won the 1979 HG Wells Award for Best Historical Miniatures Series?  I do.

Your Raphia essay tempts me to pull a Raphia board game off the shelf and give the cardboard counters a spin.

Thank you.


Cheers Imperial Dave and less imperial (but still famous) Jon,

Thanks for taking the time to read and weigh in.

To Jon's point or note re the argument cited: These were the words of Mr. Perkins. They were voiced (published) in 1980 and just like today, had their supporters and detractors.

Indeed we are free to choose . . . The context or language is key, I think. Many may not argue, but as many may not approve. (Does the GWS [Great Wargaming Survey] relate any information about "class warfare" or any hierarchy with respect to pursuit and participation in the hobby?)

I recall those System 7 Napoleonics . . . I am not sure that I recall the buzz they produced. I wonder if one could equate those to the plexiglass-plastic 2D figures made by WoFun?

Going back to the "who can argue with your approach" comment - I once sent in a submission to Henry Hyde way back when he was editor of Battlegames, not Battlegames with Miniature Wargames. If I recall his wording, he decided to "punt" with my article, and include in his magazine. Apparently, it caused a bit of a kerfuffle.

Thanks again fellows, for your kind words and time. Here's hoping, Jon, that a possible encounter with Raphia (see what I did there?) does not keep you from your painting, game hosting, or cycling schedule.


Jon Freitag

Chris, interesting question on "class warfare" in the GWS.  There is no direct question and the questions that asked this indirectly do so by bifurcating Top from Bottom choices was scrubbed in last year's survey to only capture Top preferences.  Hierarchies with Top Preferences certainly do fall out from the survey, though.  The most popular (in whatever category) always rises to the top of the aggregations.  In this year's survey, I plan to submit a question on hex-and-counter (and similar) wargames to see if there is much crossover with miniatures wargaming.  I certainly utilize and enjoy both but being less "Imperial" I may be in the minority of devoted miniatures wargamers.

There was definitely a love/hate relationship in the two camps with respect to System 7 Napoleonics.  That relationship may be not much different in the WoFun debate.

You are correct in that finding time to slip in a Raphia boardgame is problematic for me.  I have an unpunched copy of MMP's Raphia sitting on my desk now so I have at least taken the first small step in that direction.