Sunday, 27 December 2015

Game 36 - Sword & Spear

Belated Christmas greetings to all, and best wishes for a good New Year.

As usual, it's been a busy time, though we have so far managed to squeeze in a game of Sword & Spear (the first set of rules, where having actually bought the first edition from Lulu, I didn't actually play the game until buying the second edition from Great Escape Games.

That said, the game concepts haven't changed much. Now, Ancients isn't really my thing, but I always loved the sound of the mechanisms at work here.

There are nice turn mechanisms employed, where:

  • You draw seven dice from the 'bag' in a turn segment, and each player assigns these by colour (reminiscent of 'Fire Team' a little). There are enough dice there to represent each unit - though the draw dictates the sequence of action.
  • This allows emphasis on unit activation, sequence of activation, and 'fog of war' in one neat mechanic.
  • You can't always rely on being able to move everything you'd like therefore; (in the game below, the 'undrilled' Gauls sat and debated chaos theory rather than actually getting their collective asses in gear).
  • Combat is simple and decisive (and bloody), which doesn't actually matter that much as the key is managing your resources and allocating your best dice result for activation to those areas where 'the fire is hottest'.

A nice elegant game design. Must play more of this. I wasn't always a big ancients fan, though these rules could quite easily turn the tide.

 Romans on the left, outnumbered by Carthaginians on the right (these are all 20mm plastics).

 Celts on the Carthaginian right would not move at all.

A cavalry action on the Roman right, saw some exceedingly brave Numidian lights do considerable damage.

Roman lights took the brunt of the damage and helped contribute to early Roman morale/discipline checks. (Yes, yes, I should have pulled them out of there, I know).

The Roman centre appeared at least, to be well held, though was slowly being flanked.

...and there was the small matter of Carthaginian heavy infantry to deal with.

Oh yeah...and the Celts...well they looked dangerous at least, even if they did nothing :)

Another major decision here was to use single large bases and simply mark off hits for each base. I really like the sizes chosen and the number of figures per base. 3"x1.5" is the way to go. It also allows quick and relatively small games, and covers a pretty wide period (including the odd R.E.Howard inspired Conan style mash up).


  1. Looks good. Ancients is an area I am sorely lacking in although I've got a sizeable collection of 15mm Imperial Romans and Gauls. Neil Thomas has some in his Intro to Wargaming book I was thinking about trying. If they work, maybe I'll try Sword & Spear next.

    1. Yep, I was thinking of the NT book as I was writing the entry. He has some nice scenarios in his ancients book.

      Nice activation mechanism though...for some reason, I was thinking modern skirmish as a 'hack' for it as we played.

  2. Hi D

    Good set of rules easy mechanisms but hard to master tactics.

    Good to see you have been getting plenty of games in unlike moi :-(


    1. Thanks G

      Should try a game of this with your 15mm stuff at some stage, as I don't really have enough figures on the table.

      Also interested in trying Megablitz or Field of Battle WWII soon with the 20mm stuff.

  3. I went down a similar path as you. I purchased Sword & Spear from Lulu but have not given it a try. Have not made it through a first reading of the rules. I am resisting the temptation to pick up the 2nd Edition until the 1st Edition have at least been read.

    1. Same dilemma as myself sir. I wasn't going to buy it until I heard the review on the 'Meeples & Miniatures' podcast, and there were a few changes...and I was buying 'Iron Cross' from the same company, and one thing led to another...*sigh*