Wednesday, 19 November 2014


The rules for trieres battles I have been developing for some time have a horrible tendency to lead themselves over a cliff now and again. Some logical progression results in undermining the basic principles they are built upon.
From the beginning I was using Hotz models at circa 1/300 scale. This resulted in problems with time and space which were unsurmountable. It is ok to fight a skirmish with a handful of Roman liburnæ versus a handful of 'Saxon'pirates. A full fleet action with fifty or more ships becomes impossible, however.
This is a problem for other sets of rules too, for example 'Naumachia'. Some rules go for allowing large numbers of ships from the start , such as 'Corvus' but the problem one then hits is that the colour and atmosphere of the game is somewhat bleached out.

I think I have a good handle on what trieres combat was all about and one thing it requires is space. Even with my card models at 1/400 down to 1/500 they struggle to allow large numbers on the table without a whole set of special provisions for leaving and reentering the area of combat.
Where will it end ?

This problem of space applies only to the golden age of the trieres. Many battle even at this time and most later, took place in restricted areas or even harbours with a style of combat which hinged on deck combat or involved fewer ships-often larger but
triereis need space !

A concomitant problem is the length of the rule book. My brain rebels at the sight of long chapters on each aspect of how to have a game just as much as my wallet rebels against buying tomes including a lot of padding and data I can get un-pre-digested from original sources. Before I become guilty of the same sins it is time to slash and burn.
 My decision over the last months has been to extract the key concepts and rules and produce a new one. But not to throw the old one away. Frustratingly, the decision to acknowledge that trieres warfare was very special also forces acknowledgement of the need to make a very special rules set for them. This does not mean the two sets would be totally distinct. The trieres rules should be a basis for the others which also include more detail, suitable for the later battles. 

Size became an issue again. Larger trieres battles cannot be fought at scales below about 1/3000 I have decided. Smaller tabletops result in very short game turn durations and limited manoeuvre room. I needed 5 minute turns and space for fleets to make their evolutions. In addition, the usual problem of having to scale the numbers involved down can give way to the possibility at this scale for representing every vessel !

I now have 'Triereis of the Gods' for 1/3000 games and 'Blood-Dark Sea' for 1/450.

As a start I have made some attempts at models in this scale.
1/3000 triereis, 6mm Perians, Top-Down Squadron 1/6000(!)
 Outpost Wargame Services also have models available at 1/3600 which look suitable.

In the meantime, top-down prints and matchsticks are standing-in.

Frustration at diverting again from my original aim to field lots of card models is not total, though. A good realistic triereis battle will be something novel and a good game I think. And, a set of rules for using the card ships in moderate numbers in dense ship melees will also be fun!.

ad infinitum?