Thursday, 6 June 2013

Vanguard 'Warships of the Ancient World'

At last achieved successful download from Osprey website. Perhaps due to living in 'The Rest of the World' it was more difficult than for others ?

A slim volume at 47 pages. And slim on info.

But the author tries to cover ship technology, production , use and the naval tactics and strategy of the times. It does manage to cover all this even if the evidence is thin and space limited.

A lot of the evidence for these ships is graphical , shame so little is reproduced here.
Some photos of shorescapes, nice, but some charts would have given more detail.
Some of the illustrations are very atmospheric and I quite like the artist's style. However, his technical draughtsmanship is a bit off in some pictures and this is important to draw complex wooden ships correctly and believably.
The Tyrian dicrotic warship in plate D is a confused representation, to say the least.
The graceful Minoan ships are rendered clumpy and dead in plate C.
The reconstruction of a samaina - plate H-also wierd - how could that be built ?
The explanation may come from an illustration of a rig for a square sail which is incomplete.
This lacks a hals fore sheet, so the sail will flap and lose wind.
Perhaps the author is not sure about naval architecture that makes reconstructions a bit tricky.

So a patchy book with the Osprey constraints - which is also the Osprey temptation ( anyon can write one ?) - its own worst enemy again.

But plate G is really really nice !!!

Some of the plates will allow Junior General fans to knock up some passable ships quiteeasily.

Conway's History of the Ship series cost more but deliver so much more information that for me it is only worth buying this book as a cheaper PDF. As a first step to getting interested in this subject it could be useful but it's only the plates that grab, and then only som of them , I feel. It could whet the appetite of a few more to try wargaming with paper ships ? (ok, maybe with lead too..)


  1. Thank you for the Osprey review - I might pass on that book...

  2. Glad someone read my piece :)
    I may post some more comments. The basic info in it is generally ok but the plates especially, which is half the reason to buy an Osprey ?, are not good.