Equipment for Ancient Naval Wargaming

Equipment for Ancient Naval Wargaming

Before the newcomer to land wargaming can begin with his new-found hobby he must first buy hundreds of tiny figures, guns and vehicles and then he must paint them. This may well cost him a large amount of money and take months to complete. Sea wargaming is not nearlyso demanding either in terms of cash or preparatory work but there is nevertheless still a minimum amount of equipment which must be assembled before one can begin. This equipment consists of:

  1. Model Ships
  2. Playing area (ie, the sea)
  3. Measuring and turning devices
  4. Dice

Let us examine them in reverse order.


The game uses two types of dice. The first is the standard six-sided die marked 1 through 6 (hereafter referred to as a D6). These dice are readily available almost everywhere. One is enough, but a handful is better so that the dice will always be at hand whenever and wherever they are needed.

The other type is known as an averaging die and gives a reduced likelihood of extreme results. It is marked, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5. These dice are usually only found in gaming shops. If you can't find averaging dice just use regular dice and count the 1 as a 3 and the 6 as a 4. It's a little more cumbersome but it works just as well.

Measuring and turning devices

This just means rulers and poster board circles. Ships have a minimum diameter of turn, which may vary with speed and a variety of other factors. In our sea battles we shall have ships trying to maneuver without colliding, attempting to ram the enemy and turning to avoid rams. If we are going to simulate battle accurately we must ensure that no model ship can turn tighter than its real-life counterpart could.

Turning is also one of those areas in which we can, if we wish, distinguish between skilled and unskilled sailors, because the ability to out-turn one's opponent is a great advantage in a ramming battle. There is an historic justification for this; that during the Punic Wars, the Carthaginians were able to thoroughly outmaneuver the Romans on occasion by using the rudders of both sides of their galleys simultaneously. The less skillful Romans were unable to coordinate the efforts of two helmsmen. If, therefore, one of your fleets is more amateurish than the other, make them turn on arcs one or two grades larger than those of their opponents.

To simulate all this we use poster board turning circles marked around the circumference in inches. Circles needed for the game are:

A- 4 inch diameter
B - 6 inch diameter
C - 8 inch diameter
D - 10 inch diameter
E - 12 inch diameter
F - 14 inch diameter

The uses of each Circle will be explained in the rules under Turning (section 7).

Playing Area

The bigger the better. We usually pull several tables together and cover the whole thing with a king-sized blue sheet. As you get more familiar with the game you many want to add interesting terrain features such as islands and coastlines. Whatever works for you is fine, but just remember that part of the fun of using miniatures is that they look so good on the gaming table. So, the more detail and time you spend on terrain, the better you will like the results.

Model Ships

While these rules can easily be adapted for use with very tiny (1:1,200 scale) models, the game is designed to use large models actually carrying sailors and marines in the form of 15mm model soldiers.

Our galleys are made of quarter inch thick balsa wood and matte board, and are about 6 inches in length and one and a half inches across the beam. For obvious reasons the oarsmen are not included in the ships, but removable oar sections, five to a side, are attached to black-painted wells where the rowers would sit. The oar wells are covered with double stick tape and the oars are thus stuck to the ships. These oars can then be removed to simulate damage as can the-rudders, hooked over the gunwales at the stern.

The masts are made of thin wooden sticks with card stock sails, stuck into the deck amidships. Click here for more complete and detailled instructions on building the Galleys.

The crew usually consists of a Trierarch (captain), two sailors, two to six heavy infantrymen, and two archers. Other equipment such as towers and corvus (Roman boarding bridges) may be added as you like.

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