Saturday 24 December 2011

WAB2: Armies of Antiquity review

OK, so now I've had the book for a few days, it's been passed around the club members at our Christmas bash (yes, the committee can organise a pissup in a brewery!), and I've absorbed various folks comments elsewhere.

So, what do I think?

I'm coming from a background of not owning most of the WAB1 supplements, as I'm a late arrival to WAB itself, and my choice of ancient armies were fundamentally driven by what Warlord and Wargames Factory produce, which I suspect was also in part driven by what lists were in the base WAB2 rulebook. In a way, then, I'm possibly not the typical customer.

Basically, what you get for your £28 is a 200 page hardback book, in a pretty-much identical style to the core rulebook, packed with roughly 100 army lists. If, like me, you can do the maths, you can work out that that averages out to two pages a list, and you'd probably guess, and you'd be right, that that doesn't leave much space for pretty pictures and flowery text. Personally, that's not what I bought it for, anyway. Some folks on the fora have been moaning that for the content, they'd expect a £15 softback, or a bunch more content - while I can see their point, it does work out at 28p per well-researched list.

And they are, as far as I can tell, well-researched. I've been following the History of Rome podcast of late on my (now much shorter) commute, and I'm definitely pretty happy with the armies and enemies of early and Republican Rome (though the lack of a Samnite list will, I hope, be rectified in the lists Martin Gibbins has promised to post next year).

What's in the lists?

A rough check of my Brigantes army (the rulebook Barbarian list) vs building it on the British Tribes list suggests it'd come in around one and a half times the points for the same figures, partly because the warband now have the Light Infantry rule and are 10 points a pop. Equally, my 1500 pt rulebook EIR army kicks in around 200, at a rough first glance, with AoA - it is, though, a more varied list, including options for Numidians and Equites Alares, among others. There are a few subtle changes - for example, legionaries are now Raw, Seasoned or Elite - Seasoned and Elite get Drilled, only Elite get Stubborn, and Veteran is a +1pt extra buy for Seasoned or Elite. Also, no slingers, unless you take them as allies from the Armenian list.

Several of the lists have variants - they're either expressed by variations in the balance rules (percentage of cavalry etc), or by restricting some troop types to particular sub-lists. Even more lists for your money!

I should note, I wasn't expecting the points to remain the same - the whole point (no pun intended) of AoA2 is surely to balance out the lists, whatever it takes, unlike the WAB1 supplements. The Macedonians, for example, seem to be a little pricier than they are in the original supplement, but I think I've made it clear that's no bad thing in my book (sorry PhilF!) :D

What's Missing?

As I said in my earlier post, the contents page will give you a good idea of what's in the book. What's clearly missing - by design - is all the 'Biblical' lists (New Kingdom Egyptian, etc), and a more annoying omission, which I gather from Martin's forum post is not deliberate, is any French opposition for the medieval English list at, you know, places like Crécy and Agincourt.

There's only one real 'Dark Ages' list - I don't (as yet) play that, but several people have commented that the list covers a long time (75AD-800AD), even though it's divided into several variants.

Also missing, according to Martin, is his last batch of errata, which is a bit more of a fundamental cockup from Warhammer Historical/ForgeWorld. especially after apparently committing much the same sin with the core rulebook.

In Summary?

Gripes aside, this does pretty much what it says on the tin: definitely worth the money in my view, and has me considering several lists in addition to my planned Parthians.


  1. My thoughts:

    Many of the old special to army special rules have gone (no flaming rollers for a Spartacus army for example) and the Samurai list has been toned down from the old ‘Samurai are supermen’ list. All of the army special rules come either from the rule book or this book, so you don’t need to own a copy of your opponents army list book to understand what rules they are using. I like it, IMHO it has moved away from the extremes of army special rules to more of a middle ground and follows the lead started in WAB2, less of characters dominating the game to a good solid ancient wargame with some special rules to give armies unique character.

  2. I have just ordered WAB2 and will no doubt pick up AoA2 at some point. Thanks for the review


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