JP On Gaming

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


There! I’ve done it! After procrastinating for quite a bit, doing other things, painting models, playing D&D Online, watching whole seasons of the Real Housewhores of […], I finally have written the first adventure in this world I’ve been blogging about! It feels real good. With an adventure behind my belt, the project begins to feel more concrete to me. I mean just talking and talking is fine… but getting something you can look and read is real.

Real is good.

Now that the first round of writing is over, begins the second phase, the editing and tweaking. Sure writing an adventure is fun and joy, but the second phase, which is often more tedious and annoying begins. Although it’s not as enjoyable, the editing phase is when an adventure really becomes alive. I’m not talking about self-edits or style changes. I mean when ideas are merged, reformed and tweaked. That is when good adventures are made GREAT.

Those who worked as authors for me know my near-tyrannical tendencies during that phase. I am merciless (and I expect my editors to be as merciless with me as I am with them). The proof of this is, I believe, in the pudding. Great adventures were born of the synergy of both the mind of the author and the direction of the editor.

So that’s the news right now. And with one adventure… this means the next one is just around the corner! So now I must start on a sequel. Something to make into a memorable campaign…

What is the adventure about you ask? Well that’s pretty simple… It’s a dungeon crawl with some RP elements to introduce the particularities. What!? You expected a deep and intertwined storyline from the get-go? That would be foolish of me. Don’t worry I must set a few strands before starting to work on a full-on web! Baby steps. Remember. Baby steps…

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Late Ptolemaic List for WAB

WAB is Warhammer Ancient Battles, a set of wargaming rules that is close to my own heart. It uses the same mechanics as the popular Warhammer Fantasy Battles, but strips out all of the magic and monsters, leaving only human soldiers and cavalry. I have found that it represents battles of the period well enough and that it is fast-paced.

A little History

The Ptolemaic Dynasty was the last dynasty of Egyptian pharaohs. After Alexander the Great liberated Egypt from Persian control, Egypt became part of the Macedonian Empire. With Alexander’s death, one of his top generals (Ptolemy) took control of Egypt and became embroiled in the many wars of successions that followed the breaking up of the Macedonian Empire. Ptolemy and his successor (also named Ptolemy) were foreign rulers in a conquered land. During its three century existence (323-30BC), the dynasty’s fortunes waxed and waned.

When Cleopatra was crowned in 51BC, Egypt extended south to Nubia (mod Northern Sudan), west into the Libyan desert (the exact location of the frontier is about where it is today), into the Sinai Peninsula and a few sea-side colonies. The Ptolemaic empire had diminished significantly since its heydays, but it was still a powerful state. It was a state where the leaders were Greek and the population was Egyptian, Libyan, Nubian and Jewish. The Greeks distrusted the local populace and kept separate from them.

The armies of Egypt were drawn from this group of Greek descendants and mercenary units the state was able to pay. Thus we have reports that the Egyptian army included: Gallatians, Gauls, Germans, Syrians, Nubians, Libyans and Cilicians.

Writing the list

I first came up with the idea of building an army centered the conflicts of Cleopatra VI's reign. She ruled over a period of history I really like and for which I own numerous armies for (Romans, Gauls, Illyrian/Thracians, Parthians). I had a few packs of Macedonian / Successor infantry and some Nubian archers. I began thinking about a way to use those minis. Then the idea dawned on me. So I decided to see what an army of Ptolemaic would look like.

I went to look for WAB resources: no army published. I looked through some on-line site, WRG's (Wargames Research Group) and DBM (De Bellis Multitudinis) books to see what those games had as far as resources. There were some useful tidbits. From those sources I was able to gather that the Egyptian Army was centered on a core of phalanxes and “imitation legionnaires”. Phalanxes were pike-armed units that fought in dense formation using 18-20 feet long pikes. Imitation legionnaires were a different best. Most sources agreed that they were most likely equipped as Roman legionnaires: pilum or throwing spear, sword and an oblong shield with a Roman-style helm, they were a number of divergences on their quality, training and distribution of chainmail or padded amongst the troops.

I contacted Jeff Jonas, the author of Alexander the Great for WAB and web master for He pointed me to an army list he published for his yet-unreleased Successor supplement (which has been on my must-buy list since AtG came out). As luck would have it, he was willing to share! I sat down and devoured the list. Immediately I saw a few tweaks to make to it. But I had a basic framework to work up from. So I did research aimed at learning about those mercenary troops in Egyptian service. How should they be classified in the game? Here, a little intuition and game experience can go a long way.

The list

So finally, I completed the army list and posted it to my website WAB page I completed the exercise by building a few sample armies to try out the rules. I like the mixture of pike and other units. If you have comments or thoughts, do not hesitate to contact me!