Neil Thomas' Ancient & Medieval Wargaming

Ancient & Medieval Wargaming Review

What is AMW?

Ancient and Medieval Wargaming is a small rulebook that's less than 300 pages. Despite the humble size of the ruleset, it manages to provide substantial information about 5 different armies from eras ranging from Biblical, to Classical, to the Dark Ages, and all the way to the Medieval. The descriptions of the different periods are presently nicely and information is well sourced.

But the real draw of this ruleset is not the preset army stats or even the historically-themed content, it is the way the game is played. IGO-UGO is an easy system for anyone to pick up and is a staple of many players. Turns are played out as movement, ranged attacks, and lastly, melee combat. Mechanics-wise, simple and easy -but also nothing too unique (if you have played other games, then all of these would be familiar).

Are We Done Yet?

So what makes AMW so special? The way you play it -in this case, this is more of a mindset than a literal how. Players in AMW know exactly what they want to do. A solid goal that predefines a win or a loss outside of spending hours and hours trying to wipe each other out; or waiting for our respective families to start complaining about the time we spend playing before we decide to pack up from an arbitrarily ended campaign (an experience most of us are well familiar with).

So the game provides pre-determined conditions about "what constitutes a win" -big deal, any other guide can say that, right? As we said, AMW teaches players a mindset, not just a series of hows. Having win conditions is just one example of how players learn to adapt to a game. It can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be. But the important thing is that you understand the game beyond just knowing how it works. And it does this by providing the barest minimum of rules in the most easy to understand ways.

All Things Ancient

As a standalone system, AMW's preset armies provides players with substantial content to play with (if you are relatively new to the hobby). From Phalanxes to Heavy Cavalry, there is a huge amount of different unit types to use in battle -though you would most certainly want to start out sticking to a single army instead of mix and matching units from different periods. Macedonians, Romans, Persians -these historical groups are represented with startlingly simplified yet distinctively unique formations. That and imagining Elephants wreaking havoc in a battlefield is also fun.

Putting two and two together is easy -you make a turn, roll the dice, and do the minimum amount of math. Chance is easy to calculate -anything above a specific number means success. Saving throws are not subject to a ridiculous amount of modifiers. Though in the end, players are encouraged to use their own logic and judgment to provide bonuses or penalties where applicable.

There's even a morale check in play -which is calculated at the end of each turn. Losing a moral check is a big penalty, which means that games can end rather quickly.

A Good Close

Ending things fast may seem like a shame (since setting up the battlefield and all those units takes so much effort), but considering that most other campaigns take way too long to finish, AMW's quicker pace is not only refreshing, but satisfying. Depending on the conditions, you can conclude a match in about an hour and a half (or two). This is a big difference from having to play long drawn out battles lasting entire evenings -and once the day breaks, everyone just starts wanting to do something else (or is too sleepy to continue). Having a system that you can keep playing over and over is what makes Ancient & Medieval Wargaming such as great ruleset; and that is why we highly recommend it to anyone who does not have it.