Society of Ancients Conference 2019

When was it: 2nd - 3rd November 2019

Where was it: Chesford Grange Hotel, Kenilworth

The annual Conference is where the Society of Ancients gets together for a weekend to exchange ideas on wargaming in the ancients and medieval periods. And to enjoy playing some good and varied wargames!

The weekend contains a mixture of presentations and wargaming sessions in small and larger groups. There are options to join the various activities, some of which will run more than once, so that you can choose what you like the look of, and what you don’t! It’s an opportunity to try new things, be they new rule sets that are under development, multi-player games with political elements, or more traditional games – all will be well-represented.

As in previous years, things kicked off on the Friday evening with a boardgame session that went on until midnight when even the ragged band of Viking raiders decided it was time to pack up and go to bed. The rest of the weekend consisted of a presentation followed by breakout sessions where Conference participants were invited join one of several games.


This year’s Conference included five presentations.

The Battle of Bosworth Mike Ingram and Phil Steele presented the latest research into the Battle of Bosworth 1485. Mike is the author of two ground-breaking books on the battle. Based on original reading of the sources, together with battlefield archaeology conducted during 2009, Mike provided a coherent account of the battle and its correct site.
Vandals Looking for Horses Simon MacDowall, author of many books about the armies of the later Roman period, traced the epic Vandal migration of the 5th Century AD, challenging the conventional wargaming assumption that the Vandals were always mounted warriors.
The Roman Empire’s Great Crisis of the 3rd Century AD

Dr Harry Sidebottom provided the Conference keynote speech, demonstrating how the principles that had hitherto provided the Empire with security and stability, broke down during the 3rd Century. He showed the effect that multiple campaigns on different frontiers had upon political stability and the life expectancy of emperors, concluding with the Tetrarchy of Diocletian that restored order to the Empire. Harry also briefly reviewed how this period is handled by various published games and rulesets.

Harry Sidebottom giving the keynote speech at the conference
Harry Sidebottom strikes fear into Society President Roy Boss
The Battle of Edgcote Graham Evans, author of the recent revelatory book on this battle, explained the new reading of what happened at this battle set during, but not really part of, the Wars of the Roses.
Chances Are Nick Harbud led a dicey discussion on the application of randomness in wargames.


The following games were organised for participation during the Conference breakout sessions.

The Battle of Bosworth

Simon MacDowall provided an interesting take on the classic battle with his rehabilitated 54mm Britains Swoppets.

Knights fighting during the battle of Bosworth
Wheels of War

Mark Fry gave participants the opportunity to engage in chariot versus chariot duels using his rules developed from a well-known aerial combat game.

Duncan Head clutching his head over a wargaming table
Players could not believe how hard it is to steer a chariot
Kill the King Richard Lockwood organised a Dark Ages Dux Bellorum scenario where neighbouring Saxons, Scotti and Picts came to blows in a struggle for dominance over their combined border territories. The only way to win is to kill the enemy king!
Gangs of Rome

David and Sam Marks game, set in the busy market place of a Roman town was acclaimed as having the best scenery of the Conference. Half a dozen players each controlled a gang intent upon killing the others and capturing the Romanised Germanic barbarian, Ballista, before he could escape the scene. However, Ballista, ably played by the Society Treasurer, alternately ducked, weaved and smashed people in the face before giving them all the slip.

An aerial view of a model of a Roman marketplace
The marketplace before the slaughter
A corner of the marketplace with a single figure
The Treasurer makes good his escape!
To Ur is Human Graham Evans took six players through his newly published Sumerian tabletop rules.
The Early Tournament Drawing inspiration from the life and times of William Marshall, Roy Boss and Matt Bennett hosted a game bringing to life this early period of “tournaments for profit”.
Adrianopolis - The Refight Juan Amador staged this battle using 28mm figures and To The Strongest rules.
Pandemic - Fall of Rome Richard Jeffrey-Cook ran a session to look at how this new game simulates the decline and fall of the Roman Empire
Medieval Command & Colors John Drewienkiewicz and Andrew Brentnall introduced players to the hot-off-the-press new rules.
The Battle of Edgcote – The Refight

Phil Steele and Graham Evans organised a multi-player game based upon Graham’s presentation of what happened at this battle.

Medieval Naval Seige Warfare in the Baltic

Matt Bennett brought back his lovely ship models to allow players to experience an assault of Danish warships on a Swedish fortress. Paul Stein was acclaimed the winner for conducting the entire game in Swedish and substituting fermented herrings for boiling oil.

Somewhere in Britain AD 60 Richard Lockwood presented a game where the players took on the role of the various Roman contingents, dealing with challenges generated by the umpire.
Refighting Zama Andrew Brentnall and John Drewienkiewicz ran a refight of this famous battle with Epic Command & Colors and masses of 6mm figures
Great Khan Richard Jeffrey-Cook conducted a multi-player game representing battles across the Eurasian Steppes - suitable for ruthless conquerors of all ages. It used 15mm figures and a set of Mah-jongg tiles.
The Battle of Edgcote – The Refight Phil Steele and Graham Evans organised a multi-player game based upon Graham’s presentation of what happened at this battle.
Refighting Hydaspes Jeremy Giles reprised his 6mm game of this famous battle using Hail Caesar rules


Society of Ancients Conference 2020

Next year’s Conference will be held at a new venue, Madingley Hall, near Cambridge. It will take place between 30th October and 1st November.