Sunday, 13 January 2019

2018 Summary - Part 2 - Mortem et Gloriam


The second part of my 2018 Summary is dedicated to Mortem et Gloriam - historical system that I discovered at the beginning of the year and to which I committed some time in April.

I must admit that I did not initially plan to embark on such journey. In general, I prefer to focus on a single system as that allows me to divide spare time between gaming and painting models for a single army.

However, my brother convinced me to give it a go. I luckily had a collection of 10mm models I bought long time ago to play Warmaster Ancients. It has never happened, mainly due to lack of opponents. The collection was big enough to create a small army and try out the new game.

In the end I found myself fully committed to the new system, painting new units, playing games and attending tournaments. In this post I would like to share my experiences as I have really enjoyed the journey so far. 

Mortem et Gloriam

I have liked reading about ancient military history since a long time but somehow I have never really played any historical systems. I made a few attempts in the past and I even collected some sets of rules but usually that was it. I think that helped me to approach Mortem Et Gloriam without much of a bias or particular expectations. Of course I tried to learn as much as possible about the game before I bought the rules but it was more to learn about the mechanics. One can find a good description on MeG website:

The intriguing elements were pre-battle system and outscouting the enemy as well as combination of special cards and dice. I knew about other games where there is an alternate actions system and I was curious how does this approach work here. 

After some deliberations, a few discussions with my brother and a friend who already bought the rules, I decided to purchase the game set.

Cards and Dice - essential components of the rules set.

Luckily for me, there was a small event organized shortly after by Dean from Olympian Games who is the official distributor of the game for Australia. It was aimed at the beginners like myself, who wanted to learn how to play. It was also a good opportunity to meet the local players.

I also had a selection of models in 10mm scale I could assemble and paint quickly to be able to attend and see if I wanted to commit time and effort to this system. I chose Seleucids because I am interested in the period of the Diadochi Wars, I had the models to represent that army and from the historical point of view, this factions should ensure better chance for historically accurate match ups.

I received some really nice advice from other players as to how compose the army list and what to include for that event. In particular, Adrian from Brighton, who at the time was teaching my brother how to use his Carthaginian army, was very helpful in answering questions. Many thanks, Adrian!

Seleucids vs Spartans - the very first game of MeG!

In that game we barely made it to any fights but I learned a lot about the mechanics and how to move the units. I would like to thank Geoff who was my first coach, because thanks to his patient explanations of the rules I understood more and faster than I would have ever done by myself. And thanks to him I played the second game with much more confidence. Thanks a lot, Geoff!

From now on I managed to organize games quite regularly and it seems that there are quite a few active local players. It was always a matter of finding time for games rather than opponents. However, after the event, I made the decision to fully commit to Mortem et Gloriam and that meant shopping! :)

The Models

Argyraspides - First models I painted for MeG army.

My plan was simple. Keep the size of the army at 7000 points (the size of armies used at the event), collect enough models to replace 10mm ones and start painting unit by unit. In this way I could continue playing, test painting techniques and steadily replace the old with the new.

I paid another visit to Dean's shop to see what models I would like to purchase. I must say that initial search for models was not conclusive. Mainly because the photos on producer websites do not really give justice to the models they sale. Fortunately, I could examine some and decided to pick them from Xyston range.

The reason I picked them all from a single distributor is that thanks to that there are no variations in the size of the models. It also looked like I am going to cover the units I wanted with the offered range as well.

Dean was always very helpful in choosing the right models and it was great to have that advice before placing orders. Fortunately, I could not get all the models at once as I think I would have felt a bit overwhelmed. Especially at the beginning when I did not know yet how log it would take me to paint a single unit.

I enjoyed painting 15mm scale models a lot. I did a few trial and error attempts but in general, the approach I chose to painting was time efficient and resulted in the effects I really liked. Having to paint the army with lower number of units definitely helped as well and I completed my goal to have a fully painted army of 10,500 points! I am very happy with that and I am looking forward to fielding it during upcoming event, CanCon 2019.

The Camp - final element to complete the army.

My next goal will be to focus on preparing terrain pieces I would like to use in my games so that I have absolutely everything required to play.

The Games

I am quite lucky that there are a lot of local players interested in Mortem et Gloriam and I managed to organize quite a number of games. I have played 19 games in 2018 alone which combined with 30+ played in Kings of War makes for 1 game per week on average. Not too bad, considering that spare time was also divided between painting, reading and other activities.

Seleucids vs Romans - the beginning of a full scale battle.

Although I started at 7000 points, we quickly moved to larger games at 10,000 - 11,000 points. I must say I like them even better because the armies look great and the battle may be full of actions that swing the balance back and forth. In every game I was learning something new and I know that I am still at the beginning of the journey.

To help me improve faster but also to share lessons learned, I started writing battle reports from my games. I have been writing battle reports for a few years for my other games. However, due to the alternate action of Mortem et Gloriam mechanics it was a new challenge. I wanted to capture the dynamics of the sequence of actions where players constantly adapt to changing circumstances. One often needs to alter the plan or change the initial decision when the opponent makes an unexpected move.

Fortunately, it is very easy to take a quick photo of the units as they are being moved during the game. Every full turn I would take a photo of the table and with that photographic material it was just a matter of replicating them to Battle Chronicler, program I use to write battle reports. After making a map for each move I combine them into a gif file that shows the sequence of movements in a simple but effective animation.

Example of a snapshot used for battle reports.

My goal for 2019 is to continue with regular games, hopefully increasing the number of them. I also would like to improve the speed of my decision making and maneuvers. I often run out of time to complete the game, especially at the events.

I am sure that if I keep practicing that goal will be achieved and that I will be able to move to the next level. Coming up with some good plans for the battles in general and some clever tactical maneuvers in particular! I should have plenty of opportunities to do so, both in terms of casual games and tournaments so I guess I should start planning already. :)

The Books

I think it was only natural that when I committed to Mortem et Gloriam my desire for reading also grew. I keep discovering more and more fantastic books that are very interesting indeed. Due to the selection of the army I looked at many titles relevant to the faction and period. One of the first I read was "Great Battles of the Hellenistic Wars" by Joseph Pietrykowsky. I would definitely recommend that book for a nice overview of some of the largest and decisive battles in antiquity.

One of the first books I read in 2018.

I also enjoyed reading the following: "Pyrrhus of Epirus" and Antigonus the One-Eyed" by Jeff Champion, "The Macedonian War Machine" by David Kurananithy, "The Wars of Alexander's Successors" Vol. I and II by Bob Bennet and Mike Roberts, "The Raise of Seleukid Empire" by John D. Grainger and I am currently reading "An Invincible Beast" by Christopher Matthew.

However, to my surprise (a little at least), I found two books about completely different area of conflict in the ancient world, to be the most interesting of them all. First one is "Scipio Africanus: Rome's Greatest General" by Richard A. Gabriel and the second is "The Ghosts of Cannae" by Robert L. O'Connel.

One of the best books I read in 2018.

I found it a bit surprising because there were so many books written about 2nd Punic War. And yet I read both of them as if I have never read anything about it before. It is fascinating story about devastating war that resulted in destruction of entire civilization. I just wish there were more sources that survived to this day about this conflict, as well as about the Successor Kingdoms.

Plans for 2019

I believe that 2019 shapes up as a good year for Mortem et Gloriam. Significant number of players committed to this system so I hope that in 2019 that number will keep growing steadily further. It also looks like there may be more events to attend so hopefully real life is not going to interfere too much and I will be able to attend more tournaments.

I would like to focus on playing games in 2019, learning more about and enjoying the great game of Mortem et Gloriam. More games also means more battle reports that intend to make my main contribution to the discussions about the system.

Getting ready for 2019!
 Thanks for reading!

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