News & Reviews of Vis Bellica

A collection of the various news pieces and reviews that have appeared about Vis Bellica.   Check the Articles and Scenarios sections of this website for more.
Have you spotted one the webmaster hasn't seen?  Or do you have a comment to make on anything said below?  Contact the Webmaster with details by clicking here.
March 2005 A short report in Slingshot on the first Vis Bellica "Not A Tournament" event.
Spring 2005 Hydaspes scenario in Miniature Wargames.
January 2005 Battle report in Slingshot.
September 2004 A short review of VB by Larry Irons in the newsletter of the Colorado Military Historians.
May 2004 Barnet battle report in Slingshot.
April 2004 Full report of SoA Gaugamela Battle Day; Carrhae scenario on Wargames Journal.
February 2004 Article on Vis Bellica in Slingshot;  review of Army Lists Book 3 on the Wargames Forum.
December 2003 News item re Army Lists Book 3 on TMP; review of Army Lists Book 3 on Wargames Directory; mention of the Agincourt scenario on Wargames Journal.
November 2003 Cynocephalae battle report, and review of Army Lists Book 2, in Slingshot; news item re the command baton on TMP, Wargames Directory, and Wargames Forum
October 2003 Agincourt scenario on Wargames Journal.
September 2003 Bosworth scenario in Wargames Illustrated; Leuctra scenario in Slingshot; Designer Notes Interview in Saga Magazine; Painting 15mm Figures article on Wargames Journal.
August 2003 Review of Book Two of the army lists on Wargames Forum and Wargames Directory; mention in the Salute 03 Show Report in Miniature Wargames.
July 2003 Review on TMP.
June 2003 More on the army lists from Wargames Forum; battle report from Miniature Wargames.
May 2003 Mentions on TMP; Wargames Journal; the Vis Bellica Yahoo Group; and ancmed.
April 2003 Review on Wargames Journal; review in Spearpoint.
March 2003 Review from Slingshot;  mini-reviews of the first book of army lists on Wargames Directory and Wargames Forum.
February 2003 Mention on TMP.
January 2003 Mini-review on Wargames Weekly.
December 2002 Review on Wargames Directory and Wargames Forum; mention on TMP.
November 2002 News piece in Wargames Journal; mentions on Fanaticus and ancmed.
October 2002 Teaser review on Wargames Journal.


March 2005



Sunny Huntingdon, that home to daredevil innovation and prudent adventure, saw the first national Vis Bellica "Not A Tournament" last October, with guests from around the country coming to try their hands at the rules set that has, with some justification, been called the "marijuana of ancient wargaming". In attendance was the author and special guest (at least I don't think he had to buy his own drinks) Robert Avery, and I must point thanks to the worthy gentlemen of the Huntingdon and District Wargames Society for being such genial hosts and allowing us to use their delightful club venue and well-equipped terrain supplies.

Gamers tried their hand at two or three games each during the day, including Hellenistic historical bashes, the Wars of the Roses' battle of Stoke, two renaissance re-fights of the battle of Garigliano, and a number of fantasy romps using the sister rules Vis Magica. The games were played in the traditional good humour and sportsmanlike fashion for which the Vis Bellica community is famous.

What can we learn from this first, hopefully, of many meetings? Well, if you want a relaxed wargaming experience, come and join us. Vis Bellica is a fun, but serious set of rules that lends itself well to scenario play. We learnt that trying to cross Italian rivers in the raging snow is not a good idea. We learnt that erkin Warbeck might or might not have been the true king of England. We learnt that the Ancient Egyptian undead should never mess with elves. However what we never learnt was why wargamers prefer to stand in the car park and discuss the day's battles rather than stay inside in the warm clubhouse. Maybe next time this will become clear...


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September 2004


Newsletter of The Colorado Military Historians

Rules for Ancients by Larry Irons

I bought a copy of Vis Bellica by Robert Avery at Attactix.  I started reading the rules and could not put it down.  It is a very interesting set with some fresh ideas.  If you are a WABit you will like the basing.  Close order infantry are mounted 12 figures in 2 ranks on a stand that is 6" x 3".  In fact all bases are 6" x 3".  Chariot and elephant stands are columnar, while infantry and cavalry are linearly oriented.

These rules are designed to represent big battles.  One close order base of close order foot represents 2 Roman cohorts.  Therefore, and entire legion would consist of 5 bases.

These rules use a command structure that is hierarchical with a CinC, sub-generals, and "brigade" commanders.  2 or more bases are under the command of a leader.  Several leaders are under the command of a sub or wing general.  Generals and leaders are given orders and their bases must move according to their orders.  The leader's bases continue to carry out their orders until the orders are changed or a morale result causes them to fail to carry out the orders.

Shooting, melee and morale are based on a number of factors including the unit's training and morale, armour etc.

I think the rules are worth a look.  I will try and give a demo of the rules in the near future at a CMH event.

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May 2004


Go to the Barnet scenario here, and the battle report here, that appeared in Slingshot, the magazine of the Society of Ancients.  As the Editor, John Graham-Leigh said:  "The feature on the battle of Barnet again highlights how different rules sets approach battlefield problems - Vis Bellica shows to advantage here..."

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April 2004

Read all about the SoA "Gaugamela" Battle Day here.


Go to the Carrhae scenario here.

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February 2004

Michael Tittensor has written a comparison of DBM and Vis Bellica for Slingshot magazine (the magazine of the Society of Ancients).  Read it here.


Wargames Forum

"Of all the periods of wargaming, Ancients I find is the one in which prejudice about rule systems is the strongest. When I received these list for review just before Christmas I approached my local club contacts and asked them to check them out and feed back details for the review. I could find no takers as the WAB and WRG sets were in universal usage in my area. So I posted the set off to a friend in Scotland, with the same response. It was only when I passed the set to another contact in Birmingham that I was able to get feedback I could use. And this suprises me, because the Vis Bellica system is very playable, and good fun, and in my view far superior to the WRG rules, though I cannot comment on WAB.

My Midland pals have pored over the lists and find them both detailed and extensive, and as they put it, little to quibble about, though I know this is a serious matter of opinion. I do not have the knowledge or resources to comment on the detail of the Eastern armies included in this publication, however the Western medieval forces seem to be comprehensively covered and accurately portrayed. Personally I found myself very tempted by the Wallachian army list, and may yet succumb to the lure. As for the lists I would say that they are worthy of a place on any ancient or medieval gamers bookshelf, so go on, at £8.75  give them a try."

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December 2003

News Report from TMP:

"10th AD to Guns, the third book of army lists for Vis Bellica, is now available. You can buy them from the main site via cheque or PayPal (see our website for details), or from your usual trader.

10th AD to Guns is a 76pp A4 booklet with a colour front cover. It contains 67 lists, including armies for:

  • the Crusades
  • the Italian Wars
  • the Hundred Years War
  • the Wars of the Roses
  • the early Samurai period
  • El Cid
  • the Mongol invasions
  • China
  • South America
  • and many more.

Vis Magica, the fantasy version of the Vis Bellica rules, follows in the New Year."


From the Wargames Journal Letters Page:

"Just to say I thought that your article on Agincourt was really excellent! I really liked the narrative and the clear style of writing.




A Review of Army Lists Book 3 from Wargames Directory

"The third and final book of army lists for Vis Bellica - the popular rule set for wargaming the ancient period. This 76-page book spans from the 10th Century AD to Guns (15th Century) and contains 67 lists including armies for the Crusades, Italian Wars, 100 Years War, Wars of the Roses, early Samurai, El Cid, Mongol invasions, China and South America. As with the two previous books, the lists are well laid out and there are pics of figures from different companies throughout the book.

Available at a cost of £11.99, this is the most expensive supplement available for Vis Bellica but it also contains the most lists. You can get a discount if you buy the rules and the three supplements together, all for £36 plus postage and packing. Not bad considering this will cover a period from Chariots to the 15th Century.

Excellent  Rated 'Excellent' by Pete on 4 December 2003."



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November 2003

Cynocephalae battle report in Slingshot.


Slingshot's review of Vis Bellica Army Lists Book 2:  First to Tenth AD

"This attractively-presented 64-page booklet contains 59 army lists covering the first millennium AD.  The format is similar to that of Book 1, reviewed in Slingshot 229, but (I'm happy to say) largely without the spelling mistakes!  Some lists cover long periods, such as the Pre-Moghul Indian which can be dated from the 5th century to the 16th with no periodisation, or the Spanish Muslim which is logically divided into the 8th century invasion force and the later mainly Spanish-born forces.  The most wide-ranging list of all is the  "Aztecs & Neighbours, 8th - 16th AD", which does have different sub-divisions for different nationalities.  The lists are generally clear and easy to understand, almost making the competition list-checker redundant, but I'm slightly uneasy about the lack of restrictions that can, for instance,  allow "White Huns" in a 14th century Indian army.  However, this tendency is much less marked than in Book 1 and these lists generally look better.  Although based on the lists produced by WRG for DBM rules, the Vis Bellica lists have none of the "only in Iraq in 628AD" options common in DBA.

"The more time-restricted lists show a good deal of attention to detail.  I was particularly interested in one of my favourite armies, 3rd century Romans, so I'll take that as an example.  Called "Severan Romans" (an improvement on the DBM "Middle Imperial Roman") it divides the legionaries by sub-period.  Up to the death of Caracalla in 217AD all legionaries are Heavy Infantry armed with heavy throwing weapons and a proportion of them (representing the elite "1st Cohort" of each legion) are Veterans with the rest Average.  After 217 they are all Medium Infantry and Average, but add light spears to their equipment.  Finally, from 284AD a considerable number of elite legionaries can be added, all classed as Veterans and adding darts to their armoury.  The auxiliaries are the same throughout, but there is an option to make some of them Heavy Infantry.  I like the way this list is designed.

"Vis Bellica players will definitely want these lists, and devotees of other rules systems can also profit from having a look at a different approach to list design.  Recommended."

John Graham-Leigh 


News Report from TMP:

"Vis Bellica Command Baton Now Available:

"Rulers and measuring sticks?  Who needs them?

"The Vis Bellica Command Baton is a high quality, machine tooled, 16cm long graduated brass rod with a diameter of about 3mm. It is machined to exacting tolerances, then ringed and knurled. It is ideal for quickly and accurately measuring distances for players using 15mm figures: 16cm being that all important command distance.

"This product is unique and will truly last a lifetime...and would make a truly wonderful Christmas present for the Vis Bellica player in your life!

"Available from PWS Ltd via our website - see the Accessories page for details."

From TMP


The same news report appeared on the Wargames Directory and Wargames Forum .

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October 2003

Agincourt scenario on Wargames Illustrated.

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August 2003

A review of the Second Book of Army Lists appeared on the Wargames Forum:

"I am not an ancient gamer and I find myself a little bemused at times at the strength of feeling generated amongst partizans for different rule packages. When I asked a group of gamers to play test the Vis Bellica rules on their release I was greeted by a wall of disinterest; as WAB players they were put off by tables and seemingly complex calculations. But now 12 months later, these same folk are queuing up for a sight of these new lists, and I know that there has been a certain amount or rebasing of armies going on.

So gamers up and down the country will be waiting for this volume, and it seems to me that the wait has been worth it. There are 106 armies detailed in these lists including Dacians, Vandals, Saxons, Franks, Cambodians, Chinese, and Byzantines. However the balance of the rules encourages the use of roughly contemporay armies, although historically fantasy games may also be played the more ancient the army the less likely that its traditional tactics will be successful. 

The list are in an A4 softback format, with 64 pages, including army list, black and white pictures of a range of miniatures from a variety of manufacturers.

Volume three of the lists is scheduled for release later this year and will cover the remaining years to the introduction of effective firearms. Also due soon is Vis Magica, a set of fantasy rules produced using the same game mechanisms as the ancient rules.  

The lists retail at £8.99, and more details of these and earlier volumes can be found at


Our demonstration game at Salute 03 got a mention in the Miniature Wargames review of the show:

"Among the many other high quality games present this year was Unleash Hell!, by Vis Bellica and, a demonstration game based on the opening sequence of the film Gladiator.  With over 1,000 well-painted figures plus and well rendered entrenchment the whole spectacle was eye catching."


A review of the Second Book of Army Lists appeared on the Wargames Directory:

"The second book of army lists for Vis Bellica cover the period from the 1st to the 10th Centuries, AD. There are 58 lists in all, contained in a 64-page A4-size booklet, with black-and-white pictures of the various figures available from 15mm-28mm scale.

If you have the rules and enjoy the first 1000 years AD, grab a copy of these lists and away you go - they cost £7.75. If you don't have the rules yet and are interested in this period, take a look at the Vis Bellica review on the site - you may just be interested!

Very Good  Rated 'Very Good' by Pete on 30 August 2003."


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July 2003

Thurlac wrote a review of Vis Bellica for TMP:

OK, having listened to the comments on the Board, I ordered a set.  It turned up on Friday morning and, having a day's holiday, I sat and read it through. Today I played my first game.

1. The rules are well written in plain English that doesn't give me a migraine. Certain rulesets of which I am still very fond and am perhaps the most vocal champion of on this forum could do well to take note.

2. The rules are fairly straightforward, logical and simple.  There is no amazing new mechanism that will blow your mind but rather a sensible gathering of good mechanisms that work well together.

3. The rules play well and seem to reward historical tactics.  My first playtest against Number 1 son saw a virtual re-fight of Bremule 1119AD with a very similar outcome.  There is a strong incentive to use reserves and lines of troops. Battle lines MATTER now.  Drawing up two very very long lines really won't work any more.

4. The price is ok. Ten pounds is not extortionate, nor is it particularly cheap.  I think I got value for money.

5. I will probably not rush to buy the Army Lists.  Why?  Because the author is sufficiently good natured to provide enough information so that you can work out most lists for yourself if you are well steeped in other wargaming rules.  For instance, two DBM armies crawled out of their boxes today and were able to take the field quite smoothly.  The Vis Bellica website is also a source of more army lists. I am not used to buying a ruleset that allows me to run a reasonable game without trying to extract more cash for the supplements and for this I applaud the author's goodwill and fairplay.  This probably means that I'll get the army lists anyway but there is no real pressure to do so since Vis Bellica is complete as it comes.  For those who prefer an ancients ruleset that seems engineered to sucking money out of your wallet with Must Have supplements on an apparently neverending treadmill you might find this a startlingly refreshing change.

6. There were a few questions that I had and I didn't quite understand a couple of points.  Looking back this was due to my inability to read plain English not the rules themselves.  However, I fired off an email to Robert Avery and received a full response the same day.  Bit scary that, Robert: don't you have a social life? :-)  However, it was really impressive.

7. I'll tell you what I most liked about this ruleset shall I?  I didn't have to worry about millimetres and angles and whether my skirmishers could sneak into the flank like another ruleset of which I am still very fond.

I didn't worry whether my latest supplement trumps the special rule that the last rulebook made canon and whether my wrists would recover in time to roll another bucket of dice.

I was worried that those silly buggers on the right wing wouldn't stop chasing the routing enemy and get back into the centre.

Like NOW.


Naturally, they didn't.

Perhaps that's how it should be.

Go and buy this ruleset.  It's a good ruleset and I can see that I could do some very interesting scenarios with it.

It will probably never appeal to the competition playing tabletoppers because it feels too good natured a ruleset to ever be subject to the vile temperaments that tournaments bring out.  If I ever feel the testosterone levels rising or I've had a bad day with the German VAT authorities I will undoubtedly still reach for DBM.  However, if I want a fun game that actually works and plays well, my fingers will probably end up stopping at this part of the shelf above my desk.

Finally, since some folk are always suspicious, before any of you ask: no I have never met nor have any connection with the author or his associates.


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June 2003

"Dust to Dust" Battle Report in Miniature Wargames dated June 2003

Click here to read it.


Wargames Forum

"The Vis Bellica rules which hit the wargames scene last year are gaining a growing following of loyal adherents, despite the competition from Wargames Research Group, and Warhammer Ancient Battles.

 The first volume of the supporting army lists are now available covering Biblical Chariot armies to the classical period and early Roman Empire. The army lists are short, uncomplicated, and easy to follow. Despite this they seem to be comprehensive, and I have made a swift comparison with a set of more established lists.

In fact Robert quite freely credits the work done by WRG in developing the primary and authoritative Ancient Army list. Still, these lists are not simply a rewriting to fit a new rule system, they also include a solid core of personal research and interpretation undertaken from translations of primary sources. The lists are therefore new and refreshing.

As I am not a particular expert on the ancient period I have asked a number of gamers from local clubs to play test the rules and lists. The responses have been positive, and I understand that some armies are being re-based for VB as I write."


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May 2003


Posting on 'ancmed' (The Ancient & Medieval Yahoo Group)

Seleukid:  "The "Unleash Hell!" scenario at your site is wonderful! One of the most exciting setups I have ever seen. Perhaps it will inspire me to paint my 2mm Seleucids and Romans?"


Extract from the report on the "Unleash Hell!" game played at Salute 2003 from

"When the two forces clashed it looked superb. Robery Avery, author of the Vis Bellica ancient rule system, and our game master for the day, kept making 'bloody hell' noises as this occurred. We think he liked the game and the large scale try out of his rules, which performed superbly."

Here's another photo from the game (see the Salute 03 section in the  Gallery for more):  


Description of Vis Bellica from Mike Siggins' site: 

(he's the chap who writes Wargamer's Notebook for Wargames Illustrated magazine)

"A new set of ancient rules, already receiving high praise from those not wedded to DBx, WHAB, etc."


Posting on the Vis Bellica Yahoo Group:

malawiuk:  "Had a really great Wars of the Roses game last night, using the army
lists I posted yesterday.  

All reservations about using these rules with 80mm wide bases were unfounded, and the game went without a hitch - at least from the rules perspective.  The players were another matter.  

The CCC system took a while to get used to.  Over the years we have got used to having the choice of moving units and having to spend PIPs to stop advances into disasterous situations was something new and fun to watch - one unit of knights chased some Border Horse until flank charged by spearmen.  Not pretty!  

Again, great game!"


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April 2003


A Review of Vis Bellica in

Click here to read it.


Mike Parsons wrote the following review of Vis Bellica for Spearpoint, the magazine of the North American Society of Ancient and Medieval Wargamers (NASAMW):



Vis Bellica the first time.

Firstly let me admit, I'm on a search for the perfect set of rules.  

Yes, I know they can't exist but I just keep looking. So when Vis Bellica was advertised I immediately bought a copy and set off (after reading them) to my local wargames club.  At the club I recruited two other players and we played Byzantine vs Arab Empire using DBA elements on coasters, as the base sizes for VB are bigger than those for DBM.  

The individual mechanisms are clear and well described and within a few moves we all had a good handle on how to move, melee and shoot.  What the rules didn't highlight enough, however, is how differently these mechanisms are put together, particularly the charge phase.

Basically the game is straight forward.  Each leader has an order (Attack, Hold etc) and at least 50% of their subordinate bases must be given the same one.  You don't spend command dice to move, but to change orders and rally.  The current strength and orders a base is operating under are recorded on a roster sheet.  The 'official ' melee and rout phases are for bases still in contact after the previous turn's charge phase.

The charge phase is the heart of the game.  Each player declares all their charges and each is then resolved in strict order of shortest to longest distance.  The charging base moves, takes reaction fire and has morale resolved.  Then the melee is fought and the outcome resolved, all before the next base charges.  This means a base could be involved in a number of melees during a single charge phase.  This produces what the designer describes as a 'rugby maul' as units crash into each other.  If you live over the pond and aren't into rugby, imagine a running play in the NFL. The outcome of each block and tackle being resolved in the sequence they occur.

I have played a few more games since that first, with various players.  While not yet convincing anybody to burn their own favourite set of rules, all of the reactions have been positive.  Players of our in-house rules (figure removal) and our DBMers have actually played together!  We have found Vis Bellica is a set of rules that both groups are happy to play, at least occasionally.

Robert Avery has done a brave thing.  He has written a playable rules set that challenges the almost universal acceptance of DBA/M/R.  They are different in almost all aspects, even down to the base sizes.   He has produced a rules set which has a very different feel and character to them.  If you fancy a change, give them a try.   They might even broaden your circle of friends!

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March 2003


Wargames Directory

"The first of three army lists for the Vis Bellica rules published by Ordered Flexibility, Book 1 contains 47 armies from pre-Historic times up to the 1st Century BC. As with the Vis Bellica rules, the army lists are well presented in an A4 booklet with a glossy colour cover. There are black and white photos of 15-28mm scale miniatures on many pages. Armies covered include Sumerians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans and Gauls.

The next book will cover from the 1st to the 9th Century AD and the third and final book will cover from the 10th Century up to the age of guns, both scheduled for release later this year. Army Lists Book 1 costs £7.75 and can be ordered from the publisher's web site and selected traders.

Very Good  Rated 'Very Good' by Pete on 4 March 2003."


Slingshot (the Official Journal of the Society of Ancients)

First, a caveat.  I have not used these rules, except for a solo run-through to which they are not well suited.  This review is based on a careful reading and general impressions.

The rules are written by Society member Robert Avery.     The booklet contains a page of design notes, 44 pages of rules, 12 sample army lists, a photo-copyable roster sheet and a quick reference sheet.  It is clearly set out and easy to follow, with some nice black and white illustrations.

The rules are intended for 25mm, 15mm or smaller figures, mounted on multi-figure bases.  Here’s the first drawback – the basing standards are not compatible with those for other rules sets.  Base frontages may be 6”, 5”, 4” or 3” (1” = 2cm for 25mm figures, 1cm for 15mm figures) with the vast majority being 6".  The rules contain suggestions for using figures based to different standards so the issue shouldn't be a show-stopper.  That said, the large numbers of figures on most bases (up to 12 infantry or 6 cavalry per base) do give a satisfying impression of mass.  Troops are classified in several ways – by morale (Levy, Average, Veteran, Elite), order, type (Light Infantry, Heavy Cavalry, Two-Horse Light Chariot etc), and weaponry.   

The strongest part of the rules, in my view, is the command and control aspect.  All armies are organised into contingents (“brigades” for regulars) of 2-6 bases, each commanded by a “leader”.  2-6 leaders are commanded by a “sub-general”, 2-6 sub-generals by a “general” and 2-6 generals by a “commander-in-chief”.  Small armies will usually have only a few leaders plus a single sub-general, but there is provision for massive armies with a proper chain of command.

At deployment, only “leader bases” are put on the table.  Each of these is large enough to hold 6 troop bases but initially only the actual leader is placed; to find out the number and types of troops in each contingent, enemy leaders must “spot” (dice throws modified by distance and terrain).  I like this.

Each leader has a die-roll worth of command points.  These can be used to change a contingent’s or junior leader’s orders, spot enemy, rally disordered, shaken or routed troops, or be passed on to junior leaders.  Orders can be given outside the chain of command, at double the normal cost.  All contingents must have written orders, which are specified as Attack, Forward, Hold or Retreat, with a tight definition for each term – so if you’ve committed troops to the attack, for instance, it takes command points to stop them.  You also need command points to re-order your troops after they’ve fought hand-to-hand, or after they’ve undertaken complicated manoeuvres such as wheeling or moving obliquely outside permitted limits.  All this is excellent stuff.

Morale is handled through a simplified version of the old WRG “Reaction Test” (Bob O’Brien takes yet another bow).  This includes such things as numbers of friendly and enemy units nearby, enemy attacking flank or rear, routed friends etc.  Familiar stuff, but the combat table has some new ideas.  Combat is done by comparing each base’s strength, with numerous modifiers including a die roll.  Each side takes casualties, then the loser takes a morale check which may result in disorder, becoming shaken or routing.  The game may end in any of several ways – loss of the highest-ranking leader, loss of 75% of the army’s bases (destroyed or routed), loss of a pre-nominated baggage base or loss of a pre-designated terrain feature.

Things I didn’t like about the rules, apart from the need to rebase figures, included the use of roster sheets (each base has a strength of 6 to 17 and losses are checked off on the sheet), the need for markers to indicate disorder etc, and the return of “scouting points” to give deployment advantages (including the right to attempt off-table flank marches).  I’ve become used to rules with no record keeping or paperwork. 

Overall, though, the game looks to play smoothly and the rules include some really good ideas.  I recommend getting a copy even if you have no intention of playing them.

Vis Bellica is available at £9.99 from Ordered Flexibility.  See for details.  Three books of army lists and a fantasy version, Vis Magica, are promised shortly.

John Graham-Leigh, Editor Slingshot


Wargames Forum

I am pleased to inform you that Chariots to 1BC, the first book of army lists for the Vis Bellica rules for wargaming the Ancients period, is now available from Ordered Flexibility. 

Chariots to 1BC is a 48-page A4 book with a colour front cover containing 47 army lists, instructions on how to use them, and many illustrations. Most of the illustrations are used with the kind permission of various figure manufacturers, so the book also provides the reader with a guide to what mini’s are currently available.

The rules will retail at £7.75, and are available to buy at or from selected traders. Army Lists Books 2 and 3 for Vis Bellica will follow later in the year, along with a fantasy version of the rules, Vis Magica.

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February 2003


Posting on 'TMP' (The Miniatures Page)

Javier B aka DoktorZinieztro:  "All I can say is go on and try Vis Bellica.  64 pages, interesting well thought out systems, very well researched and adapted for war gaming purposes.  Chunky elements look good, play fast and make for an enjoyable and realistic experience.  And there's good support from the website"

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January 2003

Wargames Illustrated

Article written by yours truly on how to write a set of wargaming rules that uses Vis Bellica as the central example.  If you want to know the thought processes that went into VB, then buy the magazine and read the article!


Vis Bellica is new set of Rules for Ancient Wargaming by Robert Avery According to the author, Vis Bellica features A combat system that doesn't involve complicated book-keeping or rolling more than two or three dice at a time. A command structure where figures are grouped as regular 'brigades' or regular 'contingents' that report to officers that report to more senior officers. A command system where officers could, on a parade ground, successfully issue a limited set of orders to the figures under their command, but this ability breaks down rapidly as the 'fog of war' descends during a battle.

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December 2002


Wargames Directory

"The main aims that the author, Robert Avery, wanted to achieve when writing Vis Bellica provide a good introduction to this set of rules for wargaming the Ancient period.

It's always useful to know what the designer had in mind when writing rules. So how does he go about achieving these aims? The rules have the pip command system and troop typing from WRG, although the latter is much simplified when compared to DBM, which is a good thing in my opinion. Some other elements remind me of other rule sets that I've seen and played over the years but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. There are only so many ways to simulate a period in history.

Some interesting aspects to the game that caught my attention - set-up involves placing command stands first, then initial orders are written for each of these apart from the overall commander who is allowed to ad-lib once the game starts. Spotting occurs in the command phase and is carried out by officers which is a neat idea. When issuing orders, officers can pass their pips down the chain of command to the next level - another good idea.

The turn sequence is broken down into three phases - mandatory, command and action phases. These are further broken down into sub-phases and players carry these out simultaneously. The melee, firing and morale tests are fairly heavy on the modifiers, but fortunately the game seems to move along at a reasonable pace so I think these are acceptable.

The rule booklet itself is well laid out and nicely presented with some diagrams that illustrate figure basing, set-up, movement and so on. There are twelve army lists included, ranging from New Kingdom Egyptian through to 100 Years War English. I have to admit that these are quite cryptic at first - lots of columns with letters in them that indicate orders. The full army lists will be available shortly. A quick-reference sheet is provided at the back of the book.

One advantage of living in these times is that the rules are fully supported on the web so any questions you may have can be resolved quickly and you can download further army lists that are not included within this book. A fantasy version called Vis Magica will be available in 2003.

One last thing - they cost £8.75 which to my mind is very good value.

Very Good  Rated 'Very Good' by Pete on 10 December 2002."


Posting on 'TMP' (The Miniatures Page)

DoktorZinieztro:  "Talk about a solid game...Vis Bellica.  The Dok recommends it!"


Wargames Forum

"...very impressive they seem on first reading, 59 pages of rules and sample army lists, clearly and logically presented in an A4 soft back format.  Reading the rules is also interesting, the author Robert Avery is an experienced Colonial gamer, and in seeking a set of rules to re-enter the Ancient period sought certain elements to the game that he found pleasing from his colonial wars. He did not find them and so he did what any self respecting gamer would do, he wrote his own.

There are a number of things about his preferences that I wholeheartedly agree with, including the basing of units in large, realistic-looking figure groups, and more importantly the impact of command and command structure on the combat efficiency of units. This in particular has been a bugbear of mine and so it is very interesting to see Robert's approach to this issue.

I have played a couple of test games with the rules, and although they take some getting used to, as do any new rules, they are logical to follow and play smoothly. On what I have seen I am happy to recommend these rules not only to the Ancient gamer, but also as an interesting read. However I am not normally an Ancient period gamer, and know them to be a pernickety lot, so I have asked a colleague to take the rules for a more extensive play test and review, that I will produce in due course.

The rules will retail at £8.75 and can be purchased from the website above or selected retailers. Army lists (a few are included with the rules) will be published in the New Year, with a fantasy version Vis Magica to follow in the Spring."


A full scenario for Vis Bellica "Hoo Har at QarQar" appeared in the December (3rd) edition of  Note that you'll need to subscribe to be able to read it.


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November 2002


"Vis Bellica, the new set of rules for ancient wargaming written by Robert Avery and published by Ordered Flexibility is now available to buy on-line.

Next months issue of Wargames Journal will have a scenario for the rules and a competition to win a set."


Posting on the ancmed Message Board

lionheartrjc:   "My initial reaction from reading the rules today has been favourable. Basic troop classifications are fairly familiar...I like the look of the army organisation concepts! Troops suffer casualties rather than the kill/survive approach of DBM etc.  Elements have orders and morale appears.

If you have any interest in rule mechanisms then go ahead and buy them."


The De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA) Resource Page:  Fanaticus

"And last, but not least, at the Miniatures Page comes...notice of Vis Bellica a new set of ancient rules that look like a competitor for DBM."

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October 2002


"Vis Bellica are a new and innovative set of rules for ancient wargaming written by Robert Avery and soon to be published by Ordered Flexibility. From a pre-production copy sent for review and a quick game played to check the basic mechanisms out these rules look to be very slick. 

There are several neat touches that show they have been crafted by someone with a keen interest in the period and a desire to play interesting wargames. The look and feel of a game seems to be a key part of Vis Bellica's design philosophy and the Author claims that an average game only requires around 120 15mm figures and will last less than three hours."

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September 2003

Bosworth scenario in Wargames Illustrated


Leuctra scenario in Slingshot


Designer Notes Interview in Saga Magazine


Painting 15mm Figures article on Wargames Journal (you'll have to subscribe to WJ to read this one, but don't worry:  it's free and well worth it!)

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Copyright © 2002  Robert Avery. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 22, 2005 .