WAB Ramblings

Warhammer Ancient Battles version two arrives. It was well packed and so much better as a book than a .pdf file.  But there are so many errors, it makes me sad that the final execution was flawed, but happy that we at last have a better version of WAB.


I now have the book, and as I have stated before, it is very nice to look at. But as I grazed through it I kept finding these errors that people have pointed out on the internet that had the actual book.  I could not really tear down the .pdf, because who knows I may have been ragging on an incomplete document.  Unfortunately it is true, there are some real boners in the book. For example the whole paragraph about how Marching troops cannot shoot or fight properly has dropped off page 27.   Elephants seem to have lost their armor saves, something that caused the Successor list developer to run off in a panic!  These things happen in rulesets, it's a sad issue when Quark drops off a section of text... but this was the long awaited revision of WAB that was to revitalize the game and clear up if not all, but the majority of inconsistencies.  One can argue that in a ruleset of this complexity these things will happen, but they were fixed at one time, then the rot started when somebody decided that WAB must be some kind of coffee table book.


The sad part is there is really no excuse. A version Two of a major ruleset should cap and seal all older issues, not create new ones with paragraphs left off and omissions. It is possible to give leeway to brand new concepts that may have introduced new ambiguities. But to leave off basic rules (such as elephant saves, and shooting while in march formation) is truly unfortunate. These issues will not break the game, but try to explain these things to a novice player that just spent 50$ on his book.

As a developer I had in hand a viable set of WAB2 draft rules for over a year, and these mistakes and omissions were NOT in that document. I have no desire to speculate as to how the errors and omissions occurred, beyond what I stated above. The new version was actually delayed because this new formatting was applied, and that's where most of the errors seemed to transition into what was before a complete and thorough document.

Will WAB2 be able to overcome these unnecessary hurdles? I think it will, but that is only because the core new changes make it a better ancients game than it was before. Players who like it will play through the gaffs and will use the errata when it comes to correct the minor and major issues. I feel the people involved in the authorship and testing have to feel a bit chagrined as to how the final package was tossed together.

It could have been a real uplifting shot in the arm to a system which has not been well directed over the years, instead people are going to have to pay for something that is pretty, but this time at least, the fluff did get in the way of the content.

I look at it and marvel that it is a beautiful book… but I feel some odd competition with Black Powder made them take the wrong tact with WAB2. Black Powder is really a series of articles strung together in a rules format, it is a very nice book IMO. WAB trying to be that suffers… and suffers more for the loss of key paragraphs and units from the army list, and needed special rules.

As for further development, I am still finishing the Successors for WAB2. Obviously, the new rules need to percolate through the old lists a bit before that can go out. I'm sure the future of the Successors rests on how well the main rules actually sold, but there is nothing currently impeding the progress.

I support this product because I support the players, they are my friends, they are passionate about Classical era miniatures and they deserve a good game. We have had many great games with the Successors lists in WAB, WAB1.5, and now WAB2. All of the Syrian Wars campaign games (see the main page) more or less use WAB2 concepts. Those games have been quite fun and the key new rules have been most interesting as to how they make tactical nuances more important.
All it does is make me sad that there is so much errata needed.


What will I do about it?  Well it is such a nice book that I hesitate to want to write in it... but I am going to. I'm going to treat it like an mimeographed Army manual and write notes all over the margins, and fix the incorrect text with big black ugly markers, I'm going to mess it up. I'm going to doodle in it, draw mustaches on the Roman legionaries, and trash it, drop it, and kick it on the floor, scratch up that shiny hard cover, maybe drop it in the bathtub so I can get that nice warped paper feel.   That way I will get over it.

Jeff Jonas


Here's a nice link to a reference sheet:




Warhammer Ancient Battles releases the long awaited version 2.0
It's in England, I don't have a hard copy, they sent me a .pdf file for reference.....

So that's the story here in the colonies, I don't have a hard copy. WAB 2 finally got its legs at the Salute game show in Jolly old last weekend (04/24/10). I have had a copy of the final release in .pdf format to peruse since I am a developer.  At first glance there appears to be some glitches, but I feel the good new content will over ride these small nicks. Since I don't have the book I can only review the .pdf.

"It appears that errata are already needed for 2.0, though."  Allen Curtis

Yes, unfortunately there are a couple of identifiable confusing errors, justifying an erratum. Rules sets like this almost always need a FAQ. Hopefully Forge World will support an online FAQ that includes an updated errata.

As far as identifiable errata, as of now:

Mixed Weapons:

According to my .pdf, the printed book left off the intended "Mixed Weapons" rules from the Special Rules section. This is a problem since the Mixed Weapons are described as a special rule under the Barbarian list without describing where to find it.  As far as I can ascertain, the reason was simply (as Allen calmly states) the rush to print left this on the cutting room floor. The Mixed Weapons rule that was to be included is the version that appears in the Hannibal and the Punic Wars supplement*, and is intended to replace all other version of Mixed Weapons in the WAB world. So that's a mess-up, of fitting ironic order- given the mixed-up history of WAB and Mixed Weapons :)  (*Note the version that was to be made canon was the re-roll of failed hits version).


Another known mess has been caused by one of those "painstakingly prepared" charts that summarize rules content. In this case the chart at the back of the book states that infantry with an armor save of 4+ are "encumbered", which is not intended, and is simply wrong, and unfortunately corrupts the actual rules on page 20-21. Luckily this is easily ignored as the actual rule is clear. (It's also ironic that WAB players played for 8 years with a chart in the original book dealing with light armour 5+ saves that was incorrect as well).


Rank Bonus for Open Order Troops:
A lot of people have stating online that the rulebook is not consistent with the Combat Rank Bonus for Open Order infantry.  I guess I will have to wait until I see my book arrive, since the .pdf is consistent.  It says Open Order troops gain a maximum of +1 rank bonus on the Combat Results table on page 60, and is consistent with the summary on page 206. 

With so many rules that interact with another, even clearly written and described rules will generate a FAQ. I reckon that WAB2 will need a small FAQ to be mostly a reminder of the interactions between stubborn, giving ground, and warbands, and other auto-break causing troops. It's mostly these combined reaction rules that cause initial confusion.




So enough of the initial bad.  How about the good?

It sure looks like it will be a lovely book.  I ordered mine (did I mention that?, I guess the fact that my name is in there doesn't warrant me a copy in the mail gratis... no need to impress the audience by allowing some hack with a website to review the product).

The .pdf is so huge that it scrolls like a S.O.B., so it's no joy to use as reference for development.  It's taken me a few days to figure out exactly what Open Order is... and try to find all the instances of it while scrolling around.


The artwork is very cool.  The upfront index is excellent.  The charts and diagrams are clearly presented. The handy references in the back are nice ...  except when they are wrong :( 

There is a lot of eye candy in the book. The layout seems ok.  Will it be the perfection of form and function?  I don't know yet.  I heard a rumor that some of the binders cracked... mine better not.  I can't argue with the looks.  There's a lot of Successor models in there, kind of funny since that was always the holdup to getting the Successors in print all those years ago :)


WAB 2 is an Evolution not a Revolution


I heard that already, I liked it so I copped it.  WAB2 is a very nice streamlining and fixing of the leaky old WAB ship.  The strength of WAB2 is in it's more precise wording and attempts to carefully explain things that often in the past caused confusion because of the reliance on casual language. Diagrams are abundant and answer many of the mechanical questions that dogged the game in the past. Interactions with skirmishers and formed units is now very clearly described. Simple nuances that in the past cause rancor such as units simply 'aligning to cover the front' of a charged enemy are now very clear.

Those clarifications make the WAB game better in itself. Players will have to play to judge whether they prefer the new Stubborn and Give Ground mechanisms.  A number of   games will be needed to cleanse some old ideas out of your head.  Stubborn troops now test before they burn the Stubborn, it goes against what we all learned, so some unlearning will be needed.


They finally got rid of the G*d awful Lapping rules.  Winners simply get to count momentum next round, we have been playing this way in our Syrian Wars games, and it is a beautiful thing.  No more do units spread out all over the enemy like crazy amoebas.  Also, musician roll-offs cannot win the combat outright, winning a tie just adds momentum, so elephants and units won't immediately crumble for lack of a toot.  The downside is markers... some of the new rules are going to need some markers.  Momentum is one.  I use my eagles and things like that to mark who has won.  Another point is morale considerations for heavy losses.  Units that have suffered heavy casualties will lose pips on their leadership rolls.  This means some kind of marker is needed when these thresholds are achieved.

WAB2 has gone very far to remove the bias towards more is better. Levy armies could simply swarm the table as models overwhelmed quality. Some of the major changes in place now really favor quality troops. Number one is the combat chart now makes WS2 troops hit WS4 troops on a 5+. This is an important change since in the past WS2 troops got a free pass against elite troops. Levies are now also challenged in that they cannot test off any leader that is not embedded in the unit. This means a massive levy army will crumble much faster, making it much dicier to depend on such troops than before. Levies are forced to maneuver like pumpkins, which is another way that good troops with some training gain a major advantage. The mitigating factor is non-levies get a free re-roll if they fail a panic test due to levies running by, at least they get a chance to ignore the dregs as they run.

So I believe that WAB2 effectively closes the "Crap vs. Class argument" that I have been waging since it's original release.

WAB2's mechanisms do change the rules from the 1.0 or 1.5 versions. Certain streamlining and the fundamental change from rank depth of four to rank depth of three will make the game look more linear, which may please the eye of some gamers. Units that use triple movement are now literally rather than verbally hampered, so a number of famous drilled "tricks" are a thing of the past. A major change is the notion of Close Order and Open Order troops.  Open Order have many new maneuver advantages.

Nasty conundrum wording for such odd things like double shooting for slingers is now perfectly clear and there is a logical penalty for double-shooting. Staff slingers are more logical as well.

One of the other major changes is the determination of gaining a flank attack. For a very long time many players have been turned off by how easily WAB turns into to a slam the door, box combat game because flank attacks happen with ease. The new rules make gaining a flank charge much more difficult, especially for long range cavalry. Units must actually be across the enemy units frontal plane to gain a flank charge. This is major as those sneaky cavalry wedges cannot hang back and lob flanks attacks in from left field, they actually have to get onto a flank.


Skirmishers now will fear formed troops, hallelujah!  How long have I been lobbying for that simple measure.  Now only the highest leadership skirmishers will dare to even try to stop a formed unit, as even trying to be a speed bump may fail.  Oh and related glory, cavalry are not march blocked by infantry!!  This means those units of five skirmishers can't slow down a whole cavalry wing anymore by getting ensconced in the woods.


The 1" rule is in place.  No more can sneaky Parthians squeeze between units on their second move.  They have to charge to come within one inch, so a two inch gap between units now blocks infiltrators.


Another extremely important rule is Reform restrictions. Everybody must roll to reform when in close proximity to the enemy.   Some units always have to roll to reform. Phalanxes have a -1 when they try to reform under stress.   These are great additions.  Nothing has been more hair pulling in WAB than to pull off that brilliant flank attack only to see a phalanx simply spin on a dime and cover the flank.  It still can happen, but now the unit has a possibility to fail... that makes thinking more important! If the General is out of place, if it is levies, then they will have to try to wheel or risk doing nothing.

Are there more things,  yes... I haven't compiled all of them.

Will WAB2 change the minds of players who hate buckets of dice, probably not? Will WAB2 change the minds of players who hate the function of powerful commanders and characters, probably not. But that is at least mitigated now, since the designers admit that each model does not necessarily represent one man as was somewhat adamantly inferred when the rules were simply an adjunct to Warhammer Fantasy Battles.  Will WAB's streamlined and more logical rules be appealing? I hope so. Is it worth 50$??  That will be up to the individual and his credit card to decide.


Army Lists

The two army lists in the volume are the Early Imperial Roman and the Generic Barbarian (Celt) army, as well as variants of Barbarians, i.e. the Germans, Gauls, Dacians, Britains.  The lists mostly reflect the newer ideas in these lists, such as removal of warband for light troops and skirmishers.   The Roman Army Standard now has two wounds, which makes him a practical character, whilst the Barbarian is still a one wound dude. 

Omissions.  The Roman list has some interesting ommisions.  No more elephants or cataphracts.  The cataphracts are logical since they really are part of a Middle Imperial Army period.  The elephants really are only part of the Early Imperial Army (but so rare as to be of insignificant merit).  Still it's odd that the Romans can have barded kontos wielding Camel archers in this basic truncated army (although the Camel archers seem to be a rather expensive and ineffective toy).  Some of the point costs for the Roman Auxiliaries are not in tune with where most WAB army lists have gone over the years.


Point cost effeciency

Point costs for weaponry for cavalry and charioteers is based on the old scale of WAB points adjudication (a scale that has been lost on developers over these years of lack of primary editing).  The sliding scale of points increases based on troop type have mostly been ignored by all developers as being a vestige of WFB.  It matters more in WFB for costs to slide in relation to WS, since there are so many WS variants in WFB, from 2 to 10.  In WAB there are basically troops with WS from 1-5, with 1 and 5 being unheard of rare.  So developers have simply ignored the additional points fo upgraded troops.

For example 4pts for a throwing spear upgrade is unheard of in any of the supplements and follows the Old School line from WFB that points costs must be doubled for WS/BS4 troops.  It does make sense for charioteers that get to fire twice that their missile weapons would be doubled, this is how I handled chariots and elephant crews in the past myself.  Does this mean that WAB supplements are going to be edited based on point costs to acheive a fair and balanced medium?  Hard to say, maybe as older supplements are re-printed they will be re-pointed.  Of course the worst offenders are the lists in the Byzantine and Chinese books, which seem to have little control over costs.  Some of the supplements are meant to work together, so AtG and Hannibal roughly follow the same scale- although hoplites are cheaper in Hannibal. 

Turning to the sample lists, the armour for Alexander is +4 pts for heavy armour, a Xyston is +3 pts.  So those points did not change from AtG.

Will there be a primary edit of point costs ongoing supplements and past consistency?  I don't know, all I know is that if elite xystophoroi need to have 6 pts for xystons then folks will scream.... because then supplements will go out of whack within periods, and I will have a ton of no joy fixing the Successors.  So I will simply continue with the path set up in AtG, since there is still no direction here.


So that's my initial take on the new rules. A long, terribly long wait. It surprises me that it actually is here, er.. I mean, in the mail (on the way here). I have to thank and commend Martin Gibbins for his excellent work, and the staff at WHW and now Forge World for producing such a nice .pdf.  Now I need to roll up my sleeves and see how the actual book works in a game of Successors, as we finalize the lists with the new rules in tow. 


Will WAB come back from the doldrums because of WAB2?  I don't know.  It is a better ruleset than we had before, cleaner and new subtleties force players to think more.  It works with all the previous supplements, and there are 28mm plastic Romans and Hoplites galore in the world.  Its' all good I reckon.  Our Successor battles with the prototype edition have been great games, I'm sure it will just be better when I have the actual book.



WAB 2.0 is currently only available by mail order at:





Phalanx and WAB2


This is a very relevant question with my answer:

Hi Jeff, This is Robert from Sacramento I had the pleasure of playing against your Romans at Kublacon last year. I am getting ready to rebase my Greek armies and I am not planning on buy WAB 2.0 very soon. I was wondering if you could give me a quick breakdown of any changes in the rules for the classical or Hellenistic Greeks that might effect my unit sizes or armor values. I generally run my hoplites in 28 man units 7x4. I have heard some banter about encumbrance and maneuverability issues with hoplites. I know that you said you were unwilling to comment any further on WAB 2.0 but you are the expert on Greeks and WAB so I emailed you off the group.

Hi Robert-
WAB2's major influence is reducing rank bonus for close order troops. Many players will now opt for more linear units of three ranks. Phalanxes minimum must be maintained at 12 models now (before it was 16). All phalanxes can wheel and charge or march move, but their move is halved (even for pikes). The cumbersome 1" shift to the right rule has been eliminated. Being able to wheel even half speed is a plus for Greeks, as opponents in the past only needed to maintain their units in the dead ground off to the left of the unit, even if within a couple of inches, and be immune to contact.  It's hard to tell how reduction in ranks will affect hoplites, as attrition can be an important factor, against like armed foes. I still field pikes in 4 ranks, but they have a lower save. Recently a unit of 24 hoplites with a standard held a larger pike block in place for the whole game, but they were eventually reduced to less than 12 models!

One of the most important new rules in WAB 2 is the flanking rules, a unit must be over half across the front face of a unit to gain a flank charge, this makes Greeks happy since their flanks are less up in the air when they charge.




The Missing Special Rules, such as Stealth

Is it worth mentioning the Stealth rule as an omitted Special Rule? It doesn't affect the Barbarian list, I suppose, but we had coordinated it way back in the misty depths of time. I had been thinking it was just in "Hannibal" so far (which had me feeling even more picked upon), but was reminded that you had used it for Thracians in "Alexander", too.

If all the existing Special Rules were meant to be included in the new rulebook, then the absence of Stealth is an omission. If as has been suggested, that Open Order replaced both the attributes of Light Infantry and Stealth… well, I for one don't believe that's appropriate. It really doesn't work as intended for those types of troops for which we envisioned using Stealth.

So rather than "Is it worth mentioning?", perhaps the question should be "Is it worthy of mention?"

Allen Curtis

Just because a special rule is omitted from the rules does not mean that it has been made defunct. Many of the special rules that were in the draft were omitted, some such as Oracles only pertain to a few army lists.

I was hoping that the special rules that all army lists could use would be in WAB 2.0. That was one of the advertised reasons for it. It is a boon to developers of army lists to have all the key rules available in one spot to pick and choose from.

Apparently the Stealth rule was deemed (like others) to be too specific to be a 'common special rule', or it was simply lost along with the Mixed Weapons. It's  still in the Successors, it's still in Hannibal, and AtG, so I reckon it's still in WAB :)



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