Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Gerard de Gre's Ancient Wargame Rules ... as modified by Charles and David Sweet

I had the potential to waste quite a lot of my time today waiting for our new washing machine to arrive. The delivery 'window' was 7.00am to 7.00pm(!), as a result of which I was up by 7.00am waiting for the delivery truck to arrive. I waited ... and waited ... and waited. I did not want to start anything that I could not stop doing immediately, and so I could not do any painting or modelling, and fighting a wargame was just not possible. In the end I decided to do something that I could leave and return to once the washing machine had been delivered and I had installed it. My choice was to transcribe the Ancient rules used by Charlie and David Sweet.

Some time ago Dick Bryant – the former editor and publisher of THE COURIER – had sent me scans of the Ancient rules that had been devised by Gerard De Gre and modified by Charlie and David Sweet. They had been published in THE COURIER back in the 1970s, and like their Napoleonic counterparts they had been 'lost' to the general wargaming public for many years.

Dick had already given me permission to re-publish them via my blog, and I have spent time today transcribing them. Unfortunately the scans that Dick sent me appear to be incomplete, and until I have the missing pieces I will not be able to make them available in a downloadable format that potential players can print off for their own personal use.

The rules are interesting in that they use small catapults to simulate the fire of their ancient full-size equivalents and dice to adjudicate the outcomes of light infantry 'fire' (i.e. javelins, bows, slings, etc.) The melee system is very similar to that used in the Napoleonic rules and uses six alternative melee deployments (Melee Deployment Indicators or MDIs), each of which has different strengths and weaknesses.

So in the end my day was not a total waste of time. I feel that I managed to achieve something, albeit incomplete. And for those of you who might be interested, the washing machine was finally delivered at 4.45pm, and I finished installing it by just after 5.00pm.


  1. Passing the torch from generation to generation seems like time well spent, Bob. Glad you finally got the washer.

  2. I can tell you that the key element for really being able to use the Sweet Ancient rules is their army compositions. Each army was unique with its own particular strengths, which of course made the rules especially fun to play. The armies weren't particularly large either, probably under 120 figures per army... although in fairness, a decent battle with more than 2 players would have each player with an "army" sized force. If they aren't in the materials Dick gave you, I may be able to contact David for more infoprmation.

    I covered my own homemade catapults for use with these kind of rules last month:

    The originals were scratch built my by myself and my college roommate/best freind/wargames buddy back in 1973 or so; aside from replacing the dried up rubber bands, they have held up fine after 40 years, and are made of components costing less than $1 and taking an afternoon to assemble.


  3. Michael Peterson,

    So much useful stuff has become 'lost' over the years that when I find something like Charlie Sweet's rules, I feel compelled to preserve them in some way.

    All the best,


    PS. The new washing machine is fine, and getting lots of use!

  4. Gonsalvo,

    The army lists were one of the bits missing from what Dick Bryant had sent me. He has now sent me the rest of the scans, and with luck I should be able to finish the transcription later today.

    The armies do not sound too large, and should be within the range of what is achievable by most wargamers without too much effort. This makes the rules even more attractive, especially if each of the armies has its own particular strengths and weaknesses.

    I MUST have a look at your catapult ... and will try to add a link to it when I write my next blog entry about Charlie Sweet's ancient rules. It sounds like it was great fun to make and use.

    All the best (and thanks for your offers of assistance),