Playing at being a general

Playing at being a General

Mortem et Gloriam (MeG for short) is a wargame where you take charge of an army from the ancient world – loosely defined as the period before gunpowder and firearms. You command an army of 50 – 100 bases of painted figures, moving them on a table with model terrain that represents a battlefield.

You are the Army Commander and, with your key Sub-Generals, control your army in attempt to smash your opponent. So you could be Alexander with his leading subordinates Parmenio and Ptolemy, or Hannibal with Hasdrubal and Hanno, or Vercingetorix the Gaul with the leaders of the main Gallic tribes, or Ghengis and Kublai …. the choice is yours.

Put simply Mortem et Gloriam lets us become a general in the ancient world.

Variety is the spice of life

The figures represent the different types of troops that make up your chosen army – be they Macedonian Pikemen, Gallic Warriors or Teutonic Knights. The armies of the ancient era varied enormously from Roman armies of solid legions and their auxiliaries, to steppe armies of nomadic horse warriors.

This variety is one of the great things about ancient wargaming. We now have almost 120 Classical lists, 60 for the Dark Ages, with 30 Chinese, 30 Biblical and 60 Medieval coming out this year. Mortem et Gloriam has the mechanisms to make Huns feel like Huns, and Romans feel like Romans. So when you play as Attila, the tactics that worked historically for him will work on your table-top battlefield.

An army is made up of sets of bases representing the units or groups of units operating together. These are called Unit Groups (UG for short). Historical armies were commanded this way – rarely did units operate alone, they tended to be grouped together with others to make controlling them easier. So three real phalanx units would work together, or two tribes of war-band would be merged and so on. A Mortem et Gloriam army typically has 10-20 of these Unit Groups.

There are actually two types of Unit Group: 1) Tactical Groups (TuGs) of main battle troops) and 2) Skirmish Groups (SuGs) of light troops. A typically infantry TuG is 8 bases, and a cavalry TuG is 6 bases – although again there is a variety to cover all types of unit and army. For instance an Elephant TuG is 3 or 4 models.

You can use any basing convention as long as both sides consistently use the same base widths.

We measure the attrition, damage and reduced fighting ability of each Tactical Group (TuG) by reducing its number of bases. The basics of the rules are very simple. Kill half the bases in a TuG and it breaks and runs away; kill one-third of a Skirmish Group (SuG)and it disperses and runs away. So a typical foot TuG of 8 bases will break and run away when it loses its fourth base and its fighting capability will have been dropping with each previous base loss. SuGs are typically 6 or 9 bases and so break on their second or third loss.

Destroying an army is equally simple. Break half of an armies Tactical Groups (TuGs) and the army will run away. You cannot win a battle in Mortem et Gloriam by just killing enemy Skirmish Groups (SuGs). You have to destroy the opposition’s battle troops.

Causing damage

Damage is cause by rolling the special Mortem et Gloriam Death Dice. These are a set of dice in five colours: BLACK, WHITE, GREEN, YELLOW and RED. There are three symbols on the dice: a Skull, a Crossed Sword & Arrow, and a fancy S (short for “special”).  When you roll the Death Dice, a Skull symbol kills an enemy base – simple! The Crossed Sword & Arrow symbol causes a wound – and two wounds kill a base. And the fancy S generates special effects.

So in the game you will roll these dice for each column of bases shooting or fighting in order to damage opposing troops. The better your troops are, compared to your opponents, the better the dice you roll. RED dice are brutal and have 2 Skulls, 3 Crosses and an S. BLACK dice are timid in comparison, and have only one Cross, an S and four blank faces that do nothing. So, put simply, your job as Army Commander is to get your troops into a position to roll the largest number of the best dice in order to

Leading your troops

You have a wide range of tactical options and choices to make as an Army Commander. These are all managed using Mortem et Gloriam Command Cards. The cards mirror the colours of the Death Dice with BLACK, WHITE, GREEN, YELLOW and RED cards. There are 8 BLACK, 12 WHITE, 16 GREEN, 12 YELLOW and 6 RED in each pack. The basic concept is the same as the Death Dice – RED cards are the best and BLACK the worst. RED cards will allow sophisticated moves, BLACK cards generally allow nothing at all.

Better generals get more cards. So if you choose to be Alexander (who is a Legendary General) you will get 5 cards each turn with which to command his troops. If you are playing Darius, a Mediocre General, you will only get 2 cards each turn.

The final twist in the movement part of the game is that there are three types of troops: Drilled, Formed and Tribal. Drilled troops find things easy to do – so rarely need better than a GREEN card to do things. Tribal troops find all but the basics more difficult, and will often need YELLOW and RED cards to do sophisticated things. There is a rich variety of different moves to choose from in the game – the cards are used to pay for all of these. So more cards, of better colours will always be a good thing.

break your opponent.


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