Monday, May 6, 2019

Men of Bronze- Living FAQ

With the release of Men of Bronze, it is natural that folks have a few questions about the rules.  I have compiled some of these questions from various sources on the internet and will be answering them here.  As I find more questions, I will continue to update and add to the FAQ here.  I expect this article will have a lively comments section, so I will try to keep the main FAQ up-to-date with new material that come up there as well.  You might want to bookmark this page and check back again since you will be often.   

Thanks to all the folks who have been kind enough and interested enough to ask these questions.  I am very happy you bought the book and appreciate your support.  Thank you! 

Is there pre-measuring in Men of Bronze?

In the measurement section on Page 6 of Men of Bronze, it states: “Measurements can not be made until a player has committed their models to act.”  Therefore, there is no pre-measuring. 

Many modern games now allow you to pre-measure.  However, I have opted not to go this route.  I feel pre-measuring is necessary and important in sci-fi/modern games where devices to measure distance are common and built into common wargear.  However, in the days of yore; such devices were not common and had to be judged by eye.

It seemed appropriate for the same to be true for the players of Men of Bronze.  The commander must judge the distance and decide if the time is right to strike, or to get closer first. Another important choice since positioning can be very important.   

Can a Hoplite unit activate in Open Order formation, use an Arete Point to charge, move a number of Base Widths in Open Order, then employ another Arete Point to form Phalanx and complete the charge?

Someone is up to some strategizing with this question.  Here are a couple of key rules points to consider.  Page 15 states that an Arete Point can be used at any time.  On page 18 the rules states that a “Phalanx can change from open order into Phalanx for 1 Arete Point at any time and not impact there activation.” Finally, page 19 explains that you need to use 1 Arete Point to launch a charge. 

With all of those points in mind, the answer to your question is YES.  The only limiting factor is the number of Arete Points you have available to use.  Choices, choices, choices!     

 If a Unit “Comes into Contact” with an enemy unit during their activation they can not engage in Melee.  Are supporting units declared at this time? 

Good question.  Page 14, 18 and Page 21 have the relevant rules.  You are correct that a unit that “Comes into Contact” with an enemy can not engage in Melee immediately.  You can either Move, Shoot, or Melee.  Only a Charge allows a Melee to occur after a Move.

Supporting Units are only declared once a Melee occurs. Therefore, you do not need to declare any supporting units until Melee begins.   


If a Unit “Comes into Contact” with an enemy unit during their activation they can not engage in Melee.  Can the enemy unit engage in Melee if they had not activated previously? 

Again, page 14 and 18 are your main guides here.  Yes, the enemy unit could activate and then engage in Melee as normal.  There one activation was Melee and the enemy was obliging enough to walk into them.

You can see why it is much better to try and charge into an enemy rather than simply “Come Into Contact”.  By Coming into Contact you are basically letting them get some free Melee attacks at you. 

Once a unit “comes into contact” they may not engage in any other action other than fighting until the conclusion of Melee.  If not, then could either unit rally from wavering, change formation, and/or shoot the enemy until completing the Melee?

There are couple of key pages to look to for guidance on this subject.  Page 15 and 16 details how and when you can use Arete Points.  Page 20 and 21 talk about Melee, while page 14 discusses Activations. 

If an action can be completed by using an Arete Point, then it can be done.  A Unit can Rally from Wavering using an Arete point, but that counts as its Activation.  Therefore, it does not Fight.
Changing formation is a bit trickier.  By the letter of the rules, the only limit to changing formation is having Arete points to spend.  It can be done and not impact other Activations.

You can not shoot the enemy if you are in Melee.  You either shoot or fight and once you are in Melee you can only activate by Fight.  The use of Arete Points is an exception as they can be used at any time,  with some exceptions found on page 15 and 16.  

Does a Wavering Unit need to take a Discipline Check other than to move?  What is the penalty for a wavering unit to fail an additional Discipline Check?

You found out what a fraud I am as a games designer!  This one suffered from the curse of too many re-writes and some of my ideas around Wavering Units ended up muddled or not in the final rules by accident.  They are still workable, but just not how I wanted them in the final draft.  It was my own idiocy that did me in! 

The rules for Wavering are found on page 26 under rules for Discipline Checks.  Here is the answer as written.  Wavering Units only need to take a Discipline Check to Move.  There is no additional penalty for failing a second Discipline Check. 

Now, here is some rules I wanted in the book but ended up not due to confusion on my part.  Failing an additional Discipline Check while a unit was Wavering was intended to cause 1 additional point of Courage loss.

A wavering unit automatically rallies if an Arete Point is spent to Rally them regardless of being shot at or in Melee?   

That is correct.  The Arete Point allows them to rally from Wavering per page 16.   

Open Order units move in blobs.  Does this mean they are intended to be able to move around and snake through zones of control?

Open Order is covered on page 17 and 18.  The open order unit has to have a friendly model within two base widths of each other.  In addition, no Open Order model can be further forward than the Leader who is the Focal Point of the Unit for shooting, charging, facing, etc.   

Yes, they are intended to be much more mobile than a Unit in Phalanx.  As support units, this helps them get to where they need to be to “support” and add to the harassing effect of light units against phalanx units.   

Are there any rules that limit firepower by model/range?

Page 17 talks a lot about using the Leader as the Focal Point, while page 25-27 detail shooting.  You will notice that if the leader has the right facing, can draw LOS and range, then everyone in the unit can shoot.  Combined with the Open Order rules for moving on Page 17 and 18, you will see that the Leader model should be the farthest forward at any time anyway.  Therefore, long snaky lines of skirmishers are still only limited by what their Leader can target.     

This is intended to abstract the shooting and avoid fiddliness.  The rules all ready reduce the effectiveness of shooting by design, and put much more emphasis on “shock” combat.  Shooting is most effective against other shooting units, and struggles against the high armor values of a Phalanx.  

Shooting Line-of-Sight is measured from the leader and leaders have a 360 degree arc of fire.  Is that 360 degree from the leader only and do members of his own unit block his Line-of-Sight?

You will wan to reference Page 17 and page 25- 26 to cover this question.  The leader is the focal point of the shooting unit.  You measure from the base of the leader model to the base to any model in the enemy unit therefore, the 360 is from the unit leader.  Friendly Units DO block line of sight, but models from the leader's own unit do not. 

Units attacked in the rear of flank seem to have no penalties in combat, is this correct?  

Page 22 covers Flank and Rear attacks.  The unit being attacked does not face any penalties.  Instead, the units attacking get bonus dice.  The only negative modifiers are if a unit is wavering, and that impacts the Target Number not the number of dice.  In general, Men of Bronze is designed to not have any negative penalties and only rewards players for play.    

Flanking is +2 dice and a Rear attack is+4 dice.  However, you will note that these bonus dice are cumulative.  Therefore, a Unit that Flank attacks (+2 Attack Dice) while charging (+2 Attack Dice) while in Phalanx (+2 Attack Dice) gets +6 attack dice total.  In addition, most Flank attacks are not done alone, they typically are supporting a frontal fight that pins the enemy in place, so the support would be an additional +2 Attack Dice, increasing your bonus in Melee to +8 Attack Dice!  You can see how the right tactics and positioning can really pay off!    

Can you shoot into melee?

I look around the book to find where it explicitly says that you can not fire into melee.  I looked on page 29 about shooting over friendly units and it was not there. I looked on page 26 to determine eligibility of target under Line-of-Sight.  There it only says that friendly units block Line-of-Sight.  Then, I checked Page 21 on Determining Melee and it does not have anything to say on this topic. 

Therefore, by the rules as written you CAN shoot into a melee provided you can draw Line-of-Sight per the normal rules and no other units block the Line-of-Sight.  In practice this will be difficult due to the presence of support units and other units on the battlefield blocking Line-of-Sight.  Once a unit joins in support, its fate is linked to the main unit per page 21, and these support units will block Line-of-Sight to the main unit and therefore, the unit that can take damage will not be an eligible target.

So, here is my final answer.  Technically it can be done per normal Line-of-Sight rules.  The challenge is who takes the hits?  Therefore, for practical reasons I would say NO you can not shoot into melee. 
If a Unit is in Melee due to fighting to its front, but gets charged in the back how can it retire?

When you determine Melee, units that are engaged in the front are the main opponents.  If a Rear of Flank attack occurs it is still a Support Attack per page 21 and 22.  Pushback proceeds as normal and represents the scattered melee shifting around.  So, Pushback against the main unit works as normal.  The Rear Attacking troops simply shift with the rest of the Melee.  Pushback is covered in detail on 25 and 26. 

If the Unit that is being attacked in the rear is reduced to 0 Courage, they are turned about as normal and removed in the End Phase as normal per the normal rules on page 26 and 27.

Does a Counter-Charge counts as a Unit's Activation?

Yes.  The unit use the Arete Point to essentially perform a charge action, which allows movement and a fight action.  Charges are covered on page 18. 

If a Unit is engaged in a melee, and is then attacked by a Rear of Flank action can the Unit choose to spend an Arete Point to then Counter-Charge the newly charging unit.  

The Unit is previously engaged in melee and technically is engaged until the Melee is resolved.  The new charge is just a support unit with additional bonuses to the first attacker's attack dice.  Therefore, the charge of a support unit is not considered a new Melee but part of an ongoing melee even though the results may be determined after the initial unit's melee has been resolved. 

Here is an example of combat that may help clarify things a bit:

For Example: Spartan Hoplite Unit Alpha is charged by Macedonian Phalanx Beta.  Alpha and Beta are in a Melee.  They roll for Combat and resolve the action for Courage loss and Discipline checks.  The Spartans are pushed back 2 base lengths with Courage loss, and the Macedonians also lose some Courage. 

Later in the same turn, Macedonian Cavalry Sigma activates and joins the Melee between Alpha and Beta by charging into Spartan Alpha's rear.  Therefore, Sigma gets to roll 2 Attack Dice for supporting, and plus +4 for charging against Spartan Alpha to resolve additional Courage loss to the Spartans.  This amy also cause Discipline Checks.  Spartan Alpha has all ready attacked so no additional dice are rolled by the Spartans.  The Macedonian Phalanx Beta has also all ready attacked so no additional dice are rolled by them.  

Pushback was originally determined by the Alpha vs. Beta Melee so no additional Pushback can occur.  In subsequent turns, Beta and Sigma will be joined against Alpha in one big Melee.  Their attacks will be resolved together until the Melee is completed.  Once the Melee is resolved, they will become two separate units again for activation purposes.    

I hope that clarifies some of your questions.  Feel free to keep them coming.  I love seeing the ingenuity of players.  Like I said, this is a living and breathing document so I will add more questions and answers as they come up. 

I look forward to reading all about your battlefield exploits!     

You can get all of the updated materials including a FAQ, Campaign rules, and Lines-of-Battle in the Men of Bronze Supplement: Hercules Abroad.


  1. Thanks for posting these. I’m not sure I have a firm grasp of the support rules now though. The book states that a flank attack uses the original frontally contacting element as a support. The support rules state that they should be repositioned behind the attacking unit. Is that a temporary move or so supporting units not always move behind the main attacker?

    1. Flank attacks stay on the "flank" until the main unit they are supporting loses a combat and is pushed back. Then the support unit becomes a normal support.

      Does that make a bit more sense?

  2. A question regarding discipline checks:
    For Morale and Collapse checks, the units make ‘a standard discipline check’.
    How many successes do they need?

    1. 1 success. However, the target number does increase as more Collapse checks are needed.

  3. Any idea when Osprey Wargame Resources will have a QRS available for "Men of Bronze"? I also believe that you have designed some Army Lists for the Western Mediterranean including early Carthage, Sicilian Greeks, etc. Will Osprey make these Army Lists available? Where did you find your play test paper Army units for "Conquest! Rome in Italy," "Men of Bronze" and "Heirs to Empire"? Do you have any firm release date for "Heirs to Empire"? Thanks for your responses!

    1. Great questions. I do not know the timing for the Osprey QRS, but you can find a draft here:

      Regarding the army lists, I have them out to a couple sources for potential publication, but if I do not see any movement before the end-of-the-year I will place them on the blog.

      The paper armies were templates I made using PowerPoint, the Internet, and MSPaint. You can find them here:

      As for a release date for Heirs to Empire, Osprey has asked for a change in focus for the rules. Therefore, it is being modified to fit the new requirements. The publication for this update is tentatively scheduled for summer 2021.

  4. On a related note, you can contact me via Email from my website here:

    Feel free to share pictures, questions, reviews you find online, etc.

  5. Thank you for all your responses. I am disappointed with the seemingly long wait for "Heirs to Empire" as this rules 'system' has a great deal of potential. "Men of Bronze" and "Conquest! Rome in Italy" offer a very nice 'light' medium weight rules set pre-Alexander Hellenic warfare and pre-Hannibal warfare in Italy and on Sicily. I think the epitome of these types of conflicts occurred when Pyrrhus arrived to helped the Greeks in southern Italy and Sicily, and "Conquest" allows you to game these battles against the Romans and Carthaginians in a manner similar to Neil Thomas' rules. By this comparison, I mean you can gain a solid and fun understanding of the interaction between the different units without necessarily gaming out actual battles. Your battles are bigger than skirmishes, but not the multi-hour slugfests of "To the Strongest!" and "Sword & Spear." I love both those rules, but I usually don't have the time and energy to play them regularly. I can play several "Men of Bronze" battles in a weekend afternoon with several different armies without a tremendous amount of effort.

    The Farrington Ancient's System resembles to at least some extent Mersey's "Rampant" system, and I intend that as high praise. Nevertheless, I wish that "Men of Bronze" was a little more polished. For instance, I think the Base Widths for unit movement and range is derived from the individual figure's base width, but this interpretation is not really clear from the text to me. The "Eagle Rampant" and similar variants portraying ancient war in the Rampant series are clever and fun, but I get a much greater sense of verisimilitude from your rules. Therefore, I hope you will keep tightening and clarifying them in the future.

    If you do publish additional army lists in a miniature wargaming magazine, it will be an instant buy for me. Keep up the good work!

    1. Osprey asked me to expand the scope of Heirs to Empire to be a broader "Ancients Game" which I have started working on. It now will be focused on the Wars of the Roman Republic that includes the time period covered by Conquest!, the Punic wars, Rome vs. Hellenistic world, a famous slave revolt, and all the way up to the Civil Wars of the Late Republic. That is a lot of time and fighting styles to cover, but I think I can maybe make it work.... maybe....

      It will be more of a tool box, and a clever gamer will be able to use it for such things as Carthage vs. Pyrhus, Successor battles, Gauls vs. Iberians, Parthians vs. Armenians, Numidian civil wars, Gauls s. Germans, and other less well covered ancient wargaming topics.

    2. This game is now up for Pre-Order and is called "Wars of the Republic" if can be found at the link below....

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  7. Hi
    First, thank you for this game.
    Then could you explain me the evade rules. If i understand correctly the rule , the charged unit go back 1D3 base and then the charging unit go on it move and can contact its target.
    Am i right ? It looks difficult To avoid a charge....
    Best regards and thank you for an answer

    1. Yes, you have read that correctly. Player A declares a charge that doubles that units move. Player B decides to Evade and rolls a d3 to determine how far his evading unit can be moved back. Player B Evades his unit, and then Player A moves his unit their full charge distance. If Player A's unit can still come in contact with Player B's unit, the charge was successful.

      You are right, it is hard to evade a charge, unless you are hovering around at the edge of charge range or in difficult ground all ready.

      The player has to decide if it is worth spending the Arete Point to try and evade or not.