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Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online): A Short, Bloody History of Roman War Games

Updated January 21, 2011

As The Eagle’s battle scenes demonstrate, the Roman Army was one of history’s most effective war machines. Legions of gamers, both in board games and online, have tried to emulate them.

Slide 1: Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online) - A Short, Bloody History Of Roman War Games
Slide 2: Managing Risk
Slide 3: Dungeons and Dragons Suit up the Player
Slide 4: The Birth of Multiplayer Online Games
Slide 5: Rome, from Boards to the Web
Slide 6: Getting on Board with Conquest of the Empire
Slide 7: Re-Conquest of the Empire
Slide 8: A Never-Ending War with Commands and Colors: Ancients
Slide 9: Ostia and the Politics of War
Slide 10: Ancient War Made Modern with Rome: Total War
Slide 11: Getting War Right with Rome: Total Realism
Slide 12: To Roma Victor Goes the Spoils
Slide 13: The Mod of War - Mount and Blade
Slide 1: Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online) - A Short, Bloody History Of Roman War Games

Slide 1: Fight Like Channing Tatum (Online) - A Short, Bloody History Of Roman War Games

Kevin MacDonald’s epic The Eagle features Channing Tatum smashing and stabbing his way to victory in multiple face offs between the Roman occupying forces in Britain and the local Celtic tribes. For these fights, filmmakers, trainers and consultants researched both the battle strategies of the Roman troops (well-organized, clockwork maneuvers) and the Celtic tribes (wild, chaotic bursts of violence). In so doing, they joined the legions of gamers who day and night imagine war through the mind of ancient Romans. Of course, as long as there has been modern warfare there have been war games. As governments and armies stage simulated conflicts, both with live troops and computer models, gamers from the casual to the diehard play along to conflicts both real and imaginary. And while chess (which, after all, involves capturing the king) dates back to the 6th century, possibly the earliest military war game was Kriegsspiel, developed in 1812 by two members of the Prussian army. Many of the elements of the games we know today — a board divided into grids, a rulebook full of charts and outcomes, dice — were featured in this early game that was also actually a military training tool.