Saturday, 23 May 2020

Battle of Magnesia 189BC using D3 Ancients Clash

This is game 48 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  It is the first historical game using my new rules d3 Ancients Clash (the previous games were with ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’).  I am in the process of writing the rules up from the scribbling it is currently.  D3 Ancients Clash is an evolution of Ancients Battlelines Clash but uses d3s and designed to assist with replaying these historical games.  I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  D3AC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 16”x16” table.

Battle of Magnesia
Here is the only internet link of interest I used for this replay:

I also used Sabin’s Lost Battles.


2 Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection, elite
2 Allied Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection
4 Velites and other skirmishers, Skirmishers
2 Pergamene/Achaian Allies, Medium infantry
1 Heavy Cavalry, elite
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 +1 General with the Legions
1 subgeneral with the legion
1 Camp
All trained.
Breakpoint: 9


3 Phalanx
1 Galatians, Medium infantry, warband, untrained
1 Peltasts, Light Infantry, javelin, untrained
4 Skirmishers, Skirmishers, untrained
1 Cataphracts
1 Heavy Cavalry, poor
1 Light Cavalry
1 Elephant, untrained
1 Scythed Chariot, untrained
1 General with the Cataphracts
All trained except where noted.
Breakpoint: 8

Scenario changes
I reduced the units by two-thirds.


Romans on the left, Seleucids to the right.

Romans all advance – being trained and with a general and subgeneral moving will not be an issue for the Romans.  The Seleucids also all advance.

Both sides advance.

Romans advance the centre force.  The centre will take longer in melee to resolve than the flanks so do not want the flank combats to get ahead of the centre, especially as the flank combats are likely to be close.
The Seleucid right flank moves to within 1” of the opposing Romans.  The skirmishers trades missiles and the Seleucid skirmishers destroyed.  The Cataphracts slam into the Velites that do nothing.  Brushing the Velites aside the Cataphracts hit the two legions.

Cataphracts slam into the opposing legions

The Cataphracts force the Roman legion to retreat but the allied legion force the Cataphracts back.  The allied legion pursues but the Cataphracts are too fast.

The allied legion forces the Cataphracts to pull back.

The Seleucid centre does not move. The Scythed chariot charges in, but does nothing and leaves the field.

The scythed chariot.  A non-event.

The rest of the Seleucid right flank does not move.

The Roman allies and legions in the centre move up to the Seleucid pikes and covering skirmishers.  The Seleucid skirmishers are routed.
On the Seleucid light cavalry move up to align with the Cataphracts.  The Cataphracts are with the general and manage to remove a deplete.  Oops – maybe the legion should have attacked!
The pikes charge in rather than wait to be shot at by the Velites.

The pike units charge to engage the Roman centre.

Two pikes units are shaken and so stop advancing; another pike contact the legion and both are shaken.  The Galatians charge into the allies – one retreats, the other shaken.

Galatian warband charge the allied medium infantry.

The Seleucid right flank finally gets the courage to move the skirmishers and cavalry.  The opposing cavalry charge, the skirmishers fie for no effect and rout and the Roman heavy cavalry continue into the Seleucid heavy cavalry.  The Seleucid cavalry is no match for the Romans, retreats and then routs.

The Seleucid heavy cavalry is no match for the Roman cavalry.

The Allied Roman infantry that is in melee with the Galatians routs, the Galatians pursue into the other allied infantry who also succumb to the charging warriors.

The Galatians are victorious over the allied infantry.

The Roman legion with the general forces his enemy to rout.

Roman General (foreground) in battle with a pike phalanx that routs soon after.

The Cataphracts charge into the legion and are locked in melee.

Cataphracts charge the legion

 They subsequently rout it them.

The legion routs.

The Roman cavalry circling the rear manages to hit a pike block in the rear. The pikes retreat and are routed.

Attacked in the rear.

The Roman cavalry pursues into another pike phalanx.

And pursuit sees the cavalry impact another phalanx.

The cavalry inflict many casualties and the roman legion in the front finishes them off.

The Seleucid reaches their breakpoint and so flee the field.


That went well and no rule changes so the rules are holding up OK.  Some bits still confuse me and have to look them up but this is only game 3 and there were a few changes between games 1 and 2.  In the actual battle, the elephant came to the rescue of the infantry so if I was to play this battle again I would move the elephant over to behind the Galatians.  Also, the Romans won on their right flank which is hard to do with an Elephant facing you!

Friday, 8 May 2020

Battle of Cynopscephalae 197BC using D3 Ancients Clash

This is game 47 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  It is the first historical game using my new rules D3 Ancients Clash (the previous games were with  ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’).  I am in the process of writing the rules up from the scribbling it is currently.  D3 Ancients Clash is an evolution of Ancients Battlelines Clash but use 1d3 and designed to assist with replaying these historical games.  I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  D3AC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 16”x16” table.

Battle of Cynopscephalae
Here are a few internet links of interest I used for this replay:


4 Legions, Heavy Infantry, line relief, medium missile protection
2 Velites, Skirmishers
2 Aetolians, Light infantry, javelin
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 Light Cavalry, javelin
1 Elephant, untrained
1 General with the Legions
All trained except where noted.
Breakpoint: 8


4 Phalanx
2 Peltasts, Light Infantry, javelin, untrained
1 Heavy Cavalry
1 General with the Phalanx
All trained except where noted.
Breakpoint: 6

Scenario changes
I halved the units and did not include the Macedonian Psiloi.


Deployment. Romans on the left, Macedonians on the right.

All the Romans advance. All the Macedonians advance as well.  All Macedonians are on the hills now. 

View from Roman side

Elephant advances into the Phalanx

Elephants and pikes.

 and retreats, depleted.  Both phalanxes pursue.

Routed elephant pursued by the phalanxes.

Oh, that did not go well, the elephant routs but luckily only takes the Velites with them. The phalanxes continue to advance .

The Macedonian peltasts fire at the Velites. One peltasts routs, as does the Velites.

The missile fire exchange of the light units.

The Macedonian phalanx charges into the Roman legions.  They retreat but only one phalanx pursues.

Phalanx pursuing the Roman legions.

The Roman light cavalry wheels to face flank of phalanx but never gets a chance to fire for the rest of the battle.  The Roman left sees the light infantry dispersed as the Roman legions charge up the hill to the flat plain and combat the phalanx.  The Romans are pushed back.

Romans and Macedonians clash on the Roman left flank.
On the right, the Phalanxes continue to pushback on the Romans

Roman right flank not going well.

On the left, one of the legions retreats!

A Roman legionary unit retreats.

And then another!

And then the other.

Neither phalanx take the opportunity to followup.

On the Roman left flank, a legions is destroyed

A Roman legion is routed
On the left flank, a legion is destroyed.

On the same flank, the same occurs.

The right flank legion hangs on while the left flank legion, with the General, routs as well.  The Romans reach their breakpoint and are destroyed.

End game. Remaining Roman units are circled

The Macedonians did not lose one heavy unit.  The phalanxes are strong and I did not give the Romans enough light units to shake them up and make them easier to combat.  Also the Romans did not roll well – there are chances to disorder the phalanxes to reduce their combat value but the dice were against the Romans.

Rule changes
(only here for posterity for me to track if I ever come back here)
  • Extended shaken (kind of like unease/disorder) to heavy cavalry and also units are shaken if doing a complex move.
  • Still mulling if I have got the phalanx interactions right, although in this game the Romans did roll badly.
  • Still wondering if I like one sided combat i.e. who wins inflicts damage that then produces a negative modifier for the next combat.  I seem to remember writing that is what I did not like about my original rules based in part on Justified Ancients!  I moved to a combat results table where if both sides had equal combat value then there was a large chance both would be disordered i.e. more the Bill Banks Ancients type result.  We shall see.  After lots of thought I have added in a “both shaken" for a 0 result.  Will see if that keeps me happy.
A reverse of history. Phalanxes are tough!  In my original rules once the first round of combat was over it tended to be that phalanxes had the same combat value as the roman legions.  But in these rules, that is not the case.  And no phalanx was shaken by missile fire or lucky rolls either. So the Romans had it tough in this game.  I may add more Velites if I ever replay.  And the Elephant did nothing – it should have a least shaken a enemy unit!  In a refight I would not put the elephant in front of the legions but to the side (to attack as they did to support the legions). Oh, and the new rules are playing out fine.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Persians Vs Late Romans - a game with new homegrown ancient rules

I scratch an itch around Ancient rules and test out some new homegrown rules, based on all the other rules I have written.  The big difference is it uses a d3 for everything.

I used my first two 15mm armies to play the game – Late Romans and Sasanian Persians.

I am a butterfly.  Happily working on testing my own ancient rules.  Happily planning a campaign with my 6mm WW2 stuff.  Happily playing with my recently acquired Two Hour Wargames PDFs.  And then I got the itch.  This itch has been building for a year. It is an Ancient rule itch and it is itchy in three ways:
  • Most of the historical games could be played on a smaller table than 2’x2’.  I found that in my historical replays, each battleline was about 6-8 units wide, too wide for a 2’x2’ (with 40mm wide bases).  I had thought in the past of 12x12 grids, smaller tables etc. and have been thinking of going to 16”x16” for awhile now.
  • Dissatisfaction with the 1d6 roll.  My rules started with the basic mechanism that all melee is a 1d6 roll and low results apply to the attacker, high to the defender.  It worked well at the start but over the years have tweaked unit combat values, modifiers, melee results to make it work how I wanted it, and I now feel I have been working around the 1d6 to keep it, when its foundation (a quick way to resolve Bill Banks Ancientswith a die roll rather than a CRT) is a little flawed – even the alternative 1d6 is not as great as the CRT which relies on combat value ratios (the d6 is adding and subtracting combat values).  I went back recently to the CRT and ratios in my 6x6 ancient rules and really liked it.
  • Wanting to play something with more unit differentiators.  I have the game down to four modifiers for melee and about 3-4  similar modifiers for all other rolls (command, missile fire, reactions).  I was drawn to Justified Ancients as it had only three main unit types (foot, cavalry, chariots) and then lots of modifiers for melee such as loose order Vs close order, light armour Vs heavy armour etc.  I wanted to play a game with more of this differentiation.

Over the last two weeks I have been thinking and thinking, mulling different options in my head.  Where did I end up?

I will be using a 16”x16” table.

Went back at looked at Justified Ancients (JA) (1stEdition) after 7 years since I last played it. (Note: JA is a great set of rules that are no longer available :-(  Check out John Davis for reviews, battle reports etc.) Amazing how much of the rules influenced my first foray in rules writing (Ancient Warrior Battles) and its current successor Ancient Battlelines Clash.  JA uses opposed 1d3 for melee.  Not wanting to use different die types, I quickly figured out how easy to translate roll for movement action to a d3 and firing to an opposed d3.  I worked though the melee modifiers and realised that using my existing unit types (heavy infantry, medium infantry etc, about 12 of them) then most of the modifiers can get absorbed into the unit combat values and most of them disappear.  One thing I spent a few days working through was how to deal with Elite troops (JA doesn’t really) until I hit n they count all 2’s rolled as a 3 that nudges it just a little in their favour.   I was really digging the bell curve of a 2d3 opposed roll.    I did like JA having troops harder to order and finally settled on a 1d3, modifiers really count on a 1d3 and so a natural 3 is always a success.

Yes, I did think of using opposed 1d6 but then I would end up with a lot of modifiers and also large modifiers (e.g. a +2 for shock in opposed 1d3 becomes +4).  

Two days ago I committed the rules to paper (well a QRS anyway). Today I played a test game.  I have a feeling these may be the basis of the rules I will move forwards with my historical playtesting.  I also have the introduction with troop definition and abilities.  I may be able to get all the rules into 8 pages, including some examples. I will need to play a few more games before releasing them.   

So the rules look similar to Ancient Battlelines Clash but use 1d3 and opposed d3s (compared to 1d6).  Still have to roll to order a unit, unit reacts to being charged or fired on, most units abilities are the same (impetuous, missile fire, elite/poor).  Changes are that doing an action is harder; units are now also either trained or untrained (affects actions); retreats etc. are handles a little differently; evades happen a little differently; reactions are slightly different; combat results are a little different; movement distances are about 2/3rds.  It seems smoother to play.  Historical battles are also likely to play out smoother.

I think the important part is these rulesets were always about allowing me to play out the Peter Sides' historical battles.  I am enjoying researching about the battles as much as the playing, so looking for rules that allow me to play out the battles fairly fast and have a plausible result.  It could also be that after 200 games with my own rules I reached my limit of tinkering and so starting something new (well, major revision anyway!) J

The Basic Impetus armies are about the right size for the game I was looking for so I worked on a spreadsheet to convert the armies over the new rules.  The armies were still slightly too large so removed a unit from each side.

Sasanian Persian

Sasanian Persians

1 Pushtigbhan: Cataphracts, Elite              
2 Savaran: Heavy Cavalry, bow
1 Nomads: Light Cavalry, bow
1 Militia: Heavy Infantry, poor    
1 Archers: Light Archers
1 Slingers: Skirmishers
1 Elephants: Elephant     
1 General with the Pushtigbhan
All untrained.
Breakpoint: 6

Late Roman

Late Roman

1 Clibanarii: Cataphracts
1 Equites: Heavy Cavalry
1 Equites Saggitari: Light Cavalry, bow
2 Legionari: Heavy Infantry          
1 Auxilia Palatina: Medium Infantry          
1 Comitatensi: Mixed Missile
1 Lanciarii: Skirmisher
1 Funditores: Skirmisher
1 General with the Clibanarii
All trained
Breakpoint: 6


Ready for battle

Using my deployment guide from my Ancient Battlelines Clash, the Persians are the attacker  and are deployed to attack on both flanks while the Romans are going for a push in the centre.

The Persian right flank (all of two units!) advances, and does the centre to protect the two flanks.  The left flank needs a 3+ to do anything (don’t forget this is on a d3) as untrained and far from the General. Success!  And advance as fast as the elephant allows (3”).

The Roman left and right flank hold – no need to advance closer to superior units.  The Clibanarii advance up the middle to attack the opposing infantry.

Clibinarii advance up the centre

End of turn 1

The Persian right cavalry wants to charge the Roman light archers but it is not quite the time (fails activation roll).

The Cataphracts advance to out of range of the light archers but in range of the Roman cavalry.
The Roman Clibanarii continues to advance, as does the legionaries.  On the left flank, the Light archers advance to fire at the Persian cavalry next turn.

Light archers advance

End of Turn 2

The Persian cavalry charge the light archers.  In the ensuing missile context the Cavalry are pushed back (effectively the weight of arrows stopped their charge.

Cavalry charge the archers but pushed back.

The Cataphracts charge the Roman Heavy Cavalry that retreats (and is depleted).  The Cataphract is  spent due to successful charge but still pursues with not enough movement to recontact. (Spent means you cannot charge next turn.  This does not really make sense so a post-game rules revision was to remove becoming spent from successful charges.  I was uncertain about it going into this game and so not much dram to get rid of it. Evading units are still spent though – stops them evading twice in a row.  This also requires playtesting!)

Persian Cataphracts charge the heavy cavalry

The Persian light archers fire at a Roman Skirmisher that is pushed back.

The elephant moves towards the legions.  The accompanying Heavy Cavalry also passes an order check and charges the Roman right flank (Auxilia Palatina and Comitatensi)

Elephants advance and Persian heavy cavalry charge the Roman right flank.

The Cavalry is depleted and pushed back (1 in 9 chance).

Cavalry does not make contact due to the weight of missiles.

The Roman Comitatensi fire on the Heavy Cavalry and it is depleted again and routs (a 1 in 9 chance for the depletion. So a 1 in 9 chance followed by a 1 in 9 chance – so a 1 in 81 chance the cavalry would have routed!)

The Roman skirmishers fire at the Militia and the latter are shaken. The Clibanarii then charges in. 
The accompanying Light Archer fires for no effect. The Militia retreats and depleted. The Light Archers are pushed back (worst result can get for 2-1 melee). The Clibanarii pursues and still in contact! Another melee.

The Roman Clibanarii contact the Persian centre.

The Militia is destroyed and the Light Archers pushed back again.  The Clibanarii pursue, the Light Archers retreats (now depleted) onto the hill will get an uphill bonus.  The Clibanarii continue to pursue and the Light Archers are now destroyed.  (This took so long as the archers insisted on rolling 3s and the Clibanarii 1s giving the best result to the Light Archers that was still a retreat.)

One legionary unit wheels and attacks a skirmishers that routs.  The Legions pursue into the elephant (I really only did this to see how Elephant combat worked)

The legionaries charge the Elephant.

Maybe not a good thing – The legionary unit retreats depleted and shaken.  The Elephant pursues and the legionary unit is destroyed!

The Roman Heavy cavalry is not in melee and rolls a 3 to remove the depleted. (a reason to get rid of the spent status  - the Cataphracts should really have charged the heavy cavalry again)

End of Turn 3

The Persian Heavy Cavalry fails again to charge the Light archers. All the other Persians take a breather (fails all action rolls).

The Clibanarii about faces.

The Roman Light Archers fire on Heavy Cavalry that react by charging the archers for a melee. (this is a change from my old rules – the archers fired so now do not get to fire again before melee).
Light archers retreats depleted; Cavalry pursues and archers destroyed.

Turn 4 sees the Persian Heavy cavalry charge and rout the Roman light archers (finally).

The Persian Cataphract charges the Roman Cavalry that is depleted and retreats off board.  The Persian pursues.  Both are counted as lost.  The Persians have reached their breakpoint.  Game over and a win to the Romans!

The Persian Cataphracts pursue the Roman Heavy Cavalry off the table and the Romans win.

Rule Changes

  • Spent status does not apply to charges
  • Elephant are too powerful – reduced combat modifier from 3 to 2.
Not many changes at all - the rules held up OK after one playtest, the positive is that it all seemed to hang together.

I really enjoyed playing these rules.  As I said earlier, it could be tiredness with my own rules but these are an evolution of my Ancient Battlelines Clash but different enough that they are worthy of a new name.  I am going to try out some historical battles with them to see if I will continue with them.  I hope so J

Saturday, 25 April 2020

WW2 6mm game East Front 1942 testing out my own platoon rules (game 3)

This is the third game in trying out my own 6mm WW2 rules.  I converted all the dice rolls to be on a deck of cards (so draw a card to lookup the result).  For more detailed see this previous blog post. The first game and second games went fine.   This third game went very fast.

I have used a modified version of Platoon Forward to generate the forces, terrain and objective (in a spreadsheet).

The table is about 50cm x 50 cm; the figure scale is 1:300 (6mm size) the ground scale is 1:700 so the table is representing about 350m x350m.

The Russians enter on the bottom of the map and have to take the building at the top left.

German defending the top left building; Russians enter from the bottom

Enter bottom of the map:
2 platoon leaders (Aminev and Belov)
5 Rifle Squads
2 MMGs
2 SU-76 (Serebrov)

All Russians are Green.

Russian attackers

Deployed anywhere except near the Russian entry edge

2 Platoon leaders (Hahn and Junkerman)
5 Gruppe
1 50mm Anti-tank gun

On a random future turn, enter on a random edge:
1 Stug IIIE (Bergmann)
1 Gruppe

As per the Russians, all Germans are Green.

German defenders.  The Stug and Gruppe on the left are reinforcements.

All units being Green mean they are less likely to recover from being pinned and suppression.
Germans have better command and control than the Russians.  This means they will get slightly more activations.

The Germans deploy the majority of the Gruppe and the AT Gun centrally on the objective. Across the fields to the right is 2 other Gruppe as an alternative defence point and also a reserve if the Russians focus on advancing only on the left.

German deployment in two groups

The Russians advance in two infantry groups up the left (Aminev) and centre (B) in cover.  The SU-76s will be no good in the woods and so keep level with the infantry on the road.

The Russians enter on a broad front.

Belov on the right continues advancing.

Belov (Platoon Leader) and Serebrov (SU-76s) moves up to the edge of the woods and does not spot any Germans.   The Germans in the field under Junkerman also fail to spot Belov moving up to the edge of the woods!

Belov makes it to the edge of the woods but neither they or the two German Gruppe defenders spot one another!

The AT gun opens up on Serebrov's SU-76 and goes straight through the thin armour and it is knocked out!

The AT Gun takes out the lead SU-76.

With the loss of the SU-76, Serebrov and the unit being Green, it must take a morale check.  The remaining SU-76 fails and flees the game (I will remove it as it cannot be shot at).

And the other SU76 decides to withdraw.

Aminev moves his force move to the crest of the hill, ready to take on the AT gun.

Aminev moves his forces to the crest of the hill overlooking the objective.

A random event sees Belov's force come under an artillery attack.  It is very bad;  they lose their MG and the two squads are pinned.

Belov in the woods comes under some light artillery and is badly affected.

Aminev spots the Anti-tank gun and he directs the fire of his platoon.  The AT Gun is suppressed!

Hahn, Guarding the objective, sees this firing and unleashes with all they have.  It is ugly with some very good luck – two squads suppressed and Aminev and his squad are routed.

Hahn's forces in the building fire on the Russians - Aminev routs and the others are suppressed.

Belov attempts to rally his force and one of the squads routs instead.

Hahn's collection of squads fires on the remainder of Aminev's force on the hill.  It is for naught. Amazingly, the paltry fire that is returned suppresses Hahn's infantry.  The AT Gun finds the time to rally.

Belov tries to rally the remaining squad and fairs poorly as they rout also.

This only leaves two leaderless Russian squads that decide to withdraw as well.  The Germans hold the field with no losses.
Belov's forces in the woods completely rout; with only two suppressed units left on the field the Russians withdraw.

Well, Green troops are appalling to use on the attack.  Mainly that once pinned or suppressed they are more likely to rout than more seasoned units.  Losing the SU-76 at the start was unfortunate.  In reality – it was bad tactics. A should have moved to the top of the hill first to spot any danger, and then moved the SU-76.  Although spotting a AT gun in cover would have been mostly impossible anyway.  The perils of a random scenario is they may not be balanced.  I guess it is preparing me if I run a campaign. Still, a quick game that I imagine would be quite realistic.  It really highlights that unseasoned troops are not bad on defence and bad on the offensive.