Monday 16 October 2023

Battle of Idistaviso 16AD using When Warriors Collide


This is game 64 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  I am using another set of my rules When Warriors Collide (WWC).  I am in the process of writing up the rules but the current draft is here.  I am play testing rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  WWC is designed to finish in around 30 minutes on a 2’x2’ or smaller table; I am currently using a 40cmx40cm table.

Battle of Idistaviso 16AD

This battle was between the Roman force led by Germanicus, and various German tribes commanded by Arminius. This marked the end of Germanicus’s 3 year campaign in Germania.


TMP discussion:





4 HI Legions

2 MI Auxilia

2 LI Auxilia

2 HC Heavy Cavalry


Breakpoint: 4



6 WB Warbands

2 LI Light infantry

1 HC Cavalry


Breakpoint: 4


Note: Breakpoints are now simply ½ non-light units.

 Scenario changes

Reduced force sizes to fit on the small table.


Deployment.  Romans at the top, Germans at the bottom. 


The complete Roman line advances, as does the Germans.

The lines are close

The German left flank cavalry charges the Roman light infantry that attempt to fire but rout instead.  The German cavalry pursues into the Roman Auxilia and in the subsequent melee both are disordered

Combat on the German left flank

On the German right flank, the German light infantry advance to within missile range of the Roman light infantry; the Roman light infantry retire.

Light infantry get to fire at the oncoming German light infantry.

The Roman cavalry in the woods could just sit there and get fired at by the German light infantry so they charge into them.  Both light infantry fire is ineffective and are disordered in the ensuing melee.

Roman cavalry in the woods charge the German light infantry.

The warbands charge at the Roman infantry – no roll required as they are impetuous and within charge range of the Romans.  The warband unit on the German far right charged a light infantry unit that managed to disorder the Warband as they were charging.

Warbands charge

The Warbands rolled really well (three 6x out of 6 rolls!) and they are tripled in combat value for the first melee.  They manage to disorder a few legionary units and rout an Auxilia unit.

The Warbands don’t break the line but cause a lot more disorders that they received in return.

It is the Romans turn and the legions that are disordered are not going to attack as it will be at 1:1.  The legion units with the General can attack as they are doubled in combat value.

Note that melee is optional so if combat values are equal, such as disordered Auxilia Vs disordered cavalry on the Roman right, then if there is an equal chance of routing each other (both are already disordered so a 1d6 for melee sees a 1 = attacker routs,  6 = defender routs) you would not do so unless tactically there is a greater reward than the risk of combat. Short answer is the Auxilia are not going to melee the German cavalry.

Legions fight back – one warband lost (on the right)

The Roman cavalry in the woods rout the opposing light infantry.  They have been really lucky with the die rolls are the cavalry are half combat value in the woods.

Roman cavalry in the woods are victorious over the German light infantry.

On the German turn the warbands are at a disadvantage now (combat value 2 Vs disordered Roman legion value of 3).  It is a stalemate so time for the risk Vs reward I discussed earlier.  If the German cavalry can rout the Auxilia (need to roll a 6) they open up the left flank and can attack the flank of the Roman line.  They roll a 6!
German left flank cavalry in melee with the Roman Auxilia.  Germans rout the Auxilia.

Germanicus (Roman leader) routs an opposing warband unit. 

And does it again

The German cavalry moves and charges the Roman legion in the flank.  It has a leader so will be difficult to rout.  Did nothing.

German cavalry on the flank of a legionary unit.

The Roman Cavalry in the woods charges a German warband and manages to rout it!

Roman cavalry in the woods charges at a German warband that is routed in the resulting melee

The Warbands are stuck – they cannot attack anywhere at 1:1 odds, the minimum required that has a chance of destroying a unit. Warbands are value 2, disordered heavy infantry is 3. The Romans are less stuck as they can attack the Warbands at 1:1 but do have a equal chance of themselves routing.  But they are further away from their breakpoint than the Germans (one more warband gone and the Germans lose, compared to the Romans can lose 3 more units).  Time is running out.  The Romans attack the warbands in the centre, disordered them and then roll a 6 to rout one.  They do no manage to rout a unit themselves.

Roman legionaries and German Warbands fight it out.

The Romans win!

End game, Romans win.

Rule changes

None, although leaders in Bill Banks Ancients represent army capability as leaders are removed and added where required.  When you make them permanently attached to units they make those units very powerful.  I do remember toning them down in a previous version of When Worlds Collide to +1 to CV rather than a x2 modifier.  I may still do this but not yet – see how it goes in more battles.  In the above battle the German cavalry should have bypassed the legion with the leader for one without a leader.

Also, I am changing doubling for a flank attack to triple.  A flank attack at the moment at x2 is the same as defneding terrain or a leader attached.  I believe they should be far more decisive - a German Heavy Cavalry on the flank of an ordinary Roman legion should not be 1:1 or worse.

Light infantry and light cavalry do not have a fire and retreat reaction in these rules when charged.  They used to in my other rules. They either fire or retreat (or do nothing).   After about 5 games so far it has not been a problem but we shall see.  For light infantry it has been fine so far but I have not used much light cavalry in any of the games.


Got to test out a lot of the rules and it all hung together fine.  It was going to be hard pressed for the Germans to win this one.  They did get some lucky rolls but once the first change was done allthey could hope for was a draw.

Monday 9 October 2023

Battle of Angrivarii Boundary 16AD using When Warriors Collide


This is game 64 in playing historical scenarios, mostly from the Peter Sides’ booklets.  Originally the idea was to playtest my own rules; game 63 was using an 8x8 grid variant of Phil Sabin’s Phalanx rules.  I found them too chess-like for solo play and so modified them to be chancier. I then realised it was not just chance but more chaos in moving, retiring, charging etc. was required for me to play solo, so decided to see if I could make Rally Round the King work on the 8x8 grid and also not use any markers.  Played a few test games – worked fine but too much dice rolling. Back to 1d6 8x8 gridded DBA but not enough solo friendly mechanisms.  So then created a combo of Phalanx and my solo friendly rules from 2016 that I have played the most – Ancient Battlelines Clash (ABC) verison 2.5 and that was OK.  But then pivoted to using the combat mechanisms for Bill Banks Ancients that I used in an ABC derivative (When Warriors Collide), adding back in a disorder result.  After a few test games I tried it without the grid on a 40cmx40cm board and that seemed to work fine.  So after a few more test games I am back to the Peter Sides scenarios.  These rules are best described as Bill Banks Ancients with lower movement values and some reactions to enemy moves. Will see how long I last using these rules!

Battle of Angrivarii Boundary 16AD

The last battle in the three year Germanicus campaign against a Germanic alliance.  This battle follows on immediately after Idistaviso.  The German alliance is defending a rampart with an ambush in the adjacent woods.

Wikipedia entry:

Campaign description:



4 HI Legionaries

2 MI Auxilia

2 LI Auxilia

2 HC

1 HI warband

Breakpoint: 8


6 HI Warbands

1 HC

Breakpoint: 7

Scenario changes

I reduced the size of the forces to fit on an 40cmx40cm table.


The Germans are defending the rampart with bad going to its front, with the cavalry unit hiding in the woods.  The Romans are aware of the ambush and have a unit ready to enter the woods to prevent it.  The rest of the Romans are in two main line to assault the rampart.  Germanicus is with the legion closest to the woods.

Deployment – Romans at the top, Germans at the bottom defending a rampart.  The light brown is bad going.

The Germans are in a great position defending a rampart with bad goring in front.  All they have to do is survive.  The Romans plan is to use the lighter forces to soften up the Germans and then send in the legions.  In hindsight, I should have also used the Romans in the woods to attack tat flank and then Germanicus and attached legion could try and turn that flank (rather than head on to the rampart).  In the actual battle Germanicus did turn the flank from the woods so I should have  done the same!


The Romain Auxilia advance though the bad going.  The woods forces remain where they are to pin the Germans in the woods.  Auxilia are not disordered when entering bad going.

The Roman light line advances

The lighter infantry get some shots off for a disorder or two in the German line. 

The Roman light line in combat

The heavier Auxilia melee with the Warbands.  In the rules they really need to get a lucky roll to cause a disorder as they are facing units defending a rampart.  They don’t and are eventually routed by the warbands.

The heavier Auxilia have gone and only the Light infantry left

The lighter infantry cannot rout a unit defending a rampart by shooting alone so will also try and get lucky in close combat.  They do not either and rout also.  Time to send the legions in!

The legions now advance

Legions normally have the better combat value but are disordered in bad going and are also facing defenders on a rampart so it comes down to lucky dice rolling to see if they can rout a warband.  Germanicus really has the best chance with the leader bonus.  They get in a disorder on the warbands.

Legions in combat

But they just can’t see to get enough luck and either do the Germans.  Time has run out with no losses on the main battleline.


No side has broken but Germans win as they have actually inflicted casualties.


Not unexpected – a charge against a static defence with bad going.  Thinking of some other rules it would have been much the same outcome.  I should have really used the woods better and got Germanicus to flank the rampart from that side.

And the rules worked fine.  Onwards to the next game.

Saturday 3 June 2023

Battle of Taurus 39BC using 8x8 modified Phalanx


This was going to be game 63 in testing my Ancient Battlelines Clash rules. I have been going through lots of design changes over the last few years with these rules and I think I have finally got to the stage where, after 10 years of enjoyment with them, they are not meeting my needs any more.  The main one is that I find I want to play ancients games without markers!  I think this is more of a “I like to set it up and play easily and markers get in the way” rather than not liking markers 😊.  I went back and looked at my ABC rules with markers and other rules.  After much vacillation, I played a few test games with Phil Sabin’s Phalanx and after reorganising the combat modifiers to be based on the defending unit I found them quite easy to use.   I deploy the units for battle rather than use the Phalanx deploy from camp, and use an 8x8 squared grid.  But still 90% Phalanx rules.

Why not DBA/DBM?  I find that I am not fond of recoils as a main combat result.  And recoils are a critical cog in the Dbx rules – without recoil you do not get command and control impacts, combat advantage/disadvantage, movement restrictions etc.

Note I am using my 15mm figures on an 8x8 grid with 43cmx43cm squares (squares just a bit larger thna the 40mm wide bases). 

Battle of Taurus aka Cilician Gates

The Parthians invade Syria alongside the Rebel Roman Labienus taking Asia Manor.  Antony sends Venudinus to stop them and takes up a defensive position on a hill as the Parthians, eager to attack, do not wait for Labienus forces to assist.



Romans - the light infantry on the flanks

3 HI (Heavy Infantry)

4 LI (Light Infantry)

1 MC (Medium Cavalry)



Parthians.  Cataphracts at the rear

2 CAT (Cataphracts)

7 LC (Light Cavalry)


Scenario changes

Reduced the number of figures.

The Parthians must attack with their Light cavalry uphill on the first turn.


Deployment - Parthians on the left, Romans on the right

The Parthians need to get 3 units onto a Roman LI unit to rout it due to them being uphill and in difficult terrain.   It will not be easy.  The Romans need to sit there and do local counter-attacks but not subject themselves to being surrounded.  And don’t leave the hill!

Phalanx is all about getting a certain number of units able to attack an enemy unit.  It is then routed.  3 units Vs infantry, Elephants and Chariots, 2 Vs everyone else.  There are situational modifiers tha my increase or decrease the number of attacking units required.   


Parthians advance on both flanks 

Parthians advance

They contact the Roman light infantry and rout one on each side.

The Romans retaliate and rout two light cavalry units

Two light cavalry units following two Roman LI routed

The General Cataphract advances up the hill to assist in routing another Light infantry.

The General helps rout another Light infantry

The Romans keep getting one command roll and so their Cavalry barely moves.  They do manage to rout another rlight cavalry on their right flank.

Romans rout another unit on their right flank

The Parthians see an opening to take out a legionary unit.  Thy have got the numbers but roll a 1 meaning they need one more unit that they don’t have.  Unliucky!

Parthians attempt to rout a legionary unit

The Romans fnally manage to get there cavalry (with general) into the action and rout another unit. The Parthians have reached their breakpoint (4 units) but victory is decided by losses at the end of your own turn.

The Roman cavalry enters the fray

The Parthians destroy a legionary unit on their right flank.  The Parthians having reached their breakpoint flee.  The Romans have not suffered more units lost (both have lost 4) else the game would have continued unit one side had lost more than the other.

The Parthians destroy a legionary unit but it is not enough and they flee.

Checking losses gives the Romans a Narrow Victory.


In Phalanx you can normally activate three groups of units, I have made it two due to less units.  On a roll of a 1 at the start of the turn you reduce the number of groups that can be activated by 1.  I rolled a lot of 1s for both sides in this game.

I also realised I missed some of the modifiers that would have helped the Romans and it should have been harder for the Parthian light cavalry to clear the light infantry from the hills.  Ah well; more games will get me more familiar with them.

The game did not last very long but was very interesting.  Not many dice rolls as the game is about concentration of force while minimising your own exposure.  There are nuances I had not realised until playing such as the victory conditions (checking at the end of your own turn gives a chance for a side to inflict more casualties and stay in the game).   I am liking them for a broad brush approach to large battles.  They are very chess-like and I think for solo I need more chaos.  I am creating some rules based loosely on Phalanx as I post :-)

Saturday 27 May 2023

Battle of Philippi 42BC using Ancients Battlelines Clash


This is game 62 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  They are definitely a work in progress as I again vacillate between mechanisms.  These rules now require no markers, are based of a gridded version I did previously but the movement rules owe a lot to Phil Sabin’s Phalanx game.  Games are designed to be played solo on a 50cmx30cm table and finish in under 30 minutes.   Note the 50cmx30cm – I am playing on a 60cmx60cm.  The depth does not matter greatly as just deploying the opposing sides closer to one another.  They are still at their core Ancient Battlelines Clash so still calling them ABC version 6.



I have been soul searching for a while on why I am actually using my own rules to play these games.  Originally it was to create some rules that were fast and solo friendly for a small table and chronologically playing historical battles was a good way to test them.  But more recently it is the reading of and the playing of the historical battle that if more important.  I still will be using my own rules as I want something fast and very solo friendly but these historical battles will be less about the testing of the rules (although they do get tested by playing the battle scenario) and more about actually playing the battle.  So I expect the rules will continue to change, they already have gone through three major rewrites anyway!

Between this battle (done back in April 2022) and this one in September I have played about a dozen games with my 6mm forces on a 12x12 gridded table. These are using a mashup of Phil Sabin’s Phalanx for movement and my older rules for the reactions and results. 


Post script

This is the last outing with a variation of my Ancient Battles Clash rules.  I have been tweaking them for 12 years and after several hundred games with them I have moved to my own rules based on Phil Sabin’s Phalanx for movement and 1d6 with some simple results for combat.  The next replay is with Phalanx and then after that is the mashup. 


Battle of Philippi 42BC

The last battle in the Wars of the Second Triumvirate between the forces of Mark Antony and Octavian.

 Wikipedia entry:



Roman Second Triumvirate

Right Wing (Octavian)

3 HI, Legions

1 MC, Cavalry

1 Camp

1 Leader


Left wing (Antony)

5 HI, Legions

1 MC, Cavalry

1 leader

Breakpoint: 11


Roman Liberators

Left wing (Cassius)

4 HI, Legions

1 MC, Cavalry

1 Camp

1 Leader


 Right wing (Brutus)

4 HI, Legions

1 MC, Cavalry

1 Camp

1 Leader


Breakpoint: 11


 Scenario changes

Reduced the forces by about 80% and flipped the battle map (the Marsh on the left is now on the right).




Quite a different deployment to the usual battle.  There are two wings facing one another but also the flanking force of Antony’s (1 HI in my scenario on top of the hill on the left) is facing most of Cassius forces.



Note: originally I had the narrative going back and forth between each flank.  As each flank was a distinct battle I have split the game report into Antony Vs Cassius and Octavian Vs Brutus.

Antony Vs Cassius

Antony (left) Vs Cassius (right). Antony's flanking force is on the hill

Antony advances and engages with Cassius forces on the defensive line but all locked in melee.

Antony and Cassius’s forces engage

Cassius rearguard forces advance up the hill and are locked in melee with Antony’s flank force.

Antony’s flank force is engaged by Cassius’s forces

Antony Vs Cassius sees Antony’s cavalry flank attack a legion that is destroyed, the cavalry pursue and being looting Cassius’s camp.

Cavalry helps destroy a legion and then loots the camp

Cassius routs Antony’s flanking force.

Antony flanking force is no more

The Antony holding force at the defense line is routed and some units loot the camp, others are going around.

Looting the camp

Octavian Vs Brutus

Octavian (left) Vs Brutus (right)

Octavian advances.  Brutus also advances legions only into Octavian’s legions, also now all locked in melee.  Did not charge the cavalry as that is a straight 1:1 and no advantage there, unlike the legions that is 4 legions to 3.

Brutus engages with Octavian’s legions

Octavian manages to rout an opposing legion

Routed a Brutus legion

Final moves

Antony manages to rout the cavalry unit and Octavian routs another legion.  This results in the combined Cassius and Brutus army reaching their breakpoint.

Antony routs Cassius’s cavalry

Octavian manages to rout another of Brutus’s legions

Rule changes




I should have done them as two distinct games on the same table as there is no interaction between the two combats.  It then could have had one side win while the other side loses.  Instead it was overall losses that saw the Liberators lose.  It was a very close game and could have gone either way.


This the last game played with Ancients Battlelines Clash.  They have been fun but I am have currently moved to 8x8 grids and a mashup of Phil Sabin and 1d6  combat.  So still playtesting via the Peter Sides’ scenarios, but with different rules!  They actually have similar results but less complex and still reflecting my view of ancient battles.

Tuesday 9 May 2023

Battle of Munda 45BC using Ancients Battlelines Clash


This is game 61 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  They are definitely a work in progress as I continue to vacillate between mechanisms.  At least for this game I used the same rules as game 59 and game60!  Games are designed to be played solo on a 60cmx60cm table and finish in under 30 minutes.  They are still at their core Ancient Battlelines Clash so are calling them ABC version 6.

This is the 2nd last game I played using rules loosely based on Ancients Battlelines Clash.  It is posted a year after I played it.


Battle of Munda 45BC

The final battle of Caesar against the Optimates takes place in Spain.

 Wikipedia entry:





4 HI (swords) elite

3 MC

2 LI

Breakpoint: 8


Latienus (Optimates)

Latienus’s troops

5 HI (swords)

2 MC poor

2 LI

Breakpoint: 8


Scenario changes

Reduced the number of units, and also added 2 Light infantry to Caesar’s side.



Romans on the left, Latienus on the right


The Caesarean side big chance is the left flank and equal chance in the centre.  Will advance the left flank and centre into attack.  They do this.  The Caesarean side generally comes off worse –Latienus’s forces have a first turn advantage of being uphill.

Clash in the centre (from the Optimates point of view)

The Caesarean left flank charge in.  Latienus’s LI routs, as does Latienus’s cavalry.

Caesarean left flank in combat

The Caesareans loses a legionary unit.  The left Caesarean cavalry charges a Latienus legion unit in the flank and it is destroyed.

Caesarean cavalry charges into the flank of the opposing battleline

Another two rounds of melee in the centre and the rebels are holding on, just.  But then they quickly lose two legionary units and their army flees the field.

End game

Rule changes




Another short game that was fun.  I am still toying with rules with no disorder markers and grids so will see whether I stick with these or the gridded rules. I do find they are similar to play and not hard to move from my own gridded rules to non-gridded rules, and vice versa.