Friday, May 7, 2010

Callicum refight with Armati 2

I'm going to keep this fairly Armati 2 heavy rather than a generic description.  This will allow a better comparison of the rules and how they play the scenario out.

Turn 1

Note: Armati turn sequence is:
  • Simultaneous missile fire
  • Roll for initiative - winner gets to choose which side moves first.
  • first player moves
  • second player moves
  • Melee. Initiative winner gets to choose the direction of melee (left to right or right to left).  Melee directions is important for a number of reasons - the moment a side's breakpoint is reached, the games ends; also with multiple stands possibly attacking one stands, which way the melee occurs can provide advantages or disadvantages.
  • Breakthrough movement - if routed an enemy can move 3.
  • Rally.

No missile fire as all out of range.

Armati has quite long ranges compared to other rules.  for example, Heavy infantry move 6, Light Infantry move 9, Light and Heavy Cavalry move 15.  Foot Bows have a range of 24, Mounted bows 18, Foot javelins 9 and light cavalry javelins 6.

Persian Heavy Cavalry FV5 ready for action in the centre.

Persians win initiative and choose to move first.  Lakhmids move up and the heavy cavalry on their left (FV5) wheels and moves to be within bow range of the enemy units.  This also allows the reserve cavalry to move to the front line as well (with a wheel at the start). The right flank heavy cavalry is moved up as well.
The Persian cavalry are all in range to be able to fire next turn (within 18).

The Byzantines move the Ghassanids into javelin range - they won't last in combat so may inflict some missile damage.  The Heavy cavalry next to the Light infantry is moved forwards so the light infantry can't be contacted.

Turn 2

Missile fire results are that the Persians inflicted 5 hits and the Byzantines inflicted 1 hit on a FV5 cavalry unit.
This is unlucky for the Byantines as both sides have roughly the same missile units firing and the Persians have only a few PROT +2 units.

The Byzantines win initiative and choose to move first.

Initiative is important as the winner get to choose which side moves first and also melee direction.  Initiative also determines how many divisional splits may be performed - each split reduces initiative by 2.  And Initiative cannot be voluntarily reduced below 0.  So an army with an initiative of 6 can perform 3 divisional splits.  Not going into detail but a division can only be split either in melee (stands not in contact can split from the division)  or by missile fire (when a stand is eliminated in the middle of a division and the division is split into two).

The Byzantines move their right flank heavy cavalry and the FV5 cavalry into combat with the persian FV5 cavalry.  Due to the way the divisions line up only 2 Byzantine stands are actually touching.  In hindsight this move should have been done in turn 1.  The remaining heavy cavalry is moved forwards in support (no contact though) and the general is moved to be with one of the FV4 cavalry stands in contact with a Persan FV5.

The Persians move of f the FV4 stands of the heavy cavalry into the Byzantine FV5 (no split but a slide forwards).  The Lakhmids charge into the Ghassinids.

For melee the Byzantine's chooses right to left.
The Ghassanids almost gone - 3 hits and combined with previous missile hits has two of the stands routed. The  Lakhmids took no hits.

The number of hits a stand can take is based on the unit type.  Heavy Infantry can take 4 hits, Heavy cavalry 3, Light Infantry and Light Cavalry 2.  A unit routs when it reaches its hit limit and is removed.

In the centre the Byzantine stand with the general took a hit but general survived.  For the other two stands in contact, the Persians took a hit.  There is a Persian FV5 heavy cavalry unit with 2 hits in the centre of the board - one more hit to this unit and there will be a gap that could be exploited.

 The centre as seen from the Persians.  Flesh coloured rings are hits, black rings are fatigue.

The Ghassanids don't breakthrough - the split may be needed elsewhere.

 End of turn 2

Turn 3

Missile fire phase was poor for the Byzantines.  For roughly equal firing from both sides the Byzantines inflicted 2 (one on a Heavy Cavalry that already had a hit) and the Persians inflicted 3.

Byzantines win initiative and choose to move second.
The Persians move some stands of the units in the middle up to contact other enemy units. Not as split (as I used to think it ages ago) as the stands are still in contact. Also one of the cavalry has impetus against an enemy unit as it no longer has impetus as it is in contact with another unit.

 As there is no one around to teach me the rules, and no one else interested in reading them, I've gleaned these things from reading the Armati mailing list.  It is the subtlety of these things in the rules that I actually like as it expands the tactical options without special rules.  It would be nice if these sort of things were included as examples in the rules though as they are not obvious from reading (or  playing solo).

 My 3 year old daughter helps out - she rolled all the dice for me and also placed all the hits and fatigue markers. The board is setup in a set of map drawers.

Impetus is a core Armati rule. Various units have impetus against other types of units.  A unit that has impetus and outscores the enemy on the first melee, routs the enemy unit rather than inflicting one hit. For instance, Warbands have impetus against heavy infantry and Heavy Cavalry has impetus against all other units.  So if a FV4 cavalry unit contacts a FV6 infantry unit and outscored it in the first turn of combat (1/6 of a chance), the infantry rout rather than receiving one hit. Impetus doesn't happen for subsequent combats so it becomes a straight FV4 vs FV6 combat.  A unit contacting an enemy unit that receives impetus against it cancels out impetus for both sides (so in a HC vs HC first contact there is no impetus).  But in this latter case if a new HC unit contacts the enemy unit n the following turn the friendly unit does receive impetus, as units in melee lose the impetus bonus.  So keeping units in reserve to charge in with impetus while they are pinned from a previous turn is a key tactic. There are special rules to allow heavy infantry to deny impetus and elephants and camels but I'm not going to detail them here.

Byzantines move up the last of the Byzantines Heavy cavalry (their left).  Also moved the infantry up to cover the flank of the Cavalry to their right.

Byzantines choose melee direction of left to right.
The first melee combat - heavy cavalry Vs heavy cavalry sees the Byzantines win and the Persian stand rout.
The Persians manage to rout the heavy cavalry with the general (and so the general is lot too) and the last Ghassanid light cavalry is routed.  The Byzantines are at 5 key units lost for only 1 Persian .  Maybe the light cavalry should not be key for his battle...or maybe increase the breakpoint of the Byzantines by one.

Armati armies contain a number of key units (usually all heavy units but also including lights for later centuries).  A side loses the the instant the army loses a number of key units equal to its breakpoint.

 End of turn 3

Turn 4

Missile fire:  Nothing except for one hit on one of the Skutatoi - the same stand that has received two hits already!  Talk about unlucky.

Persians win the initiative and choose to move second.

The Byzantine Light infantry moves up to contact the Persian Light Cavalry.  The Skutatoi infantry move up to protect flank of the heavy cavalry to their right.

The Persian Light Cavalry not in contact with the light infantry split, about face and move.  The other Light Cavalry should delay the Light  Infantry for at least 2 turns (the number of hits the light cavalry can take). The heavy cavalry not in contact moves directly forwards (hopefully to about face and contact a Byzantine unit on the flank/rear.  We will see.

A unit flanked by another heavy unit uses its flank value against ALL other units and routs if outscored.  For cavalry, the flank value is normally a 0 or a 1. Being able to flank a unit is a very good thing indeed.

The Persians choose left to right for melee direction.
The Light Infantry loses but the Light cavalry is now fatigued so not so good for remaining turns.
The Persians lose a heavy cavalry on their right flank, leaving a hole for the Byzantines to exploit (which they do in the breakthough phase).  As this is the third turn of combat for a lot of the stands in the middle, there is a bit of fatigue on the middle stands.  Byzantines still a 5 key lost, Persians now at 2.

When a unit has been in melee for the number of turns equal to its breakpoint vaue, it is fatigued.  All fatigued Heavy and Cavalry stands fight at -2, light units at -1.

 End of turn 4

Turn 5

Missile fire: Each Byzantine Skutatoi infantry stand inflict one hit on each of the opposing heavy cavalry stand. The Persians inflict only one in return.

Due to the split, the Persians are now at a -1 disadvantage for the initiative roll.  The Byzantines win the initiative and choose to move first.  They move a heavy cavalry (a split) straight ahead.

The Persians wheel the Light Cavalry 6 (and are undressed) and move into the flank of a heavy cavalry stands  The Persian lone Heavy Cavalry about faces (and is undressed).

Byzantines choose a melee direction of left to right.
Byzantines lose a Heavy Cavalry early on, reaching their army breakpoint and so lose.
Playing out the rest of the melee, the Byzantines lose one more(a Heavy Cavalry FV5) and the Persians 3 Heavy Cavalry.  The middle is looking remarkably bare.

The Light Infantry won its combat.
I believe the Persians are better placed to re-organise and roll up the three remaining units in  the middle.

End of turn 5 (if continued melee)


A fun and tense game.  It was played in two sessions and for one of those my 3 year old rolled all the dice but I would say the game lasted just over one hour (excluding note taking).  Adding up the points, the game was roughly core +60, so it was not going to play much faster, although the smaller number of control points would have helped.  Armati as it is doesn't give the < 1 hour game on a 2'x'2 board.  With mostly infantry, this game would have been slower. So the verdict is that Armati, while I think is a faster game than many other tournament type rules, doesn't meet my criteria.
I am tempted to play this again with less stands - the Persians being units of 2 cavalry each (8 stands in total) and the Byzantines having 2 stands on Skutatoi,  4 cavalry units, 1 light infantry and 2 light cavalry.  I would give each side a heavy control rating of 3 and reduce initiative by 2 to reduce the number of available splits . Hmm.  Without this reduction, Armati is not going to be as fast as I want it to be at this size.  But reductions to control ratings and initiative reduce the tactical complexity in the game.  Guess I can't have it all.



  1. Good stuff Shaun, it's good to see someone playing Callinicum again. Maybe in future your three-year old daughter can play my three year old daughter!


  2. Paul, Your description in your blog of the Callinicum scenario pales compared to what I have here. I'm going to set up link to it somewhere here when I have time.

  3. Thanks, Shaun; there's no way our game could be played at speed, though! I think your basis for comparison is a good one. So many people seem to find it difficult to squeeze in a long game more than once in a while, so you're providing a valuable service in describing how fast-play rules work in the same battle. Plus, it looks as though you're having some fun doing it.

    Cheers again

  4. Reference speed and simplicity, when I first started with Armati, I played Intro, on a 2x2 (as this allowed me to set up several boards to get others to join in, side by side). This was the original version of the rules, and I did not use fatigue. I would always use fatigue in a serious, optimal scale 'big' game, as it favours having reserves and proper plans. If looking for speed and simplicity, I'd be tempted to drop it out.

    Think about how many critical melee turns were decided by one side being fully fatigued, the other not. Often, this is not many. If so, a layer of complexity can be eliminated.

    Don't forget that in the original Armati book, fatigue was an optional rule - so it isn't as if Armati without fatigue is distorting Arty's game ...

    Like the 'overhead' photos ...


  5. Phil,

    I had never thought about dropping fatigue...I first started playing with Advanced Armati but used all the advanced rules Fatigue we always used as the Armati mailing list, whenever fatigue came up, was it was a critical element for play as it opens up good tactical options for some disadvantaged sides. but thinking back on the games I have played (Intro with core + 75 on a 3'x2' board) fatigue played only a small part in only a few of the games - generally those with a majority of mismatched HP level troops e.g. warbands or cavalry Vs heavy infantry.
    You are absolutely right that at 2'x'2', and taking speed into account, fatigue should be dropped. I'm in the middle of playing Callinicum with reduced forces, but i may have to play it again with the same forces as the first game and drop fatigue.
    Armati is one of the few rules I play that I don't tinker with. This is the fist time I'm playing cm rather than 1/3 of an inch. The only other house rule that we started playing last year is that bow armed light cavalry can wheel 4. This is because at intro scale you can't do LC 'trains' and this seemed like an OK compromise.
    2'x2' for non-scenario play may be a bit more difficult because , if reducing forces, the CR should really be reduced but how too choose the reductions, and INIT should go down by 2.
    Armati at 2'x2' will still be a good game I think, but just not quite the same game as intro at 3'x'2 or Optimal scale.
    Lastly, the only other point I would make is for a lot of our Intro games, I actually did base Skirmishers, Light infantry on 20mm frontage so it plays a bit more like intro. Used to have some HI based on 20mm frontage so you could deploy in depth if you wished. But we use the braced rules from the mailing list revisions so don't have to worry so much anymore.