Sunday, June 6, 2010

Justified Ancients overview and Callinicum deployment

Background
Justified Ancients is the third set of rules I am playing and the first I am trying that is specifically designed for 2'x2' and fast play.  It is available from http://www.lulu.com/ (search for justified ancients) (24 Jan 2014 update: The rules do not seem to be available anywhere, including lulu.com) and there is a review by John Davis here.  The Justified Ancients website  and forum have been quiet for a while.
While it is poorly written and assumes experience with ancient miniature gaming, John Davis is right in there a tactical nuances in the rules that cannot be easily gleamed from reading.  It has to be played a few times to understand.  I have only played twice (non-solo) a few years ago and I wish I had run through a few solo games first - I think we made a mess of it, trying to impose our DBM and Armati tactical backgrounds onto the game.  It doesn't play like either and a few more games would have seen us through; but my friend wasn't so interested in moving away to it.  I still think Justified Ancients has merit and the core mechanics lends itself to tinkering.  And on tinkering (nice segway) John has clarified some of the rules (definitely required), provided minor mods to heavy infantry movement (which make sense) and changes to some of the combat modifiers, all of which I think are fine. John's site is at http://jrd.eu5.org/ja/justified.html (note: updated link on 23 Jan 2014).    I'll be using all the John Davis house rules for the Callinicum refight.

I am unused to stands having the possibility of moving independently (as DBA does, although the number of units is limited).  Warrior Kings gives you bonuses for touching stands and Armati has command restrictions that forces an army to be segregated into units of multiple stands.  If I get around to it, I may play another game with a house rule where a unit is defined as one or more stands touching and a unit can roll for orders rather than rolling for each individual stand.

Force composition
One of the nice things about the first two rulesets, Armati and Warrior Kings, is they provide a easy way to differentiate between below average, average, good and elite units.  While Justified Ancients has three levels of training - trained, untrained and neither trained/untrained, that is more for orders; trained will be able to remove disordered better than untrained but disordered is only applicable to Close Order troops so doesn't really apply here.  JA has Poor (-1 on orders, -1 on combat) and High Morale (3 depletions until destroyed rather than 2), but I see Poor for the rabble/levy and High Morale for Elite units.  For Callinicum, I am not sure on the best method to differentiate them but am leaning towards leveraging the poor and high morale characteristics.
 
The deployment for Warrior Kings and Armati seem like a reasonable fit for JA.
Persians
6 Heavy Cavalry - Loose Order, Heavy, Horse, missile, trained
3 Elite Heavy Cavalry - Loose Order, Heavy, Horse, missile, trained, High Morale
3 Lakhmid Light Cavalry - Skirmish, Light, Horse, javelin
 
Byzantine
3 Skutatoi - Close Order, Heavy, Foot, missile, trained
4 Heavy Cavalry - Loose Order, Heavy, Horse, missile, trained
2 Elite Heavy Cavalry - Loose Order, Heavy, Horse, missile, trained, High Morale
1 Isaurian Light Infantry - Loose Order, Light, Foot, javelin
3 Ghassanid Light Cavalry - Skirmish, Light, Horse, javelin, Poor
 
I decided to make the elite cavalry High Morale to differentiate them from the normal Heavy Cavalry. The Ghassanids are Poor as they have to be worse than the Lakhmids and this is probably the simplest way to represent it.  Not sure if the Skutatoi should be Medium or Heavy.  Got them as Heavy but could be swayed to medium.  The three main differences between heavy and medium is 1) Heavy get a -1 when being shot at 2) a Heavy stands versus a Light stand gets a +1 for melee and 3) Heavies are -1" to their movement rate (note that in the John Davis House rules, this -1" does not apply to Close Order Foot).  A Medium has more of a chance of being hit while shot at, and is less effective in combat against Light armoured stands.  OK, so now I've listed out the differences, the Skutatoi should definitely be Heavy.

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