Friday, July 30, 2010

Callinicum refight with Irregular Miniatures Ancients Rules

For Review of Irregular Miniatures Ancient Rules, see here.  I did play through the game listed below while writing the review.  I wanted to play at least one game so I see review how the rules worked rather than just reviewing what I read in the rules.

Using 15mm figures
The game is designed for 6mm with a 2mm option.  As I will be replaying Callinicum with 15mm on 40mm width bases, the following explains how I did the conversion.
The strip widths used for 6mm are as follows:
  • Battle troops (5-8 strips) and auxiliaries (2-4 strips): 23mm to 30mm each.
  • Skirmishers (1 strip): 35mm to 45mm each.
There are the two systems for unit depiction
  1. system 1 where each strip for a unit is represented by an actual strip.
  2. system 2 where battle troops and auxiliaries are 2 strips wide and skirmishers are one strip wide (strip loss is recorded by some sort of casualty maker).
So, for system 2, units will be 46mm - 60 mm wide except skirmishers that will be 35mm to 45mm.  Using 40mm wide bases for all unit types should be OK (skirmisher widths are about 30% less than the other units that is unlikely to effect play). 
Therefore, I will use single bases with 40mm width to represent all units and use casualty markers for strip losses.  Lastly, it is a game of unit versus unit rather than strip Vs strip so the rules should work fine so long as stands are not outrageously different to one another.

An interesting twist
I was going to use each stand being one unit.  I was going through how to best represent the Callinicum forces with each stand being one unit, you need to chose battle/auxiliary/skirmisher; then irregular/regular;A/B/C/D class; how armoured; weapons; and also how many strips in a unit - 5-8 for battle troops, 2-4 for auxiliaries, 1 for skirmishers.  As I was doing this and mapping them to deployment, I noticed that all the heavy cavalry was deployed in groups of 3 (Persian) or 2 (Byzantine).  This is conveniently between the 2-4 strips required for auxiliaries.  And the Skutatoi heavy infantry is the only battle troops and while deployed 3 stands wide, could easily put 3 stands behind this and now have a 6 strip battle troop.  The light infantry could have another strip behind it and be a 2-strip auxiliary and the light cavalry would be individual skirmishers.
Instead of have 12 Persian units and 13 Byzantine units, I would have 6 Persian units (3 heavy cavalry and 3 skirmishers) and 7 Byzantine units (1 heavy infantry, 3 heavy cavalry, 1 light infantry and 3 skirmishers).  This would play a lot faster!  I will play a game with the smaller number of units. Someday I will play nother game with each stand representing 1 unit.  It should still be fast.
So I am effectively playing a system 1 game.  Not sure if the conversion to 40mm wide bases holds up but at least the bases are all the same width.  Ah well...you go with what you have.

Callinicum system 1 forces

Persian

2 Heavy Cavalry - Auxiliary, Irregular, B class (d10), 3 strips, half-armoured horse, body, arm and leg armour, shield, bow
1 Elite Heavy Cavalry - Auxiliary, Irregular, A class (d12), 3 strips, half-armoured horse, body, arm and leg armour, shield, bow
3 Lakhmid Light Cavalry - Skirmisher, Irregular, C class (d8), 1 strip, unarmoured horse, shield, javelin
1 General - 2 strips, A class (d12), half armoured horse, shield, bow

Byzantine
1 Skutatoi heavy infantry - Battle troops, Regular, C class (d8), 6 strips, arm and leg armour, long spear, shield, bow
2 Heavy Cavalry - Auxiliary, Regular, B class (d10), 2 strips, unarmoured horse, body, arm and leg armour, shield, bow
1 Elite Heavy Cavalry - Auxiliary, Regular, A class (d12), 2 strips, unarmoured horse, body, arm and leg armour, shield, bow
1 Isuarian light infantry - Auxiliary, Regular, C class (d8), 2 strips, unarmoured, shield, javelin
3 Lakhmid Light Cavalry - Skirmisher, Irregular, D class (d6), 1 strip, unarmoured horse, shield, javelin
1 General - 2 strips, A class (d12), half armoured horse, shield, bow

A note on the class of troops (A/B/C/D).  I was going to give all troops 'C' class, except the elite cavalry a 'B', and the Ghassanids a 'D'.  Looking through a couple of army list from other rules around the same period as the Irregular Miniatures Ancient Rules, I found this might not be the way the rules would like it to be. WRG has the heavy cavalry at 'B' class by default and 'A' for the elites.  Might Of Arms has all the cavalry at 'B' class.  Warrior Kings has the heavy cavalry at a CV of 5 (which equates to B class).  So, although in my replay with warrior Kings I gave the heavy cavalry a CV4 (='C') and elites a CV5, maybe I should make the heavy cavalry by default B class, and the elites an A class.  I did this.  I will see how it plays out.  I based the armour by looking at some other army lists - WRG, Might of Arms, Medieval Warfare, and also referring to some Osprey and WRG army reference books.

Deployment, Persians on the left


On the Persian side from right flank to left with initial orders:
   1 unit heavy cavalry SLOW ATTACK
   1 unit heavy cavalry in reserve QUICK ATTACK
   1 unit elite heavy cavalry QUICK ATTACK
   3 units of Lakhmid skirmish cavalry QUICK ATTACK

On the Byzantine side from left flank to right with initial orders:
   1 unit Skutatoi heavy infantry SLOW ATTACK
   1 unit heavy cavalry SLOW ATTACK
   1 unit elite heavy cavalry SLOW ATTACK
   1 unit heavy cavalry SLOW ATTACK
   1 unit Isaurian light infantry SLOW LURE
   3 units of Ghassanid skirmish cavalry SLOW LURE

Note the Isaurian light infantry is deployed 2 strips/stands wide - under the rules if one stand was deployed behind the other, this would be a march formation - faster move, not good in combat.

The General is supposed to be 2 strips/stands - I have put an additional stand behind the general stand to remind me.  Generals attach to other units to add their strip value to panic tests rather than get into combat so this representation is hopefully fine.

The Persian Lakhmid skirmish cavalry have attack orders rather than lure as lure doesn't really allow for charging, and they will want to charge the opposing Ghassanids.

Camps are supposed to be deployed but are not relevant to the scenario so I have not used them.

Turn 1

Initiative
I will give the Persian's the initiative for turn 1 to reflect being the attacker. Turn 2 onwards will roll as normal for initiative.

Charges, Routs, Rallies, Pursuits
No rout or charges

Persian move
Lakhmid Light Cavalry move full distance and spread out.
The Heavy Cavalry all move up.  No wheels as that takes entire movement allowance.

Byzantine move
Moved up Skutatoi 1/2 their move allowance.
Moved up Heavy Cavalry next to them 1/2 as well.

Missile fire
While simultaneous, calculate Persian first, right to left:
Heavy Cavalry long range fires at Skutatoi: 2 (3 stands /2 rounded up) -1 firing while moving -1 target has arm/leg armour = 0.  No effect.
Therefore other Heavy Cavalry long range firing will have no effect.
Note: there is a +1 for medium range (1/3-2/3 ranged) and no -1 if not moved so there may be chances later on.

Byzantine left to right:
Skutatoi at opposing Heavy Cavalry: 3 (1/2 stands) -1 moving -1 armoured horse -1 arm and leg armour = 0.  No effect.
Other missile fire will also have no chance due to -1 for armoured horse and -1 for arm and leg armour.

Hand to hand fighting
No hand to hand.

End of turn 1


Turn 2

Initiative
Persians have 4 unengaged units, Byzantines 6.  Both commanders choose to add a d10. Byzantines win.

Charges, Routs, Rallies, Pursuits
Byzantine Heavy Cavalry have a 160mm charge range but Persians out of range.
The Persian Light Cavalry charge the Byzantine Light Cavalry one on one.  No charge test required as have same number of strips (1) as the Byzantines.  Stops 10mm away so pre-contact missile fire can occur.  Byzantines could counter charge but this would give them a -1 in missile fire (but this does mean they miss out on a +1 for countercharging in hand to hand fighting).

Byzantine move
Byzantine does no moves except attached general to a unit of Heavy Cavalry.

Persian move
Persians move up elite Heavy Cavalry veering slightly to the left and move the reserve Heavy Cavalry up.

Missile fire
Byzantine Light Cavalry fires at each opposing Light Cavalry : 1 for one strip +1 unarmored target +1 target unarmoured horse +2 short range -1 target moved 110mm or more =  4.  All Persian Light Cavalry pass casualty check (using d8).
Persian fire: 1 for one strip +1 unarmored target +1 target unarmoured horse +2 short range -1 firing while moving = 4.  Byzantine rightmost Light Cavalry fails, rest pass.

Remaining Byzantine:
The 2 Heavy Cavalry in centre will both target the Persian Elite Heavy Cavalry : 2 (4 strips/2) +1 medium range -1 target armoured horse -1 target arm/leg armour = 1. Persians pass.
Remaining Heavy Cavalry would have a score of 0 or less so I won't work it out.
Skutatoi : 3 (strips/2) +1 medium range -1 target armoured horse -1 target arm/leg armour = 2.  Persians pass.

Do the Persians:
Elite Heavy Cavalry on opposing Heavy Cavalry is a 1. Byzantines pass.
Reserve Heavy Cavalry vs opposing Heavy Cavalry is a 1: Pass.
Other Heavy Cavalry vs Skutatoi is a 1: Skutatoi roll a 2 which is 1 more than the number and so halt next move.

End of missile fire so move the 2 Persian Light Cavalry into hand to hand combat.

Hand to hand fighting
Edge Persian Light Cavalry vs Byzantine Light Cavalry:
Persian: 1 (strip) +1 charging +2 horse =4.  Byzantine fail (and are destroyed).

Note: if the Persians had initiative, they would have got a +2 for charging with initiative.
 
Byzantine: 1 (strip) +1 countercharging + 2 horse = 4.  Persians fail (and are destroyed).
Next Light Cavalry vs Light Cavalry has same scores; both Byzantine and Persian fail and are destroyed.

 End of turn 2

The rules are not clear, but when a unit is removed from the board due to casualties, it seems is not counted as a rout.  A rout seems to be only if a unit is actually routing by moving away from the enemy.  This is important as friends near friendly routing units may need to take panic tests.  As skirmishers are only one unit and a casualty will cause the unit to disappear, this means skirmishers do not cause friendly units to take panic tests when they are removed.  Clever. 

so..only one unit of Light Cavalry left on the board.

End of turn 2 (overhead view)


Turn 3

Initiative
Persians 4 units +d10 of 4, Byzantine 5 units + d10 of 9. Byzantines win.

Charges, Routs, Rallies, Pursuits
If the Persians charge while they have initiative, they get an additional +2 in hand to hand.  It doesn't apply this turn so is an opportunity for the Byzantines to charge the Persians while the later are disadvantaged.
Byzantine Heavy cavalry with general attempts to charge the opposing Elite Heavy Cavalry with general.  Need to pass charge test (4 strips vs 5). Passes but stops 10mm from the Persians for pre-contact missile fire.  Persian Elite Heavy Cavalry countercharge the Byzantine.
Persian Reserve Heavy Cavalry charge the opposing Heavy Cavalry , and stop 10mm away for pre-contact missile fire.

Byzantine move
Byzantine Light Infantry wheel to their right to protect flank against the Light Cavalry .
Byzantine Elite Heavy Cavalry move up closer.

Persian move
Light Cavalry move 160mm almost directly to the front, trying to outflank the Light Infantry.

Missile fire
From what I know from previous turns, I am just going to throw the die for the target unit, and if it is low actually work it out.
Skutatoi fire at opposing Heavy Cavalry: no effect.
Persian Heavy Cavalry return fire: no effect.
Persian Reserve Heavy Cavalry pre-contact missile fire: no effect.
Byzantine Heavy Cavalry return fire: no effect.
Persian Elite Heavy Cavalry : no effect
Byzantine Heavy Cavalry return fire: rolled a 1.  Better work it out: 1 (2 strips/2) +2 short range -1 firing while moving -1 target on armoured horse -1 target has arm/leg armour =  0 so could never hit (if moving).

Note: As I was tidying up the review, I noticed that a charging unit can only pre-contact missile fire if armed with javelin/pilum. A stationary target unit can missile fire with anything.  So if a unit is armed with bow, and charges or counter charges, there can be no missile fire.  The pre-contact missile fire that I did for the heavy cavalry above, and continue to do for the remaining turns, should not have occurred.  Oops. This is important as later on units lose strips due to pre-contact missile fire from charging units.  The charging light cavalry pre-contact missile fire is ok as they are armed with javelins - it is only the heavy cavalry that are all armed with bows.  Next time I will know better.

Hand to hand fighting
Do the generals and associated units first:
Note: It is not clear in the rules, but I'm assuming the generals do not add their 2 strips to the unit as they can add their strip value to the panic test (to increase the chance of passing).  But I do assume that generals on their own count as a 2 strip unit.   This is an important omission of the rules.  As it stands in rules, generals are useful in that they
  • add a d10 roll to initiative (again, this is not clear as it says commanders may add the roll, so if the overall commander is lost, my assumption is you cannot roll the d10 for initiative)
  • changing orders of a unit
  • can modify the panic test for the better by subtracting their number of strips from the panic test (a good thing).  However, for cavalry battles, panic tests scores are often low and would usually pass.  But generals can make a critical difference between a chance of failure and no chance of failure.
I think that adding the general strips to a attached unit may be overkill.  However, I believe that possibly a general unit should be counted as a support unit in hand to hand fighting (support units add +1 in round 2 and +2 in round 3).  If I played it again, I would do this.

Byzantine: 2 (strips) +1 charging +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour = 7.  Persians roll 7 (d12) and lose a strip at the end of the round.
Persian: 3 (strips) +1 counter charging +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 half/fully armoured horse = 10.  Byzantines roll a 5 (d10) and lose a strip.
Losses are equal so on to round 2:
Byzantines: 1 (strip) +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour +1 regulars= 6.  Persians roll 7 and do not lose a strip.  Note charging does not count in round 2 and regulars get a +1.
Persian: 2 (strips) +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour = 6.  Byzantines roll a 9 and do not lose a  strip. Note that 1/2 armoured horses do not get the +2 bonus after round 1 (only fully armoured horses do).
Losses are equal so on to round 3:
Byzantines - 1 (strip) +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour +2 regulars= 7.  Persians roll 7 and  lose a strip.  Note regular bonus increases to +2 in round 3.
Persian - 2 (strips) +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour = 6.  Byzantines roll an 8 and do not lose a strip.
Persians lost the round and roll a panic test: 4 (which exceeds the number of strips lost) and so passes.
It was the third round and ended in stalemate so the lower class units retires 40mm (as classes are equal and unit are both one strips, I'm assuming the attacker  - Byzantines - retires)

 Generals facing off after combat (from Byzantine side)

Heavy Cavalry vs Heavy Cavalry in centre:
Byzantine: 2 (strips) +1 charging +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour = 7.  Persians roll 3 (d10) and lose a strip at the end of the round.
Persian: 3 (strips) +1 counter charging +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 half/fully armoured horse = 10.  Byzantines lose a strip.
Losses are equal so on to round 2:
Byzantines: 1 (strip) +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour +1 regulars= 6.  Persians roll 2 and lose a strip.
Persian: 2 (strips) +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour = 6.  Byzantines roll a 4 and lose a strip and are destroyed.


End of turn 3

Turn 4

Initiative
Persians get initiative.

Charges, Routs, Rallies, Pursuits
The Persian single Heavy Cavalry charges the 2 Byzantine Heavy Cavalry .  It passes the charge test.
Persian Heavy Cavalry with general charges the opposing Heavy Cavalry with the general.
Light Cavalry charges the flank of the Light Infantry. Passes charge test.

Byzantine move
Byzantines only move is to turn the Light Infantry.
Again, rules are not clear, but I assume a charged unit can turn in the move phase but would not be able to counter charge.  As it cannot turn 90 degrees as it move allowance is not sufficient, I will still call it a flank attack.  Note I have found something that would be different with using 6mm figs as a 2 unit frontage would be about 60mm, not 80mm using the 15mm stands I have.  It would make turns a bit better.  I like restrictive turns though...

Persian move
None

Missile fire
Skutatoi at opposing Heavy Cavalry: no effect.  Return fire: no effect.
Byzantine Elite Heavy Cavalry at Persian Heavy Cavalry: no effect.   Return fire: no effect.
Byzantine Heavy Cavalry with general at Persian Heavy Cavalry: no effect.  Return fire: lose a strip (Byzantines rolled a 1 which is what was required).  Byzantine unit lost. Only general unit remains.  Note: As indicated earlier, the Persian unit charged and should not have fired at the Byzantine unit.
Light Cavalry at Light Infantry : no effect.  no return fire

Hand to hand fighting
Heavy Cavalry in the centre:
Byzantine: 2 (strips) +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour = 6.  Persians roll 4 (d10) and lose a strip at the end of the round.  Unit is destroyed.
Persian: 1 (strip) +1 charging +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 irregulars charging with initiative +2 half/fully armoured horse = 10.  Byzantines roll 5 (d12) and lose a strip.

Light Cavalry vs Light Infantry :
Byzantine: 2 (strips) = 2.  Persians roll a 5 (d8) and do not lose a strip.
Persians: 1 (strip) + 1 charging +2 horse troops + 2 irregulars charging with initiative +4 attacking flank = 10.  Byzantines automatically lose 1 strip (d8) and roll a 3 narrowly missing losing another strip.
Byzantines lost more strips and so undergo a panic test, which they pass.
No one routed so onto round 2:
Byzantine: 1 (strip) +1 regulars = 2.  persians roll a 7 (d8) and do not lose a strip.
Persians: 1 (strip) = 1.  Byzantines roll 4 (d8) and do not lose another strip.  Notice the large difference between round 1 and two for the Persians - if you don't get them in the flank on a charge in round one, you could be in trouble.
Loses are the same so round 3:
Byzantine score is a 4. Persians fails and loses a strip.
Persians score is a 1. Light Infantry fails (!).
Both units eliminated.


End of turn 4



Turn 5

Initiative
Byzantines win initiative.

Charges, Routs, Rallies, Pursuits
Byzantines Elite Heavy Cavalry turn and charge Persian Elite Heavy Cavalry in the flank. Persians cannot counter charge.

Byzantine move
Byzantine general attaches to the elite unit.

Persian move
Persian Elite Heavy Cavalry turns 90 degrees to face the Byzantines.
Other Persians Heavy Cavalry unit moves up to within cavalry charge range of the Skutatoi (but not within the infantry's charge range)

Missile fire
Only effect was Skutatoi lost a strip and the opposing Persian Heavy Cavalry also lost a strip (both rolled a 1).

Hand to hand fighting

The Generals face off

Byzantine: 1 (strip) +1 charging +2 horses +1 body armour + 1 arm/leg armour = 6.  Persians roll...12 (d12) and do not lose a strip at the end of the round
Persian: 1 (strip) +2 horses +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 half/fully armoured horse = 7.  Byzantines roll a 9 (d12) and do not lose a strip.
Round 2:
Byzantine score is 6. Persians roll 7, no strip loss
Persian score is 7, Byzantines roll 6 and lose a strip.  Unit is eliminated.

I decided to end the game at this point.  The generals could fight it out at this point but the Persians do have the advantage of one extra strip.  If they win, the Persians cavalry could charge the infantry in the flank which would weaken them enough that a charge by the remaining Persian heavy cavalry may finish them off.  Of course, the infantry might score well enough and eliminate the heavy cavalry.  But most units are gone already and really the game should be over by now.  Effectively a Draw.

For interest, here are the potential initial round scores if the game continued heavy cavalry charged the infantry in the flank:
Persian: 1 (strips) +1 charging +2 horse +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 charging with initiative + 2 horse half armoured +4 attacking flank = 14 which is almost certainly 2 losses to Skutatoi and a panic test of a 3 (3 strips lost).  Round 2 would be very different as most of the factors no longer apply.  It would be about a 3.
Byzantine: 5 (strips) +1 arm and leg armour +2 long spears = 8 which is a likely loss (and elimination of the Persian unit).
And then if the heavy cavalry charged in the front:
Persian: 2 (strips) +1 charging +2 horse +1 body armour +1 arm/leg armour +2 charging with initiative + 2 horse half armoured = 10 which would be 1 loss for the Skutatoi.
Byzantine: 3 (strips left after above combat) +1 counter charge +1 arm and leg armour +2 long spears =  8 which would likely be 1 strip loss for the Persians.
The Skutatoi would need to take a panic test as they lost a strip and at below 1/2 strength. With 4 strips lost they would need to roll a 5 or more on a d8. 50% chance.  If they pass, round 2 would look better for them as they have 2 strips, Persians have 1 and they will have about the same scores.  Would be interesting to play out but really, the game should have been over at end of turn 4.

Verdict
Aside from some mistakes in the rules (my excuse is it was my first game), it plays very smoothly. Missile fire is not overpowering, strips are lost all the time in combat (which I like to see) and the different mechanisms fit in very well together.  The rules suffer from some gaps, but not overly so and I plugged them with my own assumptions anyway.  I thought I might not like the different dice that are used.  I think the last time I seriously used something other than a d6 was about 15 years ago in Tractics.  Oh, and d10s in Fantasy Rules! last month.  But 4 dice types in one game?  I was fine and it was zero hardship to use.  It actually made it easy as the factors are the same, it is only the die you roll that is different.  It would play better with 15mm figures on a 3'x2' board where you would be able to utilise some different tactics (similar to Armati in that is plays OK on a 2'x2' but Armati Intro is better suited to 3'x2' for greater tactical usage).  But on a 2'x2', it played just fine and I had a great time.  I like them.  I would play these rules again and recommend them to anyone wanting a quick game that has a fair differentiation of troop types.  It really did require a game to understand how the rules really worked.

1 comment:

  1. Very good report (as usual!). I own the card version and like the rules though I have not played them yet. I think the 3X2 board would be key, especially against a larger force like the Persians have.

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