Friday, July 29, 2011

Heraclea replay with 5mm ancient wargame rules

I am searching for ancient rules that will give a decent game in under 1 hour on a 2'x2' table.  And replaying Heraclea with different rules to see how they pan out.  For this replay, I am using Heroics and Ros 5mm Ancient Rules.  For my review associated with this game, see this post.  I do get into a fair bit of detail on the rule mechanisms and die rolls, mainly as the report is aimed at those that want to see how the rules work.

Using the rules with 15mm figures
I will be using 15mm figures based on a 40mm frontage - WRG style.  The 5mm ancient rules require 15mm frontage with measurement in inches.  Hmmm.  Units are a number of bases: 4-12 for infantry, 2-10 for cavalry, 1-6 for elephants.  You do not remove bases as casualties, but the number of figures per base is important for determining missile fire and melee.  And number of figure per unit (not base) is important for morale checks.  So large units do have advantages.  Ranks of bases is important for heavy infantry only as there is a push effect for up to 4 ranks, and heavy infantry can fire up to 4 ranks.  So long as everything is relative, it should be fine.
I thought about each 15mm base represents three 5mm bases side by side, that is 30mm and close to 40mm.  But then if I went with three 5mm bases per 15mm base, this is 45mm and is quite close.  I don't have to change the ground scale, I will use inches. The 5mm base depths as given are about 50% that of the 15mm bases, but will have to live with that - going to each 15mm base represents four or six 5mm bases is perhaps going to far.  And leaving it as 3 per base allows for heavy infantry to be up to 4 ranks.  It does mean that infantry units will all be 2 15mm bases deep to meet the minimum unit size at least 4 'old units' and so the equivalent of 6 5mm bases.  I will not do this with skirmishers infantry - it will make them too deep.

Each base is equal to three 5mm bases.

Battlegroup 1 (with General)
Leves unit - 4 bases: Light Infantry, Morale C, javelin
2 Hastati/Principes units - each 4 bases: Heavy Infantry , B, trained, armour, pilum, shield
Triarii unit - 4 bases: Heavy Infantry, A, trained, spear, armour, shield

Battlegroup 2
1 Peltast unit - 1 base: Peltast (see below under rule changes) Infantry, C, javelin, shield
1 Light Cavalry unit - 1 base: Light Cavalry, C, javelin, shield

Battlegroup 3
1 Heavy Cavalry unit - 2 bases: Heavy Cavalry, B, javelins, shield
Battlegroup 1
1 Hypaspist unit - 2 bases: Heavy infantry, A, trained, armour, pike, shield
1 Pikemen unit  - 4 bases: Heavy infantry, B, trained, armour, pike, shield
1 Pike and Hoplite unit - 4 bases:
        Pike - 2 bases: Heavy infantry, B, trained, armour, pike, shield
        Hoplite - 2 bases: Heavy infantry, B, trained, armour, spear, shield
1 Skirmisher unit - 2 bases: Light Infantry, Morale C, one with javelin; other with bow, shield
Battlegroup 2
1 Peltast unit - 1 base: Peltast (see below under rule changes) Infantry, C, javelin, shield
1 Light Cavalry unit - 1 base: Light Cavalry, C, javelin, shield
Battlegroup 3 (with General)
1 Agema unit - 1 base:  Heavy Cavalry, A, armour, kontos, shield
1 Elephant unit - 1 base: Elephant, B

Rules Changes - Peltasts
So, besides making a 5mm game fit with 15mm figures, there is one rule change I am going to make.  In the rules, peltast type units can be either skirmisher or heavy infantry units.  By being stationary for a turn, they may change formation from heavy to skirmisher or vice versa.  I don't really agree with changing in the middle of the battle.  One possibility I considered way just to make them skirmisher or heavy at the start, but not keen on them either.  I think that a light 'non-skirmisher' unit is required. So a peltast infantry unit has 3 figures (skirmishers have 2, heavies have 4), moves and melees like a light unit, but all melee/reaction/charge tests are taken like a heavy.

Note: I never got to test out the melee with this Peltast rules.

Deployment is as per my standard deployment.  All heavy infantry are 2 stands deep.  Here is a picture:


Turn 1
All troops advance except the Roman cavalry.
Missile fire.  OK ,just noticed to shoot you need to subtract 1" from movement.  Didn't do that.  Will have to wait for next turn.
Turn over.

End of turn 1

Turn 2
The battle lines advance to just behind the skirmish line.  The Agema and elephant are out of charge range, but close the distance to the heavy cavalry for a charge next turn.  The Triarii 'shuffle' to the left.  The rules allow for frontage expansion and contraction at 2 bases (and my 40mm frontage base represents 3 bases) for 1/2 move.  So I will contract the right and expand the left.  Note the Triarii is counted as separated as it is 2" from other units in the battlegroup.  They should be ok but it does give a -1 to the battlegroup's morale.
Missile fire (simultaneous)
Leves first:  average die = 4 -2 light target +3 short range = 5 * 8 (figures firing) = 40.  This is at least 3 times target unit figures (4 figures).  Skirmisher unit is -1 morale (now 6).
Epirot Skirmisher unit: Only a 5 on the average die will be sufficient for a result as the score required is 24 to get a morale reduction on the Leves.  Rolled a 4.  so no effect.
Missile fire does not cause morale checks.  There is no melee so turn over.

Note on figure count used in missile and melee: each 15mm base is representing 3 bases in the rules.  So when I use 8 figures firing, it should really be three times that, or 24.  But then i also need to multiply by 3 the target.  Casualty calculation is all based on ratios, not on the actual casualties.  So, so long as the scaling is consistent, there is no need to multiply figures by 3 all the time. 

End of turn 2

Turn 3
Chargers are declared.  As the Epirot Skirmishers cannot inflict any missile damage, and the pikes cannot charge through them, they will declare a charge on the Leves.  The Leves are also declaring a charge too as otherwise they can see that they may evade behind the Hastati and never get to missile fire on the pikes.  The rules are unclear how to undertake charge tests if both units are charging one another.  I will assume that they both simply roll to charge (normally one rolls a charge test and the charged unit rolls a threat test, which can be used to counter charge, but if charging, it is not a counter charge.)
The Agema and elephant declare a charge on the Roman cavalry.  The cavalry could evade (and still may be forced to), but lets see how the combat rules work.  First though, we need to roll charge and threat tests.  The moves actually happen later.

Agema rolls to charge, 2d6 = 10 + 10 (morale) +1 (secure flank) +1 (advancing) = 22.  They need a 12+ so will charge.
Elephant charging, pass as well. Elephants use a special charge test where they have a third of a chance of stampeding rather than charging!
Roman cavalry decide not to evade.  Need to roll to counter charge/stand - roll is a 4 + 8 (morale) +1 (secure flank) -3 (being charged by elephants) = 10.  Needed a 10+ so can counter charge (just).
The Agema charges in
Epirot Skirmishers roll to charge: 12 + 6 (morale).  Needs a 10.  They will charge.  Leves charge as well.

The skirmishers clash
So now I can actually move the units...other than the charges, a bit of an advance of the battlelines.

There is no missile fire - charging units cannot shoot.
Skirmisher melee:
Epirot: 1 average die of 3 + 1 (infantry charging) -1 (enemy armour class) = 3 * 4 (figures)  = 12
Leves: average die of 2 +1 (charging) -1 (armour class) =2 *4 =8.
Leves lose and take a morale check which is simply morale factor (6 - would be 7 but Triarii being separated cause a -1 to morale factor) -1 for losing melee.  This is more than 0 so fine.
Epirot Morale factor now 6 (start at 7 -1 missile fire last turn)
Leves Morale now 5.
Agema melee:
Agema: 5 (die) +3 (charging with lance) -1 (enemy armour class) = 7 *3 figures = 21.
Cavalry: 5 (die) +2 (charging) -2 (enemy armour class) = 5 *3 figures = 15.
Cavalry lose but will be fine as cavalry started on morale factor of 7.

Elephant melee:
Elephant: 4 (die) + 3 (elephants charging) = 7 * 2 (elephant counts double) = 14.  Enemy armour class is 0 against elephants.
Cavalry: 3 (die) + 2 (charging) -3 (enemy armour class) = 2 * 3 figures =6.
Lose with double casualties but morale check is still fine.

Cavalry unit morale is on 7 (started a 7 -1 lost round, +1 with subgeneral).  Cavalry is also disorganised as it was charged by mounted units and lost melee.  This will give the Agema and the Elephant a +2 in subsequent melees.

Note: the rules are unclear exactly how to do multiple unit contact.  An alternative interpretation could be that the Agema and Elephant roll 1 die each, and add/subtract modifiers.  This is compared to a single roll by the heavy cavalry.  But the modifiers that apply for the elephant and Agema are different, as is the modifiers for the Heavy cavalry against two very different units.  So I went with separating the combats.

Turn 4
The two uncontacted Leves move around to flank attack the Epirots.
Only 1 die is thrown per unit, but now the Leves get a +2 for flank attack.
Epirots lose and morale check was close to losing: 6 -1 losing round - 2 3x casualties -1 flank attacked which is a 2.  But the fight continues.

The heavy cavalry lose the battle with the Agema and Elephant but just hang in there. Inflicted less casualties and melee morale check is 7 -2 lost rounds of melee -2  x2 casualties -1 disorganised -1 fighting elephants. Note morale factor goes down by one per lost round of melee, and melee morale check also counts each successive lost melee round.

Turn 5
The Epirots then charge the battleline to contact the flanking Leves bases.  The Leves are  in melee so not sure if they should take a threat test and likely evade (does not make sense).  So I will leave them where they are and not evade.  Now the combat is getting a bit complex.  The rules don't really cover multiple units attacking multiple units as it simply directs that each unit engaged throws one average die and adds and subtracts various modifiers.  I will go with this, noting that the Leves will count as flanked, but also the Epirot skirmishers will count as flanked too   But I will have each pike unit throw a die, the Leves unit throwing only one die, and the skirmishes one die.

The flanking Leves are themselves attacked by the pikes

Leves lose but hang in there.

The heavy cavalry lose the battle with the Agema and Elephant. Inflicted less casualties and melee morale check is 6 -3 lost rounds of melee -1  x2 casualties -1 disorganised -1 fighting elephants. This is 0 so they rout.  Mounted troops must pursue at least one round so that is what the Epirots will be doing next turn.

Turn 6
Leves break and rout.  Routing units cannot interpenetrate friends so I will simply remove them from the field.
Battlegroup test is passed by all (except the Leves).
Epirot skirmishes test to not pursue and will not.  The pikes are trained and choose not to pursue.
The Roman Heavy Cavalry rout off the board (rout movement is large).  The pursuing Agema and Elephant pursue only 5, and test to stop pursuing - oops, it is actually hard for high morale units to stop pursuing.  Mounted must pursue, and unless a really low roll happens on the test, they will pursue.  Pursuing units lose 1" off pursuit move a turn, and stop pursuing when they run out of move.  But that is 4-5 turns away, and the Agema, Pyrrhus and the elephant pursue off the board.  If I was playing again on a small board, I think I would allow them to come back eventually.  But for now, it is a learning experience.

Turn 7
Both Hastati units declare a charge on the Skirmishers, Skirmishers successfully evade, new charge declared on pikes, successful.  Pikes successfully countercharge. Pyrrhus battlegroup pursues off the board.

The battlelines make contact

As I mentioned a couple of times previously, the rules don't seem to be clear on multiple unit combat. And I have been inconsistent in resolving it.  Both Roman units are in each in contact with two units, and two of the Pike units are in each in contact with two Roman units.  You only get to roll 1 die per unit, and the enemy status counts as modifiers. Hmmm.  I will roll 1 die per unit, work out modifiers the best I can and then as the figure multiplier, only those figures for a particular opposing unit.  And then use total casualties inflicted Vs total casualties received to determine who wins melee.  Messy, but seems fair.  And re-reading the rules over and over seems to lean towards this method to resolve multiple melees.

Pikes have an advantage as they can count the second rank figures in casualty calculation.  Romans get a +2 modifier to the die for the pilum, first turn only. Pikes count as unshielded in melee and so their armour class is 2; the Romans is 3.  Otherwise, the modifiers are the same for both sides.

The battleline with marked units to follow combat
Unit 1: Hoplite and Pike1: rolls a 4 +1 charging +1 push -3 enemy armour = 3
Unit 2: Pike2 and 3: rolls a 3 +1 charging +1 push -3 enemy armour = 2
Unit 3: Hyp: rolls a 4 +1 charging +1 push -3 enemy armour = 3
Unit 4: Legio 1 and 2: rolls a 4 +1 charging +1 push +2 pilum -2 enemy armour = 6
Unit 5: Legio 3 and 4: rolls a 5 +1 charging +1 push +2 pilum -2 enemy armour = 7

Casualty calculation:
Hoplite: not in contact
Pike 1: 3 * 8 figures (pikes get to cont 2 ranks for melee) = 24 on Unit 4
Pike 2: 2 * 8 figs = 16 on Unit 4
Pike 3: 3 * 8 figs = 24  on Unit 5
Hyp: 3 * 8 figs = 24  on Unit 5
Legio 1: 6 * 4 figures = 24 on Unit 1
Legio 2: 6 * 4 figures = 24 on Unit 2
Legio 3: 7 * 4 figures = 28 on Unit 2
Legio 4: 7 * 4 figures = 28 on Unit 3

Unit 1 inflicted 24, received 24
Unit 2 inflicted 40, received 52
Unit 3 inflicted 24, received 28
Unit 4 inflicted 48, received 40
Unit 5 inflicted 56, received 48

Only unit 2 and 3 received less than inflicted so undertake a morale test which they pass, their morale levels both being high (at the moment).

Note: this was as tedious to play as it was to write.  It would have been worse if I was playing at 6mm, as each unit above would be 3 times the size, and so all numbers would be 3 times larger!  I have a feeling I may not ever go back and play WRG 6th.

Turn 6
Triarii move up nearly into contact.
Main combat continues.  Note that neither side will get the +1 for charging and the Romans do not get the +2 for pilum.  Lastly, if you lost the last round of melee, you get a -1, which will effect the Pikes units that lost the last round of melee.

Again Unit 2 (morale at 6) and Unit 3 (morale at 8) undertake a morale check at -2 (rounds lost) +1 push; Unit 3 is -2 for 3x casualties received. Both pass.

Note that morale is one lower than expected as all battlegroups morale is lowered by one each time a battlegroup is lost - Pyrrhus battlegroup is lost, so all morale is one lower.

Turn 7 onwards
Triarii turn up into the melee, they will get the charge and pilum bonus.
After a few turns, all the pike units routed.  The calculations were very very tedious.  I ended up using a spreadsheet to keep track of morale factors, and work out the maths each turn.
Unit 2 (middle pikes) broke first.  And then Unit 1 (hoplites and pikes), mainly due to the fact a Triarii base flanked the hoplites, thus negating push factor, rear ranks etc and also giving the Triarii a +2 bonus.  The Hypaspists lasted a turn longer, partly due to bad rolls during melees.

The Epirot could roll for rally, but their morale is so bad, they will just either stand and rout again, or morale will be low enough they will just retire from the field anyway.

Game end

I was quite enjoying the game until I hit the battleline melee.  Then it descended into tedious maths. While the melee rules are simpler than the WRG rules, I am not sure the casualty calculation is faster, although WRG does use a table to work out casualties, and you need to track this each turn.  I though they did play historically, are a good ruleset with depth to the rules and the tactics required - it is  just the maths go to much for me.


  1. Thank you for these reports and for the site. I'm enjoying it. I was wondering how much of your playing is solo play?

    1. Almost all of it is solo play. Mostly as I don't know anyone that wants to play all these different rules! But also I really only have pockets of time here and there to play, which is not conductive to play with other people either. I was out of the gaming scene for 15 years and finding it hard to recontact with like minded gamers. I am hoping for more face to face play in future, and every year for the past few years I have been getting in some non-solo games.

  2. If this is a double post I apologize--my last comment was lost I think.
    I am a Star Fleet Battles and Federation Commander player and I've been trying to play solo games with some success. Your battle reports are fun to read and I'm beginning to realize how important they are to solo gaming. Thank you for sharing. Regards.

    1. I used to play SFB many many years ago and a friend and I threaten each other to play it again :-). When I started blogging, or was to pay replays with different rules so other like minded gamers could read how the rules worked. But I have come to realise that writing up solo battles is in fact one of the enjoyable parts of solo gaming. And i have since discovered that the early wargaming pioneers such as Featherstone and Bath, wrote just that 50 years ago!

  3. Ok, so my next question: in solo gaming what comes first? The battle plan or the game play? I know that Featherstone emphasized how important a journal or battle plan is to solo play but I never understood if he was following a script (so to speak) or if he was recording the play as it happened on the board. From your battle report it seems you've got a general plan in mind but you seem to alter it as circumstances dictate. for example from Turn 3: " The cavalry could evade (and still may be forced to), but lets see how the combat rules work. " Have I got the right idea?

  4. To work backwards, you have the general idea. I have a very high level plan in my mind for each side and they and stick to the plan but will change is as I see fit. I tend to play each side as best I can, except when I cannot wean myself from a one of the sides I prefer. In that car I may focus on what to do next a little more that the other side :-( I think the battle plan doors come fist and there are loud of ways solo gamers do that - pick a random setup from a choice of setups, completely random, play both sides to the best of your ability. Also there is the completely random game where the opposition of totally variable and generated as you go. In that case it is all about the play! I am sure there are variations on this and some I may have missed. I tend to go with playing both sides to the best of my ability but for my own ancient rules elsewhere on this blog I do randomise deployment and game plan for each side. But I do not do that for other rules. I do not think following a script would be much fun, except maybe when you have a fully worked out plan and what to see how it works against an enemy.

    1. Interesting and very helpful, thank you. I'll continue experimenting-- and I've bookmarked your blog. Kind regards. Sebastian