Thursday, September 22, 2011

Heraclea replay with The Age of Might and Steel (AoMaS)

Background
I've have previously tried a fantasy set - Fantasy Rules! - to replay a historical battle (Callinicum) under 1 hour on a 2'x2' board and it worked well.  The Age of Might and Steel (AoMaS) is a ruleset I bought awhile ago to also do a historical refight.  I was over Callinicum before I got around to AoMaS. I am now doing Heraclea and AoMaS is the fourth set I will try.

Resources
AoMaS can be acquired here.  Here is a short review, and another one. There is a quiet yahoo group.


Options for  Troops
AoMaS has units that are comprised of 5-12 stands.  Stands are 40mm wide.  For heavy units, stands must be roughly arranged in a square for each unit.  Stands are removed as casualties.  And while there are light and heavy versions of units, it is the size of the unit that makes a difference, there are no veteran/green units.  On a 2'x2' board and with the different troops types in the game, 5-12 stands per unit are a bit much.  There is a combat penalty for units with less than 5 stands.  So I could go with either:
  1. smaller units for the troops like the cavalry and the light infantry and leave the heavy infantry alone as 5-12 stands.
  2. assume all stands are 2-stands and use casualty marker to indicate 1 'stand' loss.  This would make it hard to implement 9 stand units that are 3x3 stands but would help with reducing the scale of the game as a heavy infantry moved 5".
I was almost going to go with option 2.  It helps scale the game down onto a 2'x2' table: reducing the scale of stands by 2 (each stand represents 2 AoMaS stands), and reducing movement distances by 2.5 by converting inches to centimetres.  But I went option 1 as it will be a much faster game, and no changes to the rules, other than some units will start with less than 5 stands.

Troop Definitions
 

Romans
Leves: 1 unit of 4 Light Foot stands
Hastati/Principes: 2 units each of 6 Heavy Foot stands
Triarii: 1 unit of 6 Heavy Foot stands
Light Infantry: 1 unit of 4 Medium Foot stands
Heavy Cavalry: 1 unit of 4 Heavy Cavalry stands
Light Cavalry: 1 unit of 4 Light Cavalry stands
 
Epirot
Hypaspist: 1 unit of 6 Heavy Infantry stands with Pikes
Pikemen and Hoplites: 1 unit each of 9 Heavy Infantry with Pikes
Light Infantry: 1 unit of 4 Medium Foot stands
Skirmisher and Slingers: 1 unit of 4 Archer stands
Agema:  1 unit of 4 Heavy Cavalry stands
Light Cavalry: 1 unit of 4 Light Cavalry stands
Elephant: 1 Special Stand Monster - Elephant (attached to Agema)

Notes
To reflect the pila, the Hastati and Principes units can do one ranged volley before a melee, similar to  medium foot.
I made the Epirot skirmishers Archers so they could volley, as they were archers and slingers while the Leves had javelins.
Pikes I am treating like halberds (+1 to melee if defending).
 
I vacillated between a) making all the "heavy infantry" Medium Foot and the peltasts Light Foot and b) making all the "heavy infantry" Heavy Foot and the peltasts Medium Foot.  I went with b) in the end but either way would work.

Lastly, I am using WRG/DBM-type basing which has a different number of figures to a base than recommended in the rules.  I am not going to re-base.  

A note on resolving combat
While combat seems straightforward (it takes up one page in total), it is possibly confusing.  I am not saying my way is the right way.  The issue is that the attacker base number is used to determine casualties for BOTH sides.  The base number is a default 2, but is modified by comparing the weight of unit (e.g. heavy foot Vs light foot is -2) and a list of modifiers (e.g. charging -1).  Straightforward but I've come across two unclear results:
1. The rules state attacker will lose 1 or 2 stands based on the base number.  Base number can be anything from 0 upwards so when does the attacker lose 1 and when do they lose 2? or can they lose more or less (determined by base number?).
How I am playing it: Attacker always will lose 1 stand.  If base number is 2 or more and 2 or more is rolled, attacker will lose 2 stands.
 
2. The rules state that if the modifiers cause the die roll to be less than 0, neither side loses any stands.  However, for melee, there is only 1 dice roll modifier (hero adds +1 to roll).  So it is impossible to modify the die roll down to 0 or less.  But maybe the answer is in ranged combat.  Ranged combat has both base number modifiers and die roll modifiers and it uses the melee page to work out results, so for ranged combat, it is possible for the die roll to go to 0, but then the attacker never loses any stands in ranged combat, so the rule that neither side loses stands still is unclear.
How I am playing it: assume comment applies to ranged combat.

I have looked at all related posts in the yahoo group.  How to resolve combat and losses - my two questions - have come up three times, never with a clear answer. So a fourth attempt is unlikely to have more success.  Actually, the answer on 1-2 stands for attacker loss was answered as no more than 2, and then in a different much later post it was answered as it can be as high as the base number.  Aarrgghhh. It  does shows I am not the only one that is unclear on the rules. I'm playing the game as I described above.  If someone authoritatively posts some examples of how melee combat should work, that would be great so the the game can be played as designed, rather than as interpretation.  I do like my interpretation though!

Lastly, as I am using only a few units in a small space and half of them start with less than 5 stands, I will make the combat (hand to hand and ranged) modifier only +1 IF less than 5 stands, rather than +1 PER stand less than 5.  Otherwise I will be left with a small units not wanting to attack. 
 
Deployment
Deployment is very similar to my standard deployment, except the flank units are one unit wider, and all units are deeper.  I've used about 3 times as many figures as in the other replays!

Deployment

  
Turn 1
To reflect the advantage of the Romans, they will go first.
 
Romans
Orders are as follows:
Heavy Cavalry: Stand
Light Infantry: Charge (to get to the Epirot light archers)
Light Infantry, Light Cavalry, Leves and other Heavy Infantry:  March.

Activation is 2+ for the Light Infantry, Light Cavalry, Leves and other Heavy Infantry as the General is within 12"and gives a +1 bonus to the roll.  The Light Cavalry fail their activation and retreat and are Disorganised.

All that move, move (heavy foot move 5").  The Leves contact the archers (light foot charging is 12")

Archer Defensive Ranged Combat: 3 +1 (for only 4 stands) =4.  Roll a 2.  No effect.

Hand to Hand combat, Leves vs Archers: 2 +1 (for only 4 stands) -1 unit charging +1 archers defending = 3.  Rolled a 1.  Leves lose 1 stand.

Leves battle the Epirot "archers"



Epirot
Orders:
Agema: Charge
Archers: Attack
Others: Stand
 
Activation is automatic for the Agema (Pyrrhus attached gives +2).
 
The Agema charge (can charge up to 15") into the Roman Heavy Cavalry and conduct Hand to Hand: 2 (base) -1 unit charging -1 cavalry charging =0.  Rolled a 2.  Epirot loses 1 stand.  Romans lose 2.

Agema and Elephants versus Roman Heavy Cavalry

Archers attack: 2  +1 (4 stands) =3.  Rolled a 2.  Epirot removes 2 stands.

Note: I may be doing melee wrong but I am following what I can glean from the rules and the yahoo group.  I am assuming the attacker will always lose 1 or 2 stands. It may not be right, but it feels right!

End of turn 1


Turn 2
 
Roman
Orders are as follows:
Heavy Cavalry, Leves: Attack
Light Infantry: Stand
Light Cavalry: March.
All Heavy Infantry:  March.

Light cavalry passes activation, is no longer disorganised and moves straight ahead.
Both the Hastati Principes Heavy Infantry units failed activation.  Result is both do not move.
 

Hastati/Principes with Triarii and General to the rear


The Heavy cavalry attack: 2 +1 less than 5 stands +1 attacker outnumbered 2:1 = 4 base number. rolled a 2.  Heavy cavalry unit destroyed. Not unexpected.
 
Leves attack: 2 + 1 less than 5 stands =3 base.  Rolled a 1.  1 Leves lost.

Note: Although the rules do not state it, I am assuming you have to attack if in contact with an enemy unit.
 
Epirot

Orders:
Agema: Charge (with a charge distance of 15, I am going to wheel and hit the Heavy Infantry)
Archers: Attack
Others: Stand
  
Agema pass activation, wheel and charge into the Hastati/Principes.  They are disorganised so give a -1 for melee so chose to charge them rather than the Triarii.
 
Archers melee: 2 +1 less than 5 stands +1 archers defending = 4. rolled a 5.  1 Leves gone.  Also 2 archers.  So the archers unit is gone, and the Leves is only 1 stand strong.  A unit with only one stand is considered destroyed and the last stand is removed too.  So, no more Leves.
 
Agema melee: 2 -1 charging -1 defender disorganised -1 cavalry charging +1 less than 5 stands -1 outflanked  = -2 which translates to a 0.  Rolls a 1 +1 hero attached = 2.  2 Hastati gone, 1 Agema.

The Hastati have javelins that are thrown when charged.  But I am playing that they cannot do this if flank charged.

Agema flank charges the Hastati


Turn 3

Romans

Orders are as follows:

Light Infantry: Charge (gets a -1 for charge and go for broke)
Light Cavalry: Charge (gets -2 for charge - go for broke)

Contacted Heavy Infantry:  Attack
Triarii: Charge (will wheel and charge Agema)
Other Heavy Infantry March.

All passed activation.


The battleground after the Roman move


Epirot Light Cavalry Javelin throw: 3 +1 less than 5 stands = 4. rolled a 1.  One Roman cavalry gone.
Epirot Light Infantry Javelin throw: 3 +1 less than 5 stands =4.  rolled a 4.  One Roman Light infantry gone.
 
Light Cavalry Vs Light Cavalry: 2 +1 less than 5 stands -1 charging -1 cavalry charging = 1. rolled a 6 so all Epirot Light cavalry gone and 1 roman cavalry gone.
Light Infantry Vs Light Infantry: 2 +1 less than 5 stands -1 charging =2.  Rolled a 2 +1 hero attached =3.  So 1 Epirot Light infantry gone and 2 Romans gone.  Note that this leaves one stand left for the Romans so that is destroyed too (as the Leves earlier).  No more Roman Light Infantry.

Similar combats, but so different the results!
 
Triarii Vs Agema: 2 -1 charging -1 defender outnumbered 2:1 =0.  Rolled a 5 +1 hero =6. 1 Triarii destroyed and all Agema, and the Elephant, destroyed.

Combat is fast.  Faster than I thought it would be.  And a good thing.  I like it.

Overview after Roman combat - lots of missing Epirot
  
Epirot
Orders:
Hoplite and Pikes: Charge (they can just make it)
Hypaspists: Charge
Light Infantry: Charge (the Light Cavalry)
 
All passed activation.

Hastati pila throw Vs Hoplite and Pike: 3 +1 less than 5 stands =4.  rolled a 2 -1 heavy infantry target.  No effect.

Hastati pila throw Vs Hypaspists: 3.   rolled a 5 -1 heavy infantry target =4.  1 Hypaspist destroyed.


Hoplites and Pikes Vs Hastati and Principes: 2 -1 defender outnumbered 2:1 -1 charging = 0. rolled a 5 +1 hero =6.  1 Hoplite/pike gone.  All Hastati and Principes of the unit gone.
Hypaspists Vs the other Hastati/Principes: 2 -1 charging =1.  Rolled a 6! +1 hero = 7.  1 Hypaspist destroyed and 6 (all of them) Hastati and Principes gone.  Unit destroyed.
Light infantry Vs Light Cavalry: 2 -1 charging +1 less than 5 stands (Light Cavalry is not classed as flanked as there is not more attacking stands behind the flank as in front) = 2.  Rolled a 2.  2 Light Infantry destroyed that then leaves 1 in the unit, so unit is destroyed.

 
After Epirot move and combat


Turn 4

Roman
Orders:
Light Cavalry: Charge
Triarii: Charge

All pass activation check.

Light Cavalry Vs Hypaspists: 2 -1 charging -1 cavalry charging -1 defender outflanked +1 less than 5 stands +1 outnumbered 2:1 (I am going to rules that defender with pikes does not count for flanking attacks) = 1. rolled a 1.  1 Light Cavalry destroyed that leaves one left, so unit is destroyed.
Triarii Vs Pikes: 2 -1 charging +1 less than 5 stands (only front two rows count for this, but all stands are counted to see if outnumbered) +1 defender using pikes =3.  Rolled a 1 +1 hero.  But makes no difference.  Triarii loses 2 stands.
 

Triarii battle the pike phalanx (Triarii lose)


I will just move straight to the return attack and then finish the game:
Pike Vs Triarii: 2 -1 defender outnumbered 2:1 =1. rolled a 2 +1 hero =3.  Triarii loses 2, Pike loses 1.  the Triarii is down to one stand and so the entire unit is destroyed.
  
Epirot wins - no Roman units on the table.

At the end of the game these are the only two units (both Epirot) left


Verdict
A great game.  Plays well on a 2'x2' board under one hour.  Needs a lot of figures.  Of course, it would play better on the larger table sizes it is designed for.  It does not really have a historical feel but that is more due to the constraints of the table size rather than the rules.  With more room and larger units it would certainly have a more historical feel -in my opinion of what historical feel is of course.  I was concerned that playing with units with less than 5 stands - there is simply not room on the flanks for more stands - would be an issue.  But I think the rules tweak of only penalising for less than 5 stands rather than for each stand less than 5 worked.  I would certainly not use this rules change for larger games as all units would start with more than 5 stands.  some combat examples would help but I liked my interpretation (naturally!).  Definitely favours aggressive play due to the -1 for charging and a -1 when rolling for hand to hand combat is significant - less stand loss, and a much increased chance of destroying enemy stands.  For a quick game, this is a good thing.  On a 2'x2' table, I would prefer less figures.  I like differentiation of troops morale/fortitude being a die modifier rather than more or less stands (which is how it would be represented in AoMaS).  Again, that is just my preference.  Regardless, these rules fit the bill of fast play ancients on a 2'x2' table.

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