Saturday, March 9, 2013

Heraclea replay with Antiquity

This is about game 12 in replaying Heraclea  in my quest to find fast play ancient rules that play on a 2'x2' table.  The last few rules I have tried have not really been suitable, which I sort of knew when I used them; but I had been wanting to try those out for awhile.  I am now back to rules written specifically to meet my criteria.  Antiquity was published in late 2011.  It is available for purchase as a PDF or in print from the Antiquity website.  A comprehensive review of Antiquity is at this blog post at John's Wargame page.  The main page for Antiquity also has a couple of extra army list and a battle report.  The rules themselves have a detailed replay.  This is a detailed replay too, so you can see if the rule mechanisms are to your liking.

Antiquity is designed to play with 28mm on a 2'x2' table.  Bases sizes are 8cm wide, with depth being usually 3cm for infantry and 6cm for cavalry.  For 15mm and scaling down, it recommends a 1'x1' table and halving the base sizes. The base sizes then match the WRG/DBM base sizes.  So I seem to have three options:
  1. 2'x2' table and 8cm wide bases.  This will mean making each base two WRG/DBM bases that I have
  2. 1'x1' table and use 4cm wide bases (which is what I own)
  3. 2'x2' table and use 4cm bases and have a lot more units on the board.  This will make for a much longer game, as there will be around twice as many units on the board.
I chose option 1 as I am keen on a 2'x2' table, don't mind the larger units, and want a fast game.

Note on stand attributes:
M = movement in inches
A= attack dice, two values is melee/shooting
D = target score required for an attacker to hit
H = number of hits a stand can take
P = points

2 Leves in one unit: M: 5, A: 2/1, D: 3 , H: 2, Notes: Skirmisher, Javelin, P: 5
4 Hastati/Principes in one unit: M: 3, A: 5, D: 4/5 , H: 4, Notes: Pilum, Drilled, P:10
1 Triarii: M: 3, A: 3, D: 4/5, H: 4, Notes: Spear, Drilled, Elite, P:12
1 Light Infantry: M: 4, A: 3, D: 3 , H: 3, Notes: Spear, P:7
2 Heavy Cavalry in one unit:  M: 8, A: 3, D: 4 , H: 3, Notes: Mtd Cav, P:12
1 Light Cavalry:  M: 10, A: 2/2, D: 3 , H: 3, Notes: Skirmisher, Javelin, Mtd Cav, P:10
Laevinus (one unit): M:8, A:1, D: 4, H: 2, Renown 1.

7 units in total.
3 Hypaspist in one unit: M: 3, A: 3, D: 4 , H: 4, Notes: Sarissa, Drilled, Elite, P:10
3 Pikemen in one unit: M: 3, A: 3, D: 4 , H: 4, Notes: Sarissa, Drilled, P:8
1 Light Infantry:  M: 4, A: 3, D: 3 , H: 3, Notes: Spear, P:7
1 Skirmisher: M: 5, A: 1/2, D: 2 , H: 2, Notes: Skirmisher, Bow, P: 6
1 Agema: M: 8, A: 4, D: 4 , H: 3, Notes: Lance, Elite, Rush, Mtd Cav, P:15
1 Light Cavalry: M: 10, A: 2/2, D: 3 , H: 3, Notes: Skirmisher, Javelin, Mtd Cav, P:10
1 Elephant: M: 6, A: 6, D: 4 , H: 4, Notes: Elephant, Trample, Renown 2, P:15
Pyrrhus (one unit): M:8, A:3, D: 4, H: 2, Renown 3.

8 units in total.

Pilum: enemy is at D-1 if stand moves into contact.
Drilled: no movement penalties for changing direction.
Spear: A+2 if supported by another Spear.
Sarissa:  A+2 for first support rank, A+1 for 2nd and A+1 for third support rank.  Melee ties pushes back enemy.
Rush: +1 to followup rolls.
Elite: Unit may lose an extra stand before routed.
Mounted: move 5+ and end in melee is A+2 and +1 to followup, double this is 10+ move
Lance: if move more than 5 into melee then gain A+1 and enemy D-1.

For this game, I am not using most of the Hero renown rules, nor hero item/skills.

Lastly, I combined the Hoplites into the pikes - there are advantages to supporting stands, and the Hoplites just don't fit on the table. I have done this for a few other rules previously.

Similar to other games following my standard deployment but with wider and deeper units.  Do not forget that two WRG bases is representing one Antiquity stand:

Epirot on the right.  Note that two bases represent one Antiquity stand.

Turn 1
Normally you roll for movement initiative (who moves first) but for this scenario will give it to the Romans. Therefore Rotating initiative (who chooses combat) starts with the Romans.

Standard Roman move for my replays - Levies and battle line move up; heavy cavalry on the left stay put to make Pyrrhus move a lot further with the Agema and Elephant.  Triarii wheel to the left to assit the left flank which needs bolstering.

Epirot skirmishers move up and to the side.  I have realised that in the rules, units that take hits move back and push back friendly units behind them.  No interpretation.  So the Epirot skirmishers need to either be eliminated before they push back the pikemen behind them, or move out of the way entirely.  What i have done is moved them up (for a longer retreat distance) and also so they are only in front of one unit of pikes - worst case they will not push back both pike units. 

Elephant and Agema move as far as they can.


Two Leves stands in foreground face off the single Epirot skirmisher stand.

Romans have rotating initiative so they get to choose who shoots first but shooting is simultaneous. 2 units of Romans Leves shoot at the Epirot Skirmishers Leves use 1d6 each to hit.  Shooting is easy.  Roll attack dice (1 per unit in this case) and beat the targets defence value.  Epirot skirmishers have a defence value of 2.  One Leves unit is greater than 1/2 range (so defence value is increased by 1 to 3), and the closest Leves is a target (so defence value is increased by 1 to 3).  Dice throws of 1 and 5 result in 1 hit to the Epirot skirmishers.

Epirot skirmishers return fire.  They have attack factor of 2 so roll 2d6, and Leves have a defense of 3 +1 as they are a target.  Roll of 2 and 6 sees one hit.

Both stands with hits retreat 3cm. Note that in the case of the Leves unit, this puts the stands out of contact and this will need to be remedied in the next turn.

Post shooting - one hit each and both retreat.

no melee

No routs

Rotating Initiative
This passes to the Epirots.

End of turn 1
Turn 2

The same side always moves first throughout the game. 
Roman Leves are better in combat than the Epirot Skirmishers so charge them. Hastati/Principes move up and Triarii move further to the left to protect that flank.  Epirot Agema charges the Roman Heavy cavalry; Elephants move up too, but not quite in reach.

None possible

Melee is performed by rolling attack dice at the same time.  The winner is the one scoring the most hits.  The difference in hits is actual hits inflicted on the loser.  If the loser is not destroyed,. it is pushed back.

Leves Vs Epirot Skirmishers:
Leves have 2 attack dice, +1 for a supporting Leves unit; score 2 hits.
Epirot Skirmishers have 1 attack dice and score 1 hit.
Comparing hits the Leves won the melee by 1 hit.  The 1 hit is inflicted on the loser (the Epirots) who only needed 1 more hit to destroy them so they are gone.

Agema Vs Roman Heavy Cavalry:
And this is where I should read rules more carefully!  I had Pyrrhus attached and wondered how he should be used.  Actually, generals shoud be classed as Heroes, a unit in their own right with Attacks and defence values.  There are also rules for Renown which can affect melee but I am only going to use the renown rules for mell between Heroes, not for all melees.  So, while Pyrrhus now has A:3 D:4, he should really be beside the Agema to add +1 to the Agema attack.  He adds nothing by being behind the Agema. So I moved him beside the Agema.
Agema has 4 attack dice, +2 for mounted charging, +1 for Lance, +1 for Pyrrhus support = 8 dice.  Normally the Heavy cavalry have a Defence of 4; the lance reduces this by 1 to 3.  Agema scores 4 hits.
Roman Heavy Cavalry has 3 attack dice +1 for support. 2 Hits.
Agema wins, 2 hits on Roman Heavy cavalry who fall back 6cm.
Agema test for followup.  For each inflicted pushed back result (each hit also pushes back a stand), the winner can attempt to followup on a 4+.  Each successful followup inflicts another hit (even if the followup does not result in recontact. Mounted Cavalry get +1 to the followup roll if charged.  So Agema attempts 2 followups with 1 success; one extra hit inflicted on the Heavy Cavalry which equals their hit value of 3, and the stand is removed.

Agema (to the left) have destroyed one Roman heavy cavalry stand.  The other stand is facing the Elephants.  The Triarii can be seen coming to the rescue to the right.

Units rout when 1/2 (rounded up) of their stands.  Roman Heavy Cavalry have lost 1/2 their stands so rout.

Rotating Initiative
This passes to the Romans.

End of turn 2.

Turn 3

Roman Triarii attack Elephants on the flank. Epirot Pikes and Hypaspists charge the Leves.  The Agema move and contact the Triarii.  They did not have enough movement to attack the Triarii on the flank.  Also, melee can only occur when a unit has at least 3cm of contact on the enemy.  The Agema and Triarii is only two, so the Agema will not be meleeing.  This may be a mistake as Elephants can be unpredictable.  We shall see.

Triarii on flank of elephants and Agema then attacks the Triarii.



Leves Vs Hypaspists:
Leves A2 is 2 attack dice Vs D4 (defense value requiring 4+ on attack die).  2 hits.
Hypaspists A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D3. 3 hits.
Hypaspists win by 1.  1 hit on Skirmishers who retreat 3cm.
Hypaspists attempt to followup but fail.

Leves Vs Pikes
Leves A2 is 2 attack dice Vs D4 (defense value requiring 4+ on attack die).  2 hits.
Pikes  A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D3. 6 hits!
Pikes win and inflict 4 hits that destroys the Leves stand, but not before retreating 12cm and pushing back some Legionaries.

Post pike-Leves clash  - the Leves in there retreat (and then rout) pushed back two stands of Legionaries.

Triarii Vs Elephants:
Note: Flank attack halve the attack dice for the flanked unit.  There are no bonuses to the flanker.
Triarii A3 +2 supporting spear = 5 dice Vs D4. 2 hits
Elephant A3 (1/2 normal attack dice for being flanked) Vs D4. 3 hits!
Elephants wins by 1 and Triarii gets one hit and retreats 3cm.
Although the rules imply the Elephants could followup (there is nothing in them that states a flanked unit cannot), I will assume they cannot followup.

Units rout when 1/2 (rounded up) of their stands.  Leves have lost 1/2 their stands so rout.

Rotating Initiative
This passes to the Epirots.

End of turn 3

Turn 4

Romans move the pushed back Legionnaire stands back up the more forward one.  The Triarii attack the Elephant flank again (so at least the elephant does not get a chance to turn).
Epirot changes the Pikes and Hypaspists against the Legionaries (let's see how the game works!)

The battlelines clash.

...and moves the Agema to the flank of the Triarii.

Agema has the opportunity to move to the flank of the Triarii.


Hypaspists Vs Legionaries:
Hypaspists A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D4. 6 hits
Legionaries A5 (nothing for second rank and Pilum only used if Legionaries charged into melee) Vs D4. 3 hits.
Hypaspists win by 3.  The front Legionaries stand gets 3 hits and retreat 9cm.
Hypaspists attempt to followup all 3 hits (requires consecutive 4+). successfully follows up 2 so an additional 2 hits on Legionaries stand that destroys it.

Pikes Vs Legionaries:
Pikes A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D4. 4 hits
Legionaries A5 (nothing for second rank and Pilum only used if Legionaries charged into melee) +1 for general unit assisting Vs D4. 2 hits.
Pikes win by 2.  The front Legionaries stand gets 2 hits and retreat 6cm.
Pikes attempt to followup all 2 hits (requires consecutive 4+) but fails.

Post combat - the top front legionaries stand has been destroyed (and so is not in the picture); the other lower one has retreated with 3 hits.

Triarii Vs Elephants And Agema:
The example in the rules allows a unit fighting to the front and flank to fight with full value to the front but will suffer D-1 for the flank attack; an alternative is the fight with 1/2 value to flank only.  I will do the former.
Triarii (Vs Elephant) A3 +2 supporting spear = A5 Vs D4. 4 hits
Elephant A3 (1/2 normal attack dice for being flanked) Vs D4.1 hit.
Triarii wins by 3, 3 hits on the Elephant and elephants retreat 3cm. Elephants retreat 3cm for every 2 pushbacks, unlike all other units that retreat 3cm per pushback.
Agema A4 +1 supporting general = A5 Vs D3 (not D4, there is the -1 for choosing to be flanked). 4 hits.
Agema wins by 4 hits (Triarii did not attack to the flank), Triarii retreats 16cm, and is destroyed as they can only take 4 hits and already had 3.  But here is where it gets interesting, the extra 3 hits are inflicted on the stand behind the destroyed stand.  But they do not stay there, they are inflicted only to see if the stand behind is destroyed.  If it is not destroyed, the "overflow" hits are ignored.  So the 3 hits go on the second stand, not enough to destroy them.  But the Agema can try and followup, and each followup will inflict a hit.  1 more hit will destroy the Triarii stand. Agema needs a 4+ on the first throw to followup.  Success and the second Triarii is destroyed.  Note that the Triarii would not have routed with losing one stand as they are Drilled, and Drilled units can lose one more stand than 1/2 their number before routing.
Melee is simultaneous, but I am not sure on followups in this case.  The Triarii could followup the Elephants, but the Agema won against the Triarii.  In this case, I will only allow followups if you win against all opponents, denying a Triarii followup against the elephants.  Followups are useful as they can generate additional hits.

Victorious Agema and heavily hurt Elephants.


Rotating Initiative
This passes to the Romans.

End of Turn 4

Turn 4

Romans move the Legionary stand to charge the Hypaspists and also bring it back into contact with the other Legionaries stands of its unit.  The Other Legionaries cannot charge the other pikes as this would breakup the unit.  They are charged by the Pikes.  The Agema charges the rear of the Legionaries.  I was tempted to charge Pyrrhus into Laevinus to see how Hero duels work, but I would have to look up the rules for that! So I passed.  While Pyrrhus is likely to win, The Romans are only one unit away from the whole army breaking, so why tempt fate when the Legionaries are certainly doomed.

The second clash of the battlelines.  However, this time the Agema have hit the Legionaries in the rear.


Romans have rotating initiative so can choose how the combat is played out.

Legionaries Vs Hypaspists:
Hypaspists A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D4. 5 hits! (6 out of 6 last time and 5 this time.  Very lucky).
Legionaries A5 (nothing for second rank and Pilum only used if Legionaries charged into melee) Vs D3 (moved into melee so pilum reduces D of Hypaspists by 1). 4 hits.
Hypaspists win by 1.  The Legionaries stand gets 1 hit and retreat 3cm.
Hypaspists attempt to followup the hit.  Success for another hit..

Legionaries Vs Pikes:
Pikes A3 +2 first support rank, +1 second support rank = 6 attack dice Vs D4. 1 hits
Legionaries A5 (nothing for second rank and Pilum only used if Legionaries charged into melee) +1 for general unit assisting Vs D4. 0 hits! This is bizarre dice rolling.
Pikes win by 1, unexpectedly.  The front Legionaries stand gets 1 hit and retreat 3cm and is destroyed as it has now taken 4 hits..
Pikes attempt to followup but fail.

Legionaries Vs Agema:
Rear attacked units use 1/2 Attack dice and suffer D-1.
Agema did not move more than 5" and so do not get a charge bonus.
Legionaries A3 Vs D4. 2 hits.
Agema A4 +1 Pyrrhus assist is 5 attack dice Vs D3. 4 Hits.
Agema wins by 2 so Legionaries get two hits and retreat 6cm.
Agema attempts to followup twice. Yes. Legionaries get another 2 hits and are destroyed.

Note: After posting this, someone queried how the pushbacks could occur if there was no room. I re-read the rules and I was playing it wrong. The pikes were in contact with one Legionaries stand, the Agema was in rear contact with the Legionary stand behind it. The front Legionary stand could not push back from melee with the pikes and I found (in the Shooting Results section) that a stand that cannot retreat takes one hit for each pushback it cannot do (it is also in the example of play). So the pikes did not have to check for followup and the Legionaries would have taken one extra hit (that destroys them).
The Legionaries in rear melee with the Legionaries do have 15mm to retreat into and the Legionaries stand that was there had just been destroyed by the Pikes. I should have been using 3cm deep bases (rather than 15mm for the roman infantery) and units retreat a base depth. So in this case I would allow the Legionary to retreat once (and Agema to followup once), but then the other pushback results would inflict extra hits on them.

Victory to the Epirots.

Legionaries rout.  They are drilled so needed to lose 3 stands before routing.

And the Romans have lost 1/2 their units and so the Army breaks and they have lost the game.

End of game.  The only Roman units left ar ethe light units in the top centre (Light cavalry and light infantry)

Before rambling, let me start by saying I like the rules.  Not love, but do like.
So, let me just premise this by saying I had set this game up in November after reading the rules in October.  I read them again in November and made a first move in the game in early January (after reading the rules again!). But bad sciatica that led to surgery stopped me playing.  While off work resting, I took the game up again but could not face reading the rules thoroughly again, but did skim them and hoped to pick them up as I went.  This mostly worked and I've indicated where I should have read the rules more closely!  It is a first game and so a learning game at that.
The rules play smoothly, the rulebook itself I think is very clear, lots of examples and a detailed complete walk through of a game.  The mechanisms are smooth to play.  I like them and they were interesting to play.  I would play them again if asked. You may love them - they are certainly cheap enough to try them out.

Do they meet my requirement of less than one hour on a small board? Yes.  The game took me a little over one hour, but that was because I was completely unfamiliar with the rules.  If I played it again, I think it would be no more than about 45 minutes. Also, I used the 28mm bases (80mm wide).  If I had played with just the 15mm 40mm wide bases, I could have replayed Heraclea on a 12"x12" board.  So it definitely meets both criteria.  As it was designed to do so, I am not surprised :-)
Lastly, now now I have actually played them, I have a much better understanding of how combat works and would likely change some of the Attack and Defence values for the units if I replayed Heraclea.


  1. Nice report and nice pictures, I like the photos "on the top"...

  2. Thanks Phil. The pictures as assisted by me being able to use my wife's Canon EOS is very forgiving for night shots and allows lots of cropping and still leaving some detail. The "from the top" photos are easier (for the lazy person within me) to do than diagrams!

  3. Nice report and good review. I also like to see that I am not the only one who likes to game at a gentlemanly pace.

  4. Very good report and pictures. Thanks for pointing me to Antiquity. To me, an ancients game that can be played in a 1'x1' is worth trying for that reason alone :)