Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Heraclea Replay with Fast Play Ancient Warfare (Terry Gore)

I am replaying Heraclea with different ancient rulesets on a 2'x2' table looking for a fast play set (under one hour).  This is game 16. I came across Terry Gore's Ancient Warfare (and Fast Play version) in 2001 and thought it looked like a good set to try out.  I had only discovered Armati about a year or two before.  I was also not playing much miniatures at that stage.  For the next 8 or so years, the 10 or so games were all Armati.  But I also had Ancient Warfare in the back of my mind.  When I set upon testing out potential new rules, Ancient Warfare was one I put near the top of the list.  After nearly 4 years, I am looking forward to playing with these rules.  Even if they don't work out, I will be glad to have given them a go.

I believe the fast play versions of the rules and army lists are available in the Files section of the SAGA Warfare Yahoo Group (you will need to join).  I joined recently and they are there, not sure if they are the same version I am using but likely close enough.  The non-fast version is out of print, although the Medieval version of the rules - Medieval Warfare - has been re-released.

A review of Ancient Warfare can be found in the description at the boardgamegeek Ancient Warfare page.

I am using the Fast Play version as I am searching for fast  play rules after all..  I have not read all of the full Ancient Warfare for years but the Fast Play is designed to play on a smaller table (yay!) and in the words of the FPAW introduction: only have a single general with a more generous Leadership Ability. We are also using just the de facto WRG basing here - no alternate basing. There is no Strategic Movement, no ambushes, no flank marches, no Supply Units, fewer special formations, a simplified movement table, a more concise missile fire table, an abbreviated close combat table, no Advanced Rules and no naval capability. Unit sizes are set at 1-4 stands for mounted and 2-6 stands for foot. No optional rules are included...
Note that this replay is a bit detailed to show how the rule mechanisms work, and if these are rules you may like.

4 Leves: SI, Warriors, Irregular, javelins, 2 figures
8 Hastati/Principes: HI, Warriors, Trained, Pilum and shield, 4 figures
4 Triarii: HI, Veteran, Trained, Spear and shield, 4 figures
2 Light Infantry: UI, Warriors, Irregular, javelins and shield, 3 figures
4 Heavy Cavalry: HC, Warriors, Trained, Spear and shield, 3 figures
2 Light Cavalry: SC, Warriors, Irregular, javelins and shield, 2 figures
1 Stalwart General: HC, Veteran, Trained, Spear and shield, 3 figures
Breakpoint: 2 units (divide total units by 3, rounded up)

Each type of stand is combined into one unit.  The general is his own own unit.
6 Hypaspist: LAI, Veteran, Trained, Pike and shield, 4 figures
6 Pikemen: LAI, Warriors, Trained, Pike and shield, 4 figures
3 Hoplites: HI, Warriors, Trained, Long Spear and shield, 4 figures
2 Light Infantry: UI, Warriors, Irregular, javelins and shield, 3 figures
2 Skirmisher: SI, Warriors, Irregular, bow, 2 figures
1 Agema: HC, Elite, Trained, Spear and shield, 3 figures.
2 Light Cavalry: SC, Warriors, Irregular, javelins and shield, 2 figures
1 elephant: El, Warriors, Irregular, javelins, 4 figures
1 Exceptional General: HC, Elite, Trained, Spear and shield, 3 figures
Breakpoint: 3 units

Each type of stand is combined into one unit; the General is combined with the Agema into a single unit.
Similar to other games following my standard deployment but units have a little more depth and width due to the rules:
Deployment. Epirot on the left, Romans on the right.

Note that each side has a priest (allows any one roll per turn to be re-rolled) but have chosen not to deploy the priest on the table and assume they survive the entire game.  I also forgot to use the re-roll the entire game! This would have helped occasionally.
Turn 1
Normally there are no orders on turn 1 and units move simultaneously before moving on the full sequence in turn 2.  But that is for a 4'x4' table, my game is only 2' deep and the units are a lot closer together, so I will start with the full game sequence on turn 1.

Armies have 2 orders available each. Exceptional Generals (Pyrrhus) gives an extra 5; Stalwart generals (Laevinus) give 3.
So Epirot will be able to order 7 units while the Romans only 5 units per turn.  Orders are given to individual units - there is no grouping of units.  Units without orders can do nothing active except shooting.

Orders are placed simultaneously.  There are dummy orders available per turn but I will forgo them, playing solo.  Also, there is no command range.

Agema: Advance (move forwards at least 1/2 move, may wheel 45 degrees at start of move)
Elephant,Skirmishers, Hoplites, Pikes, Hypaspists, Light Infantry: Advance
Light Cavalry receives no orders

Leves, Hastati/Principes, Triarii, Light Infantry, Light Cavalry: Advance
Heavy Cavalry: no orders

1d6 each - Romans win.

No charge orders

Initiative winner chooses whether to go first or last in moving. 
Romans decide to move first to get involved with the pikes while the heavy cavalry will be further back.  Leves will move a fair distance and so hold the Epirot battleline from advancing very far.
Movement is done from one flank side to another (player choice).

Romans start on left flank.
Leves move 4", not the full 6" they are allowed.  Why?  On the assumption the Epirot Skirmishers and Pikes have advance orders (I am playing with a split personality!), they must move at least 1/2.  If the Leves moved 6", they are only 2" from the Epirot Skirmishers that would have to advance into combat with the Leves.  And the Pikes would also be about 4" (the heavy infantry movemen rate) from the Leves too.  So they move 4" and are 3 and a bit inches from the Epirot Skirmishers, so they can advance 1/2 if that is the order they have.

Hastati/Principes move, Triarii wheel 45 degrees and move slightly towards the left flank (as per most replays to beef up the left flank).
Light Cavalry and Light Infantry move 6" (Light Cavalry could move 10" if it wanted to).

Start on right flank.
Agema moves maximum (8") as does the Elephant (6").

Skirmishers move 3" and are now less than 1" from the Leves.
Hoplites, Pikes and Hypaspists move their full 4".  Light infantry moves 3".

There is a lot of tactics available here. Do I move the Epirot main battleline the full 4" so they are now about 4.5" from the Hastati?  Or move them 2" so they are 6.5" away?  It all depends on who get the first move next turn (which is unknown, based on a die roll).  This initiative roll at the start of each turn is taxing my brain after so many ancient rules without one! [My own ww2 rules I use have an initiative roll at the start of each turn too, but not the same turn sequence as Ancient Warfare].

Missile Fire
Simultaneous. Work from one flank to another decided by player with initiative.
Leves fire at the Epirot Skirmishers: To hit is 7 -2 unarmored +1 move and fire +1 2 figures/stand +2 target is SI = 9+ required to hit (on a d10).  Roll per stand in the unit i.e. 4 times.  No casualties.
Epirot return fire for the same to hit.  1 casualty.

Close combat

End of turn 1.

Turn 2
Agema: Charge.
Elephant: Advance.  But note I forgot this and thought I gave them charge orders which ended badly (which is why they had advance orders!)
Charging is variable movement, so Elephants are 6" from the Roman Cavalry and have 3"+1d6" charge move (compared to 6" advance move).  Charging gives a +1d6 modifier in battle so is worth it, although Elephants will disorder cavalry so maybe I will skip charging and just advance. I spent a little while looking through the rules to see if you could just advance into combat.  It is not explicitly stated in the fast play rules (it is implied in the close combat section).  However, the full rules are very clear and state (in the close combat section) you may advance into close combat.
Skirmishers: Retreat (to allow the phalangites to charge but forgot that charges happen first so could have been given no orders)
Hoplites: Advance (there is nothing for them to charge)
Pikes, Hypaspists: Charge
Light Infantry: Defend (in case they are charged)
Light Cavalry receives no orders.

Leves: Defend
Hastati/Principes: Defend.
The Pikes are likely superior and so I will not charge - let the Leves knock a casualty or two off first.   I was tempted to do a deploy order and lock shields but if I was charged this would not happen. So defend it is and they will get a bonus for combat and morale.
Triarii: Advance.
Light Infantry: Defend.
Light Cavalry: no orders (Cavalry cannot have Defend orders)
Heavy Cavalry: Charge (they get a bonus to charging and cannot escape)
General: Advance.

Romans win.

Reveal charge orders and done from one flank to another, chosen by initiative winner.
Start with left flank (no reason).
Chargers are: Roman Heavy Cavalry, Agema, Pikes, Hypaspists.
Agema is closest to the flank.  Charge move is 5" + 1d6" =6".  Roman Heavy Cavalry is just under 3" away. They charge and align stands.
Roman Heavy Cavalry count as charging.
Elephants now have nothing to charge due to the Agema and Roman Cavalry lining up - oops. They charge 3" +1d6" sees a 9" charge.  This disorders the Elephants (charging that do not contact the enemy end is disorder).  Luckily the Elephants are within 3" of the Roman Cavalry so disorder them too. Note the elephants did have advance orders that I thought was charge.

Roman left flank after charge moves.

Pikes roll 1" +1d6" and get 7" and charge the Leves.  Leves retreat. Skirmish Infantry can override their orders and retreat from non-skirmish infantry.  (roll 3"+1d6 for 9" move, must about face and retreat at least half - move them around 4.5"). They cannot missile fire before retreating as armed with javelins.
I could not find it in the rules but assume as the Skirmishers retreat that I can keep charging, straight into the Romans.

Hypaspists get 2" in total.  They would have failed to even contact the Leves.  Disordered for failing to reach the enemy.  So now we have a change in fortune - only one pike unit against the Legionaries, not two.

Triarii advance to contact the Elephant, it is close enough and it is a flank attack! Elephants get another disorder for a flank attack and are fragmented.  One more disorder and they rout.

The elephant gets flanked.

Hoplites advance 4" and are close enough to move to help the Pikes next turn.

Roman general advances and attaches to the Hastati/Principes.


Close Combat
Well, I am looking forward to this.  The rules have been great so far so I am hoping melee does not disappoint.

Combat starts from one flank chosen by the initiative winner.  Start with right flank to get the two combats likely to go in the Roman's favour out the way first (Vs Pikes and Vs elephant) before the Agema Vs Heavy Cavalry battle.

Hastati/Principes Vs Pikes

The Hastati/Principes in battle with the phalangite unit.

Combat factor = Random roll + morale + opponent's armor + weapon + some modifiers.
Casualties = combat factor times number of stands that can fight, then divided by 10.  Fractions are rolled for to see if there is an extra casualty. 

Random: roll 1d6 each and higher adds difference to his factors.  Epirot wins by 4. The lower roll has a random factor of 0.

Epirot = 4 (random result) +0 (Warriors) -1 (Vs heavy armour) +2 (Pikes first round) +2 (1/2d6 for charging)  +1 (4 figures per stand) -1 (Enemy defend orders)  +1 (deeper than opponent) = 8 * 6 stands (up to 4 pike ranks count) = 48.
48/10 = 4 casualties with 80% chance of causing one more (8 or less on d10).  Yes.  5 casualties inflicted.

Roman = 0 (random) +0 (Warriors) +1 (Vs light armor) +3 (pilum first round) +2 (general) +1 (4 figures per stand)  +1 (wider formation) = 8 * 8 (up to 2 stands) = 64
64/10 = 6  +40% chance of one more. No.  6 casualties.

Epirot: 1 stand lost and 2 others figures marked as a casualty.  Pushed back 1" but can only retreat 1/2" as Hypaspists behind (when it lined up against the Romans it slipped over slightly).  That is bad.  One disorder for the pushback, and another disorder for not being able to pushback full distance.  Pikes now fragmented.  One more disorder and routed.  They must also take a morale check as lost a stand.  Warriors are a 4+ on a d10; rolled a 5 but -1 lost one stand -2 for 2 disorders, +1 visible general within 6" (he is just) = 3.  Failed by 1 and morale result is halt and disordered. Already fragmented so next disorder causes them to rout. Rout distance is 3" and they move through the Skirmishers and Hypaspists, disordering the latter so Hypaspists are now fragmented. Note that the Pike unit should likely have been destroyed rather then keep routing but only realised this at the end of the battle. Interpenetration disorders BOTH units, and I only disordered the Hypaspists here.

Romans: 1 stand lost and 1 figure marked as a casualty.  Morale check required as lost a stand; need a 4+, modifiers are +2 pushing back, +2 general, +1 defend orders. Rolled a 5, they are fine.  They do not pursue as they had Defend orders.

The centre battlefield after the Phalangites are pushed back and rout.

Epirot units within 6" of routing Pike units need to take a morale check:
Hypaspists: Rolled 3 -1 unsupported = 2.  Needed a 3 (Veteran).  Failed by 1 is Halt disordered. Already fragmented so rout!  They rout 6" which means they interpenetrate the Pikes.  According to the rules, they are both disordered.  As they are already routed, I am not sure what the effect is.  It is implied in the full rules that the next stage is destroyed (ie. there is no chance to roll a morale check and stop the rout).  I will destroy both.
Skirmishers: rolled a 6.  OK.
Hoplites: Rolled 1 +1 general in 6 -1 unsupported = 1.  Needed a 4 (Warriors); failed by 2 is Retreat disordered. retreat distance is 4".
Light Infantry: rolled 9. OK

I now need to do a morale check for the Hypaspists routing:
Skirmishers: passed.
Hoplites: passed.
Light Infantry: passed
Light Cavalry: Failed by 3.  Retreat fragmented.  They retreat off the table.

Romans also need to perform a leader check for the general being in a combat with casualties. A 1 on a d6 will see the general killed. Rolled a 1. Oops. Note this is an example where the priest re-roll I forgot would have been handy.
Morale check on all units:
Light cavalry: 9 -1 unsupported = 8. OK
Light Infantry: 9. OK
Leves:  4 +1 Defend orders =5.  Needs a 4.  OK.
Hastati/Principes: 4 +1 Defend orders -1 one stand lost =4.  Needed a 4.  OK
Triarii: 4 -1 unsupported =3.  Needed a 3 so OK
Heavy Cavalry: 5 -1 disorder -1 unsupported =3.  Needed a 4. Failed by 1 is Halt disordered.  They are already disordered so they are now fragmented.

Note: unsupported means you fail the criteria for being supported.  To be supported you need friendly units within 3" in 2 out of 3 of rear, left or right flank

I am fascinated by how much has gone on and I am not even finished turn 2 yet.  While there is a few things going on, I am getting the swing of the modifiers and the process.  Fun times!

A picture just to show how much disorder, fragmentation and routing has gone on in one turn.

Triarii Vs Elephant
Random: Triarii wins by 3. Elephant has 0 as it is a flank attack. elephant does not fight back in a flank attack.  Must move to face if they want to fight back.

Triarii = 3 (random result) +1 (Veteran) -1 (Vs elephant) +2 (Long spears first round)  +1 (4 figures per stand) +1 (Better order (ordered Vs fragmented)) +1 (Deeper than enemy) +1 (wider than opponent)=  9 * 4 stands (up to 3 long spear ranks count) = 36. Double for flank attack = 72.
72/10 = 7 casualties inflicted. An elephant counts the equivalent of 4 figures, it is removed.

Nothing in the rules about pursuing a destroyed unit rather than a routed one.  Pursuing would not be great in this instance but would not make sense not to pursue so Triarii pursue but only to where the elephants were.

Epirot Morale checks for routed unit within 6":

Agema: 1 +2 general with unit -1 unsupported -2 enemy (Triarii) within 6" and facing flank = 0. Needed a 2 (Elite). Failed by 2 that is retreat disordered. General is with the unit so suffers same fate. Retreat is 11".

The Roman left flank.  the retreating Agema and General can be seen in the distance.

The Epirots have lost 3 units and so victory to the Romans!

End game.
Just for interest, here is how the Epirot unit's morale deteriorated:

Pike unit
  • Disordered due to pushback in combat.
  • Fragmented as could not pushback full distance due to Hypaspists blocking the way.
  • Routed due to morale check due to losing a stand in combat.
  • Destroyed due to interpenetration with routing Hypaspists.
  • Disordered when failed to contact with a charge.
  • Fragmented due to interpenetration with the routing Pike unit.
  • Routed due to failed morale check form seeing Pike unit rout.
  • Destroyed due to interpenetrating with Pike unit while routing.
  • Disordered when failed to contact with a charge.
  • Fragmented when contacged in the flank.
  • Destroyed due to casualties from melee.

Two turns.  Wow.  Another set of ruleset hat did not quite play as I expected (faster, and I did not know morale would play such an important part).  Of course, part of the speed was that the units should be further apart and on a wider table. So maybe on a larger table the units would not disappear as fast.  And if I had remembered the one turn re-roll somethings may have lasted a bit longer. Still, I had loads of fun with these rules.  Not full old school, but definitely comprehensive and detailed, bit of micromanagement, special rules here and there but streamlined enough to make it play fast. My writeup may not have done the streamlining justice but there are only a few tables - morale, missile, melee, disorder events - and about 10 or less modifiers for each. I also think I have not done these rules justice by playing on a small table and only playing once. It is a shame these rules are not played more.  On a bigger table, I would definitely play these rules again. The rules tinkerer in me wants to change the rules a bit to make them work on a 2'x2' (it would not be too hard - reduce distances slightly, reduce the number of stands per unit and reduce casualties to match) but I have other rules to play!


  1. Great rules - unfortunately I have not played them or Medieval Warfare in a while

    1. They are great rules. I am happy I finally got to play them.

  2. When I started going to conventions, this was one of the first big battle rules sets I played. I met the author back before he passed away. Mr. Gore was a very nice man and had a passion for history, especially all things Medieval and Dark Age.

    I think the rules are designed so that battles can either be a slog or things can go sideways very very quickly. Yours turned out to be the latter. I played in a much bigger battle of Medieval warfare where the game ended about turn 4 where my buddies levies routed causing a chain reaction route on the Papal side. Probably one of the fastest convention games I played in to date. :D

    1. The morale check for being within 6" of a routing unit is interesting. It is mentioned in the introduction about rout chain reactions from one unit routing, as per some moments in history.

      A larger table allows for a better battleline that would then negate the -1 morale modifier for being unsupported that most of the units of both sides suffered form in my game.

  3. wow, I like this but I can not play it. oh yes I found the site of the fastest cars in the world