Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Battle of Bibracte 58 BC Deployment decription and 2 replays

I started off replaying the Battle of Callinicum 533 AD with 11 rule sets on a 2'x2' board, switched to Zama for 3 rules (Zama was not great for a small table) and the most recent was the Battle of Heraclea 278BC with 14 rules (links to replays at this blog page).  I still have some more rules to try out and was looking for historical battle with not too many troop types and had Gauls/Celts/early Germans.

I was looking at Bibracte and did some research and set the figures up for 12 months to play the game.  I decided that Bibracte was not the battle I was looking for (Sentinum 295BC is the choice at the moment). So this post is a combined detailed scenario description and 2 replays (around the 20th) using my Ancient Battlelines Clash rules.

Internet Sources
There are the internet sources I found quite easily to help on replaying the battle.

Scaling the troops
Armed with the potential numbers of the different types of troops present at Bibracte, I could start to convert this into possible units for the replays.  While the Roman numbers are documented, the number of Gauls in Caesars’ account is in the hundreds of thousands.  I have gone with Sabin’s Lost Battles discussion that estimates around 50,000 for the Gauls.  The less the better.  Going by the actual numbers, and trying scale it down to manageable unit sizes, I used a first cut scale of about 700-1000 soldiers equals 1 figure.

6 Legions each 4000 -5,000 soldiers = figures or  6-8 figures each or  2 bases per legion (4 figures per base)
4000 allied Gallic cavalry = 6 figures or 2 bases (3 figures per base)
An unknown number of light infantry so will just assume a few thousand and 1 base.

Using Lost Battles as guide sees:
50,000-ish warband infantry = 50-70ish figures or  about 20 bases (3 figures per base)
4000-ish cavalry = 6 figures or 2 bases (3 figures per base)

Troop Definitions
General troop definitions to assist with converting to the various rules.

8 Legion bases: Heavy Infantry, close order, partial armour, pila, sword, shield
4 Fresh legion bases: Heavy Infantry, close order, partial armour, pila, sword, shield, poor at melee and/or poor morale.
2 Allied Gallic cavalry bases:  Heavy Cavalry, loose order, unarmoured, spear, shield, poorer at melee than the Helvetii cavalry
1 Light Infantry base: Light Infantry, loose order, unarmoured, javelin, shield

20 Warbands: Medium Infantry, loose order, unarmoured, javelin, shield
2 cavalry bases:  Heavy Cavalry, loose order, unarmoured, spear, shield

Warbands could be “light infantry” depending on how the rules classify the Gallic warriors.  I have left it as medium infantry to show they are not quite as heavy as the legionaries, but heavier than the roman light infantry allies.

The number of bases may vary depending on the rules.  The 20 bases would be 10 wide and 2 ranks deep and this would work fine with rules such as Armati, DBM and Impetus.  I may have to change the Helvetii base deployment to suit the rules I am testing.

I nearly gave up when I got to deployment  I realised (I think I was in denial up to this stage) that the battles starts with the Helvetii charging the Romans up hill, retreating to another hill, some allies coming to help and finally breaking.  How was I actually going to recreate all of that?  But then I noticed that all the replays and scenarios only recreate the first bit – the Helvetii attacking.   So I will go with that.  If I was running this as a one off scenario, I would introduce some rules about reforming routed warbands on a far hill etc., but as that would likely rely on the specific rules in use. I am going with only the first part of the battle.

By going with only the first part of the entire battle, I could go with either the the Lost Battles interpretation of the deployment with the Helvetii attacking across a river, or the more traditional (e.g. Dupuy) attacking from one hill to another with the river on the flank. The river does appear specifically in the account and does not feature as having any impact on the battle. I will go without the river between the starting positions of the Helvetii and the Romans.  I will also, as it saves a turn, go with the Helvetii already moving off their hill and ready to attack the Romans uphill.  If not, there is a good case if acting on behalf of the Helvetii player to just sit on their hill and await the Roman attack.

Lastly, the newly raised Gallic legions and Caesar's light troops may or may not have been involved in the actual battle.  I will put them as guarding the camp but "uncontrolled" to borrow an Armati term. Uncontrolled units cannot be ordered but can react if units get close (e.g. they are charged).  I will try wherever possible to utilise the rules within the rulesets I use to achieve this effect.

It boils down to a quite simple game of warbands Vs the legions, with a bit of cavalry on either flank.

Standard deployment - Gauls at the top, Romans at the bottom.

Replays with Ancient Battlelines Clash
I played two games with my rules.  In the first game, the warbands got cleaned up, but I released after the game that I had devalued the Gallic warbands too much after my last rules clean up in September 2014.  They went down a combat factor in September 2014 due to being classed a slow fortitude.  That was not the intent, but that's what occurred.  So I played another one fixing the Gallic warbands.  I also noted that a +1 factor for being uphill will make the uphill units invincible from similar troops downhill. I changed the rules so that uphill applied only if you are not high fortitude.

The ABC game troops
For ABC, the units translate as follows:

The Heavy Cavalry are all auxiliary cavalry
The Warbands: battle infantry, warbands, low fortitude (Game 2 I removed the low fortitude)
Veteran legions: battle infantry, some missile protection, high fortitude, line relief
New legions: battle infantry, some missile protection, low fortitude, line relief
Light infantry: auxiliary infantry.

New legions and light infantry are uncontrolled and will only react to enemy actions.

Note:  I have come round to the fact that Gauls/Celts would not really be loose order and so in the September 2014 revision I treat them as heavy infantry. I made Gauls low fortitude battle infantry, while Germans would be average fortitude but this had the unintended consequence of lower the combat value of the Gauls by 1.  So I played a second game with them no longer as brittle.  

Game 1



ABC Deployment
As per the previous diagram:

Gauls on the left, Romans on the right.
It may be an interesting game - the Romans will be uphill (+1 advantage) and they are also high fortitude Vs the Gauls low fortitude).  But there are two lines of Gauls....

The Game
Gauls move first and simply charge at the Romans.

The Gallic horde about to contact the thin red line.
The lines clash.  Warbands will be at -2 (low fortitude Vs high, Romans are up hill but Warbands get the +2 for the first contact). Three Gallic units rout, one retreats, the rest are disordered.  But most Romans are disordered as well.  Those that routed have there place filled by the rear unit.  But still not good for the Gauls.

End of the first clash, thinning out the Gauls/  Grey Javelins are disordered markers.
Disordered Romans Vs disordered Warbands are at +3 combat advantage.  In the Roman turn a few more Gallic units rout.

Gaps are appearing in the Gaul battleline.  Romans stand firm.
In the Gaul's turn lots more warband units disappear.  The combat factor difference is too great so the Romans will never rout.  Also the Romans are not pursuing any routed units down the hill (would only happen on a 5 or 6) and so become isolated and able to be attacked on the flat, and also as a single unit.  The one overlapping spare Gallic unit on a flank failed its order rolls and so cannot help on the flank.

Even more gaps.  The Gaul lose.

The Gauls have reached their breakpoint and run away.

A historical result but never in doubt due to the combat difference.  Attacking Romans up a hill was never going to end well.  For ABC, I would make the Romans average fortitude in future, just to even it up. It would make it a much closer contest.  It was also about now I realised that by making the Gauls low fortitude in September 2014 I had unintentionally reduced their combat value by 1 from previous versions of the rules.  Chagrined, I played the scenario again.

Game 2
I have also changed modifiers so that you get +1 for high fortitude OR being uphill (not +1 for both). So for this game the Romans are high fortitude and uphill and only get a +1 bonus for this, not +2.  The Warbands are average fortitude, and combat value 3, Romans are combat value 5; but the warbands will get a +2CV on first contact and a 6 will then deplete a Roman and force a retreat, with no effect to the Warband.  Still not great, but much better odds.  There are 9 Warband initial combats so they should manage at least one 6.

ABC Deployment
As per the previous diagram:

Same deployment
The Game
Gauls charge in again.

The clash.
In the last game, on contact, the Gauls rolled a lot of 1s and 2's.  This time, the first four rolls for combat had three 6s!  There were a few 1's further down the line to balance this out.

With some pursuits, and the fact the Gallic General rolled a 6 and inflicted a rout, two Romans units are routed.

Gaps in the Gallic and Roman line.  The Gauls rolled well.
But it is now the Roman's turn, and the Gauls do not get their charge bonus. Just about everyone is disordered so Romans are attacking with a CV of 4 and the Gauls are defending with a CV of 2.  Combat sees 5 Gallic units are routed, but one Roman unit routs.

Roman left is holding, and inflicting good casualties, but the Roman right has collapsed.
Gauls turn.  Not good for them.  Lots of 1's and three Gallic units routed.

The Roman left is doing really well. The Gauls in the centre failed their order roll.
Roman turn and another three Gallic units are routed. The Gallic breakpoint is reached and they lose.

End game.  
A much more fun game, and still feels historical (at least to me).  Glad I replayed it and the rules are better for it.  It was closer, but the better Romans won out as they could take the punishment more so than the Gauls. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Battle of Hydaspes 326BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 22 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.  

I have played this battle a few times before so this report is briefer than normal.
Battle of Hydaspes
The Battle of Hydaspes was fought when Alexander the Great reached the Indian subcontinent and brought to battle King Porus.  It was a long and close fight.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:

Four replays by me using different fast play rules
Wikipedia article
DBA scenario
Vis Bellica scenario  

Scenario changes
Reduced by about two thirds the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.
I have replayed this scenario before, with an early version of Ancient Battlelines Clash and 3 other fast play rules.  The only change I have done between the scenario troops I used and this one is I have reduced the Indians from 10 archers to 9, and 4 elephants to 3.  After the previous replays, I think that there were too many elephants and archers. 


Alexander’s Macedonian
5 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some missile protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry
6 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, auxiliary cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
1 General with Companions
Skilled command ability

Breakpoint: 15

3 Elephants,
9 Archers, battle infantry, long missile
2 Heavy chariots, battle chariots, impetuous
2 Medium cavalry, auxiliary cavalry, low fortitude
1 General on an elephant

Breakpoint: 16


Indians at the top, Macedonians at the bottom.
The Game
Alexander moves first.

Both lines advance; The Indian right cavalry about faces.

This is what happens on the Indian left flank, purely by one advance and then only reactions:
On the Indian first turn their left Chariot and Cavalry advances to the Macedonian skirmish cavalry that retreats.  The Indian Chariot and Cavalry pursue and the Macedonian Skirmish Cavalry retreats from the threat, and is routed (Disordering some Macedonian Heavy Cavalry in the process).  The Indian Cavalry continue to pursue into Macedonian Heavy Cavalry and Companions; Indian Cavalry routed.  The Companions pursue into the proximity zone of the Chariots that then charges the Companions; to no avail, the Companions rout the Chariots and pursue.

End of turn 1.  All the previous paragraph was due to reaction to units actions - no decisions by me.  Love this game (luckily as I wrote them as what I would like to play)!

The battlelines are closer - Alexander etc. on their right have already cleaned up the opposing Indian flank. 

Alexander looking very happy to have broken the Indian left flank.
The skirmish line meets the elephants.

Elephants engage.
As a result of the clash, one elephant is in melee with skirmishers, one elephant is routed and forces the archer unit behind to retreat.  The victorious phalanx advances but it is disordered due to firing.  The elephant with Porus remain in combat with the Hoplites.

Centre Elephant routs (red 'X') 
The Indian heavy chariot (Indian right flank) routs the peltasts for no damage to themselves (a string of 5's and 6's).

An Indian Archer engages a Hoplite in melee (archer is CV3, disordered hoplite is CV2l) but the hoplite survives.  In the middle, a pike phalanx unit fares not so well and is routed by the archers. The  Indian left flank elephant is routed.

Xs: Macedonian peltasts gone on the left; Pike Phalanx in the centre.  Indian elephant routed on the right.
Companions defeat an Indian archer on the flank but when pursuing run into a traffic jam with a friendly skirmisher (the skirmisher is then routed from its combat with an Indian archer).  Another pike phalanx is routed.

Indian cavalry moving round one flank, Macedonian heavy cavalry on the other.  X is a routed pike phalanx.
Another two turns sees the Companions still stuck in melee, another pike phalanx routed for the loss of one Indian archer.  The Heavy Chariots has about faced and charges the rear of a hoplite but a lucky roll sees the hoplite hanging on.  The flanking Macedonian Heavy Cavalry charges into combat with the Poor Indian Cavalry (coming from the other flank) and routs the Indians.  This puts the Indians over their breakpoint and they are lose.

Chariots on the left charge into the rear of a hoplite but luck is on its side and it survives.  The Xs are routed pike phalanxes.  The Heavy Cavalry at the top has just routed the Indian Heavy cavalry to win the game..

The victorious Macedonian heavy cavalry that caused the Indians to reach their breakpoint.
Still one of my favourite battles to replay. A close game; the Macedonians were on 10 break points and could have easily lost 3 more heavy units to take them over their limit and lose the game.

This is the last in the Alexander sequence - there are a few successor battles so I am not away from phalanxes yet!  Following that there are a lot of Roman battles (30-50 I think).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Battle of Gaugamela 331 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 21 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Gaugamela
Darius prepares a level plain battlefield.  Alexander rises to the challenge.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
Ancient History Encyclopedia article
Giant DBA scenario
DBM scenario
Society of Ancients 2004 Battle Pack - Gaugamela

Scenario changes
Reduced by about half the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.

Alexander’s Macedonian
Macedonian deployment
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, aux infantry, high fortitude
3 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, aux cavalry, high fortitude, disciplined
1 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile
1 Camp
1 General with Companions
Exceptional command ability

Breakpoint: 13

Late Achaemenid Persian
Persians.  Cavalry is mostly poor and on their right.

1 Heavy infantry, battle infantry,some protection
1 Archers, auxiliary infantry, long missile
2 Mardi, skirmish infantry, long missile
2 Elite Cavalry, aux cavalry, high fortitude
2 Heavy Cavalry, aux cavalry
5 Persian/others heavy cavalry, aux cavalry, low fortitude
3 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
3 Scythed Chariots 
1 Elephant
1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 13

Note that the Peter Sides scenario starts after the Macedonians have advanced. I have chosen to go back to initial deployment.  I enjoyed researching this battle but when it came to deployment, I found it really hard going.  How to convert the units into a 2'x2' board and what deployment to use did my head it.  I spent way too many hours thinking about it.

Persians on the left; Macedonians on the right.
The Game
The Macedonian plan is to advance on the right flank and use the Companions to punch a hole through the Persian line.  The Persian plan is to advance with both flanks and try an envelop the Macedonians. 

Alexander move first and right flank advances.  Persian right flank fails their order roll and so does not move (they are far from Darius and rolled a 1).  The centre elephant and scythed chariot advance, the scythed chariot comes into range and cause pikes to advance (the pikes units should not have advanced - I read the result table wrong - or rather, I did not read them at all! and I wrote the rules.  I was tired and sick),  The scythed chariot loses combat (not unexpected), the pikes pursue into elephant proximity zone but the elephant does not charge.  The right flank scythed chariot does little better - charges into a skirmisher, scythed chariot destroyed, skirmisher disordered, retreats and destroyed.

Scythed chariot charges the pikes, for no effect other than being destroyed.
The Persian left flank advances and contacts the Macedonian Light Cavalry.

Persian left flank (top) begin to advance on the Macedonians; initial contact is the Macedonian light cavalry on the right.
The Macedonian Light Cavalry retreats and the Persian cavalry pursues and charges the Peltasts.  The Peltasts halt the charge.  Alexander retaliates by charging two skirmishers screening some Persian Heavy Cavalry. One  Persian Heavy Cavalry is routed.

Alexander (centre) clears some screening skirmishers and charges into some Persian heavy cavarly.  One is subsequently routed.
To the left of Alexander, the Hypaspists and a Pike unit get close to two Persian Heavy Cavalry, one   charges in and is eliminated.  The Pike unit pursues into the other Persian Heavy Cavalry unit that routs in the next turn.

Hypaspists (centre) and a pike unit (left) beating some Persian heavy cavalry.  Alexander is to the right.
At about this time, the last Persian scythed chariot charges for no effect.

The Hypaspists wheel and move (they have the drilled attribute; normally heavy infantry can only wheel OR move)) towards the Macedonian right flank that really needs bolstering.  Alexander is locked in melee for another turn but routs opposition next turn.  The Persian cavalry on their far left also locked in melee for another two turns until both the Peltast and Light Cavalry routs. The Persian cavalry is free on the Persian left - the Macedonian right is wide open.:

The Macedonian right - a skirmisher. The remaining Persian cavalry owns this flank.
The Macedonian right flank is overloaded with Persians - it is almost like a rag-tag of Macedonian units are there for defense.

The Macedonian left - more Persians than Macedonians.
A Pike unit in the centre routs the elephant. The rest of the Persian right manages to get into contact.  Nothing much happens - a few disorders.

Persian left in contact but the melees carryover.  However, the Macedonians do lose units soon after.
Meanwhile the centre pike unit contacts the Persian infantry - routs the archers and then pursue into melee with the poor Persian infantry.

In melee with the first Persian infantry unit (it routs)
That are also routed.

Pikes pursue into the other Persian infantry.   Both disordered (represented by the javelin markers) but the Persian infantry routs next turn.

The Persian right manages to rout a lot of the opposition - Parmenion, a skirmish infantry and a Peltast.  Not much left on the Macedonian left.  However, a phalanx unit manages to rout a Persian Heavy Cavalry after a few turns and the Persian's have reached their breakpoint.

The Macedonian centre and left at end game.  There is still a lot of Persian cavalry around but the pikes are closing in. 

Like Issus, there was a lot of options for deployment.  This kept me from playing the game, although it was interesting to read the discussions on the whys and wherefores on the different deployments.  Other than that, the game still surprises me on how fast it goes!  Once there is some shooting or melee, events take care of themselves with just a few die rolls. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Battle of Issus 333 BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash

This is game 20 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  The latest version of ‘Ancient Battlelines Clash’ is on its own blog page. I am play testing the rules by replaying all the Peter Sides scenarios from his Historical Battles books.  ABC is designed to finish in under an hour on a 2'x2' table.
Battle of Issus
Alexander defeated the Persians under Memnon at the Granicus. The Persian army, now led by Darius, the King of Kings, marches behind the Macedonian advance and cut their line of supply.  Alexander is forced to turn around and the two armies meet at the River Pinarus.
Here are some links of interest that I used to create the scenario:
Wikipedia article
WAB very comprehensive scenario and forces detail (particularly Part III discussing the Kardakes)
Giant DBA scenario
Tactica scenario

Scenario changes
Reduced by about half the troops due to my smaller sized table.  However, I roughly halved the Spear or pike units as the scenario units are for DBx that assumes in this case that the units will be rear supported, not the case with my rules.


Alexander’s Macedonian
4 Phalangites, battle infantry, phalanx
1 Hypaspists, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, high fortitude, drilled
2 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection, low fortitude
2 Thracians, auxiliary infantry
4 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, short missile
1 Companions, auxiliary cavalry,  high fortitude, disciplined
2 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
1 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, short missile

1 General with Companions
+1 army command ability

Breakpoint: 13

Late Achaemenid Persian
3 Hoplites, battle infantry, phalanx, some protection
4 Karkades hoplites, battle infantry, low fortitude, long spears, some protection
2 Kardakes peltasts, auxiliary infantry
10 Psiloi, skirmish infantry, long missile
1 Heavy cavalry, auxiliary cavalry, high fortitude
4 Heavy Cavalry, auxiliary cavalry
2 Light Cavalry, skirmish cavalry, long missile
1 General with high fortitude cavalry

Breakpoint: 14

Note I have gone for the 60,000 Kardakes being 40,000 hoplites and 20,000 peltasts as discussed here as part of the WAB scenario.
This game was quite difficult to determine how the deployment should be, and also the forces to allow for the game to work on a 2'x2' table.  There are significant variations in the interpretation of how the units were deployed and where along the Pinarus river - did Alexander cross at the ford?  Did the battle include the escapements?  I went for what Peter Sides had, with a dash of the Tactica one (based on a Slingshot article).  I also found that the troops for the Persians would not fit, so there are less units on their side than the numbers would indicate.

On the positive side, after spending a long time looking at deployment options, I played this over one day and during daylight, so the photos are clearer than most of my other posts.


Persians on the left, Macedonians on the right.
The Pinarus river is classed as a stream.  This slows movement slightly and does give a stream bank defender a combat bonus.

The Game
Alexander move first.  The Macedonian plan is the same as in 333BC - use the Hypaspists to create a gap, and follow through with the Companions.  The Persians will launch across the river into the weaker Macedonian left flank. 

A view from the Macedonian side towards the river.
Peltasts advance on the right and make it through the skirmishers to the cavalry and manage to disorder one.  The reaction system works great here, with the Peltasts advancing as the enemy retreats.  A peltast is lost in the melee with the Heavy cavalry.

Peltasts advance and draw a heavy cavalry out.
The skirmish line advances and does not much, the phalanxes are following and clear the skirmish line, amazing with no damage to themselves. A 1 or 2 would have disordered a phalanx unit, but in (I think) 10 rolls, I did not get a single 1 or 2. The phalanxes continue to react and advance across the stream to engage the Kardakes and Hoplites defending the river Pinarus.  The Hypaspists and an adjacent pike unit take out two Kadakes units (two rolls of a d6 produced a 5 and 6 - enough to destroy them outright); the rest of the battle line sees most units on both sides disordered.

Battlelines clash.  This is before the Hypaspists entered the fray. 
The Persian heavy cavalry on the Macedonian left charge Parmenion...

The Persian Heavy cavalry charge over the river.
...engage in combat with Parmenion's heavy cavalry and a hoplite...

Persian heavy cavalery in combat with Parmenion's Heavy cavalry.
...and after retreating, Parmenion is destroyed (Persians rolled a 6).  So much for holding the left flank.

Parmenion retreats, Persians follow up and Parmenion subsequently routs
 On the right, a Persian heavy cavalry charges a skirmishers; the latter evades but the result of the evaders fire (an unlucky 1) causes the already disordered heavy cavalry to rout.

Persian heavy cavalry charges a skirmish cavalry.  Latter evades, former routed by missile fire.
Alexander charges a charges a Persian skirmisher, follows though in a Kardakes unit that routs and Alexander is now on the other side of the river.

Alexander, charges through two units and make it to the Persian side of the river.  Hypaspists to the right in the picture.
A couple of units lost of both sides in the battleline.  More importantly, the Macedonian hoplite unit on the left flanks succumbs to the cavalry (another unlucky 1) - the Macedonian left flank is now wide open.
Battleline losses.  There are no units in front of the Persian cavalry - that flank is theirs!
Breakpoints lost so far are 10 for Macedonian (13 to break) and 11 for the Persians (14 to break).  it is a close game!

The lone Macedonian Greek hoplite that is on the far left of the battleline (actually the leftmost Macedonian unit!) routs the opposing Karkades; and Alexander forces a skirmish cavalry off the board.

The Persian centre is looking quite bare.
The Persians reach their breakpoint and the game is a close Macedonian win.

Game at end.  Still unit on both sides at the top (Macedonian right flank) but Persian have the Macedoniam left; Macedonians effectively control the centre as well.
The rules are working well.  Changing cavalry to move slower has not worked as well as I thought and have moved it back to 16cm (20 for skirmishers).  Also, and it has been in the back of my mind for the last 5-6 games - cavalry wheel and move much like line infantry.  I have increased the manoeuvrability of cavalry so they can wheel a little more and move.  Cavalry that chased after routing cavalry are never be able to turn around in time to come back the the battle.  Now they have a chance.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ancient Game with 8 yo daughter and One Hour Wargames

I bought Neil Thomas's One Hour Wargames as soon as it came out and devoured it in a single setting.  Nice simple rules, easily modified.  It comes with 30 scenarios, which is great value in itself and I had visions of playing the scenarios with other rules, or at least using a heavily modified version.  That was September 2014 and I put them aside.

Links of use
Here are some links to reviews/replays using these rules:
Heretical Gaming blog post review
El Rincón de Slorm blog post review
KEITH'S WARGAMING BLOG blog post review
John’s Wargame Page blog post review
Wargames Illustrated review
Cambronne's Reply blog post review
SPEAR TO THE STRIFE blog post review
Yahoo groups for discussion on Neil Thomas's rules

You can buy it via Amazon, Pen and Sword, On Military Matters and likely others.

Introduction (continued)
Fast forward to a few days ago (November 2014) and my eight year old daughter says "when are we going to play with your ancient figures - the ones in the drawer?"  I have a set of map drawers and there is always a few ancient games set up on 2'x2' boards inside. We used to occasionally get one out and push some figures around.  No rules to speak of - just line them up in pretty rows.

My daughter struggles with maths and I have been doing extra addition and subtraction (with numbers under 20) for the last couple of months, usually using online maths games, verbally or the abacus.  As soon as she said ancients game I thought of Neil Thomas's rules - it has adding or subtracting 2 from a die roll (damage inflicted), and adding numbers to 15 (15 is the "hit points" of a unit).  So today, we set up a table a played a game.

Plans and children do not mix, but this went brilliantly.  So brilliantly and so rarely, I felt the need to write a blog post!

The Setup
It was a going to be a quick game.  I had some medieval figures in a box I had ready for another game that never happened. My daughter loves horses and you get a lot in the medieval part of the rules.   I played with just one WRG DBx base is a unit and used a 30cmx30cm cork tile I had from years ago. Distances would be measured in cm.  And we would use a roster off the board to score the hits (as part of the aim of the game to add up the hits!).  I cut two pieces of timber - 6cm and 12cm - to be the movement and archery range measuring sticks.  I would go for 5cm and 10cm next time and this fits in with the 30cmx30cm table.  Rules are originally designed for 36"x36" with 12" long moves; this would convert on a 30cmx30cm board to 10cm long moves, not 12.

The scenario would be a simple flat table, no terrain.  We rolled for the units. The rules have a simple system to roll a single d6 per side for random forces.  I setup first and let my daughter set up after seeing my setup.  I did not help her with her deployment but she copied mine to an extent.  She has never played a game of miniatures with rules before so she does not have a grasp of tactics and occasionally I explained possible options for her to choose from.

My daughters forces, mostly Romanian Franks

My forces, random medieval. Note that I only have two figures on my archer base, but this is just to easily differentiate them from the other side.
I explained the rules.  Took about 10 minutes.  She did say after the game this was the only boring bit.

For those that are interested, here is a summary of the medieval rules:

  • Alternate turns and each player turn is move, shoot, melee.  Cannot move and shoot.
  • Mounted move 12, Infantry 6, archers range is 12.
  • For shooting, select a target and roll 1d6+2.  This is the damage inflicted on the target.
  • For melee, roll 1d6 (+2 for Knights, -2 for Archers) for damage to the target.
  • Men-At-Arms halve damage received due to their armour. Flanks attacks double the damage.
  • A unit is eliminated when is reaches or exceeds 15 hits.
  • Game ends when one side is eliminated.
Game start - I am at the bottom, Daughter at the top.
The Game
My daughter went first and promptly moved her Knights to within a few centimetres of mine.  This meant I would charge next turn and get in damage first.  But she did not care!  I helped her with moving the archers (i.e. don't move them to where I can charge them).

My daughter's first move.  A normal knights tactic!
I charged in and so get to inflict damage first on each of her three knights.  This gave her the opportunity to draw a small icon (her idea) to represent each unit and write down the its damage.  We were using rosters so she could add up damage as it occurred, part of the point of the game.  I did not move my Levies into the Men at arms on my right flank as they are take only half damage.  My Knights should win, and then help take them out. This plan sort of worked. 

Note: I pivoted my archers and then fired.  I should not have been allowed to fire.  I realised my mistake later and gave my daughter a bonus move later on.

I charged the few centimetres in response.
I did think about moving some infantry onto the flanks of her knights, but thought that maybe I should go for the archers on either flank instead. Not sure if this was a wise choice or not.

On the left, I charge my Levies into the Archers. My Levies had already taken 13 points of damage from good archery fire, so I needed to at least damage the Archers to regain some honour. On the right the archers move to get into a position to fire on my daughter's Archers.

I moved to destroy the flanks.
The combat between the Knights goes roughly as expected - My daughter loses two Knights when they reach their limit.  The next turn, I lose a Knight.  But I also lose a Levies. The Men-at-Arms absorbing 1/2 damage is quite good, especially as I was rolling 1s and 2s!

My daughter loses two Knights, then next turn I lose one Knight and the right flank Levies. 
My daughter is not upset by this at all!  She is having too much fun!
My daughter's last Knight goes the turn after so I charge the right hand archers with some Knights.  I forgot to move my other Knights (what was I thinking - I have no idea).  I allow my daughter to pivot 180 and charge my Archers to balance against me firing on the Men-at-Arms when I should not have  (normally you can only pivot 45 degrees when charging).

Knights charge the archers (top right); Men-at-arms charge my Archers (bottom right)
As expected, my Levies fail against my daughter's Archers on my left flank.  Although she had some bad rolls, and Archers subtract two from the die roll, I was only 2 points away from elimination when I charged.  I charge the Knights I forgot to move last turn into the Archers.  Victory for both of us on my right flank.  Her Archers gone, as are mine.

My Levies gone and charged with the Knights, on the right we both lose an archer unit.
The Men-at-Arms charge into the rear of my Knights.  Double damage for a rear attack.  I have 10 points, she rolls a 4.  She added the 4 to 10 damage the Knights were carrying, and then was very excited when I said it was double damage for a rear attack!

The Men-at-arms, after routing my Knights on the right, move to attack my Knights on the left.
Her Archers were never going to last very long against my Knights.  But my Knights know have a total of 14 damage form all the melees so far.  And the Men-At-Arms charge in the flank for double damage.  And roll a 6.  My daughter is excited once again.  She does not add it up: 14+12 is obviously more than 15.   Her Men-At-Arms are the last unit standing. A close game.  She has won!

The last melee.  It ended as bad.

The last unit on the table.  My daughter's Men-At-Arms.
My daughter could not resist writing out her win.  And put her winning army on display around it. And forced me to take a picture.

My daughter ensures we all know who won against whom.

A well deserved win to my daughter.  My first game with actual rules against her.

It took about 40 minutes to play.  Without much tactics - just getting in - that seemed reasonable playing time.  I had fun, and there is lots of adding and a bit of subtraction, which was the aim of it after all!  Having to halve some hits and double flank attacks was a bonus for the maths too.
After the game I asked her what she thought.  Her answer "That was awesome!"  makes me think we will be playing again!

Oh, and the rules.  I like them.  And without any modifications!