Wednesday, 26 November 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!


  1. My daughter was that age when she played against me in a 'Hordes of the Things' tournament. And beat me.

    She did a victory dance.

    1. I was thinking of Trying out song of Blades and Heroes with her. I showed it and played it against a friend's 9 year old who got it just fine. I had not thought of HOTT, I will have to keep that in mind.

  2. Nice one Shaun. Must get these to the table myself. I might even rope my daughter in as well!

  3. Great report Shaun! As suspected, I figured a young one could grasp these rules. I'll try them out on my kids. Oh, and unlike you, I've modified them slightly. ;) But straight up without mods would be the better option for the kiddies.

    1. I have read your potential mods..but have you PLAYED them :-).

  4. Hmmm. The 4-6 units made me dismiss these rules somewhat. I'll have to take more of a look at them.

    Congratulate Nadia on her victory. She should get some sort of prize, shouldn't she?

    1. After thw game, I told her we were using grown up rules, so she then asked if she should get money for that :-)

      Alas, she did not get any!

  5. Nice looking game, beautiful units (love the men at arms)...

  6. Shaun - nice batrep with pics. I'm glad Nadia won and had fun! "let the wookie win"! Not that you're daughter is a wookie, she's adorable and obviously pleased.

    Oh, and I finished page one of my batrep, which has lots of philosophying on rules sets. But I'll get to the actual battle next!

  7. oops, forgot to put this in:
    try the dark ages rules next if you can, love to hear what you think.

    1. The dark ages will be solo or against a friend. There is not enough Cavalry for Nadia in the dark ages!

  8. Really nice report. Congrats to your daughter on the win!

    It's cool to see that the rules still work on a play area whittled all the way down to 1' x 1'.

    1. I would have preferred to play on a 2'x2' with 4 bases to a unit, but would have been harder to move around the units, leading to a longer game time. And I have always wanted to play a game on a 1'x1' board too!

  9. I saw a guy demo a 6mm Napoleonic game that was based on some board game or other - entire battle was on a 2x2. I was impressed, but the figs basically made me think, "I'd just as soon have some counters with great graphics!" But that's me - 25mm is my new 15mm, and 40mm is my new 25mm.

    1. I resemble that remark - I do 6mm WW2 on 2'x2'! I admit that playing at night, the only way I tell the difference in infantry bases between sides is that the shapes of the bases are completely different. And I notice when I am writing up the blog post that I occasionally have some infantry bases facing backwards ;-) I started 6mm WW2 only as I did not have the free time to setup a large table for long periods to do WW2 in 20mm (of which I have loads). But I know what you mean on scales, the older I get, the more I lean to larger figures.

  10. Hey Shaun, I got up p.2 of my 1HW batrep and review. It was so long I have to do a p.3! I've also linked your blog as I keep finding interesting things on it.
    Cheers, a.

    1. I have read your part 2. And thanks on the comments about my blog.

  11. Very nice and interesting report! Many thanks for sharing it.
    I have a doubt regarding game mechanics:
    In the last two hand to hand combat phases of your daughter, when her Men-at-Arms charge respectively into the rear and flank of your two Knights units: Your Knights units, were still engaged frontally? Or they have just destroyed the enemy units they had in frontal combat in their own previous hand to hand phase?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. I was playing it that you can only move to face a flank/rear attack after combat in your own movement phase. But I see from re-reading the rules that the turn to face is a move within combat, not after. Will have to remember that for next time!

  12. So: flank-rear bonus should have been cancelled, because your units were not frontally engaged at the moment they were attacked and should have turned to face the flank/rear attacks?