Sunday, 13 March 2011

Zama refight with Mighty Armies Ancients

This is likely to be my last Zama replay.  Zama, or at least my configuration of it, does not give a game under one hour, even with fast play rules!  There are lots of elements, and high quality troops so what was I thinking!  Anyway, Mighty Armies: Ancients proved to be the fastest rules of them all compared to the others I used for the Callinicum playoff. It will be interesting to see if MA:A produces a Zama game under an hour.

MA:A is not the best ruleset for differentiating Skirmishers and there were a number of proposed rule changes proposed to better reflect how Skirmishers operated.  While I agree it may not be perfect in Skirmish representation, it does a fine job in the confines of the existing mechanisms.  Skirmishers are not supposed to last long and giving them javelins on the off chance they can do a bit of damage before retiring (routing) is fine by me.  So I won't be implementing any rule changes for Skirmishers.
The other major discussion on troop types are support values for each troop type is the same, regardless of its morale.  So a common heavy infantry has a support value of 3, as does a veteran heavy infantry.  Yet the Vets are +2 cost for points (note that Vets do have +2 to fighting value).  As I haven't played enough games of MAA, I will not be playing around with support combat factors either (again, some rule changes proposed for this are on the forum).

2 Skirmishers, Common Light Infantry, Speed: 4, Fight: 2, Support: 2, Scout, Mobile, Slave, Javelin
2 Elephants, Speed: 4, Fight: 5, Support: 1, Behemoth

4 First Line Infantry,Common Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 3, Support: 3
4 Second Line Infantry, Common Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 3, Support: 3
4 Third Line, Seasoned Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 4, Support: 3, Disciplined
3 Veterans, Veteran Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 5, Support: 3, Disciplined
1 General (Veteran), Heavy Infantry, Speed: 4, Fight: 6, Support: 3, Disciplined
2 Numidian Light Cavalry, Common Light Cavalry, Speed: 7, Fight: 2, Support: 2,  Javelin, Scouts
1 Heavy Cavalry, Seasoned Heavy Cavalry, Speed: 6, Fight: 4, Support: 3

4 Velites, Seasoned Light Infantry, Speed: 4, Fight: 3, Support: 2, Scout, Mobile, Slave, Javelin
4 Hastati, Seasoned Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 4, Support: 3, Disciplined, Javelin
4 Principes, Seasoned Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 4, Support: 3, Disciplined, Javelin
1 Triarii, Veteran Heavy Infantry, Speed: 3, Fight: 5, Support: 3, Disciplined
1 General (Triarii), Heavy Infantry, Speed: 4, Fight: 6, Support: 3, Disciplined
4 Numidian Light Cavalry, Seasoned Light Cavalry, Speed: 7, Fight: 3, Support: 2,  Javelin, Scouts
1 Heavy Cavalry, Veteran Heavy Cavalry, Speed: 6, Fight: 5, Support: 3
4 Numidian Light Infantry, Common Light Infantry, Speed: 4, Fight: 2, Support: 2, Slave, Javelin

Combat between groups is harsh as the loser always loses at least one unit.  Add up front fighting values, add up support, roll 1d6 and compare.  Winner wins the combat.  So a +3 difference before rolling the d6 is almost a clear win (1/12 chance of losing the combat). A +1 has a 10/36 chance of losing.  So the values above and the deployment of the groups did take some thinking.

Rules changes
As per my last replay I will implement the change, as discussed on the forum, to group combat where the total combat factor is the sum of all the front fighting values and rear support values (rather than lead fighter FS and all the rest as support).
I will also not use the Strike fear command.  I will be using only those commands that effect the friendly side, not the enemy.
Game will be over when the General is destroyed (and the side with the most AP losses will be the loser). This is similar of one of the two ways to win in MAA -the other is to destroy 1/2 the enemy units.  As the Generals are at the back, this will mean each side will have to fight through the lines.

Deployment differs from the standard deployment I worked out due to group limitations.

The largest group in MAA is 6 elements, and that incurs 2MP  to command, while groups of 4 or less are only 1MP.  Groups can also be a maximum of 3 wide, so there goes a simple 4 single unit wide group for the lines.  There are advantages in combat to having support units behind you in a group.  So I did the following:
Carthaginian has 2 groups each of one skirmisher and Elephant side by side.  The first line has the second line behind it and they are in two groups (each with 2 first line in front, and 2 second line behind).  Same with the Third line and Veterans (although the vets are in front of each group).

Roman Velites are in two groups of 2 Velites;  Hastati and Principes are in 2 groups of 4 each - Hastati to the front, Principes in support.  Triarii is one single group of 2.
This picture shows deployment:

Overview of the game at deployment.  Romans at the right.

Numidian Light Infantry cannot move until a Carthaginian unit moves within 6".
The Roman Light Cavalry is going to annihilate the Carthaginian opposing light cavalry under these rules.  Need to ensure they stay out of the line battle for a while, so I will have a rules they will pursue for 3 turns before having to come back on the board.  We will see if it works. It is my game, may be longer.

Turn 1
Carthaginians will go first.  They move up the Elephant/Skirmisher line and the following combined 1st and 2nd line.
Romans Numidian Light Cavalry is 8" from opposing Carthaginian Light Cavalry (out of range with a move of 7) and use a force march command to move the extra inch into close combat.  The javelin exchange has no effect.   Carthaginians lose a unit and are driven back. (Carthaginian are FV 4 + d6 of 5 = 9.  Romans are FV 10 + d6 of 5 = 15).

Velites charge the Elephants and Skirmishers.   The javelin exchange causes one Carthaginian unit to be destroyed.  Combat sees an Elephant and skirmisher destroyed (other elephant drive back).

The first clash of troops.

Turn 2
Carthaginians turn around the elephant and light cavalry.  Their right infantry flank units move up (elephant is in the way on the left). Tempted to move some of the 1st/2nd line up to support the elephant but by itself, the elephant has a 1/3 chance of not being destroyed if it loses the combat (the ability of a Behemoth). And it does have a heavy infantry in support for an additional +3  to the combat FV.

Romans move the Numidians are far as they can in pursuit of the opposition. The two Velite groups charge straight ahead - one into the 1st/2nd line, the other into an elephant.  Both groups will receive the Inspire command (+1FV).

Javelin exchange causes a 1st line unit to be destroyed.

Velites charge into combat

Velites on the Roman left lose combat, one is destroyed, other is driven back and this is converted into a destroyed (the Slave ability causes this; Slave ability seems like a good fit for skirmishers).
Velites on the Roman right lose combat - same result as the left, both are gone.
No bad for the Velites - killed 1 elephant, 2 skirmishers and a heavy infantry. 

...and Velites gone, but caused significant losses along the way.

Turn 3
Carthaginians move the elephant over to the group that lost the heavy infantry.  This will make it a large group and require 2MP to move.

Romans roll a 1 and decide to charge with the left Hastati/Principes into the Elephant large group.  The FV of the groups is equal (14) except the Romans will get +1 for charging. Carthaginians lose, the Behemoth was the primary fighter, does not make its save and is destroyed; the rest are driven back.
The centre left, with the elephant missing from the group running away.

Turn 4
Carthaginians turn around the driven back infantry and move up some Veterans to bolster the group.

The elephant gap is filled by Veterans from the last line.

Romans get a 6 for MP.  Numidians charge the lone remaining Carthaginian Light Cavalry.  Javelin exchange sees the Carthaginians destroy a Roman.  There is no more contact so there is not a combat...

Hastati/Principes group charge the large group of Vets and 1st/2nd line and are also allocated an inspire command (+1 to combat).  Carthaginians win and Romans see one destroyed and driven back (but do not about face as they are disciplined).

The right side Hastati/Principes group are given an extra 1" move and charge the opposing 1st/2nd line.  Romans are at +2FV but lose.  One gone and driven back (without turning).  Not looking so good for the Romans.

The centre after the two Romans groups lose their close combats.

Turn 5
Carthaginians followup their advantage and charge in to the two opposing groups.  And allocate +1FV via an inspire command.
The Roman left suffers a defeat and driven back, the right is a draw.

Romans move back the defeated and depleted group 1" which brings then to within 1" of the Triarii.  So next turn can bring the Triarii into the group and into the front (with cost 2MP of the die to do so - one for each Triarii unit to join the group).
The other Roman unit in combat continues to melee with a +1FV courtesy of an inspire command.  Even though they are still one less FV than the Carthaginian group, they win and the Carthaginians driven back.

Overview of the main battle lines.

...and another Numdian clash sees the last Carthaginian light cavalry destroyed.

Turn 6
Carthaginians don't do much after rolling 1MP...and the Romans do too!

Turn 7
Carthaginian right group charges into the opposing Hastati/Principes.  Equal FV.  Carthaginians driven back.   Romans roll another 1 MP and bring the other Triarii into the group on the Roman left.

The driven back 2nd line in the centre.  The veterans I hope to move up can be seen at the rear.

Turn 8
Now, the trick with MAA is to ensure you have an advantage in FV for your group on the enemy.  If you have less than the opponent, you are likely to lose, and suffer a unit loss, which just makes your groups FV even lower.  So I should really get the driven back second line out the way and let the Vets of the third line take on the Hastati/Principes.  The trouble is trying to get them out the way!  MAA, while it has a lot of latitude for in group movement, has (reasonable for a fast game) decent movement restrictions for group movement.  it will take two turns to get them out the way.

The Romans roll high for MP and charge the turning 2nd line, which they Massacre.  Ah well, at least they are out of the way now.

The victorious Romans now have to face the blurry (maybe it is dusty?) Veterans.

The other group (on the left) move up to about 3 1/2" from the opposing group.  They have greater FV, but also, if you use a command to move 4" with heavy infantry, you cannot also then add another command to gain a +1 to FV.  So if the Carthaginians want to make contact, they can't gt a +1 FV via command.  Of course, the Triarii group have a large FV so could charge in with a +1" to the move next turn, they don't really need the +1 command...

Turn 9
Doing the numbers, the Carthaginian 5 unit group actually has quite a good FV - 17 - and would get an extra +1 for charging.  This would be vs the triarri group of 16 with the general re-rolling a die.  So they charge in and win, so the Triarii are driven back.
The Roman side is not looking good...except this is the turn the Numidians come back.  And as things are dire, the Roman heavy cavalry charge their opposing Carthaginian cavalry.  There is a +2 advantage to the romans - +1 for the better morale, and +1 for charging...
Heavy cavalry clash

Romans win and Carthaginian heavy cavalry destroyed.

Turn 10
The 2 heavy infantry groups charge the depleted opposing Romans groups (Triarii on their right, and Hastati/Principes on their left).

Elements of 1st, 2nd and 3rd line engage the Roman Triarii backed by Principes.

Third line attacking Hastati/Principes

Both units lose a unit and are driven back.

Note: in the rules a general unit can re-roll if primary fighter but the odds have been too great to make this warranted - it would still lose.  The general unit may ignore a drive back result but this may only be useful if attacked in the rear (a rear attacked group when driven back is destroyed).  So a lot of the time driven back units subsequently pursued are destroyed.  But if disciplined, driven back units do not about face, so combat is a slow grind.

Turn 11
Carthaginians roll 1MP and elect to charge the Hastati as they have a chance of doubling and destroying the whole group (it will be 16FV +1 charging versus 8). Only outscored so one more unit lost and the other driven back.

Lonely Hastati facing half the Carthaginian third line

Romans move the cavalry up and move the infantry back 1" to force the Carthaginaians to spend a command to chrge the distance, rather than spend it on +1 to FV.

Turn 12
Carthaginian infantry groups charge into their opposing groups.  The Hastati is destroyed (no roll required - the difference in FV is very large).  The Romans are massacred.  General is gone (I did chose him as the primary fighter to get a re-roll, but he re-rolled to the same low number!).

Game over, according to the rules I set at the start that it is over when a general dies.  The winner is the one with the most AP (again, according to the rules I set at the start) which is the Carthaginians.   History is changed.

Overview of board at the end of the game - Romans circled in white.

12 turns!  About one hour of actual play! Another exclamation mark! This is a long game in MAA - normally 20 minutes is enough to complete a game. High FV and the disciplined troops really extend the game.  And about 20AP (30%) more troops than a normal game.   Of course, if using the MAA victory conditions of destroying half the enemy units, the game would have been over a couple of turns earlier. I had a great time.  This is a fun ruleset.


  1. Hi Shaun,

    It has been my experience with the game that once things go a little wrong for one side, it is down hill from there. The loss at +2 at the beginning is evidence of this.

    Part of the problem is that the combat factors for a group get so high that a D6 is just not enough to overcome the difference. The slaughter rule is a pretty cool mechanism but does not occur in a meaningful way. Again, if the rule were to pay off, you would want to double a fresh group, say 4 units. However, the combat factors are so high that it is mathematically impossible to double a full group.

    Taking the difference as a modifier for the high side and lowering the combat factors, especially for support would fix most of the problems.

    Thanks for the report! It dis sound like a good time!

  2. John,

    There was discussion on the MA forum a while ago about changing support FV, limiting units to 4, using 2d6 for melee etc to help resolve this very issue. No consensus reached. I agree it is one of those things that irks me about the game - once a unit loses a base, it is really all over.

  3. I remember it well. The debate went on and on. I was in the middle of it all. :-)

    I think the game works better as a fantasy game because you do have magic and other special abilities to even things out when things go wrong.

    I rather like the idea of the large phalanx being hard to control (extra command pip) so taking that out of the game is pretty unappealing to me.

    I think the D6 would be workable if you could limit the combat factors a bit.

  4. How about a summary review of all you have accomplished so far?

    I have read through a number of your reviews and reports.

    I am quite intrigued with how you compare the games.

    1) from how it plays aspect.
    2) from a solo point of view.

    It appears you have enjoyed MAA, RKK the most?

  5. Matthew,

    I did do the comparison with the 10 different rules I played with Callinicum. I did not use any new rules with Zama (I only used 3 with Zama - RRtK, DBA and MAA).

    The link to which rules sets I liked and didn't like is here:

    The comparison of the different rulesets is here:

    I like RRtK the best for less than one hour on a 2'x2' table. MAA is really fast and fun too.

    I am embarking on doing Heraclea with a bunch on different rules.
    I wasn't going to do a post-Zama one as they were the same rules as Calinicum, but I do have a couple of extra minor learnings from them. I will incorporate them into a post-Heraclea summary, whenever that happens!