Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hydaspes replay number 3 - Fast Ancient Battles

This is the third game of four replaying the Battle of Hydaspes with different rulesets.  Go to this post for background, troop descriptions, deployment and comparison to the other 3 rules. 

The battle report is a little bit more detailed than I would do normally do just for a report, but I needed some detail as to who did what as it helped to write the rules comparison. 
The main differences between FAB and Bill Banks Ancients (BBA) is that not all units can moved - it is limited to a number of groups per turn.  The number of groups of units able to move per turn is 1 + the number of leaders.  The CRT is replaced with a die roll table but has a similar effect.  Lastly, missile fire cannot destroy any units besides skirmishers - another 'DD' on a unit is no effect.
The Macedonians have 3 leaders, Indians only 1.  In hindsight, Macedonians should have only got 2 leader, and in fact that is the number of generals in the Peter Sides scenario.
Horse archers and opposing mounted have a bit of movement and retiring resulting in a disordered Indian cavalry unit.  The archers, with good die rolling, manage to disorder and destroy some skirmishers.

Overview, Indians to the bottom.  Indian mounted has advanced on the horse archers to the left.  Some skirmishers in centre disordered (green marker) from Indian bow fire.

The Indian cavalry and chariot charge the horse archers in the flank.  They cannot evade and so are destroyed.  The Cavalry and chariot pursue 4cm.  This may have been a bad move as the Macedonian Heavy Cavalry is going to charge next turn.

Companions (Alex attached) facing the Indian cavalry and chariots

Alexander move to attach to the Thessalian Heavy cavalry (the Companions already have a good chance against the disordered Indian cavalry) and both cavalry units charge - The Indian cavalry is destroyed and the chariots disordered.
Post combat - Indian cavalry gone, chariots disordered.

The rest of the Macedonian battleline move forward, archer fire results in no hits (this balances out their good rolling last turn).

Indian Elephants contact the skirmishers who fire and evade.  Missile fire disorders the elephant with Porus, who rolls a leader check to see if destroyed.  Rolls a 1.  So yes - Porus has left the battlefield.  That is going to hurt.  Macedonian Skirmishers also disorders two archers.

Porus was attached to this elephant.

Two skirmishers move into the gaps between the elephants to protect the pike from the archers. This was a good move as archery destroyed the two skirmishers. The pike battleline charges the elephants.  The Macedonians ran out of group move points as they would have also really liked to move the hoplites into combat as well.  Note a general moved over from hoplites to a pike to help combat.
Thessalians Vs chariots see the Thessalians disordered.  One elephant is destroyed by a pike unit that pursues into an archer.  Some disorders handed out in other melees.

Battlelines - mostly elephants crashing into the pikes

At the end of the Macedonian turn, remove disorder from the Thessalians and a pike unit  with a general.  This is a large advantage that the Macedonians now have - only generals can remove disorder, and the Indians have no generals.
Note that ongoing melees are optional to resolve for the active player.  So the Indians do not resolve the disadvantaged chariot Vs Thassalians, but will do combat against disordered phalanxes as they are at -2 compared to ordered phalanxes.
Hypaspists destroy an elephant.  Pikes in melee destroy an archer and disorder another.  A Macedonian general attached to one of the pike units that is disordered fails the general in combat check and leaves the battlefield.

Battleline - only centre elephant left and the phalanx is getting into contact with the archers.

Alexander moves to the Companions which then move behind the battleline to face the Indian cavalry that came from the other flank - in the next turn they charge and destroy the poor Indian cavalry that had moved so far.   Combat sees one elephant down, and a few disorders on both sides.

Battleline - Alex and Companions on the left ready to charge the Indian cavalry from the right flank.

The Macedonian doesn't progress many melees due to the number of disordered pikes.  The Indian right flank sees the elephant and chariot charge in and disorder the peltasts.

Indian right flank - both elephants and chariots disordered, but so are the Macedonian peltasts.

The Companions turn around ready to charge the archers from the rear.  In FAB, this disorders the Companions, but that is OK as Alexander is with them and disorder can be removed at the end of the turn.  The Hypaspists destroy an archer in melee.

Battleline at end of game - not many archers left.

The Indians have lost 50% of their breakpoints and so the game is over with a Macedonian win.  Phalanxes are really strong in this game, and they also got some lucky rolls.  The skirmish screen worked very well and the phalanx units did not get disordered going in.   The Macedonians lost only the horse archers. Having 3 leaders really helped with undisorder and movement flexbility.  Losing Porus early really hurt as could not move extra groups nor undisorder units.  If I played again I would keep Porus out of combat longer as he is too valuable for group points to throw away for +1 combat.  There were also a number of archers that could have been better used by me on the Indian right flank - possibly outflanking the hoplites and helping remove the peltasts.  Overall a fun game - the multiple leaders and the leader disorder/rally concept is central to this game which make is different to play than most other games at this scale.


  1. Lovely looking miniatures, they looks really nice. Nice BatRep as well.

  2. Well done sir! Still just one of the best Ancients games around. No fuss. No muss!

  3. Have you tried the Ancient Battles Deluxe version? From what you are describing, your version is actually better. Can't wait to get hold of these rules. Everyone says you can download the original hex-based version, but I can't fin it anywhere. Relative Range doesn't have the original.

  4. Your last question first - go to the Relative Range website and click on Ancient Battles Deluxe on the top banner. In the column on the right hand side is a picture of counters, some links, downloads links for ancient Battles deluxe and then a box with the download of the original Ancients classic version. It has a whole bunch of playing aids, discussion etc with it. It is 13mb in total.

    For your first question - I have ABD, have read it but not played it. It does seem like it would give a good game. But, it does use a different combat and fire mechanisms to the first - more DBx like (double to destroy) in that they are opposed rolls (both sides roll a die and compare. I liked the single d6 combat. You roll to rally rather than only units with a leader. I do like the restricted command roll (like PIPS in DBx) but my version has it base don leader with not die rolling, while ABD has a die roll involved to determine 'PIPs'. But my version is not quite like the original either as it does have a few different combat modifiers to the original and tighter movement rules. Otherwise it plays as similar as you can get on a hexless board.

  5. Thanks, got it! I had actually had the game years ago, but lost it. Any chance you could write up the rules you use? I have played ABD and didn't find it all that macuh better than the old version, except for some new units like Medium Infantry!

  6. They are mostly written - they need a technical-write type review and a few more games. Will get them out one way or another later this year.