Sunday, 19 October 2014

Ancient Battlelines clash - October 2014 update

After a few months of reflection, last month (ABC update September 2014) I created a Quick Reference Sheet from scratch and then did some minor rules culling and changes to reflect the new QRS.  95% of the rules remained unchanged.  Played a few battles and all was well.  But then I reflected a bit more.  The core rules were 14 pages.  DBA is 5 pages (excluding troop definitions), Basic Impetus is 8 for everything.  14 does not ring true for me as a fast play set.

So what did I do?
I sat down, opened up a blank document and wrote the rules out again from scratch, without reference to any other document, including the rules or the QRS.  6 1/2 pages (no examples) including unit definitions.
I then when back to the old version and added in some clarifications and any bits I had missed from the old version (surprisingly not many) and a bit of formatting. 8 pages.  I am happy.  I also added in examples, optional rules, example armies and a QRS: 12 pages in total compared to 22 pages for the equivalent in the previous version.  With no rule loss.  How? The previous rules started life many years ago and in earnest 3 years ago and have been worded, reworded and built upon over probably 100 minor versions.  I have cleaned up a large amount of bloated rule sections just writing in all from memory on what they should be.  It was almost a case of, why use one word when three can do the same job :-)  I am so much more content and the rules I think are better for it.  Anyway, I have nowhere else to go now with them, having done a write from memory only! (having written this, I did do one step further and have written a simpler 2 page version for about 6 units with no markers on a 1'x1' board, but that is untested!)
The QRS is now one page, in two columns as per the rest of the rules - no rules deleted, just better formatting and a little streamlining..  I am very happy that the QRS is one simple page - that fact I had to fudge the previous version by using 3 columns just bugged me,

So, the final rules are:
Pages 1-12: The rules including examples, optional rules and a reference sheet on page 12. Pages 1-12 are all that is needed to print to play.
Pages 13-16: Detailed example and designer notes.
Pages 17-24: Fully programmable opponent for the rules; none, some or all may be used.
Note: pages 13-24 are not essential to play, but if you want to use them, it is best to print off separately.

The new version of the rules are at the Ancient Battlelines Clash rules page.  The army lists have not been updated to align to the new unit types, but the conversion is very easy and I provide how to convert.

I need to playtest more and finihed off my next historical game - Granicus - with Version 2 (coming soon)

For those interested, here are all the rule changes.  While I don't expect anyone to read them, it does indicate how little I did to the actual rules.
  • Troops are now classified by role (battle, auxiliary and skirmisher) and type (infantry, cavalry and chariot).  Exceptions are elephants, scythed chariots, camels and camps.  These do map directly onto the more traditional HI, MI, LI, HC etc.  I have liked this method ever since reading and playing the Irregular Miniature Ancient rules years ago.  I have finally bit the bullet and put these into my rules.  It really helps streamline combat values and what type of units are impacted by things.
  • Movement rates are now simplified - all infantry move 8cm, all mounted move 12cm.  For this game, the different movement rates was really irrelevant.  I was very clever with the old movement rates and retreat distances but I realised it works out the same with two standard movement rates.  But Skirmisher cavalry (LC) do need to move 16cm to make horse archer armies work properly, so included that.  All skirmishers add 2cm to retreat distances to ensure they do not get caught.  I had this in an older version but was not required but with similar movement rates it is back in again.
  • The bow missile range needs to be in between these two movement rates for the missile rules to work correctly, so bow range is now 10cm (was 12cm). Skirmish infantry bows are only 4cm range - they were too powerful against infantry.
  • Most of the sections have been reworded and are more succicient.


  1. Thanks so much for making these available. I just purchased RRtK two weeks ago and now have a horde of Assyrians coming in the mail. As soon as I get some painted up I will give ABC a try as well.

    1. I designed ABC to be a fast alternative to RRtK. Hopefully this is the last big re-write and I can get on with play testing! It should be, the rules have not really changed in the last 12 months. Would love to hear what you think of the rules if you get around to playing them.