Wednesday, 7 October 2015

30 games in 30 days - games 6 to 12

Attempting to play 30 ancient games in 30 days using my own small table fast play rules to test out a programmed opponent.  A few more details at this introductory post.  The first five games are here.

I am still on track - I am up to day 12 and have completed 12 games.  I would have thought that weekends I may be able to squeeze in few more games and Monday was a public holiday in Queensland.  But I seem to be able to only manage one game per day.  A few more minor rules changes and the programmed opponent is holding up well.  I am using the programmed opponent for both sides.  If it keeps going with no changes, I may play a few games with me actually playing one side, and the programmed opponent the other. This is more likely how I would be using it anyway.

Note this may be a bit of a dry read - there are only few pictures of each game and a lot of the text is about playtesting lessons learnt.

Game 06 Italian Goths Vs Early Byzantium (Day 5 - Wednesday)
Very excited  - I have never used these Byzantine forces before - I have a whole DBM sized army but will only using a few.  Ah well, at least some of them see daylight.
A bit skewed as the opposite flanks to the heavier flanks are light on.

Byzantium (left) Vs goths (right)

Some of the never used Byzantines.

The skirmishers managed to rout this cavalry unit with good dice rolls.

A bit of Cavalry on Cavalry action.  Goth general is on the right.

End game - very close.
Goths lost, just.  Another very close game.  Close games are good - it may  mean the rules are fairly balanced for historical opponents, at least for my playing style anyway!

I had updated the programmed opponent to account for bow armed heavy cavalry after the playtesting back in April 2014 (using Sasanian Persians rather than Byzantines) but noticed that the rules had them charging in reaction rather than firing.  Looking at older rules I had it correct, but somewhere I must have had some epiphany that bow army heavy cavalry would always charge units within 4cm rather than fire.  I think my epiphany was flawed, went back and looked at the tactics for these types of troops and have gone back to them firing.   The programmed opponent works correctly, just the rules themselves need reversion.

Also, I tried a few group splits in the game that failed.  Group splits require a 3+ and if it fails the entire group does not move.  This doe snot really make mush sense, especially on this game scale when moves may only last 3-4 turns.  So I have changed it so the if the group split fails, the entire group can still make a normal move if it rolled more than required for a normal move (a 1+ but their are a fee modifier than sometimes make this worse).

Game 07 - Early Carthage Vs Pyrrhic (Day 8 - Saturday)
I don't think I have ever used the Early Carthage chariots before.  I have 10 but only two make it to the table :-(
Note: Carthaginians chariots should not be impetuous - this is a leftover from when I had them as heavy chariots.

Carthaginians (left) Vs Pyrrhic (right)

The Pyrrhic general meleeing some Carthaginian spears and Hoplites.

The end.  Not many Pyrrhic forces left.
The Carthaginian General was routed and two other units routed in sympathy.  So the Carthaginians went from 0 breakpoints to 7.  One more and they lose. The Pyrrhic army is on 0 breakpoints  On the Pyrrhic turn they rolls three 1's in a row for combats.  This routs a phalanx, a unit of Hoplites and the general for a total of 8 breakpoints and the Pyrrhic army loses the game.  Talk about snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!

My daughter helped roll the dice in this game and the last and insisted on a photo.
No lessons learnt - everything worked fine for the game.

Game 08 - Early Byzantium Vs Merovingian Franks (Day 8 - Saturday)
I get the Byzantines out again - woo-hoo!  And I obtained some Carolingian Franks (close enough to Merovingian) that I have been wanting to use for about three years and have never hit my table.  So more figures from my collection that get out from the cupboard for the first time.
First off I note I have made the Byzantine cavalry impetuous when they should not be, especially as they are armed with bows.  So ignore the impetuous.

Byzantines (left) Vs Franks (right)

General on general action - the Byzantine general routs.
A Byzantine warband gets into combat and I think - "what is it doing there?"  I check against the army list (as above) and it is not listed.  And the Byzantines cannot have them either.  I think I may have got this base out planning on using them on the Frankish side but them decided against it but did not put it back and it somehow ended up with the Byzantine force.  and I did not notice until now! I kept playing with it as a warband.

Rogue warband (centre) in the Byzantine battleline

Byzantines lost.  The +2 Frankish command does mean that you have to rout well over half with only a few units on the table.  While I thought it was going to be a walkover for the Franks after the first two turns, the Byzantines managed to destroy two units before succumbing.

Lessons - none.

Game 09 - Viking Vs Carolingian Franks (Day 9 - Sunday)
More Franks on the table, and the Vikings again.  I am really enjoying getting some little used figures out onto the table.

Vikings (left) Vs Franks (right)
Frankish right flank zone orders changed from ATTACK to RUSH.  The latter is an all out charge, that suited the Franks just fine.

The rushing Frankish cavalry.

The Franks easily won on the flanks, and the left flank turned to roll up the Viking battleline but rolled badly.  The Vikings were close to army breaking and only one Frankish cavalry unit lost.  The battlelines clashed and two units went down the Viking onslaught.  Then one more Viking unit was lost and a victory to the Franks.  It was a close game again.

Lessons: none

Game 10 - Parthia Vs Late Republican Roman (Day 9 - Sunday)
Well,this should be a good test for the rules - I haven't done Parthians before.  I think they will walk over the Romans. Especially as they are command +2 so the Romans have to rout most of the Parthians.

Persians (left) Vs Romans (right).  Romans leave their left flank blank.

I acquired these in the mid-1990s and are some of my favourite figures (Sasanian cataphracts standing in as Parthians).

Some of the "Parthian" miniatures.

Just before the main lines clash in the centre.

Cataphracts surround the Romans.  Both Generals at the right. 
Parthian General routs the Roman general and pursues into the other Roman unit. 

Other Roman unit routed.  Game over.

End game - the Romans have 3 units at the top left.
The Parthians won fairly easily due to poor tactics selected by the Romans..  If I was not using the programmed opponent I would have grouped the Romans in one flank and headed for the hill.  Sounds a little like what they did 2000 years ago.

Game 11 - Old Kingdom Egyptian Vs Nubian (Day 10 - Monday)
I realise I have no Old Kingdom Egyptians figures and so am using Middle Kingdom.  I also only have about a dozen Nubian bases, mostly skirmisher with javelins.  For Nubians, I have fleshed them out with Assyrian archers.
For this game,the Nubians have four commands they can deploy so deploy their right and centre as one command and three commands in the flank attack - three lines!  Archers to break it up, warriors that have to charge and then the final followup line.  I may have overdone it. The Nubians non-archers are poorer than the opposing spear/axe warriors and need flanks or to keep hitting them with successive waves.  The latter takes time they may not have. Note: this nearly worked.

The Egyptian left wing deploys on an angle so it can fit.  It moves for one turn, wheel in the next and then be out of the archers way.

Nubians (left) Vs Egyptians (right)
This may not be the easiest to explain  but Nubian left flank moves up and the Egyptian right flank moves up to within about 6cm.   Next turn archers fire and one Egyptian Spearmen is disordered but rest advance.  The archers retreat and are followed up.  Archers are routed but the ensuing pursuit for the Spearmen (the Axemen fail to pursue) brings the Nubian warriors into range who charge at the lone Egyptian.  It is depleted and retreats, one the the warriors pursues into the Axemen and the depleted Spearmen.

Halfway though a single turn on the Nubian left flank.  Egyptians are charging the  Nubian warriors after routing the screening archers
The Nubian warrior is depleted and retreats, the two Egyptians pursue into the Nubian warriors and the melee ends with all four disordered and a continuing melee.   All this based on reactions and die rolls.  I know I keep saying up but this is what I designed the game to do - be a great solo game and give lots of narrative to the game.

End of the turn and units are all in melee and disordered.

End.  Note the archer lines never moved.
The Nubian plan worked on their left flank and they managed to clear the Egyptians.  But the Egyptians cleaned up the Nubian right flank. The Nubians have lost more units and it only took the Egyptian general to destroy a couple more before the entire Nubian army broke.  It was close again. Neither line of archers moved, although the Nubian line had the potential do do so under their orders. They were evenly matched and it would have been a crap shoot.

Game 12 - Early Indian Vs Early Archemenid Persia (Day 11/12 - Tuesday/Wednesday)

Persians (left) Vs Early Indians (right)

The Indian General on the elephant, all ready to roll over the right flank. 

End - the Indians have done well on the flanks.
The Indians won.  I did not think they would manage it.  A lot of 6's on the Indian side, and a string of 1's when the Persians rolled saw 4 units go down, enough to break the Persians.  While the Indians won on one flank, it was only two units.  Thee other flank could have gone either way and really the Persians should have been able to roll up the Indian light infantry line.  But alas poor rolling saw a Sparabara go down to missile fire.  Very difficult to do - against Sparabara there is about a 1/18 chance of routing one purely by missile fire, assuming the target needs to be a single unit or it cannot really be done. So not often.

12 games down - how is it going?
It has been incredibly useful to get back to using these rules.  I feel the rules are cohesively coming together to provide a very fast solo friendly ruleset for 2'x2' (can you get any more niche that that :-) ). There have been a few changes to the rules and a tightening of the programmed opponent.  After 12 games I am being lulled into thinking that after 30 games the rules may be as close to final as they are ever going to get for 3000BC to 1000AD. Army lists I can see tinkering with forever but will publish the 80 or so I have done at the end of the 80 games.  Back in reality, I am bound to find something while replaying the Peter Sides ancient scenarios - indicating I should stop being lazy and do some more of them!  I am not finding it too hard to find the time to play one game a day but I have had to give up some other things. My ancients wargaming mojo is definitely back. Although when reviewing the blog,the games are becoming a blur! I am enjoying each game - most are very close, tons of fun and I am getting out loads of miniatures that have never been pushed around on a table.


  1. Fantastic, great work Shaun! 12 in 12 is an incredible feat; keep it going, I gotta see 30 in 30 to believe it!

    I was thinking of trying something similar (after Team Whiskey), but no way, it's too much. My hat is off to you!

    So, when you finish your rules and are ready to unleash them on the world, you need to include a primer that explains what the heck all those different troop types are, their capabilities, and what they're used for. You know, so guys that don't know anything about this stuff can get into this type of gaming ;)

    Along those lines, do you remember those 10mm guys I had back in my "For My Buddies" post? Would they work for this kind of stuff? I can picture you laughing at me; stop it! I know nothing of this old stuff...


    1. Oh, and the little one is too cute!


    2. Hello Jack,

      It is getting easier to play the games - I have a well worked system now for getting the figures off the table and choosing the ones for the next battle. It is also getting easier as I am refamiliarising myself with my ancients collection, and so easier to grab the figures I need. it is just over an hour a game spread out over the day. About half the battles have been played over multiple sessions as it is easy to grab 5-10 minutes here and there than 30 minutes in one go. I know you don't do this but I am finding it quite easy, probably due to the small number of units and the fact units are always activated right to left,

      10mm would work fine, and work fine with most rules. I am not sure my rules would be the best introduction to ancient gaming. Other rules also have better primers - there is a very good one out for DBA (very popular ruleset and worth trying) that is also an ancients wargaming primer as well.

      My daughter is about to turn 9 and I think I may be in for 10 years of pain :-) But you never know!.

    3. Shaun,

      Cool, I gotcha. Yeah, going upstairs on school/work nights is likely to get me strung up by The Missus. Pretty cool that you're able to make it work for you. I've got to settle on a few hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. ;)

      And you must be joking about your daughter! My daughter turns 9 at the end of this month. Pain is definitely in our future...


    4. The map drawers where I play are in the lounge/TV room. So while my wife it watching TV, I am less than 10ft away. It also makes it easy to grab 10 mins as I can just pop in from the kitchen or wherever for the short time as a quick break.

      Yeah, i know we are in for a world of pain. I just like to think I am in denial :-)

    5. I need a mobile tray that I can wheel in an out of the living room. Game table on top, storage for minis, dice, and rules below.

      Regarding pain, I just try to pretend she'll always stay eight years old...


    6. I have never thought of a moobile tray - that is a really good idea if I did not have the map drawers. I also have a foldaway antique side table (with two flaps on either side) that becomes either 3'x5' or 3'x3'. I've used that a few times for gaming but it has just become the children's homework table.

  2. I was introduced to your Ancient Battles Clash rules on Facebook today. I am particularly interested in Dark Ages and have printed your Late Anglo Saxons list and I see that you have Vikings here. Have you put the army list for them somewhere, please?
    Welsh and Scots would also be handy for fighting Late Anglo Saxons :0)

    1. I have done the Vikings just recently but not published them yet. I also have Saxon and Picts done but not Scot or Irish (although they are in the backlog). i will add Welsh to the list to do. I will see if I can get time in the next week or two to publish the new lists, at the moment the ones I have done are in a spreadsheet. Worst case is they are published when I finish playing the 30 games in about 2 weeks.

    2. I have just updated the army lists and they have Welsh, Scots and Vikings in them now.

  3. Thanks for that Shaun. I have printed the rules off and am reading the solo stuff now.