Sunday, 25 October 2015

30 games in 30 days - game 30 in detail and reflection

This is game 30! 30 days ago I set out 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.
Game 1 to 5 here.
Games 6 to 12 here.
Game 13 to 18 here.
Games 19 to 23 here.
Game 24 to 29 here.

The other games are a bit of a dry read, just highlighting start and end with some notes on lessons learnt.  This game 30 report is different - a decent battle report and a focus on how the programmed opponent works. but is is very long with lots of detail.

You would think I would be relieved to finish but not really - it was gaming and did not take *that* much effort, and so it is more like the passing of something interesting.  There are lots of other projects to keep me going!

Game 30  Early Britain Vs Early Imperial Rome  (Day 30 - Sunday)
At last I can get out the early Imperial Rome figures I thought I was going to use back in Game 1.  I acquired this DBM army  about 3 years ago and have not managed to get around to using them.  So at least a few of them will get out of the cupboard for a little while.


I will briefly go through the deployment.  I have written a ugly spreadsheet that automatically generates each side and their deployment. Just hit the button and this is was is generated.

I have noticed another error in that the Roman Auxiliary Archers should have a Combat value of 1, not 2.  Another error in the army list spreadsheet to fix.

The top is the units for each army and the overall army tactics that influences deployment.

Unit types
Aux Chariot = Medium Chariot
Aux Cavalry = Heavy Cavalry
Bat Inf = Heavy Infantry
Aux Inf = Medium/Peltast infantry
Sk anything - Skirmishers

At this scale of the game, slings act like bows and so that is why the Slingers have "bow" next to them.  The army lists don't differentiate between slings and bows, other than the name of the unit type. One day I may fix this...

The one pager also shows the army command rating (0 to 2, the default being 0). Both at r+1 meaning the general has a greater command distance, and each side is a little harder to break.

In thee army tactics case, the British have Envelop Flanks and the Romans have Centre. From the rules:

Envelop flanks
Attack with both flanks at high speed while holding the centre.

Deployment guidelines
40% in the centre
30% on each flank

Initial zone orders
Centre: Probe (optionally Wait on a die roll of 5-6)
Flanks: Attack

For armies with less than 11 units, may optionally decrease the centre to 20-30% and fill flanks equally (die roll of 1-4).

The army’s faster units, e.g. mounted, should be deployed on the flanks.

Attack with the centre units with the aim to break the enemy’s centre.  Flank units are held back to protect the forward flanks of the centre units.  Centre will advance at high speed.  Flanks advance and only engage to protect the centre.

Deployment guidelines
60% in centre including over two-thirds of non-light units and a skirmish screen (if available)
20% on each flank

Initial zone orders
Centre: Attack
Flanks: Probe

For armies with less than 11 units, may optionally not fill a flank with units (die roll of 1-2) and put all on the major flank (non-terrain side if there is one).

Setting up for battle
The defender chooses a table edge to deploy and the terrain is randomly determined based on the defender's terrain type.  The attacker moves first.

The bottom left of the random game sheet is the table split into 9 squares.  There is a stream (the == ) that has a 1 in 6 chance of appearing.

The 2'x2' table in the map drawer. British will deploy on the left, Romans on the right.

The bottom right is the deployment options with the Attacker (A) and Defender (D) deployment zone and the percentage of units in each grid square (%) as per the army tactics.  It also has the initial zone order (listed next in order of most aggressive to least) - Rush (R), Attack (A), Probe (P), Wait (W), Hold (H), Delay (D). Or  It also shows if the general in the zone is cautious (c) or rash (r).  Cautious generals are more likely to go to less risky orders, while rash generals will tend to increase to more aggressive orders. There is about a 1/12 chance per turn of a zone changing orders.  However, no cautious or rash generals were generated (about a 1 in 6 chance for each deployment zone)..

Besides the army tactics description there are some general guidelines for where to place units but at this stage it is really up to the player to place units subject to the constraints of the army tactics.

There is no process to deploy a specific unit into a specific place.  It could be done specifically on a army by army basis, using the army tactics as a guide but that is a lot of work!  I may do it sometime for some of my favourite armies (emphasis on the *may*).

British deployment
14 units equates to about 4 on each flank and 6 in the centre. With envelop flanks I will have each flank with 1 Aux Chariot (Medium chariot), 1 Skirmisher Cavalry, a warband and a skirmisher.  I will put the general attribute (who should be placed in an attacking square) on the left flank on the warband as I have a general unit I have not used for awhile. The rest go into the centre.  The fanatics will go closer to the general, just to make that half of the deployment a bit stronger.
The +1 command means they can deploy in 4 groups but their is not much reason to do so with the heavier units so the 2 unit skirmish line in the centre is the 4th group.
Note that the warband units are all 3 figures to a base (like DBM Warband(O)) but my rules recommend 4 to a base.  It does not really matter, and I have not got these 3 figures to a base warbands out in this 30 game series.

The British deployed.

Roman deployment
The Romans only have a few units compared to the British but with a centre attack they still have enough frontage to cover three squares, with only really 1 unit in each of the flanks.  So I place the Aux Cavalry on the right flank with the auxiliaries next to them, the four legionaries in the centre and the archers and Light auxiliaries on the left centre and left flank.  Again, I could deploy in 4 groups but do not.  Legionaries are drilled so can wheel and move and so do not really need the smaller groups for manoeuvre.  The centre goes in front of the Woods as it is not a great place for them to be in.

The Romans deployed

Zone orders
In this game, there are only two starting zone orders - (A) Attack and (P) Probe for each deployment square.  Again, from the rules:


Applies to all units except does not need to apply to a reserve that is not under distinct turn orders. 
  • Impetuous and non-bow shock troops must charge, otherwise advance towards the enemy. Units with general or disciplined may roll mandatory charge.
  • Non-missile armed units must charge if within 4cm into a favourable melee; otherwise advance to within 4cm of the enemy if against a favourable combat possibility; or full distance if end 4cm or further; or to 4cm if cannot get within 4cm or unfavourable combat.
  • Missile units and skirmishers attempt to advance to within range of enemy or fire if in range.  Missile units will charge if within 4cm (8cm shock missile) into favourable melees.


  • Impetuous troops must charge but must roll for mandatory charge, otherwise advance at least ½ towards the enemy the enemy.
  • Non-bow shock act as non-missile units with Attack zone orders.
  • Other Non-missile armed units otherwise advance to within 4cm of the enemy if within 8cm else advance to  greater than 8cm from enemy if greater than 8cm from enemy..
  • Missile units and skirmishers advance to within range of enemy or fire if in range; battle infantry charge into favourable melees within 4cm.
Probe is similar to Attack except that probe is a little more cautionary.

Note there are some guidelines that may limit a unit advances such as they can advance to support other units, may stay together to advance as a line, limit advance to not overshoot main attack zone etc.

The table with the deployed armies

Playing the game
Possible change in zone orders is optional.  I am still uncertain of it value add to the game.  I am leaning to not using it anymore in my games but have been using it to playtest so will do so for this game.  While rolling each zone as groups activate would lend some uncertainty, I so each sides three zones all at once.  No change of orders (there is roughly a 1 in 12 chance per zone per turn)

Game starts with the group on the attacker's - Roman's in this case - right. The Romans will try and smash the centre while delaying the flanks.  The Romans are unlikely to win on the flanks so the best they can hope for it\s to tie the flanks up.

The British have a zone order change for the centre zone from PROBE to HOLD.  In this case, HOLD slows down the centre advance to a maximum of 1/2 speed.  Not so bad.

The flanks advance as fast as they can and split off the skirmishers to operate independently.

After the Romans and then the British turn.

Romans continue the advance but on the left flank, with an exchange of missiles, manage to make the skirmish cavalry retreat.

British skirmisher retreats behind the rise after losing the missile contest with the slingers. The grey javelins indicate disorder.

The British turn sees their right flank orders change from ATTACK to RUSH (rush is advance as fast as possible and engage in melee where possible) that is what they do.

The reamining British right flank charge in and force the Romans to retreat.

Chariots have the up hill advantage and both the auxiliaries retreat.  The chariot does not pursue (rolled badly here).

On the British left flank, the chariots engage the cavalry.

The British left flank melee sees only disorder on both sides

Both are disordered (they have equal combat values).

Skirmish cavalry moves to the rear.  Not sure what it can do other than fire into the rear of the legionaries.

The Roman turn and they continue to advance the centre.

Right flank Roman cavalry rills a 6 that destroys the opposing British chariot.

The Roman cavalry rout the British chariot.

They pursue in the skirmishers that fire and then retreat through the warband, cavalry continues and in the subsequent melee the warband with the general retreats (Cavalry rolled a 6).  This also requires a general check but he is OK. Cavalry pursue again but they roll a 1 and retreat and are destroyed (previously the cavalry was supported by the Auxilia but after pursuit was not and so could suffer a bad result from a 1, which they did). Warband pursues but not enough to reach the Auxilia.
Note all of the above is generated by the reactions in the rules and die rolls.

Cavalry end up in combat with the British warlord

Roman centre charges the skirmishers, who fire for no effect, and retreat.

Legionary batteline advances to be very close

Three legionary units continue to advance (the 4th was not fired on and so dies not react).  Good rolling for the Romans sees 1 warband routed, the rest disordered.  The warband will be at a disadvantage next melee as they will not get the shock bonus.

Ancient battlelines clash :-) and one warband routed. 

It is here I stop worrying about zone orders and just play the best I can as most will be driven by reaction and local situation.

The British right flanks charges in off the rise.

The British right flank charge into the Auxilia again, and rout them both

Both disordered Auxilia are routed by the charging chariot, the latter also pursues.

The British Chariot pursues the routed Romans

The centre sees one warband routed, the general pursues, the skirmisher takes a shot for no effect.

Another warband routed and the general pursues.

British general charges into the Auxilia  but both disordered and melee continuation.

The British warlord charges the Auxiliaries and both are disordered.

In the centre, combat sees off the fanatics, and the other legionary unit finally gets to move into battle and routs the warband.

The blue shields advance into combat with the last warband and routs them.
This causes the British to reach their army breakpoint and they lose.  The Romans had lost 4 points (8 required to break the Romans).

The flanks were won by the British, but they lost completely in the centre and this was enough to see them lose.

End game.  Romans won.  The remaining Romans are circled.

Lessons (for this game)
I note in general that any woods generated always ends up on a deployment edge and not in the flank middle zone.  For warband armies, they would possibly choose an edge that allows them to advance into the woods where they have a combat advantage.  I will need to change the programmed opponent deployment rules for defender selection for warband armies that will select a defensive edge that is more likely to puts woods (if existing) in the centre three zones.  I am not going to playtest how well it works for warband armies to fight with woods on the table- I will wait for some historical battles to test combat in woods.  I have previously tested warbands fighting in woods and that was fine.

Lessons (for the 30 games)
I really enjoyed the play-testing. The rules hang together very well (my opinion of course!).  I cannot see much change to them in the future.  I do need to think about play-testing them for the period after 1000AD.  I do want to write some extended designer notes and also how to convert army lists from other rules. One day I may even convert the ugly spreadsheet into a database driven form solution (don't hold your breadth - I likely have spent hundreds of hours over the last 4 years on the excel spreadsheet and I can imagine it may be one hundred hours required to learn Access/Calc to implement).

I will do a last pass through the rules, tidy them up a little and move them from draft to a final version.  Not saying there will be changes in the future, but not for a while.

30 games in 30 days.  I think there were three days I did not play a game, and therefore three days I played two.  Although this is not strictly true, as about 25 of the games were not played in one sitting and so some carried over to the next day. Even though each game is about 30 minutes to play, most times it would be 5 or 10 mins here and there in an evening, and sometime a few minutes in the morning.  This did mean I missed taking some pictures, particularly around games 15-18 where I simply forgot to take pictures - I would deploy and then go off to make dinner or whatever.

I managed to get into a groove with the system of packing up the figures, putting them away and getting out the new ones, deploying, then playing the game and cycling back.  The stuff outside the actual playing I got down to about 30 minutes (setup and putting away, taking pictures, writing up some notes, looking up some references - especially for the Early medieval armies that are not very familiar to me).  What this means is that I found at least 30 hours in 30 days to do some wargaming.  Some stuff did slide - I have some blogs and emails to catch up on, housework and garden work suffered.  Time with my wife, Children time, socialising, my TV shows etc. did not slide at all.  So I can see where gaming fits into my priorities!  What I have learnt is I need to not procrastinate and play some of the Peter Side's ancient scenarios and other games I have wanted to play.  I should be able to manage one a week but more likely one a fortnight. so years of more gaming to come!

Revised rules timeline
Revised rules will be up within the week and the expanded army lists at the same time or maybe up to a week after.


  1. Quite an accomplishment - well done sir!

    1. Thanks Greg. I do not think I will be doing this sort of thing again for awhile!

  2. Congratulations, Shaun, it's a helluva feat! You are now officially a wargaming legend. Now you need to do the same thing with your modern Brits ;)

    Pretty cool to watch, thanks for sharing.


    1. Thanks Jack. Now I have finished this I can read your AARs (I am halfway through Team Whiskey 7). I am not going to play only ancients, and so do want to get back to both WW2 and modern 6mm. Stay tuned.

    2. Excellent man. It keeps making me think how I could attempt something similar, though much more modest (ten games in ten days, et al).