Sunday, 13 March 2022

Battle of Carrhae 53BC using Ancient Battlelines Clash - Gridded

This is game 58 in play testing my ancient rules by replaying historical battles.  But there are a lot of changes in my rules between game 57 a few months ago and now.  In summary, they are new rules! With the major changes being a)  plays on a 12x12 square grid b) no disorder so no markers c) Still 1d6 rolled for movement, missile and combat but results are framed similar to  DBA combat outcomes, compared to my old rules that has a list of die modifiers.  This produces a game that flows much better as there are fewer exceptions in the rules.  I have a very dense 1 page QRS and am in the process of writing up the rules. I have playtested them over the last month or so on about 15 (historical battles) games so far.  This did generate some changes but they were unchanged for the last four games so think it is time to continue playing the Peter Sides replays.  The rules are called Ancient Battlelines Clash Gridded (ABCG). Still aim for a less than 30 minute game. While not the same as the old ABC, they aim to produce similar results with similar command and control constraints and missile/melee outcomes.

I have attempted gridding my own previous rules a few times always unsuccessfully.  For grids, I found I needed to use the retire/overlap mechanisms from DA to make it work so I started with those rules and them changed them so much they only have a passing resemblance to DBA.  No PIPS – roll to move a group/unit, overlaps work differently, units are a bit different in combat values and combat outcomes, and combat is a single d6 rather than opposed rolls. 

For this game, I bought a 50cmx50cm square carpet tile and divided it up into 12x12 squares.  This produced 42mm squares that are great for my 40mm base for 15mm figures.  I did not want to mark up my 60m tables in case I decide to go back to non-gridded rules.

Battle of Carrhae
Crassus and his Roman legions are trapped in Parthian territory against a very mobile Parthian enemy.



6 legions, HI
2 Auxilia, LI
4 Allied cavalry, LC
1 Baggage train/Camp (movement 1)
1 leader
Breapoint: 9


1 Cataphracts, CAT
10 Light Cavalry, LC
2 leaders
Breakpoint: 7

Scenario changes
All I really did was scale down the forces so they will fit on a 2’x2’ table.



Note: The Light Cavalry will be at a -1 disadvantage Vs the legions but will force the legions to retire on a 6, else the Light Cavalry themselves retire or recoil. The Cataphracts are at +1 to the legions and will rout them on a 4, 5, or 6.

The game begins and the Parthians all successfully charge in.

All make contact

The first combat sees a legion recoil, the second sees a Parthian Light Cavalry flee.
The Cataphract destroys a legion.  All the 2:1 Parthian Light Cavalry Vs Roman Light Cavalry sees the Roman allied cavalry rout.

After the Parthian turn.

The Romans do a bit of reorganising but there is not a lot they can do in the short term.  The Light Infantry turn. They do manage to get an overlap on the Cataphracts and force it to retire.

Roman legions (and Crassus) Vs the Cataphracts.

The Parthians move to get as many overlaps as possible.  One Light Cavalry also manages to break through a gap and end up behind Crassus.

Crassus is surrounded.

Overview at end of Parthian move

It was never going to end well, Crassus’s legion routs in the subsequent melee.  Crassus is captured or killed.  The entire Roman army reaches their breakpoint and rout 

Rule changes

Well, fast.  But it was never going to be a draw out affair with these rules and also a very one-sided affair.  The Light Cavalry rules worked better than I thought.  I do like them do far and so will hopefully write them up properly and play some more. Other games with heavy infantry on each side will last longer Note: I do have some 6mm historical Early Middle East games lined up using the same rules so hopefully will get even more testing. 


  1. An unusual battlefield situation, which is always useful for stretching rules play testing.

    1. I went into to playing this battle with trepidation. Even though I had played a bunch of games before, none with a lot of light cavalry. As you say, a very useful test.

  2. I will look forward to seeing the grid based rules. I like grids....

    1. I didn't put in in a post but it was you and Dale (from Dale's Wargaming blog) that this time gave me the impetus to try it out. I think on the last game I posted (December?) you mentioned you liked grids, and Dale and I had a conversation about overlaps Vs non-overlaps for melee. This conspired for me to think about trying out DBSA with grids, as I have been meaning to for about 10 years. I ended up doing a Frankenstein and ended up with these rules instead :-)

  3. Interesting; how did the odds in the light cavlry vs light cavalry match-up work? plus, is the point of the overlaps as in DBx, to change recoil results into eliminations? And how does the overlap change the odds?

    1. To answer that question, quick rundown on combat: Attacker (the unit of the player's who's turn it is) rolls 1d6 and adds/subtracts modifiers. 4+ results applies to defender, 3 or less results applies to attacker. A 4-6 is like a DBA 1/2 or more than half for the defender. a 7 or more is like less than 1/2 for the defender. Same stuff for 1-3 and 0 or less for the attacker A 4-6 (or 1-3 for attacker) sees a LC retire. A 7+ (and 0 or less for attacker) sees it destroyed by mounted or missile armed units, else flee. As LC are mounted, it will be destroyed rather than flee on these results. Attacking overlaps add 1 to the die, defending overlaps subtract one (similar to DBA). Overlaps on rear will convert recoils to destroyed. Overlaps on the flanks will only convert recoils into destroyed if the primary attacker chosen (i.e. and using that combat factor) was the flank unit.

      Note for all but light units e.g. LC and LI, a modified result of 3 or 4 is to stay in place (continue melee). It is only light units where a modified result of 3 or 4 will have a unit retire.

      Still writing up the rules in detail. My QRS is quite dense and makes too many assumptions to share and be useful, or I would post it!

    2. Thanks Shaun, that makes it all clear.

  4. Really interesting game/write-up. Carrhae is a great battle to use as a test with it's combination of quality troops in a vulnerable position against a mobile foe. A specific set of circumstances that will test the general that a set of rules needs to be. Sounds like yours came out really well!
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James. I am not sure the battle would have worked with my older rules but it seemed to go fine with these new ones.