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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Cats on Ice

Nothing to do with wargaming but a reminder that last winter the cats walked on water

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Play testing the new Die is Cast rules

The background to this is that I have been working on an updated version of my Die Is Cast rules, which have been more or less a hobby project for me since they were first published back in 1992. You may never have heard of them but in those 20 years thousands of copies have been sold and more downloaded as pdfs. But the time has come to make them into a commercial set with points based army lists and different gaming mechanisms.

The major change is the combat system, originally the rules used combat factors that you referred to a chart to work out the number of casualties. Now it is dice rolls, D12's to be precise which give you twice as many possibilities than a D6. So with one die roll, you work out if an enemy figure has been killed. There is still a chart, with modifiers that tells you what you need to roll (roll that number or less to kill) but the numbers are few and simple. You could even remember them (not me, I have a very poor memory). Everything is taken into account, the weapon being used and the type of target.

Simple army lists are also in production and this game was a full dress rehearsal with equally pointed armies.
So 1000 point game fought between Later Macedonians and Republican Romans. Every army gets a standard 2/2 general for free. The numbers refer to the generals command/combat abilities, each of which can range between 1 to 4. 2/2 is a middle of the road commander.

We used 15mm figures simply because they are easier to from car to gaming area. In this case we played at Portcullis in Bolton.
An important part of these rules is that moves are simultaneous. Both players move, shoot and fight at the same time.

The Macedonian army was
6 Agema cavalry (guard heavies with lances) 90 points
2x 6 Greek heavy cavalry (javelins, sword) 116 points
2x 6 Greek light cavalry (javelins, sidearms) 98 points
3x 16 Macedonian veteran pikes (pike, medium armour, shield) 270 points
2x 12 peltasts (long spear, javelins, shield) 140 points
2x 12 Galatian fanatics (javelins, sword, shield, fanatics) 170 points
2x 12 mixed skirmishers (half with bow, half with javelin, shield) 92 points
Total 976 points

Roman army
6 Roman heavy cavalry (heavy, javelin, sword, shield) 76 points
6 Italian heavy cavalry upgraded to veterans (heavy, javelin, sword, shield) 76 points
3x 6 Numidian cavalry (javelins, sidearms, shield, elite shots) 183 points
3x 6 velites (LI, javelins, sidearm, shield) 102 points
6x 12 Hastati/Princepes heavy infantry (pila, sword, shield) 504 points
6 Cretan archers (bow, sidearm, shield, elite shots) 40 points
Total 951 points

All pictures can be clicked on for a larger image. Photographs were taken with a Nikon Ixus 100, which I find great for wargames shots, very tolerant of poor lighting.

The Macedonian army deployed, see light cavalry on the left, pikes and heavy cavalry in the centre and light troops on the right.

The Roman left, Numidians in front, screening the two units of heavy cavalry in March column - that was the only way I could represent it by facing the cavalry to the side

Roman center, two lines of legionaries with velites in front

And the Roman right. Numidian cavalry and Cretan archers

Numidians advance on Roman left

Galatians and Macedonian lights advance on Roman right

An overall view

OK some examples of shooting. For all combat you roll a D12 for each pair of figures shooting/fighting. You need to roll equal or under the number needed to score a hit. In this case 6 Cretan archers fire at long range against advancing Galatians and need 3's to hit. The 3 dice show you what was rolled (10, 8, 5) no hits.

In the centre both sides are advancing behind light troops - there is going to be some shooting here but more on that later.

Macedonian archers (in the rear rank) try a shot against the Numidian cavalry. Their chances are poor and they need 1's to hit and get one.

Cretans against the advancing Galatians, remember need 3's to hit. Get a 2 and a 3 for two hits.

(back to events in the centre) Velites need 2's to hit the light cavalry. Nothing.

The cavalry need 3's to hit, get lucky and hit twice. The velites tested their morale and promptly fled.

The remaining velite unit only has 2 figures in range and with a 12 misses completely.

Here the Numidian cavalry in the centre (circled red) charged the Macedonian cavalry (circled blue) who failed their morale test and fled. Very close to some other Roman Numidian cavalry (red line) who will be shooting at them later in the turn.

The Galatians are getting closer to the Cretans with 2 of the Cretans firing at medium range, they now need 5's to hit but the base at long range still needs a 3. They get 2 hits and the Galatians have taken (including from previous turns) a total of four hits. Because the figures are on multiple figure bases, they were based for DBM, we use dice to mark the hits. The Macedonian player will now take a base of 3 figures off and leave a white die with a one to show the extra hit remaining.

The Numidians fire at the fleeing Greek light cavalry, needing 5's with two bases at short range and 7's with the base that is at long range. All three hit and hopefully that makes it harder for the Greeks to rally.

A bit more shooting from the Greek archers in the rear rank. Still need 1's to hit but they get two hits and the Numidians fail their morale and flee. Now to explain morale for light troops, it is fast and brutal. Throw 1 D6 for every 6 figures that your unit started with, you must roll under the numbers of figures left in the unit to be OK, otherwise you flee. So the Numidians roll 6 (white die) and with only 4 figures left, they break. There are a few modifiers to change the die roll but nothing to help the Numidians here, so they are gone.

Now the Macedonians charge with their guard cavalry in the centre (circled blue) and with the Galatians on the Roman right (blue line). However the guard cavalry had already taken 2 hits from earlier shooting and was so down to 4 figures and is just about to be hit by shooting from the Numidians and the velites as the charge in.

The guard cavalry take 3 more hits from shooting and must take a morale test. Now we allow regular units to throw 4 D6 for a morale test and choose 1 die to discard (normal units use 3 dice for their morale tests which are more complex than those for light troops). Well the Macedonians rolled 3 1's and a 2. So even with the best will in the world that was a bad die roll and the choice did not help much. And with 80% losses the Macedonian cavalry broke and fled.

On the Roman left, Roman cavalry trade javelins with the Greek peltasts. The Romans cause 2 casulaties, whilst the peltasts needing 4's with the front rank firing (white dice) and 3's with the rear rank (red dice) get 5 hits and inflict 80% losses on the Roman cavalry in round of shooting. Roman cavalry break and run.

Now on to our first melee (the Macedonian guard cavalry did not fight, they were broken by shooting before fighting). The Roman legionaries throw their pila before fighting the combat, this is still counted as part of the melee. They need 6's to hit with the front rank (red dice) and 5's with the rear rank (blue and purple dice). They roll 6 hits and then fight with their swords.

With swords, both sides inflict 2 wounds apiece. But the pila hits also count toward combat and  that makes it 4 to 1 in the Romans favour. With half of the unit gone and massively beaten in melee, even the Galatians broke.

The Roman legionaries took a morale test, to try not to pursue the fleeing Galatians (6, 2x5, 4) but even dropping the 6, the temptation was too much and they chased after the Galatians.

After the pursuit move

On the Roman left the Italian cavalry charged the peltasts, with the Numidians joining in on the flank. They won the combat and broke through the peltasts wiping them out. This was obviously wrong and will result in a change to the rules. If you have cavalry capable of breaking through infantry from multiple directions, in future players will only be allowed the choice of one lot of cavalry.

Numidian cavalry hit the flank of the pike block (next to the peltasts), beat them and broke through them, forcing the surviving pikes to retreat. Now the Macedonian right was a great big hole.

And another over-view of the battle.

If you have any questions, please ask.

What's next? Well one more game, once we are happy that the game can be played with no more rule changes then it will go out to a blind-test group who have never seen the rules before. Comments from them can be used to make the game suitable for people to buy it off the shelf.

And whilst other people are testing the rules - instead of me - I will be writing up army lists which will be up on the internet for free download. There will also be historical scenarios for those who would like to play games based on actual historical battles (which was the intention of the rules when I first wrote them).

Friday, 6 April 2012

Battle of Magnesia 190BC as a game

Another of my old games where I took photos using a real camera and scanned them to get digital images - so sorry for the quality.
The pictures are linked to larger versions, so for more detail, just click on a picture.
This is one of my favourite battles to re-fight as the victory conditions are simply beat the enemy and sides are balanced enough that you don't need anything other than that simple plan.
For a bit of the history of the battle, see
The historical deployment for the battle is as follows,

With the Romans on the left, Seleucid's on the right.
”In anticipation of the battle, Antiochus set up an entrenched camp protecting the approach to Sardis and his fleet base at Ephesos. According to both Livy and Appian, he posted his 16.000 strong phalanx, armed in the Macedonian fashion in the center in brigades (taxeis) of 1.600 men, 50 men wide and 32 men deep. He ordered intervals to be formed among the taxeis in which he placed 2 elephants each. On the right wing, next to the phalanx, he arrayed 1500 Gallograecian infantry, 3.000 Galatian mail clad cavalry (cataphracti) and 1.000 agema cavalry, his royal household guards. Behind them he kept 16 elephants in reserve. Next to the agema, he placed a cavalry corps Livy calls argyraspides, 200 or 1.200 Dahae horse archers, 3.000 Cretan and Trallean light infantry, 2.500 Mysian bowmen, Cyrtian slingers and Elymaean archers. On the left, Antiochus arrayed another 1.500 Gallograecian infantry, according to Appian men from the tribes of the Tectosagi, the Trocmi and the Tolistoboii, 2.000 Cappadocians similarly armed and a miscellaneous force of 2.700. Next to them, he posted 1.000 heavy horsemen, the Companions, 3.000 more cataphracti and probably another 1.000 men of the agema. In front of them, he placed the scythed chariots and a unit of dromedary, camel-borne Arab archers. His left wing was completed with a corps of Tarentines, 2.500 Gallograecian cavalry, 1.000 newly enlisted Cretans, 1.500 Carians and Cilicians similarly armed, and the same number of Tralles. Then came 4000 peltasts, Pisidians, Pamphylians and Lydians, next to these Cyrtian and Elymaean troops equal in number to those on the right wing, and finally sixteen elephants a short distance away. Antiochus retained command of the horse on the right wing in person; his son Seleucus and his nephew Antipater commanded the left. Philip, the master of the elephants, commanded the phalanx, and Mendis and Zeuxis the skirmishers.
The Romans arrayed in their customary triple line formation with their left wing resting on the river. The Roman reinforced legions occupied the center of this formation and the Latins, the Ally legions, on their wings. In all, there were 20.000 men of the legion. Behind them, Scipio held his 16 elephants in reserve, fully aware that the African elephants could not face the larger Indian stock on equal terms. On the right Scipio placed the allied Pergamenese army under Eumenes and the Achaean peltasts, 3.000 in all to cover the flank of the legions. Next to them he placed his cavalry, nearly 3.000 strong, 800 of them Pergamenese, the rest legionary cavalry. According to Livy, in the extreme right he posted the Trallian and Cretan horsemen, each body numbering 500 troopers, but most probably, these are the light troops and archers named by Appian to be intermingled among the cavalry. Livy also mentions 2.000 Macedonian and Thracian volunteers, who are left to guard the Roman camp. Domitius was stationed with 4 squadrons of cavalry on the right wing, Scipio kept command of the center and gave command of the left to Eumenes.”

However in our game the commanders were given full freedom to deploy how they liked. We played on a 11 foot by 6 foot table using a figure to man ratio of 1:40. Since my units are normally organised on a 1:20 ratio, I just halved the number of units, example we only used one Roman and one Italian legion instead of the 2 of each actually present in the real battle. Battle was fought using my own Die Is Cast ancient rules. The white plastic curtain rings are used to indicate individual casualties on multi-figure bases.So on the game day the deployment looked like this

Quite historical with both Roman legions in front of their camp and the allied forces on their right. The Seleucids however chose to mass all their cataphracts on their left (the Roman right), not to put elephants amongst the pikes (historically the elephants had stampeded and disrupted the pike phalanx) and on their right was a fairly weak wing of light troops and cavalry.

The Roman legions advance in the centre and on the left.

On the Roman left the velites drive back the poor quality Seleucid light troops, clearing the way for the legions to advance.

On the Roman right, the Seleucid cataphracts advance, seemingly unstoppable.

But the Roman (and allied cavalry) fall back in front of the cataphracts throwing javelins and getting round their flanks. The Roman cavalry commander adopted a cunning tactic of engaging the cataphracts - in combats he knew he could not win - and then attacking the cataphracts in the flank as they pursued his fleeing cavalry. It was a fantastic delaying tactic and it worked, breaking up the units of cataphracts and buying time for the legions to defeat the pike phalanx.

The cataphracts are in a hopeless mess. In the middle left of this picture you will see some cataphracts in melee with the Roman allied elephants, that must have hurt. And just below that some cataphracts have actually broken and are being pursued by Roman cavalry. In most places however the cataphracts have just got bogged down in fruitless fighting. This was basically the end for the Seleucid's, the cataphracts should have been used to break through the Roman legions (as happened in the real battle). By massing in one (and the wrong) place the Seleucid players allowed the Romans to stop their potential battle-winning force.

On the Roman left, a legion has swept away the Seleucid troops and whilst keeping up the pressure, a few units of legionaries have been used to attack the flank of the Seleucid pike phalanx. The Italian legion is holding off from attacking the pikes basically acting as support to their velites, who are harassing the phalanx.

The extreme left of the Roman line.

And you can see here the Seleucid centre is going to crumble under the Roman attack, basically game over.