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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).


  1. I like the change from the casualty table to dice. I did start ancients with WRG 6th and what stopped me going on with ancients for 10 years was the casualty table! I find it hard to play rules with them now. I do have the 1992 verion the rules rules and the one thing that was stopping me play with them was the casualty table, so the change to dice will be good. I will acquire your rules when they are published and hopefully give them a go.

  2. Thank you for that. I am really hoping to make this a popular rule set. Simple as possible but with realistic results.

    I am also hoping to find a way to reward people who have bought previous versions of the rules, as it was interest from other gamers that has kept my interest in the rules alive.

  3. Just to let you know that the revised version of the Die Is Cast is available for play testing.