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Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Veni Vidi Vici website down

Don’t worry, its just moving to a new server. Emails are down as well.

OK situation is now getting better, website has been moved to a new sever and is being tidied up/checked for problems.

Emails are working again.

The VVV shop is now working again. Most of the functionality has been restored to the shop, most importantly the ability to shop on one page and then move to another page, whilst the cart remembers what you had just bought.

One thing is that the currency is not remembered and goes back to its default (pounds) on the change to another page. So just before you pay, make sure that the currency is set to the one that you want to use.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Quick Battle Report Late Romans vs Avars

A 1500 point battle using the Late Romans against one of the new lists, Avars. Using 6mm figures and played a Portcullis Wargames Emporium, Bolton.

The initial set-up, with the Romans on the far side of the table and the Avars nearest to us. At this point the Roman player said, are you sure that you got the points for those right? there being about three times as many Avars as Romans. We went through the lists and despite being upgraded (to Average morale class, from Raw) the Avars were precisely right, there are just rather a lot of them. So this was going to be a real test of the Die is Cast rules, can armies with such a huge imbalance in numbers fight a ‘fair and even’ game. The first point to note is that the Romans have clustered their army around a hill (top right of picture) stuffed the hill with archers and 4 pieces of artillery.


After movement on the first turn. A group of 4 units of Avar light cavalry and 2 units of heavy cavalry move to attack the hill.


After end of shooting on turn three. The Romans have moved out from the hill and have started shooting at the units of Avar light cavalry. The Avar have suffered one unit destroyed and another damaged.


After end of movement on turn 5. The Avars have lost the front two units of light cavalry to Roman shooting from the hill. In turn they have caused some casualties on the Roman archers and legionaries (between the edge of the table and the hill). the main force of Roman foot (two units of auxiliaries and two units of legionaries) supported by cataphracts and extra cavalry move to block the gap between two patches of scrub. Meanwhile the Avars are moving two units of Extra cavalry (the Avar nobles) through that gap. The Roman legions form shieldwall and get their javelins ready. Javelins instead of pila to give them a bit of distance firepower.


Same point in the game but this is the view of the whole armies. The Avar are trying to bring up the rest of their army, forming the infantry into columns of march to get there quicker (right side of picture). The Romans are using 4 units of light cavalry to delay the Avar advance but equally the Avar are using their light cavalry to try and push the Romans back. Both  sides are getting to bow range on the right.


On the sixth turn the Avar extra cavalry charges into the Roman legionaries and auxlia in the centre. The Romans attempted to charge as well but a cavalry charge negates an infantry charge so the Romans just stand and fire. The Avars will also shoot with their bows as they charge and then switch to lances for the combat. Behind the Avar cavalry are axemen (top of picture) and skirmishers (right of picture). Behind Romans (bottom right) are their cataphract cavalry.


In centre on the sixth turn, after shooting and combat. The Romans have held. The Avar shooting was incredible destroying an entire unit of auxila and severely damaging another. But the Romans held fast and took the cavalry charge, unfortunately the Roman javelins bounced ineffectively off the heavily armoured Avar cavalry.

But the combat was a draw! Although both sides were rolling 8 dice apiece (the Romans needing 3 or less, the Avars needing 6 or less) the result was 4 hits caused on each side. That completely destroyed another unit of Roman auxlia and inflicted 2 damage points on each of the Avar cavalry units (the black dice). So neither side had to test morale for losing the combat and the Romans had to test for seeing two of their units wiped out. But with good die rolls they held.


The Avar attack on the hill failed. Two of the units of light cavalry were destroyed by shooting, two broke and ran. One of the units of heavy cavalry was heavily damaged and the other unit tried to charge but failed its morale test and retreated instead. So that was the end of that attack.


Sorry no pictures of the end of the game but the Roman cataphracts charged one of the units of Avar extra cavalry and in the huge mixed melee that followed (2 units of Roman legionaries, a unit of cataphracts vs 2 units of Avar extra heavy cavalry) the Avar were heavily defeated (5:1) and both units of Avar cavalry fled. At that point we ended the game and all went to the pub.

Now there was still a lot of the Avar army left on the table. All that infantry which was steadily marching toward the Romans but I think that without the support of their own cavalry they would have been dead, outmanoeuvred and out-fought by the Roman. The big mistake (acknowledged by the Avar general) ) was not attacking all together. In effect the Avar infantry was not there on the table as it spent all its time marching to get to the Romans.

So yes its is possible in TDIC for a larger army to be defeated by a smaller one. Next time we will see if it works if the Avars play better.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Back to the Future with the Die is Cast ancient rules

This article explains how I started the Die is Cast rules back in 1992 and how I gradually designed the new version for 2012.

My initial experience with ancient wargaming started with the popular Wargames Research Group rules (WRG) in 1971. At the time they were fairly much the universal ancient wargames rules although of course there were other sets that had their own fans. But the spell was broken with the release of 7th edition WRG in 1986, a lot of people including myself did not like them and we simply carried on playing with WRG 6th edition. But my own interests were for refighting actual historical battles rather than the equal points games that you get on normal club nights. So in 1992 I developed my own set of rules, Alea Iacta Est (the die is cast) with the emphasis on refighting battles from history. A points system for these rules was a waste of time as real commanders just turned up with whatever troops they could muster, they were not interested in making a battle fair. And I introduced a few wrinkles of my own after the experience of using other rules, including Peter Gilders In the Grand Manner, Napoleonic rules.

So the original Alea Iacta Est had very much simplified morale rules for light troops, a combat result table as in the WRG rules but using decimal results (like the Newbury rules) so that players did not have to keep track of partial figure casualties if they did not want to, different melee systems for infantry and cavalry and generals of different effectiveness (Phil Barker likened it to ‘buying a pint of charisma’).

But times change, players expectations change as well, so it was time to re-vamp the Alea Iacta Est rules and develop a new edition. In fact over the years the rules had been tweaked, trying to improve what was already there but this time it was going to be a radical modification. Possibly what inspired the change this time was the fragmentation of the ancient rules market. Warhammer Historical had closed, new rules for 28mm individually based figures were being published and similarly for those people using element based armies, there were a number of different rules sets to choose from. The first thing was to realise what people wanted from their rules. Army lists were a definite must, most people will be playing an equal points game at their club or at a tournament, so if you want people to play, that option must be there. The next thing was the combat system, the old combat table was too complex for today’s gamers, what they want to do is roll the dice and see the result. To go along with that, keep it simple, we play to have fun not to get qualifications in gaming. And lastly, the name had to go, people just did not understand what Alea Iacta Est meant.

So the development of the Die is Cast rules started. The big thing to consider was the combat system, a choice of opposed rolls (both sides roll the dice and compare the difference) or simple die rolls with the results indicating a hit or not. In fact I went back to a time before dice, H. G. Wells Little Wars where combat was simply a comparison of the numbers of men involved in a combat. The side with the most men killed the same number as the enemy but might capture some more to give the larger side the advantage. Very simple indeed but also very bloody and without much option to allow for superior quality troops. Since dice per fighting figure has been extremely successful for Games Workshop (GW), that seemed a good system to adopt. The GW standard game system introduced in the Warhammer Fantasy Battle rules requires the now familiar; roll to hit, roll to wound and roll to save system. Lots of rolls reduce the vagaries of chance and lets the players have a lot of fun. But three rolls seemed a bit excessive and with idea of keeping things simple, my idea was to get a result with a single roll of the dice. The solution was to allow pairs of figures to use one die and to cover everything in that one die roll but the traditional six sided die was a very coarse tool. So to give more variation in the roll, D12’s are used instead. Surprisingly when I recently bought Tony Baths Ancient Wargaming, the same sort of system was in use; one die for a multiple of figures (groups of five in the Peltast and Pila rules) and two rolls, to hit and to save. Alright I have done away with the saves but Tony Bath’s rules also have differences for the way that infantry and cavalry fight, exactly as the Die is Cast does. My own rules were returning to the methods that were used in the first ancient rules.

Now according to my original plan the main task would have been over. I had changed the combat system to a simpler one just involving dice, so supposedly it was a small matter to go through the rules and make some adjustments to accommodate the new system. But it was not that easy. Since each group of figures was rolling a die, there was enough random chance in that to eliminate the old combat chart random factor but part of the generals characteristics had been to modify that old random factor. So a new way of generals being able influence the combat ability of the unit that they were with had to be found. Some rules give an ability for the general and their bodyguard to fight themselves but the problem with that method is that it can be used equally to bolster the performance of a weak unit (as indeed does allowing the generals command ability to replace that of the unit that they are with). To encourage generals to lead elite units, my choice is to allow the unit to re-roll some of its failed hits depending on the general’s combat ability. That tends to be of more use to elite troops rather than the rabble, encouraging players to use their commanders to lead their best troops.

So now onto some play-testing of rules and that soon showed that combat had become much more bloody, unbalancing the existing morale system. So the morale table had to be changed to accommodate the new combat results and eventually after a series of games, the gradual damage a unit suffers was eliminated from the rules, vastly increasing the speed of taking a morale tests. But a unit which has suffered severe damage should be reduced in combat potential, so now a unit which has reached fifty percent losses is simply penalised by being unable to advance further and having reduced morale. After further play-testing, routing units and units in march column also had their morale value reduced, to reduce the chance of broken units rallying and marching units resisting an attack. The overall result of these changes was that combat became more brutal and that broken units were unlikely to be rallied, so battles could indeed be short and sharp.

After playing WRG 6th edition, my rules of choice for 28mm scale games was Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB), which saw years of adaption’s by the players more away from the original fantasy game system to something like historical battles. The combat results of WAB had always depended on the addition of a rank bonus but in WAB2 the importance of that had been greatly reduced, so that units no longer had to be formed into small columns to be effective and allowing lines of battle to be established rather than a scattering of units over the table-top. Nothing like rank bonus applied in the Die is Cast, so that was not a problem but there were several good rules which seemed useful to adopt; a much larger force losing a melee but hanging on in there was one, provision for an effective impetuous charge and the associated difficulty of controlling those troops another.

Now the original Die is Cast rules had always been designed for individually based figures in the style of WAB or WRG 6th. But one of the key tenets for the Die is Cast is that any scale or basing of figures can be used with the rules. So a separate section has been added to the rules allowing the use of element based figures. With the new combat system, that was easy to do simply by defining the number of attacks and the number of hits each base can take. That allows a player to move between playing armies with a different figure scale or basing system and keep the basic game rules the same.

If the standard version numbering system had been kept to, then these rules should have been version 4 but that version was changed so much that the new rules have skipped a number and are named version 5. Unlike the previous rules, army lists are now published and available for free download on the Veni Vidi Vici web site. The rules themselves are also on the site as a free download or available for purchase in a printed format.