Thursday, October 20, 2011

Heraclea replay with Justified Ancients

Background
My next ruleset I was going to try replaying Heraclea with was Crusader Ancient Rules.  But I haven't finished reading and digesting them.  So, I am going to give Justified Ancients a go.  With the last replay I did for Callinicum with JA, I still wasn't sure I liked them.  But I have been musing over them for the last year and think I have a plan.
  
The slight changes
Rather than changing the game wholesale,  I will play Justified Ancients with most of the John Davis House rules and the following minor amendments.  Note I am collecting these into a document that I will publish soon.
  • Single units are -1 to the orders roll. the -1 can be avoided by ordering a group.  A group is one or more units that are in edge to edge contact. Groups are defined when rolling for orders. I discussed this in the comments in the Callinicum replay.  Author does not mind this.
  • Any unit with one or more adjacent friendly units (non-skirmishers in edge contact beside or behind it and not contacted) gets +1 for melee.  Only +1, even with 2 or 3 adjacent.  This seems OK by the author. Note: after this game I do not recommend this rule.  After re-reading the rules, units don't have to line up corner-to-corner (they do have to line up edge to edge) and so two units can melee with one unit While this is not the same as +1, it does give more of a chance of a poor result..
  • Each unit/group does its entire turn before moving onto the next group - so do orders, move, missile, melee for each group.  This was also a suggestion from the author.
  • A unit that charges but does not contact the target due to a push back from missile fire is not fatigued.  It is deemed not to have charged as it did not get into contact.  Non-pushed backed units that charge a unit that evades or flees are fatigued.  I found in the games I played that cavalry would charge units that then fired at them as a reaction with a 30%-50% chance they were pushed back.  Because the cavalry charged, they were fatigued.  Next turn, they cannot charge (due to being fatigued) and then were fired at again with a possible pushback, and then fatigue removed at the end of that turn.  It is only the turn after (2 turns later) they have a chance to charge again, with a 30%-50% chance of being pushed back again.  The change I am proposing means they can have another go at charging the turn after, rather than waiting another turn.
  • Units are either trained or untrained.  There is no third training level between trained and untrained.
  • The largest change is around charging - The Charging combat bonus is only for Mounted (cavalry and chariot) charging any foot; and the bonus is +2, not +1.  This is to give cavalry the impact charge against infantry.  Otherwise, I assume that charged units would countercharge if it to their benefit. Also, Berserkers, for the same reason, get +2 to charge against infantry only.
  • Any Vs skirmishers is +2, not +1 as in John's changes.  I really think skirmishers should be fragile.  And on that note: Skirmisher foot take only one depletion before being destroyed.
  • I will use John's experimental rules than any winning side that wins by 2 or more and charged must pursue.
  • In the rules, the base depths for all but chariots are 2cm (Chariots are 6cm).  So when the rules say to be pushed back a base depth, I will do 1" (as the rest of the rules are in inches), except Chariots and Elephants will be 2".
  • Skirmisher and LO infantry javelins will have a range of 1".  This will allow skirmishers to actually have a chance to damage opposing units, otherwise they - enemy units - just sit there and do nothing. 
  • Lastly, there are no breakoff rules, so while John's house rules have a skirmisher can evade as a normal move on an order roll 1+, ANY unit can flee (with all the downsides of a flee) on a order roll a 3+.
 
Troops
 
Romans
4 Leves: Trained Skirmish light infantry, javelin
4 Hastati/Principes: CO Trained Heavy Infantry, javelin
2 Triarii: CO Trained Heavy Infantry, high morale
1 Light Infantry: LO Untrained Light Infantry, javelin
2 Heavy Cavalry: LO Trained Heavy Cavalry
1 Light Cavalry: Trained Skirmish light cavalry, javelin
1 General with +0 order bonus
CO = Close Order
LO = Loose Order
 
Epirot
1 Hypaspist: CO Trained medium infantry, phalanx, high morale
3 Pikemen: CO Trained medium infantry, phalanx
1 Hoplite:CO Trained heavy infantry, phalanx
1 Light Infantry: LO Untrained Light Infantry, javelin
1 Skirmisher:Untrained Skirmisher infantry, bow
1 Slingers: Untrained Skirmisher infantry, sling (treat as bow)
1 Agema: LO Trained Heavy Cavalry, high morale
1 Light cavalry: Trained Skirmish light cavalry, javelin
1 Elephant: Elephant.
1 General with +1 order bonus
  
Deployment
See deployment description and here is a photo:
 
Deployment - Epirot on left, Romans on the right.
 
Turn 1
Roman and Epirot moved forwards, the Triarii veering to their left, based on experience with other Heraclea replays games where the Roman Heavy Cavalry is destroyed and leaves the Roman flank open.

Turn 2
Leves attack the Epirot Skirmishers that evade.  The elephant and Agema slowly make there way down the flank.  Strange to use slow moving units after all the recent rules with really long move distances.

Leves - one is pushed back from Epirot missile fire
    
Turn 3

Leves move and throw javelins at the phalanx and disorder two of them (6 required and got two of them out of four rolls).  Note in the original rules, the Leves would have been useless here, as skirmishers can only receive and fire (i.e, wait for the phalanx to advance).  But there is no reason for the phalanx to advance.  But now there IS a reason for the phalanx to advance - to get rid of annoying skirmishers that can disorder them.
Phalanx advance and skirmishers evade and are fatigued (fatigue lasts a turn and basically prevents the fatigued unit from fleeing if contacted again).  I chose not to reform and remove the disorder form the phalanx as the Skirmishers will just keep disordering them....

The centre just before battlelines meet (green bush indicates fatigue)

 
Turn 4
Romans Charge.  Note that pila uses the same rules as a javelin in these rules and can only be used defensively. I make an executive decision and let it be used on a charge.  Disorders the Hypaspists. Now a phalanx unit Vs a legionary unit is at the advantage with +1 combat; a disordered phalanx Vs a legionary unit has the legionary at an advantage with +1 to the legionary.
Hypaspist flee, Legionaries pursues into contact.  Note that Legionary won by 2 so must pursue (this is one of John Davis' experimental houses rules that I am using - and liking).  All the other battles end in a tie (given the chance of a ties was only about 30% for each battle, this was a little unusual).

The first melee in the centre - brown markers are disorders


Agema and Elephant charge the Roman Heavy Cavalry.

Agema and Elephant Vs the Roman heavy cavalry

 
Elephants disperses (JA term for destroys) its opponent and must pursue.  Agema cause opponent to flee, which is does - off the board!  The Agema must pursue as it won by two, which mean Pyrrhus goes too.  So an immediate rule change - units with generals do not have to pursue.
 
Turn 5
Triarii charge the Agema in the flank.

Triarii charge the Agema with general


Triarii are at +2 for combat (this includes the +1 for supporting unit as there are two Triarii units) and cause the Agema to flee.  Fleeing is directly away from the attacker, which causes the Agema to flee off the board.  Ok, Pyrrhus is gone this time.  So how does this effect order rolls.  I will make all rolls at -3 (as though the general was 24" away).  I later found an old JA forum post that I like better - replace with a general with one lower command rating.

Hypaspists flee and are destroyed. Next in line Legionary unit flees through Leves.  I used John's rule that interpenetrating Skirmishers cause the Skirmishers to be depleted.  And I only allow skirmishers one depletion before dispersion.  So the two Leves the Legionary units flees through are dispersed.  Phalanx pursue and cause it to disperse.

Centre.  Pike on right pursued the Legionary that dispersed two Leves.

 
Turn 6
Not much of a turn for the Romans - managed to get the Triarii to face the Elephant that charged and pushed the Triarii back.
Elephant vs Triarii
 
A Legionary fleed from a Phalanx, that then pursued and then destroyed the Legionary unit.

The centre - the pike of the right have broken through.
 
The Roman general attached itself to a Legionary unit and manged to make its opposing phalanx flee.

Legionaries with General pursuing a pike block
    
Turn 7
The general and legionary unit manage to destroy the opposing phalanx.
The Epirot has reached their breakpoint so the game is over.  It was close.  The Romans had to lose just one more unit to reach their breakpoint.
 
End game.
   
Verdict
I really like these rules. I was not sure after the Callinicum replay, but after a couple of tweaks on the combat modifiers, particularly the charging ones, I am very happy with these rules.  The other changed factor that nailed it is executing the entire sequence of play for one unit at a time.  Oh, and making skirmish foot more fragile.  These are great rules.  So much fun, I am in the process of setting up Heraclea for another game with Justified Ancients.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rally Round the King battle report - Hittite Vs Egyptians

Introduction
I am testing out my own fast play rules with chariots.  But Rally Round the King (RRtK) is very solo-friendly and so I thought I would give them a run through with some chariot-armies as I have not done so before.
 
Rule changes
When I first discovered Warrior Kings (RRtK predecessor) about three years go, and after a couple of games, I went crazy on documenting rule modifications for a 2'x2' board - an extra Armour Class, longbows, crossbows, disorder for complex moves, longer bow ranges, skirmishers with javelins, changed point calculation.  I never played them.  Then RRtK came out.  Good stuff.  I have played a few games with RRtK.  But naturally I cannot stop tinkering so for this game, I have a few changes - just my view of what I want to play, not saying they are right or wrong:
  • Play is on 2'x2' board.
  • Armies are 300pts.
  • MISSILE damage is 1+d6 for 3 figures, 2+1d6 for 4 figures, skirmishers are 1d6-1. 
  • Reduced movement rate slightly to account for smaller board.
  • Don't use the undisciplined attribute.
  • Extend bow ranges slightly (sort-of offsetting reduced damage) and included skirmisher javelins
  • Units do not have to line up (as per Warrior Kings).
  • Introduced a breakpoint for army loss that will trigger "leader lost" morale check each subsequent turn.
But the rest is unchanged.
 
Troops
I used slightly modified Warrior Kings army lists.
 
New Kingdom Egyptians
5 Light Chariots, Mounted Missile (bow), REP5, AC3, 1 figure
1 Guards, Foot Melee, REP5, AC5, 4 figs
4 Spearmen, Foot Melee, REP4, AC3, 4 figs
3 Archers, Foot Missile (bow), REP4, AC3, 4 figs
3 Nubians, Foot Skirmisher (bow), REP4, AC3, 2 figs
 
NKE's deployed
   
Hittites
3 Heavy Chariots, Mounted Melee, Dual (javelin), REP5, AC5, 1 figure
5 Light Chariots, Mounted Missile (bow), REP5, AC3, 1 fig
1 Guards, Foot Melee, REP5, AC3, 4 figs
2 Spearmen, Foot Melee, REP4, AC3, 4 figs
3 Skirmisher, Foot Skirmisher (bow), REP4, AC3, 2 figs

Hittite's deployed
 
Deployment
 
At deployment.  Only terrain is a gentle hill in Hittite centre.

Strategy
Hittites: Charge in the centre with the Heavy Chariots. Mop up what is left with the spearmen.  Hold the flanks.  Having no reserve is leaving a lot to chance.
Egyptians: Hold the centre and hopefully win out there.  Advance on the left flank in support of the spearmen.  Hold the right flank.
 

Game
Hittites are the attacker and full speed ahead with the heavy chariots and spearmen body to the chariots left, hoping to break the centre. The Egyptians focus on the flanks, thinking their centre should hold.

The Hittite chariots get into range of the skirmish archers protecting the Egyptian Spearmen. Could be ugly.

Chariots charge the Spearmen and Skirmishers

The skirmishers took a beating, but so did the heavy chariots.  The skirmishers dice were on fire!  By making the chariots DUAL-ARMED, the chariots did not charge in, but just fired back.  This proved dire when the Skirmishers finally routed, but the heavy chariots had two points of damage each.  The Egyptian Spearmen charged in and received fire (where a Chariot counter-charge would have been better, but then, making them DUAL maybe reflects their use better - heavier more mobile version of the light chariots - heavier 'shock' chariots were later on) and received no damage, but a pass of one dice meant they did receive a point of damage anyway.

Middle chariot retires, other two rout.  For the spearmen, the middle (with leader) halts with no pursuit and the others rout (pass 1 dice in melee with mounted).

Post combat, lots missing!  Rings are hits.

The Egyptian Light Chariots on their left flank come off worse for wear against the opposing Hittite Light Chariots.

Hittite Light Chariots - they did very well in the missile exchange.

The Egyptian Archers managed to strip off the skirmishers from the advancing Hittite spearmen but the latter are getting close.

Hittite Spearmen face off against the Egyptian Archers (the green guy indicates the leader's stand)


So, at the end of Hittite turn two, we have a battlefield that looks a bit like this:

Overview - note each black ring is a hit.

This is what I like about RRtK - you have a plan, point it at the enemy and hope.  The reaction tests keep you interested, and nothing is certain.  And fast.  It certainly captures the chaos of battle as I envisage it.

Hittite Light Chariots on the right flank clean up the opposing Light Chariot, and reach the lone Light Chariot.

A single Egyptian Light chariot faces double the number of Hittites.
 

The Hittite Spearmen charge the Archers and enter melee with 3 hits.  In melee, both sides inflict another few hits on one another, but missile units are fragile and will rout if they do not pass both dice for the reaction test.  They fail and rout.  The Hittite Spearmen only pass one die and get another hit.  They are in bad shape - 5 hits!
  
Hittite Spearmen - note the stack of hits behind them.
  
So, under my house rules, 50% of the troops have been lost and so they undertake a "leader lost".  All the Missile (Chariots) rout.  While the Egyptians are left with only 3 Spearmen, all of these are relatively unharmed.  Compare this to the Hittites who heavy units average 5 hits a unit. But with fast moving missile units (light chariots) Vs slower spears, it is likely one-sided.

Near the end.  The Egyptian units are the Spears at the top and single unit in the centre.

And so I did fight it to the bitter end.  The Hittites also suffered some losses with there own "leader lost" check but eventually the chariot mobile missile platforms picked off the remaining Egyptian spearmen.  In reality, and especially in a campaign game, one side would have retired from the field earlier than this.

Game end: the only (and all) Hittite units left.

Verdict
A fun game, as always with Rally round the King.  Very solo friendly.  Not too predictable.  And a great historical feel.  I am sorely tempted to setup for a re-match.