Saturday, 29 May 2010

Trebbia. A bit of solo fun.

Here are some large pictures of The Battle of Trebbia I fought solo this afternoon. I used ammended Command and Colors rules and the battle took about two hours to play. Rather than a blow by blow account, I'll give the pictures along with the cards played

Rome: Order 3 commands centre. Carthage: Order medium troops

Rome: Double time. Carthage: Order 3 commands right.

Rome: Order 2 commands left. Carthage: Coordinated attack.

Rome: Counter attack. Carthage: Order light troops.

Rome: Line command. Carthage: Inspired leadership right.

Rome: Order 3 commands right. Carthage: Order heavy troops.

Rome: Order 4 commands centre. Carthage: Line command.
Rome: Order heavy troops. Carthage: Double time.
Rome: Clash of shields. Carthage: Order 2 commands centre.

Rome: Order 3 commands centre. Carthage: Out flank (2 commands left and right)
Rome: Line command.
Roman victory conditions achieved!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ager Sanguinis - campaign rules

This month's (June) edition of Miniature Wargames carries the final installment of the Ager Sanguinis series of articles: Campaign rules. The article has a complete system for fighting a campaign using Ager Sanguinis (but this is easily adaptable to most rules and pre-gunpowder periods). For those without the time to set up their own campaign, the article has a campaign (including map) to get you started straight away. The article (as per other Ager Sanguinis articles) is a 12 page adverisement free centre fold pull out – the map being the A3 (double A4?) 'true' centre fold.

Anyway, as I say, this is the final installment. I've enjoyed developing and writing Ager Sanguinis very much. I hope you have had some enjoyment reading them, and perhaps at the very least, given you food for thought.

I would like to thank Peter and the Ilkley Lads for all their help in the development of the Ager Sanguinis project. I would Like to thank Andrew and the Miniature Wargames team; who did such a great job at the production end.

But, most of all, thanks to Brent Oman of Piquet Inc. The backbone of Ager Sanguinis is Field of Battle and Theatre of War (by Brent). I wrote Ager Sanguinis for myself and the Ilkley Lads; without his kind permission they could not have been published by Minature Wargames. Sincerely, Brent, thank you.


James Roach

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Command and Colours elephant modification for Trebbia

Last night we replayed Trebbia. Again Command and Colors was used, and again it produced an excellent game. The only problem we encountered was in translating 'elephant rampage'. With hexes the rule works perfectly well, but translating it to a hexless table where units tend not to conform to a similar 'pattern of layout' was not so easy. In the end we came up with the following:
For each flag inflicted on an elephant roll 1 dice. On any flag result the elephants rampages, otherwise the original flags are ignored. Rampaging elephants roll two dice Vs any unit within 8" inches for 'damage' as standard. After rampaging the elephants are removed from play; with the assumption that they have fled, been killed by 'hit units', or killed by their own mahouts (with the hammer and chisel provided!).

Saturday, 15 May 2010

I went into town for some glue..........

This morning I went into town for some glue; Super Glue and Araldite Rapid to be specific. I went with my wife, who was also running errands. As we were coming home my wife spotted a 'Sale' sign in a jeweler's window. It's coming up to her birthday, so I wasn't that keen to go in (I'm a Yorkshireman), but eventually I was persuaded.
It turned out to be a liquidation sale - they were selling everything, screwed down or not! What did I come home with? A new 9 drawer painting desk in mahogany (pictured above) topped with leather covered with 3/8s plate glass. At first I thought the price tag was for something on the desk - but no, it was for the desk itself. I couldn't refuse.....
.......IT COST TEN POUNDS!!!!!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Command and Colours modifications used for Trebbia

Although I've messed about with Command and Colours the core mechanics have not changed beyond recognition. With these notes and a copy of Command and Colours you can follow what I did. The modifications gave the game a more conventional miniatures game feel - I'm an old stick in the mud at heart - rather just transposing the board game to the table.

Not all of the extra rules are my own invention, I picked up some playing a hex less game of Command and Colours at Sheffield Triples earlier this year.
For those who have asked for them, here are the modifications I used.

Table sectors, commands and activations
There are no table sectors. Instead, I divided each army into commands and gave each command a prefix - left, centre or right.

The units of each command have to be adjacent (within 3") to count as a single command. Units going beyond 3" go out of command, becoming a separate command, but maintaining the same 'sector' prefix. At the start of the battle this allows massed movement. As the battle goes on and units become detached command inevitably brakes down. It is possible to come back into an original command by closing the gap back to 3" or less (in our game this rarely happened)

When using command cards, the word 'unit' on the card is substituted with the word 'command'.

However, activating commands does not allow all of the units to 'battle'. Only the number of units stated on the card can do this.

For example:

On the Carthaginian left wing I have three commands, one is a single unit of elephants, one is a unit of Libyan spear men and one is a large unit (more anon) of Spanish cavalry, a large unit of Gallic cavalry and a normal sized unit of Numidian cavalry. All three commands are given the prefix 'left' - the prefix for these units never changes regardless of their position on the battlefield.

I use a 'order two units left' card: I can choose to move two commands. I choose to activate the command of elephants and the command of cavalry. As long as the cavalry units stay adjacently linked (within 3" of each other) they stay in command and can be activated on another card as if they are one unit.
After movement, all of the cavalry and the elephant are eligable to battle (in contact / range of the enemy. However, my command card is 'order 2 units left. Only two units can battle, so I choose the elephants and Spanish cavalry.

Light infantry including velites and catrati: 12"
Medium and heavy infantry: 8"
Warrior infantry: 8" / 12" (see C&C core rules).
Heavy and medium cavalry: 18"
Light cavalry: 24"
All evades: 12"
All units can wheel up to 90 degrees on their centre before movement.
All momentum advances are 8 inches straight ahead (no wheels).

Flank and rear attacks

To count flank / rear attack the attacking unit must start behind the flank rear at the beginning of the activation.

Versus flank: Attacker rolls normal dice. Defender rolls normal dice but only hits on appropriate coloured symbol.

Versus rear: Attacker rolls normal dice counting any flags as hits. Defender rolls only 2 dice and only hits on appropriate coloured symbol.

Javelin armed skirmishers (includes Numidians, velites and catrati): 12"
Slingers: 18"
Special rules
Commands in manipular formation
Romans can form commands of hastati, principes and triarii. They form up in three seried ranks; hastai at the front, then princepes then triarii with a 2" gap between each, forming a column of units. Units within a manipular command can interpenetrate front to back (and vice versa) without penalty. It moves as a column of units, like 18C ships in line of succession.
In frontal combat, manipular commands may ignore all flags after the first if they still comprise at least two units. On receiving a flag, the front unit may retreat behind the next unit in the column, or behind the triarii, and be replaced in combat by the next unit of the command. The unit that moves forward may battle back if permitted to. Once the triarii are committed they cannot be replaced and the formation ceases to be manipular.

This backward and forward movement is used to allow the hastati and principes to support each other until, near collapse, it comes down, to coin a phrase, to the triarii.

If fighting with an enemy to its flank, it gains no manipular bonuses. The manipular formation was primarily a front to back formation.

Pilum or similar
Units armed with pilum or similar can discharge them at contact. At contact, roll 3 dice versus medium, heavy or warrior infantry, 1 dice versus other - hit on swords. If initiating 'battle' each sword adds a combat dice. If the unit is to 'battle back' each sword deducts a combat dice from the attacker. Mark the unit as 'unloaded'.
Strong units

These are represented by over strength wargames units. Extra strength should be represented by extra unit depth. Strong units at 150% can take an extra hit. Strong units at 200% can take two extra hits. Warrior units do not lose bonuses until they are reduced to 3 hits. Strong units do not get a combat dice adjustment.
Note: I use 4 stand units. A 150% unit has 6 stands in two ranks. A 200% unit has 8 stands in two ranks.

Small unit triarii
Triarii count only 3 hits before being destroyed.

Veteran units can ignore 1 flag OR 1 sword hit. They bonus hit on ONE helmet.

Balearic slingers
Roll three combat dice in ranged combat.

Numidian cavalry
Numidian cavalry can 'snake' during movement provided they do not end their move in contact.
Velites and Catrati
Velites and catrati roll 3 dice for close combat and hit on swords. They may evade. They may interpenetrate and be interpenetrated by any friendly troops. Elephants roll only 2 dice versus velites and catrati.

Other light infantry and cavalry
Light infantry may interpenetrate and be interpenetrated by any friendly troops. Light cavalry may interpenetrate and be interpenetrated by other cavalry.

Out of ammo
Any unit engaging in ranged combat that rolls all helmets or swords can no longer engage in ranged combat.

Trebbia specials
Velites go 'out of ammo' on any double result.

All basic Roman close combat dice are reduced by 1. E.g. Heavy infantry roll 4 dice not 5. They are cold and have not had any Wheetabix.

Command and Colours - table-top

I played with my new toys for the first time last night. Mark D, Dr. Ken and Graham H came round and we played Trebbia using bastardised Command and Colours (board game) rules.
The game went very well. It was over to full conclusion (we played for 10 flags each) in two hours, which is not bad for a game involving over 40 units. If it had been a one on one game it would have taken half an hour less - at a guess.
The bolt on rules for moving command groups, rather than units, had a few initial niggles. But these were soon resolved. The extra rules for pilum, veterans, skirmish, 'out of ammo', strong / weak units and manipular formation worked very well from the off. All in all, I enjoyed the battle very much; which considering it was the rule systems first outing surprised me a little. I put this down to the very strong core mechanics of Command and Colours rather than anything I did.
The biggest change I made to the rules, was to do away with table sectors. Instead, groups of units (some groups were just 1 unit) were brigaded together into commands. Each command was given a sector title (e.g. the 4 units of velites were brigaded as a command and given the prefix 'centre'). Command groups could move for a single activation providing a unit was within 3" of another - 'linked'. If the gap widened the unit was 'out of command' and cost a separate activation. 'Battle' was treated slightly differently: Regardless of the commands activated, the number of units that could battle was equal to activation points (e.g. the four units of velites could move for a single activation, but if the card was 'two units centre' only 2 units of velites could resolve battle). This allowed, especially early on in the battle, whole chunks of the battle lines to advance - which to my mind looked more historical - but slowed down the wholesale slaughter very nicely.
The Carthaginians (Mark D and I) won the battle ten flags to six. The Romans, having had a dice knocked off their combat ability for being cold, wet, hungry and tired, could rightly claim a 'game draw' - but I'll claim a Carthaginian victory anyway.