Thursday, 13 October 2011

Rumble by the Rhine

On Tuesday we played another Hail Caesar game, another battle between revolting Batavian and German auxiliaries, and their savage German allies, and a regular Roman/auxiliary force who were trying to relieve a small fort (one of Paul Darnell's lovely models, above, with some great buildings by John Smillie).

Above are my loyal auxiliaries; Britons, Gauls and Raetians, with some Praetorian cavalry.  The legionary cohorts were deployed (below) off to my right, just beyond a small wood that turned out to be a terrific PITA.

Ianicus commanded the Germans.  Above are some of the savage German warbands; mostly Dr Simon's minis.  Below are his German and Batavian mutineers.

The battle started with Dr Simon seizing the vicus, just outside the fort, with his auxiliary archers, and (imaginatively) with dismounted legionary cavalry (you can just make them out in the photo at the top of the post).  Ianicus countered by seizing the central wood (below) with his javelinmen. 

This was an issue for us, because in Hail Caesar close order troops cannot enter a wood; we had nothing to pry the skirmishers out with.  Moreover the HC proximity rule (of which more in a later post) required our legionaries to face the LI, even though they had no missile weapons that could harm them and could not even melee them.  So the better half our army was useless!

I decided that the only thing I could do was move forward my auxilia to throw javelins at them.  Meanwhile Ianicus was trying to manoeuvre around my left flank... click on the map, below, to see the situation at this stage.

After this I'm afraid it all went a bit pear shaped for the Empire.  Dr Simon laboriously manoeuvred his legionaries around behind the wood on our baseline, and then behind my lines, to face the outflanking mutineers approaching from my left.  Ianicus attacked with his Germans, and these, after a very tough fight, my surviving troops were pushed back onto Simon's columns and destroyed (a photo of the traffic jam is below).  The legions might have still have recovered it, I suppose, but it was late and we called the game.

We found the rules very frustrating; the proximity rule, in particular, is badly worded, and we struggled with various other rules, plus the poor layout of the rule set.  It is safe to say that Hail Caesar's "more friendly style of gaming" came under considerable strain, on Tuesday; it got competitive, and these rules just cannot cope with competitive! 

Still, on the plus side it looked good, and played fast.  The combat system is good, and I like the way that ordering works.  We are starting to get a reasonable grasp of the core mechanics.  Will have another crack in a week or so...
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