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...


Caliban said...

Hi Simon, thanks for the battle report. I don't know much about these rules, so your description of this game is very informative. It does seem somewhat harsh not to allow closer formation troops to enter rough terrain. Most rulesets will let them do so, at a disadvantage. It seems a bit much for a few skirmishers to hold up all those legionaries like that! Lovely figures, as always.


BigRedBat said...

Hi Paul, yes it is a bit bonkers; javelin range is 6", but get withing 12" of even a tiny bunch of skirmishers, in a wood, and one is stuffed.

I think we'll need to rewrite the proximity rule. In the meanwhile, to cope with GErmans in woods, I shall need some Roman light infantry, maybe that's why there is that carving from Mainz...

Beccas said...

Great looking game and AAR.

Ray Rousell said...

Excellent looking game, the figures are painted beautifully and the building are superb.

Cyrus said...

Great looking game Simon. You need more skirmishers with your legions. A small unit or two of auxilliary archers would have sorted them out.

BigRedBat said...

Thanks chaps.

Cyrus, I probably need to model a cohort of auxilia, in open order. Or some legionaries in expediti...

Cheers, Simon

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Game look just superb and a simple house rule or two should fix any problems your having. Really need to try a game of this sometime.


The Lord of Excess said...

I'm looking forward to hearing more on this ... for sure I'm getting into 28 MM Romans after the first of the year. Though I picked up the HC rules, I have no experience with it yet ... so the jury is still out for me on what rules we will ultimately settle on once this gets rolling in our game group. Looking forward to hearing more about your experiences with it! Thank you!

BigRedBat said...

IMHO the HC rules have good mechanics, but also gaps and some elements that could be improved. And I'd have the editor shot; it would be a mercy killing. ;-) But we aren't playing anything else at the moment!

generulpoleaxe said...

Cool battle report (nice pics) :)

The Lord of Excess said...

Well keep up the awesome posts on this, seriously this will be a life saver for me when we fire up HC in December.

I'll go back and check your previous posts, but to pose the question here. DO you guys have any advice for gamers transitioning from mostly GW gaming into 28 MM historicals (Ancients to start, then Pike and Shotte ... probably Black Powder)?

Anonymous said...

Page 20 of the rulebook. Other infantry or cavalry (eg. Heavy Infantry) can adopt only open order when moving in situations where they could not move without incurring some penalty (e.g. heavy infantry entering woods)
Page 34 proximity rule and open order troops. Units in other formations ( e.g. battle line or column) can choose to ignore enemies in open order when it comes to the proximity rules. So no problem in getting stuffed because a bunch of skirmisher in a wood or a flank.
I hope it helps.
Great battle report and outstanding miniatures and terrain.


Rodger said...

Lovely photos and I enjoyed the report.

BigRedBat said...

Hi Javier,

Thanks that is very helpful! I looked at page 38, and it says that infantry in open order could move through woods, and other troops not at all. I assumed that heavy infantry were included in this "other" category… reading the separate section on open order, that now makes more sense.

And I completely missed the proximity and open order troops section… that also makes a lot more sense. We could have pinned the skirmishers with a unit to their front, and marched the legion around them.

Sooo… clearly a lot more rule reading to do!

Thanks to all for for nice comments re minis and terrain.



Dalauppror said...

Realy nice AAR and lovely pictures !

Best regards Dalauppror