Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Not How Many but Where.

My first foray in to Hail Caesar this week.

A few of us were involved as there was quite a bit of interest in how it would play. Lon has brought enough toys for two armies (though some were still sporting their black undercoat) so it would be Spartans and their Allies versus the Athenians in a straight up slogging match.

The Hail Caesar rules are really easy to pick up if you have ever played Warmaster, or any of the Warhammer derivatives. Shooting and combat revolve around a “Hit”, “Wound”, “Save” dynamic, namely three rolls to determine how many casualties a unit takes. Each of these rolls may be modified by tactical factors and special rules. This makes it easy to get used to, easy to remember and easy to play.

Movement and Orders is exactly the same as Black Powder with “Brigade” commanders giving orders to their Brigades or Units and then rolling to see if the orders are successfully interpreted/implemented.

What is good about this game is the distance the two opponents can cover quickly with good command rolls. In a game such as this where there is little sweeping manoeuvre and much more rumbling forwards while trash talking the enemy.

I had deployed with my strongest Spartan Hoplite unit to the centre with a screen of Helots to their front and a supporting Lacedaemian Hoplite behind them. On the left was another two units of Lacedaemian Hoplites again screened by some small units of skirmishing Helots.

The Athenians lined up with two Hoplite phalanxes facing my Spartans with some cavalry, skirmishers and a final Hoplite Unit facing my left. I was out flanked slightly on both sides but felt the "Shock and Awe" would win the day with a death or bust charge right up the centre.

Between the two armies was a sunken road which may cause disruption to the whomever crossed it.

Things got of to a good start and my Spartan Juggernaut hunkered down and headed straight for the heart of the Athenian line. On my left Chris sent his horse galloping forward forcing a unit of my Lacedaemians to form a defensive formation to avoid being charged in the flank.

The Skirmishers on both side exchanged stones from their slings but with little effect other than to push them back behind their heavier brothers.

Finally as I approached the sunken road I gave my Spartans a Charge order to try and get to grips with the Athenians as soon as possible. I trotted up to the road to low and behold find a unit of Elite Athenian Hoplites waiting for me in the dead ground. I bundled in to them and amidst much grunting and swearing and the odd somewhat homophobic jape, the real tussle began.

I had lost my charge bonus but I was still a superior unit to the Athenians. I chose not to lock shields (where I would lose on attacking dice but gain on saving throws) and went all in. Initially the Athenian who had locked shields held their ground.

Unfortunately what this meant was that the Athenian helots could fire over the heads of my Spartans (who were below them in the sunken road) at my supporting unit with impunity.

However this only lasted a round or two before the Spartans burst through the best that Athens had to offer and followed up in to a supporting Athenian phalanx. They were somewhat weaker at this stage and things would not prove so easy. On the Spartan right, an overlapping unit of Athenian Hoplites marched past then and charged my supporting Lacedaemians.

One of Chris’ Hoplite units charged my only non-engaged Lacedaemian unit and battle was joined in earnest as all my troops were now engaged.

The slugfest commenced with units all along the line trading tit-for-tat blows with the momentum swinging one way and then the other as the Gods played their games with us.

In the end I think it was a somewhat pyrrhic victory for Sparta, they had caused the greatest damage and “looked” the stronger but they did not hold the field.

I enjoyed the Hail Caesar rules but have to say that I do not see what there is to attract the player that already has Warmaster (though perhaps slightly faster play).

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