Home Forums Ancients My first solo game of Age of Hannibal…Now SECOND game…

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  • #111306
    Autodidact-O-Saurus
    Participant

    Not bad. Not bad, at all. Though I’m not certain my game was a good test of the rules. Age of Hannibal is clearly written for armies with more units than I can field. I notice that the authors seem to use large numbers of 6mm units. I, on the other hand, am using a smaller number of units of 28mm figures—I started out defining the forces as Basic Impetus armies, though I enlarged them a little. I ended up with Carthaginians (15 units) versus Gauls (16 units) with armies of 675 points each. At the 750 infantry / 500 cavalry figure to fighter ratio stated in the rules my 675 point armies would represent armies around 10,000 men. A respectable force in antiquity.

    The game was played on a 6×4 table and used the recommended double movement distances for 28mm figures. Since I wanted to test drive the combat mechanisms (and the fact that I have a limited selection of terrain) I simply laid out a table with a river bordering one short edge, a few flanking hills and rough terrain, laid out the armies in typical fashion (cavalry on the flanks, both battle lines proceeded by skirmishers) and charged straight forward. I wasn’t too concerned about the pre-game layout of terrain or about implementing any fancy stratagems. (In my mind I see this encounter as one between Gauls and Hannibal’s army as he moves through southern France on his way to vacationing in Italy.)

    There was one turn of skirmishers roughing each other up a bit before the main lines were hot on their heels. Both sides quickly brought their skirmish lines back to the rear through their main lines though each side managed to lose a few light troops due to not being able to retreat because of flank contacts. The main Gallic line was arranged in two ranks, when within charge distance the first rank impetuously charged forward leaving the rear rank to fill in gaps as the front units disappeared to wherever dead Gauls go as they broke themselves against the slower but stronger Punic line.

    It was on the Carthaginian right flank that the battle was won. Two units of Punic cavalry and two Numidian horse faced two Gallic horse and a chariot unit. It was no contest. Punic die rolling completely overwhelmed the Gauls and within two turns the Gallic flank was left open and defenseless. Things were a bit more interesting on the left. It looked like the lone Carthaginian elephant was set to roll up the Gallic right, but the Gallic archers on the hill panicked the elephant which then (and this was entirely random) charged up the hill directly at the offending archers. I thought for sure the archers would be crushed but they rolled well in melee and destroyed the elephants without even breaking a sweat.

    In the center the two main battle lines ground against each other though in general the Gauls were gaining the advantage. While they could not break through the Punic veterans they were taking a toll on the Spanish Scutarii and Asterix, the gallic commander, eventually punched a hole through them. But it was too late. The Punic horse, medium and light had encircled the Gauls. It was a mopping up operation by then. By the end of the game (6 or seven total turns) Asterix was dead and only one lone band of warriors and one unit of Gallic archers remained on the table. Hannibal had lost 2/3rds of his infantry and his elephants but none of his cavalry. The morale of the two armies was even more disparate. While the Gauls had lost all nine points from its ‘morale clock’, the Carthaginians had only lost two points.

    While overall it was a decent game there are few things of which I’m not too fond. As I suspected, using a D10 for combat can lead to extreme, unpredictable results though overall the combat between two equal armies seemed relatively balanced. Typical combats had bonuses of 2, 3 or occasionally more. But these pale when added to the random spread of 1 through 10. My initial thought was to use 2D6 to average out the results and I may still try that. In the rules they suggest using a D8 to slow down the attrition—oddly enough I don’t own any! While I have no problem using D10 for rally attempts (it’s kind of a straight percentage roll), I don’t like using different types of dice within a game. Therefore, if I to use 2D6 for combat, I’ll need to tweak the rally system if I want to stick to a single type of die.

    I think doubling the distance is a bit too much for the table/figure size. Maybe 150% would be better.

    Using non-square basing does complicate things a bit when determining flank attacks and facing—especially since my elephant and chariots are on bases that are only ½ the width of the other figures. While I can deal with it during a solo game I think it would be confusing if I were teaching another player about the game. Also, when receiving a second disorder marker a unit retreats ‘1 base depth’. I’m not sure that makes much sense with my various base size depths and the distance that units can move.

    The morale clock which constrains the number of orders you can give seems rather ineffective when you start out with only 15 units. It was only on the last turn of the game when overall morale affected what the Gallic side could do. Even the extra demoralization markers handed out when the clock runs down didn’t have much affect on the game. By then, it didn’t really matter any way.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #111327
    Norm S
    Participant

    Interesting, nice looking game and your account sounded good, but my own experience with a D10 in games has been similar to yours. in some systems it works fine, but in a recent AWI game that I sold, the number of different things that could happen across the D10 plus / minus modifiers, so a total range of 13 positions, just saw wild swings that made the randomness too dominating.

    #111345
    A Lot of Gaul
    Participant

    Thanks for posting your test game results! I think that most of the issues you discussed stem from the fact that your armies were so small. As you noted, Age of Hannibal works best with a large number of bases/units – the ‘sweet spot’ appears to be around 50-60 per side. With that number of units, the morale clock really shines, and the ‘extreme’ d10 rolls tend to average out much more. The optional d8 works very well to further reduce the possibility of  ‘extreme’ die rolls, and that is in fact what I use in my games. Just a word of caution about using two 2 x d6: your results will tend to ‘skew’ on the high side, and of course it is impossible to roll a ‘one.’ So there are pluses and minuses to each of these various approaches.

    For 28mm miniatures, placing your existing bases on 8cm square sabots should resolve all of your issues. And if you do ever play a battle with 50-60 units per side, I would recommend expanding your table size to 8′ x 6′ accordingly.

    Cheers,
    Scott

    "Ventosa viri restabit." ~ Harry Field

    #111394

    Regarding the D10 thing, combat unpredictable by its very nature.  The D10 is quite OK by me.  I’ve played Chipco games for many years and while I’ve certainly had the same amount of angst as you did about D10s being too “rangey” I’ve come to accept that when engaging, you either need to be in a good position to assure victory or you need to feel very lucky!

    In case the point is lost, a +2 differential with a D6 is about the same as a +3 or even a +4 with a D10.  hat

    A-Lot-of-Gaul makes sense wrt table size and base size.

    John

    "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

    --Abraham Lincoln

    #111629
    Autodidact-O-Saurus
    Participant

    Thanks for the input, gentlemen.

    I probably will do some sabot building for my unique elephants and chariots–especially since their basing is a hold-over from my DBA days and everything else is Impetus based. But since most of my bases are already 120mm wide I don’t think I’ll extend them fore and aft to make them square. I’ll just deal with having consistently sized rectangular bases. Enlarging the table or being able to field significantly more units are probably not realistic goals for me.

    I also agree it’s the small number of units involved that causes Age of Hannibal results to be less than satisfying for me. If you’re using 50 units and lose a unit or two to ‘rangey’ dice, no big deal–what is that, 2%? 4%? There are plenty more chances for it to average out across the army. But if you only have 15 units in the army, losing two to a bad roll is 12% of the army! It doesn’t take too many losses like that to make you feel that the dice are ruling the game, not your strategy or the ‘historic’ strengths of the units.

    And while using 2D6 does indeed provide a greater range, the average roll should be around 7–for both attacker and defender. The actual range won’t matter since both sides are being treated identically and then compared one to the other. The number of times one side doubles the other should be fewer since the average is more towards the center of the range. Thus units should survive longer and army decrease should be slowed. It should result in a slower paced game–which I think is what I’m searching for.

    I’m hoping to restage my Carthagninian vs. Gaul game this weekend using 2d6 and 1.5 movement rates to see how this works in the ‘real’ world. I will report back.

     

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #111704
    Autodidact-O-Saurus
    Participant

    The second game was an even greater victory for Hannibal and his Carthaginians. However, I liked the game play more this time. I used the rules as published with the following changes:

    1. used 2d6 for combat rather than 1d10
    2. multiplied distances by 1.5 rather than 2 for 28mm figures.

    In the first game I felt the 1-10 range (with an equal chance of any result) of the dice was just a bit too dramatic. Using 2d6 did bring the average roll down but there were still some extremes (and there should be some–just not many). Unit losses were very much a result of tactics rather than dice rolls. Almost every unit destroyed was the result of that unit being flanked or surrounded rather than out-rolled. I liked that. A few were demoralized out of existence, but not many. This was definitely a game of position.

    The lower movement allowed more of a skirmish line action at the beginning of the game. Though this time the Gauls wisely decided to simply withdraw their outnumbered skirmishers and redeploy them to the flank that was threatened by the Punic and Numidian cavalry. Consequently, the Numidian skirmishers acted as a screen for the slow moving Carthaginian line, interpenetrating them and forming a reserve when the main battle lines got within charge distance. The action on the Punic right was much the same as the first game with the Numidian horse destroying the Gallic chariots (being caught in rough terrain did it in!). This again gave Hannibal a significant superiority in cavalry which was able to swing around and attack the Gallic center in the rear.

    Things went a little differently on the left, though. Once again, the Gallic archers panicked the elephants. Once again they charged right at the irritating little gits up on the hill (honestly, it was a random roll! Again!). That melee see-sawed a little before the Nellies charged off in a different direction striking a different Gallic unit in the rear, forcing it to turn to fight, demoralizing it before the Nellies again veered away. In fact, the pachyderms were still rampaging when the game came to an end. I wanted to get the archers to charge the beasts after they had forced it away but one of them was severely demoralized by the encounter, the other one simply couldn’t summon the courage to do it. To me, that seems like a more probable outcome than the first game where the archers simply eliminated the elephants with a super dice roll upon contact.

    My 120mm wide bases are slightly more problematic with the reduced move distances. In AoH the attacking unit conforms with the defending unit aligning the front corners. In my case that means that there can be a significant amount of shift in order to align sides. I think I’ll probably play with a house rule that you have to be able to cover at least 50% of the side, front or rear of the defender with your front edge within your move limitations in order to be allowed to shift and attack. If you cannot do that, you cannot force the attack. It will wait until next turn when you can shift. When groups come in contact the attacker will shift towards whichever side they overlap the most. I think I’ll also adopt retreat distances equal to 1/2 base width rather than 1 base depth. Since my bases are all the same width but variable depth I think that makes more sense. Hmmm… maybe a 1/2 move would be better?

    I also had a situation where a unit of light horse–which are enabled to move in any direction–could make easy contact with the rear of an enemy unit with its own rear edge. However, the rules state that light units can move in any direction, it doesn’t say that it can freely change facing. I was a bit puzzled but then thought that of course it could. Numidian riders, as good as they were, probably had not trained their ponies to move obliquely backwards. They HAD to be facing the direction of travel. Therefore, ‘Free Move’ implies free facing.

    I didn’t take any pictures this time. Same set up, same troops. It didn’t look much different from the first game but it sure felt different.

    Self taught, persistently behind the times, never up to date. AKA ~ jeff
    More verbosity: http://petiteguerre.blogspot.com/

    #111779
    Greg M
    Participant

    Thank you for the follow-up.  The use of 2D6 seems to be a good fit, and I will give that a try once I get “some” (a lot!) more elements painted up.

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