Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Morituri te salutant!

 "We who are about to die salute you!"

Yeah, that sounds about right. Anyway...

This past Saturday, the Hamilton Road Games Group played Warlord Games Hail Caesar! rule for "ancient" period wargames. We've played this game's sibling games, Black Powder and Pike & Shotte, and I've played (and still enjoy) GW's Warmaster, a game I feel is the "master matrix" for the others. They're all from the gaming mind of Rick Priestly, and I for one commend him for them. The games vary widely but have similar mechanics of play and so are familiar in style. We'd been wanting to play Hail Caesar! for a while, but had to wait until Ralph got his schedule cleared to play on a Saturday. He and Andy provided all the troops - Romans everywhere! This allowed similar armies to face each other without having to allow for the variations that would come from pike-armed units, horse archers, or wild barbarian armies. We saw legionaries, auxilia armed with spears or with bows, skirmishers with bows or slings, auxilia cavalry, Numidian cavalry, and Germanic horsemen, as well as period artillery, dromidarii, and elephants. The table was huge and it accommodated 10 players. IT WAS GLORIOUS!

Looking North with Steven, Martin, your humble blogger, and Ralph ("Ralphus Magnus")

Looking South as Andreus Germanicus Photographus does his stuff.

Some Romans on the one side. Since it was a Roman Civil War scenario (oh, there were so few of those!), I can't say which side was evil... or good. 
I ended up commanding the far, far right flank of Ralph's side with two units of spear-armed auxilia, one of auxilia bowmen, a handful of skirmishers with slings, some auxilia cavalry, and a Numidian light cavalry unit. When Bear arrived, I turned the cavalry over to him. Martin was too my left with Legionary infantry. Ralph was next with more Legionaries and some auxilia. Mark was next with infantry and cavalry. Duane held the far left with cavalry, camels, and an elephant. I was facing Steven with his legionaries, auxilia cavalry, and German light horse. Mark's friend, Dave was to Steven's right with a mixed force. Andy, Chase, and Kevin were the next, and their troops mirrored our side's with the exception of the dromidarii. Those nasty camels never moved for the entire game!

"Just call me 'Stampy'! "An elephant from Andy's collection.

My wing commander, Dingelus Gleutius Maximus. He's from my collection.

A unit of Andy's auxilia - Old Glory, I think.

A Corhortes Auxilia from my collection - Gripping Beast Miniatures

My other cohort of auxilia - Black Tree Design

Ralph's mobile artillery - the Sturmgeschutz of its day.
Our side won the toss and we attempted to move forward to meet the enemy. I ended up being the most aggressive of our side, something I'm not noted for. My foot troop pushed forward while the cavalry failed their command and sat still for the first turn. I was not hung out to dry since Martin's troops moved up as well; I was just a bit ahead of him. The usual failures of command went up and down both sides. This time, though, some blunders came up. (If you roll double sixes -"box-cars" - your troops blunder and can really make a mess of things.) Martin's one unit of archers fell back precipitously after blundering. I also heard groans from further down the table, but it was a long way off and I was never sure what was happening. I had my hands full with my own troubles.

Bear faced the Roman cavalry, the Germans, and an elephant, but could only hold them for a while. His Roman cavalry countercharged Steven's but got the short end of the stick and broke. I faced Steven and Dave's legionaries with my auxilia and the legionaries use of the pilum made a big difference.

Martin's legionary cohorts with auxilia archers in the lead.

Steven's cavalry with Stampy the Elephant.

Bear's Romans and Numidians

Kevin's cavalry and elephant face down Duane's horsemen at the other end of the table.

Slingers and a light bolt-thrower, which Martin faced.

These legionaries mousetrapped me and messed up my auxilia cohortes.
With my bow-armed auxilia gone, I was left with two cohortes of spear-armed auxilia who were about to be flanked by Dave's legionaries. My one unit was hit in the flank and fell back. My other unit, the blue-shielded one, turned to face the legionaries which exposed their flank to Steven's legionaries. It was not a good situation for me at all. I was pretty much done in. Martin sent two cohortes of legionary infantry to assist me, but it was too late. Curfew fell and clean-up began. Both sides found their left flanks crumbling, but our centre seemed to be doing well and was advancing toward the enemy.

The legion's infantry hammers my auxilia.

Martin details Cohort I of the army to assist me.

Steven's skirmishing bowmen snipe at my auxilia.

Martin's cohorts take on Dave's legionaries.

Meanwhile, Dave and Andy's troops close the door on another of Martin's infantry units.
I suppose we'd call the game a draw or possibly a wining draw for the side I played on. The one thing I'm sure of is that I was soundly thrashed. I know things didn't go well for others. Kevin had a unit of cavalry leave the table on a blunder, although it returned later. Andy couldn't get his dice to cooperate for love or money, and I hear word not found in the Bible at one point. Another blunder saw Martin's ball cap fly across the room. These things are to be expected.

Hail Caesar! has some subtle differences when compared to the other Warlord games. Units can take more punishment, but break tests come up more often and often at uncomfortable times. (like whenever a 6 is thrown in missile fire.) The command-and-control system can be as frustrating as it is in the other games. I don't mind that too much. Truth to tell, we got a lot further along in this game using Hail Caesar! then we ever could with Warhammer Ancient Battles. I am sold on this game and I'm busily flocking my rebased Gauls... although I realise that I'm probably outnumbered by all these Romans. Still I look forward to fielding my Celts; they will be sooooo colourful!

I've got Romans to rebase as well, but they don't have the anti-Dacian Falx arm pieces these guys do.

A mixed bag of archers - all auxilia, but some Western and some Eastern.

The far-left of our line - which I knew very little about. Mark and Chase were duking it out.

Kevin's cavalry and Elephant. Somehow I don't think he did all that well... through no fault of his own.

Next week, a bout of Muskets & Tomahawks, a French & Indian War game, is scheduled.


  1. I did quite well as I crushed my opponent's cavalry with combined assaults form my light and medium horse plus my elephant.

    1. We expected no less of you, Marcus Pulcherius Maximus!

  2. Great looking game, beautiful armies...and mobile artillery!

    1. Thanks! I was amazed at the look and the number of troops. The shere size of the table was grand, too.