Thus I was very pleased to be contacted by my friend Roy, offering to try out a Kings of War Historical game with myself and Stuart C, the leading light in the Cirencester Wargames Club. The three of us could pool our ideas and opinions and I could increase my understanding of the rules. Stuart plays Fantasy games with the original KoW rules and also plays the Historical set, so he would be able to shed some light on the background to the rules as well as their strengths and weaknesses.
Roy kindly acceded to my request to bring over my own newly re-based figures for the try-out. Re-basing of some sort is an issue for KoWH, as they have a simple but fairly uncompromising basing scheme (see my first post on this subject). However, some sort of collective or 'sabot' basing seems to be the answer - in my case done permanently, in Stuart's with temporary bases which allow him to continue to use his figures for Armati.
As we all know, ask 3 wargamers their opinions on a rule set and you'll get at least 4 answers. Stuart had delved into the background of the rules and was sensibly keen to use them pretty much as written for a basic playtest. This we did, and Stuart was obviously content to accept some aspects which seemed a bit unhistorical, whilst adapting his play to the possibilities of the rules. In other words, he accepted the rules as a game to be enjoyed. I was enjoying the game as well, but constantly looking at what amendments might be made without bending the rules completely out of shape. Roy cheerfully went along with the game but it was obvious he too had his doubts about how the rules represented ancient warfare.
I suppose using 2 imagi-nations to test out the rules could be seen as adding a further layer of confusion, but my imaginary armies are built from a set of historical units which I simply imagine to be acting together - so Legionaries are real legionaries, Companion cavalry are considered to act as their historical counterparts, etc. Anyway, a fun game resulted and I learnt a lot:
|The initial set up. We used one of the scenarios from the rule book.|
|Stuart's elephants start to break through my lightly held centre.|
The bolt thrower prepares to play the role of 17pdr anti-tank gun against the elephantine Tiger tanks.
|Now That's What I Call A Melee - 1. My right flank meets Stuart's left, under Roy's command.|
|Now That's What I Call A Melee - 2. Heavy chariots vs. elephants. |
I think I heard an historically-inspired 'Harumph!' from Roy at this stage.
Another Day, Another Game...
To give my thoughts another run out, I set up a solo game at home shortly afterwards. This was based on a scenario contained in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy 75, called 'A Fickle Flanking Force'. The author, Steve Jones, publishes scenarios in various magazines from time to time and invariably comes up with something interesting. Using this scenario was part of my determination not to have my ancient games fall into the rut of just lining up the armies opposite each other along opposing baselines, usually with little or no terrain.
The clever part of this scenario is that one ends up having 2 games going on at the same time, each linked to the other. As the first photo shows, the table is divided by a river. The 'main' battle is seen in the background of the photo - one side holds a ridge against a slightly superior attacking force, tasked with breaking through their line. On the near side of the river, allies of the defenders are advancing through a wooded area with the intention of crossing the bridge and attacking their comrades' tormentors in flank and rear. This flanking force is in turn about to be ambushed from the woods on each side of the road.
|Overall set up.|
|Battle for the ridge - opening positions. The Paphlagonian army is in the foreground,|
with infantry from the army of Latium holding the ridge
|The ambush - opening positions. Light forces from Paphlagonia haunt the woods.|
The flanking force is made up of cavalry, elephants and a carro-ballista.
|The Paphlagonians hurry forward to attack the ridge. |
Chariots try to outflank on the right, with heavy cavalry and warband going to the left.
|The ambush is in full swing. The Paphlagonian ambushers are being dealt with,|
but time is ticking by.
|The Paphlagonian pike phalanxes reach the ridge and desperate hand-to-hand fighting commences.|
|Meanwhile, back in the woods...|
The ambush is almost entirely overcome, but a significant delay has been imposed.
|The hoplites of the Latium 'Kingdom Infantry' are putting up a stubborn defence,|
but can the flanks hold?
|The various melees swing back and forth, |
but those outflanking chariots are becoming a real threat.
|Eventually, the brave defenders crack. A couple of moves later and the ridge has been swept clean of defenders,|
although the Paphlagonian Companion Cavalry have been lost in the process.
|Too little, too late. The Latium flanking force crosses the bridge, led by the Auricomus cataphracts,|
only to find their comrades have already been routed.
'Til next time!