The Viking Legal Team in Action

The Viking Legal Team in Action
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Friday, February 16, 2018

[Big] Battle of Crug Mawr, 1136 p.2 - Wild Cav melee!

"English Dog!" "Welsh Cur!" 

Feudal times were full of courtesies...and feuding.

As stated in previous big-battle posts, playtesting is very helpful. It lets you see the pitfalls of your force configurations and also to design some different fights for different types of people. Generally speaking, there's the Infantry Fight, and the Cavalry Fight [era doesn't matter, Armor acts just like real cav...big bang, then it's all over]. I decided I wanted to have one of each, and that the below combo offered some interesting terrain and a role for the Brigans to shine, which seemed like a Welsh thing to do. One-Hour Wargames #4 & #2.

Scenario #4 is a quick-escalating attack on a hill. Turn 1 has Attacker entering with entire force on the bottom, and Defender has two Units on Hlil with rest of force entering Turn 2. Scenario #2 has Defender setting up entire force first within 6" of North edge, and Attacker doing the same within 6" of South edge second. Red goes first in both games.

Interesting to note, is that the central wood is now a very important piece of terrain, and even one Brigan in it has lots of options [unless the opponent has Brigans, also]. For the playtest, I wanted to see what would happen if the #4 Attacker put just one Brigan straight into the Woods, but used it against the #2 Defender. Ergo, I played Scenario #2 twice BUT with the wood sitting on the left edge of the board, leaving off the other 2.5' of Scenario #4. I Found that the Woods can be a very useful pivot point and a Brigans threaten the hill in the Defender's rear, tying up a unit or two. Below is the third play, when I had made some decisions about how to conduct the Defense.

Defender deploys first. I put the Serjeants on the left to hold the hill, perhaps strike off it in support of the Knight next to them. The Crossbows [Bowmen] are supposed to soften up any defenders before the stacked Knight Units in center [the front has the leader and his banner, the second a priest...well, monk actually], and the last two Knights are supposed to get out and smash up anything they can, supported by the Crossbows next to them.

Below, Attacker deploys second. Note, the scenario edge is normally between the hill and the wood - the wood is Scenario #4 intruding. On left is a Brigan from Scenario #4's force - it will immediately move forwards and use the Wood as a strongpoint to harass the Red Flank. Next is a unit of Mounted Brigans [light cav] with a Cavalry behind, a Bowmen, a Serjeant, and a Bowmen. I want this Infantry force to advance and mass fire on likely Targets, with the mounted to their left advancing to exploit it. 

On the right rear, I've more Mounted Brigans and a Cavalry, I want them to hold the right flank best they can. The Cavalry in the middle rear has a Welsh warlord and standard [unfortunately from an earlier era]. The priest was busy saying matins and arrived late [I forgot to put the priest out, but he will appear!]. Leaders add a Melee dice to any Unit they are in, while the priests may be used once to attempt a triple-rally, then are removed.

Turn 1. Red Advances, farther on the right than the left. The Crossbows are moving up fast as they can. The knights to right are moving the fastest, to threaten the Welsh right.

Turn 1. Blue advances on the left and center, while holding back on the right. Both flank Brigans rolled poorly and failed to advance very far.

Turn 2. Initiative is still solidly held by the Normans, who continue their advance, planning to shoot up some Welsh then slam knights into damaged Units, gaining a big edge. Both Crossbows are now in range of likely targets. The plan seems fine so far, but things are about to go South very quickly due to inattentiveness on my part [distracted by the kids].

Turn 2 below. Welsh continue to settle in, and it looks a bit dodgy with the right flank being wrapped, and a left held down by Brigans. However...The Bowmen deliver a stunning treble-hit on the Norman knights before them. The Mounted Brigans decide to help and toss Javelins hitting a double the usual ratio! They then stay put hoping to distract the Norman Serjeents in front of them. This puts the Norman Knights at 5/7 Hits, so the only thing left to do is charge with the Cavalry down the gap in the middle, hoping to wipe them out! Unfortunately, they only get in one more Hit, leaving them at '6' and on the table.

That was quite a show! Moving to the center doesn't look as good, but the Welsh Serjeants roll a '6' to move and are able to charge into the mercenary Crossbows to their front - I fight they should easily win! The right also looked dodgy, but leading off with the Welsh Bowmen, they also inflict three Hits on an English Knight, so the Welsh Cavalry charge them next! The Mounted Brigans find a space in which to insert themselves near the other knight, then throw Javelins to no avail [forgot to take the rubber tips off??]. 

Overall, a great Welsh turn thanks to amazing support from the bowmen. Needing a 4+ to hit with 3 Dice, they inflict 1-2 Hits a turn, depending on if they roll up or down. To have both roll up [2 Hits] is a pleasure, but to have both roll 3 Hits each is just fantastic, providing some opportunities for the lighter armed but fierce Welsh nobles to get involved. Surely things can't get much better, can they???

Turn 3 Initiative. They can! The Welsh roll over 2 better so seize the Initiative from the Normans. They decide to take the first Action Phase, and go again immediately.

Turn 3 Welsh right. More excellent Shooting. The Bowmen put two Hits on the Norman Lord's retinue, and the Mtd. Brigans roll three dice 5+ to inflict startling casualties on the Knights nearby! The Cavalry make up for it a bit my missing entirely.

Turn 3 Welsh Left. But wait, there's more great things to go...The shooting is again great, with the Bowmen finishing off the Knights in melee with the Cavalry [freeing them up]. The Mtd. Brigans pop thru the gap inexcusably left between the Serjeants and the Woods, ending behind the Serjeants and pelting them with Javelins [they rolled 13" of movement, and easily fit through the gap, needing a Base Depth...I should really know better...and got one hit, doubled to 2 Hits as it is on the rear]. The Serjeants await the onslaught...

As the Welsh Cavalry is only a Base Depth away from the Serjeants, they can charge them off their Flank Arc, and of course they do...

But manage to entirely miss! Both shooting and melee attacks lose a dice to an Armored defender, so the Brigans throw 2 Dice of Javelins and the Cavalry melee 2 dice.

Finally, the Leader shows he's not much of  a leader. With an opportunity to get the jump on the Norman Knights before him, he rolls a '2', getting a measly 7" total movement so can't reach anyone. He settles for aligning with the Bowmen in mutual support - if the Cavalry are charged, the Bowmen can shoot into the flank of the attacker. If the Bowmen are charged, the Cavalry can charge the flank of the attacker - and there's only one Knight available.

Welsh Turn 3 ends with the Welsh having the Initiative across the field thanks to having Units in mutually supporting positions, rolling great in shooting and then seizing the Initiative from the advancing Normans. Clearly, the onslaught of arrows thru them off their advance, causing confustion, and the Welsh were ready to take advantage of the...advantage.

Ok, so what's _good_ about this? Well, I know better than to advance the Normans as sloppy as I did - I was more concerned with setting up my attack then preventing a counter-attack, and I left gaps on the end of each flank that I shouldn't have. The Welsh have twice as many Units that shoot, and I underestimated them based on mediocre performance in the previous two playtests [altho the Welsh didn't manage to squeak out both as wins].

I have had to make lots of design decisions about how I think this level of battle is fought, and my overall opinion is that it has a lot of flowing and swirling melees with opportunities that appear and can be grabbed if you're ready. The formations are not rigid nor the soldiers themselves disciplined. Only the foot Units feel "slow and solid" and that also means they've trouble exploiting gaps that appear in the line because they can't move clear through them in one move. This makes weak Brigans actually useful - but not until the melees start getting settled into. Until then, they are a fast-moving but weak hitting shooting unit.

This can all be a bit disconcerting if you're expecting a big-battle feel, but this is more of a Unit-based skirmish, which I think evokes the Feudal period much better than a big-battle game. Save that for the Romans, eh? They can afford to move and feed 50,000 men!

Turn 3, Normans have some hard fighting ahead to turn this around. They shoot their Crossbows at the Welsh Lord's Cavalry then hit them with their Lord's Knights. They advance the other knight right behind, ready to charge the Welsh Bowmen or the rear of the other Cavalry, or threaten the Mtd. Brigans with destruction - they 're somewhat backed into a corner at present. Elsewhere they slug it out putting some hurt on the Welsh.

Turn 4, Welsh keep Initiative and of course choose to go first. With Victory in their grasp on the left, they need to keep the pressure up on the right. The Bowmen shoot the Norman Lord's retinue, weakening it enough that the Welsh Lord finishes it off in Melee. Their Serjeants are slowing grinding down the Mercenary Crossbowmen in the center who are showing themselves a tougher challenge than originally predicted. On the Right, they charge the Brigans into the rear of the far right Knights but to no effect - they miss. On the left, they surround the Serjeants by the Hill inflicting more losses from javelins on their flank and rear while their Cavalry fight them from the front. 

Turn 4, the Normans try to turn things around. On the right, their Knights destroy the Cavalry and face the Brigans. In the Center, the other Crossbow Unit puts some Hurt on the Welsh Lord's Cavalry, and then their Knights slam into the Welsh Bowmen hoping for easy pickings [they inflict hits at a 2-1 ratio...they should have an easy time of it]. 

The center Crossbow inflict two Hits on the Serjeants - take that! But are still getting the worst of it. Their Serjeants miss completely, not the right time to do so...overall, it's still a bit grim but there are three Units of Knights on the right that have some hurt to spare if they can free up, rally a bit and reposition themselves. One problem is that there's still plenty of Welsh shooting on the board - this can cancel the effects of rally efforts.

Turn 5, the Welsh clean things up a bit. They withdraw their Leader's Cavalry to rally as they've 6 Hits. The Priest dashes over. The Serjeants are wiped out finally, so the Mtd. Brigans move to the rear of the Crossbows but miss. The Bowmen holding the center are doing OK thanks to their shooting friedns - they put 3 Hits on the Norman Knights. On the far right, the Mtd. Brigans manage a Hit, getting the Knights to 5.

Turn 5, Normans put more Hurt on the Bowmen, but not enough. They rally the far Knight with the help of a priest, removing 3 Hits - with 2 Hits, they are a viable Unit. The Knights put two Hits on the Mtd. Brigans, but it could go either way at this point. After last turn's excitement, the Crosbowmen whiff, so it averages out. Everything rests on the Knights...

Turn 6, Welsh dash Norman hopes. The Welsh Bowmen single-handedly inflict 3 Hits, rolling 5-5-6 and wiping out the Knights fighting the Brigans. They in turn are free to roll 6-6-5 shooting the knight that just rallied, taking them from 2 to 5 Hits!

Turn 6 continues, but it only gets worse as numerous free Welsh Units move to the right, ready to make trouble. For the Normans, the Crossbows are fighting tough, and inflict two Hits on the advancing Serjeants! However, their Knights are disappointing, only putting one Hit on the Bowmen, who survive. The far Knight rallies again, but only gets off one Hit.

Turn 7, the end draweth nie! The Welsh put the Norman Knights in the center to flight, and the Brigans do the same to the Knight attempting to rally nearby. The only bright spot is that the Norman Crossbows are earning their pay - they inflict two Hits on the Serjeants in melee [needing a 5+] and see them off! It won't matter in the end, as witnessed by the many knights fleeing behind them...!! Still, we can all respect a gallant stand, can't we? If the Welsh loot the Norman baggage, maybe they can afford to hire them?

Turn 8, The Welsh Mtd. Brigans strike the Crossbows from the rear, getting one Hit, doubled to 2, putting them to 7 and they flee. Still, they stayed longer than the knights!

Final tally, was 2 Welsh Units destroyed, and two others put to the brink [one rescued by a priest who took off 5 Hits]. The Normans were wiped out, despite their priest rallying 3 Hits off a knight. With the Welsh in control of the hill and the crossroads, they will be able to continue their invasion of Norman lands, seizing or razing castles as they go.

Whew, what a debacle! But it was great fun to play and a great example of why it is fun to play at this level - this "battle" involved 800 Welsh against 880 Normans. But they managed to pull it out because I attacked in a clumsy fashion and then luck SHINED on them, clearly "Deus lo volt". It was still a wild blur of battle, and could've gone the other way had the Normans regained the Initiative or the Welsh just stopped shooting so darn well! These are NOT massed Longbows! And the Javelin-toting Brigans accounted for 2-3 Units with their efforts. They are dangerous in the second phase of battle, altho merely a nuisance in the first phase.

So very happy with how this game has developed. It needs to have the rules written in full, the Force Matrix cleaned up a bit, and the character rules re-done to match the new mechanics. Still, I think I will be painting up more from the pile of lead, especially characters, and returning to Wales for a campaign as soon as I can. Meanwhile, confident that the rules are solid for tomorrow's Big Battle Game - Crug Mawr!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Re-Basing [8] the long slog is ending...!

Time for some more re-basing...but it is slowly ending as there's not a lot of bases left of my old Medieval Warfare / DBA stuff! These are double-based elements of Welsh spearmen [x] or Auxilia, depending on rules and edition. They definitely looked cooler as double-based elements, but they'll look even better as quadruple-based elements of 12-15 depending on how I can fit them in. First there's the dodgy bit of removal - I use a chisel and gentle taps.

Next, I take the figs and place the first rank carefully on the contoured base - using pvc glue.

Then I carefully fill in all the gaps with wood fill - this stuff's a bit gritty and I like it.

Then I place the second rank figs on into the wet putty - just requires a little re-shaping is all, as the fig smooshes the putty to the side. A small damp brush gets it all settled quickly.

Takes a bit to get them fit in there, but I like how they look, and it is part of the fun for me!

Back view - always hard to get them just right...and looking "natural". You know, like their fighting casually but not acting, sort of the right balance of toy soldier and real...

I was mostly able to obey my rule with these bases, and get the entire figure, including the spears, within the confines of the base. The lens distorts it a bit, but they are 90% inside.


No flash...

Looking good - ready for a fight except they need to dry overnight! Well, and brown paint on the ground...and a few touch-ups here and there from past damage [mostly protected by their polyeurythane coating, I may add, aka The Miracle Dip].

So this is two more Units of Welsh Freemen ready for Saturday. As they look a bit distinct, they will be a nice addition, together, to either force. They can be South Welsh spearmen who still fight in closer order due to the more open terrain, or Welsh feudal serfs of a Marcher Lord...lots of possibilities, but most importantly easy to use on the table.

Future Scots Schiltron from DBA years. Eight stands of 4-figs for Close Order Units, blah blah blah blah. Glad I don't do that anymore - they just need to look cool! Anyway, there are some real Scot figs in it, and mercenary Irish for the Bruce's campaign in Ireland. I can get at least one unit of Freemen out of it, and one unit of Kerns - Brigans, Very happy with how these armies are looking, and the rules are playing, I may add!

[Big] Battle of Crug Mawr, 1136 p.1 - not a Crug adaptation at all!

I'm thinking it would be useful to see how easy it is to throw a multi-player game using the OHW scenarios, even if one is uncertain exactly who will show, and have adapted / modified the rules a bit. I've a game next weekend to host, and am in the process of preparing for just this event.

So, I began with the forces most easily at hand to host a game of 4-6 people, the most likely number to show up - I already have me, one "yes" and the Host of the venue [the mysterious game designer, retired LTC etc]. This is pretty flexible as we can accomodate up to 4 more people [I can just observe]. It means I need about 12 Units a side, which is easily divisible by 2 or 3 a side: 

4 players = usual OHW of 6 Units / player.
5 players = one side of 2 players, 6 Units / player. One side 3 players, 4 Units / player. I'd probably pick one experienced gamer and two newbies for the 3-player side, and let two average experience guys play the larger force of 6 each.
6 Players = two sides of 3, 4 Units each. OR, make the game larger to 30 Units [5 each] or even the full boat 6 each.
POINT 1: you need to prepare for uncertain number of players - even if they WANT to attend, something always comes up, and others may drop by unexpectedly.

For 24 -30 Units, my easiest historical opponents would be Marcher Lord English v. Welsh. At the moment, I have:

English: 7 Knights, 2 Serjeants / dismtd Knights, 3 Crossbow, 2 Freemen, 1 Bowmen 
Total 15 Units

Welsh: 3 Cavalry, 1 Serjeant / dismtd Cavalry, 3 Mtd Brigans [LC], 5 Freemen, 3 Bowmen, 1 Brigan [lt. Bows]

Total 16 Units

So, I already have the 30 Units I can easily field, without any substitutions. In a pinch, I've another 5 Units from the Dark Ages that fit pretty well with the medieval period. However, more interesting, I've several Units that have been awaiting Basing, so I could take this opportunity to hit this game project and expand it a bit.

Re-basing: 2 Galloglass Heavy Infantry, 2 Irish Brigans - Kerns, 2 Welsh Dark Ages spearmen, 1 English Medieval Bowmen [in livery]. This would add 7 Units to the force, and they wouldn't look out of place at all, really.

Initial Basing: 45 Welsh Bowmen for 4 Units, 49 Welsh long spearmen for 3 Units.

Also, it's about time I did some more leaders / characters for these forces. I've two nice sets of Feudal Lords with retinue, and two priests. It'd be good to make a few more Leaders and nice bases for them to be mounted on [a long-overdue project]. There are suitable figures already painted, more or less, I'd just need to print some flashy banners for them.

Point 2: Every game you throw, take an opportunity to prepare some new Units or Characters, so that your collection slowly, and naturally, expands. It's always easier to work on something when there's a specific goal or deadline approaching.

So, altho I was looking at doing the battle of Brunanburh, I won't have enough Saxons ready for the possible number of players who could appear. I need an exciting English v. Welsh battle that has possibility to expand it in size, from 12 Units a side to 15 Units a side. The extra three Units will easily fit onto any 2 OHW scenarios. I did Orewin Bridge 1282 previously, but my figs are really for an earlier period, so I'd like something in the 1100s. 

Time to do some research: 

"List of Anglo-Welsh Wars" [Click] 1136 Welsh Revolt against Normans sounds promising, dare we say "revolting"?

Battle_of_Llwchwr 1136 - good field battle but uneven forces.
Battle_of_Crug_Mawr 1136 - good battle, would like more detail, but Wiki says:
"The news of Richard's death led to an invasion by the forces of Gwynedd, led by Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr ap Gruffydd, sons of the king of Gwynedd, Gruffudd ap Cynan. They captured a number of castles in northern Ceredigion before returning home to dispose of the plunder. Around Michaelmas (11 October in the Julian Calendar used at the time) they again invaded Ceredigion and made an alliance with Gruffydd ap Rhys of Deheubarth. The combined forces headed for the town of Cardigan. This army was said to include hundreds of armoured horsemen, a style of warfare which the Welsh had learnt from the Normans.

The battle[edit]

Two miles outside Cardigan the Welsh army encountered a Norman force and battle was joined. The Normans were led by Robert fitz Martin, supported by Robert fitz Stephen, constable of Cardigan Castle, with the brothers William and Maurice FitzGerald, Lord of Lanstephan. After some hard fighting, the Norman forces were put to flight and pursued as far as the River Teifi."

This is promising - a field battle, with "hundreds of horsemen" who had learned the style from the Normans. This would work perfect with my available forces, as I've three stands of Cavalry with three stands of light cavalry to support them. Could be interesting clash against Knights. Also, sounds like an encounter battle, which is usually easy to set up. As the rules provide plenty of their own friction, it is easy to get an interesting fight out of a simple battle.

Also, I like the Marcher Lord's coats of arms - they are bold with a Red/White and easy to paint as well [granted, this is a very superficial and quick search on the web]:

Fitz Martin
Image result for Fitz Martin coat of armsImage result for Fitz Stephens coat of armsImage result for Fitzgerald coat of arms

Owain Gwynedd?  Gruffydd ap RhysDeheubarth Arms
Arms of Llywelyn.svg    Coat of arms
Some interesting colors going on here...
POINT 3: Interesting colors isn't the worst reason to pick a force!

So now I need two OHW scenarios that are an encounter, or LIKE an encounter, and which I can set side by side easily. I need one that is relatively open for a wild cavalry melee, and one that seems suitable for an infantry battle. The two favorite Hill scenarios, #4 and #8 are both good for Infantry, so the other needs to be open. Let's see some combinations using those handy-dandy OHW scenario cards I made a while ago [click]:

Option 1: 8 and 1 - escalating hill attack [infantry battle] with open fight on the right.

Option 2: 8 and 16, same but blind encounter on right [the town blocks Line of Sight as the two armies march down the road to each other]. I'd replace it with a hill, given the scale. I like the narrow gap between the two woods, below the hill and bottom left of the town. It's a good Infantry zone. Two Infantry Units could hold it if they had Brigans in each Wood. Overall, a developing battle in both halves, escalating on left and surprise bump to right.

Option 3, same, but flipped around, marginalizing the woods to the flanks. Large open space except for town / hill in center. Could be interesting, but not for Brigans [light troops] unless the Town is converted into a Wood. The support distance between the two central hills is pretty small, about 9" so it could develop into an infantry fight.

Option 4: #1 and #4, very open, dangerous for infantry in general, but the zone from the #4 hill to a #1 hill has some potential for Infantry on the Hills and Cavalry in the middle. Sort of a reverse of the usual battle plan, but hey, you have to adapt, right? Possibility, anyway.

Option 5: I like this better - the central wood would be a great place for Brigans to fight like heck and interfere with the bigger battle. #4 is a quickly escalating battle, with all Units on the board by Turn 2. Would make for some interesting choices for both sides.

Another good thing about this set-up, is that the woods are in the center, which makes Brigans an important troop type unless you want to have your forces divided and the enemy's initiative pushing the battle's development.

Point 4: the 30 scenarios in OHW give you multiple options - pick the one that will give the best game based on the forces you have and the people who will play.

For Option #5 above, the Normans would be the the Red player in both battles. Altho #1 is a pretty dull pitched battle, my version of the rules with partial random movement prevent it from being either dull or predictable. I experimented with Scenario 2 several times, and found it to be a pretty wild ride at times, especially when Initiative changed - which is why I made a firm decision to use the diced Initiative mechanic.

Scenario 1 could have:
English: 5 Knights, 2 Bowmen, 1 Serjeant
Welsh: 3 Cavalry, 2 Mtd Brigans, 2 Bowmen, 1 Serjeant

Scenario 4 could have:
English: 1 Knight, 2 Serjeants, 2 Freemen, 2 Bowmen
Welsh: 4 Freemen, 1 Bowmen, 1 Brigan, 1 Mtd Brigan

Both would need to be playtested a bit to see if the forces balance out. Most players have a lot of trouble facing knights, often because they don't understand the turn sequence.

Well, there you have it - several possibilities, any might make a decent game, mostly dependent upon what forces you plan to put into the field. In fact, ANY combination could work out, as this plays fast enough you can switch sides and go at it again! Still, it is better to plan, especially with new players to the rules, and people who have modest tactical skills but plenty of enthusiasm. Ergo, to playtesting we will go next.

Point 5: PLAYTEST, PLAYTEST, PLAYTEST before you host a game!

Most important to notice here, is that the many different scenarios give you an opportunity to tailor an available force of miniatures to an interesting scenario that may not have all the details, but at least can be filled in with details - so sure, this looks like a meeting engagement, if not a surprise one. I may have to try scenario 16 with Medievals, I never have...

Thursday, December 14, 2017

AMW v. OHW showdown!

in this corner, "Ancient & Medieval Wargaming" coming in at 276pp and $40. In the far Corner, "One-Hour Wargames" weighing in at 157pp and $20!

Who will win? 

Neil Thomas, obviously!

OK, well, this is not so much a showdown as a bit of a comparison of the two rulesets, especially their combat mechanics. Got the idea from checking out some posts at the AMW yahoogroup, where some chatter about the two games came up. I recommended OHW for a large group if one was pressed for time, and AMW if you like more mechanics and aren't in a hurry. So how do the two sets compare?


  1. Cost and weight - double
  2. Rulesets=4: Biblical, Classical, Dark Ages, Medieval
  3. Mechanics - old-school mechanistic with 10-15 army lists per set.
  4. Scenarios - one, "wipe him out" with one twist.
  5. Terrain - very little explanation.
  6. Explanation of design, period, etc - plenty, nice work.
  7. Playing time - 2-3 hours depending on player experience.
  1. Cost and weight - half
  2. Rulesets=9: Ancient, Dark Age, Medieval, Pike and Shot, Horse and Musket, Rifle and Saber, American Civil War, Machine Age, WWII.
  3. Mechanics - modern, very streamlined, very carefully thought out.
  4. Troop types - always 4 per set, but some easily crossover, so more like 6-8.
  5. Scenarios - 30 [!], which pretty much make the rules worth it by themselves.
  6. Terrain - laid out in every scenario, with clear explanations of it.
  7. Explanation of design, period, etd - a bit less but generous, more nice work.
  8. Play time: yep, about an hour. Half that for experienced players who know when their licked and want to have another go!

The combat mechanics for AMW are mutli-step with extra variables:
  1. check chart, see how many dice per stand your Unit gets against the opposing Unit. Usually this is 1:1, but several circumstances give you 2:1 on the first turn, and a few give you 2:1 or 3:1 all the time [fighting a flank and a heavy unit v. a light unit].
  2. Roll that many dice for a 4+
  3. Opponent gets saves v. Hits [always, everyone has at least Light Armor!].
  4. Failed saves become Hits. If the total hits adds up to a factor of 4, a base is lost.
  5. If shooting, Hits in woods are halved. If in melee in woods, use different procedure [very simple, but different].
  6. the unit checks morale for losing each base from shooting or melee at the end of the turn, so you need to mark that the unit owes a morale check.
  7. If you fail the morale check [3+, 4+ or 5+] you lose another base.
  8. The unit fights until the last base is removed.
In effect, these are all 16-Hit Units, and every 4th Hit is a possibility of losing another 4 Hits if you fail morale. I do like the morale / quality aspect; it adds morale into the equation, an important military dimension.

I have a few problems with the model. First, it is very static and makes lots of assumptions, e.g. that Light Units will fight toe-to-toe against a heavy unit. I don't think they would, they'd dance around just out of range, perhaps dash off if they got too close. I don't like that every unit has an armor save - many units wore none, so what is it - true grit? It involves constant computation of dice - pretty demanding on the brain. The positives are that the feel is very mechanistic and logical "you hit, he saves, you damage, he may check morale - if fail, more people run off". I like that there's a Quality to the Units, Elite, Average & Levy.

The combat mechanics for OHW are much shorter:

  1. Roll a die for your troop type - it is then sometimes modified by +2 or -2.
  2. Modify the resulting Hits v. terrain, armor, or flank/rear. it is halved, quartered or doubled, rounding up any fraction.
  3. Units are removed at 15 Hits.
Needless to say, the OHW mechanics are much less nuanced. Interestingly, it doesn't really matter much. In that sense, it is like comparing DBx rules: AMW is DBM, and OHW is like DBA. There is more streamlining and generalization in OHW, but with 30 scenarios, it's almost like every scenario is a new game. I figured out that the possible combinations of forces and rules are in the area of 10,000! Per the title, is usually playable in well under an hour by experienced players, and often new players.

I want to especially emphasize the value of the 30 scenarios. Yes, there are a couple of open battle scenarios, 1 & 2 of the 30. All the rest have an interesting twist based around timing of entry, location of entry, terrain [rivers are important in several], unequal forces [sometimes due to reinforcements arriving later, sometimes they are a 6-4 unit game - interestingly, most of the 6-4 unit games have the smaller force attacking an encumbered larger force! This is perfect for, say, Germans v. Russians WWII, British v. Americans AWI, Confederates v. Union, etc. But each scenario provides a good 3-5 plays where each game is something new, and it is constantly helping you to grow tactically. In essence, there's at about 30 games to play in the OHW book, per game rule set, and deciphering the tricks of fighting each side in the scenario is an enjoyable exercise.

In any event, how much longer does AMW take than playing a battle with my OHW rules? Well, I played them a couple times, and the move distances are slower and the combat is slower to resolve. So about an hour for 6 units each using a OHW scenario. Then I wondered how long JUST the combat mechanics took, so I played my version of OHW to get a time down, then played again but used the AMW combat mechanics - this was easy to do, and the only significant change was simultaneous melee and more dice...lots more dice. And that's what the AARs are below.

Good old Scenario 21: Twin Objectives, from OHW. I chose this b/c I've never played it with medievals, and figured it was about time. I didn't have much hope for the defenders...

Defending Welsh have an Archer, [on hill], a Men at Arms [in camp], a Cavalry and a mounted Skirmisher, e.g. Light Cavalry [these are the same as Skirmishers in the Ancient and DA sets, but they've a 12" move and can't enter woods]. Attacking Anglo-Normans have [from left] 2 Levy [attacking the hill], an Archer, a Men at Arms, then three knights.

Turn 1. English dash forward. They work their numbers against the hill, outflanking the Welsh Archers. The knights move into easy charge range, so the Welsh Cavalry charge in to get the first hit, while the Light Cavalry cross over behind and shoot, putting some solid Hits on one of the knights, a total of 4. The Knights respond by...missing?? Welsh Archers dump a volley on the  Levy, getting 3 Hits for 3 dice! Early game definitely going Welsh!

Turn 2. However, the Levy make up for it by rolling all hits, wiping out the Archers - wow!

Turn 2. English Archers hit the LC for 2 while the MaA advance, clearly intent on raiding the camp. This also serves to cover the left flank of the Knights from the Welsh LC, who reposition to hit the other knight. Meanwhile, the Welsh Cavalry only get a Hit while BOTH English knights only manage to get in 3 Hits - clearly need combat lessons from the Levy!

Turn 3. The English wipe out the Welsh Teulu, so the LC charge in and finish off a knight - barely. Rest of the force is barreling down on the camp, intent on loot!

Turn 4. Welsh LC miss. English Knights - don't! Camp is in trouble - Teulu brace for impact!

Turn 5. English knights charge in against camp to little effect. Archers get close to have Line of Sight [4"] and support them. Welsh LC die, unsurprisingly, while Teulu only get 1 Hit.

Turn 6. English are tightening the vise. The Teulu need to roll hot to make an impact, but they are not, alas. Second Knight gets ready to join the fun.

Turn 7. Knights charge in and finish off the Teulu, who dash off with the loot in their pockets.
Decisive result in 6 turns, total of 30 Minutes. I think next time I'd put the bowmen in the camp, and the MaA on the hill. Also, I forgot that the "lightly wooded hill" does give a terrain bonus in melee like any other hill, so the Levy would only fight with 2 dice each. I don't think it would've changed the final result, but the Archers may have knocked out a Levy, anyway.

Ancient and Medieval Wargames.
AMW only has one scenario, a pitched battle where whoever eliminates 6/8 of the Units wins. The only twist is that for each [non-light] Infantry that you exit off his baseline, he has to remove two of his. This doesn't really interest me, it's just too "wargaming as usual". Instead, I am re-playing scenario 21. All the other factors are pretty equal, altho the official move rates are a bit slower, so the only real difference is the combat mechanics. Let's see how much longer it takes...

Below, a Frankish army takes on a Late Roman Army, as they work to seize a strategic hilltop [left] and the Roman camp [top]. 

The Romans have an Average Archer, an elite Cavalry, an Average Light Cavalry and an Average Spearman. Setup is similar to previously: the Archers are on the rough hill to bottom left, the Spearmen are guarding the camp, with the Cavalry and Light Cavalry to the right, respectively. The Franks have three Average spearmen [one heavy], levy Archers, 3 Elite Noble Cavalry [e.g. knights]. They set the two Spear against the hill, and the Archers and heavy Spearmen against the camp, and the three knights against the Roman cavalry.

Play proceeds very similar to last game. Archers put a couple hits against the Frankish spearmen, and the Roman Cavalry beat up on one Frankish.

The spearmen close in, and the Roman archers manage only a few hits.

Turn 2. The Roman cavalry has a solid lead - the Franks failed a morale check and lost a second stand. Romans passed theirs - hoorah for civilization!

Turn 2. Roman Archers caused some casualties and the spearmen failed one check. Still not much hope, but they knew it was a fight against the odds from the start!

Turn 3. Romans win against one Frankish cavalry, but the other has them dead to rights, while the third crushes the light cavalry [the ratio is 3 dice per stand every round, to a 4-stand Unit should get 5-6 Hits each round, and the unit only has 16. Throw in morale failures and light units don't last long].

Turn 3. Archers fighting well. They may eliminate one spearman - just one more Hit!

Turn 4. Cavalry cleaned out, the Auxiliary Spearmen in the camp stand alone. Off-camera, the Archers go down, taking a couple hits and failing morale. Ah well...

Turn 5. Dogpile on the Rabbit! Dogpile on the Rabbit! Dogpile on the Rabbit! 

And on top of being heavily outnumbered, the Romans are also rolling badly.


ta-daah! I hope the barbarians are proud of themselves.
Tactically, not really much difference. This scenario is pretty tough and the defense is very limited in both the setup and the forces involved. Interestingly, it seems that the OHW mechanical model was closely derived from this mechanic: 15 v. 16 Hits, takes several turns to be broken in melee, etc. The main difference is just that AMW takes longer. Move distances are about 2/3, and altho you melee twice a turn [once each player's turn] the dice move so slowly that it took three units about 6 turns to wipe out the unfortunate Romans guarding the camp. Time was 45 minutes or so, about 50% longer. As the tactics are about the same, I don't see any reason to use AMW unless one just likes more mechanistic feel.

Couldn't resist having another go with different set up. The Romans bolted their LC out into the open where it was a lot more effective, tearing up the Archers, threatening the rear of the Spearmen attacking the hill, etc.

A few turns later, the Franks are already hot-dogging their way into the camp.

For some reason, I didn't take more pics. The result was the same. I think the defenders in a melee game need to have more of an advantage for a chance to win this one.

Overall, AMW is a good set of rules. But I feel that the one scenario will make games repetitive. Since most of the popular armies have similar options if not identical lists, players will have a tendency to pick similar forces and "slide towards the mean". It also means that the burden of developing new scenarios is on the players / host. While that is great for some, others don't have much talent for it, and few have a lot of experience. Also, ancient thru medieval battles are among the worst documented; good luck trying to break down a battle into a playable game! Having gamed for 36 years, I can honestly say that while I enjoy the entire process, hostingis only second in difficulty to writing a set of playable rules.

I think that at the end of the day, "One-Hour Wargames' is the superior set. While the rules have less "feel" [and the usual problem of all NT's rule sets - they are incomplete, with core, essential mechanics having been left out, like how to contact, Line of Sight, etc] the stripped-down aspect of the rules is an aid to enjoying the real point of the game - mission tactics to accomplish success in the scenario, and the player's decisions to get there. This is not just a lot more interesting, but it takes a superior tactical mind to play and win OHW scenarios consistently. 

Furthermore, the offering of not just 3, or 6, or 10, but 30!! scenarios for which the game is designed to play is a pretty amazing deal. While it is true that not every single scenario gives both sides an equal chance at winning with every set of rules [some favor a melee game, others favor a shooting game] as the game takes so little time one can always switch sides and try to do better than the opponent did.

Finally, you can easily get almost anyone, a bright child or an adult friend who likes games, to try a One-Hour Wargames battle. It is just as easy to play with a spartan, "toy-soldier" style of table and miniatures or a very realistic table with lots of incidental terrain and realistically painted and based historical miniatures.

The typical old school / GW-style game is focused on lots and lots of differentiation [some of which is patently a-historical] whether it is troop types, weapons, armor [*sigh*, among the worst offenders] or - most tediously - lots of little factors removed from movement across terrain, and building from army lists. And the scenarios are usually the "kill them all" type, b/c the real art of these games is in list-building to beat up your usual opponents

Flames of War has brought this to WWII gaming, to its detriment, and I find myself unable to muster much interest in it - I'd almost rather not play at all. AMW - as written - is more like an old-school lots of factors / mechanics list-building type of set. While I think it is easy enough for an experienced player to avoid these traps, it would almost be easier to just get Warhammer Ancient Battles if you are into that sort of thing.

So to me, the winner, hands down, is "One-Hour Wargames"!