The hordes pour across the ford - will this be Strathclyde's Maldon?? Next batrep tells all!
The playtest went well. There were a couple of small changes and typos, but two significant suggestions that I have now adopted.
- Warband. If you are playing with the straight NT rules AND the force matrix he has on p.64, then d6+2 Warband is just fine. But if you have a force of all Warband, then they should all be +1. This is still a fast, hard-hitting force, but takes Hits easily. Note that I've been playing all my scenarios with a full army of warbands, they're just too powerful in those numbers. The matrix has them as 0-2 with the rolls.
- Too Much Luck. The dice swings are pretty extreme. While they can and should statistically average out over the 2-4 turns of a typical melee, they often do not. Why the same Unit rolls bad each time, I don't know! But the movement is also too extreme as well for some of the players. Therefore, I've drafted a set where I use a d5 average dice for all movement and combat rolls. I can argue it is more realistic perhaps, but it's definitely more satisfying for players.
I have playtested both the above changes and was happy with how they worked. The Fighting Retreat scenario becomes much more balanced.
In any event, here's the latest draft of the rules, using D5 and a few more corrections:
DARK AGE WARGAME RULES
Units. There are four types of Units in the Dark Ages rules, representing British types.
1. Infantry are assumed to have some training and experience working as a Unit and adopting the protective shieldwall formation quickly and at need. Due to this defensive posture, they move slower and more deliberately than other Units. They may have large shields and small spears such as Romanized British, or small shields and long spears such as the Picts.
2. Warband are aggressive individual warriors, attacking with speed and ferocity. Their lack of armor and wild, disorganized fighting style leaves them vulnerable to casualties, however.
3. Cavalry represent household soldiers on small unarmored horses who use their mobility to hurl missiles with impunity until the enemy is weakened, then charge in to finish them off. As professionals, some may have armor and helmets and be eager to charge into melee.
4. Skirmishers are hunters/raiders with bows & knives, or javelin-armed freemen with small shields and long knives. They harass with missiles, charging if they see an advantage.
Figures & Basing
4-6 inch frontage per Unit with no prescribed depth, figure size or number per base. Mine are two adjacent 6cm bases of 2-6 figures [WRG standard], for a total of 12cm [47/8”] or 5 bases of 2x1” cavalry singles. This makes all my Units about 5” wide, and 1.5-2” deep.
Dice. For more averaged results, this uses a d5, which is the UK “average dice”, having pips of 2, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, eliminating 1 & 6. If you want more extreme results, switch back to a d6.
Line of Sight. LoS is measured from a Unit's front center point to closest visible part of target. It is blocked by any intervening Units, hills, woods, buildings, etc. that are scaled over figure height.
· Units may see into and out of woods, but not through two sides of a wood.
· Units must have LoS to shoot or charge enemy Units at the time of the shooting or charge.
A full turn has each player taking four phases:
Attacker [player A]: 1) Movement, 2) Shooting, 3) Melee, 4) Routs and Rallies
Defender [player D]: 1) Movement, 2) Shooting, 3) Melee, 4) Routs and Rallies
Playser sequentially move their Units, with no corner exceeding the total distance rolled in inches.
Class 1. Infantry move 1d5+2
Class 2. Warband & Skirmishers move 2d5+2
Class 3. Cavalry move 3d5+2
To fit through a gap or move along a road, the two bases may be placed one behind the other, or the cavalry bases may move sideways or in a column of bases for appearances sake. There’s no game difference for a “column” as the warriors are just flowing through a gap or along a road.
Instead of waiting for the Shooting Phase, Units with javelins may perform a Moving Shot in their Movement Phase, either before or at the end of their move. Bows may not shoot if they moved.
There are two terrain types, Linear and Area. Linear are 6-12” long x 1-3” wide. Area are 6-12” per side or diameter. Building or tree models are only decorative – move as needed to position Units.
· Villages. Area. No effect on movement.
· Woods. Area. Only Skirmishers may enter.
· Marsh, Lakes. Area. Impassible.
· Rivers. Linear. Any Unit may cross at a bridge, a ford, or in shallows.
· Roads. Linear. Units get a 3” bonus moving entirely along a road and not Charging.
Units Turn by pivoting on the center front, up to 180°. Units Turn as follows:
1. Warband & infantry may Turn once, at the start or end of their move.
2. Skirmishers & Cavalry may Turn twice, once at the start and once at the end of their move.
3. Any Unit in melee contact with enemy Units that are not on its front facing may face one of the Units. It turns a full 90° or 180° and bases of enemy Units are adjusted to maintain contacts.
Charge moves end with the Unit in Contact with an enemy Unit.
1. The target Unit must be within 45° of the charging Unit’s front and in its LoS to be charged.
2. Contacting the flank or rear is only possible if the entire charging Unit is past an imaginary line drawn along the Target Unit’s side or rear respectively.
3. Contact may be made by only one attacking Unit per facing; front, rear and either flank.
4. Contact is made by moving along the shortest line from the Charging Unit center to the center of a facing that is not already in a contact, maximizing the amount of edge to edge Contact, if any, and minimizing any gap using all available movement to do so. It then stops moving.
There is no additional free movement to achieve full edge to edge contact [the so-called “closing the door” of DBA and other rules]. Any gaps are assumed to be filled with fighting men!
· Skirmishers and Cavalry may shoot at a single Target within 45° of their front facing, to which they have a clear Line of Sight of an entire Facing.
· Bows may not shoot if they moved during the Movement Phase.
· Javelins may not shoot if they performed a Moving Shot in the Movement Phase.
· Fulfilling the above restrictions, they may even shoot into a melee.
· The range is 12” for bows and 6” for javelins.
· Roll 1D5 and subtract 2 if the Unit is armed with bows, or 1 if armed with javelins. This gives the number of Hits against the Target Unit, modified as follows:
o Terrain. Units in Woods or villages halve Hits [round up].
o Shieldwall. Infantry Units are assumed to assume a Shieldwall formation against any threat, so they halve Hits [round up] from shooting at their front or flank facings.
o Unshielded or unprepared. Double Hits from Units shooting at the rear Facing.
· Both bows and javelins are limited to three shots.
One-Sided Melee. Units only inflict casualties during their own player turn.
Roll 1D5 for the Unit, giving +2 for Warband, -2 for bow Skirmishers, -1 for javelin Skirmishers and -1 for Cavalry. The final result is the Hits against the Target Unit, modified as follows:
· Terrain. Units defending woods, uphill, or a river crossing, halve Hits [round up].
· Shieldwall. Infantry Units halve Hits [rounded up].
· Unshielded or Unprepared. Double Hits by Units attacking on the flank or rear facing.
There is no dividing of the Hits a Unit inflicts upon multiple Units attacking it [one enemy Unit may attack each facing; front, rear and either flank, so four total Units]. So, Units only fight melee combats to their Front, attacking a single enemy Unit if in contact with their Front Facing. Melee concludes with the elimination of one of the sides, but Units in melee may turn to face attackers [see movement].
4) ROUTS AND RALLIES
· Any Unit with 15 or more Hits is removed from the table.
· Any Unit eligible to rally off Hits due to an Optional Rule does so now.
These come in several types to give an army some more “personality”. For every three Units in a force, a player may pick a suitable personality figure. All personalities function as a Unit upgrade that may transfer to another Unit within 6” at the start of the friendly Movement Phase. If in a Unit that is in melee they may not leave it, sharing its fate if destroyed.
· Hero. This is a warrior with personal fighting skill, or frenzied pagan shaman. Inspiring others with their skill and eagerness, Heroes give a +1 bonus in shooting or melee combat.
· Leader. This is a campaign veteran, such as a Roman Centurion. He knows that maneuver will win the battle more often than personal valor, and demands discipline from his men. A Leader gives a Unit one additional Turn that may be used at any time during its movement.
o Banner. This is an upgrade to either personality above. The Banner is a prestigious symbol of the personality and his people. It allows a Unit that is not in Melee, and has not moved or shot, to rally off 1-3 Hits [halve a d5 roll, rounding up]. A Banner counts as one of the permitted Personalities for the side.
· A Christian Priest rallies off 2-4 Hits [halve a d5 roll, rounding up, then add 1] since he has a suitable holy relic, standard, great exhortations, etc.
Battles often began with one side as the aggressor, making a series of attacks until fatigue or enemy resistance caused them to lose momentum. To simulate this, the scenario attacker has Initiative and goes first each Turn [if no clear Attacker, roll off]. But at the start of Turn 2 - and every Turn after - roll off adding +3 for the Initiative Side. If the Initiative side loses the roll, Initiative changes to the other side and they start going first each Turn. Note this allows the side seizing Initiative to go twice in a row as the turn order changes, which could be a critical moment in a game. While it is possible for Initiative to switch a couple of times, it is likely to only change once. Additional options:
· For more likelihood to change use +2 for the side holding Initiative, for less go with +4.
· Subtract '1' from the Initiative player’s dice roll for each of their Units that have routed.
For each army of six Units, allow one Unit to be Elite, but one must be Levy to balance things out!
Elite / Stubborn troops = 18 Casualties before routing.
Levy /Nervous troops etc = 12 Casualties then routing.
The 1HW scenarios have 6 Units per side as the norm. This conveniently comes to rolling a d5 each time a friendly Unit is destroyed, attempting to roll higher than the total number of friendly Units destroyed to keeping fighting. If you roll equal or less your force routs and the game ends. With three or four Units, roll a d5 halved [round up]. As this shortens the game a lot, you can roll TWO d5 and keep fighting if EITHER roll beats the number of Units lost. You could also get a +1 to your roll if your opponent has lost more Units, emboldening your force to greater efforts
In a campaign game, allow the opposing side to get one last free attack as they rout. For more "period flavor", consider fun ways to gain a bonus point or two on the die roll, like winning a pre-game challenge, praying to God [or 'the gods'], fatigue from force marching to an objective, etc.
ADDITIONAL UNIT TYPES
Roman Militia. These are Infantry who melee at d5-1.
Roman Cavalry. These better equipped cavalry on bigger horses shoot & melee at d5.
Arthur’s Cavalry. As above, but are Elite. If “the Knights”, let them fight d5+1.
Mounted Servants. These fight with javelin but at d5-2. If there is an Elite cavalry Unit in play, they may also be Elite. In this case, a second Levy Unit must be taken.
Irish Nobles. These javelin Skirmishers fight at d5. One Unit may be Elite.
Scots Nobles. These stubborn Warband fight at d5+1 but are Elite.
Viking Veterans. After deployment choose to fight as Infantry OR Warband. One Unit may be Elite.
Skirmishers and cavalry may make a full move directly back out of melee to Fall Back [FB]:
· IF they are from a higher movement class than all enemy Units in the melee
· AND no enemy are in contact with their rear facing.
If an enemy Unit is in frontal Contact with the FB Unit, dice-off their movement distances – if it wins the enemy Unit makes a free attack before the Skirmish or Cavalry Unit moves the amount it rolled.
Starting with the second shot, any roll of unmodified 5 results in the Unit having used the last of their missiles with that shot. This replaces the three-shot limit.
The player indicates a Unit, states the intent of its move, rolls the dice and then fulfills the intent as much as possible. Units move the full distance rolled even if farther than desired. They may however stop alongside a Unit with a banner, at a terrain feature that gives a movement or combat bonus [e.g. road, hill], and must stop at any Unit they may not interpenetrate, Contacting for Melee if an enemy Unit. Warband must contact an enemy Unit if they roll enough distance.
Note, this section is the one most open to disagreements, so use with caution! A Personality with a Banner suddenly becomes essential if you use this rule.