Friday, June 20, 2008

Zama 202 BC

At Zama 202 BC Hannibal was defeated by Scipio. This time it was MarkO's Romans v. Jim's Carthaginians using Camp Cromwell Rules. The scenario was tweaked a bit to make the armies equal in points - in the real think I beleive Hannibal was at a significant disadvantage.

Marcus Oaftavius deployed with his Roman cav on his left, then his allied infantry left centre, legions in the centre, Numidian heavy cav right centre & Numidian light cav on his right.

Hamilcar Ganda deployed his heavy cav on his right, elephants on his left with light cav behind & infantry in the centre in four lines - skirmishers, Spearmen, Italy Vets & mercenaries in the rear on each side.

On the Roman left, their cavalry intially gained the upper hand, but Carthage fought back and by the end had a small gain.

On the Romans right, their heavy cavalry met the elephants - about as good a situation as the Carthaginains could hope for. The elephants threw consistantly good dice and generally won. The front line of cavary lost heavily, but took advantage of a rare win to fall back and a fresh line took over, but it did no better and was routed. The Allied light cavalry went round the elephant fight and was met by the Carthaginan light cavalry. As on the other flank, the Romans won intitially, but were beaten by a counterattack.

In the centre the Carthagians attacked in echelon to get at the Roman allies first. The Allies were attacked by citizen spearman and eventually beaten. The Legion hit hard and broke the front line. The Italy vets then counterattacked with mixed results, but a couple routed maniples was all it needed to push the Roman army past its morale test.

So Carthage won this time. This time Hamilcar Ganda got real value out of his elphants which allowed him to win both flanks (instead of losing them as in the real thing) and he was able to take out the allied foot before the Legionaries could win the battle.

There are still a few items in the rules we haven't play-tested enough & still need some tweeking - but the core system works really well. It was a very enjoyable battle. Despite having 40+ stands a side we finished it in 2 hours.

I really like the new combat system - we use the old casualty counters as Combat Rating counters - so a Unit with a CR of 8 has an 8 counter riding on it. So you don't have to remember & you don't have to calculate in your old head - you just pick up that many dice in one hand, then add or subtract dice as you tick off the relevant combat factors - charge bonuses, casualties, extra stands, routers nearby, etc. Then you chuck the handfull & count out the 4+s (5+s if light v. heavy). Then you chuck a morale dice for each hit the enemy got on you & take the difference in fails. Ties or small differences are the norm, but wild results happen often enough to make it interesting & sufficiently unrpedicable.

The orders system skirts the risk of being gamey, but it does seem to give the right feel & do the job. This was a big battle for just 1 commander a side, even if they were both rated 4 dice generals. It took a while for both of us to get our armies moving, but it felt good - you had to prioritise what you were doing & the battle developed first on my right, then my left and finally in the centre - it wasn't just blow the whistle & all charge forward. When Mark got into a bit of bother on both flanks at once, he used up all his command dice on one flank and the Carthaginians exploited his inability to react on the other.

The double move - dead straight forward only, with severe penalties if you get charged or fired on in the enemy's next turn is a good innovation.

The legionary rules worked very well. Maniples move as light inf, but fight like heavy (confident veteran hast/princ, or fearless veteran triari). They can fight in checkerboard, or close up, as you wish. Mark picked up on the wave attack tactic - the first line hits with +3 for pilum charge, then next turn the second joins in in the gaps and they get the pilum charge bonus again. The Legion took out 10 stands for the loss of 3 - the Carthaginians really had to win on the flanks.

The attached pics are taken from behind the Carthaginian right - 1 near the start & 1 near the end.

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