Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hail Caesar 2

Steve's Britons v. Byron's Romans
We did the Border Raid AD52 Scenario from the book.  The Romans come on at one end of the table (RHS in pic 1) in 4 divisions, 1 per turn.  The Britons start scattered about the far end of the table in 3 divisions.  In pic 1 the Roman cavalry of their advance guard is facing Bagotrix's cavalry & chariots. On the right Marcus Spandex's division is facing the fanatical Druids.  Cenicus Dodius' divison is in support. The division of Dipso Maniacus Vino is lagging behind.  Bagotrix's allies are still in the far woods, except for their chariots which have rushed ahead with the Druids.  The Roman cavalry started well pushing their opponents back, but the Britons rallied and the leading Roman cavalry unit suddenly routed.  This prompted morale tests on their supports which also routed.   This left Spandex with  hanging flank and a horde of fanatical Druids in front.

Dodius tried to save the day by counterattacking Bagotrix's infantry on the left, but it was too little too late.  Spandex was swamped with Druids in front & cavalry & chariots on both flanks.  Dodius did break some of the British infantry but the cost was too high, all his units became shaken so his division also broke.   Vino's division hadn't got near the action, but with 3 out of 4 divisions broken, the Romans failed army morale. 

The battle went pretty smoothly.  Having played Black Powder certainly helps, but they are easy to learn, and the rule book is pretty good when it comes to finding stuff.  There are few grey areas that require a bit of interpretation & I can see that different groups could end up with different ways of playing some items.  (Something the authors have no problems with - they encourage the players to play around with the rules - there is whole section on optional rules to pick & choose from).

The game does seem to be prone to a bit of bad luck causing total disaster.   In tonight's case, Byron's lead cavalry had the advantage of following up an intial win, but threw bad dice & lost anyway.  Bad morale dice then caused them to rout.  Then their supports had to test - another bad roll & they went too.  Suddenly there was a hole in the Roman line & Spandex was hit in flank while he already had his hands full fighting the Druids.   So one bad morale test escalated into total defeat.  Maybe Byron could have deployed better, maybe when we become more familiar with the rules, the luck/skill balance will improve.  I can see that some of the optional rules & some different interpretations could help improve this too.

Maybe it's the authors' national bias, but the Celts seem far too good relative to the Romans.  But there's nothing to stop one from manipulating the factors to suit one's prejudices when designing scenarios.

The players & the umpire enjoyed the game.  Hail Caesar isn't perfect, but for me it's way better than FOG.  The command system where you never quite know how far anyone is going to move really spices things up.  The combat system is a bit flukey, but no more so than FOG, and so much easier to do. 

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