Thursday, May 19, 2016

Hail Caesar: Romans vs Carthiginians

One of the local gamers, Joel, has finished painting up his ancients for Hail Caesar. He invited Nate and myself to play, while he GM'd and familiarized himself with the ruleset. It's quite similar to warmaster and blackpowder with the activations. Units are selected and diced against the commanders leadership. Very good rolls result in multiple moves.

You need to pre-declare your intent, so it's an interesting friction where some troops may fail to activate at all, while others lurch across the table at dizzying speed.

 Joel threw down all his painted stuff, in rough parity, Nate grabbed the Romans, and I took the Carthiginians. In the end it turned out I had about a 20% point advantage (up an elephant and a skirmisher) but it was a fun game none the less. Lots of good natured heckling from all three of us.

While the Romans were loaded up with legions (including some convicts), 2 skirmishers and 2 medium cavalry, My own forces had a mix of gaellic (med) cavalry, horse archers, skirmishers, 3 elephants, and a number of blocks of spearmen.
The special rules aren't too common, or overpowering, but do add a certain character to some national units. In particular, the roman pilum rule seemed pretty kickass.

Nate (on the left) took the first turn, but failed to move half his army, thereby ending his turn. We each had two commanders with leadership 8. Largely this meant we needed to roll 8 or less in order to move AND issue another order.

I moved my gaellic cavalry to hamper his cataphracts cavalry which I was rather concerned about. At this point I don't think I had quite grok-ed how fast things can lurch around in this rule set and suddenly I was charging the armoured cataphracts. Cavalry can counter charge, and suddenly we had combat in the middle. 

 Through some very fortunate rolling on my part, I dumped a good number of hits on Nate's troops, avoided too many myself, and we remained locked in combat.

In the start of a long series of failed commands, I fail to move my spearmen at all. In the centre my skirmishers (heavily damaged) have scuttled away and hidden in the back. Their vanquishers have flanked the gaellic cav on the centre upper right. My horse archers moved to bow range and started to harass the roman cavalry.

A turn later the skirmishers have been seen off by the gaellic cav, but the cataphracts have won. My cavalry are spent and unable to advance on the enemy, however I've lined up my SECOND unit of gaellic cav, and moved my elephants and spearmen up.

Meanwhile on the other flank the horse archers dance out to extreme range and proceed to do what they do seriously annoying.

The roman cavalry charge them, BARELY avoid catching them, and both disappear off the table. 

This would start the hilarity of the horse archers returning and, largely, blocking the return of the romans. 

Meanwhile on the right, the second gaellic cav manage to rout the cataphracts. The Roman convict legions are the first infantry fights, and are steadily worn down.

 One the left, the roman legions are legging it forward, while the carthaginians attempt to line up their battle line.

It is around this point we find out that roman legions with the 'pilum' rule are pretty kickass on the attack. They rapidly break, and follow up charge a couple of carthaginian spearmen unit succesfully.

The over success allows a multiple unit charge on the Romans and takes out a unit. The Romans are rapidly approaching army exhaustion. 

The action on the right is largely complete, just a matter of getting the elephants into action.

The left has seen more roman cavalry drive off horse archers, and leave the table in pursuit. This would result in a slightly lower break point for the Romans and cost them the game (although the direction of battle suggested this would happen anyway(. 
 At long last I manage to get my pachyderms into combat, thereby declaring a morale victory on top of my technical one. After calculating the points we confirmed the suspicion that I was using too many points (not my fault!) and I had to face the fact it probably wasn't my amazing generalship.

Fun times were had all around and the game played out to an obvious conclusion in a very reasonable amount of time. No futzing with removing partial units was also great. I think we were all of a similar mind that this is certainly a play again ruleset.


  1. Very nice report (Always cool to see elephants stomping on stuff that’s smaller than they are!). Your mate’s minis are a great looking bunch for sure!
    I enjoyed playing Hail Caesar the few times my mate set it up. We played Dark Ages though (As he has loads of Vikings, Saxons and Normans). Whilst it is fiddly removing unit casualties, It did seem to me to make the whole idea of using figures for the game pointless as squares of paper with unit titles would serve just as well with these rules!

    Regardless, did playing this tickle an urge for you to start your own ancients force to be able to fight these two lovely armies? :P

    1. Haha. I actually just got a horde of 15mm carthiginians for fields of glory. They are a few spots back in the painting queue though. And they are also lots of cavalry....sigh. Just not that jazzed to paint a heap of horses.

      I have to say that I've been liking more games recently that are multi-based. I think I first got burned out playing 40k many years ago with tyranids (a horde). You spend too much time placing them, moving them, and removing them to fire. SO much easier if there's a single base with lots of figs.

  2. Great battle report. Your pictures look great -- and those miniatures are amazing. Clearly a lot of work went into them.

    1. I agree, Joel did an amazing job with his figs. I feel super lucky to have a chance to push around so many of my friends well painted figs. Glad the AAR was interesting enough to read, I worry sometimes.

  3. Just found your blog! Great stuff and cool that you are just up island. I've pushed some those Romans around before when Joel came down to Victoria. I think I got snake eyes twice for command rolls and my team mates division had been wiped out before I ever got close to combat so I don't really have any grasp of the rules, but would like to play again.

    1. Hey Sean, great to make connections with local (ish) gamers. I hope to make it down to the uvic game room at some point. Maybe Nate or Joel (or both) will make it a group trip.

      I have heard that complaint before about games with this mechanic that if certain dice rolls are bad, you are pretty much out of the game before it begins.