Saturday, 30 January 2016

Hail Caesar on Trial

This week I have mainly been playing Hail Caeser, that is to say I had a game of Hail Caesar as a a bit of a trial as I have not managed to actually use the rules in earnest since picking them up some while ago.

Dave K at t'club had broached the topic of seeing if I fancied a game of something this week and I offered to play either a game of Hail Caesar (as I had yet to try these rules), or War & Conquest (only one previous trial game), Bad Wars (haven't used the rules in ages and I quite like them) or something eslse. All of this to aid Dave's yearly quest to play as many different rule sets in the year as possible.

Dave, having only played HC once previously plumped for these, also in the frame of mind to give them a whirl and see if his previous opinion of the rules was still in place.

Due to a bit of limited resources both in terms of figures and time available we plomped down two divisions apiece and had at it. Since this game was just a trial run through of the mechanics of the rules, we considered this to not be a problem.

Turn one, and I won the toss to start and I elected to let Dave go first in the hope that him coming forward would subsequently allow me to jump into engagement. Dave infantry division of a mixed bunch of Levy, Heavy Infantry and Crossbow screened with some skirmishers duly moved forward en-masse with a double divisional move and occupied the centre of the table. Next his cavalry division with general and a mix of Jinetes, Noble types and Heavy cavalry decided not to bother to move at all. Yes, this was the first mis-reading of the rules,..but onwards.

My go on turn one and my infantry division consisting of a unit of Black Guard, and three Berber Medium units again screen by some skirmishers made a tentative one move forward to engage.

This is where we really started to become unstuck, as my understanding of the orders allowed me to give a divisional order to my cavalry division to 'engage', and promptly super-succeded on the order roll and got a massive 'three move' move, which meant that my light skirmishing cavalry and Hasham Guard cavalry bounded across the table and 'engaged' the enemy.

As we were playing the game in a 'to see what happens' kind of way Dave decided to stand as part of his charge response. Oops. My Hasham Guard Cavalry unit completely destroyed the light cavalry unit to it's front, used its consolidation move (for want of a better term) and continued its charge into the flank of Dave's Heavy Cavalry unit of knightly types and with a decidedly one sided skuffle demolished these with the remnants fleeing to table, leaving my Heavy Cavalry right through the enemy lines at the other side of the table, all on turn one. Wow!

It was later we questioned my 'engage' order as I took this to mean different things to the different troop types involved, ie melee troops melee-ing and skirmish types skirmishing all depending on their natures. To my mind this works as you trust your troops to know what their doing and skirmish types wouldn't charge heavy cavalry, you wouldn't have to tell them that. Dave was of the mind that the order was engage so my skirmish types should have closed too, not just chucked javelins, and I can see in gaming terms this is probably true.

Next turn and the the infantry closed toward each other and a unit of Dave's levy charged my Archers and I looking at the odds thought stand and shoot and then melee should be a fairly even contest against the levy, the dice decided differently and my archers beat a hasty retreat followed by the levy. the cavalry circled each other a bit and some more discussions around failure of order throws ensued and whether this halted the command turn, which it does.

Finally the infantry clashed with Dave launching his levy against my Black Guard and this turned out to be very messy as we realised the amount that this unit could dish out and soon it was all over with time run out and Dave's forces largely in disarray, mainly due to some rash outcomes brought on by a disire to see how the rules worked.

Discussions were sought and some other players consulted post-match and the whole round of supporting units was broached and discussed and a couple of the concepts for break test especially from shooting were accepted to make no sense at all or even what they mean't.

The trial game was, in the end slightly inconclusive as a result of a low grasp of some (read most) of the niceties of the rules and a firm understanding appears to be required to get the most out of them. Certainly the extreme results in a small game like this were hugely devestating but in the large 'epic' games that they are portrayed as being for, the effect of this would be largely over-ridden by numbers though still effective. Certainly not the easiest rules to pick up and slightly frustrating, and definietly not for a monday club night pick-up game. Definitely for the arranged one off scenario, battle re-play kind of game seems to be about the mark.

The thought of trying these for the Fantasy Hail Ceasar has been broached and I might pursue this to see how they feel with imaginary armies. I suspect they may be a step too far...


  1. The rules are not at all instinctive to use and would require several more games and use of explanatory FAQ issued by the authors. Not sure that I am up for that but certainly good to give them a try.

    1. Not at all instinctive, and you've got to wonder if an extensive Q&A is needed to start then are they perhaps not coherent enough to start with. Another try or two maybe.... WAB2 anyone?

  2. My favorite part of the rules is the activation/command rolls. Although I haven't played it in awhile, I ended up simplifying them by dropping stuff like Disorder, and simplifying the Break Test results.

  3. Definitely think the command rolls are a good point in the rules. The idea of simplifying the break tests sounds like a good idea, don't follow the logic of them as written.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...