Last Modified 01/20/07
Rome vs. the Successors
Now that the long awaited Hannibal and the Punic Wars (HPW) supplement is out I'd like
to congratulate Allen, Rob, and the entire WHW team on
an excellent production. I won't review the book per se, but I will state that it does accomplish
what it sets out to do and the Punic Wars have never been done better in a gaming book. The long struggle to create a balanced Hellenistic warfare system for WAB is almost complete with the release of HPW. The Successors, Allen's earlier Italian Wars of expansion, and a Greek
and Persian Wars supplement will fill out the Classical World up to Caesar's time. The Punic War focus really helps this book and allows Allen to tailor the army selection process differently from others.
The hard work of Allen and his group of testers has paid off in a system where smaller units of Romans can now hold their own against larger
bully blocks of spearmen or pikemen in WAB. As Allen states, one can try out how Alexander's army would have faired against the Polybian legions,
and a fair result will be had. The other peripheral armies include interesting and high octane barbarians and I am sure Gripping Beast will
have a difficult time keeping their Ligurian figures in stock.
My best review would be to describe a play test session run at last July's Historicon (2005). On the third day of HCon fun, a group of us decided
to play in a mini-tournament based on the Wars of the Successors and the Hannibal and Punic Wars lists. Players each took a role; and eight
armies and enemies of
The player on Rome's side were Mike Bruck and Mike Reardon as the two consuls both with their own versions or Roman consular armies built from
HPW, Steve Schifani with allied army of sycophantic Syracusans, and Don Effinger with his quisling allied Ptolemaic Empire army. On the side of
goodness and righteousness was myself with my cheese ball Epirote army, Don Manser with a Seleucid Empire army, Tom Opalka experimenting with
his cool looking Bactrians, and Vince Salvato trying out the Galatians (with little success since he tried to make a later army full of lousy
The format of this "Clashing Empires" tournament was similar to last years games where we fought Diadochoi Successor battles.
(With apologies to DBA online!)
Each team was trying to beat the other team, there were three games played on four different tables. One table was to be Egypt, berift of terrain. One table reprsented the jumbled up terrain of Greece, Magna Greacia in Italy, or Sicily. One table was called Thessaly and had layout similar to the battle of Cynoscephalae. One table was called Italy.
venue allowed a lot of cross testing of the HPW rules and the Successors lists, played by
experienced players, over some different terrain fields.
In the past, if this same tournament had been set up with AoA as the Roman's list it may have been lopsided against them, but the new order
Romans mopped up on almost all opposition and the two Roman Consuls battled for the top of the leader board all day (until of course Mike
Reardon's Roman clan came to a dismal end at the hands of Pyrrhus himself!). I will let others write about their own experiences, and I
will focus on the one game that pitted my Epirotes against Reardon's Romans for the championship.
Don analyzes THIS!:
|I was the REAL leader behind the scenes of our winning
team.... kinda like a puppet master except you don't
see the strings. If it wasn't for my brilliant strategy... well it would not have been the same result.
Epirote army had done very well so far. I had invaded
to the last turn. My next game was against Don's Ptolemaics. He was distracted a bit too much worrying if the NHL would actually play this year, and somehow I had some luck against him and won.... yes I won against Don. The NHL is now playing, all is good in the world.
The romp over
of small manipular units. He was definitely playing in the spirit of Allen's manipular rules as his Roman units were all 12-15 models. Mike had decided he did not want any inefficient Roman cavalry so he left them to guard the lines of communications. Instead he took Balearic slingers and a large bunch of
My army was a typical Epirote army (squeezed into the 2250 pts allotted for these games). Beside the Generals and ASB there was a unit of so-so Epirote guard cavalry. A unit of Chaeonian guardsmen was joined by two Epirote phalanxes, and one unit of Macedonian mercenaries. Some Aetolians and Cretans provided missile fire. Some Mercenary Greek light troops also joined in. Illyrians guarded the flanks.
(insert army list TBD)
The Big Game against Rome
rocks. I decided to refuse my left flank and try to win on my right. My first move was to send my cavalry and Illyrians on my right to pin his left.
They got embroiled with his small but extremely effective unit of six Balearic slingers, supported by soem thureophoroi. The cavalry did get in a charge on his triarii, but were repelled with loss, (ie they bounced off and ran!) however I did succeed in keeping his left wing back on his side of the table. I advanced my center and tried to set up a firing line to nail his center maniples. The Cretans and Aetolians started pin pricking his center. My elephant was in reserve, waiting to bust through any holes in his line, but it got stuck behind the rocks and I cursed the traffic gods!
Mike moved his legions forward and kept them tightly in order so he would gain all the advantages of the new manipular rules. His thinning
front line hastati were not concerned since the principes were fully in support. The rugged ground made it tough for him to keep everything
tight, but it was worse on me as my big formations were channeled by rocks and gullies. On my refused left I had some peltasts and Illyrians
skirmish with his onrush of Italians. The delaying tactics were working as things heated up in the center.
Mike decided he did not like the losses his line was taking from my Aetolian slingers and he charged this velites uphill at them. We both
expected them the Aetolians to flee, but they held and drubbed the velites, actually running them down in pursuit.
This is where things became confused. With his center velites out of the way I eased the elephant
forward and a phalanx hit a maniple head on. I was trying to make some space to get the elephant into the fray. His maniples held and then
swapped for the unit behind. The Romans left wing started threatening my right flank and I was forced to hold with a phalanx that had both it's
flanks open (since my cavalry did not rally nearby). In the center things were hot! Both sides were winning combats by one or losing them
by one. The Romans were simply falling back on supports, or passing their panic checks because of the legion's hierarchy rules. My troops were
making their tests based on Pyrrhus who had taken up a position smack in the center of the line. However the Roman center was feeling the pain,
and the maniples were diminishing as casualties mounted. The phalanx was winning the grind. So I wanted the grind to continue!
Mike lashes out aimlessly:
|I think the photos look fine. But you didn't say the
most important thing:
"Reardon kicked my successor loving ass!!"
Reardon decided on a very risky a bold move as he felt the game tide was slipping away. His general and ASB charged mine in a straight ahead duel
in the center. Eventually Pyrrhus routed the Roman commander, but the Roman ASB cut down the Epirote ASB... these events would be pivotal to the game, as Mike was clearly trying to buy time to turn my flanks. Pyrrhus tried to reign himself in, but was unable and he pursued relentlessly and ran down the Roman general. Milon's, (my ASB') flight caused some units in my line to panic, opening up holes in my line.
Romans did not flinch at all with their general dead, only one unit out of 10
panicked, and they were only unimportant velites. Such was the value they placed on
Reardon's loss, instead of running they came on for revenge!!
Pyrrhus was now cheerfully running along in the open center of the Roman line. The elephant was sandwiched between two maniples that knocked it back and forth. My right wing phalanx was isolated and then turned by two weak maniples, and the rot set in. They ran, my army crumbled in panic with Pyrrhus out on the wrong side of the table not able to lend his leadership. The tide turned just as quickly as at the real Cynoscephalae!!!
had eked a major victory out what was looking like a drubbing. I had grabbed defeat from
the very jaws of victory! It was entirely my
fault for letting my general get attacked, but still he made nine out ten leadership tests to survive the gambit, so I have to give his luck
some credit! Still any victory of mine would have been suitably Pyrrhic, looking at the loss pile. The Romans, amusingly enough had lost many many troops, but very few units, so the loss count would turn out like a description by Livy.... 12 Romans deads and 30,000 Epirotes killed or captured.
Even though the end result was a major debacle, the game itself was tough battle and everything I would expect from Epirotes versus
Republican Roman legions. I would gladly try it again. I have played this kind of game with the AoA Republican Romans and that is usually a
blow out (unless the Romans field as many Spanish as they can). By the way
This game made it clear to me that the Roman lists in the HPW were on the right track. The wars between Pyrrhus and Rome are 'benchmark' tests of wargame rules, if a tough, tense even fight can be achieved, then the rules are working. Mike Reardon and I have always had good games and this one was solid and memorable, which is all I can ask of 'lists inprogress'. Now that Hannibal is complete you can try out the new Romans and see if they can whup Macedonian buttocks yourselves, at least until the Successor armies come out!
Warhammer Historicals and Gripping Beast puts on a great Zama game!!
Kudos again to Allen and Rob, for their effort. Also credit the throng of testers and proof-readers, and the photos are great too, the Gripping Beast boys really came through with great images. I hope they can do up some Successor models soon!
about the long delay getting these up on the Web.
Mike Bruck won the Laurels (because Reardon was dead)
His message to Allen: "The check is in the mail"
|I had a Roman Army using a draft from 'Hannibal.' I had the
'standard' double-legion with 4x16 hastati, 4x16 principes, 2x16 triarii, and 2x12
velites. I also had a unit of 1x8 Latin Cavalry. In addition I had
some Greek peltasts and cavalry.
Game #1 was against Vince and his Galatian horde. Poor Vince didn't have even a shred of luck in this game. He was crushed by the might of Rome. I don't think Vince passed on single panic check all game.
Game #2 was against Don Seleucid Manser. Don also had a string of bad luck. Both of his flank attacks ended in poor dice rolling and Roman successes. This enabled my maniples to close with his phalanxes and grind them down. Once they became flanked it was all over for him.
Game #3 was against Tom O. and his Bactrians.
(Do you know what you get when you spell check "Bactrian"? .... Yep ... BACTERIA
... so fitting!) My luck ran out in this one ... and Tom success on my flanks. I finally
broke through in his phalanx center ... and (both of us were tired by now) called the game
Tom Opalka shares his thoughts:
|I enjoyed the event that Jeff ran at Historicon. It was
a good, fun format to play against guys I only get to see once a year. The
system could easily be adapted for other areas/eras and if given the chance I'd gladly
play in a similar event.
With the draw, I only got to face one Roman Army commanded by Mike Bruck. It was a nice looking army and Mike had modeled it along the lines of how I picture a Republican Roman army should be...well done Mike.
Having done playtesting for Allen on the Republican Romans I knew that they were no longer a push over...especially since I had a couple of WS2 phalanxes in my Bactrian army. I had to hold as long in the center as I could and hope to crush a flank. Unfortunately the terrain was against me with woods on both of my flanks. The one on my right didn't come into play as I concentrated to sweep from my left flank. I had initial success running down some peltast type troops and a unit of velites and some other supporting troops I believe (it's been a while, so it's a bit hazy). But I had to pursue through/around the woods on the left and it slowed me down from threatening Mikes flank. He did shift a couple of his rear maniple units toward the threatened flank, but once his main battle line hit mine, I knew it would be a matter of time due to my poorer troops...and that's what happened. We fought and I believe after Mike did a swap, he beat one of my phalanxes and I failed...and the
resulting panic checks basically disintegrated my line. A Victory for Rome!
As for the lists in HPW, they aren't all necessarily your standard lists with straight cavalry and infantry percentages. The big 2 armies (Carthage and Republican Roman) are divided into specific conflicts and/or regions and you can only have certain troop types in some of the armies, and in some cases you have to have certain troop types to get other troop types. This creates a nice way to style your army for a specific conflict.
The Romans aren't your AoA Romans. They are still vulnerable in the flanks (as are most armies) and can be beat from that angle if you can hold on in the center, but they can hold a nice long battle line (something they couldn't do too well with the AoA list). The Maniple rule gives the Romans several nice features that makes them a competitive army that gives a nice visual presentation on the table top...when Mike deployed his army, I thought "That's how a Republican Army should look."
Thanks to Allen and Rob and everyone else involved in this project...it was trying at times working through some of the areas, but I think the final product is well worth that effort.
Don Manser and his stinkin Seleucids let us down!! I need to fix that darn list!
Schifani's deft movements.
|Vince's words of wisdom?:
I don't remember things from a month ago, you want me to
remember something that happen in July? :)
Here's some other pictures of the event:
Special thanks to Scott at Pictors studio for providing miniatures and
terrain for our game session,
even if he was unable to play himself because of Booth duty!
Created by Jeff Jonas 11/05