Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Guns of August, in Williamsburg, VA. My game had no guns, but those of you who know me know how tedious I find the pops of powder compared to the ring of iron on bronze. This year, I would run a Trojan War scenario. In this scenario, as in the Iliad, Patroclus has donned the armor of the sulking Achilles, and been killed by Hector. Now the Greeks and Trojans scramble to recover the body of Patroclus and Achilles' armor. I used the Hail Caesar rules... sorta. 

The main difference here was that there were no Commander figures. Normally in HC, commanders aren't units and can't be targeted (they can add dice to other units in combat). In this scenario, each chariot (5 to a side) would combine the abilities of a commander (in command of 1 unit of infantry and 1 small unit of light infantry peltasts or skirmishers) and a unit of light chariot.

Another thing that was odd about this game was that there were no battle lines. Instead, at the game's start there were mini-conflicts all across the terrain: a Greek division facing a Trojan division in the NE, another in the NW, another in the SE, and in the SW, with Hector in the center and an unoccupied Greek band not far off. Hector was the closest to the marker for Patroclus' corpse, which would serve as the flag in this game of "capture the flag". You can see the H-shapes all across the starting board, each of which is one of these mini-conflicts.

 A Mycenean standoff!

Here at the end we see a Greek chariot trying desperately to contact or at least shoot at the rear of Hector's chariot just before he makes it off the table. The attempt was not successful and the Trojans brought the body back inside the walls of Troy. Achilles is going to be pissed! 

This was the best HC game I have run, even with the funny rules. I had both HC newbies and HC veterans at the table and all said they enjoyed it. I realize now that I gave nothing to the Greeks to offset the advantageous position of the Trojans (Hector started right on top of the body) so I probably should have granted the Greeks the first move. I may run the scenario again.

Monday, August 3, 2015

These pics chronicle the playtest of a Hail Caesar scenario I intend to run at the Guns of August con at the end of this month. The game is set in the Trojan War, just after Hector kills Patroclus. Greeks and Trojans battle to recover Patroclus' corpse and the armor of Achilles, which he died wearing.

I tested some rules that were a departure from Hail Caesar. In addition to rules for carrying off Patroclus' body, I merged commanders with units of light chariots to create Homeric heroes. These were represented as a single chariot model, and therefore had some pretty massive clash values on a  narrow frontage. This did not turn out to be a major problem and it did convey the feel of a few heroes wreaking havoc among swarms of lesser men.

A problem I'm glad we ironed out in my living room rather than at the con was the mechanic of picking up and running with the dead body. Making a unit that gives ground drop Patroclus did not work well (it allowed one team to keep hold of the body). It will work better if any unit that forces the unit holding the body to give ground seizes the body itself.

You might notice that the Greeks in this scenario are hoplites, although that's very anachronistic to the Trojan War. I prefer to make them very distinct from the Trojans and those crested helmets are an easy identifier.