My blog about my wargaming activities. I collect a lot of 15mm miniatures for the American War of Independence and so collect a lot of rules for this period. I started miniatures with Napoleonics, so I have a number of armies in 6mm and 15mm figures for skirmishing. I have15mm WW II figures that I use for Flames of War, Memoir '44, and someday, Poor Bloody Infantry. Finally there is my on-again, off-again relationship with paper soldiers that I sometimes write about.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Game of Hail Caesar

Today was my second game of Hail Caesar, the Ancient and Medieval brother of the Black Powder rules that our group tried a couple of weeks ago. Don and I used his Warhammer Bretonnian army to act as two 13th century Feudal English armies. (On another table, Matt and Shawn were fighting Romans versus Germans. They ended up playing three games while Don and I fumbled through a single game!)


Don's forces were on the left (in blue in this diagram). He has a Knight unit on his far left, ready to swing around the woods and hills and attack me from the rear. Next is his small skirmishing Light Archer unit, poised to enter the woods. Continuing right are two Knightly units with the Battle's commander to the rear.

Don's next Battle starts with a Bow unit on the right flank, immediately backed up by a Medium Spear unit. To its left is a Knightly unit with a Battle Commander immediately behind. Finally, the last unit in the Battle, and in the center, is the Bow unit.

Starting on my left (in red in this diagram) is a Bow unit, a Knightly unit backed by the Battle Commander, a Medium Sword unit, and a Medium Spear unit in the center.

My second Battle, starting on the right, is a small Light Crossbow skirmisher unit. Next are two Knightly units, one behind the other, with the Battle Commander behind. Last is my fourth Knightly unit.

My battle plan was to use the skirmishers to gain the woods and hold off the enemy Knights attempting to sweep around my flank. (There really wasn't much I could do to stop the sweep, but I might get some hits in before he gained the rear.) Meanwhile my Knights would crash into his and use their superiority of numbers to win the combats and punch through. At that point they could wheel left and roll up the enemy line, long before the flanking Knights could gain my rear. The remainder of my army would stay refused and only press to the attack once the Knights started to roll up the line.

I am not quite sure what Don's plan was other than using his far left Knights to sweep into my rear.

Don's Turn 1

Don failed his first order on his left Battle, resulting in no one moving at all. The right Battle moved one move forward, resulting in the Knights getting ahead of the infantry.

Dale's Turn 1

My left Battle was able to advance 12" (two moves), and I ensured that the Knights stayed in line with the infantry, not wanting them to get in the way of my bow fire. Meanwhile the right Battle had a tremendous triple move resulting in the Knights advancing 27" and deep into the enemy backfield.

My bow fire was lucky enough to inflict a hit and force a break test, which Don's Knights failed! Off to a good start.

Don's Turn 2

Don used initiative to charge his Knights into mine. His skirmishers, left flank Knights, and right Battle were all unable to move.

The Grand Clash! Note that Don threw in his Left Battle Commander into the fray. This was critical because he scored two hits, both of which were unsaved.

At the end of the clash both of my Knights forces were driven back in disorder. It looked pretty bad, especially when my Knights on the right ended up with six unsaved hits! Shaken in the first melee round ... this looks bad.

Dale's Turn 2

Whereas Don was having trouble getting his troops to move, I was having no such problem. Three actions allowed my medium infantry with spears to immediately move up into support of the Knights on the left of the melee. The Knights on the right of the melee received support from the rear from the Knights in reserve. (Had I realized that skirmishers could provide support – they just cannot receive it – I would have thrown them into supporting the Knights on the right also.) The skirmishers advanced into the woods, in position to fire upon Don's reserve Knights.

The photograph doesn't really show the action well for the Left Battle as I snapped it after the Knights charged Don's bowmen (in the center), received closing fire, and then were forced to retreat from a failed Break test (Don rolled a '6', of course). I was hoping to quickly create a hole before Don's Knights recovered, but it was not to be.

The Grand Melee is really shaping up. My Knights look like they are ready to crack, but still they make their Break tests.

Don's Turn 3

Don finally has a good turn for orders. His skirmishers on the left flank advance to threaten my skirmishers in the woods. His reserve Knights get a massive triple move and redeploy to the center. His bows in the center move forward slowly in an attempt to provide support to the melee next turn.

Meanwhile his Knights in the Right Battle, along with the Battle Commander, charge my Knights in the center, in an attempt to drive them back. His luck does not hold, however, and he is forced to retreat in disorder. My Knights do not follow up 1.

On my right the Knights continue to get pushed back, now with both units Shaken! My Knights on the left finally break, but the medium infantry rolls high and ignores the retreating Knights. This creates a strange situation 2.

Dale's Turn 3

My turn say my Left Battle prepare for the destruction of Don's Knights. My bowmen wheeled in and fired a volley into the Knights, shaking them, but not getting a break. The medium sword-and-shield infantry (blue) swung around to threaten from the right. My Knights waited patiently.

On the right one of my shaken Knightly units swung from rear support to supporting from the left. Same number of dice, but it plugged a hole. Still need to see whether that was legal. (I could not find a rule preventing it and it was a legal move normally.)

Don rolled five saves out of five hits with his Knights, putting my medium infantry in a bad way as they retreated in disorder. Meanwhile my Knights had gotten the upper hand on rolling hits and saves, while Don continued to roll poorly on break tests. Don's Knights broke in the face of two shaken Knightly units.

Don's Turn 4

Don moved forward with his remaining Knights, but did not contact my medium spear unit, preferring to let the bowmen rack up more hits. Fortunately, the unit was not disordered. Don's fresh Knightly unit, the one that had been in reserve the whole game, charged my medium sword-and-shield infantry. Although they took a tremendous hit, their morale held! (I was rolling hot for Break tests.)

Dale's Turn 4

I slid my medium spear infantry over to engage the Knights fully while my Knights in the center engage Don's Knights.

My Left Battle Commander is wounded in the melee and must drop back while the Knights continue to push the enemy Knights hard, especially after killing Don's Right Battle Commander. Both sides are close to breaking however.

After my medium infantry break the enemy Knights, they follow-up and head for the enemy bowmen. They know that they are going to feel the sting of arrows, however ...

Game End

On Don's turn my Knights in the center break; I decide to call it. Don has the following in his Right Battle:

  • Bow - no hits
  • Spears - no hits
  • Knights - shaken
  • Bow - two hits
Don's Left Battle:

  • Knights - broken
  • Knights - broken
  • Knights - two hits
  • Skirmishers - two hits
My Left Battle (facing Don's Right Battle):

  • Bows - one hit
  • Medium Sword-and-Shield - shaken
  • Medium Spear - four hits
  • Knights - broken
And my Right Battle:

  • Skirmishers - two hits
  • Knights - broken
  • Knights - shaken
  • Knights - shaken

With my Medium Spears feeling a pin cushion and no real units left to charge, I felt like Don' fresh Knights were going to take the field. Besides, it had been almost four hours and our butts were sore.

Lessons Learned

I made the same mistakes in this game that I did the last. Support in Hail Caesar is defined as "touching", not being in proximity of the contact. My reserve Knights should have been in direct contact with the rear of the first line, to provide support. Further, all units should have been shoulder-to-shoulder so that they provide support from the side. It cost me quite a lot of dice in support for those mistakes.

I also should have thrown in the skirmishers on the flank of the Knights melee. An extra two dice there would have helped.

All in all I really liked the game. Feels like a big, grand, glorious game of DBA. Yes, DBA. Units move very freely like DBA, almost like everyone is doing a single element move. Granted, combat is "Gotcha'" and not opposed die rolls, but the movement definitely has a DBA feel.

I'd play it again, but I would rather play four game of DBA.


1 The term "Knights" is used rather loosely. In our case, because this was my second game and Don's first, we used none of the special rules that would probably have forced them to pursue. They were simply Heavy Cavalry with Lance. Then again, we might have played it wrong and they would have had to pursue anyway. Something to check.

2 Reading the rules it looks like Knights cannot make a breakthrough move because the medium infantry in support did not retreat or break. So we ended up with this strange corner-to-corner contact. We allowed the combat to continue and just plugged on.

1 comment:

  1. That was a nice detailed battle report. You have some nicely painted units that look good in such numbers.
    Thnaks for sharing.


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Huachuca City, Arizona, United States
I am 58 yrs old now. I bought a house in Huachuca City, AZ working for a software company for the last three years. To while away the hours I like to wargame -- with wooden, lead, and sometimes paper miniatures -- usually solo. Although I am a 'rules junkie', I almost always use rules of my own (I like to build upon others' ideas, but it seems like there is always something "missing" or "wrong").