Monday, September 25, 2017

Rerun, but with Hail Caesar rules

Allen then Mike S on the left, opposed by the Moorish commanders, Joel, Brett, Andy, and GM Steve V
 After Steve V read my blog entry about not being particularly thrilled with Art de la Guerre, he suggested we run the same scenario using Hail Caesar. Once again, I was a Spanish flank command taking the battle to the Moors (or "Moops," if you're a Seinfeld fan...). My opponent was Andy, who also had a mostly mounted command like me. In the center, or two infantry blocks were faced off against one another (Allen commanding for our side). On the opposite flank, Mike S commanded our left against Joel, while Brett was the Moorish center commander.
It seemed like a good idea at the time -- Allen commits his Spanish infantry into a clash with Brett's Moors
The command and control for Hail Caesar is highly variable -- much like the morale rules, which tend to make games go very quickly. Depending on what your roll vs. your commander's rating, you could end up not moving at all, moving one movement distance, all the way up to 3x distance. Andy and I galloped into battle with one another quickly. He had an unfortunate command failure, which allowed me to choose the matchups. This was counter-balanced by Andy's good rolling for armor saves against my abysmal ones.
Allen's center begins to splinter - why all my pics are of the infantry fight and not my command I don't know!
However, all was not lost. Andy's rolling began to spiral downward. More command failures meant he could not reinforce his units in battle while I was able to keep up the pressure. I started rolling better for saves vs. the hits his units scored against me, and I begin to win the melees, instead. In Hail Caesar, you roll lots of dice for melee. One after another of his light cavalry units began to flee the battlefield, as Andy proved just as bad at rolling morale checks as he was with command rolls. I've found in Hail Caesar, this is a make or break aspect of the game. If one wing folds under a series of poor morale checks, it will not be long for the battlefield.
Joel maneuvers to hold off Mike S (with ubiquitous McDonalds cup), managing to avert defeat, buying time for the Moorish center to steamroll
This was the case with Andy, but he did inflict casualties and disrupt my command. Following up into their infantry's flank was going to take a couple turns of reorganization and rallying off some hits. Or so I thought! Steve V decided to create his own Impetuous rule which stated that any unit which fails a command roll will go the full 3x distance and hurl themselves onto the nearest enemy. One of my knight units went bonkers, screamed 1/4 of the way across the table, and slammed into the front of a Moorish foot unit that had turned to face us against this eventual possibility. They must have been as surprised as we were, because the knights actually won the combat, forcing them to give ground. I had wildly outrolled Brett. My guess is that it would not happen again. My exhausted knights declined to follow up.
The bitter end as Allen's troops are forced back. You can see my impetuous (but exhausted) knights in the upper right
At this point, we took stock of the game. After two hours, Andy's command was completely wiped out. Joel had suffered one or two losses, but it would take several turns before Mike S felt he could turn that flank, too. However, our center had completely collapsed. Last game in Art de la Guerre, the Spanish foot bested the Moors. In this game, they got their solid revenge and sent one after another of Allen's units reeling from the field. Although honors were about even, we decided that the Spanish would withdraw the field with its center broken.

Hail Caesar is a game that is best for one-off scenario games with a group of players. It is not intended to be a tournament game at all (which endears it to me, though puts off tourney players like Andy). There are wild swings in melee and especially morale, so if you don't like a dash of randomness to your Ancient games (provided by the dice), then you may be disappointed with these rules. For me, though, they're my favorite Ancients set, now. My friends all shake their head every time we play and my dice begin to fail me. They give me that knowing, "You asked for it!" look, as I have a reputation as being a subpar roller of dice. Not this evening, though! I would say Andy wore my mantle, allowing my Spanish right flank to score our side's biggest successes. A fun, quick game -- exactly what the rules were designed for!

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