Wednesday, 5 October 2011

First Hail Caesar Game

When Hail Caesar was released I rushed out and bought myself a copy. (Actually that's not quite true; I was at Maelstrom for a WAB event on the weekend it was released, so I didn't have any rushing to do at all. The 15% discount helped, though I was always going to buy it anyway).
Anyway I duly pored over the book and drooled on the Toy Soldier Porn and made excited plans to play some games. Then I added up the actual numbers of painted figures I had and realised that it would be some time before I could field enough troops to play.

Fortunately that nice chap Scrivs, not content with driving me to Hot Lead and back offered to put on a game and show me how it worked. He'd provide the models, stats and scenario; all I had to do was re-read the rules and turn up. Predictably of course, my copy of HC has been "tidied up" so I could only fulfil half of my agreed tasks, and made it to Maelstrom at the allotted hour. I did however remember my camera, so what follows are some pretty pictures of the game.

Paul explained that it was a rough and ready version of Cannae. Hannibal and his ellies versus the might of Rome. I chose to be the Romans. Mainly because I was standing on the side of the table where Paul had laid out the Roman army. Apparently the scenario had been played four times and the Romans had yet to lose. That sounded like a challenge to me, and I'm just the man for that kind of job!

The two forces face off

Paul sent his skirmishers forward and his elephants like big, grey guided missiles with ears and a trunk zoomed toward the heart of the Roman line
 On my command - stay where you are.
 Crunch! Trumpet! Squish!
I replied in kind with my skirmishers and some desultory sling fire was exchanged, though one shot got lucky and made some Gauls withdraw. My right flank meanwhile declined to move.

Gauls, fousands of 'em

Paul's advance continued and the elephants made short work of some Romans, but then caught some javelins up the rear from my skirmishers.

They're behind you!
Some Numidians worked their way round the flanks, though poor ordering from Paul's commanders meant they were not as effective as Hannibal had hoped. Jumbo meanwhile proceeded to flatten some more Romans.

Finally the battle lines clashed in the centre and combats began to grind. Romans were falling, but their armour (and some uncharacteristically good dice rolls by me) meant they were whittling the Gauls in particular down.

The Field Belongs to Rome!
Finally superior Roman discipline and weaponry (and dice rolling) broke the last of the Gallic resistance and with their demise Hannibal was seen off. Though truth to tell the flower of Rome was looking pretty wilted by the end of the game.

A super evening's gaming. Scrivs' armies looked fantastic, the rules were dead easy to pick up and it played out really easily and quickly. I'm sure the rules have hidden depths of complexity and reward the kind of careful and considered player that I'm the exact opposite of. Fortunately they also reward the line 'em up and watch 'em go kind of player that I am.

The mechanics all make sense and the command variables make it fun and exciting. Being clear with your orders is obviously important too. Combat was satisfyingly simple and led to sensible resolutions. The need to record casualties and status could leave the battlefield looking a bit messy, but Scrivs had made some excellent little markers that meant it didn't impact too much.
The fact that the Romans have won each time (and even with the handicap of me rolling the dice for them) suggests to me that the balance of the scenario isn't quite right, yet. The superior Roan armour and effects of the Pilum means that Hannibal should probably be allowed another unit or two just to even it out.

Anyway I'm all excited now. Time to put my plans for an El Cid HC game into operation


  1. Lovely looking table and great reporting!


  2. Nice report & thumbs up to Scrivs for putting all those painted figures on the table.

    Looking forward to seeing what you do with El Cid. I've been building armies in HC for Middle Eastern Arabs and have found the rule set very accommodating.

  3. What a fine looking game!


  4. Great report and lovely looking game.

  5. Excellent report - nice looking armies with good pics, well done.

  6. Great report and a great looking game. I too got the rules as soon as they came out, but have yet to play. Reports like this are driving me a lot closer.

  7. I'm glad to see that the Hail Caesar bug has got you like it got me after my first game! Great photos and the 'Crunch, trumpet, squish' genuinely made me laugh out loud! :-)