Thursday, July 1, 2010

Meeting of Hosts: The camel meets the straw

I have a habit of writing my own rules but while I have occasionally tinkered with various ideas for ancients, I have never really pursued writing a set. Partly this is because there have always been so many sets out there, but mostly because ancients was a social thing for me and it was easier to just play whatever popular commercial set we had settled on at the time. WAB came out just as Hat was releasing its first 54mm plastic Punic Wars range and the two just seemed to go together. Mostly it was the Old School aspects like treating the figure as a figure, rather than the new fangled bits, the unpredictability that meant that an early setback wasn't always fatal and the flexibility that allowed us to play TT Teaser type scenarios without bending the rules. When, after a long hiatus, I resurrected my 25mm armies and resumed a little ancient gaming a few years ago, WAB was still a popular choice for those those of using 25mm and up and better yet, it was still the same set of rules with any additional rules and errata being easily and legally available,

Now, I haven't done any competition gaming in a long while and don't intend to, so my only concern is with local gaming. Even so, having a firm set of rules that I didn't allow myself to fiddle with was a nice break from my other periods and made it worth while putting up with those aspects of WAB that I didn't like, even when playing solo. Now, since I can't justify spending the cost of a  new edition, if I continue to play WAB, I will find myself in the position of choosing whether to
a) play with the old rules knowing that there are improvements and that what we are playing is no longer "standard" if I go somewhere else and play,
b) agreeing to a local set of amendments which will be even less standard elsewhere,
c) breaking my own beliefs and downloading or accepting and using a downloaded copy that was probably uploaded without consent of the publisher and thus is breaking copyright.

 I was all set to go with option b and the friends I have talked to so far have been in agreement but suddenly it seems like a lot of work for something so flawed and since the results will be non-standard and the rules may change with each game depending on which circle of friends I am with. Since there will be no real standard to maintain and the Gathering of Hosts is largely a solo affair, I may as well write the set of rules I want to play with.If my friends can be brow beaten into playing the same, fine, if not then I'll cheerfully play whatever mixed version of WAB we agree on.

It'll take awhile to flush out a basic set for my Lydian campaign and even longer to expand it to a wider context but the basic form is already fixed. The list of credits will be long and the impact of WRG & Comitatus will be felt as well as Featherstone and WAB. The key goals will be:

a) flexible enough to play pitched battles or raids, ambushes  and other low level teasers,
b) simple enough and intuitive enough to be played without a quick reference sheet most of the time
c)  individual figures grouped into units vs elements though flexible enough to allow the use of the latter.
d) emphasis on basic troop types and the submerging of minor differences rather than emphasis of special characteristics.
e) a role for commanders other than morale and being combat super men.
f) simple and intuitive even when superficially wrong rather than complex or clever and right. In other words, some one who doesn't know the rules and isn't an expert should be able to learn the basics in 5 minutes and play and understand what is happening without learning game specific terminology or abstract constructs. This means things like removing figures as casualties to track that the unit has been weakened rather than tracking cohesion etc even though the figure loss will not be realistic in terms of numbers and when they come off etc
g) last but not least, armies used for this set must be easily convertible to WAB or other sets.

The basic structure of the game will include:
a) dicing for initiative each turn with winner moving 1st or 2nd. Units stop before contact
b) simultaneous shooting
c) declare charges according to initiative then resolve

Morale will be at least 3 step: good, shaken, routed
Missile fire and melee  will be based on dice per so many men followed by armour saves and may trigger morale checks. Impact may cause a recoil in some form.

Troops will be grouped by function with armour, morale and drill being properties affecting performance.
Units without a general/wing commander will have to test to move but not to shoot or counter/charge.
Now, off to work on a rough draft before the next Lydian campaign game.


1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to seeing the rules you come up with. I was just thinking about a similar project...want to have rules mixing WAB and Grant/Featherstone types of play.