Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Reviewing of Hosts

One of the first ancient pictures to appear on my Game of the Month Blog. January 2010, part of the build up to Marathon.

As the third (!!??) anniversary of Gathering of Hosts approaches in a few weeks time and I get closer to being able to start on the Syr Daria, 3 Kingdoms, 2 Rivers or Lost Outpost campaign or series of campaigns (obviously many details remain to be worked out), my mind has turned back to rules and thus organization. Like last year, I have gone back and read some old posts and battle reports to remind me of roads explored

A Warhammer Ancients brawl over a bridge. Again January 2010 

There have been a few detail changes over the three years but my real goal hasn't changed. Get something historically inspired but vague enough to not be historically hidebound going where all or most of my 25mm Ancients will have a role to play. I have upped the initial 2 armies to 3 and bumped it ahead by about 400 years, but the concept remains.

I had a fairly good idea of what I wanted the games to look like and when I decided to slide from obsolete Warhammer Ancients to home made that didn't change. Even when I got tired of pushing trays of single figures about, the basic look and feel was what I wanted. This got a bit warped when I had fun playing Basic Impetus and then a hex based variant of the same using 8cm wide units.  I haven't found the game as much fun when playing solo but more to the point, since the idea was to play Grant style Teasers with 1 unit = 1 unit with each unit developing its own character, reducing the number of figures from 12 or 24 to 4 or 8, it runs contrary to the original point of using as many figures as possible. Don't get me wrong, if I was starting from scratch, it would be great  I could reduce my shelf space by 2/3. Alternately if I wanted a whole bunch of little armies on the shelf, armies that might each get played with every two to three years if lucky, it would also be good and I seriously contemplated that option for a few months.

One option of course would be to just use a larger number of one stand units grouped together and it was in the middle of experimenting with rules for this this earlier today that it occurred to me that while this is probably more accurate historically, it wasn't what I had in mind and still wanted deep down. I don't want a bunch of nameless elements, I want long standing named regiments whose histories can be traced through the battles they fight. By adopting the 4cm bases that I have been itching to do for the last year, I will be able to extract vexillations for remote service under other rules systems while still staging the sorts of games that I had in mind. In deference to the table shrinkage experienced last year, I may compromise on slightly smaller units though; 8 cavalry or light troops, 16 infantry.

An Ambush from October 2010, using the early version of Gathering of Hosts.
Having looked back at the original criteria, I find that most still hold. One difference being that I will now design for elements not individuals. There have been some radical experiments in peripherals but much of the core of the rules have remained and is still about right. I have added some new design challenges for myself which existed but were unwritten. The original rules handled these but the newer versions didn't really try.

  • Commanders. These need to have a command function as well as combat and morale functions. (This is as before) but the rules also need to reflect the limited staff abilities of many armies and thus the difficulty of quickly implementing major changes to the intitial plan as well as the importance of the local leadership, all without making the game tedious and predictable or disallowing historical examples of flexibility. (From an implementation POV, the original mechanism, imperfect as it is,  is a better line of approach than most I have tried since.)
  •  Missile Fire. Missile fire should weaken not destroy. (Initially this was handled by a combination of individual hits on large units and rallying. I'll need a different approach for elements)

  • Melee. Melee, particularly when it comes to opposing bodies of good heavy infantry, should usually be a fairly lengthy process before one side gives way with cavalry vs infantry usually being a series of bounces till one side gives. Where one side initially at an advantage comes back, the result should usually be a pause before a fresh start rather than a reversal. Rout from melee should be more or less irreversible for heavy infantry in particular. (Again, the initial rules handled this reasonably well but needs some form of adaptation for elements.)  

The updated but not fully tested rules are avaible at left.

Platea from 2 years ago tomorrow. Another early Gathering of Hosts game.



  1. I really like that Platea photo.

    -- Jeff

  2. I'm coming back after a few days...very nice blog Ross, your photos are really impressive, a great work! I'll come back again!