Thursday, May 21, 2015


Its been 5 years since I decided to develop a fast and easy set of homegrown rules for my ancient/medieval games rather than trying to keep up with the latest commercial fad. This current exploration of a Morschauser based set is nothing like what I had in mind back then. This has led me to question whether or not I should keep the Gathering of Hosts name so I decided to go back and check the rules against the original criteria. (See camel meets straw post)

So far the new rules clearly meet 4 of the criteria. They are simple and intuitive enough to be played without a QRS and to be easily learned, focused on major troop types rather than details and the 6 cm bases are compatible with more than one set of commercial rules, esp since I will end up with many pairs of stands. The original list calls for single figures but allowing for elements and tracking hits which is how the new rules work.  The intention is to develop some sort of command control for commanders so that remains a maybe. Lastly while large battles work I have not yet tried a small game so that is also an open question. With somewhere between 5 and 7 of the 7 criteria met, I am satisfied that I am justified in continuing to use the name.

That settled, here is a summary of the rules as played by Rob, Norman and myself last Friday.

Morchauser Shock Rules Test 5 Quick Reference 

  • Play Sequence. Alternate turns.
  • Active player shoots with archers and artillery. Horse archers may move upto 1/2 then shoot then finish move.
  • Active player moves units in any order
  • Resolve all melees
  • Movement.
    Hvy Inf, Med Inf  6", Lt Infantry 8", Archers 8", Heavy & Medium Cavalry 10", Light Cavalry and Horse Archers 12", Artillery 4", flying creatures 12" May pass over units of either side.
    Stop when entering a ford.
    Units may turn or move sideways as desired unless engaged or attacking but no part of stand may move more than move allowance.
    If 2+ Pike units turn back to back they form square instead of moving. Then then have no flank but may not move. 
  • Engagement Range. If a unit is within 2" of the enemy it is engaged. Moving to engagement range is an attack. When moving within 2" of enemy a unit must halt or move to contact an enemy. If starting within 2" of enemy front a unit must halt, move to contact or retreat.
  • Shooting. Archers that shot may still move but may not attack. Artillery which shot may not move.  Roll 1 die per remaining strength point.

    1. Range: Archers 12", Mtd Archers 4" 
    2. Effect: Each 6 hits Heavy or in cover,  5,6 hits all others. 
    3. Artillery: Range 12 hit on 2,4,6, range 6 hit on any but 6.
    4. Limits. Must have line of sight. May not shoot if fording. May not shoot if self or target is engaged. LOS in woods 2"

  • Melee. If in contact both sides roll during the melee phase. Roll 1 die per remaining strength point Roll Melee Power or less to hit. Front/flank values. 

    1. HC & MC 5/3, Lt Cav 4/2, Horse Archers, flyers 3/2 
    2. HI 4/2, MI 4/2, Pikemen 4/1,  LI 3/1, Archers 2/1 
    3. Modifiers: to power but never less than 1 after modifiers
      1. -1 to power if attacking uphill or out of stream or any but Lt Inf & archers in woods
      2. -1 to power  if enemy is heavy or is behind hard cover or if cavalry fighting pikes frontally.

  • Strength Points. All units start with 4 strength points except artillery which have only 2. When all are gone the stand is removed.
  • Commanders. Form part of unit. Commander rolls extra die in melee. Commander will be last man killed on stand. If commander killed all units roll 1 die. 5,6 carry on, 3,4 retreat a full move, 1,2 Rout.
  • Army Morale. When an army has lost 1/2 of its units it may no longer shoot or attack or move into contact.

  • ........................................................................................
    These are the rules that we used for the playtest, it was just a matter of figuring how to catagorize each stand of orcs, elves, wolves, men etc . The dragon was a bit of a puzzle but we finally decided to count as flying heavy cavalry  with 6 hits.

    After a brief discussion on magic we decided to defer and just made the scenario be about disrupting a wizard who was casting a complex spell to demolish the Elven castle. (he can be seen atop a small green knoll in the nearest corner of the table in the picture.

    I spared a few troops to delay the enemy's approach on the wood and deployed the rest in 2 lines between wood and table edge with a reserve of warg riders and flyers including the mighty if somewhat cartoonish dragon. The enemy massed cavalry and spearmen against the gap with a host of elves going through the wood. The attackers had 37 stands and the defender 35 iir.

    I took an early lead as my archers shot well at the attackers. Since Rob's cavalry started opposite my main line while Norman's infantry had to slog through the woods and over the river in a giant wheel, his cavalry struck first and, after a fierce fight, were pretty much wiped out before his infantry could close in support. I did a sort of Roman line relief and battled with his heavy infantry, getting the worst of it before my reserve attacked his flanks and rear (I like flyers!).

    My horse archers sat and watched Norman's advance for a while but finally took off for a ride around the enemy, hoping to hit Rob's heavies in the rear. Norman's archers did some nimble blocking and though I got around them it took too long so I turned on them. It took about 4 turns but eventually I wiped him out at a cost of over 1/2 my force.

    Back in the woods Norman's eleves finally threw the few remaining remnants of my flank guard out of the wood. They were just in time to see the sort of damage a playful dragon can do. During my melee phase the enemy lost their 19th unit and were no longer able to shoot or attack. My forces had lost only 15 units so the wizard was still mumbling and waving. The castle soon exploded in  colourful clouds of blue and green and there were loud cries of delight and chortling, barking and fighting from the chaotic crowd in front of the castle.


    On the whole the rules worked well though we needed better names for unit types as well as some magic and monsters. Tge question of characters and command control are still up in the air. The command and control is especially problematic since the game ran well without any including the occasional blunder, units not moving, or the wrong ones,  open flanks etc. With 3 players and roughly 3 dozen units aside, the game ran about 2 hours. Clearly room for more rules & complications or more figures though a more complex scenario might help. A three hour game would be fine.

    My next step will be to move more figures to 60cm square bases and play a small skirmish.


    1. Looks ;like you had an exciting game.I tried your previous test set out with a dragon v bowmen & foot knights last weekend. Dragon got easily beaten.I look forward to giving these a whirl with my ancients and/or Mythical Earth fellows over the weekend. I feel characters are an important part of fantasy genre games and await with interest to see what you come up with.Are you proceeding ungridded,gridded or both?

      1. For now I am proceeding ungridded but it would be easy to convert to a grid since all distances are an even multiple of the chosen increment.

        Characters are an important part. Rob and I talked them a bit but didn't get far. Probably singly based able to be attached to a unit but capable of going off on thrir own and some sort of character vs character interaction. Magic also needs to be addressed, summoning monsters, raising the dead, causing fear or elation or confusion. Lots more thinking to do.

        If you have thoughts by all mesns run them by me. All newts for the pot.

    2. One thing about Archers. Sometimes they are well armoured and other types are unarmoured. You seem to have them unarmoured. It applies to both foot and mounted. I wonder if archery should be something added to a basic Light, Medium or Heavy unit. It could then decrease combat power by 1. This is what it seems to do now if you compare LI vs. Archers and LC vs. horse archers.

      Just my two newts worth.

      1. Yes Morschause'rs Basic rules are very basic indeed. I have been going slow, 1 step at a time to get a feel for what I'm messing up before I do so. The new horse archer rule was done just the way you describe, playing as ordinary light cavalry just wasn't satisfying.

        I suspect that we will end up assigning units various characteristics such as movement, armour, missile range, melee power and special rules.