Friday, 3 September 2010

Smaller games... some thoughts

We've been playing a series of fairly small games recently (approx 800pts per side) in order to get a better understanding of the 'new' WAB 2.0 rules.

Armies were

Early Imperial Romans
o 15 Legion C/S/M
o 15 Legion C/S/M
o 15 Auxilia (+javelins) L/S/M
o 9 Auxilia Archers
o 9 Celt Skirmishers

British Celts
o Chieftain (General)
Army Standard Bearer
22 Warriors L/S/M
o Chieftain
23 Warriors L/S/M
o 24 Warriors L/S/M
o 9 Light Cavalry L/S/M
o 9 Slingers (+buckler)

These forces were chosen as they're large enough to give a 'proper' battle, playable on a 4' x 3' table, games take around an hour to play and they have a good mix of special rules (e.g. warband, stubborn, etc) without being overwhelming.

You can see a short battle report of one of the games on the WAB forum at

The first couple of games were fairly convincing wins for the Celts. The Romans just didn't seem to have enough numbers to repel, or even hold, the barbarian horde. However, to be fair the Celts rarely failed any warband tests so they were able to manoeuvre freely (as well as the new warband rules allow!?) for a more co-ordinated attack. Also, after the first game the warbands were re-organised to be 6x4 rather than 8x3. Making them deeper seemed to give them more staying power thus allowing them to beat the Romans in a protracted fight.

Another factor has been the formation of the Legionary units. Fielding them 5x3 doesn't give them the stamina (i.e. ranks) for a protracted fight, nor does the narrow frontage allow enough attacks in the first round (with Heavy Throwing Spears) to blunt the warband's charge. Just 2 casualties from slingers - a surprisingly common occurence - and they lose a rank. Plus, if a charging warband manages to inflict 3-4 casualties then that drastically reduces the ability of the Romans to hit back in that vital first round of combat.

This led to the Legions being fielded 6 or even 7 models wide, so only one rank. The result was definitely better for the Romans - though in the end the battle was still a narrow victory for the Celts.

Better use of the Roman allied skirmishers also led to improved results for Rome's finest. Quickly getting the skirmishers close to the Celt line so that they can pelt them with javelins, and keeping them near so that any warband failures cause the Celt line to become disorganised, is vital.

What seems fairly clear is that the Romans need more troops capable of holding or turning flanks, i.e. some skirmishing Auxilia or, even better, Auxilia Cavalry. This would make the Celt attack less co-So guess what's going on to the painting table next?

All in all, I like the new WAB rules and playing a series of smaller games is definitely helping in terms of faster play and less looking things up in the rulebook. Plus it's jolly good fun to push a few toy soldiers around the table.

1 comment:

Paul Leach said...

Thanks for posting the long & short regarding WAB small battles with EIR and Celts. I was recently intrigued by Dr. Phil Hendry's post on the subject on the Warlord Games website ('Vindolanda Strength Return'), and was wondering about other folks' experiences.