We had an enjoyable game yesterday between Macedonians and Indians using Bob Cordery’s Ancient Rules from his Developing the Portable Wargame book. There are some photos below. The toys were 20mm HAT and Newline Designs mounted on 8cm wide bases. Having recently moved house, I couldn’t find all the figures I wanted and so the armies were mainly based on what I could find! Alexander had 1 x Companions (Elite/4SP), 1 x Greek heavy cavalry, 1 x Hypaspists (Elite Phalanx 5SP), 5 x Phalanx, 2 x Light Horse Archers, 1 x Peltasts Light Infantry Javelins, 2 x Light Infantry Bow.
Porus had 3 x Elephants, 6 x Heavy Archers ( Light Infantry Close order Bow), 2 x heavy Cavalry (Poor/2SP) and 2 Chariots (3SP). I gave the chariots an extra SP to make them heavy.
We played the standard rules and didn’t use the elephant optional rules – but see comments about this later. Each side had 13 units and we used median card activation method (as described in Bob’s earlier Portable wargame book), but giving Alexander a +1 to his median to reflect his brilliance! This meant that Porus had a deck of 4 x 6/7/8 cards and Alexander a deck of 7/8/9. There was also a joker in the deck. The table was 12 x 8 square grid of 4″ squares.
The game played quickly and smoothly. Alexander routed the Indian left wing quickly but the Indian right held up well with the Horse Archers being seen off. There was something of a grinding match in the centre but then Alexander had a lucky run of activation cards without the Indians being able to respond and this led to the Indians reaching Exhaustion point – although Alexander also became exhausted the turn after. One thing we weren’t sure of was how the winner was decided. We called it a draw and headed off to the excellent Bakewell Thornbridge Brewery taproom for a couple of lunchtime pints!
We enjoyed the game and discussed a few house rules we might consider for next time. These included:
- Having to use an another activation if you want to advance and fight again after a combat
- Only allow pulling out of combat if you are faster than the enemy
- Only apply the having to turn to face rule if you in the square adjacent to the enemy front.
- Allowing light troops to retreat one extra grid to pass through friends behind.
- We would like to find a way of making massed bow fire more effective than skirmish bow fire – perhaps +1 to die roll and remove the commander +1 firing if in same grid.
- Some sort of evade option for light troops but not sure how that would work.
- Limiting number of turns a unit can make if not lights – eg heavy cavalry and heavy infantry 2 turns, Phalanx, Elephants, Heavy Chariots can only change direction at beginning of move. Perhaps allow a diagonal drift if maintianing the same facing. – measured orthogonally as usual.
- We thought you got to move a lot of units with the median card – perhaps make the middle card 1/3 rather than 1/2 total number of units rounded up?
- For elephants, use the normal hit resolution table but apply the retreat rule when the last SP is lost.
Playing on a grid certainly speeds things up and didn’t spoil the look of the table. Would love to hear other people’s thoughts on the rules as it is a good game engine.
The initial deployment – Macedonians in foreground
Indian cavalry and Heavy Chariot
Porus on his elephant
Alexander and his Companions