Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ancients: Shooting

Persian archers. Wikimedia.
"This then is how the Lacedaemonians and Thespians conducted themselves, but the Spartan Dieneces is said to have exhibited the greatest courage of all. They say that he made the following speech before they joined battle with the Medes: he had learned from a Trachinian that there were so many of the barbarians that when they shot their missiles, the sun was hidden by the multitude of their arrows. He was not at all disturbed by this and made light of the multitude of the Medes, saying that their Trachinian foreigner brought them good news. If the Medes hid the sun, they could fight them in the shade instead of in the sun. This saying and others like it, they claim, Dieneces the Lacedaemonian left behind as a memorial."

--- Herodotus 7.226

Shooting will follow rules very similar to melee combat, but with certain modifications. Shooting is less likely to be effective in completely breaking a unit, and the odds of hitting a target will depend variously upon the skill of the shooter and the formation of the defender. 

Ranged Weapons

A unit's ranged attacks will be rated by the unit's Size, the weapon's lethality, and its range.

The number of dice rolled reflects not only the rate of fire of the weapon, but also the training and doctrine of the unit.

Superior Bows

  • Slings/Javelins 12"
  • Bows 24"
  • Superior Bows 24"

When shooting at most targets, the difficulty is based on the skill of the firing unit.

Skill 1 5+
Skill 2 4+
Skill => 3 3+

When shooting at Skimishers, however, the to-Hit threshold is based on the relative skills of both units.

  • Attacker's Skill < Defender's Skill:  5+
  • Attacker's Skill = Defender's Skill: 4+
  • Attacker's Skill > Defender's Skill: 3+

This is because we are assuming that Formed or Warband Units defend themselves with their armor, but will not break their formation in order to disperse or use the sweep of the land to defend themselves. Skirmish units, however, will use their full skill and cunning to sneak around.

The to-Hit roll is further modified by the following, potentially cumulative, factors:
  • Target is over 12" away: +1 to difficulty.
  • Target is in area terrain or behind linear terrain: +1 to difficulty.

Saves and Break Tests

Units Save in shooting following the same rules as melee combat.

Units add up the Hits they have taken at the end of the shooting phase.  If this equals or exceeds their Hit Threshold, they must make a Break Test, with the same modifiers, etc, as in the melee phase.

When they make their test, however, they are less likely to break from shooting, and are more likely to fall back.  A unit that exactly equals the number needed for its break test, or fails it by 1, Gives Ground rather than Breaks.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ancients: A Basic Combat Mechanic

Greek Shields.  Wikimedia.
Some say an army of horsemen, or infantry,
A fleet of ships is the fairest thing
On the face of the black earth, but I say
It's what one loves.
This is very easily understandable to do
For each of us. She who far surpassed
The beauty of all, Helen, just went and left
Her noble husband
Sailing she went far away to Troy,
And thought nothing of child or parents dear,
Nothing at all, but ...................led her off,
............................and lightly.........
...reminds me of Anactoria who is not here
Whose lovely way of walking, and the dark flash
Of her face I would rather see ---- than
War-chariots of Lydians and spear-men struggling
On a dusty battlefield.

        Translated by William Harris

Basic Combat Mechanics

Here is a sketch of the combat mechanics for my proposed Ancients game.  My goal is for a simple system, that focuses more on the training and organization of the combatants than the nuances of their equipment.

Number of Dice

The number of dice a unit rolls in combat is determined by its size. The number of dice are not affected by casualties the unit has suffered, nor is it affected by where on the facing the combat occurs or how many models are in base to base. (These factors will be accounted for elsewhere.) If a unit is fighting more than one opponent, it may split its dice however it wants.

  1. Huge 12
  2. Large 10
  3. Medium 8
  4. Small 6

Some units may be designated Shock or Defensive.  A Shock Unit generates extra dice on the first turn of a new Combat, if it Charged or Counter-Charged.. A Defensive Unit generates extra dice on the first turn of a new Combat, if it has not Charged.   Total dice in these situations:

  • Huge 14
  • Large 12
  • Medium 10
  • Small 8


Each opposing Unit rolls its dice simultaneously.  If the Units are evenly matched, the number needed to-Hit is a 4+ . In most combats, however, one Unit will have an Advantage over the other.  In each of the following categories, a Unit may gain Advantage.  Count how many steps better than the other Unit it is. 

Higher Skill  > Lower Skill  (The difference in skill levels is the total Advantage)

Weight Class
Heavy > Medium > Light

Unit Type
Cavalry > Infantry

Formed > Warband > Skirmish

Engaging Enemy in Rear > Engaging Enemy in Flank > Engaging Enemy in Front

If the Units each generate Advantage, from different categories, then Advantages cancel each other out.

Advantage modifies the to-Hit rolls.

If neither Unit has Advantage, they both hit on a 4+.

If a Unit has one net point of Advantage, the Unit with Advantage hits on a 3+.  The Disadvantaged Unit his on a 4+.

If a Unit has two or more net points of Advantage, the Unit with Advantage hits on a 3+ AND the Disadvantaged Unit his on a 5+


Units then make saves based on their Weight class.

  • Heavy 4+
  • Medium 5+
  • Light 6+


Each Unit has a number of Hit Threshold based on its Size:

  • Huge 5
  • Large 4
  • Medium 3
  • Small 2

If a Unit takes a number of Hits equal to this threshold, it must take a Break Test at the end of melee.  A Break Test is a Leadership Test modified by the following:

  • +1 If the Unit has not yet made any Break Tests this game.
  • +1 If the Unit was on the winning side of the combat, based on the number of total Hits each side took.
  • -1 For each additional full multiple of of its Hit Threshold taken.
  • -1 For each Damage Token on the Unit from Previous Combats.
If the Unit fails the Break Test, it is destroyed.
If the Unit exactly equals the score needed, it Gives Ground. 
If the Unit exceeds the score needed to pass, it is unaffected.

After the test is made, any surviving units receive a permanent Damage Token.  If they were Hit for multiple Hit Thresholds, they receive multiple Damage Tokens equal to the number of full multiples of the Threshold.

Follow-Up Moves

If a Unit Gives Ground, move it backwards half its Movement Rate.  If its opponent(s) are not also Giving Ground, or locked in a continuing Combat, they may elect to move forward by half its Movement Rate.  If this keeps it in contact with the Unit Giving Ground, they remain in combat.
If both opponents Give Ground, they move away from each other.

For the Math Geeks

In case you are wondering, here are the average number of Hits for different unit Sizes by dice thrown (chart),  by dice score needed (vertical) and armor save (horizontal). For the most part a Unit's Hit Threshold is just a bit less than the number of Hits a Medium Weight Unit will typical receive from an opponent of equal Size and Skill.

14 - 6+ 5+ 4+ 3+ 2+
6+ 2.333333 1.944444 1.555556 1.166667 0.777778 0.388889
5+ 4.666667 3.888889 3.111111 2.333333 1.555556 0.777778
4+ 7 5.833333 4.666667 3.5 2.333333 1.166667
3+ 9.333333 7.777778 6.222222 4.666667 3.111111 1.555556
2+ 11.66667 9.722222 7.777778 5.833333 3.888889 1.944444

12 - 6+ 5+ 4+ 3+ 2+
6+ 2 1.666667 1.333333 1 0.666667 0.333333
5+ 4 3.333333 2.666667 2 1.333333 0.666667
4+ 6 5 4 3 2 1
3+ 8 6.666667 5.333333 4 2.666667 1.333333
2+ 10 8.333333 6.666667 5 3.333333 1.666667

10 - 6+ 5+ 4+ 3+ 2+
6+ 1.666667 1.388889 1.111111 0.833333 0.555556 0.277778
5+ 3.333333 2.777778 2.222222 1.666667 1.111111 0.555556
4+ 5 4.166667 3.333333 2.5 1.666667 0.833333
3+ 6.666667 5.555556 4.444444 3.333333 2.222222 1.111111
2+ 8.333333 6.944444 5.555556 4.166667 2.777778 1.388889

8 - 6+ 5+ 4+ 3+ 2+
6+ 1.333333 1.111111 0.888889 0.666667 0.444444 0.222222
5+ 2.666667 2.222222 1.777778 1.333333 0.888889 0.444444
4+ 4 3.333333 2.666667 2 1.333333 0.666667
3+ 5.333333 4.444444 3.555556 2.666667 1.777778 0.888889
2+ 6.666667 5.555556 4.444444 3.333333 2.222222 1.111111

6 - 6+ 5+ 4+ 3+ 2+
6+ 1 0.833333 0.666667 0.5 0.333333 0.166667
5+ 2 1.666667 1.333333 1 0.666667 0.333333
4+ 3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5
3+ 4 3.333333 2.666667 2 1.333333 0.666667
2+ 5 4.166667 3.333333 2.5 1.666667 0.833333