Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Escort the Siege Engine - A Hail Caesar AAR

Last week we decided to have a break from Black Powder and chose to give Hail Caesar a run out. Despite having had the rules for over a year, I had never had a game with them, with Dux Bellorum having giving me my 'Ancients' fix. So what forces to go with four our inaugral game? Dave fancied giving his Mongols a run out (or should that be gallop?) against his Brettonians masquerading as Medieval French.

This was to be a variation on one that Dave had run at his club before, with the Bretonnians having to escort a siege engine off the table, whilst under Mongol attacks from all sides. The Bretonnians deployed off table in line-of-march, with the Mongols organised into 4 Tumen that would randomly arrive and various points on the table. 

As this was a first game and very much a learning exercise for me, we weren't too worried about details of winning and losing, rather just getting familiar with the game mechanics after all of those Black Powder games.

The Battle
As per recent games, the captioned photos will provide a guide to how the game payed out.

The Bretonnian vanguard arrived on the table with the siege engine closely following behind, escorted by Medium Infantry. The vanguard consisted of two units of archers on either flank and a unit of Sergeants in the centre. From behind the woods appeared the first Mongol Tumen, consisting solely of Horse Archers
The Bretonnians moved slowly onto the table (this siege engine could only move 6cm per Turn) and deployed to face the Mongol threat to their front. The Rearguard arrived in the form of Knights who again deployed on either flank, not knowing if and when further Mongol riders might appear and from what direction. The Mongols advanced slightly to form a blocking positon whilst another Tumen arrived (top left) formed of Heavy Cavalry and Levied Infantry.
As the siege train advanced slowly forward, the Bretonnian Sergeants charged the Horse Archers who evaded whilst shooting with Parthian shots (very annoying). Elswewhere the Bretonnian Archers and Knights advanced forward, but their shooting was rather ineffective. The Mongol Heavy Cavalry just sat there, despite their General urging them to advance.
With the Mongol Tumens all on the table, the Bretonnians deployed as best they could to meet the threat. Once again the Archers shooting was pretty poor whilst the Mongol Horse Archers continued to harass and evade the Kinghts.
Despite having plenty of targets, the Archers couldn't hit a barn door. Maybe if they'd had crossbows it might have helped, as these English weapons were obviously not suiting them!
The Battle descends into a swirling mass of moving cavalry, with the Mongol Horse Archers moving with ease around the Bretonnian units. Once again evades and Parthian shots merely goad the Bretonnian knights.
The Archers continue to suffer hits from the Horse Archers, whilst the Knights attempt to charge home, but to no avail.
The Bretonnians are somewhat spread out by the threat to their flanks and front, but at least one charge was successful, destroying one unit of Horse Archers. Sadly one unit of knights has charged off into the distance, simply unable to catch the Mongol Horse Archers that continued to cock-a-snoop at them.
A disasterous round of shooting by the Mongols coupled with shocking die rolls by myself led to the loss of the Sergeants and Knights on the right flank. With this loss there was nothing to prevent the Mongols from shooting at will into the deployd infantry and archers. Short of Divine intervention, it spelt the end of the Bretonnians.
The Archers and Infantry face the Mongols on their own.
Maybe a last ditch attempt by the Knights to save the day may pay off...
...but despite their initial charge being successful...
...they are caught in the flank by the Mongol Heavy cavalry and are destroyed.
The End
With the loss of the Kinghts it really was game over. We looked at the lie of the land and both agreed that there was no that the Bretonnians could possibly salvage anything from the game and so called it a day.

Post Game Thoughts
So not a bad game but one that was certainly very different from the Black Powder games we had played. So some thoughts on the game and rules:

  • After all the speed and movement of previous weeks, the game felt very slow, which is appropriate for the period. However it did take some getting used to.
  • We found ourselves refering to the rulebook a lot, much more so than Black Powder. Afterall this was my first game and Dave hadn't played for a year, so this was to be expected. However a couple of points did tax us somewhat as the rules in the book and the ones in the Useful rules section appeared to contradict each other. Only by re-reading the relevant sections post game in the cold light of day were we able (hopefully) to clear things up.
  • Early on we got the Evade rules wrong, but later on found out the right way to play them. Again to be expected first time out and they really wouldn't have affected the outcome in anyway.
  • With regards to the Evade rule, we figured out that it would be nigh on impossible for the Bretonnian Knights to ever catch the Mongol Horse Archers, short of a series of failed commands by the Mongols. Whilst historically accurate it was frustrating knowing that they were almost impossible to catch. However if caught they would be automatically destroyed.
  • For a first game the two forces were quite hard to get to grips with in terms of the best tactics to use. Dave certainly handled things much better than myself. As we said post game you would need a good few games to really get to know how best to use the troops at your disposal, but then that is true for any game and period.
So all-in-all another good evenings gaming. Certainly more taxing than Black Powder due to this being my first game. With regards the points raised above, we decided that the next game would be a classic Romans vs Ancient Britons, which hopefully will be easier to come to terms with. Only time will tell...


  1. Great posting Steve - Hearing some good reports about these rules, never been to big Black Powder fan, but did fancy giving these an outing. A few of the club have 15mm Ancients.

    1. Black Powder appear to be very much a Marmite set of rules. Personally I've had some very good games with them, but then my regular opponents have helped in making them fun. Hail Caesar is different in feel but the basic mechanics are the same, so easy to move from one to another. Worth giving them a go IMHO.

  2. Great battle report thoroughly enjoyed reading it

  3. Great battle report thoroughly enjoyed reading it