Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The Battle for the Temple

A couple of days ago I took the opportunity of some time off to meet up with my friend and gaming chum Keith. We decided to have a playtest of his Ancients rules, broadly based upon those used by Featherstone et al for the Battle of Trimsos. Details on how these have developed these can be found on Keith's Blog. A pleasant drive through the Cotswolds on a crisp Autumn morning saw me arrive mid morning, with the table and armies all arrayed for battle. So after the usual chatting away on a wide variety of subjects, we decided we had better get on with the game.

Keith had kindly sent me the latest version of his rules, so I had a good idea of the broad game mechanics, coupled with having read Featherstone's original rules. I made no notes at all during the game, so hopefully the following pics will give a good of idea of how things progressed. 

Both sides arrayed for battle. I was in command of the army with the elephants, which I was more than happy with. The objectives were to be in control of the ford and bridge over the river by the end of the game, or to break the enemy.

The elephants who, from right to left, were named Colonel Hathi, Nelly and Trump, much to Keith's chagrin. The looked fantastic, as did both armies.

My left flank, with light cavalry in front with my kontos armed cataphracts in support.

The enemy deployed with some lovely, but rather daunting looking chariots.

The view towards my lines, with light cavalry on the left flank and Celts lurking in the wood.

Both sides advance towards each other.

Throwing caution to the wind, I advanced my pachyderm brigades forward, unaware at this point how tough fighting Phalanxes would be.

My slingers unleash hell at Keith's light cavalry, almost causing them to take a break test. Somehow I think they must be related to David of Biblical fame.

Trump and Nelly at this point failed a morale test to charge those massed pikes. However Colonel Hathi pushed forward and caught the light infantry as they tried to evade.

Having seen the light cavalry being driven back by shooting from the chariots, the cataphracts charged in, supported by their commander.

My plan, if it could be called one, was to try and slow down the advance of the enemy units in the centre, so that I could move my heavy infantry to cover the bridge and hopefully the ford as well.

An battle of attrition develops on my left flank, as the chariots prove to be tough nuts to crack. 

Trump and Nelly are charged by the phalanxes...

... which dispatch them with ease.

Things get a bit complicated as multiple melees develop...

... but I come out of it in a better position.

My troops continue to cover the objectives as Keith advances in the centre.

Though Keith dominates the centre, my left flank looks to be moving towards turning his right flank if all goes to plan.

The decisive action could be between Keith's phalanxes and my heavy infantry.

The battle appears to be moving in my favour.

Keith's cavalry are in danger of being taken in the flank.

My heavy infantry await the attack.

My slingers still control the ford, but the Celts are out of the woods and want a fight.

Despite having two chariots left, Keith's right flank is pretty much hors de combat.

The phalanxes luckily can't quite reach my heavy infantry.

The Celts also can't quite reach the slingers.

The end of the battle. Time was against us, but I won a marginal victory on points, as well as having Colonel Hathis ready to wreak havoc in the rear as well as controlling the left side of the battlefield.

Well that was a fun game, full of action and the rules worked well, with Keith making notes of things that needed tweaking as we went along. As always, time for some post game thoughts:

  • It was fun to play an 'old school' type of wargame, which I've never done before. It felt very different to other games, but was still challenging and entertaining, which is what I want really from a game.
  • Keith's figures look really lovely and ImagiNations games allow you to choose units that you want to play with. Personally, in an Ancients game, I want chariots, elephants, camels and cataphracts. Not sure about phalanxes, but must admit that they look fantastic. This has rekindled my interests in Ancients gaming and so plan to dig out my troops at some point soon to remind me of exactly what I have.
  • With regards to the above, I want to have a go with 'To the Strongest' rules, which look to be good. When I've got a handle on these, we hope to be able to use Keith's figures once again, which shouldn't be a problem given that they use a grid based system.
  • During the game we talked a lot about how to try and reflect how chariots were used, how durable they would be etc. This is pretty tricky given that we have, as far as I know, very little useful information in this regards. A tough thing to get right as well as making them a viable choice for a player, but without being the Tiger II of the battlefield.

I hope to be able to get another game of some form or other in this week, whilst i've got some time off work. I'm torn between some more Ancients, WWII or ECW. Of course i could try and fit all three in but also need to get on with some figure painting. It's a hard life being a gamer...


  1. Nellies and chariots on the same table .... marvellous. I have been reading several blogs recently who are having a dabble with Featherstone inspired rules.

    1. Yep, a chance to have any units you want on the table is one of the big draws of ImagiNation Ancients gaming for me. One of the blogs I follow uses Featherstone's rules, but slightly simplified and made easier to play. The trouble is I can't remember which Blog!

  2. Thanks for posting Steve - some nice extra photos for me to look at.

    Of course, as you know, when I decided to take charge of your army disaster soon followed!

    1. Hmmm, I can see a grudge match in the offing, as I seek to redress the fact that my army, on the point of victory, had it snatched from them;).