Saturday 7 October 2017

Play testing the Line-Exchange rules

I should have known the Young Padawan would be reluctant to face my Macedonian Pikemen again, so instead I have had to resort to some solo play-testing of the 'new' Maniple Line-Exchange rules. The whole exercise took less than an hour and quickly demonstrated that the Republican Roman manipular armies can now go toe-to-toe with the best the enemy can throw at them.

For this test game I have tried to match up the points values for an even fight. So on the Greek side I decided to make all the Pike units Macedonian (ie Veteran) and have a Hero attached. This gives them a points value of 68 which is the same as four sets of the revised Roman maniples consisting of the 'new' Hastati/Principes units supported by a small unit of Triarii. I didn't included Generals or skirmishers to deliberately keep this a simple test of Pikes verses Maniples.

The Pike units face off against the Roman line

As well as combining Hastati and Principes into a Standard Unit they are also now classed as Legionaries which means they are equipped with a Pilum, a shock weapon for use in the Melee phase before resolving hand to hand combat. 

The Pike units moved first (on a dice roll) and quickly pushed forward to attack. 

Very quickly it was apparent the new Hastati/Principe units had more hitting power as several units engaged in Melee and launched their Pilum on the way in. Unfortunately none resulted in a hit but if I was playing against these that extra attack roll against my troops would certainly have put the wind up me! 

The first line exchange worked perfectly. The Hastati fell back and were replaced by the Principe, which replenished the Pilum shock weapon and also resulted in a successful Rally Save. The Macedonian Pikes are now facing a tougher unit than before (the roman unit now saves on a 5+ instead of 6+) and have the prospect of another barrage of Pilums ahead of the next Melee. 

A less successful line exchange as the rally save is missed. However the Roman front line has still been refreshed with tougher troops with Pilums to the ready! 

Not only are the Romans holding the line they are managing to dish out some damage as well. 

I made full use of Rally activation's which meant that both sides held on for several turns longer than in the last game I played with these troops. 

A crucial moment. The Romans have dealt some damage to one of the pike units and the Macedonians have failed to rally. They are now very vulnerable if hit again. 

The Romans destroy a Pike unit... unheard of under the rules as they stood before. The battle isn't over though as the Romans have also lots a unit of Hastati/Principe an are down to the third line of troops, the Triarii in the centre. (The big red tokens just show where destroyed units were)

More damage is taken by the Macedonians as the now free roman unit turns and prepares to flank the like of Pike units. 

A bit of manuvering later (and several melee hits and rally saves as well) things are looking like they could go either way. The Romans have now lost three of their Hastati/Principe units and even a Triarii. Both sides now have a chance to flank the enemy line and it will now come down to dice rolls...who is lucky and able to manoeuvre and attack while they have the advantage. 

The Romans have the day but both sides have been severely mauled. 

Wow, that rule change made a huge difference to the handling of the Roman army and made for a much more balanced and interesting game. I think this test battle could have gone either way and in the end it was unlucky dice rolls on Rally saves that lost it for the Macedonians. It took 7 or 8 turns of combat before the Romans got the upper hand. The line Exchange system worked well for them and meant they remained an effective force much longer than in previous games. 


  1. Hi Lee- glad it went well! They are a lot tougher now. :-) There' also a new rule which prevents rallies in an enemy ZOC EXCEPT when performing the special line exchange rally; this also (margianlly) favours the Romans. Best, Simon

    1. Ooooo, I overlooked that one! This adds an extra dimension to combat. I expect it will likely mean more back and forth movement as disordered units pull back in order to rally. I thought front lines were a bit static...not any more!

    2. Yes indeedy; restores some mobility to the battle line. Mind you, not easy to retire a phalanx...


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