Saturday, July 9, 2011

Historicon Report: Rome on the March

 I ran my "Hail Caesar" game at Historicon on Friday afternoon.  I think it went very well and in no small part to the help I got from Dick and Les (pictured standing at the end of the table) and Paul Sawyer from Warlord Games.  I was also very fortunate in my first outing as a GM that I had a great group of players who were knowledgeable on the subject and tolerant of my foolishness.  We had a good crowd watching the game that averaged about 15 -20 people.  The first picture shows the initial set up with the Romans escorting the emperor to the fort and about to be ambushed by two Dacian hordes.  Victory was very simple - get the emperor to the fort and the Romans win.  If he doesn't get there, well then it's a good day for the Dacians.

 I didn't take a lot of photos during the game (too busy) but here's one about a third of the way through.  The Romans used a very creative strategy of flooding everything to the left side of the table in the hopes of hooking around the trees and out running the main Dacian force of Infantry and a Cataphract unit.  The first few turns of the game saw three blunder roles in a row (12 on two D6) but then settled down into a see-saw action that was very close.  In the end the game was called for the Romans but they just eeked out a victory!

 It takes a lot of work to put on a game and I must admit there is a bit of elementary school "show and tell" or "hey look at my cool toy soldiers".  I had a blast doing it and will definitely do more games at cons in the future.  One very gratifying aspect was being asked to run a second game to accommodate players who couldn't get into the first game.  I ran that game late (for me!) Friday night at 9:30pm.  The set up was the same.  I was helped by one of the players from the first game, Malcolm (pictured standing at the right in blue).  Malcolm was a great sport and he definitely knew the rules better than I did so his help was greatly appreciated.

 During the second game, the Roman side used of different strategy - they attempted to take on the Dacian main force head on while delaying the calvary with their auxiliaries.  Dacian infantry with falxs are too Legionaries in to open as ginsu knives are to tomatoes.   The second game was won by the Dacians as they overwhelmed the Legion cohorts.  Over all it was a great game and I think the players had a good time.  My last comment will be to thank all of the guys who played in my games - they were a great group and their attitudes are what really made the games fun.  It can be confusing and frustrating playing a new system, especially with me babbling about, but these were true "gentlemen and scholars" are the real reason why the games were fun - thanks guys.

I did get an Ironclad game in Friday morning.  The game was put on by the Rogues gaming club using a set of rules called "Beer and Pretzels Ironclads".  The game was in a tongue and cheek style and it was a blast.  I commanded two Confederate ships and am very proud to say that my brilliant seamanship quickly turned those fine Confederate vessels into prototype submarines!  Despite getting my butt kicked it was a great game and the rules where a lot of fun!

With my GM duties being done with (unless asked to run another game tonight), I'm off to have a bit fun today!


John de Terre Neuve said...

Great looking terrain and game, Miles looks like you had a lot of fun.


Josiah M said...

Looks like the game turned out to be a success Miles!

Ray Rousell said...

Looks like everyone had a great game, hope you enjoyed your first go at being a GM.

Rodney Anonymous said...

The game was a blast (I didn't play, but watched about 90% of it from the sidelines). By far, my favorite bit (but not for the Roman players) was the repeated attempts by the mercenaries just to make it out of the fort.
The whole thing was a valuable learning experience and I'm glad I attended as seeing a real-life example of a game always helps one grasp the written rules a little better.

Paul of the Man Cave said...

Well done Miles, sounds like everyone had a blast and the tabletop looks very professional.

And while I couldnt play myself, thanks for your efforts to both run a game like that and complete the significant preparations it required. Without selfless gamers like you there would be no demo games at shows and they wouldnt be the fun that they are.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Great looking table and congrats on a successful day of GMing. It's not easy to put on games and so I can appreciate the relief you feel when it all comes together.


Cyrus said...

Great looking game and sounds like everyone enjoyed it!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Yep, that's me in picture four after I lost two Roman Cohorts (they went down like red vapor) and the poor guy controlling the Aux units kept rolling too high to the units to move! Now I know why I almost never play Romans!!

Seriously, I really had a great time. Keep up the excellent work Miles and I hope to see more of your games at the upcoming conventions.

Der Alte Fritz said...

Great looking game: excellent terrain and well painted troops. Nice eye candy. Are the rules the ancients variant of Black Powder? I'm not familiar with them, but it sounds like they generate a fun game.

I am glad to hear that your game judge experience was a good one. You were fortunate to have people that could help you out without taking over the game from you. Nicely done all around.


jmilesr said...

Thanks for the compliments. I had a great time hosting a game and will definitely do another one for Cold Wars. I do need to figure a better way to pack my troops but that shouldn't be too tough a problem.

Alte Fritz: Hail Caesar is very similar to Black Powder, especially the command control components. It's a very fun game but you need to set the right tone for all the players. I was surprised how fun it was to run a game and was very humbled when asked to run second game after hours.

Phyllion said...

Great write-up, thanks. Sounds like your game went well, after all that hard work!


Misternizz said...

I was in the EVENING version of that Beer and Pretzels Ironclads game. I had a blast! Great fun. In fact, our stunning non-victory over Yankee aggression is immortalized here:

Itinerant said...

Fun to see your work leading up to this and your success. I'm Gming my first BKC game in November. Still working through all the bugs.
I had a playtest last week and really enjoyed the GMing part of it.

I have a lot of work to do on the scenario.

I really like your trays for status. How did those ultimately work out?
I've been tracking my progress on the Gming on my blog

RazorOne223 said...

Hi there, sorry for posting to an old post but, are your Roman 24 man units converted to "small" units in HC? I noticed that as they are 4 deep but dont have the required 160mm min width for a standard unit... If not what did you do? I am kinda in a quandary as to how I am going to I am going to put my Romans on the board. Currently they would be "small units as they are only 20 per "cohort" for lack of a better term. Sorry about the long post here but I need a little xplaination as to what you did and what I should do...



jmilesr said...

I just ignored the min width rule and treated my Romans as "regular" sized unit despite the 120mm frontage. It seemed to work fine. The Dacians have a frontage of 8 figs or 160mm and it "feels" ok to me that the Romans would be more compact

One of the nice aspects of hail Caesar is the ability to tweak the rules to meet your needs

I hope that answer helps

RazorOne223 said...

yes for the most part, I do question if you have any problems with a unit that is 120mm wide (Romans) going against a 180mm wide (Dacian) unit? Also if you attempt to make the unit 2 ranks deep instead of 4 to get an 8 man unit front are there any problems with the unit having less ranks? I hope this makes sense...sorry if it doesn't

Cheers and thanks Miles


jmilesr said...

The size differential isn't that big - the Dacians are only 8 figures wide of 160mm vs the the 6 figures / 120mm width for the Romans. If lined up this would mean that 3 Dacians would take on 4 romans, which makes sense to me that the Romans would have a tactical advantage and the Dacians need to focus on flanking and isolating Romans.

I do base my figures indivually and then group them on 6 figure stands with magnets so if I change my mind it's relatively easy to try and match the "official" rules.

Have a happy New Year

RazorOne223 said...

I see. Unfortunately when I purchased my Roman army from Warlord I got the 20 man boxed sets of Legionaries. So I will be having mine at 5x4 until I get more, do you think this will effect game play? or should I go 6x3 with 2 more left on the 4th row?

Thanks again for answering all my stupid questions Miles.



jmilesr said...

No question is stupid!

I think you can make a 5 figure front work if you make a small adjustment to the other side - it's about relative dimension.

I was disappointed with the Warlord re-box of their legionaries going from 30 to 20 with a scorpian. You can email Warlord directly and they will sell you a individual sprue or you can pick up one of their Roman army boxes which are a great real (60 legionaries, 20 veterans, 20 Praetorians and 24 auxiliary infantry for about $80.00). Alternatively you can try Ernie over at Architects of War as I think he has a few of the older, 30 figure boxes available

Good luck