Sunday, November 27, 2011

Plastic Celtiberians

The Ancient Spanish army I intend to play in our upcoming Hail Caesar campaign appears to lack a little punch.  It gets only mediocre cavalry, and those in very limited numbers.  But it can take several units of Celtiberian warbands that at least hit with a pretty good clash value, and with the Wild Fighters special skill, I hope that they might give a Roman or Successor army some pause.  In order to add these barbarian types to my army, I chose to go with the plastic Celtic Warband box set from Warlord Games.  Primarily, these were a very economical choice, being much cheaper than metal figures, and since I already had a couple of boxes sitting unpainted in my basement, there was no cost at this time to obtain them.  This is of importance to me - getting back into 28mm Ancients is a step I have to make very selectively.  Metal figures are just too damn expensive these days, and for building a complete army from scratch, they are completely outside my hobby budget.  The plastic lines that have relatively recently become available, although still of limited scope, make this scale a possibility to engage in once more.  Unfortunately though, metals will still need to be relegated to the odd unit or two filling out an army, or the insertion of specialty figures here and there.

But although I still prefer metals to plastics, these Warlord figures are definitely very nice sculpts, at least the equal to, and surpassing most metal figures in quality.  The figures are a bit too animated to my taste, forcing me to base no more than three figures on a 60mm x 30mm standard WRG style base, but they will still be usable as Celtic, Gallic, or British medium foot in a Field of Glory or Warrior army.  For now though, they will go into my Ancient Spanish army as Celtiberian warbands.  Here is a photo of my most recently completed unit, based according to the width my gaming group is planning to use for our Hail Caesar campaign.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Basing for a Hail Caesar Campaign

Now that the Hail Caesar army list book has been released, some friends and I are planning to start a campaign right after the first of the year.  I've been primarily playing Field of Glory for the last couple of years, which I still enjoy, but about half of the locals who play Ancients, at least on occasion, do not find that ruleset to their taste.  Some don't like the chess-like geometry, some find it tediously complex and aimed at competition play, and some just prefer to play in 28mm scale, while most local Field of Glory games are played at 15mm scale.   Don't get me wrong, Field of Glory will remain a commonly played Ancients ruleset of mine, but Hail Caesar seems to be the rules that can get us all playing together again.

One problem we have always had with trying to play games at 28mm scale, is that half the guys are based singly for games like Warhammer Ancient Battles, while the other half have armies based for WRG style games like DBM, Warrior, and Field of Glory.  Although most rulesets can accommodate these different basing schemes, it has always felt like something needed to be compromised to make this happen.  But since Hail Caesar is really basing agnostic, it is possible to easily get these differently based armies on the table against each other.

In order to make this work, this is the basing scheme we are going to use for our upcoming campaign:


WAB Basing

Standard Size Heavy, Medium, and Light Infantry Units – 6 models wide, 2 to 3 models deep, 4 deep for pike and warbands

Large Units (Typically Warbands) – 8 to 9 models wide by 4 models deep

Foot Skirmishers, Light Cavalry, Horse Archers, and Light Infantry Fielded as Small Units – 8 to 10 models in Open Formation

Standard Size Cavalry and Light Cavalry Units – 5 models wide by 2 models deep

Chariots – 2 models wide, 1 model deep

Elephants – one model

Artillery – one model

WRG Basing

Standard Size Heavy, Medium, and Light Infantry Units – 2 bases wide, 2 to 3 bases deep, 4 deep for pike and warbands

Large Units (Typically Warbands) – 3 bases wide by 4 deep

Foot Skirmishers, Light Cavalry, Horse Archers, and Light Infantry Fielded as Small Units – 2 bases wide by 2 deep

Standard Size Cavalry and Light Cavalry Units – 2 bases wide by 2 bases deep

Chariots – 2 bases wide, 1 base deep

Elephants – one base

Artillery – one base
 
With this scheme, our two opposing basing camps will finally get a chance to face off against each other.

The campaign system is going to be a slightly modified (for points and distances) version of the campaign game that was published in the Warmaster Ancient Armies supplement.  This system has been very easy to port over to Hail Caesar almost directly due to that game sharing a common ancestry with the Warmaster system - both authored by Rick Priestly.  Armies must be taken from those contained in the just published Biblical and Classical Armies List Book for Hail Caesar, starting at the 300 point level, with 1 to 3 additional units added to each army depending on the properties of the territories possessed by each player.

For myself, my intent is to field an Ancient Spanish army. This army, and its participation in the Second Punic Wars and subsequent resistance to the Roman Republic has been of substantial interest to me for quite some time, but under most rulesets, and especially Field of Glory, is not very competitive or entertaining to play at all.  With Hail Caesar and facing the relatively contemporary armies in the Biblical and Classical List Book, the Ancient Spanish seem like they will be much more interesting to use, even if it is still probably not a world-beater.

So, I've been gathering my lead together for this army, and seeing what I still need to paint up before the start of the campaign in January.  Here is a unit of Scutarii, painted up a year or so ago, composed of Crusader Miniatures figures:


Here is another Scutarii unit, this one mainly composed of figures from Renegade Miniatures, but with several Gripping Beast ones mixed in:


And finally, a unit of javelin armed light cavalry, all from Crusader Miniatures:


Note that these are all based WRG style, but will be close enough using Hail Caesar to match off against my friends' WAB based armies.

I do need to paint up some units of Celtiberian warbands to fill out the army, and I will be using the plastic Warlord Games Celts that have been sitting on my shelf for the last couple of years.  It's been too long since I've engaged in a campaign game, and this seems like it will be quite fun.  And it is also very satisfying to put the brush to 28mm figures once again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hail Caesar by Lamplight

I just got power back after nine days without it as a result of the freaky, snow-laden Nor'Easter that hit Connecticut over the Halloween weekend.  While waiting through the managerial incompetence of the local utility company (Connecticut Light and Power) before power could be restored, I took the opportunity to give a good reading to the Hail Caesar Ancients rules as published by Warlord Games - even though I had to squint at them in the chill of the evening by the flickering light of a fireplace and kerosene lamp.

I must say that based only on a first reading, these rules do seem impressive.  Firstly, I love their agnostic approach to basing. For instance, without any accommodations, one could easily have armies using WRG basing matched against those singly based for WAB or similar games. Since there are several groups of gamers that I presently play with, variously adherents of these two usually incompatible basing schemes, adopting these rules would now make it more convenient to have more opponents to arrange games with.

In addition, there are some very attractive aspects to the rules themselves.  They are deceptively simple, especially with a movement system that eliminates all geometrically fiddly concerns, but they have a great command system, and a combat system that allows for the large variety of weapon systems and interaction of troop types found in Ancient and Medieval armies.  And there are special rules for things like phalanxes, pikes, warbands, etc., that seem to be cohesive and coordinated with the rest of the rules.

All said, I'm pretty excited about giving these rules a try.  They are designed more for scenario gaming rather than tournament type games, but it also seems that now that the first army list book is released, it wouldn't be too difficult to arrange for quick pickup games at an approximate agreed upon point level with a like minded gaming buddy.

I'm looking forward to giving these rules a try soon, hopefully giving me an excuse to get some of my 28mm armies back onto the battlefield again.  I'll post more on my impressions once I get to give the rules an actual test drive.