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"Rome v Pyrrhus 15mm - Sword & Spear" Topic


Sword & Spear

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carojon15 Jun 2015 5:24 a.m. PST

Hi all,
We play tested the Sword & Spear rules at the Devon Wargames Group this weekend.

picture

There is a double commentary on how we thought the rules played together with a brief description of the game.

If you are interested to see what we thought and how the game played, then just follow the link to the DWG.

link

Jonathan

Who asked this joker15 Jun 2015 7:40 a.m. PST

Hi Jonathan,

You gave an unqualified "no" as to whether you would play the rules again. Could you summarize why you would not play them again?

Thanks,

John

carojon15 Jun 2015 7:49 a.m. PST

Hi John, no that was Steve that gave the unqualified "no". I am less emphatic and whilst not seeing them as my turn to set I would be happy to play then with a few home rule amendments.

I expect Steve will be along to give his thoughts.

Cheers
Jonathan

Who asked this joker15 Jun 2015 8:38 a.m. PST

OK. Sorry about that. I did read through many of your points about the game. Guess I missed that it was Steve. wink

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2015 10:07 a.m. PST

Great looking units especially those big phalanxes

Sounds like there are some interesting parts of the rules but I share your thoughts as to this not being exactly what light troops did in Ancient times

Mr Steve15 Jun 2015 10:09 a.m. PST

My main concerns were outlined in the blog but I am happy to expand further on what I thought .

The movement system was fun and I think it has possibilities however I got the feeling that the rest of the rules are written around this system and not complimentary. For example unless you can throw a double and thus allow two or more units to advance into combat together then you will generally be attacking with just one unit at a time. Yes it will probably happen that the adjoining units may well move in by themselves one by one and eventually form a battle line but it's not quite right for me , also unless you have allocated a dice to your defenders then you cannot fight back to your fullest ability. I do understand that getting this right is part of the tactics in the game but it does seem somewhat forced by the choice of movement method.
Skirmishers have no use , the forums suggest operating on the flanks harassing the enemy but that should be after doing their main duty of disrupting the enemies battle line as it advances and /or screening their own line. If you fire at the enemy line then you are stuck out in the open waiting to get wiped out by any heavy infantry in range , Javelin range and infantry movement is the same . 2 DU's (half bases).
The rallying rule as I said is a mix of good and flawed , the concept is actually quite clever but after dealing heavy casualties to a unit which then disengages do you really want to see it charging back in at full strength in 2 moves time ? ( with a bit of luck of course) .
I think with reflection I would amend my decision , if someone has gone to the trouble of putting on a game for me to play in and this is their set of choice then I would be happy to play . If however I was the person putting on the game then this is not a set I would choose.
Of course this is only my opinion and many people are happily playing these rules according to the net .

Sisyphus15 Jun 2015 10:09 a.m. PST

What are the authors' current preferences for games rules? I have only played about with the DBA & DBMM system.

Who asked this joker15 Jun 2015 10:43 a.m. PST

Thanks Mr. Steve. While I don't share your faith in the ability and resilience of light infantry, I do believe that they should be able to pass through friends and friends should be able to pass through them freely. The latter seems to not be the case from what I read on the review. That certainly would make it difficult to slide to the flank and continue on wouldn't it. grin

Marshal Mark15 Jun 2015 1:19 p.m. PST

Thanks for writing a battle report and the comments and analysis about the rules. It looked like a good game. I'll address some of the points you made about the rules.

unless you can throw a double and thus allow two or more units to advance into combat together then you will generally be attacking with just one unit at a time.

Personally I believe that it would be difficult to advance a battle line consisting of thousands of men, often from different nationalities, tribes or units, in a perfect line, and get them all charging the enemy line in unison. My rules reflect this. You can get two or three units in together, but sometimes you have to wait for the right action dice. The idea of troops advancing to face the enemy around 50 or 100 yards away, then pausing to get their courage up, issue insults and challenges, speeches from unit leaders, etc, certainly seems plausible to me. It seems more plausible than rules that allow a line of units to move perfectly in unison and attack as one body.

Skirmishers have no use

Skirmishers are not as powerful in Sword and Spear than in some other ancients games, but they certainly do have uses. However, it does take a few games to learn how to use them well. Light foot are not likely to have a significant influence on the outcome of a game, but then I can't think of any historical battles where they actually did so.
Typically in games of Sword & Spear there is some skirmisher action at the start of the game, then they rout from enemy shooting, or retire behind the line, or shelter in terrain, and then the main battle troops get stuck in. This seems reasonable to me.

the forums suggest operating on the flanks harassing the enemy but that should be after doing their main duty of disrupting the enemies battle line as it advances and /or screening their own line

Can you give me some examples of battles where an attack by a line of thousands of formed foot was actually disrupted or slowed by skirmishers on foot ? Did it ever happen or is it a wargamer myth ?

If you fire at the enemy line then you are stuck out in the open waiting to get wiped out by any heavy infantry in range , Javelin range and infantry movement is the same . 2 DU's (half bases).

The way to do it is move and shoot after the enemy infantry have moved, then next turn shoot then move away. Success is not guaranteed, but I think there would be a real risk for javelin armed skirmishers who approach any enemy frontally in the open.

The rallying rule as I said is a mix of good and flawed , the concept is actually quite clever but after dealing heavy casualties to a unit which then disengages do you really want to see it charging back in at full strength in 2 moves time ? ( with a bit of luck of course) .

You would need more than a bit of luck. If an average unit of heavy foot has suffered 3 hits (i.e. one away from routing) then you need to roll a 6 on the rally test to rally one hit. Normally there are much better things (with higher chances of success) for your generals to be doing. In fact I can't remember a unit having suffered 3 hits ever being successfully rallied in any game I have played.
Also when you say heavy casualties, bear in mind that casualties in ancient battles were normally quite low until troops actually routed normally less than 10%. So a unit might have suffered two or three hits and be close to breaking but have only suffered about 5 10% casualties. So it is feasible that given a break from fighting, such a unit could regain cohesion and be rallied.

I hope you do decide to give the rules another go, as you seemed to enjoy the game and liked the unit activation mechanic, which is really the key aspect of the game that makes it unique and provides the interest and challenge. Using skirmishers well takes some practice, and you really need to give it a few games to get to grip with the nuances and subtleties of the system.

Marshal Mark15 Jun 2015 1:33 p.m. PST

I do believe that they should be able to pass through friends and friends should be able to pass through them freely. The latter seems to not be the case from what I read on the review.

Ys, in Sword & Spear light foot can pass through friends, but not the other way round. Surely in practice this is how it would have to happen. The skirmishers would retire to the heavy foot and pass through their lines. I don't believe that whilst skirmishers are operating in front of heavy foot that the heavy foot would advance through them.

That certainly would make it difficult to slide to the flank and continue on wouldn't it.

I don't see why. The light foot can retire through their main battle line, then move to the flanks.

Mr Steve15 Jun 2015 1:56 p.m. PST

Many thanks to Marshal Mark ,its always appreciated when the rule writers explain their thoughts behind their rules. whether we agree or disagree with their point of view its something we need to welcome and not discourage involvement as has happened in the past.

I agree with WatJ , Light troops have little resilience and need to rely on dexterity to survive, I must have given an ambiguous view somewhere in a previous comment.

Paul7215 Jun 2015 2:18 p.m. PST

I had similar experiences. We loved the activation system for moving but so much more of the game was tied into the same activation dice. Our main complaint was you can't use weapons like pikes if you aren't activated that phase. So unactivated pikemen/spearmen can get charged by cavalry to their front with any detriment to the cavalry. This caused some funny situations in our games were heavy cav was watching for single pike blocks to swoop down on like a hawk and pikes not wanting to move at all since you can't use pikes even with activation against cavalry.

Frostie15 Jun 2015 2:18 p.m. PST

I personally like the rules, I find them reasonably realistic, they work well and most importantly they are fun to play!

My club PAW have really embraced them, even some die hard FOG competition players, although not all lol.

I am looking forward to the Fantasy version….I have a couple of thousand 15mm fantasy figures that are chaffing at the bit to kill each other!

batesmotel3416 Jun 2015 4:25 a.m. PST

Locally the biggest sticking points with the rules seem to be that light troops are much less effective than in other rules that we have played and the tournament players who are master of micro managing their untis find the loss of control intolerable. I like the latter aspect of the rules and I'm still undecided about how well I like the rules handling of light troops although I will certainly admit Mark does have a valid point that they generally don't seem to have been decisive in most ancient battles, especially light foot. One thing to remember when considering that light troops are more vulnerable to being charged in the rules is to also note that if the light troops are properly supported, a unit which charges them, whether it catches them or not, may well be leaving itself out of position and vulnerable to being charged in turn without impetus since it has already been activated. This can easily lead to trading a more valuable unit for destroying a cheaper one, e.g. a 3 strength cavalry for a two strength LF.

Chris

Chris

EagleSixFive16 Jun 2015 6:01 a.m. PST

Paul

In that situation I would not care and take chance. Activate and move or leave it, let the cavalry charge them and get locked in combat.

The Pikes are a large unit and take six hits to rout, fighting with a base Strength 4. Cavalry is base Strength 3 plus one or two die for impetus and take only four hits to rout.

Combine that with counting as armoured for 'Shield Wall' and that is a tough nut to crack in one phase. Next turn make it a priority to allocate an activation to the pike as cavalry may not get Impetus and definitely won't get Impact.

Cavalry has greater tactical value to an army. Losing it compared to pike hurts more.

EagleSixFive16 Jun 2015 6:12 a.m. PST

Chris

We have found a lot of guys who were playing competition with other sets have not been too concerned about skirmishers not being the supermen other rules make them out to be.

Not everyone has converted over to S&S of course but more players around our local scene are favouring them rather than other sets.

I love em, every game is such as nail-biter!

Markconz18 Jun 2015 1:23 p.m. PST

Army lists on site seem euro-centric? What about Indians, Chinese, etc?

Dexter Ward19 Jun 2015 1:54 a.m. PST

There's nothing to stop you writing lists for armies that interest you, and submitting them.

Marshal Mark19 Jun 2015 8:10 a.m. PST

Classical Indians are there. I don't have a lot of knowledge of far eastern armies, so the rules weren't written with such armies in mind, and I haven't written lists for them. I plan to put a page on my website for user submitted lists, where people can send me lists and I will make them available for download.

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