Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Hail Caesar: The Poison King

The weekend involved the first outing of my developing Pontic Army. The infantry is pretty well done but the cavalry had to be fudged a bit from what I had available.

I use half size units, ten infantry and six cavalry per unit, when playing Hail Caesar at home because southern England rooms are small and there isn't space for a full size table. I still use inches for measurements as it makes the game zip along to completion in a reasonable time.

I was playing against the famous Roman warlord Lucius Shaunus. Shaunus and I haven't played HC for a while so we probably forgot some of the rules but the game is very forgiving.

The photo above shows my current army.

Battalion A, Cavalry:
  • 1 Three small units of light Iranian cavalry
  • 2 Unit of Hellenistic heavy cavalry
  • 3 Unit of Iranian heavy cavalry

Battalion B, Hellenistic Infantry
  • 1 Small unit of slingers
  • 2 Two small units of javelinmen
  • 3 Unit of medium bowmen
  • 4 Two units of regular phalangites
  • 5 Unit or ersatz legionaries
  • 6 Unit of thorakitai (OK, hoplite models standing in for thorakitai)
  • 7 Unit of peltasts

I formed the infantry in two rows, with the bowmen and phalangites in front and the medium infantry forming a reserve.

Battalion C, Galatians
  • 1 Small unit of slingers
  • 2 Four warbands arranged in a chisel formation to cut through the legions.

The Romans in their famous 'five spot' formations:
  • B Baggage
  • Ax Auxiliaries
  • Ar Scorpions
  • L Legions
  • C Cavalry

The photo shows the centre of the battlefield after a couple of turns (and the 'hand of Shaunus').

  • 1 My cavalry ripped through the Roman right wing, rolling over the cavalry and artillery
  • 2 Had a bit of a command control issue in the centre with a single phalanx advancing unsupported
  • 3 On my right flank the slingers occupied the attention of the Roman cavalry while my column of warbands piled into the legions - again, command control could have been better.

  • 1 Mixed results on the right wing: the slingers continued to tie up the cavalry but the legions splatted my first warband
  • 2 In the centre, the advanced phalanx and a legion unit fought a grinding clash of attrition
  • 3 A Roman legion unit punched right through my centre and slaughtered my medium infantry
  • 4 The cavalry turn in to the legion's flank

 Both armies show signs of exhaustion (i.e. units shaken). Shaunus doubled up his legion units (shades of Cannae).

1 My cavalry surround and smoke a legion unit
2 My second phalangite unit finally got into combat and was trashed in one turn by a doubled-up legion unit but the yellow shield phalangites rolled over the front unit of lehionaries and the second support unit was swept away in the debacle
3 The legions on the left flank ground away the Galatian warbands whose wild charge could have been much wilder
4 The last of my reserves engages the Roman cavalry which finally swept away the valiant Galatian slingers
5 Having destroyed two units of Pontic medium infantry, this Roman unit refused all orders from Shaunus to return to the battle - they obviously considered that they'd done their bit

At this point Shaunus generously offered to concede but I pursuaded him to fight on - wot a prat I am!

  • 1 Right flank still stalled
  • 2 Roman advantage in the centre with three active units against a shaken phalanx and a warband
  • 3 Pontic cavalry rule the left flank

At this point we remembered the battalion break rules which we hadn't applied and called it a draw.

So what did I learn:
  • 1 Get more cavalry
  • 2 Don't use warbands in a chisel beacuse they get defeated in detail
  • 3 Given the way HC works sizable reserves in more than one line are a must
  • 4 Roman legionaries are well hard


  1. Great looking game and figs! I also modify unit sizes when playing HC. It works fine as long as both sides are similar. I've also simplified the rules for some games - like leaving out disorder and having only three outcomes/results for both Blunder and Break Test. Best, Dean

    1. The great thing about HC is that it is a flexible tool kit of rules. You are actually encouraged to pick 'n mix.

  2. Played a smaller game of Hail Caesar -Romans versus Brits ambush a couple weeks ago.

    1. Played a lot of Romans versus British when I was testing the Britannia Supplement. :)

      There is an ambush scenario involving Badvoc, chief of the Trinovantes, and his sidekicks Mungo and the fat one.

    2. I think that was the scenario we played.