And Now For Something Completely Different – Hail Cesar

Hello again, The Blue Baron back with another installment of And Now For Something Completely Different! This week we’re talking Hail Caesar by Warlord Games. First let me apologize for missing a post last week. I got into a knife fight with a potato. The potato won, so my typing has been suffering and I lost some time. But enough of that!

            Hail Caesar covers from the first time pointy sticks were first turned on other humans in large numbers until the rise of gunpowder. Between this and Black Powder, another Warlord Games rule set, you can cover thousands of years of wargames. Pike and Shotte (which I previously wrote about) is a nice buffer between the two rule sets/ On another tangent (it wouldn’t really be MoM without a few of these) Ohh Shiny has been writing about his foray into Black Powder on the MoM forums here: 

            Much like the other sets of rules from Warlord Games armies are made up of blocks of units led by a leader. In Hail Cesar your commanders led a division. Unlike Pike and Shotte or Black Powder, the general leads troops himself. This means you don’t have a safety net if your commanders fail orders. An example division would be a Roman Legate, 3 units of Centurions and a few skirmish screens.

             If you’ve read my article on Pike and Shotte you’ll have a leg up on the rules. Orders are given the exact same way. The movement phase is carried out by giving orders to your various units. You declare what a unit is doing what and roll to see how well they carry out the order.  For example you tell your century of Romans to form testudo and advance on those dirty dirty Gauls! Unfortunately the Roman commander is fresh from the Senate and has never commanded troops before giving him a leadership of 6…  The average leadership is a 7 or 8. So the player rolls 2d6 and hopes to roll low. On a 6 or 7 you get one action, in this instance forming testudo. On an 8 the unit forms testudo and advances once (12” in this rule set) on a 9 or better the unit forms up and moves twice. Anything less that a 6 and they sit there and don’t move. The commander cannot give any more orders so the rest of his division is boned.  Division orders can help mitigate this by giving a generic order to the whole battle line. An example would be telling all three Roman units to advance. One leadership test is rolled and all three units use the result.

            Shooting takes place on a unit by unit basis. Each unit’s profile gives a shooting value. A Persian sparabara unit (a line of spears with big blocky shields in front with ranks of archers behind them) has a shooting value of 3. This means when they shoot they will roll 3 dice. The usual score needed is a 4+ modified by various things. In our example they are shooting at a Macedonian Phalanx which adds a +1 to hit. So the player rolls 3 dice needing a 5+. If any of the dice are a 6 the shooting was particularly effective and the Macedonian unit takes a break test after rolling their moral saves.

Combat works by generally issuing a charge order in the movement phase. The unit being charged will declare their charge reactions (stand and take it, closing fire, or in some cases flee). If the unit is still there in the combat phase a round of combat is fought. Units have 2 values for combat: Clash and Sustained. The Clash value is used in the first round of combat and is generally a larger number than the Sustained number. This is the number of dice rolled in the combat phase. Again the standard to his is a 4+ modified by things. A charging warband of Germans will get 7 dice needing a 3+. Both sides roll to hit and then take the required moral saves. Combat modifiers are added to the number of unsaved wounds on each side to determine who won combat. The loser takes a break check. Sometimes the losing unit will run. Other times they stay and the next turn the combat continues using the Sustained combat value.

            Units have a Stamina value which determines how many wounds they can take from shooting or combat before they are shaken. This number is higher than Pike and Shotte with most front line units having a stamina value of 6 or so. If a unit is unlucky enough to take twice its stamina in a single round it’s automatically shattered and removed from the table. At the end of a phase any wounds in excess of a unit’s stamina are removed.

            Moral works on the unit/division/army level. A unit is shaken when it takes its stamina in wounds. A Division is shaken when more than half of its units or shaken. An army is shaken when more than half of its units are shaken. This usually ends the battle.

            I’ve included some close up of my Early Imperial Romans as well as some El Cid Spanish and Moors. After that are shots from our last Ancients day. Next week I’ll write up my impressions of Malifaux and the game I played. As usual C&C is welcome.


Author: The Blue Baron

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