Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Ancients Project and starting to play a few games.

I have been busily painting up the last few 2nd Punic War units I need, or think I need, while at the same time finally playing a few games. I always seem to start new periods with One-Hours Wargames (OHW) rules by Neil Thomas. As they are a quick way to get some models on the tabletop with minimal effort to learn the rules.

A game setup using a 6 x 4 foot table

The games resulted in a few additions to the original OHW rules. These include:

  • Units types geared towards from the 2nd Punic War (including elephants and catapults).
  • Increase in unit base widths to make manoeuvring difficult (and the units look more substantial).
  • A reduction in the number of hits before unit elimination which is partly offset with additional rally chance cards.
  • An elephant berserk rule upon their elimination.
  • Use of chance cards with some possible options to reflect both army characteristics and leadership quality.
As a solo gamer I often use chance cards in my games, but they are typically added on to the rules rather than incorporated with the rules themselves. The changes are my first attempt at trying to mesh the rules and chance cards together, and I have started with the Rally cards to offset the reduction of hits a unit takes before elimination (down from 15 to 13).

Here are my first variation of the OHW Ancient rules with the modifications mentioned above...

Units Types

The game is geared towards the 2nd Punic Wars and uses the following units types:

  • Veteran Heavy Infantry
  • Heavy Infantry
  • Warband (Gallic Infantry)
  • Light Infantry
  • Light Cavalry
  • Heavy Cavalry
  • Elephants
  • Catapults

The units need to be consistently based and I have been trying large base widths of 8”. This width creates naturally limits to the ability of units in formation to move around easily except when positioned on the flanks.

I have been playing games with 8-12 units per side using the army lists in Ancient and Medieval Wargaming by Neil Thomas as a guide to an army's make up.

My normal basing is 4x3 inches, but for these ancient games each unit has two bases to make units 8x3 inches.

Sequence of play

Each player takes a turn to move, shoot and melee with their units in the following sequence:

  1. Draw chance card
  2. Movement
  3. Shooting
  4. Melee
  5. Eliminating units (and berserk elephants)

The game ends after 15 turns.


During the movement phase a player can move their units. A unit may move up to the distances listed below:

  • Heavy Infantry - 6”
  • Light Infantry, Warband, and Elephants - 9”
  • Light and Heavy Cavalry - 12”
  • Catapults - cannot move but are allowed to pivot.

Units turn by pivoting on their central point, and may do so at the start and end of their move.

Only light infantry may pass through other friendly units.

Units that move may not shoot.


Terrain has an impact on a unit’s movement and combat.

  • Woods - Only light infantry and warbands can enter
  • Towns - No effect on movement and treat as broken ground for combat
  • Marshland and lakes - Impassable to units
  • Rivers - Can only be crossed at bridges and fords
  • Broken Terran (e.g. Rocky, Fields and Streams) - Only infantry can enter and heavy infantry do not halve combat hits.
  • Roads - Units moving all their move on roads add 3” to their move distance

Charges (Moving into contact)

Units may move into contact with enemy units, but have the following constraints:

  1. A unit may only turn up to 45 degrees at the start of their move
  2. Only one attacking unit can contact each side of an enemy unit (front, left flank, right flank, and rear)

Combat is resolved in the combat phase


Only light infantry, light cavalry, and catapults can shoot. The procedure for shooting is as follows:

  1. Units may only shoot at a target within 45 degrees of their frontal facing.
  2. Light infantry and Light Cavalry only have a range of 12”, and catapults have a range of 24”.
  3. Assess the number of hits by rolling a D6-2. Halve hits for units in cover, heavy infantry, or elephants.
All models are HAT plastic 1/72 figures


The procedure for combat is as follows:

Units only inflict hits during their own player turn.

Assess the number of hits

  • Veteran Heavy Infantry - D6+2
  • Heavy Infantry - D6
  • Warband (Gauls) - D6 (D6+2 when first charging into combat)
  • Light Infantry - D6-2
  • Heavy Cavalry - D6
  • Light Cavalry - D6-2
  • Catapults - cannot attack in combat situations
  • Elephants - D6 (regardless of unit type)

Halve hits for attacks on warbands, veteran heavy infantry, heavy infantry, and elephants. Ignore this rule if the attacking unit is an elephant.

If attacking from a flank or rear, all hits are doubled.

Units defending woods, towns, river crossings, or hills halve the number of hits.

Heavy infantry (including veterans) in broken terrain cannot halve hits.

Units cannot retire from combat which only ends with the elimination of one of the contesting sides. Units are allowed to face an attack upon their flank or rear, only if they are not already being engaged frontally.

Eliminating Units and Berserk Elephants

Units are eliminated after taking more than 12 hits. This is different to the 15 used in One-Hour Wargames, and the lower value is compensated by Rally chance cards which remove 2 hits from units (see chance cards).

When an elephant unit is eliminated, check to see if it goes berserk. Roll a D6 and:

  • On a score of 1 or 2 the elephant charges the nearest friendly unit with 12” and inflicts D6 hits. After this the elephant unit is removed from play.
  • On a score of 3 or  the elephant charges the nearest enemy unit with 12” and inflicts D6 hits. After this the elephant unit is removed from play.
  • On a score of 5 or 6 nothing happens and the elephant unit is removed from play as any other unit.

The elimination after 13 or more hits allows hits to be tracked with 2 dice.

Chance Cards

As a solo wargamer I enjoy incorporating chance cards into a game to create uncertainty and also to reflect any army characteristics. In all there are 15 cards one for each turn (the cards also help you keep track of the turn).

The chance cards are acted upon during the turn they are drawn and cannot be carried over to another turn. The cards:

5 x No Event. Nothing happens

2 x Confusion. A player’s units cannot move this turn, but are allowed to pivot.

2 x Ammunition Shortage. A player’s units cannot shoot this turn.

2 x Initiative. One unit can make a move, shoot, or conduct a round of combat. The unit can still be activated as normal later.

3 x Rally. A player can units can remove 2 hits from all units.

1 x Demoralisation. Only half a player’s units in combat (rounding down) can attack.

To help create some army characteristics, the Roman army replaces one Initiative card with a rally card. This represents the ability of Roman armies to maintain discipline and keep on fighting. As for the Carthaginians they replace a Rally card with an Initiative card.

The same approach can be used for good and poor commanders. For poor commanders replace an Initiative card with a No Event card, and for good commanders replace a No Event card with an Initiative card.

There is opportunity for this to be taken further with supply. Armies with supply problems would replace a No Event card with an Ammunition Shortage card.


  1. Looking forward to some AARs once you're happy wit the rules. Armies look great on your terrain cloth - have done anything to blend them in?
    Please for the next photo shoot get the light behind you.

    1. All being well there should be an AAR soon. In terms of the bases I have not done any work to blend them yet. They are a fraction lighter in tone to the mat which the camera sometimes picks up depending how the light catches them. And I will try and take some photo with the light behind at the next opportunity. Thanks.

  2. The mat looks even better with the figures and terrain laid out!
    I'll be interested to see the reports of your games in due course.
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks. It is always enjoyable laying out newly completed unit on the tabletop.

  3. As ever, you have some interesting modifications to rules. It’s not making it any easier for me to resist the urge to get into Ancients - or back after a gap of 43 years.

    1. It has been the same time for me between gaming Ancients, and I am enjoying my foray into the period with the excellent HAT range of figures.

  4. Some excellent ideas there Peter, with the Chance cards adding a nice touch of uncertainty to proceedings. As a mainly solo gamer too (due to Covid restrictions at present), these posts are very useful and certainly spark some ideas for my games:)

    1. Thanks. Chance cards provide a lot of gaming opportunities.

  5. Very enjoyable post, thanks. The gaming mat is looking great.

    1. The gaming mat has the look I wanted now, so no more tinkering with it.

  6. Some really excellent ideas here. I like the idea of simply doubling the frontage of units in order to make them more unwieldy - very simple and effective - genius!
    I also like the idea of every attack doing damage, the variable being how much damage and with easy to remember modifiers according to troop type.
    In general you have modelled situations, such as elephant frenzy in really simple, elegant fashion. Quite brilliant

  7. The combat mechanism is straight from the One-Hour Wargames book and works well with the troop types. The idea for increasing the base width was somewhat accidental but has worked out well with the limitation it creates. Thanks.

  8. Excellent armies and gaming mat! Those rules modifications are very interesting I think you're spot on with the elephant rules there! It'll be interesting to see how they work!

    1. Thanks, I am pleased the way the mat and armies finally turned out. So far the berserk rules has worked the way I wanted it to. There are a few more rule modifications for light infantry and cavalry to come.

    2. Great I look forward to seeing them! I really like the event card that adds a bit of friction for solo gaming too.

  9. The troops and mat both look great, and come together very harmoniously (in style, that is; I am sure both sides will be battling it out shortly!)

    1. Thank you. One advantage of just focusing on this project has meant there is consistency, or harmony, in the painting style of terrain and figures.