Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

About that Mounted Charge at Bagradas…

This was the biggest move that got played in entire weekend of nonstop gaming. It was also the biggest mess-up in terms of how we ruled it on the fly. Fortunately, a game like Commands & Colors: Ancients is still fun even if you’re playing it wrong. Still, I want to take a second and review this play so that I don’t bungle something this huge again.

Do note that the elephant rules are the most complicated thing in the rule set, the easiest thing to mess up, and that elephant units are not included at all in the first couple of scenarios. If you do get the hang of this part of the rules, then there isn’t much anything left in the game that can through you a curve…!

When we played, my light infantry battled back against the elephants and wiped one of those units completely out. This is extremely unlikely. I’m almost certain that I was counting sword results as hits when we played. Anyway, this is how the mounted charge should have been adjudicated:

  • The elephants normally roll two dice against light infantry… but with the “mounted charge” card in play, they get an extra bonus die this time.
  • Those front-line light infantry units that are being attacked are all “supported” and so ignore one retreat flag result.
  • The elephant on the far right does NOT score hits on “leader” results even though it is adjacent to a leader.
  • The elephant’s close combat sword results all “explode” and can be rerolled for additional hits as long as the swords keep coming up… as long as swords do damage in the first place anyway.
  • Those light infantry do not score hits on sword results in close combat– but the elephants are immune to sword hits anyway!
  • The elephants and rightside light cavalry are prone to retreat results– they don’t get to ignore any because they are unsupported and without an attached leader. (Note: elephants can give support to other units, but they never receive it.)
  • The light cavalry with the attached leader is practically imperturbable: that unit gets to ignore two retreat results!
  • The two left side light infantry score hits on leader results because of being adjacent to leaders.

Given all that, it was probably a mistake to have the elephants charge the light infantry. Granted, those light troops couldn’t evade or retreat like they normally would, but the elephants just have a much harder time stomping them underfoot. The elephant charge would have had a much higher damage output if they had continued on in one more hex to attack the medium infantry. A leader would have also greatly increased the damage they dealt. As it stood, they were only slightly more effective than the light infantry. Of course, the exploding sword hits are not much of an edge when compared to having half as many “hit points.” All of this is obvious only in retrospect, of course….

Just to get a feel for how this should have played out… you know, according to the actual rules… here is a quick do-over.

Going from left to right from the perspective of the terrorized light infantry:

  1. The far left elephant rolls two dice scoring a green circle, a blue triangle and a sword. The sword is rerolled and comes up as a leader, That’s two measly hits!
  2. The light infantry unit battles back, rolling two dice: a leader and a blue triangle. That’s just one hit result…. Not that good of an exchange for the elephants!
  3. The next elephant over attacks his light infantry target…. A blue triangle, a red square, and a green circle means one hit. Not terribly impressive….
  4. The light infantry battles back, rolling a sword and leader. That’s one hit result against the elephants. A horrible exchange: block for block. Both of these elephant units are going to be pretty easy targets next turn….
  5. The next elephant unit presses the attack. The results are two flags and a red square. (Drat! This one would have hit on leader results!) The light infantry ignores one of those flags, but still has to retreat. It cannot fall back the required two hexes, so it is down two more blocks as a consequence.
  6. The infantry battle back at full strength even though they are on the brink of breaking up. The results are a blue triangle and a leader… so one hit! All three elephants are down a block now….
  7. The light cavalry with the leader unit attached attack the light infantry… but the light infantry elects to evade! (This move was a minor mistake unless my opponent really wanted to have this light unit fall back for some reason….)
  8. The other light cavalry attack my auxilia. These look like light units, but the reference chart says that they don’t get to evade at all. The light cavalry roll three dice and one flag, one red square, and one green circle come up. That is one hit… and because the unit no longer supported, it does actually have to retreat. Well… breaking up my line did have some consequences: the auxilia don’t get to battle back!

Hopefully I got that right. (And note… this game plays much faster than I make it sound here….)

Now… let’s pretend that my opponent had slipped in one more hex on the right to target my leader that is attached to the medium infantry. The elephants in this case would have rolled five dice. Trying that out just for grins, I get two leaders, one blue triangle, one red square, and a retreat result. Assuming the elephants were adjacent to one of their leaders like they were in actual play, this would have resulted in three hits and a very small chance of killing the opposing leader outright. (The medium infantry ignore the flag result because they are supported and have a leader attached.) The medium infantry would battle back with four dice… and rolling them now, I get a leader, a red square, a blue triangle, and a flag. That’s two hits, enough to completely disperse the elephant unit!

Well… I was thinking that my opponent made a mistake in not going after the medium infantry, but those dudes seem pretty well able to defend themselves against the elephants. Maybe they shouldn’t be sent against the medium and heavy infantry until they’ve been softened up a bit…? Or maybe they should stomp unsupported guys that are less likely to be able to battle back…? It’s just not crystal clear how best to use those elephants, but attacking the opposing leader directly with them when he’s attached to heavy or medium infantry– that’s suicidal, apparently!

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One response to “About that Mounted Charge at Bagradas…

  1. Robert Eaglestone November 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    Fascinating. I am looking forward to playing this game.

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