Monday, December 21, 2009

Ancients Rules Redux

As I posted earlier, I had my first opportunity to play the Crusader Historical Miniature Rules last week when Chris Craft ran his Hundred Years' War game at The Panzer Depot. I've had these rules since they were first published, but I only gave them a read-through before shelving them. I was already invested in Field of Glory (FoG) in 15mm and starting in 28mm, as well as having a WRG project going on, and I wasn't contemplating adopting yet another set of ancients rules. But that was before I played them.

I had a good feeling playing them, not just because I won. I've played Warhammer Ancient Battles (WAB), which left me cold. Crusader rules have some of the same basic mechanics, which all derive from Donald Featherstone's rules from the early 1960s, but play a little less dicey and stylistic. The combat resolution uses D10 rather than D6, so you get a bit less restricted results. They also dispense with the armor saves for hand-to-hand combat and missile fire, which saves time in resolving combat.

Figure basing is not too standardized, the rules don't really require bases that match exactly and the number of figures per base isn't a factor in resolving combat. Chris uses a 2-inch square base for all troop types mounting 2, 3, or 4 figures depending on type. Each base has set combat values based on the type of troops, their morale, and their skill. There is also "chrome" that applies to certain types of units. For example, troops classified as phalanx have special combat abilities that give them extra abilitiy to prevail in combat, which reflects the historical power of Greek and Macedonian phalanxes.

In Chris' game, there was a lot of heavy armor so missile fire seemed less lethal than in WAB. I think that in a game set during the Punic Wars, the effect of missiles will be greater, but then there won't be massed formations of English longbowmen.

I have a lot of ancients figures kicking around. Mostly unpainted. So I have the potential to start a lot of projects: Greek hoplites, Macedonians, Thracians, Late Romans, Sassanid, Mycenean, Picts, Medieval Irish, Saxons, Post-Roman British. I commented to Kevin Smyth the other day that if I bought no more figures, I would still have enough to keep me painting for the next five years. Although, I have to admit that's less an indication of the mass of unpainted lead I have than it is an indictment of the slowness with which I paint.

I'm also contemplating switching my Carthaginian project from FoG to Crusader. An interesting observation is that basing the Carthaginians for Crusader the way that Chris has doesn't affect playing FoG and is a bit more economical with figures. Chris plans on trying FoG with his Hundred Years' War units. This makes me think that I can play Crusader rules using the Later Roman and Sassanid armies I have for FoG in 15mm. (S0, on the other hand, basing figures for FoG wuld also allow them to be used for Crusader.)

In sum, the Crusader rules have me thinking that they might make an interesting change of direction or at least and option that can be exercised with my current figures and projects.


  1. David:

    Chris hosted a HYW game using Crusader rules at Adrian's Edgewood Bunker this past Saturday. I found them quite enjoyable too. I'm still learning the finer points of WAB though, so I don't think I'll be switching to Crusader just yet. I'm really not so stuck on the rule system per se, as long as I don't have to drastically rebase armies - then again most of the WAB figures are single base anyway. Regards, Dean

  2. David, I'm looking at the same set of rules for the same reasons. Nice to see there's someone else giving the Crusader rules a try.