David Dockter
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First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society

I own A LOT of Joseph Miranda designs...I mean A LOT. Although I really like his games, I hardly ever get one on my playtable. Read the rules. Like the games. But no play. No idea why not.

For example, Roman Civil War been sitting on my shelf for two decades (I'll buy anything on that topic). I remember reading thru the rules and thinkin "Cool; just wanted - a smart, strat op ancients game. Never played. I then discovered Germania is apart Mirandi's Ancient War series - and that there is an expansion that ties them all together somehow. When I purchased Germania last year, I vowed that I would finally play some Miranda games in 2015.

I'm really glad this resolution has been kept...

Prep


FEB in MPLS...it's frickin COLD!


How do you feed a hungary wargamer during winter in Minnesota? Perkins!

First thing as always, looked for reviews/session reports/vids. Shockingly, none. WTF? There is a very vocal "WE LOVE ALL ANCIENTS" subtribe in the hobby; where are the usual suspects? Why no love for this system? Undeterred, but antennas up, I cracked open the rules; all good. Most of what I think should be in a strat op level roman game is here.

Regarding the bits in the game...argh. Map is ok. Counters? 1/2 in things with a butt ugly color for the romans (how the hell could that get messed up?)...overall forgetable. I like the actual units in the game - they have a morale rating (actually discipline class). Cool "Civis" units included; the technocrats. A smattering of engineers. So, enough flavor to get me jazzed (of course, would have like to see more).

Would really like someone to give this game and the others in the series a MUCH better look: the games deserve it. For that matter, why not put them all in one big pack, give them great graphics, the mechanics a nip/tuck/freshen and sell it? The hobby can ALWAYS use another great ancients strat op level game to compliment the reigning king, Carthage: The First Punic War

Rulebook is fine; clean & clear.





Some of the numerous mechanics that like:

Combat.

I like the system: three rounds (missile, assault, pursuit) - various units fire & receive modifications in the different rounds. One side fires first (the side winning the tactical superiority roll - basically a unmodified die roll {would have been cool to see some ldr tactical ratings to modify the die roll}. The CRT inflicts a combo of morale checks (discipline checks) & percentage losses on the enemy. Vaguely reminds me of the system in the masterpiece called Empires in Arms (except, sadly, no chit pics). You'll notice that a lot in my comments - if only this or that knob/dial would have been added - and these are not meant as knocks against Miranda's fine game - just thinking out loud about how I prefer my steak.


crt


discipline

Each makes one die roll that is used for ALL units (yeehaw...hold on tight during the roller coaster ride). I like the idea of the "G": Go Marvin Scenario Boy ala his crazy PoG blitz tactic Berserk. Would have been cool to see that result in some adtl offensive pop for the berserker

Winning their hearts & minds

Love factions in a game. Love um. Persian Gulf: Battle for the Middle East the classic example of that. Cards were used to push/pull factions to your side. Nothing like that here; just a die roll (or events table stuff). Oh, would have I liked to see a more developed - overwrought someone shouts! - system.


tribes


tribune

Moving stuff around

At the heart of game are strategems (think cards in a card driven wargame). Three flavors: Poly (tribune/recruit), mil (march/combat/intercept/withdraw/forced march) & agent (intel/assassins). Players gain/lose strategems from battle outcomes, loss of a supreme leader, events and pillaging (yipee). Unfortunately, its I Go YOU GO (yuk!)...and we thought about tossing all the strategems in a cup and drawing them one at a time ("Going Berg!"), but, it actually works fine with the tired IGYG mechanic.

My opponent, Young Mr.N, suggested making cards (and putting all the stuff you can do it). I think we're going to do that particular pimp out ...in addition to figure to represent legions/leaders...probably blow up the map...use a bunch of wood to mark stuff...as you can tell, this game has crossed our "pimp out worthy" hurdle.


march

Feeding your horde


supply

I really like the supply table; real drama. Romans don't have to worry about supply if they are in city (with a civis unit - also a great concept) or a mobile supply depot (impeditus). Germans are always rolling on the supply table - which seemed a little odd to us, given, they have home field advantage. However, we thought it was just part of the attrition dynamic Miranda wanted to create.

The practical jokes of the gods



A Bergish random events table is included. Like it.

Summary before pushing pieces: Promising!

So, the game has most of the ingredients to be great. The BIG missing item is a Roman political dimension. Would like to see more bells and whistles with the mechanics, but, definitely a meaty game here. So, our bootcamp experience...

Turn 1




setup


First moves

We decided to play Germania on 1st MN's COIN Day (AAR here: G.A.A.R. -- 2/20/15 -- It's Better To Die Standing Than Face the February Cold ). We got going around 2ish (the Puzzlemaster failed his navigation die roll evidently). Young Mr.N took the insurgents and I ran the Romans. We knew we would only get in a few turns, but, of course, went with the BIG scenario. There are fun interesting die rolls for the "Dissent in the Roman Ranks" event. Romans well rolled; everyone happy evidently. We also allowed the Germans to simply write down the location of "the eagles" ("the scenario covers the campaigns of Germanicus Caesar to avenge the Teutoburg disaster" and recover the lost eagles).

The fun began with the Romans moving and scattering their legions. One cool dynamic is that when you march, you may get hit with scatter: your legion ends up in hex adjacent to where you want to be - that can be a real fun problem! cry Of course, the first Roman legion that moved got nailed with scatter.

Turn 2


Turn 2

A random event caused the Marcomani tribe to go neutral. Romans lunged forward. Germans started recruiting here & there. One German tribe tried to move, but, failed its march roll: no movement.

Turn 3


First battle

Random event was a barbarian uprising. Roman legions moved to engage german insurrectionists, but, again scattered. The German leader, Arpus, failed its march roll (it did all three turns?!). However, the Young Mr.N was itching to give the combat mechanic a whirl. Consequently, Armminius led his horde against one Roman army. Germans won the tactical die roll (meaning they shot first in each round of combat). Results for each round of combat:

Missile: German (G): Inflicted no loss Roman (R): inflicted 2 losses

Assault: G: inflicted a discipline check, but, Romans survived it: R: inflicted a discipline check and 5 losses

Pursuit: G inflicted a discipline check and 5 losses: R: same result. However, the Romans survived their discipline check, while the Germans did not. A TOTAL Disaster. Or, in the words of Young Mr.N , "It's a damm reverse Teutoburg disaster!".

The Romans did discover the importance of building another supply unit - and getting it to the front when the supply unit associated with its engaged army was eliminated (discipline check). There is a whole subgame to building the roman supply chain, we think, which looks very interesting. In fact, there were a number of game dynamics (recruiting, concentrating the forces, etc) that caught our interest. So much so, that others watching the game also indicated, "The series must be played...soon!". So, while almost all of us at First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society seemed to have missed Miranda's Ancient War playing party, it's now on our must be played soon pile. And, we'll do a proper AAR then, as opposed to this short half baked piece.


end of Turn 3

Wrap Up: Initial Thumbs Up

We're bit. We got the bug. We'll be playing again sooner than later and give it a proper go & write up. Maybe someday, we'll see a new & revised Ancient Wars monster pack. arrrh

Other 1st Mn AARs:

1st MN/Sawatdee/Herr Dr Session Reports


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Joshua Gottesman
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Trajan: Ancient Wars Series does actually collect all of the games and the expansion kit into one box. There are linking scenarios in there. I think it's out of print, and even though I own it, I'd love to see this entire series brought up to date.
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Judd Vance
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"Just get that sucka to the designated place at the designated time and I will gladly designate his ass...for dismemberment!" - Sho Nuff.
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Have you ever played Caesar XL by Miranda? Good little light game, but if you play, be sure to get the variant rules in the BGG Files section to help smooth out the wild swings of luck.
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David Dockter
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Have it: not played
 
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Rich Horton
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Not all of us have missed out. I've actually had two games of Miranda's Julian: Triumph Before the Storm going on the Friday meets. (Actually, didn't you sit in for a bit of that? Or did I dream it?)

If you want to get Julian going sometime I'm always up for it. I really like that game.
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David Dockter
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I don't remember, Mr.Rich....too many games lately (a high class problem). Have you played any of the Ancient Wars series?
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Gordon J
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Dockter, you're an animal! Hope you don't burn out from writing all these session reports, because I love reading them.
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David Dockter
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I'm going to take a break (besides doing the Sawatdee blogs) now that spring is about here.
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Rich Horton
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Herr Dr wrote:
I don't remember, Mr.Rich....too many games lately (a high class problem). Have you played any of the Ancient Wars series?


No I haven't, though picking up a copy of Trajan: Ancient Wars Series looks like a must.
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Judd Vance
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Herr Dr wrote:
Have it: not played


We should play it sometime. I overhauled the Vassal module and made it totally badass.
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Joshua Gottesman
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airjudden wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:
Have it: not played


We should play it sometime. I overhauled the Vassal module and made it totally badass.


It is a lot of fun...very chaotic, too.
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Keith Plymale
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Great AAR Herr Doktor TY.

I've had these since they came out and got the Deluxe box when it was released. I'm up for Vassal/Skype play.
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Lawrence Hung
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Quote:
Why no love for this system?


I have a zealous love of this system. Just that there are too many other games coming out every day and month. I only had the chance to get the first in the installment played. Then I have to store all three magazine games away before I get the chance to put them onto the table.

Quote:
For that matter, why not put them all in one big pack, give them great graphics, the mechanics a nip/tuck/freshen and sell it?


Decision Games did that bundle in a box version as many mentioned above. I suspect its print run was too low and it should be sold like a diamond in eBay now. Since Decision Games is reprinting so many SPI games now, I am hopeful they can do the same one day again with upgraded components. This is really a GREAT system for ancient strategic campaigns.
 
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Tom Swider
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I got my expansion kit from Columbia Games, and I think they still sell them (see the link for Excalibur Games... They bouvht their inventory).
 
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David Dockter
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My Trajan: Ancient Wars Series Expansion Kit just arrived.
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