Sunday, September 4, 2022

Hail Caesar Dark Ages Game

 

...because after all, I didn't paint all these Vikings and Saxons for nothing.


"Hi!  We're Vikings.  We're here to take your stuff."


Hail Caesar Dark Ages


Over the Labor Day weekend (first weekend in Sept here in Ah-merica) there was a game convention called Pacificon.  Which I didn't go to because I am big loser and too poor right now.  I hate being poor, but it's kinda my own fault because I blew all my hobby money on limited  edition DVDs  of all 5 seasons of "I dream of Jeanie."  


Too sexy because she always calls him master...

So instead I invited some other losers who weren't going to the convention either, to my place so we can suck less together.  And for a chance to get all these Dark Ages troops of mine on the table. 

I have a couple of rules for Dark Ages mass battles that I like but am not really in love with any of them.  Just haven't found my 'Go-to" rule set yet.  They're like women you date in college but you know that you're not gonna marry.  These being Sword and Spear and Hail Caesar.  Other contenders are Impetus (which I found hard to read/understand and haven't tried) and Triumph (liked what I read but haven't tried).  I selected Hail Caesar for a game that's really good at moving blocks of infantry and rolling lots of dice.  Mr. CG and Mr. AS took the roles of the dastardly Vikings while I took the noble Saxons.  


Setting Up


My morning set up was super rushed and chaotic as my wife was busy cleaning because her parents were coming over, and all of them were going out with the kids while I stayed home and played miniatures.  Which is of course super nice all around but it did mean I had to set up the game with added 'assistance' of little helping hands....

Actually daughter #1 and Son #2 were quite content to sit on a coach and watch TV.
Son #3 however was quite ...helpful...

I set up a 6x10 foot table; figuring that was big enough to hold all the troops and still allow for some room to move around.  There are two important tricks to setting up a good Dark Ages mass battle.  ONE: resist the tempting temptation of just lining all the units end to end on each side and have at it.  While it is historical (almost all Dark Ages battles are just that) it's not very exciting to play.  TWO: Allow enough room for the players to line their troops end to end and have at it because it's exciting and it's what everyone expects and what else you gonna do where the primary formation is the shieldwall....  it's a paradox.


Game On


The game had 3 players so I split the Vikings into 4 divisions; 2 for each player.  The Saxons are in 3 divisions controlled by me. 

In this scenario:  The Vikings are in the process of leading a loot train from a village back to their longships.  There is 1 Viking division on the table to start and must keep 1 unit with the loot train in order keep the 4 units; livestock, slaves, ale cart, and food.  The train needs to be ordered to move toward the boats and will move 6" each turn if successful.  The train only ever gets 1 move and if a blunder is rolled the would-be slaves will fight the guards.  The other Viking divisions are off exploring the countryside..

The Saxons have shown up to put a stop to this.  1 division starts on the table edge.  Vikings have the first turn...  

Every turn after the first each side gets a division entering the table...

With my friends arriving and family leaving all at the same time I did NOT have my usual quiet before the storm to take pictures of the table right after set up.  So we join the game in progress...

Saxons at the bottom of the picture.
Viking to the right and ahead.
Off in the distance the loot train is moving toward the longships.


Same scene; different angle.


Another Saxon division enters from the long table edge.

.

Whole table so far.


Get into Shieldwall!
Vikings in lower left and right side (Viking archers on the hill)

ANYWAYS; I'm playing, running the game, as well eating pizza and drinking to much coffee so there is no blow by blow of the game.  Divisions enter and fights break out and the soon..


.. the whole table table looks like this.

Same scene, from the other side of the table.


Saxons and Vikings on a Collision course.


Hail Caesar Dark Ages
Same scene but just behind the Vikings.


If you got the idea that during the game I would suddenly think "hey, I haven't taken any pictures in awhile..." *Click-click-click-click* Ok, back to the game."        You would be correct. 


Yay!  Dark Ages


Time for some random pictures:

Hail Caesar Dark Ages


Hail Caesar Dark Ages


Hail Caesar Dark Ages
Can you tell who is who?
No you can't.  Because everyone is harry and smelly in the Dark Ages.

Enough pics though.  Lookit, I played a game.  You get the idea.  On a side note: I think every picture has some gamer junk in it (dice, tape measure, paper or some such) making me the lamest wargaming blogger ever.


Things Learned, Things Remembered


I haven't played Hail Caesar in at least 5 years and the rules came out in 2014 (what?  really?  Daaaamnnn time flies.)  and I liked the rules way more than I remembered.  Some memories are still accurate in that I don't love the orders system and I think the best experience is to have more than 1 division to command as we did here; so than when a division blows it's first roll and does NOTHING you're just not sitting there watching but move onto the next division.  There is a fun risk versus reward aspect in the orders phase and combat is a fun bucket of dice fest. Here's an example of a sentence you say in combat: "My Thegns have 7 dice in combat that hit on a  3+ because I charged, add in 2 dice for the attached leader for 9 dice at 3+ (rolls), that's 6 hits so far; these two supporting Ceorls have 3 dice each that hit on a 4+ (rolls); that's 3 more hits for a total of 9, so you need 9 saves of..."

I did really like the shieldwall rule from the dark ages supplement which helped make the lines crashing into each other a more grinding pushing shoving affair.  

One big thing I learned from feedback is that I should label the units in some way.  It's my collection so I can instantly recognize a Saxon Thegn unit from a Viking Hirdmen from a Ceorl from a Bondi but CG and AS said they couldn't.  I'm assuming this is because all the painted miniatures just looked too awesome.  

The scenario also needs some tweaking here and there but I'll leave that to another time.  Overall a successful day and a good dusting off of the rules.  And it felt good to get this collection on the table after a long time.  I'd almost forgotten how much I like the Dark Ages. 

Another game of Hail Caesar is scheduled for later in the month.  WHAAAT???  2 games in one month??!!  That's crazy!  Who am I?  The King of Wargaming? 


Thanks for Reading
Double thanks for writing a comment.
Till next time.

56 comments:

  1. Looks like a very entertaining day for you from setup through to battle’s end. Armies look fab. Say, if you are ever interested trying Basic Impetvs, I know a fella who runs remote games…

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks JF. It was an entertaining day if a little more hectic than I like.
      It’s been awhile since I’ve read Impetus II, which I believe is a little different than the basic version?
      It would be cool to try out the rules and remote gaming. πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

      Delete
  2. Nice ships....and coastline....☺
    It made me remember an article by Andy Callan for some reason, which by the miracle of the internet is available here:

    https://www.wfgamers.org.uk/andy-callans-articles/the-dark-age-infantry-slog

    Neil

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Neil. One ship is from Old Glory and the other is a model kit. The riverside terrain I made. There are posts on this terrible blog if so inclined. πŸ˜€
      I’m familiar with the dark age infantry slog but it’s been awhile since I’ve read them.

      Delete
  3. Great looking table, I really like the village and ships. It is funny how much you learn painting the figures and then sorta assume you are the johnny come lately to the knowledge. Could you house rule away the sections you don't like in the rules? It's an old enough set that you can blithely claim expert knowledge about how to make it better.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dave. The ships are a fun bit of scenery. The only thing I don’t love about the rules is when a division fails it’s first activation; in this game it’s mitigated by commanding more than 1 division to take off the sting. Other than that the Duarte fun and actually more fun than I remembered them being. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  4. That looked like fun Stew. Lovely ships and figures. Those dinosaurs could have been menacing if you had let son #2 have his way. You may make a gamer of him yet.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ADORABLE toddler is actually son #3 but yes, the boys do far seem to like games. I’ve given up on the girl. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  5. Stew, lovely looking table and fun scenario, all your efforts on the figures and ships have come together nicely. I have been using Sword & Spear, but fancy that for my next encounter, I will give the Hail Caesar rules a spin. Enjoy your next showdown.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Norm. I thought about going with Sword and Spear but HC seems to be slightly easier to teach / pick up. Plus HC is easily customized to a period by the special rules. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  6. Thanks Stew for another rollickingly funny post! It gave my ribs a good work out.
    You made absolutely the correct decision: limited edition DVDs of all 5 seasons of "I dream of Jeanie" over convention any day. You can always go to the convention next year, unless you stay home with Barbara...
    The table, figures and terrain look bloody superb! It may be the dark ages, but those figures are mighty colourful. Really, really liked the long boats. Looking forward to more in a couple of weeks.
    Regards, James

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks James. Barbara Eden definitely helped to propel me into puberty. πŸ˜€
      It’s the dark ages but we all know that they liked garish color. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  7. Great stuff Stew - good to see you getting all those recently painted Vikings and Thegns on the table - but are you sure about this statement .."..everyone is harry and smelly in the Dark Ages" ..I thought they had names like Erik, Sven and Olaf ....even the Saxons were called Ethelbert or Alfred....although, just before they disappeared from history under the chain mail boot of Norman Eurofascism, they DID have an 'Arold Godwinson... so I guess SOME of them were Harry and smelly.... :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don’t claim any credit for that. That was all Kieth. And it was a long walk but I’d say it arrived at the end. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  8. Great looking game, scenario sounds fun, Hail Caesar is designed so that you can have house rules, good point about the multiple divisions/ brigades, I'll have to remember that!
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Iain. HC overall was better than I remembered actually. I had just a few house rules that I’ll document in a future post. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  9. That’s a very “coooooool” looking game Stew ( like what I did there Fonz?). Heaps of wonderful looking figures and playing with mates at home. Very nice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aaay thanks Carlo. (See what I did there?πŸ˜€).

      Delete
  10. Great looking game and report Stew!. I always wonder sometimes, would the Vikings really take my children? cause sometimes I really really wanted them to 😁 Even if they did, I am sure they would have brought them back.
    I am sure you could make that a secret part of the game. If the captives get on the ship the Saxons win😊 and the Viking player just looks around and says how did I lose?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ben. I don’t think that I’d let the Vikings take my children, bc if anyone is gonna abuse them it ought to be me. The wife on the other hand is free grabs….
      (Those are all jokes, I love my family, really. Swear). πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

      Delete
  11. Excellent to see your longships on the table (and your figs, too, of course!). Some of the best games I've had have been the compensatory "we didn't go to the convention" affairs. Question: what is the ground cloth: is that a rug? Suggestion: our group is currently hooked on the mini acrylic stands as a good (and flexible) way to mark units (you'll see them in my last few battle reports). I got mine on ebay (Url is too insane to post, but if you search for "Mini Acrylic Sign Display Holder Price Name Card Tag Stand Bracket" they oughta come up).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Ed. I think I’ll just stick little paper tags on the end that say what the unit is for a start before I get all fancy. But that is a good idea.
      The ground cloth is my homemade 6x10 gaming mat. Made it a long time ago and it’s holding up alright but is getting some wrinkles. I have a blog post about it (naturally). Hit the terrain label and it’s back in 2017, it’s an early post. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  12. Greatly disturbed to read that every picture has some gamers junk in it. Eeeew. Thought this was a family friendly site, lol. Love the viking ships though. Top stuff all round really.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol JBM. The ships are getting some good attention. They’re a fun bit of scenery and of course will probably be on the table every game. Kinda sets the scene.
      But unfortunately this post is full gamer junk and crotch shots. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  13. A good looking game and setup. The randomness of photos suggests an enjoyable day's gaming.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Peter. A good day but more hectic in the beginning than I’m used to. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  14. Wonderful read. Although I have never played Hail Caesar we have played quite a bit of Pike and Shotte and, yes, players generally run two or three small divisions. Once units get up close and personal you can take advantage of Initiative moves which mitigates the failed Command rolls to a degree.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Cod. I appreciate the comment.
      HC was more fun than I remembered. The multiple div is key. I’m gonna need more leader stands.
      I’ve never played pike and shot or black powder. Kinda funny. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  15. Looks like it was a fun game Stew, congrats on a fine looking collection. Enjoy the next game.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Excellent game Stew. Lots of toys and a game among friends…is there much more to life?

    ReplyDelete
  17. Great to see your troops in action and HC, like BPII, are easy rules to teach and to tweak to suit various periods etc. Not to everyone's taste but I like them. As always an entertaining read and nice for you to have the house to yourself and friends for some gaming. It's been a long, long time since I've been afforded such a luxury!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Steve. If ya can’t game at your house then the next best thing is to game at someone else’s. Good luck!

      Delete
  18. Very lovely! Always nice to see fully painted armies duking it out on the tabletop. The ruleset seems cool, like the idea of a supply train scenario.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dino. Glad you liked it. It wasn’t so much a supply train but a loot train; Vikings like to steal. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  19. Fantastic looking game Stewart, great set up and models that really look the part. All the wargiming bits in the shot just show it's a real game, not a solo gaming post, as then you have the time to write down the blow by blow, and take the relevant edited photo's ! LOL If you all had fun, that's the main thing, and a second game in a month ! LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dave. It was a good game and no time for staged photos. The next outing is at the end of the month which seems like awhile away. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  20. Great looking battle stew and glad the Vikings et al got a run out. The boats and village look awesome too πŸ‘

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Matt. The ships DO help set the scene don’t they? The village is just some buildings and walls thrown down. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  21. I guess I am a double loser for missing the convention and this game...

    Looks lovely with all those big units thrashing around on the table. Creases aside, your mat is holding up nicely, and really, they just make it look a bit more realistic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks David. The mat is holding up pretty well despite being several years old and just rolled around a tube and leaned against a wall in the garage. I probably should put some straps on it.

      You’ll have your next chance to be a winner in November/ Veterans Day weekend where there are some local cons. I’ll email you about them. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  22. Well that's another smashing looking game that I missed... I really will make one of these events eventually. Promise. (Might be next Summer though.)

    Cracking looking game, but one important point - who flippin won? Did the slaves end up revolting? Were the Vikings able to clear off back to Daneland? Did the dinosaurs eat any of the warriors present on the day?

    (Speaking of which, your little ones are growing so fast! So is mine, she'll be one on the 26th! O_o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dai. Calling it an event is over selling it. πŸ˜€
      We ruled that the Vikings won as they definitely had the Saxons on the back foot and had gotten the loot to the ships. By the time that we started playing all the stuffed animals were removed to the crib. πŸ˜€
      The little kids. Change so fast don’t they?

      Delete
  23. Looks great, well done getting all your ducks in a row and getting that game set up. It's a big commitment of time and energy to manage kids, family responsibilities..let alone organising the scenarios, figures, teeing up players etc etc. Most people don't quite understand the mental load that goes into putting on a game...they just see us as playing with toys & having a laugh.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dash. It does take some effort to put on games but I guess it comes pretty naturally to us; though luckily it’s not like it’s an important thing so if some part is off it’s not a big deal. The hardest part for me is finding the time to play games. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  24. It’s great to see your figures on table after all the hard work you put in painting them. They are a spectacle. And those longships really catch the eye! Just make sure to keep that t-rex caged………

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Mike. The T-Rex gives me no issues and is allowed to roam free; the child on the other hand definitely needs to be contained. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  25. I saw Hail Caesar and got excited because I thought you were going to do some REAL wargaming with Romans ;) To be a bit more serious, the pictures look fantastic and I'm envious that you can have such a big wargaming space in your house. 4x4 is about as much as I can pull off currently to give you some context. Either way, all that painting has really paid off!

    Definitely hang onto those I Dream of Jeannie DVDs. Those are going to come back in a big way and you'll be able to retire early. Mark my words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jeff. Though I have yet to see YOUR Romans grace the posts on your blog…😝😝
      I did used to have Romans and some Gauls but the period stalled and the project purged long ago.
      When we were house shopping a big room was one of the requirements I had for such an game. I’m envious of people who have a permanent table set up. Bc rearranging the house to put the table up is physical labor. πŸ˜€

      Delete
    2. The desire is there, but a lack of time to dedicate towards Romans also exists. I hope to get around to it in a couple of years, so don't go anywhere! ;) I have to set up tables too. It is a chore and cheap folding tables are a level of dangerous that I was not prepared for haha

      Delete
  26. I had an absolute blast playing this at Conquest Sac. How in the hell have I not been following your blog until now? I feel like I've been hiding under a rock. Well - fixed that - following it now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jay. It was good having you there. πŸ˜€

      Delete
  27. Great to see your blogging again Stew, and I did miss you! And a Great (meaning long) post it is! I know a hell of a lot more about HC than I did before now. 6'x10 table'? Are you kidding? You have that much room? Wow!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Vol. yes I do have that much room. When we went house shopping I made sure there was a t least one room where I can set up a large table like this. Its not permanent though, just folding tables that usually live in the garage.

      Delete