I set up a 1000 point Roman/Carthaginian game, set somewhere in Spain, with a hill and a couple of small groves for terrain.
I didn't go overboard with pre-studying the rules; I just set up as I saw fit and then played through a few turns solo to see how things would go. Veteran players will no doubt see some egregious errors in my deployment schemes here; everyone else will be able to get a giggle at the base of velites who didn't know whether they were coming or going...
Things kicked off with a determined Roman advance in the center, aiming to get to grips before the Carthaginians could get too much done on the flanks. Unfortunately, command rolls prevented much cohesion, and while the central block advanced without problems the flanks trod forward rather more gingerly.
Carthage was able to secure the copses on the right and infiltrate light infantry into positions suitable for harassing the flanks of the Roman infantry advance.
The centre, meantime, shortened their lines to meet the more compact Roman formation.
Third turn in things were still progressing very slowly, mainly due to horrific command rolls. The Spanish light infantry gained the hill, but a command blunder saw the Numidians impetuously charge a unit of velites. In the ensuing scrum they were pushed back by a hail of javelins before getting to grips properly, but in thsie own shooting phase forced the Romans to scurry back to safety behind their heavy cavalry.
I thought the interactions worked well.
|The skirmishers gain the hill.|
|Numidian stand off...|
So, points to note:
1) Skirmishers are quite effective in that they are able to drive back would-be attackers and disrupt the line. I think these will be fun to use in a proper game. Horse will be needed to counter their evade ability, and light horse especially.
2) It's a lot harder to move units than I'm used to from games such as Lost Battles. The threat of imminent command failure makes you weigh up priorities. While poor command dice are very bad, they can turn good very quickly, so there will be big swings in fortune that will always offer a chance to come back from all but the very worst positions.
3) Hand-to-hand combat looks to be bloody. Keeping reserves on hand and finding the right way to get them into the battle line will likely be key elements in game play.
4) I like how the table looks. The lines are nice and clean, but have a shape to them that I miss when using the zones in Lost Battles.
All up, I'm very pleased. I think these will be a fun set of rules and there is plenty of potential to add in extra rules here and there as well. I can see some similarities to Commands and Colors: Ancients (particularly in the way skirmishers operate, and the way that retreats and pursuits work), and think it will likely reward similar skills.
Now the only problem will be to find someone prepared to play it with me!