Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Bill Butler's Scutarii

I spent an enjoyable evening last night muddling through a test game of Bill Butler's Scutarii featuring Pompey versus Sertorius and based on a Classical Hack scenario.

Notable features are using d10s for combat (variable # of dice per unit class rolling against a defence number type scheme) and morale tests, with the morale tests occurring at the start of each players' turn.

Unit morale is tracked over three stages - normal, shaken, routed - and units also track hits, with each hit a permanent subtraction from the unit's morale number, making it more likely they will fail the test and drop a level.

This leads to units being worn down by the accumulation of hits until they become shaken and then next morale failure sees them gone, probably taking a few others with them.

There are a few 'fast-tracks' to shaken - hitting units in rear, etc - so exploiting that is probably a key tactic for old hands (which I am not!).

Nice clean turn sequence and fairly easy to get the hang of.

There are lots of ways to classify units (type, grade, drill, regular/irregular, open/closed order, missile/non-missile, etc) so you can build troops to match your own ideas as desired.

It's quite different from what I've been playing the last few years, but I like it. It has the wearing down and morale collapse dynamic you get in Lost Battles but at a more tactical level. It was also a nice change to see both manoeuvre and combat featuring more concretely (as opposed to more abstractly) on table, and lines ebbing and flowing rather than either being there or not being there.

My biggest issue at this stage is with the markers required to track morale level, hits and disorder. I'll need to organise a system so that I don't have unsightly clutter on the table.

Anyway, nice rules, I think. Would be interested to hear if anyone else has played or is playing them.

Just prior to contact



Action on the Sertorian left

The Sertorians attempting to make a Pompey sandwich, but the bread is straining...

13 comments:

  1. Hi Aaron,
    I emailed copies of the hit and morale markers that I have been using. I keep them in a multi-compartment box. Good looking game.

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  2. That is a good looking game! I have not tried Scutarii yet but I have a copy and it is in my "To Do" pile. Game sounds interesting so I ought to give a closer look.

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    1. Hi Jonathan - there's never enough time, is there? Sometimes though you do get a feeling that it's time to try something different. I'm pleased I did. I won't play it every week but it's a good one to have on hand.

      Cheers,
      Aaron

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  3. what about differently colored mini dice for recording hit and morale? example: green die: fresh, yellow die: worn... et cetera

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    1. Haha, funnily enough that's what I did when I resumed next day :)

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  4. could use a different color code for the 2 armies.
    would be helpful to distinguish during play

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  5. Lovely looking game - Scutarii sounds like an interesting set of rules.

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    1. Thanks Mike. They've started well :)

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  6. I tried this rules. I even made a detailed review of them, but it is in Russian (http://e-burgwargamer.blogspot.ru/2016/05/scutarii.html). In short I did not like them. The idea of attritional combat is a nice one, but tracking down hit points for tens of units is very time consuming and boring. I also did not like the way leaders play very little role. There is no command and control system. Also during my playtests I had issues with rulebook, as I was unable to find explanation of how some rules should work. For example, on page 11 rules mention defensive missile fire, but it is not explained anywhere what a "defensive missile fire" means, which units can use it. Or on page 20 it say that evading units can shoot, but it is not mentioned at all in section on evading, and it is not explained whether all or only some evading units can shoot, do you have to evade successfully in order to shoot, or you shoot first and then evade. Also I had several situations in game when after a few rounds of melee both units were shaken and had enough hits to fail morale test automatically - it looks very stupid when a unit fail morale and rout, the other unit pursuits it and then in its own phase it also fails morale and rout. There is nothing in the rules explaining how to deal with such situations. I would say that the rules are very raw, but taking in to account that they exist for more than 30 years I would say that the author has quite a slight attitude towards potential players. I would not mind if the rules were free, or if they costed less. But as I had to pay for the physical book and for postage I am very disappointed with this purchase.

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    1. Hi Yuri, nice to hear from you! I've just heard from Bill himself, and apparently there were two sentences missing from the published text regarding shooting. He has an errata file that includes them, and has sent it to me. I can send the file on to you as well (I think I have your email address). Even if you don't play the rules again, at least you can read the clarification. Cheers, and great to see you have got a blog going. I will be reading with the help of google translate :)

      Aaron

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    2. Hi, Aaron! I am regularly reading all new posts in your blog. Errata was uploaded to Scutarii Yahoo group yesterday. Just checked it - it explains what defensive shooting is, as well as some other stuff. From my experience google translate handles English-Russian translation extremely bad.

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