Thoughts on Hail Caesar – two games in.

By | September 13, 2011

Quite a few of us at the club have been interested in Hail Caesar and it has been good to get some games under the belt to try it out.

There are some established or growing Roman armies already in the club so I went for a hairy Celtic horde, including naked fanatics.

Paul and I have now played two games using the rules. Our forces have been on the small side for what looks like a typical HC game (at least from the book examples anyway) but we’ve had enough to play a decent sized game with 3 small but useful divisions.

Game 1 was played across the width of a table with not a lot of scenery and essentially was a smash into each other and kill much as possible game.

We had a lot of fun, and learned a lot about the importance of supporting units and maximising dice rolls. We screwed up a lot, got other stuff and had a lot of fun.

Game 2 was a completely different affair. This time we had the celts advancing down the length of the table into a roman force defending a river crossing. This game really showed the system in all its glory.

We had proper skirmishing, impetuous cavalry, units failing orders and getting lost, huge battle lines crashing into each other, massive damage and desperate last stands. Joined by Dan, all of us had plenty to think about as we moved around the table, lined up charges and generally tried to take advantage of opportunity and adjust to the winds of misfortune and blundered orders.

Some observations. We had great fun and were really impressed with the system. Units behaved as you’d expect and once we got to game 2 the tactical options came to the fore and presented some real challenges.

It was obvious that an effective skirmishing phase is important and you need to think carefully about the role of different forces when planning your move from skirmish to serious combat. The game punishes wrong or poor troop handling. For example. In game 2 I got my celts into a double move charge range, and then my general rolled once and then again but only got a single order. This left the carefully managed battle line within initiative charge range of the romans who piled in and smashed the Celtic line backwards. Losing the +1 to the hit role for charging was vital and meant the celts couldn’t max their dice rolls.

On the other flank Paul ended up with his auxilia in the front line with Pretorians providing support. This was asking for trouble and the resulting melee was all too easy for the celts who smashed the auxilia off the table and inflicted heavy casualties on the supporting Pretorians. Had those two units been the other way round, the result would likely have been very different.

So much for us to learn and more games needed. That’s good then!

We agreed that we need (well, want…) bigger armies, bigger tables and more time. The prospect of truly epic battles is really enticing.

So, really enjoying the system, the Warlord figures are just awesome and there is so much more to find out and have fun with.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Hail Caesar – two games in.

  1. Dan

    Great review, Tom – Have to agree wholeheartedly!

    I see Hail Caesar (and Blackpowder for that matter) as essentially Warmaster Acients v2.0: retaining and refining all the best bits and adding in the bits that were missing or didn’t work well. The results are excellent – a truly satifying game.

    Looking forward to more!

  2. Jaz

    Good write up. We are lovin HC as well. The only concerns we have is that it still breaks down with more than 15 or so units a side into endless hits, saves, break rolls.

  3. tomabbott Post author

    Hi Jaz.

    I don’t think Rick Priestly hides the fact that HC is a game for buckets of dice. And we have lots of dice :-)

    Seriously though, we are at small scale games right now so we are yet to see how it stacks up with larger games. We’ve yet to see combat descend into a slugfest. Ours have been pretty ruthless and resolved one way or another within a few turns at the most.

    I also reckon that the system rewards multiplayer in this respect. Sharing the rolls across several commanders lessens the burden of repetitive rolling.

  4. Paul

    Very good indeed.
    I don’t see the problem of lots of dice myself, more likely to give a balanced result than games with few dice rolls.


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