Tuesday, 21 June 2022

Chariots Rampant: Bloodbath at Batruna...

Whilst it look a little while longer than planned, George and I managed to get together recently at BIG to play our first game of Chariots Rampant, a Lion Rampant Bronze Age variant published in Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy #82. For our first game we used 30 point armies and played the first scenario in the rulebook - Bloodbath!


George's Hittite's were lead by Muwatalli, here waving his axe in the blue Light Chariot (in Chariots Rampant a chariot unit comprises of two chariot models, the unit taking up to six wounds, the same number as a unit of Mounted Men-at-Arms in the medieval version).

Whilst Muwatalli's chariots advanced, the rest of his army decided to hold back despite orders to advance! (I wasn't sure how the rule that when one unit failed an activation that is your turn over would work but it seemed ok in this game).


Led by Nashuja, the invading Sea Peoples force moved resolutely forward with no one failing an activation...


Muwatalli decided to advance on the Sea People's right flank...


Whilst despatching another Light Chariot unit to take on Nashuja. 

Muwatalli had not made any Boasts (pre-game mouthing off which can gain your Glory - victory - Points if you achieve them), Nashuja had boasted that "I Need Not The Gods" (that he would not use any Fate Points - more on these later) and "In Death They Shall Be Remembered!" (that he would survive but the rest of his unit not).


Spotting the Hittite chariots, Nashuja charged his Light Chariot unit in on them!


Sword and spear clashed! Both units took two wounds and in a drawn combat, Nashuja, the attacker, fell back.


Seeing Muwatalli and his chariots charging down on them, a unit of Sea Peoples archers opened fire at long range, but to no effect.


The Sea Peoples army continued to advance, as the Hittites shook themselves out of their stupor and began to advance themselves...


Rather than charge in on Nashuja, the Hittite Light Chariots used their bowmen to attack the Sea People Light Chariots...


One arrow getting through and inflicting a third wound on the Sea People Light Chariot unit. As this was half the unit's wounds we removed one of the models.


One of the problems with playing a number of the Rampant rules is that sometimes you accidentally port rules across from one set to another and here we decided Nashuja was automatically Battered as his unit was at half strength. Five minutes later we realised this was a rule from Rebels and Patriots(!) and instead he should just have taken a Courage test (which he did and passed).


The Hittite infantry continued to slowly move forward...


As Muwatalli's Light Chariots fired their bows at a unit of Sea People's Light Infantry (Yeoman in medieval speak) killing two.


In the centre the Sea Peoples' Spearmen (Serjeants in the main rulebook) charged in on the Hittite Light Chariots who had been giving Nashuja such a problem - destroying one.


Whilst the archers managed to inflict a couple of wounds on Muwatalli's unit.


Nashuja decided to Attack the surviving Hittite chariot...


But again a drawn combat, one wound each, saw him fall back.


Meanwhile the Hittite infantry had got a spurt one, two of their Spearmen units pushing well forward...


One moving into 'charge' range of the Sea Peoples Ox-Carts (I say charge, lumber might be a more accurate description!)


Despite having superior Armour and Attack values, the Ox-Carts only killed one Hittite and taking one wound themselves fell back in another drawn combat.


Having temporarily seen off Nashuja, the surviving Hittite Light Chariot in the centre decided to take the fight to the Spearmen but is beaten off in yet another drawn combat!


Back on the flank the Sea People Archers opened fire on Muwatalli's Light Chariot unit...


The accurate bow shots inflicting a further two wounds on Muwatalli's unit, taking it down to half strength, though he passed his Courage test.


On the Sea Peoples left flank, a unit of Hittite Spearmen Attack a unit of Sea People Light Infantry. With only an Armour value of 2 (compared to the Spearmen's 3) the odds are with the Hittites...


But the Gods of War(gaming) dictate otherwise and the Hittite Attack sees two men fall on both sides - another drawn combat, with the Hittites falling back.


In the centre the Ox-Carts Attack the Hittite Spearmen again.


Killing two of the Hittites and forcing them to fall back. The Ox-Carts took a second wound though...


Meanwhile Muwatalli decides being shot at my peasant bowmen is too much and orders his accompanying Light Chariot unit to Attack the Light Infantry to their front, and once they are despatched, roll over the Archers!


The Hittite's charge in but the Sea Peoples give a good account of themselves rolling five hits. However with three hits needed to inflict a wound this meant that the Hittite Light Chariots would only take one wound - and having killed two of the Sea People, they would win the combat.


At this point I decided to expend one of my Fate Points (you generate between one to three on a dice roll at the start of the game) which allowed me to re-roll one of my failed hit dice. Fortunately one converted into a hit giving me six in total, so two wounds on the chariots...


Another drawn combat and the Light Chariots fall back!


In a brilliant tactical move Nashuja falls back behind the Ox-Carts to ensure that all the advancing units would benefit from his presence in any Courage rolls! (he certainly was not trying to keep himself safe and ensure he secured his "In Death They Shall Be Remembered!" Boast Glory Points!).


Thwarted by Nashuja's move, the central Hittite Light Chariot unit switched targets...


And shot its arrows at the Ox-Carts... Four successful hits caused a third wound and the Ox-Carts were down to half strength!


Back on the Sea Peoples left flank, the Hittite Spearmen had gone in again on the Light Infantry and yet another drawn combat, two dead each, saw them fall back again. However this time both units failed their Courage tests and both fell back (again for the Hittites) Battered.


In the centre the third Hittite Spearmen unit moved up to protect the half-strength Light Chariot unit...


Whilst the Ox-Cart lumbered in again - and yet again, two wounds a side, a draw saw the Sea Peoples repelled!


Unfortunately the Ox-Cart only needing to score 3 or higher on its Courage roll managed, with its cumulative wounds reducing the total, to score below zero - the unit routed!


With the Gods of War(gaming) at last showing some favour to the Hittites the Light Chariots Attacked the Light Infantry again.


And whilst they inflicted two wounds on the chariot unit, taking it to half-strength, four Sea People fell and the Light Infantry unit routed.


Where the Hittites on the cusp of victory? In the centre their Spearmen crashed into the Sea People unit who had lost one man following some sneaky Light Chariot archery and were Battered (so could only inflict hits on a 6 not their regular 4+).


However they only lost two men and killed a Hittite so not too bad a result as they fell back...


Back out on the left the survivors of the Light Infantry there managed to rally and remove their Battered marker. Unfortunately for the Hittites, their earlier opponents failed theirs, falling back further and losing another man (failed Rally tests see units bleed casualties as they keep falling back unlike other Rampant rules like Rebels and Patriots).


The Battered Sea People Spearmen failed their Rally test and fall back again, losing another man...


However the other Sea People Spearmen attempt to help Attacking the Hittite Spear but neither side cause a casualty and the Sea Peoples are pushed back,


Towards the left flank the Hittite Spear having seen off the Ox-Carts decide to take out the Sea People's Archers there and Attack them.


Despite superior Attack and Armour values the Hittites only cause two casualties losing one of their own. Both sides roll for Courage and the Gods of War(gaming) have a good laugh as both George and I roll double 1!


With their five cumulative casualties that gave the Hittites a score of -3 so they rout. The Archers have suffered two casualties so that takes the score down to zero BUT Nashuja is within 12" so they add one to their score. They are Battered and pushed back but are still on the table!


Back in the centre the Hittite Spearmen Attack their Battered Sea People's opponents...


Killing another of the invaders and forcing them back again. Whilst they fail their Courage test the Sea People remain Battered and do not rout.


However they present a tasty target for the surviving half strength Light Chariot unit to their flank who loose their arrows at the Spearman...


Two more Spearmen fall dead...


But the four survivors still refuse to rout!


However next turn they failed their Rally Test the eight casualties taking their roll under zero and they did flee the battlefield! The Sea Peoples right flank was now only held by a unit of Archers... 


The remaining Sea People Spear charged in to avenge their brethren but again fought another bloodless melee against the Hittites.


The Archers were able to gain a measure of revenge on the Hittites though...


A volley of arrows inflicted two wounds on the Light Chariot unit taking the total to three, destroying the half-strength unit.


Having lost a couple of units on the spin, with one Battered and continually failing its Rally tests, and two Light Chariot units down to half-strength it looked like the winds of fate may have turned again so Muwatalli challenged the Sea People leader Nashuja to a duel!


The best of three blows each, 5's and 6's counting as hits, Nashuja hit the Hittite leader once, but Muwatalli landed all three of his blows, killing the Sea Peoples leader!


All the Sea Peoples units then had to take a Courage test which surprisingly they all passed. 

The Hittites though sensed victory was in the air and their Spearmen charged the Archers. Again, despite their superior Armour and Attack ratings, the Hittites did not convert their superiority into success. Two casualties per side saw the Hittites pushed back...


They then managed to completely botch their Courage roll scoring under zero and routed!


The panic in the Hittite ranks was clearly infectious. As the Spearmen routing took the Hittite army down to under half strength all units now had to test for Courage! The Light Chariot unit with four wounds rolled 3 and routed...


As did the Spearmen on the left flank who had been gradually disintegrating anyway since they first were Battered.


This left Muwatalli alone on the battlefield, so he retreated, following his routing troops into the desert. The win was the Sea Peoples and songs would be sung about the brave Nashuja who fell leading his troops to victory over the pride of the Hittite Empire!


That was a lot of fun and I hope my recounting of the battle captures that. The way the fight swung one way, then the other, then back again was hugely entertaining. 

It was interesting how Lion Rampant differed from the other games we played, especially how the impact of casualties on units morale worked the longer the game went on, and the way Rally rules for Battered units saw them find it harder and harder to Rally as they lost a man each failed attempt. It was also interesting to see that some units are clearly more defensively minded (Spearmen for one) and whilst that might have irked George a tad as his Spearmen bounced off the Archers (twice!) it is clear that a balanced army is needed with a mix of aggressive and defensive troops. 

From the variant Chariots Rampant point of view we both agreed the Winds of Fate tokens rolled for at the beginning of the game were a great touch and the decision of whether or not to use them could be critical.

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