This looks like the Warlord response to the popularity of games like Lion Rampant. Hail Caesar is an excellent game, but it does require a large number of miniatures, which can be offputting to new entrants to the period.
It is more a small battle set in the Lion Rampant mode, rather than a skirmish set. Troops are organised into units and the setting is ancients rather than Dark Ages or Medieval. Army lists cover all the main ancient armies from Greece to Rome, with all their enemies.
The book is well laid out, with plenty of eye candy as you would expect and diagrams to explain certain rules. Some worked examples would have helped, but I see there is a video to watch, which might do the job. The basic rules cover very few pages and you are encouraged to play the basic game before moving on to the advanced rules and special weapons and equipment. There is also a campaign system and a number of scenarios.
I decided to play the introductory game, Romans v Gauls. The five-man Romans looked pretty outnumbered by 20 Gaul skirmishers, but they won easily. Their armour and large shield give them a lot of protection against shooting and in melee, they are pretty deadly.
Each model has a line of characteristics covering the obvious factors like movement, shooting, melee, armour, morale etc. Basic troops are called minions, and you can also buy heroes. With weapons and equipment having lots of special rules, you have to keep flicking back and forwards through the book, which slows the game. Not to mention the likelihood of missing something. The QRF at the back is only a partial reference, although I am sure someone will quickly produce a proper one. With this approach to rules, I find it helpful to write out special rules in the army list. Saves a lot of time when playing the game.
The basic rules are pretty straightforward with each unit getting two moves a phase on an IGUG basis. Dicing for who goes first is every move, which opens up some tactical opportunities, or not, as in the case of my Gauls, who could have done with some room to skirmish.
Shooting and melee are done using one or more dice per model, with some basic factors for range and cover, and then other factors for weapons and equipment and then armour saves. Larger units get a bonus and are more resilient as a unit that falls to quarter strength has to take a morale check.
That's about it. My first reaction is that this feels a bit more complicated than Lion Rampant but in fairness, I have only played the introductory game. My 28mm ancients don't get enough use so I will persevere.
|The introductory scenario|
|Once in contact, the Romans make short work of these bowmen.|
|The Romans lost one model to shooting all game. Four was still enough to see off the second unit of Gauls.|