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Justified Ancients

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TITLE: Justified Ancients 2005JustifiedAncients

AUTHOR: Pete Blockley

PUBLISHER: Amazon Miniatures http://www.amazonminiatures.com/

PUBLICATION DATE: 2005 to present

WEB SITE/SUPPORT FORUM:

There is a web site about the game located here. For players there is also an online forum for rules questions and support located here.

PRICE (with date): 7.50 in 2008

REVIEWED BY: Pete Blockley: Author

PERIOD COVERED: 4000 BC to 1300AD

THE BOOK: Printed: 14 pages, 8.5" x 11", saddle-stitch binding, black and white interior ink

SCOPE:

Covers Ancient field battles from 300 men to 100,000 men per side. Element based. No Siege rules.

ARMY SIZE:

DBA armies work very well, but much larger battles of 40 elements a side have been played with no problems and fast action. Huntingdon club ran campaigns using the system on this scale.

BASE UNIT:

Base unit is one stand representing between 30 and 3000 men depending on scale of battle

GAME SCALES:

  • Ground scale (1” = 100 yards)
  • Time scale (1 turn =one phase of the battle)
  • Figure/Base Ratio (1 base of up to 3 figures = 30-3000 men) Recommended Figure size (6mm 10mm 15mm or 25mm)
  • Table Size: Small game 2ft X 2ft Large game 6ft X 4ft
  • Game Length: 10 elements a side 20 mins. 40 elements a side 2 hours

BASING SIZES: As per DBA/FOG. May vary.

  • Cav 40mm X 30
  • Foot 40mm X20

TURN SEQUENCE:

    IgoUgo

    • Orders & Movement. Chargers move, fire and receive results applied, then other actions are carried out in any order.
    • Combat . Roll dice & total results, Apply results making any push backs, adding counters, pursuing with winners. Remove fatigue counters then apply fatigue to chargers.

GAME MECHANICS:

From review by John Davis: http://minternet.org/~jrd/ja/justified.html

In order for any unit to move, the controlling player must make an order check dice roll. Each manoeuvre has a difficulty number, and if the dice roll is lower than this number, the unit does not move. The dice roll can be modified by the troop type, the general’s command rating and the distance between the general and the unit in question. For example, I want to order a unit of Gaul tribesmen (Untrained, giving a -1modifier) which are 9” from my general (a further -1). I have an average general (+0). To move a unit normally is difficulty 1, but with the two ‘-1’ modifiers, I will need a ‘3’ or better to move the Gauls. But if I want them to wheel more than 45 degrees (difficulty 3), I need to roll a ‘5’ or better to succeed. This mechanism is simple and works well.

If I can convince my troops to charge their enemies (difficulty 2), combat ensues.

The combat system is simple but subtle. Both sides roll a die and halve the result, rounding up, and add all the modifiers applicable to their situation from a list of 20 or so in the rules. A few examples:

Foot and Horse: 1
Chariot: 2
Charging: 1
Attacking rear: 3
Light vs. Heavy: -1
Skirmishers in difficult terrain: 1
Non-phalanx unit attacking phalanx unit to front: -1

In general, a final difference of 0 indicates no effect, a difference of 1 pushes the losing unit back, 2 or 3 makes the losing unit flee and 4 or more destroys the losing unit immediately. A unit which flees is also depleted. Any unit depleted a second time is destroyed. Close Order units which are pushed back or flee are also disorganized, which also hurts them in combat but can be cured by a successful reform order. Units which flee may be pursued by the victorious enemy.

Missile units can shoot at enemy units within 3”; throw a 5 or 6 to hit, which causes a Close Order target to become disorganized, or forces other units back. There are some modifiers to this dice roll for cover, heavily-armoured target, etc. Missile units can also shoot at a unit charging them; if they force the attacker back, no combat occurs. Units can also be classed as javelin, which allows them to fire at a unit charging them, but not otherwise. Skirmishers who are charged can (and usually will) evade; they are allowed to interpenetrate friendly units while doing this, which is the only voluntary interpenetration allowed.

ARMY LISTS/SCENARIOS:

Armies are constructed by the players using a freeform method. The game is targeted as a set of rules to use between friends, so if you think you are going to have a hunch up over wether Immortals should count as fanatic or over Triarei counting as Phalanx, don’t use these rules. Use them if you are happy with counting Early Eskimo bowmen as light missile troops , but cant find a prebuilt army list for them. The Website lists several army lists and scenario ideas.

Elements are classified as Foot, Horse, Chariots or Elephants. They must further be designated as light, medium or heavy, and also as close order, loose order or skirmish. There are also a set of special traits which may be applied to troops, such as untrained, missile, phalanx, etc. Thus, for example, Greek Hoplites might be described as Close Order Heavy Foot, Phalanx, and Cretan archers might be classed as Skirmish Light Foot, Trained, Missile. I say “might be” as Pete does not offer army lists and only a few examples of what he means by the different classifications. There are a couple of example army lists on the web site, but that's it. This approach may be seen as an advantage to an experienced gamer who has a firm idea of how he thinks Alexander’s Companions fought, but will leave some players guessing as to how to rate their troops - should Greek Peltasts be Light or Medium? Skirmish or Lose Order? Trained or Untrained? You decide.

REVIEWER’S COMMENTS:

Since JA is my game, I will simply use other reviewers comments.

At times it may appear that the rules were thrown together with little thought, but this is not so. The rules have been developed with care, and the reader should not be discouraged by the presentation. The rules are written for experienced wargamers who can interpret the sparse rules sensibly, and are not intended for competitive play. For example, there are references to units "wheeling more than 45 degrees", and it is assumed the reader knows what this means, and how to measure it. So, what of the rules themselves? They are targeted as an alternative to DBA, but are really usable with any scale or basing of troops. As Pete says in the rules: “Anyone who disagrees with the scales, just Change Them. I won’t sue you.” Figures are organized into elements (DBM bases work fine), which are assumed to be of similar size. Generals are represented by individual figures (or smaller elements, if you prefer) and are handled abstractly.

So - are the rules any good? I have now played about 10 games and I must say I am rather impressed. They have given quick and interesting games with believable results, and I have come to appreciate a number of subtleties in the rules which were not apparent at first reading. The simplicity and flexibility of the rules has encouraged me to write some house rules and to produce scenario-specific rules for historical battles. The rules are very easy to explain to another gamer, and from my experience tactics which “seem reasonable” to an Ancients gamer tend to work well in the game. There is a noticeable "Romans versus Barbarians" bias in the rules, and I have had to tweak them a bit to get the interactions I wanted for other periods and combatants, but this is easy to do.

Justified Ancients are not the most complete set of rules, but they are chap to buy, easy to learn, and enjoyable to play. If you find your current fast-play ancients rules are not all you could hope for, why not give Justified Ancients a look?

PLAYER’S COMMENTS:

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