The Roman World, Hail Caesar, 28mm
I haven’t played an Ancient game for as long as I can remember – it must be at least a decade or more. Usually they don’t excite me that much – all that hacking and pushing, with no gunpowder. Still, I was invited to take part in this small multi-player game hosted by Hugh Wilson at his house, and I grabbed the opportunity to dip my toe in Ancient waters. I actually owned a copy of the rules – Hail Caesar! – and found they were pretty much based on Black Powder, a set I know pretty well. However, there are a few key differences, and a very patient Bill Gilchrest and the umpire Donald Adamson both took time to run through them for me. So, down to business.The scenario was called “The temple of the Golden Virgin”, and was loosely set around a Macedonian attack on the coast of Asia Minor, the target being the capture of a famous temple, complete with its priestesses – the golden virgins. So, while it doesn’t really fit into the title “The Roman World”, at least it’s part of the Ancient one. The attackers had three “divisions” – two Macedonian ones and my one, which consisted of Spartan allies. Lined up against them were an unholy alliance of the local Persian satrap, supported by two Greek mercenary contingents – one from Corinth, the other from Athens. Effectively the game was a simple fight between the three opposing “divisions”. However, there was a twist.Two of the contingents – the Corinthians and the Spartans – were bribed by the Macedonians and Persians respectively to change sides. They were both on the far end of the table, furthest from the sea. The question was – would they switch their allegiance? As it happens the noble Spartans voted to stay loyal, while the slippery Corinthians changed sides. This effectively gave the Macedonians an advantage of four “divisions” against two. However, there was soon another little twist, which altered the balance yet again.On the second turn I “blundered” (I rolled a double “6” when issuing orders to my Spartans), and the result was I had to charge the nearest unit. It just happened to be a unit of Athenian skirmishers. They evaded, but by then it was too late. The umpire dubbed that I had changed sides again, and would fight the turn-coat Corinthians, on behalf of the Persians. For a Spartan that seemed like a good idea anyway. On the second cavalry charge the Corinthian skirmishers were ridden down, and the way was paved for a clash between the phalanxes of these two Greek rivals.Meanwhile the other two Macedonian commands had advanced across the table to engage their Athenian and Persian counterparts. Colin Jack’s Macedonians and Hugh Wilson’s Athenians seemed to hack away at each other, but without any great result. I suppose their forces were just too evenly matched. However, in the centre Martin Gibson’s Macedonians eviscerated Bill Gilchrist’s Persian command. In four turns the Persians were reduced to two units, one of which was a cavalry force, desperately fending off the Corinthian horse. On my wing the Spartans and the Corinthians hacked away at each other, and the Spartans were definitely emerging on top when the game was suddenly brought to a close. Back in the centre the last Persian unit – a Sparabara infantry regiment – went down fighting in front of the Golden Temple. With the Persians destroyed the golden virgins were ripe for the plucking, and the game was duly deemed a Macedonian victory. I have to say I enjoyed by rare foray into Ancients. In fact I liked it so much I entered into negotiations to swap some hard-to-find books for a small force of Caesarean Romans – the first step on my journey back into the Ancient World.