Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Rapid Raphia

As previously promised, here are the rules for the "Rapid Raphia" session I ran at CoW. They have been slightly modified in the light of the game play at CoW.

We are playing the game this evening, so expect more changes. I'd also remark that the game was written in a hurry, having woken up with the system pretty much fully formed in my head. It is a coincidence that there are about 12 units a side, - when I sat down with accounts of the battle I had to hand and simplified the deployment that's where I ended up, almost by chance.

This certainly sits at the "game" end of my designs, as opposed to a "simulation". I think it has the flavour of Successor warfare without bothering too much about being realistic. Whether it can be adapted for other armies and battles I don't know. The biggest limitation is the absence of any archery rules, and possibly the distinguishing of troop types by quality (we know some Ptolemaic phalangites weren't really up to it on the day). Elephants are probably too powerful, but who has a problem with that?

Rapid Raphia

Each side has a deck of playing cards including two jokers. Jokers count as court cards and are both red and black as desired. The deck is played through only once, and is not reshuffled.
Played on a board of 8cm squares, 7 x 10. One unit per square, plus general if required.








Turn Sequence
Players start the game with 13 cards as their hand, taken from their deck.
  1. Bid for turn: Each players places a card face down & then reveals them simultaneously. Highest card determines who says who goes first or second (ie the winner can tell his opponent to lay cards out first). Highest card is discarded. Lowest is returned to hand. If tie then determine by suit seniority H, C, D, S.
  2. Players place initial cards on units face down in order determined above. Must play at least four cards, and can only play one per unit.
  3. Players may play second card on any unit already with a card.
  4. Player 1 moves units. Resolve combat
  5. Player 2 moves units. Resolve combat
  6. Discard all cards, including those not used (ie cards cannot be carried over to the next turn)
  7. Check to see if either side has won.
  8. Refill hand to 13 cards

Units move orthogonally. Movement is compulsory if it is possible with the cards dealt, although if two cards are dealt only one has to be used for movement. When it is a player’s turn to move, cards to be used for movement are revealed. Cards not used for movement can be kept face down.
Heavy Infantry: May only move one square per turn
                May move with a red card or change facing
                                Second red card enables a change of facing in addition to moving
Light Infantry:   May only move one square per turn
                                May move on any colour card
                                No card required to change facing
                                May interpenetrate one rank of own side if have second card

Heavy Cavalry:  May move two squares, one per card
                                May only move with red cards, or two squares if both cards are black
                                Movement cards enable a square of movement and a change of facing

Light Cavalry:     May move two squares
                                May move with any colour card
                                No card required to change facing

Elephants            May only move one square
                                May only move or change face with black cards
                                A second black card enables a change of face in addition to moving

Commanders: Can move up to 3 squares if given a card, or moves with unit he is attached to. NB General’s movement card is discarded after moving and is NOT used in combat.

When a unit can advance into an opponent’s square combat takes place, using the cards allocated in 2) & 3) in turn sequence. An extra card can be played from the player’s hand if:
  • ·         It is attacking a flank or rear
  • ·         A general is attached
  • ·         Following up from previous combat

Reveal the cards and total the amount. Court cards & jokers count as 10. The highest score pushes the other side back one square, if possible. If opponent blocking retire path unit is destroyed. If friends are blocking retreat path, they fall back as well. If the higher total includes a court card opponent is eliminated. If both sides have played an equal number of court cards then the loser is not destroyed. The winning unit advances into the square vacated by the losing unit.

Where a unit is attacked by two or more units one unit is nominated as the lead unit. Other units then contribute a maximum of a single card, without modifiers. The lead unit determines the direction of pushback, if required, and will occupy the opponents square.

Units pushed off the board are lost. For the sake of clarity any unit without a card that is attacked is destroyed.

Elephants: Add half value of highest card (rounded up) against all, except light infantry
Heavy Cavalry: Add half value of lowest card (rounded up) v cavalry, light infantry
Heavy Infantry: If both cards black, add half of highest card (rounded up) v cavalry and elephants
Light Cavalry: Add half value of lowest card (rounded up) v light infantry
Light Infantry: Count only highest card against all except elephants

Light cavalry and light infantry can discard any cards to retire 2 or 1 square away from combat if desired.

Death of General
If a player wants to try to kill opposing general if in combat or contacted in the open, turn over top card of deck. Kill if card is a court card (not a joker)

End of game
Once a side has lost 6 units, turn over top card of deck. Army breaks if card is less than the number of units lost. Do this each turn. If no cards left, army is broken.  Otherwise the first army to be unable to play the minimum of four cards in 2) in the turn sequence must retire from the field. 


  1. Sounds like a good game, Trebian. Hope to try it out solo and see how it goes.


    1. You may struggle to get any enjoyment out of it solo. The tension in the game is not knowing what your opponent is laying down. You'll know what units are going to win because you will have chosen the cards.

      Of course you could deal them out randomly to the units you want to move but the the game will be completely random.