Thursday, 17 October 2013


As the first of our now regular Monday Night games on a Wednesday we had a special request to try the Sumerians with Armati. Will thought, after last week's game, that Armati would fit the bill perfectly. Phil thought that Armati for the Biblical Period was broken. Ian thought he didn't really understand how these things work. I thought where am I going to get Army Lists from? I don't know what Chris thought, but he turned up anyway.

I based the troop types initially on the Akkad list posted on Warfloot. My figures are based up slightly differently, anyway (too much SI, not enough LI) so it was always going to be different. Furthermore I needed to address one of the more gross distortions that arise in Biblical Armati (ie that non-key light troops make short shrift of key chariot units).

All of this sounds much more technical and a lot less fun than I'd normally like. Still, armed with the official explanation of how Armati troops values are calculated, I set to working out a couple of lists, one with earlier shielded infantry, and one with cloaks for protection. I mainly focussed on balancing the core units. The bonus units would have to rely on what I'd actually got.

In the early period units are pretty lightweight. No serious heavy cavalry and so on, so the most a unit comes out at is 8 points. This means that in an army where you are picking 95 points in the core and a bonus list of up to 70 points you need a lot of units to make up the numbers.

The only change I made to the normal army listings was to make Light Infantry Key Units.

So I ended up with two lists, a "Sumerian" and an "Akkadian". Shielded Infantry have an Fv of 5, and +2 prot, Cloaked Infantry are FV 6, 1 prot. I made battle carts Medium Chariots, FV3, but with impetus.

We had a good turnout, with Ian and Chris taking on Will and Phil. I'd initially partnered Ian and did the deployment, but got out of it when it looked like it was going to fall apart just as Chris arrived. With cake..

Will went for a big long line. I went for my Heavy Infantry being screened by lots of skirmishers.

There wasn't a lot of tactical finesse. We started off with a slightly staggered approach.

The units being held back have got bows mixed in with them, and we were hoping to make dents with these as Will closed the distance. No point in us advancing and reducing the number of turns archery we would get in.

You'll note, if you count them up, that Will's army has an extra chariot unit. We had more LI bows to compensate. Ian had charge of the right flank and decided to take on the whole of Will's left flank (commanded by Phil) with just his light infantry javelins.

This might seem a bit daft, but Ian knew what he was doing, and continued to roll 5s & 6s consistently. Will and Phil were really under the cosh on this flank. Alas at the far end of the table Chris was unable to make his preponderance of archery prevail.

Ian got his chariots into action and managed to absorb a lot of combat with his lights. Eventually he won through, breaking all Phil's chariots and killing his general, for the loss of his light infantry.

However in order to exploit this victory he needed to get out of the way of Phil's other troops and turn his battle carts round, before being taken in the flank and rear.

And then Ian & Chris lost two Light Infantry units on the far flank and the army broke.

All very unsatisfactory.

All the issues with Biblical Armati (and, indeed, the rather tortuous geometry of it) came back to bite us. Phil summed up the problems with my making LI key succinctly, and made another sensible solution (allowing chariots to have impetus against ALL units in the first round of contact that they outscore).

However the general mood of the meeting was that we'd had a better game with AMW variant the previous week. Phil wants to have a go without the squares, which I'll need to do a bit of work on to keep the other changes I've made. That'll be a week or so. NQM next week, and then the following week is the funeral, so no game then. Perhaps early November.

Can't beat a shieldwall tho':


  1. I'd just use HOTT :)

    (The light troops are easily dealt with then - there aren't any :-D )

    1. Well you would, because you're a Kobold.

      We tried HOTT for historical games years ago and had some fun with them. I ended up writing a set of early renaisance rules, using them as a starting point.

      But 14 bases.....not enough!

  2. making all LI key helps in biblical
    we increase all chariot protection to +2 to reflect quality over foot.
    we give all non-chariot bows drop off for the same reason
    and we give light chariots impetus in round one, similar to the way Phil describes.
    to really un-armati it, reduce a flank attack to just a -1 penalty to front values UNLESS the unit is already fighting to a different face, at which point it fights with flank value (makes you have to get to the rear for quick kills), and have 'flanked by heavier' quick kill ONLY if fighting on two faces of the unit.
    finally, all infantry are affected by proximity to mounted, not just foot to cavalry with impetus (that's the cannot charge more than 2 inches rule)
    given you've got entirely bespoke lists, they may be worth a try as a full package.
    we also have a 'no real foot' rule which sometimes gets used - unless the unit is typed as Royal or Guard in the lists, its not actually FT, and instead only has 3BP, and cannot form deep or echelon to resist impetus. maybe not appropriate for those big shields though
    - Mark G

    1. Mark,

      Lots of good ideas there. It's clearly a major re-modelling of the core system. What I need to decide is whether that's worth the effort or if I should stick with the route I'm going down with modifying from AMW.


  3. I agree with Mark G - unsurprisingly - but I think a fair chunk of the 'unsatisfactory' nature was that the battle was entirely resolved on the flanks (although there was a wide engagement along most of the line, it remained unresolved when the battle finished.

    Nobody seriously uses single section SI these days I think.

    Two things:
    Mark's 'no proper heavies' (BP3 Foot) would have made at least 3 FT units break before the end of the game (I had 3 units on 3 hits) ... so that would have been good.

    I would embrace that - just allow the big shields to form PH (resist impetus if stationary) ...

    Although I would hamper Onager carts more, I would have no issue making them BP4 (even in an environment where most FT was BP3): that would give them the super characteristic you are looking for without having to pretend they are chariots.

    I would remind everyone that I no longer run a 'hard finish' with 'historical' Armati: reaching the break point triggers an Army morale test at the end of the turn (so it is never clear when it ends until it ends)


    1. All of these are good points. Armati is a good starting point but as you point out there are bits that don't work. Fortunately they are probably not too difficult to fix. I should probably have fixed more of the core issues before we started.

      I wasn't aware that no one plays with single width SI these days. I never liked the half width unit idea anyhow, so I'm good to dispense with them.

  4. Perhaps I should be clear then ... I am sure, like most rules, many, many, people play them exactly as written (in so far as they understand it). However, of those who have discussed changes or played adapted versions publicly, 2 section SI (aka on Armati groups DFSI - double fronted Skirmish Infantry) is one of the first changes and is a rare one on which nearly everyone agrees.

    That's not quite 'nobody seriously uses ...' but is the position I was casually trying to convey :)

    PS re 2 sections wide I prefer Vincent's original idea of putting the two bases, that were originally one-behind-the-other, side-by-side, so the unit is wide but shallow.

    It makes skirmishing a thin line and makes withdrawing them behind the battletroops easier to achieve (so 'win/win'): some players are against this as they have figures already on deep Armati bases - but my understanding is that their objection is down to practicalities, not to ideal solutions.

    1. More really good ideas. Vincent's solution seems to be the best.

      More generally what is the position with single width LI & LC?

  5. The jury is divided on LI/LHI ... I think all accept that a uniform unit width works best but a number of players fear Sub Roman British, Thracian and similar LHI based armies would be disadvantaged by the change.

    LC are of course 2 section units but have the option to deploy on a narrow front (like HI in depth) which is a different argument. Some like the way this simulates cavalry 'cycling' tactics (me included), others would ditch it if it was part of getting rid of different unit widths.

    I think the cycling tactics can be better simulated by allowing a skirmish option for rear ranks (come to the front, shoot, retire) - I would require the division to finish the phase turned away from the shooting direction so they can't charge ...

    The difference with LI/LHI and LC is that they are more expensive units and many of them are key units (so how they are treated can skew the game). SI are not key so changing there structure has fewer knock-on effects perhaps.

    But I would recommend anyone interested in the subject to play Intro level Armati (where units are elements, DBA-style) ... they will find the game plays well enough when every unit is 1 frontage.


  6. ditto all Phils thoughts really. quite odd, surely there is a rule that no one must agree with Phil.
    Anyway, the short of it is, Armati is a set which will reward longer term play after you tweak it, where many other sets can be easy to tweak, and work a few times, but not sustain to promote a new project again.
    if only Arty would sell to the UK guys who care, or the UK guys will agree to produce their own amendments and strike their own v3.

    1. We always agree with Phil. Except when we don't.

      I agree that Armati rewards regular play. I find it frustrating that a set of rules that were argued over for so long (and I know, - I was part of the discussion group that argued about the last version to be published) still have serious issues.

      I think we will play again with a lot of these amendments included. Then I have to decide if the added complexity v the amended version of AMW is worth the effort in the long term.