"So how do we go about conquering India now with these new rules?""
After reading a brief review in the MW mag and liking what I had read I recently bought the Sword &Spear rules set, so my dad and I after having read the book we decided to play test the game using our Indian and Macedonian armies. We each picked approx 500 points from the lists provided which give us between 17 - 22 units aside and got stuck into the action.
The set up, not as big as our Hail Ceaser games but there was definitely enough troops for a night game
The Macedonian Pikes are classed as large heavy foot so each unit represents 3000 men
The Indian elephants smash the poor Rohdian double handed weapons unit, the elephant unit represents around 100 of the things!
The most challenging aspect of these rules was how to activate your command dice, a dice for each unit is placed in a bag (this game the Macedonians were red dice and Indians were yellow) and 7 are drawn at random. The player with most of his colour dice drawn holds the initiative and rolls these dice to see if he can activate any of his units comparing the dice roll to the units discipline rating. If you equal the score you can do basic activations, above allows you to do more difficult manoeuvre and charge and anything below is a failure and the dice is discarded, Then the opposing player goes through the same procedure with his drawn dice. Once this has been done each player activates a unit in order of the lowest dice score rolled on each discipline test until all the units have been activated, then you take another 7 dice from the bag and repeat the process until all the dice have been used at which stage you place all the dice back into the bag removing any dice for destroyed or routed units and repeat the process. All actions are carried out when you activate a unit, e.g if a unit charges you fight the combat immediately. This is what I liked about these rules as you didn't have to wait to your opponent finished all his movement/shooting etc before you could do yours, you were constantly involved in each phase as its not going to be often that 7 dice of one colour is drawn. (Although when it does happen oh boy things will go badly for you!)
Macedonian Companion and medium cavalry clash with the Indian horse and heavy chariots
The Macedonian pikes charge up hill and smash into the Indian mixed archer units.
The melee and shooting was straight forward enough with a number of dice rolled by each player depending on the unit strength with bonus dice for been fresh, impetus, flanking etc, the top 4 dice score are pitted against each other, beat the score by more than double and you score a hit on the unit, less than double requires a discipline test which if failed causes a hit,equal and under is a fail. Armour values can alter a dice score in your favour. Once a unit suffers casualties equal to the unit strength (usually 3 or 4) the unit routs and is removed with any friendly units within a certain radius required to make a discipl test. We found that once the Macedonian troops got into melee that they held the advantage were historically they would have, and the Indian troops would be struggling to beat them, especially if those Phalanxs were fresh were they come into there own. However although you don't become disordered as in hail ceaser from shooting hits, casualties take there toll and we found out a few times the importance to rally the units before they get to near there break point. Also the potential is still there to cause the Macedonia troops some problems with the amount of fire the Indian army can unleash,although in this game at least it certainly wasn't as effective as it has been in hail ceaser games.
This is where we found the Macedonians at there most formidable, hand to hand combat.
Commanders have a important role to play to, having your units out of command can be a pain when it comes to discipline tests and they are also helpful to rally, although you have to be careful were you deploy them as they can be targeted..and those Indian troops still have lots of arrows to shoot!
So as the trial game came to a close ending in a draw with the Macedonians starting to get the upper hand, both my dad and I had really enjoyed the game. Definitely a lot different to hail ceaser and I certainly felt the Indian army was not as powerful as at times it can be in Hail Ceaser. Having said that the Macedonian army still can be vulnerable to been out flanked as those Phalanxs are slow and clumbersome. the game mechanics make the command of control so important and this is the main challenge, definitely a good challenge as you have really good think which troops you need to activate first. As expected we made a few errors along the way but after this trial game and another study of the rules I feel a lot more comfortable going into future games, oh and for the eagle eyed of any of you who regularly read my posts might have noticed the table top looking different, this is because my dad has just purchased a new battle mat from the Cigar box company who produce a number of different battle mats, it looked and felt great, definetly a good purchase Dad :-)