Tuesday, 1 December 2015

One of those Nights

This week Frazer and decided to give Sword and Spear another try.  I have had a couple of games, but not for a while and barely remembered the rules.

We opted for 500 points and I went for a Late Roman army list, while Frazer went for German Tribes.

Romans are not exactly cheap, so I managed to squeeze the following inot my list:

4 Heavy Armoured Infantry
2 Medium Infantry Archers
2 Armoured Cavalry
1 Cataphract
2 Skirmishers
1 Light Cavalry
Roman Army ready for action.

Frazer's army turned out to be huge:

8 Impact Heavy Infantry
1 Cavalry
2 Light Cavalry
1 Chariot
4 Skirmishers (2 Javelin, 2 Bow)
7 Medium Infantry
A bucketload of hairy barbarians.

He had 19 units to my 12, which was a bit daunting.

I deployed my infantry on my right, with my cavalry in the centre. My plan was to hold my right  while my Cavalry got stuck in, but the plan was going to struggle against so many enemy units.

Sword and Spear has a slightly different turn mechanic.  At the start of the turn each player takes 1 die for each unit in their army and they are all out together in a bag.  In each phase of the game you remove 7 dice, with each player then getting whichever of those dice belong to their side to use for activation.  Those dice are then rolled, and each dice can then be assigned to a unit, providing the dice roll is equal to or higher than the quality of the troops (4+ is ok, 3+ elite and 5+ for rubbish troops).  Troops are then activated using the die scores assigned, starting at the lowest so quality 3 troops can activate before everyone else, and a score a 5 or 6 will go later in the phase.  Every activated units takes its action until they are all completed, and then you remove another 7 dice from the bag and do the same again. You do this until all the dice have been used, which signals the end of the turn.  Then you put them all back and do it again next turn.

The two armies advanced as quickly as possible and not much happened in the first turn. Second turn we were in missile range and started to take some pot shots at each other, with little effect.

Turn 3 and 4 is where it really went pear shaped for the Romans.  It turned out that the Romans were incapable to winning a single combat and got pretty much stuffed. Even the Cataphracts couldn't do any damage to the incredibly tough German tribesmen. 
Roman left flank is wiped out.

By about turn 4 or 5 it was pretty much all over, with the indestructible Germans breaking the Romans without losing a single stand.
Last couple of Roman units left on the table.

Post game discussion involved the seemingly massive difference in cost between the two forces, with German Heavy infantry being as good as the Roman heavies, but almost half the cost.  As it turns out all the infantry points values in the German list were wrong, and Frazer had in fact been playing with over 600 points. This explained the massive difference in the sizes of our armies, although the way the dice went it probably wont have made much of a difference.  We are going to have another bash at this in the new year and se how we get on.

Sword & Spear has some very simple mechanics, but there are a few things that grate somewhat.

The fact that you can only carry out charges one unit at a time can be a but odd, as if your opponent is deployed in a line you need to pick one brave bunch of soldiers to make the first move.

My biggest bugbear is the difference between undrilled and normal troops, as when your forces are stretched from one side of the board to the other not being very manoeuvrable is not much of a problem (at least so far anyway).

However I have only played 3 games so far so need to play a few more to see if these problems will work themselves out with experience. 


  1. I wonder whether Commanders in drilled armies should be allowed to make a group move into contact reflecting the better difference of the better drilled troops thus addressing two of your concerns. Might be worth giving it a try to see if it makes a difference.

    1. It might be a possible solution, although I have only played three games and the dice have yielded such extreme results in the combats that it is hard to come to any sort of conclusions. So far though combats have tended to be a bit like Kings of War, with one side making a mess of the other with no damage in return, which I'm not sure I agree with. It does need a lot more testing though!

  2. That should have read "better discipline of drilled troops".

  3. Don't know the rules but sound like another 'quick play' rule set that's OK to play but limited in 'feel'. That's the nature of simple rules, get back to the 80's I say and charts, charts and more charts :-)