After checking out Rich's copy and reading some combat examples over at the Warlord Games website. I was excited at what I read. and the Hail Caesar book showed up at my doorstep mid last week. A departure from the large army wargames I am used to, Its a a non-bucket of dice game, While I am fine with WAB 2.0 as its an iteration of WFB 7th ed. Where I really like WAB 2.0's scoring system but It still has its annoying kinks, where random dice too often overrule common sense and psychology effects are just a tad too overwhelming to quantify as "fun". As a result trying another Ancients gaming system that seems to get away from these things and offers some new ideas with alot more modeling freedom, wasn't a hard sell.
Hail Caesar's rules also don't require individual model basing or fixed unit sizes. units fight as who;e units (not individuals in the unit) and casualties count toward morale checks and stack..so there is no need for pulling a model per wound ( you can- but its not needed a dozen counters will suffice) This gives you alot more modeling options for things like Shieldwalls and Warbands.
Unlike other games we are familiar with, Units will very rarely fight down to the last man before one breaks, somewhere after 4-8 casualties a unit (depending on its size) becomes "Shaken" and after that they start making break tests. You can of course continue to make your break tests and continue taking casualties but once you hit twice your "Stamina" in KIA's your going to auto break. There are ton of options for what happens when you break depending on the unit and its skill. Breaking doesnt automatically mean removed from the table. the best troops can of course regroup and keep on fighting , while others are scattered to the winds. There is also a detailed Orders system that enables you to declare orders and make multiple moves should your leadership succeed. Armies are arranged in divisions with sub commanders then an overall General, you know, like a real army.
I really like what I am seeing here with Hail Caesar, it makes sense, is very intuitive and leaves bases sizes and army lists up to the player. There is alot more open ended "player agreement" here, which is totally fine by me and fun for a game with adults. The rigidity of GW's rules and its tournament application often followed to letter and the arguments about RAW or RAI (rules as written or rules as intended) are about as tasty these days as cup of pisswater.
Hail Caesar is both simplified in its dice mechanic but complex from a tactical standpoint in regards to units there use and movement as a result this game reads like a breath of fresh air, I have yet to try it that is happening on July 5th, until them we are working on getting our armies sorted. Rich and I are working on getting four full side prepared, Ancients- Romans vs Britons and Dark Ages Anglo Saxons vs Arabs...my Saxons will be seeing the field of battle first I am sure. Since I saw a box of Conquests new Norman Knights floating around my basement last club night, I think I'll be seeing my traditional nemesis soon as well.
It worth a mention that another great thing about these rules is they are very amendable to other types of games. The Hail Caesar Yahoo group has some great discussion going on about Lord of the Rings...while things like magic and hero use will take some creative thought and house ruling, army to army type combat with fantasy armies with this system , simply blows stuff like War of the Ring and WFB's current incarnation out of the Water.
Go figure- this game was written by Rick Priestly, who worked for Games Workshop forever writing many folks favorite games (mine: LotR SBG) or editions of their favorite games. I don't know with any certainty but scuttlebutt on various forums seems that he left GW over differences with various games "new directions" and a personal quest to do his own thing. It not like there have not been alot of big changes at GW within the last 3 years. As a result, like alot of us it seemed the love affair with Games Workshop is over. Congrats Rick. I surely get some review opinions and Hail Caesar action reports in for our Ancients gaming as soon as we start throwing dice.