Armati for today’s players

My attention has been drawn to a discussion on the Armati Yahoo! group concerning upgrades and house rules, so I thought I would summarise where I have got to.

I have long since left the Yahoo! group as it became dominated by an Old Guard that no longer played but which blocked all sensible discussion of change.

Facts are facts.   Some aspects of the game have been exposed as needing revision.   Arty Conliffe is not going to revise it (and has passed control to a co-author who has indicated he doesn’t have any time to put into it and who no longer interacts with current players).  That is as good as dead unless players take control themselves.

I took control by leaving that arena and developing my own version of the game for ECW use.

What have I changed and why?

Moving backwards

I put this top of the list as it the single most inept area of the ancient wargame (virtually all of them).  Ancient soldiers could move backwards with no great difficulty.  Even amateur City hoplites practiced countermarching.

The importance to Armati is that many players want to allow 90° turns (which are allowed in most rules but are actually very unlikely) as the necessary counter to the worries of being outflanked – or they want to tone down the game’s flank catastrophes.

Historically, the counter to being outflanked is to move backwards.  All troops should be allowed to move backwards.   As a play balance, this should be at half speed, and the unit should be undressed until the end of the turn.

Obligatory charge

A general attached to a division should be able to restrain an obligatory charge.   There are many enhancements that I would make to the role and characterisation of commanders in Armati but the single most important would be to allow them to modify the Obligatory Charge rule.

The Obligatory Charge rule is broadly a good idea but it is too rigid – and is a rule the more competitive players play to (and that means it is a problem that needs to be fixed).

Overriding ‘Out of Command’

Commanders can exert temporary divisional command – either permitting splits of controlled divisions or enabling them to move Out of Command divisions by joining them.  Insoluble Command problems are another implausible feature of the game.  The idea of controlled divisions is excellent but sometimes command situations occur that need to be solved.  It is the general’s job to solve such problems and he should be allowed that function.

Measurement/Inches/Table Size

Adopting Intro Scale movement due to constraints of space, I am now convinced this is better for all purposes.  This means 1/3 sizes ‘inches’ for 15mm figures.

I play the Naseby reconstruction on a 3’x4′ board, but would advocate using whatever is your normal table for your normal game (so 6′ x 4′ for UK tournaments).  I think playing to the specifications in the book is purposeless – and the space is certainly too small for 15mm cavalry games.

Another way of looking at it is to think of it as playing Intro with double width units on a big table.

Arc of fire

It came up in a game at this year’s Bournemouth event that the rules specify measuring the arc from the centre of the unit rather than the front corners as we customarily do.

(existing arc of fire per the book)

As you can see, the enemy can approach for a frontal attack without being in arc.

Rather than change this to 45º at the front corners (which is how we tend to play it), if we change I suggest it is better to change to shooting within frontal tramlines.  In this case, within a basewidth of the flank lines …

As can immediately be seen, this makes the target much more authentically frontal than the 45º arc permits whilst correcting the ‘in front but not in arc’ problem.

Skirmish Infantry, light troops, Width vs Depth

The differential between single and double section units produces anomalies in the game and therefore I play all troops with the ECW period as double width except dragoons who can ride around in a (low FV) column for decorative purposes but generally fight on foot (in 2 sections).  Having all sections the same width is why I think Intro is a better game – the meaning of my paragraph on measurements and scales is that just because you have armies based for the Optimal Scale doesn’t mean you can’t play Intro (or have to split everything down) … Play Intro – just use full-sized units … use the 1/3 ruler and make all units the same width by removing the option to deploy narrow and by bumping up SI, LI and LHI to 2-section widths.  Simple.

Countering Charge Impetus.

Allowing the countering of Impetus with depth produces the manoeuvre and combat anomalies of narrow units.  However, it is not really an authentic solution (deeper or more shallow actual units would all easily be accommodated within the existing footprint of an Armati HI unit, and there is no historical evidence to suggest units formed deeper – or in any other way – to resist charge impetus gained any sort of manoeuvre advantage: they did not.   The single most obvious reason being they did not move at all) …  The key counter to impetus is the (PH style) ‘stationary’ rule.

Depth should be scrapped and PH should be allowed to all FT who were capable of resisting cavalry by being braced, hedgehogged, or locking their shields.  I would, however,  be more than happy to see PH be obliged put out an additional rank of figures (and so seem deeper than other sorts of Heavy Infantry) …

Ending the Game

I don’t use the ‘sudden death’ stop except where obliged by the tournament.  I make the army BP trigger a morale roll.  The player needs to roll a 2 or the game is lost.  Add 1 to the score required when each additional key unit is lost, and for the end of each additional turn (and roll again).   A 6 is always a pass.  This way the end is never certain, and both players have a chance.  Tight games often go down to both players dicing.

It seems a more satisfying way to end the game.

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