Warrior Kings - rules





This post will discuss thoughts and ideas utilising the new Osprey rules "Dux Bellorum" for battles in the wars of Sumer and Akkad - a surprisingly good fit. What I'm going to focus on is how these rules work in with this period and my project, so the nuts and bolts of play will not be covered unless relevant. There are many other reviews online as listed here by the rules author that go into the details of play that are worth a look.
 
So how could an Arthurian set of rules work for pre-biblical warfare?...read on and find out.
  
 
 
When I first flicked through the pages of Dan Mersey's Dux Bellorum I immediately identified a game system that had the potential to fill a gap in my project. I was after a low level battle scale system that incorporated various scenarios that reflected the many small scale actions that occurred in Ancient Sumer. The opening paragraphs detail the importance of leadership quality, individual bravery and the chaotic nature of battle. All this sounded very much how I envisage the constant small scale Sumerian clashes to be characterised....Warrior Kings was born! As Dan says, "keeping the emphasis that it's a game not a simulation" is perfectly suited for this period as so few real details exist on how tactical elements were handled.
 
The various types of troops and their equipment also closely aligned with those of Mesopotamian armies. Shieldwall infantry equated to Sumerian spear, shield and axe formations, warrior infantry reflect the warband styles of warfare of the Guti and Amorite tribes, the less effective Arthurian riders would  fall into line with the relative effectiveness of Sumerian battle carts and sling, bow and spear were the weapons of choice three thousand years before Arthur's time.
 
By using the existing structure and ratings of troops but changing for the specifics of the Sumerian period, much as Dan Mersey has done to portray the Arthurian period, I think I have a good starting point for a reasonable reflection of the importance of each troop type in ancient Sumer.
 
In the introduction of DB Dan lays down his tenants for his game and these are the reasons why I think they will work well for the wars of Sumer and Akkad.
 
 
"A Simple non tournament ruleset where players concentrate on playing, not learning and gaming for fun".  
The format of the game provides for varied pick up games that provide a structure that can easily be placed into a campaign system or for one off battles. In the Campaign post I talked about using a different set of rules within the same campaign to create variety in the battles fought and DB seems a perfect fit for that objective. 
 
"Keep the emphasis on game, not simulation".
Given the small scale battles WK covers and the total lack of detail of historical actions of this period at the scale portrayed this will provide for believable clashes where we know no better...perfect!
 
"Present optional rules without cluttering the streamlined basic game".
This was a sensible idea for the basic game but the optional rules DB includes are eminently suited to the dynamics of Sumerian Warfare in my view. We will happily be using them all as standard rules and adding one or two of our own as the basic game engine in DB is flexible enough to handle it.
 
"Engage players in every phase of the game, give them choices to make".
I very much like games where players are involved both in their turn and also in their opponent's - not one player doing his move whilst the other wanders off or sits around waiting for his go - DB nailed this one and the game is much better for it!
 
"Flexible army lists, that reflect my own and other interpretations, whilst retaining the character of each army."
This was mandatory for me to be able to build from the armies I'm already collecting for Bloody Barons as well as  being able to capture the feel of each army's characteristics. By being able to create army lists the 'pick up and play' nature of the original game is maintained and provides for many variations in forces structures to keep things fresh and interesting.
 
"Represent close combat as a swirling, dangerous mass rather than a well co-ordinated battle line".
This works fine for some combat but does not necessarily define how I envisage some of the more 'orderly' linear battles to have occurred. Fortunately the inclusion of the optional rule "Fighting to the Front" will restore this 'linear aspect" of armies most typically defined by the  Sumerian spear and shield formation but still allows for the swirling melees typical of forces made up of tribesmen such as the Guti, Lullubi, Amorites, etc....so it all fits in rather well.
 
"Differentiate between offensive and defensive foot troops and allow for foot or mounted troops".
This will account for the majority of troops being foot sloggers but will enable the inclusion of the Battle Cart mounted forces unique to the Sumerian era. With the lower scale of actions portrayed and the use of the army strategy and tactics sections quite different force combinations are possible in some of the armies that are not normally seen in a 'battle game'.
 
"Convey the spirit of Dark Age Battles without being too technical".
Well, that pretty much says what I'm after as well..."convey the spirit of Sumerian Battles without being too technical".
 
 
 
 

Troop Types for Warrior Kings

I have defined the following troop types that I think capture most of the detail of the respective styles of fighting without getting into lots of 'weapon detail' that could gum up the works. The use of Leadership Points in DB gives players the ability to enhance their troop capabilities that don't necessarily have to be represented in their troop stat line. Taking specific strategies and tactics also let you define your army's fighting style. That said, the following break down of troop types makes each type feel a bit different and will further reinforce army characteristics which is a good thing I think.
 
Household: The best and most experienced troops, the personal bodyguard of the temple and/or the retainer troops of an Ensi, Lugal, Warlord or King. They may be mounted in Battle Carts or on foot. They have higher stats than other troop types, but each army only has one such unit. The Army leader is always attached with a unit of this quality.
 
Battle Carts: These represent the preferred method of travel and fighting style of the wealthy or well placed. They can be four wheeled Battle Carts or two wheeled Platform and Straddle Car types. Battle carts have good levels of protection with their high front construction, barded onagers and support infantry but this arrangement is still a bit vulnerable so they have a lower cohesion level than expected. Battle Cart forces ride towards the enemy throwing javelins in a swarm formation at short range, possibly charging directly into combat at weak(ened) opposition, and then close with axe and javelins supported by infantry runners if they can gain an advantage. Potentially fast moving and devastating but a touch brittle at the same time, their use must be timed else their advantage will be squandered.
 
Axemen: Battle line infantry who are not able to use the Big Shield tactic as they relying on their increased aggressive ability when wielding their fearsome axes in combat. This gives them added aggression over spearmen. They use all the rules applicable to Shieldwall troops in DB.
 
Spearmen: Battle line infantry, harder to hit than unprotected Wild Tribesmen but with no missile capability however usually with a good deal of protection – these troops are the most common troop type in the ‘civilised’ armies of the Fertile Crescent . May be Levy or Ordinary. To represent spearmen utilising the iconic nine-boss shield a player must take the ‘Big Shield’ tactic to reflect the shieldwall 'phalanx tactics' of Ancient Sumer. In some armies Spearmen may be armed with Pike, using the 'Pike' tactic. They use all the rules applicable to Shieldwall troops in DB.
 
Tribesmen: Offensive infantry prone to impetuousness, they will possibly make Uncontrolled Charges whether you want them to or not. They are rated as Fierce or Wild and may be armed with axe giving them an edge in combat. They use all the rules for Warriors in DB. These are the most common types of foot troops in Amorite or Zagros Mountain armies.
 
Skirmishers: ‘Nim’ foot skirmishers, secondary to the main battle line forces they nevertheless have tactical uses in the scale of battles represented by WK. May be armed with Javelins, (Self) Bows or Slings. Javelin armed skirmishers are slightly more aggressive than their missile oriented cousins who rely mostly on the effectiveness of their slings and bows rather than getting up close and personal in combat.
 
Massed Archers: Concentrated archers more resilient than skirmishers but not as tough as Spearmen or Tribesmen in combat. Typical of Elamite armies or later period Akkadian or Sumerian armies. Nearly always unprotected but able to deliver greater volumes of fire than any other foot troop type in the game.
 


Unit Ratings

The following table gives the basic troop stats for the various troop types. Within each army list the actual troop stat line is given specific to each army - see below for examples. For the most part this will be the same as those in the table but some variations account for specific troop weapon and equipment combinations and will possibly be different. In this way each army will be ‘properly’ portrayed and have its own character. Note, these ratings are not set in stone. If you wish to change, (as I may very well do!) to suit your own perceptions or game balance requirements then please do so...they are given here as useful start points that balance the relevant troop types.


Unit Type
Move
Bravery
Aggression
(& Missiles)
Protection
Cohesion
Notes
Army Points
Household Foot
2
10
6
6
6
-
5
Battle Carts
4
9
5 (3)
6
4
Javelin 2BW range
5
Straddle car/Platform Cart
4
9
4 (3)
5
4
Javelin 2BW range
4
Royal Guard Axemen
2
9
6
5
5
-
5
Ordinary  Axemen
2
7
5
5
4
-
3
Ordinary  Spearmen
2
7
3
5
4
-
3
Levied  Spearmen
2
6
2
5
3
-
2
Fierce Tribesmen
2
9
6
4
6
Uncontrolled 3BW
5
Wild Tribesmen
2
7
5
4
5
Uncontrolled 3BW
3
Massed Archers
2
7
3
4
3
Bow 4BW range
3
Javelinmen
3
8
(6 for Morale)
2
4
2
Javelin 2BW range
1
Slingers
3
8
(6 for Morale)
1
(2 for Missile)
4
2
Sling 4BW range
1
Archers
3
8
(6 for Morale)
1
(2 for Missile)
4
2
Bow 4BW range
1
Priests
1
6
1
3
3
May not use LPs
3
Stampede (cattle/sheep/pigs)
3
10
-
-
-
As foot skirmishers. Uncontrolled 3BW
2
War Dogs
3
10
5
4
3
As foot skirmishers. Uncontrolled 3BW
3
Fanatics
3
12
7
4
3
Uncontrolled 3BW +1 Agg into contact Skirmisher 1LP/turn
5

 Note - Units marked with an Aggression rating in (brackets) use this rating for missile fire only.
 
 

Army List samples

Using the guidelines above here are two army lists to see how these definitions apply to two armies of the period. The first is the Dynastic Sumerian army and the other is the Zagros Mountain list used to create armies of Guti, Lullubi and Hurrians. Other list will follow.
 
 
 
Dynastic Sumerian 2700 BC to 2334 BC
Troop Type
#
M
B
A
P
C
N
AP
Ensi, Lugal, King in Battle Cart
1
4
10
5 (3)
6
5
Javelin 2BW range
5
Army Standard
0-3
-
-
-
-
-
Battle Standard
3
Gish gigir 4-Ass Battle Carts
0-3
4
9
5 (3)
6
3
Javelin 2BW range
5
      - exchange for 4-Ass Straddle Car / Platform Cart
0-1
4
9
4 (3)
5
3
"
4
Erin summa city militia Spearmen
2-7
2
6
2
5
3
-
2
      - upgrade to Ordinary
0-2
2
7
3
5
4
-
3
      - exchange as Royal Guard Axemen
0-1
2
9
6
5
5
-
5
Nim Archers
0-1
3
8 (6 Mor)
1
4
2
Bow 4BW range
1
      - change all to Mari as Massed Archers
0-1
2
7
3
4
3
"
3
Mercenary Archers
0-1
3
8 (6 Mor)
1
4
2
Bow 4BW range
1
Nim Slingers
0-2
3
8 (6 Mor)
1
4
2
Sling 4BW range
1
Nim Skirmishers
1-3
3
8 (6 Mor)
2
4
2
Javelin 2BW range
1
      - upgrade as Ordinary
any
3
8 (7 Mor)
2
4
3
"
2
Martu (Amorite) Wild Tribesmen
0-1
2
7
5
5
5
Uncontrolled 3BW
3
      - change to Skirmishers
any
3
8 (6 Mor)
2
4
2
Javelin 2BW range
1
Guti or Lullubi mercenaries Wild Tribesmen
0-1
2
7
5
4
5
Uncontrolled 3BW
3
Special Rules:
·         Do not reduce the army’s aggression level because of the inclusion of Levied Troops.
·         2 pieces of terrain when defending.
·         0-3 Strategies and Tactics: Ambush, Assassination, Big Shields*, Champion’s Challenge, Experienced Warlord, Lugal (Imposing Horsemen), Loyal, Beer (Mead), Pike, Priests (Monks), Stampede, Swift Deployment, Veterans.
§  *Only Spearmen can use the Big Shield tactic.
 
 
 
Zagros Mountain – Guti, Lullubi and Hurri 2350 BC onwards
Troop Type
#
M
B
A
P
C
N
AP
Warlord or Chieftain
1
2
10
6
6
6
-
5
      - mounted in Battle Cart
-
4
10
5 (3)
6
3
Javelin 2BW range
5
Fierce Tribesmen – ‘Retainers’
0-2
2
9
6 (3)
4
6
Uncontrolled 3BW Bow 4BW range
5
Wild Tribesmen
3-8
2
7
5
4
5
Uncontrolled 3BW
3
      - arm with axe
0-1
2
7
6
4
5
Hurled Weapon
4
Levy Massed Archers
2-10
2
6
2
4
2
Bow 4BW range
2
      - upgrade to Ordinary
0-2
2
7
3
4
3
"
3
      - change any to Levy Archer Skirmishers
any
3
8 (6 Mor)
1 (2)
4
2
"
1
      - change any to Ordinary Archer Skirmishers
any
3
8 (6 Mor)
1 (2)
4
3
"
2
Levy Slingers
0-1
3
8 (6 Mor)
1 (2)
4
2
Sling 4BW range
1
Akkadian-Sumerian city militia Spearmen
0-5
2
6
2
5
3
-
2
Special Rules:
·         Tribesmen may cancel one hit from fire or combat per turn for free.
·         Tribesmen armed with Axe gain the Hurled Weapon tactic at no cost.
·         3 pieces of terrain when defending.
·         A Warlord or Chieftain in a Battle cart may only be taken if Akkadian-Sumerian city militia Spearmen are also taken.
·         0-3 Strategies and Tactics: Ambush, Assassination, Big Shield*, Champion’s Challenge, Dismount, Experienced Warlord, Hurled Weapons**, Loyal, Beer (Mead), Priests (Monks), Swift Deployment, Veterans, War Dogs.
§  *Only Akkadian-Sumerian Spearmen can use the Big Shield tactic.
§  **Only Wild Tribesmen can use the Hurled Weapon tactic.





 
   
 

Rule Adjustments?

 
To ensure we capture the spirit of the Sumerian Wars we need to make sure we don't just change a few names around and call it something it is not. To that end I have made a number of rules adjustments (thus far), beyond the obvious need to change unit names and stat lines, to ensure we feel that things are a bit closer to 3rd millennium BC warfare than Arthurian combat. I have included notes below each rule adjustment to explain the thinking behind it.
 

Warrior Kings Rules Adjustments

 
General Notes – Each army list indicates the allowed Strategies and Tactics as per DB. Note that the trait Javelins is ignored in Warrior Kings as the unit stats incorporate this into the game. Chariot and Levied Troop rules apply however use the stat lines and notes as per their army lists. All optional rules are used in Warrior Kings or as noted in each army list and the battle carts notes below. Units marked with an Aggression rating in (brackets) use this rating for missile fire only. Follow the use of Allies when forming an allied contingent in your army. All these rules can be downloaded in this document.

Terrain – Ignore the terrain feature Hedge, it is not used in Warrior Kings.

This one is obvious!

Big Shields – count 6 Protection if contacted to the front only, otherwise protection is 5. Suffer a -1 to their bravery test (for movement) in terrain, except in villages. Cost is 3 points if five or less units so equipped, otherwise 5 points.

This trait may be taken to give armies the use of the large shield so typical of Sumerian and early Akkadian armies. Players may define their units as they wish and in this way we can differentiate between those troops who have a moderate level of protection and those troops who have a genuine large shield giving them the effect of a proto phalanx shielded formation...this is most clearly shown by troops equipped with armoured cloaks vs those with the large 'front rank' nine-boss shields. Big Shields provides the best level of protection to a unit engaged to its front but its size and defensive nature precludes the effective use of the shields in the initial contact in an attack (this is shown on the playsheet - see below).

Pike – count -1 in combat when fighting Pike. Pike fight less effectively (-1) when fighting to their flank. Pike may not be combined with Big Shield tactic. Cost is 3 points if five or less units so equipped, otherwise 5 points.

There is some conjecture as to the use of the long spear or 'pike' used by Sumerian and Akkadian troops. This tactic allows a player the option to equip his infantry as long spear infantry fighting in the style of a 'proto phalanx' with 'pike', or equppied with a thrusting spear and shield more akin to a classical Greek hoplite phalanx...the choice is the players. The two handed use of the long pike precludes the use of the Big Shield tactic - you must choose one or the other.

Battle Standard – if equal to or less than 5BW from a battle standard a unit may re-roll a bravery test when required to do so.

Armies of this age would conceivably have used pagan icons of religious significance to motivate their troops - we do know they carried standards of some sort. This tactics enables a player to gain a benefit from its presence on the battlefield.

Battle Carts – Sumerian battle carts function as riders for all rules purposes using the stat line as given in appropriate tables. They can fire their javelins all round. When grouped 4-wheeled battle carts cost 2BW to about face.

Battle Carts are a bit tricky. The two schools of thought on their use is that they were simply vehicles for the carriage of important people and the other is that they had a combat function. I believe they were of latter type. This is a long discussion in itself and too involved to go into here. If you think they are of the former type then simply ignore their inclusion in the army lists except for leaders. If the later, then in Warrior Kings they are portrayed as being a relatively maneuverable missile platform with an offensive combat capability against unsteady foot or other carts....all of this is coupled to them being somewhat brittle.

Leadership Points in Defence – for each LP used to cancel hits, roll 1d6 needing a 4+ to be successful.

This is an optional rules but we feel that with a preponderance of shieldwall armies and the 'certainty' of cancelling hits this takes something away from the game....it really does favour the defence. We use this rule, others might not like it and it actually adds another nice decision point in the game adding a bit of tension..

Skirmishing – any Skirmisher or Battle Cart unit may delay their movement in the turn sequence until all other troops types have moved. If they wish to move such units take their bravery test with a -2 modifier, skirmishers first, then battle carts.

One thing we have noticed in DB is that it is hard to initiate a skirmishing combat without getting pounced upon - this is because javelin armed skirmishers and battle carts move before shieldwall and tribesmen troops, thus any of these unit types that moves to within 2BW of any enemy can be charged in the turn before they initiate skirmishing and before they get a chance to fire or use leadership points they have left. Therefore this rule allows a player to initiate skirmish combat by delaying their turn, shooting next turn and using leadership points to prevent being 'move interrupted' in the following turn....this seems a better sequence of troop interactions. We are still playtesting this one so it may or may not survive the cut!

Favour of the Gods – whenever you roll a bravery test for a unit and a ‘double score’ occurs you must pull a ‘favour of the gods’ card. Play immediately or later, but if unused discard at the end of the turn. God cards overrule any other rule in the game....the gods do as they please!

This is an important part of the game in my view. It is a key element that makes WK specific to this time period. The Sumerians were religious people believing in the many deities from the Sumerian Pantheon. Wars were fought in their name and great deeds or acts were attributed to these 'higher beings' - they were a central tenant of Sumerian society. They add a lot fun and a good deal of narrative to the game that helps remind you of the era in which you are playing. The 'god cards are shown below (you can download them here) - note the bottom four cards are 'bad cards' and the other twelve are 'good cards'....the gods can be fickle!



 
An
Anu is the sky god. He is the supreme ruler of all the gods.
 
(Add +3 LP to your hand)
 
Enlil
Ellil (Enlil)
Enlil is so powerful that the other gods can't even look at him.
 
(Add +2 LP to your hand - cancels all other god cards for the turn)
 
Enki
Ea (Enki)
He is a god of wisdom, farming, building, magic and arts and crafts.
 
(Automatically pass any Bravery test)
 
Inanna
Ishtar (Inanna)
Inanna is the goddess of love and war.
 
 
(Add +1 LP to one combat)
 
Ninurta
Ninurta
Ninurta is a god of war. He uses a bow & arrow and a sickle sword.
 
(Re-roll all misses in one missile or fighting attack)
 
Marduk
Marduk
Marduk goes into battle when the other gods elect him as their leader.
 
(Any unit/group does not need to test bravery to move)
 
Shamash
Shamash (Utu)
Shamash is the sun god. He is also the god of truth and justice.
 
(+1 LP)
 
Apkallu
Apkallu fish
Apkallu is a 'wise man' or 'sage'.
 
 
 
(No terrain effects apply to one unit/group)
 
Anzu
Anzu
 
Anzu is a giant bird who whips up whirlwinds and storms when it flaps its wings.
 
(All enemy units increase their bravery die roll by +2 when moving)
 
Bull Man
Bull Man
The Bull-man helps people fight evil and chaos.
 
 
(+1 LP)
 
Nabu
Nabu
Nabu was the god of scribes and the patron of writing and wisdom.
 
(Add +1 to any unit/group bravery test)
 
Gula
Gula
Gula was a goddess of healing.
 
(remove 2 cohesion hits in total from any units)
 
Lamashtu
Lamashtu
Lamashtu is an evil demon who preys on the unborn.
 
(Give card to Opponent. Add 1 cohesion hit to two enemy units)
 
Erishkigul
Ereshkigal
 
Erishkigal stripped Inanna of her power in the underworld.
 
(-1 LP Opponent chooses)
 
Tiamat
 Tiamat

 
 
Tiamat is an angry goddess, who decides to destroy the other gods.
 
(-3 LP Opponent chooses)
 
Nergal
Nergal
Nergal uses fevers and plague as weapons.
(Give card to Opponent. Add +2 cohesion losses on one enemy unit)









Unit size and scale

The scale of Dux Bellorum is provisionally given as one unit equals sixty men....a number very pleasing to the sexidecimal Sumerians! Off course as Dan says this is used mostly as a guide to give players a sense of the scale of the battles being fought. With the miniature unit sizes I envisage using I'm going to increase this to 1 base equaling 120 men and 1 unit of carts representing 12 wheeled vehicles and their associated support infantry runners. This fits in with a 5-7 unit army of WK equating to about 600 men or so supported by battle carts - a common size raiding or small battle force of the time.
 
One of the appealing aspects of Dux Bellorum is that it allows for a great variety of unit sizes as the game is a 'base width' system. Units can be as small as 2 of my standard 35mm square bases joined together side by side to form one unit, or for a 'massed battle' I can combine 8-10 infantry bases to form a unit, deployed in two ranks - nice and chunky which I prefer. For Battle Cart units and Generals I'll use 2-4 of my standard 70mm x70mm bases respectively. The essence of DB is that it is not an 'element to element' game like DBA so this seems less critical to my eye and a bit of latitude may work out OK without 'breaking anything'....at least that's the way it appears at this point!
 

Base Width size?

The typical game size recommended in DB is 20BW x 15BW. This gives a 120mm x90mm table when each base is 60mm wide. If we were to simply scale this up to accommodate our unit base width of 4x35mm=140mm, we'd end up with a table 2800mm x 2100mm...that's a very big table! I actually prefer units a bit wider so that makes for an even bigger table! Given that most armies of this period have a limited mounted capability and typically formed up in a linear fashion we can safely adjust the standard base size to achieve the desired 'linear battle' effect. To do this we essentially halve the proportional scale and make each base width 7cm...to make it simple, we'll call it 3".
 
With around 8-10 units total that will give a maximum frontage of our the army of about 1500mm ie 5'. This will provide some wriggle room and allow the game to play on a standard 6'x4'. Therefore with a standardised BW at 3", infantry move 6" and Battle Carts 12" per turn - that feels about right. This will provide for a little less free wheeling about of individual units which seems in keeping with the army's likely limited capabilities. So the result in play is that it produces a mostly linear battle which is the desired effect. As an aside, I have noticed on other blogs those who prefer larger units are adopting a "fixed base width" size as well. My playtest haven't revealed any game distortions so this would seems to be working out.
 
The only point worth noting regarding the reduction in BW size to actual units size will be where terrain features are specified in the game that may effect play balance, such as the size of the perimeter wall in the village raid scenario. I may have to adjust the wall size to allow for the much bigger units being used in comparison to the terrain feature (village) that they will be occupying. Using smaller units at standard base widths causes no such concerns off course.


Too small for me, but useful for 'DBA' style games to get you going.


 
A nice square base look that has a bit more 'weight' than the unit above...not bad.
 

 
A good four base compromise for a chunkier 'linear' look
 
 
 
The preferred option - this size gives a real 'unit feel'...scaled at 1 figure to 3 real men!




..now we're talking!
 
 

 

Markers

I will be using a reverse logic to Dan's rules when it comes to marking unit cohesion. He places a marker (dice) with each unit equal to their cohesion rating. As the unit takes hits the cohesion rating is reduced. That's certainly one way to do it. I prefer the reverse order....more losses, more casualty markers. So therefore as I TAKE cohesion hits I'll mark them up to the limit of the unit's rating. I'll be using my friendly 'vulture markers' along with some nice nine-boss shields and broken wheels for my battle carts to show the attritional combat effects during play. This should add a nice touch to enhance the battlefield as we go - more vultures behind the unit as the losses mount makes perfect sense really!
 
For Leadership points I'll use a suitable markers such as blue 'lapis lazuli' tokens to indicate this favoured precious gem representing increased leadership or as I have done in this picture (as an interim expedient) round markers painted the same color as my table which are simple and more or less blend in. Another good idea is to mount single command figures on bases and use these as LPs. That would add a nice dioramic effect as well....there are lots of options here.
 
 
 


Campaign games?

Warrior Kings can be used to fight battles in a campaign context as described above. Using the campaign system in my campaign post we'd need a way to convert wins and losses into the campaign format similar to Bloody Barons. This is done very simply.
 
When the game is finished count up the points total losses of the winning side and deduct them from the score of your opponeents army point total (32pts) not taking into account your opponent's points spent on Strategy and Tactics. Consult the table below to determine your level of victory and compute your prestige points.

For example, if you win the game and you have lost a total of 12 points in your army and your opponent had an army made up of 23 points of units and 9 points on Strategy and Tactics (ie 32 pts total), then you deduct your score of 12 from his of 23 = 11. This would result in "A Good Win" for the victor.
 
 
 
Sumer/Akkad winner
Non-Sumer/Akkad winner
Victory level
WK
Points diff
‘Stele’ Prestige Points
End of Campaign
Draw
0-3
1d3-1
1d3-1
Marginal Win
4-6
1d3
1d3-1
Win
7-9
1d3+1
1d3
A good win
10-12
2d3
1d3
Slaughter
13-15
2d3+1
1d3+1
Annihilation
16+
2d3+2
2d3
 

 
 
 
 
 

 





 

 

 

How does all this play out?

OK, so we've got all the info above and are ready to play through a game.
 
Scenario - on the banks of the Euphrates, c 2437 BC, a dispute over water rights has broken out once again. The Ur King has sent out a trusted leader, Ensi DuDu, a cousin of the King.... he has plied his men with Beer to increase their aggression. The King of Eridu's trusted warlord, Gurak of Aza, mustered his men and marched to meet the old enemy. His previous victories makes him an experienced commander with extra leadership ability. Both forces met at a place giving its name to the battle - Black Goat Hill.

The scenario played was 'Annals' which is essentially a pitched battle type game. The Men of Ur were the Aggressors and the Men of Eridu the Repellers.
 
 
Men of Ur

x1        Ensi Dudu - in battle cart @ 5pts;
x1        Royal Guard Axemen @5pts
x3        Ordinary Spearmen + Big Shields @12pts
x1        Ordinary Spearmen + (including Big Shields) +Veteran @6pts
x1        Slingers @1pts

Strategy – Beer (Mead), Big Shields, Veteran

 
Men of Eridu

x1        Gurak - in battle cart + Experienced Warlord @ 7pts;
x1        Royal Guard Axemen + Loyal @8pts
x3        Ordinary Spearmen @9pts
x1        Slingers @1pts

Strategy – Experienced Warlord, Loyal, Increased Leadership (@4pts)


Note - for this playtest we did not use the 'required' levy units as per the Dynastic Sumerian list- we just wanted to get as close as we could to the standard 32 point game. In the end we played a 29pt game as I was one unit short on both sides....this didn't really change too much. As I supplied both sides the units were arrayed in single rank.



 
The layout of terrain had a non playing town area to the bottom of the picture and included 'in game' features of Black Goat Hill and the wood immediately above it.





 

Wasting no time, Gurak the Eridian leader and skirmishers stacked with LPs helps ensure things go as planned!






A sweeping view of the field.
Gurak's charge toward Black Goat Hill can be seen in relation to the 'bending' Ur line moving to meet the threat.
 













The skirmishers getting 3 LPs gives them a good deal more survivability as their cohesion is only 2...a recommended tactic if your have some spare LPs!








The battle carts crushed the skirmishers in combat. The combat system reflected the battle carts tactics well.






One of the better 'god cards' - An gave the Ur commander 3 LP to use for this turn.






An overview shot - you can see the right hand unit from the Eridian force (left side near the temple) has moved to counter the threat posed by the Ur veteran spearmen. The Eridian skirmishers have moved in front of the Ur spearmen and have started to skirmish. With the Ur forces all 'tanked up' up on beer they are moving to contact as soon as they can.














Here you can see the Eridian general Gurak has pulled back away from the Ur Spearmen - battle carts and spear tips do not mix! The Ur spearmen now have the wood to their right flank 'jamming in' the Ur General's ability to flank move.







As often happens, LPs go to the areas that have the most action. Here the Eridian axemen hope to stave of the attack from the veteran spearmen of Ur.














Moving as single units, the battle cart and skirmishers move to position for a front and flank attack on the Eridian spearmen which by now is feeling a bit isolated.














Earlier in the turn the Ur commander rolled a double score on one of his bravery tests. He drew a god card and got Ninurta. This card enables a re-roll of all missed attacks - a very useful card. Suitably motivated, the Ur player drove in hard with extra LPs knowing that he could commit the Ninurta card as well to deliver a powerful attack. 







Despite the Ur spearmen not gaining any charge bonus because they have big shields the Ur player commits all his Lps to attack as he is relying on his protection rating of '6' to absorb any hits. He adds his aggression score of Spearmen (3), Veteran (1), charging (1), Beer (1) and LPs (2) for a total of 8 attack dice, holding one LP back in reserve for defence. In reply the Eridian Royal axemen have a score 5 (it should have been 6 actually - but it didn't matter in the end) and used all their LPs in defense - the best tactic when you have a fair idea you are not going to be able to win the fight....use LPs to minimise losses.







With 8 attack dice against them and the ability to re-roll misses by using the Ninurta card, the axemen stood little chance. They did however inflict some losses on the spearmen so it was not all a lost cause!















On the opposite flank the lone Ur spearman unit is now faced with the potential of an enemy front and flank.








The main battle lines have still not closed. Both players are seeking an advantage to either flank in an effort to achieve some local superiority. The Eridian player now needs to commit his considerable battleline to ensure he is not rolled up by the veteran spearmen unit and the enemy general.








On the Eridan left flank all troops attack. The defending spear unit already has two cohesion hits and will be very lucky if it survives.







On the Ur left flank the veteran spearmen and General unit attacks with a maximum effort. Attacking spearmen frontally with battle carts is a bit 'iffy' so the Ur player has commited 3 LPs to try and smash his way through.








Here you see both flank attacks going ahead as the main battlelines draw closer to one another.







Attacked by the Eridian General, even with his disadvantage of fighting spearmen to the front, which was combined with the other two support units, the Ur spearmen were defeated...only just however!








The Ur commander made his General the main attacking unit supported by the spearmen (as they had accumulated 2 cohesion and the effect of the Beer tactic were only one loss away from routing) - the combat resulted in a draw. Both sides remained engaged next turn, however the General in his battle carts is now at a disadvantage having lost his charge bonus.










The gallant slingers are quite effective charging into a flank. The additional charge bonus and flank bonus of +2 gave them a total of 4 attack dice. The Ur spearmen could only fight back with 1 attack dice....protect your flanks!!







On the opposite flank the Ur General and veteran spearmen unit attack again, with the Spear unit this time taking the lead (as the Ur player throws caution to the wind!).










With one last push the Eridian spear unit breaks.....Ensi Dudu taking the credit even though he only supported the attack!!!








....a feeding frenzy for the vultures!








...with the Ur Spearmen already carrying some losses they were defeated rather easily as they failed to inflict any losses on the Eridian spear unit to their front.









At this point the Men of Eridu had lost two Spearmen units and the Men of Ur had lost two Spearmen units and their skirmishers. It was the Men of Eridu however who were in the better position to deliver the killer blow first. The 50% army morale check would be triggered by the loss of 3 units (excluding skirmishers).








...with little encouragement needed the Men of Eridu drive for the exposed flank of the Ur Spear unit.




In seeking to swing things his way, Ensi Dudu hit the lone Eridian spear unit but because he did not start his move entirely behind the spear unit front line it still counted as a front attack....no flank attack bonus.






Not missing his opportunity for glory, Gurak charged through the slingers and slammed into the flank of the Ur Spearmen. As the General in his battle cart was attacking a flank they did not suffer the -2 combat factor vs spear. Thus Gurak had a total of Aggression (5), charging (1), battle carts (1) attacking flank (2), LPs (3) for a total of 12 attack dice...they scattered the Ur spearmen like a flock of birds!







The Eridian Spear unit held and with the loss of another Ur Spear unit an army morale check was required. The veteran spearmen failed their test and the Men of Ur ran giving up their claim for the Black Goat Hill fields.....victory to Gurak and the Men of Eridu!

 
 
With that, the battle ended. An excellent play through and it had a distinctly period feel. We finished the game in two hours. The God cards played an important role at select moments but did not dominate proceedings - these add a lot of fun to the game. The interaction of the battle carts and other troops worked well - charging spear frontally was chancy to the point of fool hardy but against light troops or enemy flanks they proved fast moving and devastating...a nice historical effect to my mind. The reduced BW to unit size gave the game a very nice linear feel which I think the pictures show and prevented the 'furball in a phonebooth' type effect which I don't like.

The unit interaction on the battle line and use of the Leadership Points worked really well....this is what sets DB apart. We found that when an enemy charges you, unless you can preempt him it is often best to use your LPs to brace for defense unless he is already weakened and you can go for a killer blow. If you do go defensive and the combat 'sticks' you can then go over to the offensive next turn. This had a nice 'shieldwall clash' feel to it and made for interesting choices in allocating LPs and unit interaction along the line on what looks to be a static front...nice decision choices, without over doing it.
 
We have played again since this game with an additional unit per side pushing it up to 32 pts and yet again it gave a very good result - all in all, WK is playing very nicely using Dan Mersey's rules and I think this will do nicely for the Sumerian Wars when this type of game format suits - thanks Dan!

 

Why Warrior Kings?

Just as Dux Bellorum was the title attributed to King Arthur and captures the very essence of any aspiring warlord of his time, so too the rise of the warrior kingship ideal in ancient Sumer typified the aspirations of warlords of those times. From Gilgamesh to Sargon the Great and beyond, time and again the warrior-king class of Ancient Sumer and Akkad defined the rise, fall and fates of city-states and empires in the third millenia.
 
 

 
 
 
 
 

11 comments:

  1. Truly an inspired, and inspiring, work - well done sir! I hope that you do not mind some shameless imitation, although it would be at least a year before I could get my own project into gear...

    I do, however, agree with the comments over at TMP about using Warrior Priests as the name instead of Warrior Kings (a Two Hour Wargames title).

    Greg

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Greg,

      Please feel free to imitate whatever you like....what's new these days anyway? :-)

      I'm still thinking on a name change but if I do it'll probably be 'Priest Kings' which is very appropriate for this period.

      Cheers

      HappyW

      Delete
  2. Just followed a link to here .Splendid game and fascinating rules adaption.I fear that my long held desire to game this period will happen at last .Thanks for the inspiration.
    cheers
    Alan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi tradgardmastare,

      Thanks for popping in and looking around. There’s lots of food for thought here and I think as you can see there are also lots of good gaming opportunities for this period. It’s not a ‘spoon fed’ era by any means but the more you read the more interesting the layers become. There are some lovely minis around at present and plenty of good rules to really have a lot of fun in the Age of Sumer.

      I hope to get up may second painting post on the battle carts soon. I’ve got ten on the table at present and there is a bit to do!

      Cheers

      HappyW

      Delete
  3. Very thoughtful adaptation with lots of flavour. (I've just tucked into the DB rules and found them pretty decent.)
    I admire people with focus!
    Drop me a line please: teenagevisigoth@gmail.com I have something I'd like to run by you.

    -TV

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi TV,

      Thanks for the comments. PM sent.

      Cheers

      HappyW

      Delete
  4. An excellent piece of work old chap. I might give this a go at some point. I really like the cards idea and will attempt to use these in our Arthurian games, but change to Gods names if that's ok?

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Steve,

    Feel free to use the cards as you desire. I hope you find the blog informative.

    Cheers

    Happy Wanderer

    ReplyDelete
  6. An excellent post that goes from a rules discussion to army lists to a replay and discussion! Fantastic. I enjoyed all of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Shaun,

      I'm really glad you liked it. A great period and a nice rules to go along with it...highly recommended.

      Cheers

      Happy Wanderer

      Delete
  7. A search for Dux Bellorum variants brought me to this site

    Yesterday we had a first game of Ur against Zagros using our old 15mm DBM armies (sleeping beauties hadn't seen the light for 5+ years) , using large bases (3 DBM bases wide, 3 deep for Ur spearmen and Zagros wild warriors, so a lot of figures)
    We had a blast and want to repeat, but are looking to bring in some other armies

    I still have an Old Kingom Egyptian, Bedouin and Nubian army
    DBM speak :
    Book 1 / List 2 : Early Egyptian. 3000BC - 1543BC
    Book 1 / List 3 : Nubian. 3000BC - 1480BC.
    Book 1 / List 6 : Early Bedouin. 3000BC - 312BC.

    Any help/ideas for troop types/army list/rule ammendments ?

    Alex

    ReplyDelete