Ager Sanguinis Punic Wars, How It Works, Part 2

The Ager Sanguinis turn sequence is not like that found in most sets of rules. It does not follow a set sequence of actions (such as U move, I move, U shoot, I shoot, etc.) and it has no set duration. This is because it is driven by initiative phases and the army sequence decks. To quote from the rules:

“Game turns consist of a variable number of initiative phases. The army die is used to determine the number of initiative pips in an initiative phase. Each player rolls his army die. The difference in the army die rolls is the number of initiative pips each player may use in his initiative phase. Both sides receive the same number of initiative pips during their portion the initiative. The player who rolls higher chooses to use all of his initiative pips first or second………………

…………..The side acting first turns sequence cards from his shuffled face down deck, one at a time, spending 1 initiative pip per card turned. As each card is turned the player can choose to act on the card showing or not, sometimes action is mandatory. When he has spent his initiative pips, or he runs out of sequence cards (in this latter event, the player going second may only use as many initiative pips as the first player used to finish his deck), the initiative transfers to the player going second. After the initiative is ended the process is repeated……………

………….. If the army die rolls are equal, or at the end of a complete initiative one player has exhausted his deck, the turn ends……..”


Both players roll off army die. Carthage, rolling D12, scores 10; Rome, rolling D10 scores 1. The difference is 9 so each player will get 9 initiative. Carthage makes Rome go first – a common gambit early on, but risky with such a large initiative.

Roman cards (there are no photos of what the Romans did because, frankly, they didn’t do much):

Command – no action.

Stubborn Army Morale – no action.

Group March – Left most infantry command.

The Romans must roll the officer stand motivation die, which in this case is D10, Vs D8 (always Vs a D8 for movement). They score 6 to 3. The command can move twice because it is more than the D8; the die roll is even so moves can be used to maneuver. The command’s velites occupy the woods wheelin one unit to face the open hill, and the rest of the command moves to the base of the hill.

Maneuver – no action.

Lull – a chance for the enemy to steal the initiative. Both sides roll off army die. Carthage scores 8, Rome scores 3. Carthage can turn one card and act upon it. Carthage turns Group Melee – no action.

Melee – no action.

Missilery – nothing in range or visible through the woods, no action.

Command – no action.

Melee – no action.

Rome’s initiative is over and the initiative passes to Carthage.

Carthaginian cards:

Maneuver – no action.

Missilery – no action.

Group Maneuver – no action.

Lull – both sides roll off army die. The scores are equal, Carthage holds the initiative.

March – A general advance:
Cavalry command on the left, motivation die D10 Vs D8. Score is 5 to 7. The score is less than the D8 so the cavalry can move once, which they do. The score is odd so no maneuvers are allowed.

Infantry command, motivation die D10 Vs D8. Score is 10 to 2. The command can move three times because it tripled the D8; the die roll is even so moves can be used to maneuver. The infantry move off echeloning back to their right.

Cavalry command on the right, motivation die D12 Vs D8. Score 9 to 4. The score is more so they can move twice, which they do.

Maneuvre – Wheels and formation change card.

Spanish cavalry wheels to face the velites in the wood. The velites shoot catching them in the flank before they turn (yes, you can shoot at any time, even as the reactive player provided the target is moving or shooting). They use their base combat die adjusted by the combat table Vs the defence die of the target (see note below). They roll D10 Vs D6, scoring 3 to 5 for no effect.

Note: Each unit has a base combat die for its class (war band, elite, etc.), usually a D6, D8 or D10. Each unit also has a defence die, usually a D6 or D8 for its class. The defence die never changes, but the combat die is adjusted by the modifiers in the combat table. Factors in the combat table are the usual kind of things – terrain advantage, initiating a new melee (charge), fierce in first round, etc. But here’s the thing, rather than adding to a die result the modifiers adjust the type of die up or down. A D6 adjusted by up 2 becomes a D10 (two types bigger). A D10 adjusted down 3 becomes a D4 (three types smaller). The lowest die is never less than a D4 regardless of the downs. D12 is the biggest die and any additional ups are added to the result except the maximum score possible is 12 – a D12+2 rolling 11+2 is 12.  Because of the dice range combat is always risky and tension building.

Melee – no action.

Melee – no action.

March – general advance:

Cavalry command left, motivation die D10 Vs D8 scores 3 to 2. The command can move twice which it does.

Infantry command, motivation die D10 Vs D8 scores 6 to 3. The command can move twice, but before it does two of its skirmisher units shoot at the velites in front of them. One unit misses, the other scores 8 to 5 which causes 1UI loss (3 pips positive difference) and because the velites defence die was odd it is also vexed (a disordered state); first blood to Carthage. Rome loses 1 morale point for losing a UI.

Note: In the picture above note the stone counter for 1 UI loss, the tuft counter for vexed, and the blank counter on the skirmishers for being ‘unloaded’.

The Spanish and Gallic infantry on the extreme left of the line advance to clear the velites in front of them. They shoot, but to no effect, then advisably evade. The Spanish and Gauls could keep moving, but as this would cause them to go vexed ‘chasing’ they choose to halt in good order on the ground vacated by the velites.

On the right of the line there is an exchange of javelins by both side's skirmishers, to no effect, before the Gauls move into the woods to clear out the unit of velites facing them. A melee card is not required to initiate a melee Vs skirmishers but this is not bad terrain for velites (skirmish order [shock] unit) and they have a terrain advantage for being up hill. Both sides roll off their adjusted combat die, in this case D12+2 for the Gauls Vs D12 for the velites. Disaster, the Gauls score 12 and the velites score 2 – the velites lose 3 UI and are routed. Rome loses 3 morale chips for the UI loss. Double disaster – this has exposed the flank of the other velites to an attack by the Spanish infantry who are now coming up the hill; the velites evade.

Cavalry command right, motivation die D12 Vs D8 scores 8 to 2. This is a very good roll as it is a triple move, and because the roll was even it allows cavalry and fierce units to melee contacted enemy units after contact. The melees are hard fought.

Carthage chooses to fight with its two small elephant units first, and as they are rolling D12+2 after adjustments who can blame them. The facing Roman cavalry is rolling D4 because horse is down 2 for facing elephants!

The first score is 7 – 3 and the cavalry loses 1UI, is pushed back 3”, and is vexed for losing on an odd roll – but these are stubborn Romans and by spending an extra morale point (2 in total) they negate the push back and any follow up modifiers.

Surprisingly the next Roman unit does even better (the same dice of course) and holds the elephants with a tied 4 result; both sides lose 1 UI and a morale point.

The Gallic cavalry on the extreme right of the line now fights its opponent rolling D12+1 (fierce in first round is awesome) Vs D10 and scores 6 – 4,  a UI loss each for a close fought melee and a Gallic follow up (there is no actual push back here, the follow up is for scoring higher) but the Romans negate it by spending an extra morale chip – stubborn again!

The next Gallic cavalry unit is fighting the Roman cavalry with the UI loss (basically following up the damage by the elephants). Adjusted combat die are D12+1 Vs D8, scores are 11 to 4 causing 2UI more and the Roman unit is routed. It cannot convert the rout into a push back (for being stubborn) because it now has zero UI and will be routed anyway.

Next up it is the veteran Spanish Vs Roman cavalry. Combat die are D12 Vs D10, score is 7 to 9 for Roman marginal win. Both sides lose 1UI Romans count as following up.

The Roman unit at the end of the line now gets peppered by Numidian javelins, but escapes with a vexed result only.

Note: Regardless of the number of units with which a unit is in contact, a single unit can only fight one melee on a single card.

Note: In the photos above I am using melee in progress “Follow Up” markers. The sword denotes direction, crossways is an ongoing melee with no follow up. Follow up gives an up 1 in the next round of melee, BTW.

The first initiative phase is completed. Both sides roll off army die for the next initiative.
As you can see, this game is not for the feint hearted. Things move quickly. I’m doing this solo, and although I know the rules, that lot took me less than 20 minutes – a lot of which was spent carrying dice and morale chip (poker chips) boxes from one end of the table around to the opposite side of the table (30 foot a trip) and taking notes / photos. It does not take much time to turn cards!

Part three of this piece will be a continuation, including some triplex acies action. I’ve already played out the rest of the turn, I just need time to type it up.

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