DE BELLIS VELITUM
This is a skirmish game for two small forces, each consisting of 1 to 4 sub-units, each in turn of 4 to 12 singly based 25mm figures, totalling up to 24 army points (AP) and controlled by a single player. Figures vary in cost between 6 AP and 2 AP. One figure of the most expensive mounted type or most expensive foot type present is nominated as the force's commander and one figure of each group is nominated as its leader.
Current skirmish rules split play into very small increments and use simultaneous movement requiring written orders. We split play into alternate bounds, each of which simulates the time needed by a warrior to observe, appreciate his situation, decide if he needs to continue a current action or to do something different and then do it, or to exchange blows with or shoot at an opponent. This is about 5 seconds.
As all men are not similarly quick thinking or quick to react, we randomly limit the number of figures that can shoot or be moved each bound, but not the exchange of blows by figures already in physical contact. Since complex group actions require orders that cannot be passed and obeyed in 5 seconds, they are made more difficult to achieve and are assumed to have been initiated during the previous bounds.
We distinguish between fatal and disabling wounds, but do not take account of wounds unlikely to affect combat in the short term, or distinguish the fates of men from those of their mounts. The winning side recovers its disabled. Those of the losers are assumed to be slain in the pursuit, except for knights who are ransomed.
Despite its simplicity, the resulting system is much more subtle than may be immediately apparent. The average player has memorised the battle rules part way through his first game, but tactical skill takes longer to develop. A game usually lasts less than an hour.
Copyright (c) Phil Barker 1991.
PLAYING EQUIPMENT, BASING AND REPRESENTATIONAL SCALES
PLAYING EQUIPMENT AND REPRESENTATIONAL SCALES
These rules are primarily intended for use with 25mm scale model figures. This is because a huge variety of such figures exists and they can be painted as individuals.
Each figure represents one man.
Players should initially use one sub-unit each, but as their skill increases will be able to increase this up to as many as four. Larger engagements may also be fought with more than one such force and player on each side.
Each figure is mounted singly on a rectangular base of standard size, which is 20mm wide by 40mm deep for a mounted figure, 20mm wide by 30mm deep for a foot figure and 60mm wide by 80mm deep for a chariot or elephant model. We assume that men take occupy more space when skirmishing than when formed into rigid ranks in pitched battles.
The optimum playing area is 36" or 900mm square for the basic 2 player game. Larger battles need increased width but not depth, adding 12" or 300mm for each extra player on each side.
The ground scale is 1:75, so 1 centimetre measured on the table is equivalent to 1 pace in real life.
Measure distances on the table with a metric expanding tape, or more conveniently with a 20 pace rod or card strip marked at 4 pace intervals.
Play is in alternate bounds, each of which simulates the minimum time needed by a warrior to observe and appreciate the situation, decide if he heeds to continue a current action or to do something different, then do it, or to exchange blows with or shoot at an opponent. We assume this to be approximately 5 seconds.
As all men are not similarly quick thinking or quick to react, our game system randomly limits the number of figures that can shoot or be moved each bound, but not the exchange of blows by figures already in contact with enemy. Since complex group actions require orders that cannot be passed and obeyed in 5 seconds, they are made more difficult to achieve and are assumed to have been initiated during the previous bounds.
Each player needs one ordinary 1 to 6 dice.
We distinguish only between warriors whose fighting style differs sufficiently to need to be treated differently by their foes.
A mounted figure can be a Knight, Cavalryman or Light Horseman.
A foot figure can be a Knight, Blade, Spearman, Peltast, Archer or Skirmisher.
KNIGHTS are fully protected by complete metal armour. They can either ride a heavy horse, itself often partially armoured in metal or textile, or have dismounted at the start of the game to move and fight on foot. They are dedicated to hand-to-hand combat, despising distant weapons. If mounted, they charge with the lance before taking to other weapons, such as sword, axe or mace. If on foot, they may use the latter in conjunction with a shield or heavier two-handed swords or poleaxes without. Cost 6 AP.
CAVALRYMEN are partially protected by metal armour and ride horses which may also be partially armoured. They differ from Knights in using distant weapons such as javelins or bows as well as fighting hand-to-hand with sword, axe or mace. Cost 4 AP.
LIGHT HORSEMEN have little or no armour and ride small horses or ponies. They fight mainly with distant weapons such as javelins or bow. Cost 3 AP.
BLADES are foot either skilled in fencing individually with sword and shield or using heavier heavier cutting or concussive weapons, such as two-handed swords or axes, bills, halberds or goddendags. They are usually partially armoured. They are less safe than spears in a body against mounted troops, but superior in single combat against foot. Cost 4 AP.
SPEARMEN are foot who ideally fight shoulder to shoulder deriving mutual protection from each other's shields and spear points, but are less effective as individuals. Cost 3 AP.
SHOOTERS include all foot armed with bow, longbow, crossbow, sling or similar long range missile weapons, who outrange javelins, but must stand still to shoot and are disadvantaged in hand-to-hand combat. Cost 3 AP.
PELTASTS are agile but determined unarmoured foot with javelins and sword who can pursue skirmishers or move easily through difficult terrain. Cost 3 AP.
SKIRMISHERS are even more agile foot who fling javelins, then skip out of the way instead of standing their ground and shooting. Cost 2 AP.
These troop types are not necessarily identical with those of DBA, since DBV types depict the characteristics of individuals and DBA those of large bodies of men. For example, the equivalent of DBA Warband is Blades for their leaders and the remainder Peltasts if loose formed or Spears if close formed, while Shooters may be the equivalent of DBA Bow or of those Psiloi with longer ranged weapons than javelins.
This must be to scale with the figures. We favour a permanent terrain board with asymmetric terrain features fixed permanently to it. One alternative is to build it up from 12" or 300m square blocks or carpet tiles. To be eligible, a terrain must comply with all the following:
(1) At least three of the battlefield's quarters must contain at least one terrain feature other than a path.
(2) No more than two of the battlefield's quarters must contain a stream or bad going.
The majority of the playing surface must be flat good going, which should be shown as a reasonably uniform approximation of pasture, open fields or steppe. Bad going must be easily recognisable, and can be a steep slope, rough or boggy ground, a small grove of trees or clump of bushes, or a house. A gentle slope confers combat advantages to men higher up it but is not bad going. A man or animal that is partly in bad going is treated as if entirely in bad going.
A path is two figures wide and is always good going.
A stream must flow between two different board edges. Movement along it is possible only to peltasts and skirmishers. Wading across it is not treated as in bad going, but is penalised in other ways. It is sufficiently shallow and easy banked as to cause only moderate delay, but provides help to men defending its bank. Paths that intersect streams cross them by a ford or bridge of the same width.
Since with these rules so much less time is needed to paint armies, and the size of the playing area is so limited, we hope players will feel they can afford to spend time and ingenuity on making their terrain as visually attractive as their troops.
A figure can only see an enemy figure that is in line of sight and in front of a line extending his front base edge. A foot figure at a door or window or within a clump of trees or bushes cannot be seen from beyond 8 paces unless he shoots. An enemy figure must be visible before it can be shot at or charged. It need not be visible to turn in its direction, it being assumed that noises or suspicion have betrayed its presence.
Both sides dice. The lower scoring side chooses the terrain unless this has already been done. The higher scoring side then chooses its base edge and deploys all its figures in contact with it or deploys the head of an off-table column of march. The lower scoring side then deploys on the opposite edge and takes first bound.
The two sides take alternate bounds. During each player's bound:
(1) He throws a single dice for each leader. Its score is that sub-unit's player initiative points (PIP), which can be used that bound by a group of figures and/or models to march, by single figures to shoot, by single figures, models or groups to make tactical moves, or by single figures or models to rally. PIPs cannot be carried forward to future bounds.
(2) Any or all sub-units can each use 1 PIP to make a single march move.
(3) Any of his cavalry, light horse, shooter, peltast or skirmisher figures who are able to and did not shoot during his last bound at a different target can use 1 PIP to shoot at distant enemy figures, which may force these to make immediate outcome moves.
(4) Any remaining PIPs can each be used to make single or group tactical moves or to rally a single fleeing figure. Unrallied figures continue fleeing.
(5) All figures of both sides that are in contact with enemy fight in hand-to-hand combat in an order decided by the player whose bound it is and make immediate outcome moves.
A march move must be by a group of contiguous figures in a single file or a two figure wide column. No figure included can start or go within 16 paces of visible enemy. A figure cannot march if it flinched in the enemy bound immediately preceding. A figure that marches cannot shoot or make tactical moves that bound.
March movement is assumed to be a continuous and to have been during the enemy bound immediately preceding as well as in your own current bound, so has twice the time available. A march move is accordingly three times the tactical move of the slowest figure participating if entirely along a path, otherwise twice its tactical move.
A tactical move can be by a single figure or model or by a group of figures.
Figures moving as a group must each be touching another of its figures and not in contact with an enemy figure. Each must move parallel to, or follow, the first of them that moves; and must move the same distance or wheel through the same angles up to 45 degrees in total. A group move can also include reducing frontage to pass a gap or move along a path, or if foot a simultaneous identical turn in place of 90 or 180 degrees, but not other changes in frontage or turns.
A move by a single figure or model can include any number of wheels or turns of any angle, provided no front corner its base moves further than its tactical move distance. If a tactical move is used to voluntarily break-off from enemy in contact, a foot figure flees to its rear, a mounted figure bolts. A figure still in contact to its flank or rear turns automatically to face without expending PIPs, unless it is also in contact with enemy to its front or is fleeing. Otherwise:
1 PIP is needed to move a single Skirmisher figure unless charging, turn any single figure towards a visible enemy, or to move an single figure, model or group straight ahead or along a path.
2 PIPs are needed for any other single figure move.
3 PIPs are needed for any other model or group move.
A Shooter figure which shot this bound cannot make a tactical move either as a single figure or as part of a group. Other figures or models that shot can.
The maximum distance any figure can move unless charging is:
20p if Light Horse.
16p if Cavalrymen or Skirmishers.
12p if mounted Knights, or if Peltasts or Shooters.
6p if dismounted Knights, or if Blades or Spears.
4p if any troops except peltasts, shooters or skirmishers, and any part of the move is in bad going.
Chargers add 8 paces if mounted figures, 4 paces if foot or a model.
A figure reaching, or in, bad going after exceeding bad going move distance halts at that point.
RESTRICTIONS ON CROSSING AN ENEMIES FRONT
No figure may cross the front of any enemy figure within that enemy's move distance and not separated from it by an intervening figure, except to contact or line up opposite such an figure's front, to retire, or as an outcome move.
No figure or model can pass through another's current position unless bolting or fleeing, or enter a gap less than its own base width.
A tactical move that ends in contact with an enemy figure or model is a charge. The enemy must already be visible. Mounted chargers can change direction only at the start of their move and then only up to 45 degrees. All chargers must pivot and/or slide sideways after making corner contact to make edge-to-edge and corner-to-corner contact. A figure opposite a join between two enemy figures contacts that it overlaps most.
No figure can move into contact with an enemy figure's flank or rear unless it starts entirely on that side of an imaginary line prolonging that edge of the enemy figure's base.
Since shooting is at individuals and not formations, ranges are greatly reduced. Cavalrymen, Light Horse, Peltasts or Skirmishers within 24 paces or Shooters within 48 paces can shoot at any one enemy figure visible within 45 degrees of straight ahead, but only if they did not shoot at a different target during their last bound and neither is in contact with nor overlapping enemy. Shooting at less than 12 paces is at short range. Each figure shooting expends 1 PIP.
Shooting is not permitted if a terrain feature or figure base even partly blocks the shooters view of their target, except that figures just inside the edge of a tree line or archers in a building doorway or window can shoot outward or be shot at from outside.
A figure that is part of a group cannot be shot at by more than one figure unless the extra shooting figures have no other possible target.
A 2nd or 3rd figure that shoots at the same target figure aids the shooting of the 1st instead of its action being resolved separately. If any of the shooting figures are beyond half maximum range, the shooting is at long range, if not it is at close range.
Except for the opponents not being in contact and the shooters not being themselves at risk that bound, the effects of shooting are resolved exactly as for hand-to-hand combat.
This occurs when a figure or model has moved into, or remains in, both edge and corner-to-corner base contact lined up with an enemy figure or model or a doorway a foot figure is defending.
A figure neither already in frontal contact with an enemy or flank contact with a friendly figure nor fleeing or bolting which is contacted to flank or rear automatically turns to face the first enemy figure moved into contact with it.
A figure overlapping or in contact with the flank or rear of an enemy figure which is fighting to its front fights only as a tactical factor for its friend. It can overlap two enemy figures on opposite flanks, or figures exposed by its own frontal opponent having recoiled, fled or been destroyed that bound.
A figure cannot be overlapped and contacted on the same edge, nor be overlapped by an enemy figure unless their both right or both left front base corners touch. A mounted figure or Chariot or Elephant model can be contacted twice on the same flank edge. A second figure in contact with the flank of a foot figure counts instead as overlapping its rear.
Whether in contact, shooting or only shot at, each player dices for his figure, and adds the appropriate combat factor to its score as follows:
Knight. +5 if hand-to-hand, +4 if being shot at.
Cavalryman. +4 if hand-to-hand, +3 if being shot at.
Light Horseman. +3 if hand-to-hand, +2 if being shot at.
Blade. +4 if hand-to-hand, +3 if being shot at.
Spearman or Peltast. +3
Shooter or Skirmisher. +2
The combat factor of any shooting figure is +2 at close range, +1 at long range.
When a figure is attacked in flank or rear while also fighting to its front, its opponents use only 1 die and the combat factor of the figure to its front. If it wins, the outcome affects only the figure to its front. Others stay in contact, and it must turn to face any it can next bound.
Add to or subtract from combat scores for each of the following tactical factors that applies:
+1 if a leader fighting hand-to-hand.
+1 if a Spearman in hand-to-hand combat or shot at frontally, and supported by at least one other spearman contiguous to his flank facing in the same direction, if neither is in bad going.
+1 if a Knight or Cavalryman shot at, but riding a barded horse.
+1 if in hand-to-hand combat, and also either uphill of opponent, or defending a stream bank except at a road ford or bridge.
-1 if shooting having flinched last bound.
-1 for each flank overlapped, and/or each enemy figure in contact with flank or rear, or for each 2nd or 3rd element aiding a shooting enemy figure.
-2 if a mounted figure who this bound charged a spearman now facing him.
-3 if any but peltasts, shooters or skirmishers and in, or if a mounted figure in hand-to-hand combat (not overlapped) with enemy who are in, bad going on or off-road.
-4 if demoralised.
Compare the combat total of your figure with that of its opponent, then make the outcome move specified below. This depends on its own type and that of the most dangerous opponent of any in edge contact with it, but not that of elements overlapping it.
Figures which shoot or figures fighting as an overlap or against a flank or rear or fleeing figures are not affected by the outcome. If no outcome is listed and neither breaks-off, continue fighting next bound.
If its total is more than that of its hand-to-hand opponent:
Mounted only. If opponent bolts, flees or is disabled or slain, must pursue.
If opponent shies or recoils, may choose to follow up or not.
If its total is the same as that of opponents shooting at it:
Foot only. Flinch.
If its total is 1 less than that of its shooting or hand-to-hand opponent:
Mounted. Flinch from shooting. Shy from mounted or foot.
Skirmisher. Flinch from shooting. Flee from mounted. Recoil from foot.
Other foot. Flinch from shooting. Recoil from mounted or foot.
If its total is 2 less than that of its shooting or hand-to-hand opponent:
Mounted. Disabled by shooting. Shy from mounted or foot.
Skirmisher. Flee from shooting. Slain by mounted. Flee from foot.
Other foot. Flinch from shooting. Recoil from mounted or foot.
If its total is 3 less than that of its shooting or hand-to-hand opponent:
Light Horse. Bolt.
Other mounted. Disabled by shooting or mounted. Slain by foot.
Skirmisher. Disabled by shooting. Slain by mounted. Flee from foot.
Other foot. Disabled by shooting or foot. Slain by mounted.
If its total is 4 less than that of its shooting or hand-to-hand opponent:
If its total is 5 less than that of its shooting or hand-to-hand opponent:
Mounted. Slain by shooting. Bolt from mounted or foot.
FLINCHING, SHYING OR RECOILING
Flinching is caused by enemy shooting. In hand-to-hand combat, mounted figures shy and foot figures recoil. In all three, the figure immediately attempts to move back its own base depth to its rear without turning. A shying figure first turns to face its opponent if in contact only on a single flank. A recoiling figure with an enemy front edge in contact with a side or rear edge is slain.
A shying figure that meets enemy or friends disables foot, pushes back mounted.
A flinching or recoiling figure that meets friends pushes them back if they are facing in the same direction.
A recoiling or shying (but not a flinching) figure that meets either impassable terrain or a figure it cannot push back or disable is slain.
A bolting figure turns immediately and moves 20 paces directly to its rear, this bound only. Foot in the path of a bolting figure are disabled, mounted pushed diagonally back out of the way.
A fleeing figure turns immediately and moves its tactical move distance to its rear in each sides bound until rallied by the expenditure of 1 PIP, changing direction by the minimum necessary to avoid enemy, friends it cannot pass through, or bad or impassable going, but not to avoid crossing a stream. Friendly figures in its path are pushed diagonally aside unless they are contiguous spearmen or mounted, or the fleeing figure is a skirmisher or shooter.
A mounted figure whose hand-to-hand opponent bolts, flees or is disabled or slain must immediately pursue 4 to 20 paces. Any new hand-to-hand combat resulting from contact in a pursuit is resolved immediately and may lead to further pursuit and combat in the current bound. A pursuer that leaves the battlefield is not lost and can return with a tactical move for an expenditure of 4 PIPs.
A mounted figure whose opponent shies or recoils may choose to follow up into renewed contact or not. Any combat resulting is resolved next bound.
A sub-unit reduced to or deprived of its leader or force commander by members being slain, disabled or leaving the table is demoralised.
A figure is lost and removed if it is slain or disabled, or if it bolts, flees, shys or recoils off the battlefield. Figures that bolt, flee, shy or recoil off the battle-field cannot return.
A force that at the end of any bound has had half its original figures disabled, slain, leave the table or become demoralised has lost the battle.
We suggest that a competition should consist of several rounds aggregating the scores from each battle. This can be for several players changing opponents each round, possibly on a Swiss Chess system, or a means for two regular opponents to keep track of their record against each other. Because of their short playing time, DBV or DBA-type games are less suited to knock-out competitions.
The winning side in each competition battle recovers all of its lost figures that have been disabled or left the battlefield.
The losing side recovers those of its lost figures that have left the battlefield, but not its disabled figures, who are assumed to have been overtaken in the pursuit and slain. However, if any of the disabled are knights and the enemy army also included knights, they can be ransomed back for 3 AP each. This ransom is not increased for a leader, since all knights involved in such a small action will be relatively junior.
Each side now totals its surviving AP, enemy AP slain in the battle or pursuit, and ransoms received. This is added to its aggregate. It starts the next battle with its full original complement of figures.