Saturday, 22 June 2019

One Hour Wargames - six hit variant

Avid readers may recall I tried out a variant combat system for OHW using my WW1 toys last year. Essentially the standard D6 plus or minus 2 to hit, and 15 hit units is replaced with one, two or three D6 each  hitting on 3+ and units have only six hits. The average lethality and duration of combat is unchanged, but the distribution of results is more interesting, and using a base 3+ to hit makes it far easier to factor in armour etc (half hits becomes a 5+ and half again becomes 6).

I wanted to try it with the Ancients variant as I'm a bit dubious about the more shooty OHW variants, too much scope for unrealistic ganging up I think. Anyway, I dragged out my old 20m plastic Romans and Carthaginians for an outing to the killing fields of Northern Italy.

Tim C and Tim G took the Carthos, while John and Jerry took the Romans.

The scenario was OHW 2 'pitched battle'.  Whoever controlled the hill and crossroads at the end won. Hilariously both sides rolled up identical forces of four heavy infantry, one cavalry and one skirmisher unit, so my carefully crafted additional unit types of Auxilia and Warband weren't needed.

Cartho cavalry, skirmishers and infantry. In the variant cavalry get 2 x D6 combat dice, skirmishers just 1 x D6, but can conduct ranged combat and interpenetrate. Neither are armoured and both take six hits.

Romans. Heavy Infantry get 3 x D6 in close combat and are armoured. These guys are very dangerous, but slow.

Both sides pushed forwards on a long front. The Carthos kept an infantry unit in reserve, which proved to be a good move in the long run.

Carthaginian heavy infantry occupy the hill. Armoured troops up hill are only hit on a 6, ouch, The Romans only hope was to outflank them (as flank and rear attacks get double dice.

Roman Legions stomp forwards, Velites and cavalry out front.

Over at the crossroads it is a 2:2 faceoff between two units each of heavy Carthaginian and Roman infantry.

First contact. The Roman cavalry and velites  engage the Carthaginian cavalry. In OHW Ancients once units are in melee they stay there until they win or rout, so the decision to engage is important. The Romans duly threw appalling dice (they had four dice, needing 3+ to hit each).

Battle was also joined at the crossroads. This was a real slugfest as each side was throwing three dice per unit, but only hitting on 5+ as they were armoured.

In the centre, the Carthaginian reserve infantry intervened decisively in the melee. Six dice at 3+, ouch. The Roman cavalry headed back to the Forum. The Carthaginian reserve had proved its worth.

Over at the hill, the Carthos were outnumbered 2:1 but their uphill bonus evened the odds. The Romans manouvered into position for a combined frontal assault and flanking attack.

It was honours even at the crossroads, both sides steadily wearing the other down (average expected hits per turn being one per unit). Luck of the dice was going to determine this one, although the Carthos had the slight advantage of the initial strike.

The Romans closed in on the hill. Three dice needing 5+ vs nine dice needing 6, so advantage to the Romans. (the flanking unit was doubled).

The stalemate at the crossroads was broken by the Carthaginian reserve, which now switched fronts and flanked one of the legions. The Romans left the field, and just in time as the other Carthos were one hit from breaking.

The other Carthaginian unit broke just as the Carthaginians reserves rolled into the Romans flank.

But back the the hill the Carthaginian cavalry and skirmishers rolled up the Velites. The struggle for the hill went on.

The fresh Carthos finally route the last Legion at the crossroads.

Back the the hill the Cartho cavalry and skirmishers flanked and wiped out one of the Legions.

The Carthos on the hill were now able turn to face their flank, while the last Romans in turn were enveloped by the skirmishers and cavalry.

It was soon all over and the Carthos were left in control of the hill.

And the crossroads.

Well that was exciting, and a closer run thing that the final tally of units indicates as a lot of the Carthaginian units were fairly ragged. The decisive factor was the cartho reserve unit which managed to intervene decisively in the centre and left flank, in turn freeing units to intervene on the right flank.

I was pleased with how well that variant worked. There were a few grumbles about facing and movement, but not more than usual with a ruler based game. It seems to move along a bit quicker than the normal combat system and so allowed more of a focus on decision making - in this scenario, essentially who to engage, when and it what strength. Once units were engaged, they lost all freedom of manouvre, which sounds about right for an Ancients battle.


  1. Very good. I do wish that he had added a rudimentary morale rule to the system, so that things would have an increasing chance of falling back / routing as they neared their 15 hit mark. It would have added more depth to the games.

    1. The system is so simple that is easy to bolt stuff on. For our WW1 naval variant ships lose speed and firepower at critical (5 hit) points.

      For Ancient warfare, I'm fairly comfortable with the idea that once committed, units fight until they win or lose. Less so for more modern periods.

  2. An enthralling game report and useful OHW rule adaptation.

    1. Thanks. I really like the Six hit variant.

  3. Good looking action! In the combats with the variant, do units maintain the same durability, on average, as in the original? That is, do units tend to withstand four combats before either winning or being destroyed?

    1. Yes, the averages are the same, it is all just a bit less predictable. A mod which changes the average durability might break the scenarios.

      An average unit inflicts 1.33 hits per turn, so with six hits the target can last four turns, just as in the standard game.

  4. Nice report, and I enjoyed the 20mm plastics.
    I ended up using a different dice variant, I think it was the one from CPT Kobold, where you drop 3 dice hitting on a 3+ / 4+ / 5+, and reducing the number of dice for armor and terrain, doubling for flank / rear. It was therefore interesting to see your system which I'll have to try some time.

    One thing I found with the hills, is that once you outflank it, you don't need to attack with the front Unit unless they turn to face the flanking unit. I also don't give an uphill bonus unless the defender is entirely uphill of the attacker, so how one defines the hills can make them either good defensive positions or impregnable fortresses depending.

    I tend towards the former.