Copyright 1998 - T. Sheil & A. Sheil - All Rights Reserved
Castle Cracker began in the mid-1970s, when our crew wanted a fast-action, fun medieval game without the fuss or errors of other rules. We have already released the basic rules on our website. What follows are advanced rules for serious commanders.
Huns and Mongols - except when sieging, Mongols and Huns are a mounted army, organized in units of 10 (9 men, 1 sub-commander), 30 (10 units plus 1 commander) and 100 (9 units - not counting commanders of 30 - plus a chief, sub-chief, three guards, a bugler, drummer and three messengers) At least 50% of Mongo land Hunnic armies are light mounted archers. The others are medium cavalry.
Dismounted, the Mongol/Hun forces fight as light and medium infantry.
Turks - the organization of Turks has some strange quirks reminiscent of Soviet forces! Maybe the Russians learned a few tricks! Turks are organized in units of nine men with a sub-commander. Two units combine with a commander, bugler, messenger and two guards to make a company. For every three companies, you need an administrative unit. This unit has a chief, sub-chief, four guards, two messengers, two musicians plus a ten man unit (nine men plus sub-commander) of military police. The MP unit remains behind regular units to cut off retreats. Traditionally, the Turk MPs are armed with maces and clubs.
Bashi Bazouks are special units of light troops used as cannon fodder. They are organized into twenty-man units (19 men, one sub-commander) and are used to attack the enemy or lead the siege. Normally, an MP unit is placed behind the Bashi Bazouks.
Turkish heavy troops are rare - they are mainly light and medium troops.
Vikings: Vikings are organized into groups of fifteen - 14 men with a sub-commander. Every three to four units has a commander with his four retainers. (This is a shipload of men) Three to four shiploads have the jarls and his heavy squad of nine men. Viking forces are mainly medium troops, with some light archers and occasional groups of heavy foot and cavalry.
Vikings can use the wedge, a series of wedges (like serrated teeth), or several wedges combined into one grand wedge.
Romans and Greeks - organized by tens (nine men plus a commander), twenty-fives (two "tens" plus a centurion, aquila, musician and two runners) and hundreds (four twenty-fives plus a tribune, aquila, three musicians and three runners).
Romans can use the tortoise and wedge. Greeks can use the phalanx - a charging hedgehog.
Landsknecht and Swiss - organized into units of 13 (12 men, one sub-commander), with three units led by a commander, two musicians and two runners. These are light troops who fight hand-to-hand as mediums. Because of their pikes, they fight as heavies when they charge. However, when attacked from sides or rear, or attacked by missiles, they take casualties and lights.
Irish and Scots: these are light and medium troops, organized by town or tribe. There must be one officer per fifteen men. Celts use thrown weapons - the long dart. They are mainly lights with a few mediums.
Later Scots (13th to 14th century) may use the schiltron, a phalanx. These are organized as the Landsknechts. They are treated as medium troops, but when charging they act as heavies.
We only distinguish between polearms and hand-held weapons. Some games differentiate between different weapons in man-to-man combat, implying that a mace bites more than a hand-axe, or a two-hand sword kills better than a falchion. Obviously, those people have never been in a real fight.
Polearms make a difference, as groups of pikemen, spearmen, etc. can act like a rolling hedgehog. They can fend off cavalry. However, in close combat, man-to-man (as in a siege or raid) things are different. A polearm has a length advantage, granted, but what about the advantages of an opponent experienced in a specific weapon?
Let's face it: a fighter goes into battle with the weapon with which he is personally most skilled. It isn't the mace or axe, but the man who is particularly proficient with a mace or axe. If I'm great with an axe but relatively unused to a mace, will I suddenly have a better chance of damaging the enemy by choosing a mace? NO! If I'm good with that axe, I might be able to do more damage than any mediocre mace-man on the field.
Treat each figure's weapon as the item which he prefers, and nothing more. A two-hand sword is no advantage against a man who's extremely skilled with another weapon.
In later medieval warfare, some pole-arms have an advantage in man-to-man combat. A spear is not as good as a halberd, glaive or other nightmare-on-a-stick. A man with a polearm gets a +1 advantage in man-to-man provided he has room to wield it. In other words, on a castle wall or indoors he doesn't get the advantage.
Projectile weapons have certain nuances that need to be discussed. Here's the deal:
Though Asiatic bows were powerful, Arabs, Turks and Mongols only pulled back as far as the chest. Therefore, they only hit as hard as the standard bow.
The longbow fires 1/3 further and hits +1 better than the short bow.
The plain crossbow fires as long as the short bow, but hits +1. It fires every turn.
The heavy crossbow fires every other turn. It has the range of a longbow and hits at +2 at close range, +1 at medium range.
A shield-armed troop facing the archer causes the missile to hit at -1. If the archer fires from the troop's right or rear, however, the advantage is lost.
Formations help, but it takes half a move to change formation. Changing face is easy, but changing to another formation is not. If a leader is present, a unit can change face or formation easily. Without him, a unit can only stay in place or form a defensive shield ring.
All units can form a line or square. Vikings, Saxons, North Germans, men-at-arms, Romans, Greeks, Scots and Turks can form a shield wall. Vikings, North Germans, men-at-arms, and Romans can form a wedge. Greeks, Scots and Landsknechte/Swiss can form a phalanx. Romans can form into a tortoise, making them impervious to the short bow. All troops can form a defensive shield ring.
Missile attacks against the front or right of a wedge, shield wall and shield ring are at -1. Note that both the left and right angles at the point of the wedge are the front.
A line or square can be broken by any other formation. Keep in mind that those troops who can form a shield wall are considered as such when in a line or square, except when they've lost their commander.
So what does a formation mean?
1) Cavalry lose all cavalry bonuses against a formation.
2) Formed troops defend at the next higher class
3) When fighting formed troops, unformed units fight as the next lower class
4) Formations stop charges by unformed units.
5) Here's how they work:
Morale is no fun. It has ruined many a game. Still and all, we have to make some concessions to leadership, etc.
Troops who lose 50% or more of their forces in the first round of a melee automatically retreat R1 in good order, unless they lose their commander. If he's gone, they retreat a full move and lose any formation bonus.
A leaderless unit will hold for one turn. If it is made of levies, peasant, bashi bazouks or light troops, it will begin to fall back the next turn and will continue to do so until a new commander takes over. Better units will hold or head to the nearest leader; they will defend if attacked, however.
To remain in combat, there must be one leader for every 20 men. He must be within R1 of troops to count. Extra troops will act as if they are leaderless. A higher commander can take charge of the excess troops.
Now you know why there are sub-chiefs, etc. These men can be dispatched to take over a leaderless unit.
It pays to place the commander behind the line. Commanders only fight when everyone else has been hit.
It pays to have units close enough that a unit which loses its commander or gets run off can be rallied.
It pays to use peasants, the levy and bashi-bazouks as cannon fodder. Get what use you can from them, because they don't stay around for very long.
Winning is a matter of hitting him first, with the most.
Winning is easier if you can split up the enemy and grind him up piecemeal.
Winning is easier if your enemy bunches up so bad that he can be outmaneuvered.
These are all man-to-man combat. Leaders are not essential to keep men in the fight. For defenders, retreat is nearly impossible, anyway. However, the normal complement of commanders and chiefs out to be in place to keep order. A chief is necessary to command the overall operation.
These are only very basic rules for using Ancient and Medieval troops. Send any comments or suggestions to us
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