R.T. Smith
Amstrad and Spectrum 48K
Spectrum 128, +2, +3
Begin or Continue Battle
Load Game
Change Players
Change Settings
Save Game or Scenario
End Battle
Restart Battle
Giving Orders
Number of Orders Allowed & Delays
Automatic Moves
Hand to Hand Combat
Routing Units
Routing Generals
The Selection Programme
Size of Battle
Picking Armies
Choosing Forces
Allocating Commands
Auto Deploying
"Ancient Battles" is a wargame for 1 or 2 players designed to simulate pitched battles in the ancient
world from 3000BC until the fall of the western Roman empire in c 475AD. A number of scenarios are
provided allowing the refighting of several ancient battles. A range of army lists are also provided which
enable players to quickly choose armies from the forces available to a particular nation, so providing a
new battle for every game.
If you are playing the game for the first time, you are advised to read the rules as far as the end of the
“Battle” section and then try playing the “Hydaspes” scenario which is automatically loaded when you
load the battle program.
Amstrad and Spectrum 48K
Two tapes are provided, one containing the 2 parts of the program and the other containing 3
battle scenarios.
The battle program is used to actually fight battles. Only this program needs to be loaded if you
wish to play the scenarios provided. When loaded the program is ready to play the “Hydaspes”
scenario, but you can load a different one from the other tape if you wish.
On the other side of the tape to the “battle” program is the “selection” program. This is used
when you wish to set up your own battles.
Players should note that the “Chalons” scenario described in the notes and provided on the
Spectrum tape, is for use on the Spectrum 128K only.
Spectrum 128K, +2, +3
Only one of the tapes provided is needed. This has the 128K version of the program on one
side, and 4 battle scenarios on the other. The fifth scenario, “Hydaspes” is automatically loaded
with the game.
The 128K version of the program is a combination of the “battle” and “selection” programs
provided on the other tape for 48K use.
The game can be played from the keyboard, or with a joystick. When using the keyboard, the arrow
Keys are used for the 4 joystick directions and the Space Bar is used for the “FIRE” key. Spectrum
owners must select either joystick or keyboard control, but Amstrad players may use either. Some use of
the keyboard is still needed even if playing with a joystick.
NOTE: The Spectrum version of the “selection” program can only be operated with the keyboard.
NOTE: Amstrad users - Copy key may also be used as fire button and ESC may be used as Q.
Many features of the game are controlled from a series of menus. To select an item from the menu,
move the highlight bar to the desired item using the joystick or up and down arrow keys and select it by
pressing the fire button or “ENTER” or “SPACE” keys.
From time to time the program will put a small box on the screen informing a player that it is his turn.
Pressing any key will cause the program to proceed.
The main menu is presented when the “battle” program has loaded and can be returned to after any turn
of the battle. A number of options are provided to the players, depending on the stage of battle reached.
Several of the options are only applicable when designing your own battles and these are described in
that section.
Begin or Continue Battle
Choose this option to proceed with the battle.
Load Game
This allows one of the battle scenarios, or a previously saved game to be loaded from tape.
The program loads the next game on the tape, so select this option again if it is not the one
If the game was saved as a scenario, then players will be asked to select human or computer
control before beginning the game. If not, each side will be played by whoever controlled it
when the game was saved.
Change Players
This allows players to change the number of players, or switch sides either during the battle, or
after loading a saved game.
Change Settings
This brings up another menu that allows players to set the length of the battle, change the
visibility level and choose whether to use normal or free deployment. This latter choice must be
made before deployment in order for it to have any effect. The other 2 may be changed whilst
the battle is in progress. The menu shows the current settings and these can be changed by
selecting them in the usual way.
It also allows Spectrum players to select the type of joystick to be used.
Save Game or Scenario
This saves the state of play to tape so that it may be continued at a later date. If the game is
saved before the battle has started, it is saved as a scenario. Players must enter a name of up
to 8 letters for the filename.
End Battle
This is used to finish the battle before all the turns have been completed. It is useful when the
winner of the battle is clear, but players do not wish to continue it to the bitter end. The usual
debriefing information is given. A battle must be ended before it is possible to restart the battle,
load in a new scenario, or load the selection program.
Battles may be continued even after ending, by using the “Extend Game” selection. This is
useful if you wish to continue after the time limit for the game is up, or if you accidentally end
the battle.
This prints up a summary of forces and losses so far for both sides. Press any key to return to
the main menu. The information given is the same as is given when the battle is over.
Use of this facility is interesting, but remember it is not a luxury enjoyed by historical
Restart Battle
This option is only available after a battle has been ended. It allows players to begin a new
game without the bother of reloading from tape and also to fight the scenarios using the
historical forces, but with their own battle plan. The data for all units is reset and they must be
deployed before battle can begin again. See the section on “Deployment” for how to do this.
Before playing, it is necessary to choose whether each side will be human or computer controlled. Press
P for a human player and C (or computer control. Choose computer control for both sides to get a demo
As an alternative to total human or computer control, there is shared command. If this is selected, then
the player will control those units commanded by the commander in chief (C in C) and the computer will
control those commanded by subordinate generals (see below for allocating commanders). This is
particularly recommended for large games.
Demonstration games will pause for a few seconds at the end of every turn to allow players the chance
to return to the main menu, but will continue for the maximum number of turns if left uninterrupted.
The battle is played over a sequence of turns. During each turn actions are carried out in the following
sequence:— Computer checks which units are visible to each side.
— Players give orders to units.
— Computer carries out both sides’ orders.
— Computer adjudicates missile fire.
— Computer calculates effects of hand to hand combat.
— Computer checks morale of all units.
— Players are shown which units rout or must retreat.
— Units are given another chance to complete their orders.
Each side’s forces are represented by a number of units each of which represents a number of men.
Players manoeuvre their units to attempt to destroy or rout their opponent's units. Units are of various
different types and these are described in the “Unit Types” section.
At the beginning of each turn the computer works out which units are visible to the other side.
When giving orders, all your own units are displayed, but only those of the enemy that are
currently visible. During the movement phase, only units that are visible to the other side are
displayed. The level of visibility may be set to normal, poor or night using the “Change Settings”
option on the main menu.
When a general is with a unit, the symbol for the general is shown rather than the unit symbol.
Giving Orders
Every turn, each player is given an opportunity to change the orders of his units. Only the
player giving orders should look at the screen at this stage. Once ordered, units remember their
orders in subsequent turns, so orders only need to be given once even if they will take several
turns to complete. To select a unit to be ordered, move the cursor over it using the joystick and
press “FIRE”. Once selected, a unit may be ordered in several ways.
To order a unit to move, position the cursor over the desired objective and press “FIRE” again.
Pressing “FIRE” with the cursor over the unit leaves the unit with its old order.
Pressing “F” issues a follow order. The unit will follow the last unit that was given a move order.
The unit will move in such a way, that it stays in the same relative position as it currently is, to
the unit it is following. For example, to move a line of units, order 1 unit to move lo the desired
position and give the rest follow orders. The whole line will then move towards the objective at
the same rate as the originally ordered unit.
Pressing “R” changes the information in the right hand window to a report on the unit's state.
See below for reports.
Pressing “G” changes the selected unit to the general stacked with the unit, If there Is no
general with the unit, it has no effect. This enables the general to be ordered separately from
the unit he is with.
When all the orders have been given, press “Q”.
During their order phase players may also examine the map and enemy units. To do this move
the cursor over a unit, press the “FIRE” button and keep it held down. The unit will disappear,
the terrain under it will be shown and the unit’s name will also be displayed. If it is a friendly unit
it will be selected for ordering when the “FIRE” button is released. Simply click the “FIRE”
button again if you do not want to change its orders.
Players can use this information to gauge the quality of enemy units and to discover which unit
is underneath an enemy general.
Number of Orders Allowed and Delays
The number of orders a player may give each turn is limited by how many generals he has.
Each general gets 2 order points each turn, which he uses up giving orders. When a unit is
ordered, order points are deducted from that particular unit’s general. If a unit’s general has
used up his order points for the turn, then the unit may not be given any new movement orders.
Giving an order costs 1 order point if the ordered unit is a disciplined unit, 2 if not.
There are 2 exceptions to the above. Firstly, any unit that is with, or adjacent to, a general may
be ordered by him at no cost, even if the unit is under another general’s command. Secondly,
FOLLOW orders do not cost any order points. Units may be ordered in the above
circumstances, even when their generals have used up all their order points.
Orders do not necessarily take effect immediately. Delays may be a half or a full turn. Units
adjacent to a general react with no delay. Units within 15 squares of their commander react
with no delay if drilled and a half turn delay if undrilled. There is an extra half turn delay if
further away. Units more than 20 squares from their general always take a full turn to react.
During the first turn, each general has 4 order points and units react with no delay.
Stacking is a term meaning, having 2 units in the same square. Units may not stack, nor move
through each other (ie only 1 unit may ever be in each square), unless they are generals. Each
unit may be stacked with 1 general. If a general begins the game stacked with a unit, he will
automatically be given orders to follow it, so that he will stay with the unit throughout the battle,
unless given orders to the contrary.
During the movement phase units attempt to move towards their objectives. If this takes more
than one move, they will continue moving in subsequent turns until countermanded. The rate of
movement depends on unit type and terrain. In clear terrain the movement rates are as
follows:HI, SP, Bl
2 squares
3 squares
4 squares
5 squares
Units that are next to enemy units may not move. Units will also not move into squares adjacent
to enemy units that would heavily defeat them in combat.
Units that are 20 or more squares from all enemy move at double speed.
Automatic Moves
Units will make automatic moves in 2 circumstances. At the end of movement units that are
unengaged will make a support move of 1 square to attack an enemy that is engaging another
friendly unit. The second type of automatic move is an evade move. GEN, LC, HC, HCL, LCH
and LI type units contacted by a more powerful enemy unit will attempt to evade it by moving
Shooting is automatically adjudicated by the computer after movement. Units automatically
shoot at the nearest enemy unit. Troops with javelin may only fire 2 squares, those with bows
and slings may fire up to 4 squares, but are more effective at close range. Units with mixed
missile weapons fire at full strength if in javelin range, and half strength if not. Slings are more
effective than bows against armoured targets.
Units may only shoot at targets that are in the direction they are moving in. Units standing still
can shoot in any direction. Units in hand to hand combat cannot shoot, unless they are HI, SP
or BI type units armed with bows and were not in hand to hand combat at the start of the turn.
These may shoot at their assailants as they charge in.
Units with armour suffer less casualties from shooting than unarmoured units. Units without
shields suffer extra damage. Horse armour greatly reduces shooting casualties for cavalry.
Hand to Hand Combat
The computer adjudicates hand to hand combat after movement and shooting. Units fight
against all adjacent enemy units. If there are more than one of these the attack is split between
them. The casualties caused by an attack are affected by the following factors:— Strength of the attacking unit
— Number of units attacked.
— Terrain occupied by attacking and attacked units.
— Unit type of attacking and attacked units.
— Attack quality of attacker.
— Whether or not attacker is wild.
— Whether or not attacker is accompanied by a general.
— Fatigue level of attacker.
— Shooting casualties on attacker.
— Armour and shield of attacked unit
Units that suffer more casualties than they inflict in combat suffer extra fatigue. Units are not
directly forced to rout or retreat by the effects of hand to hand combat, but its outcome is the
most important factor considered when testing a unit’s morale.
After combat the computer checks the morale of every unit. This may cause some units to
retreat or break and rout. Players are shown those units that break or retreat. Two pieces of
information are given about them. Firstly, the losses suffered that turn and secondly, their
morale level. The higher this second figure is, the more unhappy a unit is. This allows players
to gauge how close a retreating unit is to breaking. Units break when their morale level is
greater than or equal to twice their own morale plus two. The factors taken into account in the
morale test are as follows:— Casualties suffered that turn.
— Whether unit is winning or losing hand to hand combat.
— How many consecutive times the unit has lost in combat.
— Whether lighting elephants or chariots.
— Whether infantry losing in combat to cavalry.
— Fatigue level of unit.
— Whether enemy units are behind units rear or flank.
— Whether unit is with a general.
— Whether a general can be seen in rout.
— Other friendly units that can be seen routing or being destroyed. Units are more disturbed
by seeing units of higher morale factor rout, than those of lower morale.
— Enemy units that can be seen in rout.
7.10 Routing Units
Units that are in rout do not fight and cannot be given orders. If attacked they suffer 4 times the
normal rate of casualties. Routing units attempt to move away from enemy units and towards
their own map edge. They are removed from play when they reach it.
Elephants and scythed chariots, however, will continue to fight while in rout, but will attack
friends and enemies indiscriminately.
7.11 Routing Generals
Routing or dead generals are unable to give orders. The units under their command are
transferred to that of the most senior surviving general. If this general is within 3 squares of
the unit then the transfer happens automatically, otherwise there is a 20% chance each turn of
each unit changing commander. This may mean that some units will not be able to be ordered
for some time after the demise of their general.
If playing with shared command, this may entail players taking control of previously computer
controlled units, or. If the C in C routs, the computer may assume complete control of the battle.
When all of a side's generals are dead or in rout, then no more orders may be given.
7.12 Winning
The computer makes no judgement as to the winner of the battle, although this will be readily
apparent. In cases of dispute look at the debriefing statistics. The number of points left is the
best guide to which side has possession of the battlefield and thus of the wounded. If one
player has at least 10% of the starting points more than his opponent remaining, he may claim
a great victory. The other player may claim that the battle was indecisive.
7.13 Reports
The information presented when a player brings up a report on a unit is as follows:— The name of the unit.
— The name of its commanding officer (CO).
— The unit’s type.
— The unit’s armour and whether or not ft has a shield. Units can be unarmoured, have
some armour (eg mail coat or breastplate) or have heavy (ie all over) armour. Cavalry
units with horse armour are described as barded.
If a unit is armed with missile weapons, their type will be shown, together with the percentage
so armed and their skill at shooting also expressed as a percentage. Weapon types are bows,
javelins (Jav), slings (Sl) and mixed bows and javelins (Mix).
STR gives the unit's strength in men, elephants or chariots depending on the unit type.
FAT is the unit's failure level. This affects fighting and morale. Units become fatigued by
shooting and fighting, particularly if losing or if forced to retreat. MOB gives the unit’s morale
factor. The higher this is the better the unit. 5 is average and 8 is exceptional. Following this is
the unit’s hand to hand fighting ability expressed as a percentage. This represents the unit’s
skill and aggression.
There are 3 further attributes that a unit may have. Disciplined (Dis) units are easier to order.
Drilled units react to orders faster than others. Wild units fight much more ferociously in combat
while fresh. Better morale units remain wild for longest, but no unit will count as wild after it has
been forced to retreat.
7.14 Debriefing
At the end of the battle, or when they select “Debriefing” from the main menu, players are
presented with statistics on the forces taking part in the battle, left on the battlefield and killed.
The difference between the numbers starting a battle and the total of those left and those killed,
is the number that have routed off the battlefield.
The figure for those killed also includes wounded which would account for about 80% of the
total. The winner of the battle would be able to rescue his wounded and most would be able to
fight again another day. The loser's wounded would either be taken prisoner or killed. In
addition to the losses suffered in the battle, the loser would lose many more men in the after
battle pursuit. The casualties suffered in pursuit would depend on a number of factors, such as
whether or not the loser has a fortified camp, the number of cavalry left on each side and the
amount of daylight remaining.
There are various different types of units, representing different types of troops.
Generals (GEN)
These represent senior officers and their staff. They are not fighting units,
but can join other units to encourage them.
Heavy Cavalry (HC)
Lancers (HCL)
Light Infantry (LC)
Cataphract Cav (CAT)
Heavy Infantry (HI)
Spearmen (SP)
Barbarian Inf (Bl)
Light Infantry (Lt)
Elephants (EL)
Heavy Chariots (HCH)
Light Chariots (LCH)
Scythed Chariots (SCH)
These are mounted shock troops. They form the main attacking force of
many armies, but can be withstood by quality infantry, particularly if spear
or pike armed. They are also hampered by difficult terrain.
These are HC equipped with a lance. They are superior to HC when fighting
These are mounted skirmishers, useful for wearing down an enemy, rather
than for close combat.
These are men in very heavy armour, riding in close formation. Very
powerful in attack, but less mobile than HC. Cataphracts are most often
found in oriental armies.
These are infantry fighting in close formation. They are hampered by
difficult terrain.
These are infantry fighting in close formation with long spears or pikes,
such as the Greek phalanx. They are good at resisting attack, especially
from cavalry and are very powerful in attack if used in a deep formation.
However, they are badly hampered by difficult terrain, and when attacked
Irom more than one direction.
These are infantry generally fighting in close formation, but equally at home
in any sort of terrain. Less able to stand up to cavalry than HI.
Foot skirmishers, fighting in a dispersed formation. They are generally weak
in close combat, unless in difficult terrain.
Elephants make a very powerful attacking force that can seldom be
withstood, but are unreliable and will often end up trampling their own
troops. Cavalry cannot fight against elephants, since the horses are
frightened of them.
These are chariots with several crew, used as shock troops. Generally used
by early armies, since their role is fulfilled by HC in later ones. Chariots are
useless in difficult terrain.
Smaller chariots used for skirmishing.
These are sturdily built chariots festooned with spears and blades of
various sorts, designed to break up enemy infantry formations. They would
charge straight at the enemy, then the driver would jump out just before
contact. In practice scythed chariots were seldom useful and like elephants,
could be turned back on their own army.
General GEN
Heavy Cavalry HC
Lancers HCL
Cataphracts CAT
Light Cavalry LC
Heavy Infantry HI
Spearmen SP
Barbarian Infantry BI
Light Infantry LI
Heavy Chariots HCH
Light Chariots LCH
Scythed Chariots SCH
Elephants EL
The battle takes place over a map representing the battlefield. The types of terrain shown on the map
are as follows:Clear Terrain
Has no effect on anything.
Gives some combat advantage to troops in it.
Conceal troops in or behind them. Also reduces fighting ability of troops in
them, apart from LI and Bl.
Hides troops behind them. Improves fighting ability of all troops on them.
Similar to hills, but reduces fighting ability of troops other than LI and Bl.
Similar in effects to woods, but less serious. Only hides LI.
Reduces effectiveness of troops other than LI and Bl. Impassable to
some troops.
Increases defensive ability of all troops and hides occupants.
Reduces fighting ability of all troops in them.
Impassable to all troops.
Terrain, other than hills, also slows movement of most troop types.
The scenarios that come with the game are provided for historical interest and to gel you started with the
game. The real purpose of the game is to allow players to construct their own scenarios. To this end,
players may choose their own forces and design their own maps.
The selection program is used for picking forces. It must be loaded before loading the “Battle”
The 128K version of the program loads the “battle” and “selection” programs both at once.
10.2 Size of Battle
The first thing that must be decided Is the number of points allowed for each army. 750 point
battles will last about half an hour. 1,000 point ones about an hour and 1,500 point ones about
2 hours.
The unlimited points option is useful for very large battles and for setting up refights of historical
battles. If unlimited points are chosen, then there may be a total of 136 (254 for 128K) units
split between the 2 armies. Otherwise each side may have up to 68 (127 for 128K) units each.
NOTE: The computer may take some time to do its calculations, especially visibility checking,
when playing with large numbers of units.
Picking Armies
Forces are selected by picking units from army lists that contain details of forces available to a
particular nation. Therefore, players must decide which nation each army will belong to. If
setting up a competitive 2 player game, then it will generally be best if players both decide
which nation each will represent before either selects their forces. This will allow them to pick
appropriate forces to face the opposing army. However, the composition of the army should be
chosen secretly.
Army lists are provided for 24 historical nations. Each list shows which forces are historically
available to that nation and specifies the maximum and minimum of each troop type that a
player may have. Players choose forces from this list up to the maximum number of points
allowed. To select a nation move up and down the list with the arrow keys (the list will scroll
when the highlight bar is at the edge of the screen) and press “ENTER” to select one.
The last entry in the list of nations allows players to load a new set of army lists from tape. This
option is provided to allow expansion and should be ignored for now. If it is selected
accidentally, a copy of the standard set of lists is provided on the tape after the “selection”
program and this must be loaded in.
NOTE: Amstrad users - Copy of the army lists are on the reverse side of the scenario tape.
10.4 Options
Some armies have a series of options that a player must choose from before selecting his
forces. These tailor the army list to a specific campaign or period of history, allow foreign allies,
or allow players to choose different historical interpretations of the army. To select an option,
move the highlight bar over it with arrow keys and press “ENTER” again to deselect it. More
than one option may be chosen for each army, but some options are mutually exclusive and
some may only be selected if others are also selected.
Those options currently selected are marked with a tick. Press ‘Q’ when satisfied with the
10.5 Choosing Forces
The forces available are grouped in a number of entries, each of which contains at least one
unit. Sometimes a player will get several units for each entry selected. Move up and down the
list with the up and down arrow keys.
Add one unit with the right arrow key and remove one with the left arrow key. Pressing
“ENTER” will print up details of the highlighted entry. This will show how many units the player
will receive for picking that entry and then give detailed information on the units similar to that
given if a report is requested during battle (see "Reports" above).
Press ‘Q’ when satisfied with the army.
After selecting forces players must choose the names of their generals. The computer provides
a list of suggestions for each army, or the players may enter their own names.
When forces have been chosen for both armies, players will be prompted to load the “Battle
program”. Once this has loaded, they may design a new map, or fight over the default map
Once the battle is over players may reload the selection program by selecting the appropriate
option from the main menu.
Before battle begins, player’s must deploy their armies on the battlefield. Each side may deploy a few
squares in from its map edge (exactly how far depends on the size of the map). Player 1 deploys at the
top of the map and player 2 at the bottom. Players may choose to deploy the army themselves, or allow
the computer to do it (auto deploying). The procedure for autodeploying is described below.
If “free deployment” is chosen from the “settings menu”, then players may deploy units anywhere. This is
useful for setting up ambushes and defensive battles. To deploy a unit, place the cursor over it and
press “FIRE”, then move the cursor to the desired position and press “FIRE” again. If the unit is within
your deployment zone, the unit will be repositioned. Repeat this process until all units are positioned as
desired, then press “Q”.
11.1 Allocating Commands
If an army has more than one general then players must allocate units to be under the control
of each general. General 1 is assumed to be the C in C and all units are initially under his
command. During this phase the computer will allow players to allocate units to the command
of each subordinate general. To do this, move the cursor over the unit and press “FIRE”. The
unit will be highlighted lo show that it is under control of the current general. Press “FIRE” again
to return the unit to the C in C’s control. Press “Q” when you have finished allocating units to
the current general. Units of allied nations which have their own general, will automatically be
placed under his command. Ally generals may not command any other units.
During play each general may only issue a limited number of orders and these only to units
under his command. It is, therefore, most sensible to allocate the units in the army fairly equally
between generals. Even if a general is stacked with a unit, it is still necessary to explicitly make
it part of his command.
11.2 Auto Deploying
If auto deployment is chosen, the computer will automatically deploy that side’s army and
allocate commanders. Before deployment the player will be presented with a list of battleplans
listed in decreasing order of preference
(as judged by the computer). Each plan consists of an action for the left and right wings of the
army and the centre. To select a plan, move the highlight bar up and down with the arrow keys
and press “FIRE” to select the highlighted plan.
There are 4 possibilities for each part of the army. Attack is an all out cavalry charge. An attack
in the centre is a charge with elephants cataphracts and chariots. Advance is an attack with
infantry. Skirmish means deploy light
cavalry and infantry and harass the enemy. Defend means do not advance and deploy to take
advantage of terrain.
One general will be allocated to command each wing and the centre. The C in C will command
whichever part of the army is attacking and will command the centre in preference to the wings.
Left and right refer to the left and right of the computer screen, so that strictly
speaking, the action chosen for the left of player 1’s army will actually be performed by its right
If players do not use the auto deployment option with shared control, the computer will attack
with its units, otherwise it will act as required by the deployment plan chosen.
Before forces are deployed, players may redesign the map of the battlefield. This is achieved from the
map design menu, which allows players to start a new map, edit the existing one and save and load
them to and from tape. When a new map is being designed, players must first choose the size. Maps
should be about 30-35 wide for 1,000 points battles and correspondingly larger for bigger battles.
Depths should be 20-35 squares. Maps may be up to 99 squares wide and 99 deep, but the width
multiplied by the depth must not exceed 1,500 (5,000 for 128K). Large maps can be created with the
128K version and although these are not useful for battles, they can be used to simulate pre-battle
When editing a map use the joystick to move the cursor around and press the indicated keys to place
terrain. Pressing the “FIRE” button will repeat the last piece of terrain placed Use the “C” key to place
clear terrain.
The program provides the facility to load in different sets of army lists, so you may write your own if you
wish. However, doing so is a difficult and time consuming task. Anybody attempting it should be a
proficient BASIC programmer and understand the POKE instruction. Details on how to construct your
own lists can be obtained by writing to CCS and enclosing a stamped addressed envelope.
This program probably isn’t what many people were expecting me to write as a follow up to my previous
efforts. However, the ancient period has always been my main wargaming interest and it’s overdue for
computerisation. The basis of the game is firmly derived from traditional tabletop wargaming practice
though the play is rather different.
The idea of representing units as squares on a square grid goes back to a boardgame that I first
designed several years ago and which has gradually evolved since. This proved the principle that even
though the units were indivisible lumps, the overall effect still looked like a battle, and also provided a
quick game. I started work on a computer version at the beginning of 1987 (since I wanted something to
write on my shiny new PC1512), working on it just when I felt like it. As it progressed it became clear
that it worked very well, so at the start of 1988 I decided to do a commercial version. This was produced
first on the PC1512, and then rewritten for Spectrum and Amstrad CPC range.
The main design aim of the game was to produce a game that would give a good overall feeling of an
ancient battle, and be quick to play. Although the speed of play depends to a large extent on individual
players, several factors mean that there is little advantage in playing slowly. The built in intelligence of
the units means that there is little need to direct the actions of your troops in detail, as they can usually
sort things out better then you can. The limitations on the number of orders allowed are another
inducement to keep things simple by forcing players to move troops in blocks, rather than playing with
individual units. Also, since you cannot check on where a unit is going once you have ordered it, players
who try unrealistically clever manoeuvering will soon find themselves in a realistic mess. The game
scale is 100 yards per square, meaning that infantry in eight ranks are in units of 800. This scale was
chosen to allow any ancient battle to be fought without having to scale down the number of troops
involved. Some battles are too big to fit in the 48K version, but a 128K Spectrum can handle 100,000
men per side. This scale is also the largest that can be used and still allow bows to shoot several
squares. However, bow range still had to be exaggerated slightly. The range of 4 squares means that
there are 300 yards between the front of the firing unit and the nearest part of the target, whereas 200
would be a more realistic figure. The main drawback of this scale is that it is difficult to represent small
forces such as the armies of individual Greek city states. The army of the largest would be represented
by a dozen units on this scale.
There is another drawback involved with using fixed sized units of any size, and that is that the unit sizes
do not always accord very well with actual army organisations. For some armies I’ve varied the unit
sizes slightly to accord with the historical units, but where this would give units too small or too large to
be effective, I’ve given the army standard sized units and ignored history. I think this is reasonable, since
it’s more important to give the right feel to each army, than to exactly model its internal divisions.
The army lists are a very important part of the game design, since they make it realistic to set up a new
battle each time. It is true that they prevent players having complete control over force selection, but
without them only a dedicated few would bother to design their own battles. My original plan was to
include army lists for the period up to 1200AD, unfortunately though, collating them proved to be a very
time consuming business, so I decided that it I wanted the game to be released this year I’d have to limit
my ambitions. However, if the program is successful I will produce a follow up with armies for the period
from 500-1200AD, and with an extended game system to better reflect this later era. Anyway, I hope you
have fun with the game. Of those that I have written this is my personal favourite, and I would like to
recommend watching the computer play itself, as a fascinating way to waste a lot of lime.
Bob Smith
The essence of a successful battle lies in Ihe commander's initial plan. It is important to have a clear
plan before deployment, taking into consideration which troops the enemy has and how they will be
used. Have a clear strategy for dealing with them and remember, that the best plans are the simplest
It is best to stick to the methods used by ancient commanders when drawing up your troops. Unless you
have a very clear idea of the advantages to be gained from unusual deployments, your army will
probably end up in a shambles! Keep all your troops together as isolated groups can easily be destroyed
Remember, that the straight line best allows troops to support each other - either by making a support
move onto the enemy’s flank - or by shooting.
During the opening moves of the battle most of your troops will be using “follow” orders. There are a few
points that should be borne in mind when deciding which unit will lead. The choice lies between a unit on
the flank of the line or in the centre. If you intend to make a straight advance, it is best to lead with a unit
in the centre of the line since end units are most likely to be contacted by odd enemy units. If the end
unit is held up without the rest of the line being engaged, the whole advance is halted. However, if you
intend to advance diagonally, you should lead with a wing unit, since the adjacent units prevent a unit in
the middle of the line from making any sideway moves. Don’t be tempted into making wholesale
redeployments when you see your opponent’s line up. If you do, you are likely to be caught with them
only half completed.
As the battle progresses, you will have more opportunity to make tactical moves with single units. If a
general is at the decisive spot, taking close control of them can be very effective. You should try to get
two or more of your units to attack one enemy and retreat with those of your own that are so threatened.
Such manoeuvering is usually only possible with infantry, since cavalry units evade when attacked from
two sides. The only sure way to win a cavalry melee is to have a clear edge in quantity and or quality.
Whether moving units en masse, or making delicate tactical adjustments, the positioning and survival of
your generals is crucial. To begin with make sure you have enough. One general per 500 points of
troops should be considered a minimum for small battles. Having a general at the critical point in the
battle can be very useful. This allows for not only better tactical control, but increases the morale and
fighting ability of your troops. Remember, however, that if you have no surviving generals, you cannot
give any more orders, so try to keep one in a safe place during the early stages.
Do not despise light troops. Whilst it is true that at some moments they will seem irrelevant, used well,
they can be devastating. Their ability to retreat from danger means that they can be left to their own
devices while you concentrate elsewhere. Used singly they can keep up a steady stream of casualties
on the enemy, but won’t have any dramatic effect. However, by concentrating their shooting on one
enemy, they will force it to missile fire and the shooting of one unit in support can often be decisive in
cavalry melees.
Published by
Cases Computer Simulations Ltd
14 Langton Way, London SE3 7TL
© 1988 R.
14 T. Smith
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