We've been playing a few games of SPQR recently and the more games we play, the more we get a grasp on the intricacies of the rules. At first, we played with small units, no more than a few ten model units per side. Now we've expanded our gameplay and are playing with larger units.
One thing is for certain, the game is very bloody. Our games typically involve one side has been completely wiped out or both sides being reduced to a handful of figures. Given the losses we were regularly sustaining, we were stumped how to make a campaign game out of SPQR. Nevertheless, we still want to give it a go.
Our most recent game was an escort mission. Ben took Praetorian guardsmen (and why not? They are just slightly more expensive than ordinary legionaries and have two hits/wounds). Mal and I took Picts (treated as Gauls). As we outnumbered Ben by over three to one, we were confident of victory.
The Romans had the simple mission of getting their
stolen goods, err, luxuries liberated for the Emperor off the table before the locals could stop them.
Unlike previous games, Ben lumped his dozen or so Romans into one big group. This had an unintended side effect. As the game mechanics work, you activate one unit and do all their actions, before moving onto the next. So one unit would charge the Romans, and by the rules, they would all fight back. The next unit would then charge the Romans, who then according to the rules also fought back.
Each successive wave of attackers would allow the entire Roman Praetorian unit to fight back, again and again. The results were devastating, while each wave would pick off one or two Romans, the Picts were generally slaughtered by the more skilled and armoured Praetorians. Eventually, after throwing everything at them, the Pics ran out of men.
Had the Picts been facing ordinary Legionaries, then Rome would have lost. The two wounds of the Praetorians made a great difference, as did having them as one big unit. We are definitely going to have to play a few more games of SPQR yet, but it does seem these skirmish rules favour the larger units.