Jackson Gamers' Adaptation of the Old Ral Partha "Rules by Ral"

Ancients by Ral

Last updated 03/10/08


The ancient battles described in these rules are fought between armed groups of men led by valiant leaders represented by miniature soldiers. These groups, which are called "armies, are composed of "units" who shoot with their bows or and slings, maneuver, melee (fight hand-to hand) and test their morale. The units are composed of "figures," six for mounted units (cavalry) and twelve for foot (infantry).

To play this game you will need toy soldiers, several six-sided dice (D6) and at least one twenty-sided die (D20). Rulers or tape measures will be needed to measure movement and fire distances. If the figures are mounted in multiples on bases (as opposed to individually) you will need rings or markers to denote casualties.

The Units

This game is fought (played) between two or more armies. Each army is composed of two or more units. A unit of infantry (foot figures) contains 12 miniature soldiers. A unit of cavalry (figures on horseback) contains six soldiers on six horses. Each army also contains one or more leaders, with an equal number of leaders on each side. Each unit moves and fights separately.

The various units in this game are divided into two broad types: Cavalry (those who fight from horseback) and Infantry (those who fight on foot). Each of these types is further subdivided by armor and training into Heavy, Medium, and Light. Specialized and relatively rare units such as Elephants, Chariots or Artillery are dealt with by "additional rules" below.

This game is played in turns. Each turn is composed of a series of events which must be performed in the proper sequence. Each turn is the same, repeating the events. Each event must be completed before moving on to the next event. The events, in order, which make up a turn, are as follows:

Event I Endurance

a. Test to see if any units who have lost 50% or more can remain in the game.
b. Test to see if the army as an entirety bolts from the field.

Event II Shooting (If in range)

a. Resolve shooting
b. Test morale of units which take casualties
c. Test for officer casualty if officer is attached to unit which takes casualties.

Event III Movement (each side in turn)

a. Determine who moves first
b. Move all units of player moving first.
c. Resolve any reserved fire of other player, test morale if casualties
d. Move all units of player moving second.
e. Resolve any reserved fire of other player, test morale if casualties

Event IV Melee

a. Resolve all melee combats.
b. Test morale of units which take casualties.
c. Test for officer casualty if officer is attached to unit which takes casualties

Event V Morale

a. Attempt to rally any units routed on previous turn.
b. Remove from field any units which attempted to rally and did not.

When all of the events in a turn are completed that turn is over. Let's look at each of the events in detail,

Event I Endurance

In Event I of each turn, any unit which has lost 50% or more of it's strength, routed or not, must test morale on the "Endurance row" to remain on the field. If it fails it is removed from play, unless a leader figure is attached to the unit.

The entire army as a whole has a morale value of 1. As long as a D6 roll can equal or exceed that morale value the army will not bolt from the field. The morale value is modified by:

Units that have shot for 2 or more turns must roll a D6 to test for ammunition exhaustion (see under "Additional rules" below).

Event II Shooting (If in range)

The Jackson gamers tend to use the "Wargames Research" booklets as gospel as to which units carried, bows, slings or javelins. Most units which shoot for a living (as opposed to units which live to melee!) are light troops. A few may be medium units, and a very few may be heavy troops. Units armed with Bows, Slings or Javelins may shoot during Event II. A shooting unit must shoot at only one target, and the target must be the closest opposing unit.

The target unit must be within 12 inches of at least one soldier in the shooting unit for bows or slings, and within 4" for javelins. At least half' of the soldiers in the firing unit must have a clear shot at the target unit. Archers may shoot over a friendly unit but at a -1 penalty to the shooting die. Archers may not fire over woods. Slings and javelins may not "fire" overhead.

To determine hits on the target unit, the shooter rolls 1 D6. If the shooting unit is infantry, the die roil number is reduced by 1 for each two figures of casualties that the shooting unit has suffered. If the shooters are cavalry, the die roll number is reduced by 1 for each figure casualty the shooting unit has suffered. After the die roll has been adjusted, divide die result by:

Target is Light troops - divide by 2 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)
Target is a Medium troops - divide by 3 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)
Target is a Heavy troops - divide by 4 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)

This result is the number of casualties which the target unit suffers.

Example: A unit of infantry archers is shooting at a unit of heavy infantry. The archers have lost five figures earlier in the game (there are seven left). The archers roll a 6. This 6 is reduced by 2 since the archers have lost four, but not six casualties. The modified die roll is now 4 (6-2=4). Divide this 4 by 3 since the target unit is a heavy infantry unit. One heavy infantryman is killed since 4 divided by 3 = 1.33, and the fraction would be rounded up if .5 or greater results in 1.

There is no shooting into, or out of, a melee.

Light infantry which shoot in Event II may only move half their normal movement in Event III. Medium or Heavy infantry which shoot in Event II may not move at all in Event III. Any cavalry which infantry which shoot in Event II may only move half their normal movement in Event III.

A medium or light infantry unit which is a target unit, and loses one or more figures from bow fire, must check morale. When this happens the owner rolls l D6 and consults the morale chart listed in Event V under this unit type column. Heavy troops do not test morale because of casualties due to bow fire. Any unit that does not pass the morale check must be turned 180 degrees (faced in the opposite direction), and moved one full move away. This move is immediate and mandatory.

Light troops may only attack other light troops in melee, but may be attacked by anyone. Leaders which are attached to a unit, which takes casualties by shooting may themselves become a casualty. Roll a D20. If the result is 19 or 20 then the lead is hit.

Units that have shot for 2 or more turns must roll a D6 to test for ammunition exhaustion in Event I of each turn. (see under "Additional rules" below).

Terrain Effects on Shooting

Woods - Only light infantry units may move in or through woods. If they are the shot at, the shooting unit subtracts 1 from the die roll.

Walls or Hedges If a unit which is behind a wall or hedge is shot at, the shooting unit subtracts 1 from the die roll .

River - Bow or sling armed units in Rivers or streams may not shoot. Units armed with Javelins may throw normally.

Event III Movement

The two opposing sides each roll a D6. The side with the higher roll may choose to move first or second. The first player then moves his units as he wishes (except those routed, locked in melee, or which have shot in Event II of that turn). Each unit may move up to the maximum distance permitted for that type of unit. Types and their respective maximum movement are as follows:

Leaders and Light Cavalry - 18"
Medium Cavalry - 12" (Charge 18")
Heavy Cavalry - 10" (Charge 15")
Medium and Light Infantry - 8"
Heavy infantry - 6"

Units other than heavy infantry may change its direction without penalty. Heavy infantry may make no more than a 45 degree direction change if moving, but may change direction freely if it does not otherwise move. A unit cannot move through another unit unless routing. A unit needs at least two inches clear space to move between two other units, unless routing. If a unit is touching an opposing unit it is in melee. It may not move until the opposing unit is eliminated, or forced to run away from the melee. An un-rallied, routed unit cannot be voluntarily moved.

A routed unit attacked by an enemy unit is destroyed instantly.

When the first player is done moving, the second player moves. Movement rates and rules are the same as for the first player. Remember, he may not move units which are in melee, including units which were just put in melee during the first player's move.

A leader may either move with the unit he is commanding, or move to command a new unit, but not both.

Terrain Effects on Movement

Hills - A unit moving up a hill level loses 2" of movement.

Woods - Only peasant units may move in or through woods; they move at full speed.

Walls or Hedges - A unit crossing loses 2" of movement.

Small River/stream - A unit coming to a river must stop. On its next turn the unit may move across the river, but must stop on the opposite bank. Thereafter it moves normally unless re-crossing the river.

Event IV Melee Melee is hand-to-hand combat between opposing units. It occurs when a player moves a unit so that it touches an opposing unit. The first two units in melee are always face to face. Once two opposing units are face to face, they stay that way until one or both are eliminated or forced to run away. Additional units may move to touch the flank (side) of a unit in melee or they may move to touch it in the rear. These flank and rear attacks are especially beneficial (more on this later).

Remember, a unit needs at least two inches of space to move between two other units. This two inch space also applies to the ability to move your unit onto an opposing unit's flank or rear. You must have the space to attack there.

The first two opposing units in contact are always face to face. In the diagram below, the numbers show the order in which the units move. Assume that White moves first this turn: First white unit "1" moves face to face White stationary black unit "S", then White unit "2" attacks the black unit "S" in the flank. Now white unit "3" attacks the Black unit "S" in the rear. Finally, in his part of the turn, the second player (Black) moves his unit "4" to attack White unit "2" in the rear.

Each unit gets to fight the enemy unit it is facing. Units attacking on an enemy flank or rear are never attacked back by that enemy unit. All combat occurs simultaneously. Casualties are not removed until all fighting is done.

Note that routed units are always facing away from any opponents and thusly never get to fight back if attacked in melee.

Each unit rolls lD6. The die roll is modified (see below). Then the die roll is divided by:

Target is Peasants or Yeomen (mounted or on foot) - divide by 2 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)
Target is a foot knight unit - divide by 3 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)
Target is a mounted knight unit - divide by 4 (round all fractions of .5 or above up)

This result is the number of casualties which the target unit suffers.

Melee Modifiers:
Unit which shot in Event II in this turn -1
Attacking uphill -1
Attacking from rear +2
Heavy vs. Medium or light troops +1
Medium vs. light troops +1
Each 2 casualties on an infantry unit -1
Each casualty on a Mounted unit -1
Leader with unit +1

Leaders commanding (with) a unit when that Unit suffers casualties in melee must test to see if the leader is killed or captured. Roll a D20. If the result is 20, the leader is killed. If 19, he has been captured by the enemy.

Melee will continue from turn to turn until one, or both opposing units are eliminated, or forced to run away.

NOTES on Melee

When a unit charges another unit, the "target unit" does not change frontage to meet the charging unit - the charging unit must adjust it's facing to conform to that of the target.

EXCEPTIONS to the above:

  1. If both are cavalry, the target will countercharge (unless morale failure) and both will meet somewhere in the middle. The target unit will move out 6" and the facing direction of both units will be "fudged" so that they are the same. If the charging unit is too close target unit cannot move 6", then they will meet half-way.
  2. If the target unit is flanked (Charging unit started behind a line parallel to and extending from the facing of the target unit) Then it must pass morale to stand. If it routs, it heads to the rear. If intercepted by the charging unit it fights as routed.

    If it does not rout, a mounted target unit will act as in 1) above. A foot unit may turn to face or try to change formation. Changing formation requires passing a simple test (1,2,3 = no, 4,5,6 = yes) and if failed the unit stands in place without changing facing or formation.

Knights must always attempt to fight other knights. Only if there is no other target, may knights charge non-knightly units, however, if a leader is attached to the knights, he can direct them to attack non-knightly units.

Terrain Effects on Combat
Hills - A unit moving up a hill to close with its opponent is -1 to the melee die roll.
Woods- Only light infantry units may move in or through woods; they move at full speed.
Wallsor Hedges A unit crossing the wall or hedge to close with its opponent is -1 to the melee die roll.
River - A unit moving out of water to close with its opponent is -1 to the melee die roll.
Stakes - Minus -1 for foot, -2 for cavalry, attacking through stakes. (See "Additional rules" below).


The Jackson gamers units are organized in units of 6 bases.


  1. Skirmish Infantry are never formed.
  2. Once any unit deploys from column into line, it must remain in line. Note that formed Medium Infantry in support are placed behind the supported unit.
  3. Besides functioning as other Medium Infantry, Barbarians may be organized into two special formations: Two or more units may form side by side in a "shield wall"; as long as a unit remains immobile, it counts as heavy. A barbarian unit may form a "wedge" as long as it is supported by another barbarian unit to its rear; a wedge counts all figures plus those of the supporting unit and has no flanks.

Event V Morale

Few soldiers fought to the death. Most ran away when things went bad. In each turn, during the Morale Event, each unit which lost at least one figure in the Melee Event must check Morale. On the top row of the morale chart below find the type of unit checking its morale. In the left-hand column find the enemy unit it is fighting. Apply all relevant modifiers.

Heavy Cavalry
Medium Cavalry
Light Cavalry
Heavy Infantry
Medium Infantry
Light Infantry

X = need not check against this type of attacker.

Morale Modifiers
Attacked in flank -1
Attacked in rear -2
Commanded by leader* +1
Lost 1/2 or more of soldiers in unit -2 (Endurance column already reflects this modifier)
Lost commanding leader that turn -1

If the checking unit is fighting more than one type of unit, pick the highest rated enemy (closest to the top of the chart.)

Cross reference the column below the checking unit with the row across from the highest rated enemy unit. You will locate the number you must equal, or beat with one die roll in order to remain in melee.

Roll 1d6. Modify it by the Morale Modifiers listed below the Morale chart. If you make your roll, your unit will continue to fight. If the unit fails to equal or beat the Morale check number, it immediately turns 180 degrees (faced in the direction) and moves one full move to the rear.

Routed Units

This concludes the turn. The next turn begins with Event I. Continue until one army begs for mercy!


You may wish to fight battles between armies of different composition. The following is a point system for creating different armies.

For small beginning engagements, 150 point armies, with one leader per side should suffice. if there are move players, or you are move experienced, you can use more points (300-500) and more leaders per side.

Figure Type Point Cost
Light Troops 1 point per figure
Medium Troops 2 points per figure
Heavy Troops 3 points per figure
Mounted Troops - Hvy or Mdm 2 points additonal
Mounted Troops - Light 1 point additional
Able to shoot 1 point additional

Slingers may not be mounted



Army I

Army II (Parthian)

Army III (Roman)


Camels - Units on camels will be treated like units on horses. We understand that the ill-tempered beasts smelled bad to the horses, but we are just not going to get into that.

Artillery - While artillery was mainly siege weaponry and built on the spot, regular armies sometimes used light artillery in the field. A unit of 2 or 3 bolt shooters with 6 crewmen will roll 1 D6 for fire like a normal archery unit.

Elephants - Elephants were odd units, often losing a battle for their owners, but ancient armies seemed to love trying to get the beasts into combat. Presumably they were terrifying for their size.

The Camp - Each army should have a camp represented by a group of tents or an area surrounded by field fortifications. This should be located to the army's rear, within 6" of it's rear table edge. If using limited ammunition rules, additional supplies of arrows and javelins are kept in the camp.

Ammunition - Usually the Shooters in an army began to run low on ammunition and become fatigued after firing for a long time.

Obstacles & Works - Archers may emplace stakes before the game begins. If they move from this position, the stakes are of no further account in the battle and are removed from the game. The archers are just too busy to pull them up - they were pounded in pretty well before the game began! Stakes add +1 in hand-to-hand fighting vs. enemy foot troops and +2 vs. enemy mounted troops who are attacking through the stakes.

Field works which are constructed before the start of the game are the same as stakes, except that enemy mounted troops may not attack through the field works. Field works are not removed from the game if the occupying units move from that position.

Evasion - Evasion is the process of not standing to fight, but retiring in good order in front of the enemy. Evading units may only move half of a normal move in the next turn. Units may not evade their own type. Notes:

The Game-Master

The Jackson gamers almost always have an "umpire" or "Game-master" who runs the game but is not a player. He makes final rules interpretations, and these interpretations stand during the course of the game even if patently wrong. He decides what terrain is major or minor obstacles. He adjudicates any hidden movement or hidden deployment. His word is law during the game.

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