Thursday, November 16, 2017

Timurid Persians vs Classic Greeks at Fall In

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Lancaster Host, Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Event:    HMGS's Fall-In Round 2
Players: Phil Gardocki running Timurid Persian
                  Kurt Holmes, running Classical Greek
Game System: L' Art de la Guerre, 25mm, 200 points

The Forces:
The Persians, lead by Timur "I'm Feeling Better" Tamerlane (Strategist), Babur (Brilliant), and Ulugh Beg (Competent)

      4 Persian Heavy Cavalry, Impact, Bow (elite)
      4 Persian Heavy Cavalry, Bow (elite)
      4 Turkomans, Light Cavalry, Bow (elite)
      1 Light Infantry Bow
      2 Persian Archers, Bowmen (Mediocre)
      2 Timurid Archers, Bowmen
      2 Hostages, Levy Expendable, (Mediocre)
      2 Stampeding Herds
      1 Elephant (skinny)

Probably 3 competent generals leading a force of 12 Hoplite heavy spearmen, 6 light  foot, 4 medium foot, 2 light cavalry, and a medium cavalry.


Greeks, what can you say?  Hoplites are just the ideal cavalry killers. Even if one is disordered, cavalry still only hit it for a zero to a one.  Then it's down to the advantage in numbers vs. elite (maybe) and armor (also maybe).

The Board:
As the terrain went down, I realized that all of Kurt's terrain fit in an envelope.   Literally, a single business envelope.  You can't do that in other game systems.  But then, Ancients players have to play on their terrain, not just hide behind it. 
25's require different photo techniques.  I am working on it.  One problem is getting the whole field in a single frame.

The Greeks tried to deploy anchored to nearby river and village, but the Persians caught them in mid march, so they had to deploy where they were.
 The Persians win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains.

Both flanks are exposed, so the more expendable troops are deployed in the wings.
This is an impressive line of foot.
The Persians have a limit on what they can do as well.  Babur with is bow only armed cavalry on the right.

Ulugh Beg's archer/elephant command in the center.
Recovering from his fatal wound in the previous game, Timur with his impact Aswaran.  There are two herds of stampeding cattle to deploy that currently lay forgotten in the box.
Turn 1:
This is pretty much a standard deployment on both sides, requiring a standard attack.

A standard advance.   Probe the flanks with lights, and confront the main battle line with the heavies. Babur's mission is to shoot down the lights, then retire before the heavy foot.
Ulugh Beg's ambushes are revealed.  The middle corps goes for a reorganization.  
I don't know if the deception by the ambushes are worth it.  It takes a lot of command points to put the line back together for this one.

The late arriving cattle herd are brought up.  Kurt was gracious to allow them on board after they were forgotten.
The Greeks form up in a trapezoid formation, with the hill at the apex.
The center Hoplites double time it across the field.
On the Greek left, their flanks covered by horse, advance another phalanx of Hoplites.
 Turn 2:
The hill makes it hard to deploy on.  The Persian Aswārān are actually touching the light foot, which will destroy it.  Another light foot takes a bow hit as well.
The Persian center completes it's reorganization.
With no missile troops to speak of, the cattle screen advances and looses arrows.  Peltasts cry in agony as shafts pin them to the ground.
Hoplites take the hill in force.  In defiance they bang their shields and shout "Δε θα περάσεις!"*

A Peltast rallies at the encouragement of its upward brothers in arms.
In the center, with Spartans at point, the Hoplite phalanx advances faster than it can be believed.
Persian bow moves to very short range an looses arrows.  A heavy spear is hit.
 Turn 3:
Seeing a unified line, and having killed a single Peltast, Babur orders a general retreat.  He thinks he'll need to bolster the center which looks like it's going to get crushed.
Ulugh Beg's command shots wave after wave of arrows to no effect.
The stampede is released.  The dice are thrown, and both combats are ties. 
The sons of Athens hold fast, turning back the herd into their allies.  But one of the Greek light horse units has been shot away as well.
The Phalanx on the hill is content to hold their ground.  They pursue the Persian horse with lights instead.
Volley after volley of arrows, and one finally scores.
The Phalanx charges, the Persians flee.  But not before another Greek horse unit is shot away.
 Turn 4:
The Persians are 1 point towards their demoralization level of 18.
The Greeks are 11 points towards their demoralization level of 25.
Persian cavalry return the front.  A note here, the the players understand that the troops on the hill are in a perfect line, they just can't be placed that way.
The primary mission for Ulugh Beg is to survive.  And since he rolled 3 command points, he now orders a general retreat.
Timur doesn't have that luxury. If the other commands orders are to just "not lose", then it is up to him to force a win.  His cavalry catches the last of the Greek horse and crushes them.
The Greeks now realize that the victory is not coming to them, they must take it.
The Greek center command splits off a Hoplite to avoid being flanked.  They don't really want to chase the bowmen into the plantation.
The left side Phalanx does likewise.
 Turn 5:
The Persians are 1 point towards their demoralization level of 18.
The Greeks are 14 points towards their demoralization level of 25.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Same scene, different angle.
The elephant fights at a down 2 in the plantation, so Ulugh Beg is wheeling around the outside.
Persian Aswārān  further surround the Phalanx.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
Babur's flank is now covered by the Hostages.  The cotton balls represent late arrivals and early departures.
A bit of missile exchange.
One way to avoid being surrounded, charge!

With a successful rally, the Persians are 0 point towards their demoralization level of 18.
The Greeks are 15 points towards their demoralization level of 25.

 Turn 6:
Babur sees an opportunity and orders a charge.  Against the Javelinmen his Heavy Cavalry is a +4, to a +1 (plus elite, + armor)  He scores two hits on a Javelinmen unit, and breaks even against a damaged spear adjacent.
The hostages ponder their fate.
The elephant almost completes its repositioning.
The Persian horse continues to shoot.  The setup for a charge is almost complete.
A Peltast is destroyed, but a Aswārān  is damaged.
Another Greek skirmisher is shot away.
Timur miscalculated how close his attached Aswārān  was to the Hoplite line, now it is ZOCed.
At this point, time ran out.
The Persians are 1 point towards their demoralization level of 18.
The Greeks are 18 points towards their demoralization level of 25.

A win for the Persians, but not a break.
Despite the differential in the score, this was a tough game.  Like the last game, points were mainly scored off of skirmishers, 12 of 18.  While the end position looked promising for the Persians, they don't have the numbers to pull of the surrounding easily.  

The score for the Persians so far this weekend is narrow loss and a winning draw.  The Persians initially seemed like a lot of fun, with an elephant and stampeding cattle, but, in truth, they are hard work.  Especially with the large number of elite troops reducing the break-point to a rather small small 18.

Next game:
It's deja-vu all over again.  As heavy horse face another row of long pointy things.

* Δε θα περάσεις  --You shall not pass.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

An Odd Encounter on the Road to Nice

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Lancaster Host, Lancaster Pennsylvania.
Event:    HMGS's Fall-In
Players: Phil Gardocki running Burmese

                  Paul Georgian, running French Ordinance
Game System: L' Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points

The Forces:
The Burmese, lead by the kings Narathihapate, Pagan and Pagan, all Competent.
      5 Elite Elephants, full fat.
      4 Medium Spearmen
      6 Bowmen
      2 Elite Medium Swordsmen, 2HW
      4 Light Infantry, Bow
       1 Elite Light Infantry, Firearm

The French, lead by Henri, Duc de Boulliabase (Brilliant), Roger the Snake, Duc du Lille (Competent), and Ludwig the Greedy (Ordinary).
     4 Heavy Knights (3 elite)
     1 Medium Cavalry, Impact
     5 Longbowmen (elite)
     2 Light Horse, Crossbow
     5 Light Foot, various nationalities, weapons, and quality
     1 Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
     2 Swiss Pikemen (elite)
     1 Swiss Halberdier (elite)  
Paul Georgian and I have known of each other for over 30 years.  When I first met him, he and is buddies were trying to translate a copy of Maurice's Strategikon from the original Greek, and succeeding.  We are both ancients players, but we have never sat across the table before today.  I guess we can scratch that off of the bucket list.

King Narathihapate, after defeating the locals near Marseille, decide to go continue his campaign against their mortal enemies, the Yuan and the Mongols.  Knowing that the အာတိတ် သမုဒ္ဒရာ* was south, he turns northeast.  After several days traveling on a very convenient road, their decampment is interrupted by the sounds of many horns.  And out of the mists of the morning, appears another army of steel headed foes.

The Board:
The Burmese win the initiative and elect to defend in the plains.  They select 2 fields, a fielded hill and a gully.  Henri selects a field and a road.

I would have to say the terrain is in the Burmese's favor.
The French right is dominated by longbow, and anchored on a field.
Ludwig's Swiss take up the center.
While the cream of French nobility takes the point of honor on the left.
The French seem to be performing a "Holding Attack".  The right side with missiles and some terrain is well placed to avoid being flanked and crushed, the center, with the finest, if underpaid, infantry in the world, will act as an excellent hinge for the left flank to attack with. 
Hills are the only piece of terrain available in the plains you can hide an elephant in.  The only question for the French is how many elephants?
Here is two they can count.
And two more elephants here.  And perhaps something else holding their heads down in the gully.
The Burmese line is longer than the French, giving them some advantage.  The French only has one solid attack command, which really doesn't want to tackle elephants.  But the French right can be very decisive. The Longbow can do a lot of damage before contact.

Turn 1:
The Swiss contingent is an ally, and with a command roll of a 1, he just went unreliable.  FYI the odds of this happening at least once in a 3 game tournament is 42.1%. 
Gotta love allies.  When they are your enemy.  The Swiss size up the opposition, and ask for payment up front.
The Longbow come out to play.  Perhaps they don't believe the ambush and expect to have a numerical advantage.  The knights advance, then turn right, heading for the center.  Why is not written in the Burmese records.  Perhaps a show of force to intimidate the Swiss? 
The Burmese left and center command hold their ground.  Out of the gully streams more Burmese troops, followed closely by Pagan's elephants and runners.
Turn 2:
 The Duc de Boulliabase sends messengers to the Swiss to convince them to join the fight,  but the Swiss continue to hold their ground.
"Your message is well delivered", responds Ludwig, "Tell your master that we are ready to fight man and beast, but the demons from Hell will require more ducats then you possess."
In a marvelous display of dressage, the French knights turn again to face their foes.
Pagan and Narathihapate see an opportunity to defeat the French in detail.  The ambush is revealed, and another elephant crests the hill.
The lines are forming up.  On the right, the Burmese have the advantage of the bend.
Same scene, different angle.
Turn 3:
The longbows enter range and loose.  The Swiss continue to negotiate with the French.
The French knights retreat.  Their plan is clear.  Lure the Burmese to within 4 UD's of the Swiss, resolving the unreliability.
At the bottom of the turn, it's the Burmese archers that score the hits.

On the Burmese right, they dress their lines and continue to shoot as well.
The Burmese are 1 point towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 4 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

Turn 4:
The Power of the longbow is shown.  Many hits down the line for the Burmese.
Their last stand unmarked, a mounted crossbow is dispersed by Burmese bow.

King Pagan orders a general charge.  He has many advantages.  Elephants, supporting flank units, elite guards with 2 handed weapons.  What he doesn't have was luck.  Burmese guards take a hit, a bowman is destroyed, and worse, King Narathihapate is bloodied and routs from the field.  The one victory on the end, bowman vs. longbowmen, which was damaged by earlier bow fire, fall before the knives and clubs that are the weapons of the common archer.
This charge activates the Swiss.  "Demons they may be, but there is no escaping them, so fight them we must."
The knights are poorly positioned to respond, so Pagan pushes forward.  Hoping to shoot away a medium cavalry. 
The Burmese are 6 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 8 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

Turn 5:
Up till now, Paul had a pretty defeatist attitude in the game.  But with the last turn it seems like he can at least make an effective go of it.

The Burmese guardsmen are destroyed.

The Swiss advance.
But the knights leave behind their lighter brothers and retreat behind the Swiss line.
Another longbow is routed.
And in a game winning mistake, King Pagan launches a general attack.  Was it images of glory?  Establishment of a dynasty?  An attempt to pit elephant on medium foot blade, which, if the foot routs, will disorder two knights, one of which will be fighting an elephant on the flank?  The dice said otherwise, as the foot win, disordering the elephant.
On the Burmese right, King Pagan is content to just shoot.  He cant catch the light cavalry, but he could catch the medium's next turn.
The Burmese are 8 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 11 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

Turn 6:
On the left, both flanks are crumbling.  King Pagan comes to the front to encourage the troops
The other King Pagan's troops are crumbling all round.
The French horse command decides to fight.  Knights turn and wheel, taking a bowman by surprise.  The medium cavalry are not so lucky and destroyed on contact.
On the left, the ugly scrum just continues.
But in the center, the Burmese line disintegrates, causing multiple routs on the second line. 
A bit of a chase scene here.
The Burmese are 16 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 15 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

Turn 7:
In a stunning reversal, the French Ordinance take the lead!

A French light is shot, another longbowmen falls.  And how long has that elephant on the right been in combat?  It still stands!
The Swiss see that they can indeed defeat demons from hell, and continue to charge into the second line.  Miraculously, the Burmese line holds. 
On the right, a knight is trampled by elephantry. 
This was a long overdue maneuver, the Guardsmen turn down the flank of the longbow line.
Ignoring the elephant on their flanks, the Swiss continue to charge forward.  Scattering their foes like chaff.
King Pagan sees an opportunity.  He personally charges a troop of elephants into the banner of "Roger the Snake"'s, trampling them into the mud.  He leaves an engaged bow unit behind, but they have support, with more support coming.

The Burmese are 21 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 20 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

Turn 8:
Last turn for sure.

Another elephant falls, but so to, another unit of longbow.
That's a lot of dead elephants on the board.  Another one falls to Swiss Pike.  But there are hits down the line for the French as well taking their total to 21.
The Burmese are 22 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The French Ordinance are 21 points towards their demoralization level of 21.

At the top of the 8th the game was called on mutual destruction. Both sides exactly hitting their break points.  This is a first for me.  I think we both look upon the results with mutual satisfaction.  

So Paul, 2047, right here, same armies, OK?
*အာတိတ် သမုဒ္ဒရာ (Burmese for Indian Ocean)