Saturday, August 27, 2016

Historicon 2016 Medieval Tourney Round 1

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center
Event:    Historicon's L'Art de la Guerre's Medieval Tournament, Round 1,
Players: Phil Gardocki running Anglo Irish
                  Dan Hazelback, running Normans in Italy.
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.
Theme: Medieval.  No Heavy Knights, No Foot Knights, No Elephants. 

The Forces:
   Anglo Irish: Commanders  Larry, Darryl and Darryl, all barely competent.
      4 Galloglaich, Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW (elite)
      2 English Longbowmen (elite)
      2 Medium Knights, Impact (elite)
      4 Longbowmen
      2 Irish Nobles, Heavy Cavalry
      2 Light Cavalry, Javelin

      2 Kerns, Light Infantry, Javelin

      2 Irish Foot, Javelinmen, Javelin

   Frederick II (a Strategist) leading the Normans in Sicily.

     3 German Knights, Medium Knight, Impact
     4 Feudal Knights, Medium Knight, Impetuous
     6 Berbers and Saracen Auxiliaries, Light Cavalry Javelin
     4 Mixed Foot, ½ Heavy spearmen ½ Crossbowmen
     3 Spearmen, Heavy spearmen
     4 Saracen Light Archers Light infantry bow

The Board:
This is the first game of the Medieval Tourney at Historicon.  By machination or just luck of the draw, I drew the tournament organizer.  So who do you call with a rules question when you are against the judge? 

The Anglo-Irish win the toss and elect to defend in the mountains.  Not that the mountains are overly favorable terrain, but it was a change of pace from the plains, and I get to repurpose my son's 4th grade project on some mountain in Honduras as an impassible.

After all the terrain rolls, the "impassible" and the gully wound up on the Normans right flank while the Anglo-Irish had two hills and a woods on their side.

The Normans deployed all their knights in a line, flanked by spearmen.  Lights were scattered about to the front and on the flanks.  Frederick II commands the position of honor on the right with 11 units.  The smaller Battles of 7 units of Knights and Saracen's in the center, while a Battle of 6 foot defends the left.

The Anglo-Irish went turtle barricading both flanks with fortifications.  Ambushes were placed in both woods and behind the hill.  The command structure is 6 on each flank, 1 unit each of Irish Nobles, Knights, Irish Light Horse, Longbow, Javelinmen and Kerns.  The center is held by 4 Galloglaich and 4 Longbow. 

Turn 1:
Looks pretty impassible to me. 

The overall Norman deployment.  Knights in the center, Spear on the flanks.  Well supported with lights.

Closer view of the Norman right.  I love the tent camp.

And the Norman left.

The Irish right.  The actual board is in the lines.  At the barricades are a Longbow and a Javelinmen.  Between them is an Anglo Knight and a Irish Noble.  The skirmishers are set to run out and slow down the spear units.  But outnumbered 2.5 to 1, I don't think they will accomplish that mission.

In the center is a fortified camp.  Really?  With each stone weighing 25 tons, what are the enemy going to do?  Graffiti?  In ambush are 4 Galloglaichs (HI, 2HW, Elite).  On their flanks are 4 Longbow, the red ones are elite as well.

On the Left and in the woods are another Knight and Noble.  I expect to be able to get out of the woods before the Normans get close.  In ambush are LI, Javelinmen and a Longbow.
Turn 1:

The heavy fog lifts in the moor, to reveal the Normans advancing quickly across the field.  Also revealed by the ascending mist was that great hill to defend was nothing more than a farmers manure pile.  (There was a misunderstanding and rather than start over, we just lifted the hill)

The Irish line looks strong.

The Ambush is revealed as Longbow and Javelinmen man the barricades.

Longbow shoot for a hit.
And again.

Turn 2:

The Norman Crossbowmen get their licks in.

While on the Irish left, the Norman lights flank the barricades.

The Normans have a lot of command points but not enough to get their lights out of the way.

Trading shots on the left.

And a pair of evades on the right.
Turn 3:
A unit of Kerns is shot away.  And the longbow also takes a hit.
At this point the Normans are realizing how many points are already on the board and decide to pull back damaged lights instead of moving forward.

They pull back a LI here as well.

In all of history there has never been a conclusive battle to determine which was better, Longbow or Crossbow.  (Except at Crecy, but rain interfered)  Here Longbow have taken 2 to the Crossbows 1.

An attempt at rally fails.
The longbow rally, and shoot down a light horse.
Turn 4:
At this point, both sides are content with a shooting contest.  A contest where individual Longbow have the advantage, but the Normans have 14 shooting platforms.  Admittedly, most are lights.  At this point each side has one unit killed and two damaged.
The Norman right flank gets a few command points and push forward.  Their missiles damage both a Knight and a Longbow, but their Berber LC also takes a hit.
Both Normans and Irish are content to shoot and rally.  Though the Norman Knights pull closer.  A Saracen Light Cavalry is shot down.
The Irish Light Horse rallies, but the Knights take a hit.
The view from center.  From left to right, Clan O'Lyre, Clan Ramsay, Clan Jordan and the boyo's from Ulster.
The Longbow reach out and touch a Norman Knight.
On the Irish left, there is no room to evade, so charge!  The evading Berbers are caught and destroyed!
And pursue!
Turn 5:

The Norman Knights charge the Longbow, and pick them both up.

And on the Irish right, two more Longbow fall.

+ 1 Javelin against -1 cohesion.  And the last Berber wins.
The grand melee starts.  The Knights and Javelinmen win, but the Nobles lose.
Clan Ramsay, far left is taking a beating.  The Boys from Ulster are winning their fight.
On the far right, the Nobles and Knights chase off the skirmishers.

Other views of the scrum.  The Boys from Ulster, supported by Clan Jordan and Larry win the fight, but just barely.  I think we both rolled 6's with the final result 10-8.
Clan O'Lyre is winning their fight, but Clan Ramsay is in danger of collapsing.
Turn 6:
It is the beginning of the end as the Normans have several internal flanks to exploit.  Some good die rolls prevented this from becoming a disaster.  But truth be told I am only playing for points now.

It is the beginning of the end as the Normans have several internal flanks to exploit.
The Boys from Ulster are flanked as well. 
Clan Ramsay is scattered, but so is a Norman Knight.

The Boys from Ulster hold their line.
The Irish left is creaking badly.
At this point the Irish breakpoint (21) was reached.  The Normans were at 15 points.  All in all a good fight.

So what went wrong here.  Part of the problem was the terrain.  I picked mountains, and didn't realize all the hills must be steep.  I deployed a "gentle" hill in the center and based my strategy on that foundation.  We went back and forth on a method to rectify this, Dan actually offered to keep the gentile.  As the offending party I refused and opted to remove the thing entirely.  

But the other part of the problem with terrain, is my spacial relations is poor.  What I eyeball will fit is often woefully inaccurate.  So my army is compressed into ineffectiveness.  

The second, and probably more important problem is the use of my lights.  In general, my opponents are out spending me in lights.  In this case 52 to 20.  So I am not going to win the lights battle.  Which means there is no chance of my lights running out there and delaying an enemy force.  It is doing all it can just to stay alive.  This also gives my opponents better opportunities to shape the line of impact favorably. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Historicon 2016 Open Tourney Round 2

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Fredericksburg Expo & Conference Center
Event:    Historicon's L'Art de la Guerre's Open Tournament, Round 1,
Players: Phil Gardocki running Porus and Son
                  Steve Baier, running Carthaginian.

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.

Historicon!  The Mecca of miniature wargamers in the USA.  3,000+ gamers descend upon historic Fredricksburg for 3 days of Martians, Mammoths and Mayhem.  Highlighted was the soon to be released Sergeants, Hell on Wheels by Lost Battalion, a massive walk-up game of raiders vs a Gallic migration.  The table was 32 feet long with thousands of figures.  All's Quiet on the Martian Front was represented by a huge field of 30 Tripods verses a hundred plus Steam Tanks.  The WWPD crew were in evidence with a live podcast.  And of course, Ancients.  Three Ancients systems were running strong, "Triumph! Fast Play Rules" seems to be a new comer with a good followingWarrior, which was having a resurgence, and L'Art de la Guerre.

The Forces:
   Classic Indians: Commanders  Porus, Porus (no joke!) and Patel
                                 Represented by elephants with howdah's and the white tiger
                                 skinned chariot.
      4 Elephants (elite)
      3 Heavy Chariots, Impetuous (elite)
      2 Medium Cavalry (mediocre)
      2 Medium Swordsmen (elite)
      6 Mixed Sword (mediocre)/Bowmen (ordinary)
      2 Light Foot Bow
Break point....19

Apologies for the lack of flocking on the Indian troops.  I decided to re-base that morning to more appropriate Medium Infantry basing.

    As Roman spies are everywhere, Hannibal the strategist refuses to provide list.   

The Board:
The Indians lose the initiative roll and are defending in the plains.  They take the required field, a gully, a plantation and a gentle hill.  The Carthaginians take 2 fields.  The layout is a gully in front of the Indian center, and both the plantation and field on the Indian left. 

I have played enough of these games to question a few things with the game setup.  Having lost far more initiative rolls then I win, which is expected as my armies have weak generals and not much in the way of Light Cavalry.  My opponents almost always pick attacker and plains.  They also always pick the minimum number of terrain picks, in order to get the maximum number of terrain movement rolls.  I always go for 3 terrain picks and 1 terrain move roll.  

I am clearly in the minority on the decisions of this process.  But I think my reasoning is sound.  Defense sets up first, but with two ambushes up to 7 IU's into the board, almost half my army is not view-able on deployment.  I regard that as an advantage.  

With regard to amount of terrain, pick 3 with 1 terrain move to me is an advantage over pick 2 and 2 terrain moves.   Any piece of terrain has a 50/50 chance of being on my side of the board.  Where as the movement roll has a 1/3 chance of failure, and you cannot move what is not there.  I would be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on this.

The Indians have two Elephant commands and one Chariot command.  One Elephant command is on the left, Chariots in the middle, and the remaining Elephant on the right.  In ambush on the left is 3 LMI, with bows.  On the right in ambush is a single Light Infantry.  Elephants cannot be put in ambush in a gully, and there is no advantage to having my bow troops in there as well.  
The Indian left command with 2 Elephants supported by an elite unit of Guards.  In ambush in the plantation are 3 units of Bow.  The center command is 3 Heavy Chariots and 2 Medium Cavalry. 
The Indian right is 2 Elephants supported 3 units of Bow, and an elite unit of Guards.  The plan is to draw the Carthaginians close to the gully, and take up positions behind it.

The Carthaginians have a small command of foot and a single mediocre elephant on their right.  A strong spear command supported by cavalry in their center, and more spear supported by Light Cavalry on their left.  They are well supplied with skirmishers.

Turn 1:
Hannibal personally leads the left flank attack at what he perceives as his strong side.

Hannibal with the red banner.  The Light Cavalry hopes to turn the flank, but is still stopped at 4 IU's by the ambush marker.

The Carthaginian right and center commands seem to want to gang up on the Indian Chariot Command.

Prince Porus's Chariots accept the challenge.

On the left, King Porus gets 4 command points. He advances his elephants, and reveals his ambush, pulling 3 Mixed Sword/Bow units out of the plantation and double moves them to a flanking position on the Carthaginian right.
Turn 2:
All is looking well so far.  Flanking the Carthaginian right with 3 bow units seems like a great idea.  I might even engineer some elephant on elephant action, with my elites vs the Carthaginian mediocre.

Predictably, the Nubian Light Cavalry takes up a flank position.

The Chariots take a missile ding from the slingers.
Always impetuous, Prince Porus charges in about a turn too soon.  Losing 2 out of 3 fights.
The Chariot flanks are covered, but with mediocre Medium Cavalry against elephants, that is not much.
Turn 3:

Hannibal responds to the flank march with one of his own.  Sending 3 Heavy Cavalry off to deal with the bowmen. His spear charge the Indian flank support, which evades off frame.

Light on Light action as Carthaginian Javelin armed foot runs off Indian bow armed.
Looking at this picture, I begin to see what is going wrong with my commanding of this army.  I have noted it before with my Swiss Army, but in reverse.  The Carthaginians, whose generals classifications are a Strategist, a Brilliant and a Competent, continuously have the extra command points for little things.  My Light Infantry, which just ran off, is going to cost the same command point as it takes to bring the elephants into a charge, or save the bowmen from flank charges from Heavy Cavalry.  In short, I will never have enough command points to finesse this army.    

With Elephants, you think you don't need a lot of finesse, but if your opponent can distract you with enough side issues, that is an advantage.  And paying 64 points for 4 Elephants, the Indian army is small and cannot afford the loss of 4 units.  But neither can it afford to spend the command points to save them.

Another disadvantage of the Indians is the lack of adequate mobile troops.  I am being taken out here by 3 Heavy Cavalry units, with not a lot of specials, simply because I lack the troops (cavalry) and the skill (command points) to deal with them.

The view from the Howdah.  From Porus's point of view this looks good.

I forgot I had brought the dead horse markers.  One chariot is broken.
King Porus charges his elephant, taking down a spear-man.  The other Indian Medium Cavalry falls to the Carthaginian elephant.
On the right.  There have been bow action.  The Indian bowmen enter the gully for a shot, which is NOT a good idea.  But they scored on the Carthaginian cavalry.  The Lights are run off, and just miss the edge of the board.  It will take a number of command points to pull this flank back together, but it is points Hannibal have in abundance.
Turn 4:
At this point I don't think things are too bad.  My Chariots are taking a beating, but both the Carthaginian flank attacks are bogged down.  This should allow for some Elephant action to turn things around.

The Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry takes a missile hit but only can charge Light Infantry. 

The Carthaginian Heavy Spear ignore the gully and march off.
Once again abundant command points become a factor.  Not only is one of Porus's elephants flanked, it is supported by an unmaneuverable elephant and Light Infantry Slingers.   It is destroyed on contact.
Turn 5:

The offer for a flank attack is too tempting.  Indian Mixed Swordsmen/Bow charge from the gully.  Despite flanks and support, they put on a poor showing.  In the upper left, Prince Porus's chariots score a win, and have flanked a Spearman as well.
All I can say is good shooting here.

Two elephants down, and there is now elephant on elephant action.
On the Indian left, the Carthaginian Heavy Cavalry have lost a unit.
In a case of monkey see, monkey do, General Patel has swung his remaining elephant around to the right flank.  When I think of the command cost to do this.  2 to turn, 3 to move.  And for all that effort all I get is the cavalry scattering to the winds.
The last of the chariots fall, and with it Prince Porus as well.    King Porus hits his break point, 19 to the Carthaginian score of 14.  Not a bad loss.
So what went wrong here?  The Indian army has to be played carefully.  It does not have the agility of many of it's opponents.  Either with quality cavalry or command points.  When it's battlegroups fracture, it is a problem.  

Nor do they have quality skirmishers.  Hannibal had 8 elements of skirmishers which was used to good effect.  On the right they distracted the flank, in the center opportune missile hits lead to melee advantages.  They also distracted the Indian Bowman from inflicting hits on their spearmen.  They paid a price though, contributing 5 points to the Carthaginian break-point total.

This sort of problem can be resolved with terrain, but that is not likely, as they have a low initiative roll.  Fighting in the plains is pretty much what you can rely on to play with. 

So keeping things tight, don't break off seems to be the way to go.