Saturday, January 21, 2017

Parthia Invades Dacia

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Walt's house
Event:    Weekend at Walts
Armies: Parthians played by Phil Gardocki
                  Dacians played by Bill Hawkes

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 200 points per side.
Theme:   15mm Roman Theme

This is the first round of L'Art de la Guerre at Walt's house.

The Forces:
Parthian: Commanders  th' saucy fat-kidneyed strumpet, Xerxes (Ordinary),  His brother, th' clouted dismal-dreaming joithead, Darryl (Brilliant), and his other brother, the villainous scurvy-valiant fustilarianband, Darryl (Brilliant).
       8 Cataphracts (two elite)
       16 Light Cavalry, Bow

Dacia: Commanders ??
     Lots of Impetuous Medium Infantry, Impetuous Sarmation Cavalry, and some bow.

The Board:
The Parthians win the initiative roll and elect to attack in the wood.
The Dacians select two woods, a impassible, two brushes.  The Parthians select a gully and a hill.

The view from the Parthian left.  The players tables are packed in 3 wide, so ignore the orchard in the distance.  The border is obvious.  There is a Gully on the Parthian side of the board.  The Dacians have an impassible swamp, a brush and a hill.
The view from the Parthian center right.  Two woods and a brush.
Two the left of the woods, are two Parthian Corps, Darryl with 8 Light Cavalry and 3 Cataphracts, and Xerxes on a camel (the view is better up here), with two Elite Cataphracts.
Facing a horde of Dacian foot, two ambushes, and their Sarmation allies.  An entire Dacian Corps cannot be seen.
The view from the center.
On the right, is Darryl, also with 3 Cataphracts and 8 Light Cavalry, Bow.  3 of which are in ambush.  He breaths a sigh of relief.  There is no one contesting him on this flank.
 Turn 1:
Wheeling left, Darryl double times his revealed forces towards the Sarmation command.  There are 3 LC in the ambush, but there is really no need to reveal them yet, as they are on the inside of the wheel.  That and lets just keep the Sarmations guessing. 
Meanwhile, Darryl advances to 4 UD's from the first ambush.  No hurry to engage the foot here either.  The Cataphracts are not going to fight in the brush, but the LC still move 4 there, and so can comfortably evade.  Larry, with his two Cataphracts is moving up to what will be the support position.
Interesting.  Instead of just moving forward, Bill is setting up a phase line on where he wants to form up.  This implies a level of forethought and a plan.  
The Dacian Medium Foot enters the brush.  Their flank secured by an impassible swamp.  Outside the brush, foot archers double time to a curious position.  There is every indication that there are troops in the brush.  The Sarmations form up to cover two Cataphract commands approaching them.
Bill is looking way too confident here. 
Turn 2:
Parthian lights enter the brush, and reveal the ambush to be 4 small boys waving sticks.  But in so doing, expose themselves to long range archery fire.
On the far right, Parthian Light Horse engage a wing of Sarmations.

The Parthian plan is revealed.  Screen off the Dacian foot, crush the Sarmations, loot the camp. 
The last Parthian ambush is revealed and Light Horse double time to support Darryl's left.
The Dacian flank march fails to arrive.
Undaunted, and undamaged by Parthian arrows, the Sarmations charge.  The Light Cavalry evades through Darryl's Cataphracts. 
Turn 3:
I have heard it said that in this game, in general, Impact Cavalry beats Cataphracts. While everything is subject to the vagaries of the die rolls, I don't see the major advantage.  Impact Cavalry has a definite +1 on turn of contact, but better armor mitigates that..  After the turn of impact, it depends on the die rolls, with possibly the same odds, with the Cavalry at +1 to the Cataphracts +0  plus Armor.  

On the turn of Cataphracts lose a cohesion level 44% of the time, and inflict a cohesion loss 25% of the time. 

Each turn after that, the odds are the same.  Basically, the Cavalry is hoping that the Cataphracts avoid a favorable die roll for 3 turns.  OK, truth be told, the Cavalry is hoping for a total 6-1 blow out on the turn of contact, but in this game we always hope for that, knowing that half the time, your opponent is going to get the same blow out.  The odds of the Cataphracts not winning any of the of the 3 rounds is 42%.  But the odds of the Cavalry inflicting damage 3 rounds in a row is only 8%.  

To my mind, the overall tactical situation is more important than the initial charge advantage.
The Parthians counter charge.  The Sarmation LC flees, leaving 2 units of Sarmations to counter-counter charge.  Parthian LC comes up to support.  One the fight is even.  Cataphracts are + 1 to all, plus support vs Sarmations +1 to all plus Impact. Darryl adds his weight to the other fight, giving the Parthians a +3 to +2.  The result is a tie and a total blowout, with a Sarmation Heavy Cavalry being trampled to the ground, and Cataphracts following up.

The Dacian flank march fails to arrive.
The Dacian foot push forward, revealing a number of Light Foot skirmishers.  Bow fire damages shooters on both sides.

The fight on the right continues, the Sarmation  Heavy Cavalry picks up two hits.
One Parthian Light Horse is shot to oblivion.  One Sarmation heavy horse charges a Parthian Light Horse, which flees.  The Sarmations roll long, and so crash into a Parthian Cataphract.  The numbers did not go well for the Sarmation, and they pick up a hit.
The Dacian Medium Foot also charges the Parthian Light Horse, which flee.  The Light Horse rolls short, but the foot rolls long.  Their front edge now exiting the brush.

Turn 4:
Parthian Light Horse reform their lines and shoot. 
Dacian foot turn and threaten the Cataphract flanks.
While the half of the foot horde continue to chase off the light horse.

The Sarmation left has been destroyed.
Along with the overly enthusiastic heavy horse.
Turn 5:

The Parthian Light Horse have just avoided being run off the board.  To stay on the board another turn, they won't approach to bow range.
All of Darryl's command points are being spent turning the Cataphracts around. Larry's Cataphracts should cover them from the last of the Sarmation Heavy Horse hitting them in the flank.
Thinks are looking grim for the allied command.
The Sarmations charge, and roll short.  Chasing off the the Light Horse.  Had they rolled normal, their flanks would have been exposed.
Dacian Foot approach with the idea of running the Light Horse off the board.
The Dacian flank march arrives.  After wandering in the wilderness, they pretty much show up where they departed.  It is now a race for the Dacian Camp.
The battle is now turned 90 degrees.
The Dacian Foot win the dice off, killing Darryl!  But wait there is "better armor", Darryl rises from the ground holding a dimpled hoka case, "I'm not dead yet" he cries.  "Your not fooling anyone!" retorts the Dacians, "You'll be stone cold dead shortly!"
Turn 6:
A Dacian foot falls as the Cataphracts reform their lines. 
Sorry for the blurriness.  This was the best of two pictures.  Another Sarmation Heavy Horse falls, but the other beats an Elite Cataphract on charge.
Some Parthian Light Horse squirt off to the sides, but most are have been run off the board. 

Fighting without support, the Sarmations continue to trade blows.  They just won't give up!
After a flurry of shuffling though the rule book, it is decided that Impetuous, Impact Cavalry CAN break off.  And so they do.  Leaving the Parthian commanders with a choice of reforming their fragmented and damaged forces, or pursue an obviously inferior enemy.  The camp is worth 4 points towards demoralization.  And there is a whole Dacian Foot Corps racing them for it. 
At this point the game is still fairly low scoring.  The Parthians are only 7 down.  1 LC killed, 1 Cataphract damaged, and 4 LC run off the board.  The Dacians have 15.  4 Cavalry, 1 foot killed, 5 damaged.
Turn 7:

It was never really in doubt what the Parthians would do.  Charge with their generals thrown in.  Take the hill, get the camp!
On the left, Darryl's Cataphracts take out another Dacian foot unit, while Light Cavalry run off the Dacian Light Foot.
The Parthian Camp has fallen.  The Parthian Demoralization score is now 11

Turn 8.
The Dacian Camp falls, along with that, the Sarmation Heavy Horse is disordered, and a Dacian foot that got in the way on the hill was overrun, the Dacian Demoralization score is now 24!  This reaches their break point for a Parthian win.
The final situation.

So what went wrong?  Counting on blitzkrieg like tactics to blow through the enemy and score a victory.  While that can happen, it is more likely situations will devolved down to the scrum where many turns and die rolls later a result occurs.  In those cases, the over all odds generated by the tactical situations matter more than temporary advantages.  I would have thought the Sarmation command, outnumbered 5-4 in heavies and 8-1 in Light Horse, would have folded much sooner.  But 8 turns later, they still have one unit on the board.  

And while the flank march may have been a mistake, it also meant the Cataphracts had far fewer targets to engage.  Probably it lengthened the game.