Sunday, January 29, 2017

Parthia Invades Rome

A Headless Body Production

Venue:   Walt's house
Event:    Weekend at Walts
Armies: Parthians played by Phil Gardocki
                  Republican Roman played by Kevin Swanson

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 200 points per side.
Theme:   15mm Roman Theme
This is the second round of L'Art de la Guerre at Walts house.

The Forces:
Parthian: Commanders  th' worst rank of manhood, Xerxes (Ordinary),  His brother, th' frothy dread-bolted popinjay, Darryl (Brilliant), and the Idol of idiot-worshippers, his other brother Darryl (Brilliant).
       8 Cataphracts (two elite)
       16 Light Cavalry, Bow
       Break point, 23

Republican Roman: Commanders Marcus Livius Drusus (the Brilliant), Quintus Servilius Caepio(also the Brilliant) and Publius    Rutilius    Rufus (the merely Ordinary).

       8 Hastati & Principes, sword, armor, impact
       2 Triarii, spear, armor (elite)
       4 Italian Allies, sword
       4 Velites, javelin
       2 Roman Horsemen, MC
       2 Numidian Horsemen, javelin           
       1 Fortified Camp
       Break point, 23
The Board:
The Parthians win the initiative roll and elect to attack in the plains.
The Republican Romans select the hill, a coastal area, a plantation, a village and get a field for free.  The Parthians selected a road and a gully.

The Roman left is a weak command of all their horse.  Otherwise, the other 2 commands were identical mixes of Hastati (4), Triarii (1), Allies(2) and Velites(2) .

Darryl, with his command is covering the Parthian right flank.
While his other brother Darryl covers the left.
The view from the camel-back.
Numidians on the far right.  A couple of Roman Medium Cavalry in the rear.
Their flanks of two Roman Legions is secured by a village and a plantation on the hill.  It looks like a perfect fit for them.
On the right flank, half of Darryl's Light Horse Bow goes to play games with the Roman Cavalry Command.

The remaining 4 will be sent to annoy the Roman center command.
On the left, 8 Light Horse Bow go to shoot up the Legions.
In turn, the Romans withdrawal their Velites.

And close ranks in the center.
Turn 2:
Parthian Light Horse approach the formed up Roman Command and shoot!  Disordering a Numidian.

On the main battlefield, Parthian Light Horse start the long process of wearing down Heavy Infantry with Armor.
The Numidians slide, advance, then angle behind the Parthians.  Preventing their fleeing.  The Medium Cavalry then charges.  I know about this maneuver, I just am lousy at eyeballing it. Though, the math made it obvious. 

Turn 3:

They may have been outmaneuvered, but the Parthians will not die without a fight.  The two surviving Light Horse battle on.
The other Parthian archers are having a good time shooting.  Racking up many hits.  The Romans reveal an ambush of two units of Italian Allies.
In a bit of bad luck, 1's and 2's.  The Romans whiff three rally rolls.
But when you have superior strategy AND tactics, luck is not as important.  At the end of turn 3, the Roman Cavalry Corps totally wraps up the Parthian right flank.  The score is in the Roman's favor, 8-2.

With the collapsed flank, the clock is ticking in the center.  The strategy for the Parthians WAS to shoot the bejesus out of the Legions for about 5 turns, then charge in.  Now it looks like they will have to charge in early.
The Legions advance in a carefully managed manner.  Preventing the charging of the disordered Hastati, and forcing charges on to Elite Triarii. 
Turn 4:
Xerxes, that mangled beetle-headed flap-dragon, decides to spend one more turn shooting the Romans.  The right flank is gone, but everything on it is mediums or lights.  One Cataphract is angled to cover the flanks, and let the arrows fly.

The Romans are done being targeted, and charge the Parthian Light Horse.  It is now down 7 Cataphracts against 10 Legionaries, with all the support advantages on the side of the Romans.
Turn 5:

Sorry for the blurry shot.  Xerxes decides he does not like the way the lines form up.  They protect the disordered Legions from being charged, while offering charges into the Elite Triarii.  But there is one unit that can be charged, and he goes for it.  It is a Hastati with Sword.  The Cataphracts have Impact, two supports, Xerxes, Armor and Furious charge.  For a +4 ont the dice, butt muff the die roll, only winning by 1, causing 2 casualties. 
Darryl's Light Horse on the right has found new targets.  Learning from the events of turn 2, they spread out to prevent encirclement.
On the Parthian left, Darryl patiently awaits to see what the Roman Legions will do.
The Romans charge.  The Light Horse stands, so as to deny the the support to the Romans on one side.  I want it to die, so the remaining Cataphracts can charge in, but no dice. The Light Horse only loses by 1, and lives!  Meanwhile The Hastati are just hanging on, each with 3 hits on them.

In a mistake I keep making over and over, I commit the Light Horse to Hand to Hand.  At best it is a 50-50 shot.  It is just not worth it to give your opponents two more points towards demoralization.  Current score 10-7 in Romes favor. 
Turn 6:

Another Parthian Light Horse falls.
With a thunderous roar, all the Cataphracts charge.  In the center, two damaged legions fall, one more take two hits.  Two exchanges end in a tie.
On the Parthian left, also two ties.
On the Roman turn misfortune happens.  The Triarii have a decisive win, and Darryl is killed!
But the rest of the front is pretty much unchanged.
The same with the right flank.
Turn 7:
On the Parthian right, another Light Cavalry falls, but so does a Roman Cavalry unit.
In the center, another Legion falls as well.
On the left, the situation is stable.
Roman Cavalry retreat forward!
Near the hill, a Cataphract runs down an Italian Ally, the rout damages another, which in turn is engaged by the Cataphract.
The Italians run off the Parthian Light Horse, and Cataphract falls.

The Parthians reach their demoralization point in a dramatic way.  They destroy a Legion, damaging another to bring the Roman demoralization level to 20 of 23.  But in a very bad die roll, lose a fight with Elite Cataphracts, supported by a General, against a damaged Principes.  The Romans roll a 1, and Larry is killed!  Taking the Parthians to 23.  It is a Roman win!

So what went wrong here.  First to give credit where credit is due, Kevin played a much better tactical game.  His early bushwacking of 4 Light Horse was 8 points early on.  Then he proceeded to expertly cover damaged legions from being immediately charged.  Only his crappy rally rolls, I think he missed 6 in a row of 3 and 4 up saves, kept the Legions disordered.  It was only later in the game when he needed 5+ rally attempts, that he made a couple.

I actually played this scenario twice the week before.  I knew the lights can shoot up the Roman line, despite their armor, but you have to be patient.  If the Romans let you.  Kevin was able to force evades to bad angles, and at the same time present angled lines, that prevented charges with overlaps that I was trying for.  

Once push came to shove, the Cataphracts did well, nearly overcoming the early 8 point lead the Romans earned.  So in the end the score was 23-20, a narrow victory for Rome. 


  1. Great report Phil. Kevin is a master at running LH Jls but if you asked him why he won he would tell it was his BRILLIANT PLAN

  2. Thanks Walt. Kevin was claiming luck, but I think it was masterful tactics on the "inside" game. What happened early on the right flank was as much his skill as my lack of good eyeball measurement skills.