Friday, March 10, 2017

Tonights Menu, Chinese or Indian?

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:        Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players:     Phil Gardocki, Bruce Potter and Garth Parker, playing the Classic Indian
                      Steve Turn, Jenny Parker and Ashleigh  playing Waring  States Chinese

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 280 points per side.

In an alternate world, but much like our own, it is the year 323 BC, or the Saka year -402, or the Year of the Consulship of Longus and Cerretanus.   (Which is a Roman designation, and has no relevance here)

The tattooed and crippled General, Sun Bin, working as a military advisor for Tain Ji of the Qin, first turns aside the aggression of and later conquers the Wei.  Then this team follows up their conquest with the Yue and the Khmer.  It is at this high water mark that invaders from the west are encountered.

For King Porus of Pauravas, acting on authority of his overlord, King Alexander of Macedon, has launched a conquest of his own, smashing the Nanda Dynasty, crossing the Ganges, and whisking the Pyu Peoples before him.  Pausing to recover fresh elephants, and repairing his war-chariots, he raises his hand to grasp the rich lands of ancient China.

It is Porus vs Bin, Elephants vs War Chariots in this fight in the ancient world using the L’ Art de la Guerre rule-set.

The Forces:
   Classic Indians: Commanders  Porus (king), Porus(prince) and Patel(sycophant), all competent.
      6 Elephants (elite)
      4 Heavy Chariots, Impetuous.
      3 Medium Cavalry
      2 Medium Swordsmen (elite)
      6 Mixed Sword/Bow
      6 Light Infantry Bow

Warring States, Chinese: Commanders  Tain Ji(general), Sun Bin(consultant) and Wu Qi(guest general), all brilliant
       6 Heavy Chariot, Impact (elite)
       4 Heavy Cavalry
       12 Swordsmen, Heavy Infantry, Sword
       3 Bowmen
       4 Light Infantry Bow

The Board:
The Chinese win the initiative and elect to attack in the forest.  After all the dice had fallen, there are 3 copse's of trees, a brush, and a gullyForests dominated the Indian left flank, while the gully was an annoyance in the Chinese forward zone.

This is a 6 player game, so each player has one command.  The Chinese went with the two chariot commands on the wings, and their infantry command in the center.  The Indians deployed strictly right of center with their elephant commands, while sending their chariot command on a flank march.
The Indians look a bit thin on the board.  They are relying on ambushes and terrain to keep one of the Chinese commands at bay, while waiting for their own flank march to arrive.
The Chinese set up is fairly standard.  Cavalry and Chariots on the wings, and a solid infantry force in the center.
General of the allied Yan kingdom, is leading the Chinese right flank.
Tain Ji is in control of the main infantry command.
Sun Bin rides in a chariot directing the Chinese left flank.

King Porus leads the Indian left flank. 
General Patel leads the right.
Turn 1:
General Qi, realizes there is nothing to fear on his flank and double times it to the center.  But it is still a long way to travel.
In sync with Qi, Tain Ji obliques his forces.
At this point, the Chinese do not know if the Indians have a flank march, or two large ambushes.  Sun Bin is advancing as if the flank march is a fake, or is relying on luck to keep it from arriving.

Prince Porus rolls a 4 for a flank march, and so will not be arriving on turn 2.  King Porus and General Patel roll their command dice, and immediately pass.  There is nought to be gained by early contact with the Chinese.

Let them come.
Turn 2:
Qi's Chariots continue to double time across the board.  He is certain the ambush is a fake.
Tain Ji, advances slower, he now knows the flank march is real, and is considering using the gully as a defensive line.  Sun Bin, lines up perfectly with his friend.

Prince Porus picks up the die, and another 4!  He will not be arriving on turn 3.  His father, the King, and their loyal vassal, Patel, roll their dice, and promptly pass.  The faster the cycle rate of the turns, the sooner Prince Porus's chariots will arrive.

Turn 3:
Indecision grips the Chinese high command.  It occurs to them, that there are two flanks that Prince Porus could come in on.  Which one?  Their left flank is likely, but is it real?
So the Chinese player waits.

Prince Porus picks up the die, and all see a 5 skip by, before settling on a 1.  He will not be arriving on turn 4.  His father, the King, and their loyal vassal, Patel, roll their dice, and promptly pass again.  

And so it went.
Turn 5:
Turn 6:
"Bugger this inaction", mutters Qi.  He orders his foot to advance, and directs his chariots to advance behind the lines.

Turn 7:
Turn 8:
If you're are bored, perhaps you will enjoy the poem, Seti on the Flank, reprinted here, with permission, by the author, Tom McMillen
King Porus, puts down his tea cup, and orders a minor realignment of his line.
General Patel advances at the double.  Though outnumbered, it is Elephants vs Chariots, and that is a win for the Elephants.  Also what better time to be engage the Chinese frontally, if and when Prince Porus's chariots arrive.
Turn 9:
King Porus sees an opportunity to defeat a group of Chinese swordsmen.
General Patel's line diverts left.  If he can draw Chinese forces to him, they will be subject to flee, if and when Prince Porus arrives.
Turn 10:
General Qi finishes his behind the line transfer of his chariots and cavalry.  Just in time.
Prince Porus finally rolls a 5 or a 6 for his arrival, he will arrive on turn 11!
Turn 11:
Yes, the flank march was an annoying decision.  5 players waiting for the 6th to show up.  For the Indians, it was the strategy to hold until arrival.  But the Chinese could have attacked in force and wrapped the game long before that point.  But truth be told, because of frequent passes, only about 70 minutes have passed.
A bit of bow on bow action.  Something you would normally see on turn 2 or so.
King Porus's line is bolstered by Guard Swordsmen that were in ambush. 
General Qi's swordsmen are out of command.
King Porus archers reach out and score multiple hits.
With a great fanfare, Prince Porus, who must have stopped for take-away, finally arrives!

Tain Ji's plan is revealed.  While his swordsmen are not in easy support range of the Qi's abandoned infantry, his archers are.  Chinese crossbows destroy one of the Indian skirmishers.
Qi's chariots expand.  The chariots are a perfect match, but the Chinese Cavalry is heavy and ordinary, vs Indians medium and mediocre.  The one main advantage Prince Porus has is 3 Light Horse with him.
Turn 12:
Qi scrapes together two command points and orders a charge with his swordsmen.
This may look like an exciting "lets all charge", but it isn't.  The Chinese chariots were just out of range.  The Indian medium cavalry do charge the Chinese heavies.  And take a pair of disorders for their trouble.  One one side note, off in the distance, the lone Chinese skirmisher, is caught and killed.
And why is Patel not engaged yet?  The Chinese started retreating their main battle line.  And since they had full support of the infantry command, General Patel did not follow up immediately.
Turn 13:
The problem with elephants are they are fragile.  The Chinese did an excellent job of shooting away the Indian skirmish line.  So the choice now is to either charge or die.  And charge they do.  At the top, the elephants catch and destroy their annoying skirmishers.  However the Chinese crossbow stand, and hold back the attacking pachyderms. 

As the Chinese Chariots retreat from the Indian Elephants and bow, the Chinese swords men are exposed.  General Patel charges, and cracks the corners of the infantry group. 
Prince Porus had a cavalry unit not occupied, and it was in reach of the chariots, So it is mediocre mediums charge the flank of elite heavies, and score.
He got out of that fight just in time, as his two brother mediocre mediums are run down.
The scrum on the left continues, a Chinese swordsman falls, a crossbow unit is disordered.  But elephants are "unmaneuverable", and take two command points to turn, so King Porus can't exploit his position very easily.

The chariots are also unmaneuverable, but the Chinese Generals are all brilliant, and are more capable of directing them.  They decide to turn and swat the cavalry, rather than face the elephants now on their flank.
The Chariot on Chariot action is pretty much a wash.  But Chinese have turned both of Prince Porus's flanks, so it doesn't look good for the slothly one.  But on an up note the unfortified Chinese camp is about to be sacked, if only the game would go on to turn 14.

Which it won't.  The game was called on time here.  The score was 14 all, a dead tie.

Lessons learned:
     Flank marches.  If a multiplayer game, just don't.  Militarily, it was the right decision, but just don't.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting observation with the flank march in a multi player game. Seems pretty statistically unlikely that it would have taken that long to arrive no?