Saturday, April 1, 2017

Alexander the Great invades Germania

A Headless Body Production
I really need a better method of titling these things.   Aside from being repetitious, they sometimes sound like "Santa Clause verses the Martians", or "Abbot and Costello Meet the Wolf Man".

And it makes a difference.  A good title can attract double the normal viewers, a bad title half.   For example, my recent battle report AztecvsSwiss, all one word, got 300 hits on it's first day, and 800 in a month.  For my blog postings these are very good numbers.  Last year I had a series of titles with references to local food, like "Liebfraumilch and Swiss Cheese"  and "Spanish Salsa and Swiss Wine", neither of which have done half those hits even after 11 months.  

Any suggestions from the audience would be welcome.   Visit the Blog Archive bar to the right.   It should be just about here -------------------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Offer some criticisms over the titles.  

Venue:   On Military Matters Bookstore.  Owner Operator Dennis Shorthouse
Event:    Team practice for the upcoming Cold Wars team tourney.
Players: Phil Gardocki running German, 80 BC
                  Allen Kaplan, Dennis Shorthouse, Alexandrian Macedonian
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 300 points per side.
Theme: Open, team no restrictions

The Forces:
Brand spanking new, paint still dripping, glue just tacky, army of Early Germans!  Circa 80 BC
 Commanders  Arminius, a Strategist, that poor excuse for a turnip, Larry, the withered commoner, Darryl and the deformed ape Darryl, all barely Ordinary.
      18 Tribesmen, Heavy Swordsmen, Impetuous (elite) 
      4 Light Infantry, Javelin
      6 Horsemen, Medium Cavalry (elite) 
      2 Tencteri, Light Horse, Javelin 
      2 Sarmations, Heavy Cavalry, impetuous
My box of Barbarians.
Alexandrian Macedonian, 
Lets see, Pike (some elite), Impact Cavalry (mostly elite), Thracians, and more Pike.
Breakpoint, around 30 

Dennis has a wonderful bookstore in Hopewell New Jersey, that he has been running for many decades.  Imagine going through a library that is nothing but military history.  If you don't think you knew him, he is a long time supporter of Historical Miniatures Gaming Society, and held the coveted #1 spot in the dealers area for over 20 years.  So if you have been to any of HMGS's events at the Lancaster Host, you probably have met Dennis at some time.

The Scenario:
Practice session for the upcoming team event at Cold Wars.

The Board:
The Germans have lost the roll and will defend in the deep, dark, forbidding forest, Allen and Dennis won't make that mistake again.  3 Forest pieces are selected, along with 2 tree covered hills.  

The Germans are mounted as Heavy Infantry.  So the woods is not where they like to play.  But, Alexander's army is dominated by 12 Pike, 6 Cavalry.  So they don't like the woods either.  And they won't like the fortifications laid out either.
The Germans are going to ignore the right flank, covering it with just a few skirmishers, The single fortification on the right is more of a "Keep Out" sign.
On the far left, a single copse of trees and an ambush marker.

The dust clears, and it is wall to wall pike.
OK, maybe not wall to wall, but 6 impact cavalry is nothing to sneeze at either.
The Germans have a large cavalry contingent as well.  But deployed to cover the right flank, but can pull out if need be. 
Half a horde on the German left.  All Heavy Swordsmen, Elite!

The rest of the horde is hiding in ambush, and defending the walls.  They are deployed back from the fortifications so as to have maneuvering room should something unexpected happen. 

But wait, there is more!  Alexander has a command not on the board.  It looks like his loose order command, dominated by Thracians is either hiding or on a flank march.  My money is on the ambush.

Turn 1:
Not a good sign for your allied contingent. 
Alexander's companions are disdainful of the German deployment, and advance on the double.
Pike slide right and advance.  This is a very intimidating formation.
The view from Larry.  Not a pad position really.  If the pike advance to attack, they're flank will be hanging way out.
Arminius decides not to go toe to toe with the Companions.  He will rely on the terrain and skirmishers to keep the better cavalry at bay.  He should be able to triple time them around the left, up the road, and into the Macedonian rear. 
The German ambush is revealed.  Light horse in the woods is generally a bad idea, but the only thing that can go after them is other cavalry.  This is not really a bad match up.
Regardless of how they are mounted, these are all Heavy Infantry.  I just didn't quite have enough for 300 points of Germans.
The Germans advance to their expected defensive positions.  In retrospect, they are a turn early.  They should have waited till the pike cleared the flank anchor of the woods.  Hind sight is 20-20.
Turn 2:
Alexander supplies an extra two command points to his unreliable commander's command roll, who then rolls a 5, so they are no longer unresponsive and can start rolling for coming on the board.  That command then rolls a 6, and so will be arriving on turn 3.  This changes everything.

The Macedonian Phalanx cautiously advances.
You wouldn't know it from this shot that the Germans outnumber the Pike 1.5 -1.
The Companions advance as quickly as they can.  They are slowed by the presence of German Tencteri in the woods.
German Cavalry begins to expand and advance.
Two spare war-bands are parsed off to close the hole against the Companion Cavalry.
Turn 3:
Alexander is determined to leave no living enemy behind him, and dedicates 3 Companions to clearing the woods.
The flank march arrives, 4 units of Thracians.  Just the thing for clearing the woods.  One German war band failed to get out of the 4 UD "Flee" zone, and becomes disordered while running away.

The German Light Infantry are tricked into staying and fighting.  A very bad decision.
I really have to do better with this.  When a units job is to defend a piece of terrain, it does not mean stand toe to toe with whoever is challenging them for that piece.  At best this is a little worse than 50/50 proposition, so why risk unhinging your line on a coin toss.  

How it happen is fairly typical.  1 unit of Light Foot charge my two, and so I stayed to fight figuring I had the advantage, then the other two followed up.   Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Alexanders Cavalry Command is a little stalled.  All well in good.
And on the bottom of the turn, there goes the rest of the lights.  To reiterate, stupid, stupid, stupid.
The Germans apply overwhelming force against the Thracian flank march.  In retrospect, this also served only to reduce their numerical advantage against the Pike, and immobilized their cavalry. 
As the Thracians never came out of the woods, this part of the battle will commented only briefly in the future.  Trust it to say it was a total win for the Macedonians.  They tied up 14 units to 4, and wasted many command points, which the Germans could ill afford.

The Germans send a spare warband to cover the woods.
Turn 4:

The Thracians look threatening, but they are not going anywhere.
One of the German Tencteri is chased from the woods, and off of the board. 
Pike continue to rumble on.  They will get here eventually.
In range?  Check!  Impetuous?  Check!  Support on charge?  Not relevant.  The German Army is go!  Two actual contact points.  The Germans win one, and lose one. 
In the woods, the Tencteri first score a missile hit, then charge a Light Infantry, destroying it, and disordering another.
Another truth here.  The fortifications are here just for show.  If defending the fortifications, the Germans lose both Impact and Furious charge.  Gaining back a + for defending the fortifications.  If you are planning to fight for a while, then defending the fortifications is a good idea.
But then, there is that impetuous thing to consider as well.  They actually have to charge out of the walls.
Turn 5:

The Germans score their first major win.  Destroying a pike, flanking another.
On the German right, things are not looking good.  Light horse have broken out and are everywhere.

Alexander has arrived in the German rear.

The pike have pushed forward.  There are wins and losses on both sides.

On the Pikes right flank, the Germans are giving way.  But this flank is also turned.
This is a desperate fight.  Both Generals spending command points to rally.  On the right of the frame, another pike is destroyed.
The Macedonians really expected this to go their way, but just about every pike unit is disordered. 
The overhead shot reveals that two of the pike have 3 hits each.

This warband is doomed, but he is delaying the Companions by several turns.
Turn 6:
OK, maybe only 1 turn.  This is the first warband to fall.

And a fourth warband, but so too a fifth pike!
Three Companions in the woods.  That is a minor win.  3 Pike in the woods, even more so a win.  Another Pike unit is destroyed.
And another, that's 4!
The main press of battle is not totally one sided.  Two more warbands have been destroyed as well.
The hand of God himself is intervening. 
The less said about this, the better.  So many troops committed, so many command points spent.

This is what Germans do best.  Blowing holes in the enemy lines.  However, what they don't do well is turn and exploit those holes.
Impetuous troops are also unmaneuverable.  As this is my first, mostly impetuous army, I have to come to grips with unmaneuverable.  If I turn a unit 90 degrees, to exploit a flank it costs two command points, and takes two U.D.'s.  Meaning it doesn't go anywhere.  However wheeling 90 degrees costs 1.5 U.D's, but puts you in the rear, and not the flank.

The Pike are tactically at a disadvantage, but are still fighting hard.
Three cavalry have been sent off from this side, now 3 warbands are leaving as well.
Turn 7:
Another pike falls.  In a 200 point game, that pretty much would be it.  But not this game.
Alexanders Light Horse leap the fortifications and into the rear of the Germans.  This costs 2 U.D's, and not reduces them to 2 U.D's as I first thought.
The German camp has been sacked!
Alexander rallies one Companion, and advances two.  Off camera they are facing 3 German Medium Cavalry in a line.
This is nearing the end of the game, so the Generals are now all in.  Another pike is destroyed with help from Larry.
Darryl (the withered commoner, not the deformed ape) leads a warband into a Hypaspist, rolling 6-1 + furious charge for a destroyed on contact.
For all I commented about the waste of troops on the left bottling up 4 Thracian units, I have to be grateful that the brain-farts run both ways.  While I destroyed all but one pike in the clear, there are 4 pike, 3 companions and a spear are wondering lost in the woods.
In that same Macedonian saturated woods, a German light horse still fights.  And scores a missile hit.
I am not sure, but I thing the general with the Light Infantry is there because that is his last unit on the board.
Worlds largest self-sustaining prisoner of war camp.
Bad shot here.  Sorry.  As much as impetuous troops are unmaneuverable, so too are pike.  They are made for each other.
The clock is winding down.  Larry is never going to have enough command points to pull and cohesive groups out of this mess.
While the pike, may be in the woods, they are still organized.

At this point the game was called on time.  This was a training mission for Dennis and Allen for when they go to Cold Wars next week.  I know they learned a lot, like Pike don't necessarily win 1x1 battles.  Mostly that had to do with a bit of luck on the German side.  Strategically, and tactically, the Macedonians totally out classed the Germans.

The score at the end was  Alexander Macedonians with 22 points towards their demoralization level of 30.  The Germans 22 towards their demoralization level of 32.  A tie game.

Had it gone on longer, I believe the Macedonians would have pulled a win.  The Germans had little cohesiveness in their lines and fighting unmaneuverability with poor generals facing superior position, mostly surrounded by Cavalry. 

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