Friday, February 22, 2019

Bergisches Forest

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:        Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players:    Phil Gardocki playing the Early German
                      Phil Gardocki playing the Legio X

Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, about 400 points per side.

The Narrative:
The worlds history is written in blood across a million battlefields.  Many are important enough to be written down by historians, this was not one of them.

The Forces:
Early German
Arminius (Strategist), Larry (Brilliant), Darryl and Darryl, both Ordinary
     20 Tribesmen, Heavy Swordsmen, Impetuous, Elite
     12 Horsemen, Medium Cavalry, Elite
      5 Light Infantry Javelin
      4 Tencteri, Light Cavalry, Javelin
Breakpoint of 42

Triumvirate Roman
Caesar (Strategist), Marius(Competent), Darius (Competent) and Varius (Competent)
     18 Legionaries, Heavy Swordsmen, Armor, Impact, Elite.
      6 Greeks, Light Infantry, Bow
      6 Thureophoroi, Medium Spearmen

      2 Illyrians, Light Cavalry, Javelin

      3 Gauls, Medium Cavalry

      1 Germans, Medium Cavalry, Elite

      4 Orientals, Light Cavalry, Bow

      Break point 41

Scenario: The Sugambri tribe of Germans have taken advantage of the demise of Gaul at the hands of Caesar and have crossed the Rhine in force.  Caesar responds personally with his X legion.  In the lead up before the battle, the Eques Legionis X was trapped and destroyed, leaving Caesar without any scouts.  However, the muster of German cavalry could not go unnoticed, and the Roman coffers were deep, and he soon made up the difference with paid mercenaries.

Special Rule:
The number of command points is doubled for a 400 point battle.
The Board:
Arminius had a plan, it was a good plan.  Lots of forests that would become legionary "no go" zones, and lots of fortifications to fill the gaps and keep the impetuous German warriors under control.  On each flank, lots of elite cavalry, well supported by lights.  And when the dice settled, this is what he saw:

The Germans put down 2 forests, 2 wooded hills and an impassable.  4 of the 5 pieces wound up on the Roman side of the board.  The remaining forest Caesar lifted with a gratuitous '6'.

Arminius also lifted a now inconvenient forest on the Roman side of the board with a '6' as well.  When strategy fails, brave men must suffice.  Lay On!

The Game Knight had a bad weather delay, so I decided to play it solitaire and put it on face book as it happened.  Some of you got the invite and logged in.
This was what the battlefield looked like before adjustments.

Not much on the defending side.
Crafty Caesar cut down a whole forest over night.
The Tree of Woe
The date is Nones of Quintilis DCCI, or Tuesday, July 7, 51BC

This was my son's 4th grade geography project on Cerro Las Minas.  I repurposed it to an impassable piece of terrain.  I know impassable s are supposed to be lakes, but it's my game.
All of Caesar's cavalry is to his right.  The lights to the front, the mediums in ambush behind the mountain.
Marius, the Younger takes 3 cohorts of Legio X on Caesar's right.
The Great Caesar is in the center.

Darius is on Caesar's left.
Larrious is on the left with 6 elite cavalry.
Manning the barricades is Darrilious
Arminius mans the right side barricades.
While Larrylinius's other brother Darrylinius takes the right flank.
As I was playing both sides, this AAR will constantly be having pictures from both sides of the board, and since I painted all the troops, they tend to look alike.  Sorry for the confusion this may cause.

Varius leaves his cavalry in ambush, and will just play with his skirmishers for now.  The Oriental Horse Archers earn their pay with two hits on the German lights.
Marius (the younger) formed his troops in a single block, which was fortunate, as he rolled 1 command point.  His tight formation still allowed him a double move.
Caesar was wider, requiring 2 command points to move his troops, and also rolled a 1 for command points.  He contracted his Thureophoroi and formed reformed the block on the end of his first move, allowing him to move again with all his forces for a second move.

Darius also had a shortage of command points, but managed two moves, albeit barely.
Darrylinius recalls his disordered lights far enough back to allow for free rallies.  His entire line is elite, so he expects they will be resistant to bow fire.
Per the plan, Larrylinius's forces remain behind the barricades.
Ditto for Arminius.
The Romans were not the only side plagued with low command points, Darrylinius's Cavalry gets one move per battlegroup.
Turn 2:
I am not going to boor you overmuch with the details of the next 5 turns.  The flanks are where the action occurs, but the middle is just the Legion advances, and the Germans wait patiently.

On the Roman left, the Thureophoroi veer off to cover the flank of the advancing legion

An orderly advance in the center.
Varius's cavalry continue to shoot well, disordering 2 more cavalry.

Darrylinius charges in two phases, running off their tormentors.
Darrylinius see's an opportunity to defeat the Romans in detail, and begins an encirclement.
Turn 3:
Darius realizes he is not going to be able to keep up with the main Roman line, and starts deploying to avoid the encirclement.  He recalls his Thureophoroi to rejoin the Legion.
Varius's lights return for more shooting. 
And are run off for their trouble.  Darrylinius's command is in trouble.  It is now broken up in 4 groups, most of which are out of command range, against an undisordered foe.
Darrylinius's command continues to turn the Roman left flank.  With help from Arminius's light foot.
The view of the field from a patiently orbiting vulture.
Turn 4:

An ambush is revealed, and a German light horse is disordered by Greek archers.
Darius has all his command points this turn and expands and faces all his foes.

Varius's cavalry works to avoid being pinned against the mountain.  His archers score again.
It may not look like it, but the center legions are marching.

Darrylinius can either charge or rally.  Statistically, the rally option is a losing proposition, so he charges.  Which has a happy result, as to avoid contact and run, the Roman battlegroup fragments into many pieces.
Darrylinius commits to battle against the more vulnerable Thureophoroi, which proves their worth by resisting both charges.  On the German right, one of their lights is dispersed by Greek archery.
Turn 5:
Three more turns until the Legions hit the barricades. (heavy sigh)
But truth be told, this was moving quite fast.  An hour and 10 minutes to complete the first 5 turns.

With a shortage of command points, Varius tries to reorganize his lines.

Marius sends his Thureophoroi to run down the orphaned off German cavalry.

On the Roman left, Darius follows up his advantage.  Running off some cavalry, destroying another, and flanking the German lines.

Taking advantage of the Roman cavalry disorder, Darrylinius recalls a rallied cavalry.

Surprisingly, Marius's legions charge and catch Darrylinius's lights.  This also brings those legions in charge reach of the German lines a turn early.
Not to be out done, Caesar's legions also run down Arminius's lights, and he too will be in a position to attack next turn.
Darrylinius's horse destroys a Thureophoroi, flanking another.
Turn 6:
The battle is about to begin.
The Romans are 4 points towards their demoralization level of  41
The Germans are 13 points towards their demoralization level of  42

Varius has reordered his lines, and moves to taunt the Germans some more.
The staccato of the hob nailed sandals has been replaced by the clanging swords and the screams of the dying.  Legio X makes its charge. 
Caesar's legions head for the gap and are mostly successful.

However, Darius's delay means a third of the German warbands remain engaged.  Arminius has already started redeploying them to attack Caesar's flank.
And what of Darius?  With nearly parade ground precision, he turns his cohorts to face the encircling German cavalry.
Turn 7:

I pretty much lost interest in the flanks.  Darrylinius is not going to be able to push forward, nor will Varius and Marius do much but shoot.
Two cohorts are broken at the barricades, losing one warband in the process.
Arminius's warbands leap over the walls for the attack.

Darrylinius loses another cavalry unit.  Time to pull out.
Turn 8:
Darius sees an opportunity to pin the Germans against the forested hill.

It's a shame his mission is to cover Caesar's left flank.
Marius throws his reserves into the fight, and they succeed in stopping the German penetration of their lines.  He also recalls his Thureophoroi to assist.
Caesar has penetrated the German lines as well.
Arminius's first warband hits Caesars flank guard with a vengeance. 
The Germans have penetrated Marius's line again. 

Caesar sends his reserves to help the beleaguered Marius.
Caesar's flank guard is reduced and flanked, but they have accomplished their mission.  Those 4 warbands are not attacking the legions flank.
Turn 9:
The Romans are 14 points towards their demoralization level of  41
The Germans are 25 points towards their demoralization level of  42

Marius's Thureophoroi have turned the flank of the German line.  The cohort of in front of him is proving to be the MVP of the game, as it has been flanked, and unsupported on both sides but still continues to fight.
Caesars cohorts are wrapping up Larrylinius's left
While the remainder of Caesar's legion faces of against Arminius's warbands.
Arminius has the advantage in numbers, 7 warbands to 3 legions, but is out of position, and cannot maneuver well enough to bring those numbers to bear.

Off on the left of the picture, Rather than stand behind the fence line and be flanked, the warband jumps the fences in to the pila of the waiting cohort.  The Romans proved amazingly efficient at murder, doing 3 points on bound one, with the Thureophoroi flanking and finishing them off.
With one warband taken in front and flank, Caesar decides join the fight.  The warbands show hutzpah, and win the fight by 1!  Roman armor saves the day to avoid damage.  (were the Germans entitled to a chance to kill Caesar?)
Off panel above, Darrylinius has disengaged from Darius's troops are are making a line towards the Roman camp.

Turn 10:

Marius has his battle well in hand, and sends his Thureophoroi to the German Camp.
The last of Caesar's Thureophoroi falls and one of his cohorts is take in the rear and is destroyed.   Arminius's advantage in numbers are about to be felt.
The pile of dead
The Romans are 21 points towards their demoralization level of  41
The Germans are 38 points towards their demoralization level of  42

Turn 11:

Larrylinius joins a battle, and narrowly avoids being killed.  One of Caesar's cohorts, (far right) decides not to go for an easy flank shot but the camp instead.
Caesar personally defeats an entire German warband as the VIII Cohort cheers him on.  (Really, that is what was written in the histories!)  But the VII Cohort is in dire straights as the Germans are on its left and right flanks.
Off panel the Roman camp is attacked by a two cavalry units, and they roll a 5 and a 6.  The Roman camp falls!

The Romans are 38 points towards their demoralization level of  41
The Germans are 39 points towards their demoralization level of  42

Turn 12:

Marius has cleaned off the walls, but is still facing resistance.

Caesar throws Cohort VIII into the fray, while VII is flanked.  But off the south side of the board, the Cohort VI strikes the German camp along with one of Marius's Thureophoroi, rolling a 5 and a 1, the German camp falls!

The final score:
The Romans are 39 points towards their demoralization level of  41
The Germans are 50 points towards their demoralization level of  42

Ides of Quintilis DCCI, or Monday, July 13, 51BC

Arminius first smelled the smoke of the fire, then the constant speech of someone speaking Latin, and finally, the lit clearing.  A tall, bald headed man was centered between two centurions, in front of him, were three scribes, all writing at once.  The patrician would look at one who would pay attention to him, before continuing his frantic scribbling, then he would focus on the next.

After listening for a while, Arminius picked up the pattern.  The sentences were interleaved.  Each scribe was getting his words, and then given time to put pen to papyrus, before Caesar would move on to the next.  The Centurions stood in bored attention.  "Good trick, just like Gaius, not to waste any time."  And on papyrus yet.  Probably all the way from Egypt, nothing but the best for Gaius Julius Caesar.

He had heard enough, and stepped into the clearing.  Instantly the Centurions went to alert, their scutums interlocked in front of their leader, their other hands ready at their Gladiuses.  The startled scribes stopped immediately, one dropped his board, and then scrambled to retrieve it before the fire could consume his work.  Only Caesar looked unsurprised, and finished his sentence, then waited until the designated scribe acknowledged receipt by writing it down.  "That will be all."  And with that, the scribes scampered behind him down the path.

Caesar brushed through the locked scutum's and gave Arminius a stare.  The Centurions when to attention, but kept the woods under scrutiny.  Behind Arminius, the wrestling of leaves told everyone that he was not alone as well.

Arminius was resplendent in his purple toga, made of Parthian silk, and recently acquired from the spoils of the Roman camp.  Caesar opened the conversation, "It's a little long for you Arminius."

"I have been a bit too busy to have it altered."

"Of that I am sure.  You wouldn't happen to have found....?", Caesar let the question drop.

"Why yes, here, I gift you back what was yours", and tossed a bag to the foot of a Centurion.

The Centurion picked up the bag and passed it to Caesar.  It contained a wig, Caesar put it on.

"Ever vain", thought Arminius.

"I also have a gift", and a Centurion tossed a bag to Arminius.

Arminius let the bag roll, he had a guess on who it contained, so much for keeping this civil, "One of the Darrylinius's?"

"I believe that was his name."

"I thought I lost one in the retreat, but I have so many..."

"The ROUT."

"I did not mispeak, Gaius, it was a retreat.  Your forces are scattered in the pursuit, mine have been coalescing in the retreat.  We know these woods, and you do not.  By now, I think you know your German scouts are leading you astray, your Gallic cavalry is unreliable, and your Asiatic horse are practically terrified of the forest.   Go Home Gaius, there is nothing for you here but pain."

"Ever one to speak your mind Arminius, I like that about you.  If only you were a Roman, we could have been friends.  I cannot leave here though.  I have already conquered Gaul, and defeated the Germanic incursion into our lands."

"Still writing fiction, Gaius?"

"It is what is read in Rome that matters Arminius. What happens here doesn't really matter."

"And why do you care what the Proles or even the Senate thinks, Gaius"  You are never returning Rome at this rate.  We will meet again, probably before the Kalends of Sextillis.  With each fight, your legions get weaker.  And even if you win, then Vercingetorix will have mustered his warriors, then what?  How many Romans do you have in your legions?  How many are just Italians in Legion kit?  Marius may have said they were Romans, but you and I know the truth.  And even if you manage to avoid being destroyed, then what, will you go home?  I think not.  You will have not conquered the world Gaius.  The great sea to the north, it is just a salt water river, there are lands there Gaius, lands were the Latin tongue has never been spoken, populated by fierce creatures, both men and monster.  Will you go there as well?  Then what?  How old will you be then, Gaius?   50?  Men wear out Gaius.  You are in your decline.  Go home, enjoy the time left to you.  There is nothing here for you."

Caesar looked troubled, "Arminius, you have your victory, go across the Rhenus, and carve out your kingdom, you have earned it.  I'll not chase you.  Otherwise, you will be in my history as just another defeated foe."

"We do not have an accord."

"Then this is good bye Arminius."

Caesar turned, and passed through the ranks of his men.  They stared at Arminius, who waited for his departure.  Then he turned and faded into the woods.

Lessons learned:
Fortified camps for 300 point games are worth 9 points of demoralization if sacked.
Fortified camps for 400 point games are worth 12 points of demoralization if sacked.
(See official amendments 9/18)

I ran the two German Cavalry commands with Ordinary commanders.  This plagued their performance the whole game.