Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Eiger Sanction

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Regency at Providence Community Center, Phoenixville, Pa
Event:        Providence Gamer's Game Knight
Players:    Phil Gardocki, Garth Parker playing the Early Swiss
                      Bruce Potter, Steve Turn, Mark McConnahayplaying the Inca

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

The Title: "The Eiger Sanction", what a stupid title.  Other titles mulled over was "Climb Every Mountain", and "Andes vs. Alps"

The Forces:
Early Swiss
Larry (Ordinary), Darryl (Brilliant) and Darryl (also Brilliant)
    16 Halberdiers, Medium Swordsmen, 2HW, 12 are Elite
      2  Light Cavalry Crossbow
      3 Light Infantry Crossbow
Breakpoint of 22

The Inca
Son of Atahualpa (Brilliant), 2 others, (both Competent)
     24 Warriors, Medium Swordsmen
      3 Light Infantry, Sling
      1 Bowmen
      Break point 28

Scenario: In perpetration for the Cold Wars Tournament, the battle will be fought in the Mountains.  The only question is will it be in the Andes, or the Alps?

How did these armies get here?:  No, I am not going to write some fantasy fiction to explain how these two armies could have met.  No wizards, mysterious rifts in the fabric of space.  No blue boxes wheezing about.  

The Swiss, who would build an army of only medium swords men for this game?  I painted the Swiss you see below in 1985.  The game was WRG 6.  In that game they were rated as Irreg'A'.  Which means they would make an impetuous charge (approximately +66% damage) very easily, and to break they would have to lose 4 consecutive battles.  I described them as a "Luck" army.  No amount of bad luck was going to defeat them, and only a little bit was required for them to have amazing wins.  But, while I was painting them, WRG 7 came out, and their advantages disappeared.  Additionally, there was a brutal increase of the shield-less penalty which literally saw units disappear on contact.  The Swiss were put in a can, and sat on my shelves for 30 years.

The Inca.  Steve visited a mutual fried of ours, Ed (no last names), and played a WRG game.  Ed was running the Inca.  Steve admired the army and bought it off of Ed.  Steve later commented, "In retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have bought an army that I just trounced."

The Board:
The Swiss won the initiative and elected to defend in the Alps.  They picked two steep wooded hills and an impassible.  The Inca selected two brush.

The Incan Commands were all pretty even, 8 warriors running 6 wide with 2 reserve warriors, and some shooters.
Their center command deploys in the brush, defending their otherwise defenseless camp.
On the Incan left, 8 more Warriors, defending 3 units worth of fortifications.

The "Men from Bern", deploy on the Swiss left.
Ignoring the walls provided for them, the Banner command cram onto the hill.
The deployment of the Banner command was a fairly good idea.  The Banner command, with quick moving Medium Infantry, can extend 4 elements either way if need be if they get a double move.  So flexibility is maintained. 

One Swiss command is not visible.

Turn 1:
Son of Atahualpa pushes his men forward, but they have to divert around the impassible.  Possibly the Eiger 'snorth face?
The center advances on the double.
The Incan left seizes up, due to a lack of command points, and fear of a flank march.
The men from Bern have no shortage of command points, and triple march to go shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts on the hill.

The Banner command have spread out quite nicely.
At this point I realized I made a strategic error.  Not the first as it turned out, but the first discovered.  The Men from Bern should have sent their Light Infantry left, to the other steep hill, just to run interference over there.  It was going to be absolutely no use were it was.

Turn 2:
The Incas had to contract to get around the Eiger.

The Incan center slowed down to keep the line formed up.

The Incan left had a few more command points.  Enough to move the mass forward twice.
The Men from Bern complete their line up.  That Light Infantry I mentioned earlier was pulled out for redeployment.  Unphotographed and to the left is an Incan Slinger sneaking around the edge.

The Banner Command also retires their Lights.
Turn 3:
Is this sneakiness, clever planning, or just the tyranny of geometry?  The Incas advance to within 5 mm of the front of the Swiss line.  They have the advantage of the overlap here.  But that was expected when you have a 24-16 edge in main combatants.

The Incan center brings up 4 elements to continue the line, but refuses on the left to challenge the hill.  But deploys it's remaining forces well enough to cover the flank.

The Incan left, plagued with poor command point rolls, is late for the initial impact. 
This suits the Swiss just fine.  They know they are going to lose the flanks anyway, their strategy relying on quality to blow out the center before the flanks collapse. 
If you can call this a strategy.
"When your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails." --Abraham Maslow

Victory followed victory, as undeserved good fortune prevailed down the Swiss line.  8 battles, 4 wins, 3 ties and a loss.
But what are the odds here?  The combat statistics page on the official L' Art de la Guerre site breaks it down this way.  If all the battles are even, and in this case only two were not, the Incas had a +2 to + 1 on the Swiss left, and the Swiss had the same edge on the right, then with Elite vs Normal combat, the Swiss should win 50%, tie 17%, lose 33%, so in the case above, the Swiss won right on average with 4, the but pulled extra ties that made it look so bad for the Inca. Also, with the 2HW, 2 of the Swiss victories scored a +1 damage, which in one case, lead to the destruction of a warrior, disordering it's rear support.

Turn 4:
The Swiss have 1 point towards their demoralization level of 22.
The Inca have 6 points towards their demoralization level of 28.

The Inca push forward on the left flank of the Swiss with a column of Warriors.

The Inca left flank makes contact. 
And the Swiss flank march rolls a successful arrival.  They will arrive on the Swiss right side of the board.

The dead piled high in front of the Swiss Kiels. 

The Swiss have 9 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The Inca have 17 points towards their demoralization level of 28.
Turn 5:
We thought this game wouldn't go the time limit.  And it looks like that will be true.

Undaunted by the carnage, the Son of Atahualpa pushes his flank attack.  A Swiss Kiel falls, most of the kiels remaining are disordered.
On the Incan left, the Warriors swarm the barricades, slaying the defenders to a man.  But on the hill, a warrior unit is also destroyed, and their flank exposed.
Every last Inca Warrior unit (10) in the center has been destroyed.  But can the Swiss save their camp?
Even on the hill, where the Incan had about a 2-1 edge, the Swiss have lost a Kiel, and that by desperate action by the Incan commander leading from the front, but otherwise the Swiss are either holding their ground or gaining. 

<Queue the William Tell Overture>  The Swiss Cavalry has arrived, and will sack the Incan camp next turn.
Turn 6:
It looks really bad for the Inca, but when we counted the points, the score is much closer than we thought.  The Inca have a lot of dead units but what is left is undisordered.  While only a few Swiss are undamaged.
The Swiss have 17 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The Inca have 23 points towards their demoralization level of 28.
Both sides are 5 away from demoralization.  Both sides have assaults primed for the camps.  The Inca have several flank attacks lined up, while the Swiss literally have no targets to go for.

It is down to one die roll, on a 5 or a 6, the Swiss will lose this game.
But the Inca decided to raise the tension, and resolve other battles first.  Above, they surround a Kiel and destroy it utterly.  I ran of dead markers and used a horse marker.

The Swiss have 18 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The Inca have 23 points towards their demoralization level of 28.

On the hill, another Swiss Kiel is taken in the rear and destroyed.  Here the Incan is paying for their leader fighting in the front.  This lead to a shortage of command points, and with that, a chance to bring up a supporting unit for the beleaguered commander.  And as luck would have it, the Inca lost by 1, and their commander killed.

The Swiss have 19 points towards their demoralization level of 22.
The Inca have 28 points towards their demoralization level of 28.
Following their final orders, Inca Slingers arrive to defend the camp, but too little, too late.
"To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee."  The Inca is demoralized, but can demoralize their foe on a 5 or a 6...
From Hell's heart, I stab at thee; For hate's sake, I spit my last breath at thee
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/herman_melville_390294
Ah, but it was not to be.
This lead to a humorous interlude, where each Incan commander took turns rolling the die.  They gave up after the 10th failure to get a 5+

Another strategic mistake on the Swiss side was the placement of the fortifications.  
On the far right, I placed them right up to the edge of the hill.  Normally I would place them about 1/2 to 3/4 a UD away.  Enough to cover the area, but leaving a gap that no one can sneak through without hitting the terrain. This caused us almost to lose the game, as when the battle on the right developed, we wanted to retire the right two units to avoid them being overwhelmed.  But between the fortifications, and losing a UD of movement for the turn, we were unable to do it, and so had to stand there and take the fight.  The end result lead to the Inca destroying 4 units for 8 points.  I know we destroyed 6 points as well, but that was mainly luck.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Klash of Knights

A Headless Body Production

Location:  Walt's Mancave

Event:        Cold Wars Prep
Players:    Phil Gardocki playing the Medieval Polish
                      Bill Hawkes and Walt Leach playing Medieval German

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

The Narrative:
Well, something new.  Actual historic opponents.  Except that the Wing Hussars as we think of them did not actually evolve until a later period, but the Lithuanians probably had the wings, but presumably not for actual combat, but to hell with it, they look good!

The Forces:
Medieval Polish
Larricki (Strategist), Darrylski (Brilliant) and Darrylski (unreliable, ordinary)
     4  Heavy Knights, Impetuous, Elite
     4 Horsemen, Medium Cavalry, Crossbow
     4  Lithuanians Light Cavalry, Javelin
     3  Tartars Light Cavalry, Bow, Elite
     1 Light Infantry, Handgun, Elite
     2 Heavy Spearmen, half Crossbow
     2 War Wagons
Breakpoint of 21

Medieval Germans
The German lists have been lost to history, but this is a reasonable guess:
Generals, one Brilliant, one Competent, one included, probably Competent
      8 Heavy Knights, Impact, most ordinary.
      8 Light Infantry, Crossbow
      6 Pikemen, Mediocre
      1 Heavy Cavalry, Bow
      Break point 23

Scenario: The Hanseatic League has hired a large mercenary company to help promote their products.  These Germans have made incursions across the Oder River into Duchy of  Szczecin, where they are met by the bouncers. 

The Board:
The Polish won the initiative and elected to defend in the Mountains.  They picked two wooded hills, and an impassible.  While the Germans picked an road, brush, and a marsh.  

A repurposed 4th grade project will act as the impassable.  In its shadow is the dark, forbidding swamp of eternal stench.

On the right are a few pieces of felt, unimaginatively representing steep wooded hills, and a brush.
The road could be the 104, connecting Schlutup to Szczecin.

The German right is filled with pike.  And I will add, they look really good.

Their left is full of knights, +1 cavalry.

The Polish is refusing their left, holding it with 4 units and a few barricades.

The Polish right is 4 Winged Hussars, well screened by lights, and supported by a number of ambushes.
Turn 1:

The Germans are faced by an extreme shortage of resistance.  Fortifications or not, the Pike outnumber Darrylski's command 2-1. 

The German Knights also outnumber the Winged Hussars by 2-1.  The Germans have a small, 2 Knight command which they hold back in reserve.
The Polish announce a flank march, and then roll a 6.  It will be arriving on turn 2, on the edge with the impassable.

Darrylski pulls back one war wagon, lining it up with the Heavy Spearmen.  We know where and when the flank march is coming, and so we only need a turn or two of delay to for a possible encirclement.
So to with Larricki's Knights.  There were plenty of command points, so he pulls back his line. 
Turn 2:
The German small command has plenty of command points and race down the autobahn to intercept the flank march.
The pike march forward undeterred.
So to, the knights advance.
The Polish plan so far is working perfectly. Then the screw up occurs.  Darrylski splits the arrival into 3 parts, two on one side of the impassable.
And one on the other.  The thought is to partially encircle the pike, while taunting the knights with mounted crossbow.  And get a Tartar to the camp.  Lofty goals, but even with a brilliant commander in charge, the troops are too spread out, fragmented, and under-powered for the task.
The other Darrylski is making other adjustments with his line.  War Wagons are unmaneuverable, and are a pain to adjust.
The Lithuanians advance forward to taunt the German Lights.  An ambush is revealed to be elite handgunners on the hill.

Shots fired, and the left most knight is disordered.
Turn 3:
I thought the Lithuanians were well covered to avoid being caught while evading, but Walt disabused me of that very quickly.

Two knights charged, and two Lithuanians were able to flee, but two others were caught and run down.

The pikes peel off their right flank to face the flank march.

The German flank guards advance, ZOCing the flankers.  Shots are fired, and both German Knights take a hit.
At this point I realized that lucky hits or not, this flank was doomed to destruction, or being run off, and quickly too.  So a charge was ordered under the best conditions I can arrange.  The dice roll and it's a tie!
Darrylski ignores the pike, and goes for an encirclement of the knights instead.
Larricki is two horse units down, and out of charge reach, but he advances his knights to offer battle.  The Knights Żółty i Zielony will be overlapped in the charge, but the Knights Punkt Włóczni will have an overlap in it's favor.

The view from the long edge.
The battle is looking bad for the Polish.  They have lost two units outright and are looking out numbered and out-armored everywhere on the board.  Only fortunate shooting and die rolls have the score about even.
The Polish have 4 points towards their demoralization level of 21
The Germans have 4 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 4:
The German flank guards line up on the Polish Medium Cavalry.  One of the charged Cavalry units flees, and makes the edge of the board.  His remaining companion, unsupported on both sides,  rolls very well, and survives the battle undisordered.

Same view from above.
Darrylcki's remaining forces have turned the corner, but they are still too far away to affect a save.

But while I was over on the table edge, we have a great view of lineup about to occur.
The pikemen are still 2 turns out, time for plenty of shooting.

The German Knights, decide not to charge, but are going for position for next turns charge.
The Polish Cavalry disengages.
More shooting, but to no effect.
The Winged Hussars charge.  Larricki joins the battle on the right most flank.  From left to right, the Knights Żółty i Zielony win, Czerwoni i Zieleni and Czerwoni i Biali lose, and Punkt Włóczni roll a tie.
The Polish have 7 points towards their demoralization level of 21
The Germans have 6 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 5:
On the flank, another charge, and two evades, 3 Polish units are now off board.
Almost ready for the clash of arms.
3 of 4 Winged Hussars have fallen, for the price of one knight.
There is no option here, as the Punkt Włóczni is impetuous.  He must conform, and will take a flank charge next turn.

Polish shooting only adds one point to the score, dispersing a Light Infantry.
This is looking very bad for the Polish.  75% of their knights are gone, and the remaining one is about to take a flank charge.
The Polish have 13 points towards their demoralization level of 21
The Germans have 12 points towards their demoralization level of 23

Turn 6:

A shining beacon erupts in the distance.

Victory assured, the German Commander pushes forward to the front, where he is shot out of his saddle by an random bullet, then trampled under hoof. 
The fight at the barricades is having mixed results.  A War Wagon is down, but so is a pike.

Punkt Włóczni continues to fight on.

Off in the distance, the remaining Lithuanian, makes a long roll to catch fleeing Light Infantry and kills one.  Closer to the front, a War-Wagon has been chasing down a Knight.
The twin disasters of losing the camp and a Brilliant General has proved too much for the Germans, shifting, adding 7 points to their demoralization level.  Combined with accumulative missile hits has taken their total to 23 for a Polish win. 

Why did I label the Light Infantry, Firearm the MVP?
     First, by being real, he kept a Heavy Cavalry unit from revealing the unknown of the last ambush.      Second, he kept that Heavy Cavalry pretty much out of the game.  So 5 points have rendered 11 points ineffective.
    Three, his opening volley disordered the left flank German Knight.  Directly leading to it's destruction.
    Four, It's support of the Rycerzy Punkt Włóczni (Knights Point of the Spear) lead to the slaying of a commander (3 points) destruction of a knight (2 points) and damaging another knight (1 point), the damaging of a Light Infantry unit through shooting, and then its subsequent destruction by a routing knight (2 points).  For a total contributing of 8 points to final victory.

The final score was 17-23.