Sunday, June 23, 2019

2019 MATT, Round 2, Greeks vs. Carthage

Location:  Allen Kaplan's Man Cave
Event:        4th(?) 5th(?) Annual(?) Mid Atlantic Team Tournament.
Players:    Philip Gardocki representing Team Tri-State Area playing Hellenistic Greek
                     Kurt Holmes representing playing Carthaginian 
Theme:     Punic Wars

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

Something completely different:
I think I have built enough credibility that I can spend a little for a friend.  In honor of D-Day, Lostbattalion games is printing a set of normal playing cards with art of that fateful day.  If you are interested, here is the link:  D-Day 75th Anniversary Playing Cards.

The Forces:
The Achaean League, Commanders Larrilaus (competent), Diaeus (competent and a real name!) and Diaeus (also competent and a real name).
       8 Pike, 2 Mediocre
       2 Hoplites, Heavy Infantry, Spear
       2 Thorakatai, Medium Infantry, Armor, Spear
       1 Cretans, Light Infantry Bow
       3 Peltasts, Light Infantry Javelins
       2 Horsemen, Heavy Cavalry, impact
       1 Horsemen, Heavy Cavalry
       5 Light Cavalry, Javelin
       Break point 24

Since Carthage was ground into the dust by the Romans, little of their records remain to be studied. 

Forces seem to include:
      An Elephant, Mediocre
      Many Swordsmen, impact, elite
      You will have to make a judgement on the cavalry.
       Break point 24

The Carthaginians won the initiative and elected to attack in the plains.
The clever Carthaginians reveal their trump card with their first command, a mediocre elephant, barbarians and an odd cavalry unit.
Their center is dominated by 8 heavy infantry units.
While their left has 6 cavalry units.
Diaeus is on the right with his pike. 
Larrilaus dominates the center with his pike.
While his other brother Diaeus faces the Carthaginian horse.
Turn 1:
I missed the first set of pictures, so this battle report starts at the bottom of the 1st.

I had been running this Greek army for a number of games in preparation for the MATT, and frankly had not done well.  I made a last minute adjustment for the actual tournament reducing Diaeus's command from 4 pike to 2, but adding a couple of Thorakatai and a couple of cavalry units.  This gave the command additional flexibility, however I did not take into account the additional command points required to run it, and in this battle, that mattered a lot.
Diaeus's command sends forth it's lights to delay the elephant, while the heavy cavalry runs behind the plantation. 
The Carthaginian center stalls in the face of Larrilaus  and Diaeus combined pike block.
Diaeus's cavalry seems out matched with 4 elite mediums vs 2 impact heavies.  But at least his lights look like a favorable matchup for shooting, 4-2.
Turn 2:
Carthaginian cavalry approach the ambush marker but are beyond 1 UD.
Carthaginian foot advance.  Their plan is becoming clearer.

Using teamwork they plan on destroying the Greek right before contact in the center.
An ambush is revealed.  The Thorakatai advance just enough to ZOC the Carthaginian cavalry.
And a note here.  For most of the game I was under the impression there are two cavalry units, not one and a general.  This would cost me later.

The combined Greek foot slide right and advance.  This should take the pressure off of Diaeus's cavalry command.
Diaeus pulls back to a support position of the infantry command.
Turn 3:

The Carthaginian elephant command charges, Greek lights evade.

Carthaginian foot advance sliding left to match the Greek slide.
While the Carthaginian horse very aggressively advance.
Diaeus has a shortage of command points.  Mission 1 is keeping in line with Larrilaus's wall of pike.  He decides to send his Peltast to harass the elephant.  If I had realized that was only one cavalry unit, I would have advanced a Thorakatai and flanked them.
The wall of pike continue to advance.  On the right, the two units are Hoplites, and are much more maneauverable than their pike armed brethren.  They ignore the enemy lights and turn to face the Carthaginian cavalry.
Trapping and killing a Carthaginian horse unit, even if it means receiving a flank shot next turn.
Turn 4:
The elephant command announces multiple charges, fragmenting into 5 separate parts.  But they gain a lot of tactical advantages.
The main lines meet.  The dice pretty much average out with 3 hits apiece, and a tie.
Carthaginian horse charge with support, disordering the Greek Impact Heavies.  The Carthaginian Light horse flank shot the Hoplites, which should have held, but the dice were not kind, and were scattered instead.
Diaeus rolled a 1 for command points here.  So he has a choice.  Deal with the situation in the plantation, or protect the main line from being flanked.  In the end he chose to defend the main line.

And the major scrum in the center was leaning in favor of the Greeks.  2 units of Carthaginians were destroyed.

While on the right, the remaining Hopllite begins to hold up the Carthaginian cavalry command.

And Diaeus horse also manages to push back against his Carthaginian foe.
The Greeks are 8points towards their demoralization level of 24.
The Carthaginians are 11 points towards their demoralization level of 24.
Turn 6:

Earlier errors in judgement come to roost.  Gallic infantry charge into the plantation, destroying one  Thorakatai and disordering another. 
But on the plus side, the Gallic charge on the flank of the main line stalls on contact.  The main line of Carthaginian infantry is practically destroyed.
On the right, the Carthaginians flank the Hoplites, who continue to hold.  But a single favorable die roll by the Greek Heavy Horse would cause the Carthaginian horse to unzip in a hurry.  But alas, the fates were not so kind.
The Greeks are 13 points towards their demoralization level of 24.
The Carthaginians are 14 points towards their demoralization level of 24.

One problem with pike armies is when you win with them, they take forever to turn to into place for the exploitation.  Diaeus rolled decent command points, 3, just enough to turn one taxis of pike, and bring in his reserve heavy cavalry to flank the Gauls (next turn).
Larrilaus is able to turn a unit of pike as well, but his flanks are no longer secure.  One pike is destroyed, and their remaining Hoplite flank guard is gone.  Two units of pike in the center are not going to do anything useful the rest of the game.  They cannot turn fast enough, nor can they advance fast enough to get to the camp.
The cavalry fight is just so much noise at this point.  Neither gaining an edge.

The Greeks are 16 points towards their demoralization level of 24.
The Carthaginians are 16 points towards their demoralization level of 24.

Turn 7:
The Greek left flank is a wash, with both sides losing a unit this turn.  But the Greeks have an advantage as their lines are reforming faster.
The Greeks have won the center, but have not gotten enough points for a win.
On the right, the Carthaginian's have now managed to mass superior force.
Diaeus has the left well covered.  The elephants are facing harassment 101.

The Greek right has collapsed with a bang.  2 Heavy Cavalry destroyed, and a pike taken in the flank.
But the Carthaginian commander is also facing fragmentation problems, his cavalry command is broken into 7 blocks.
Final shot
The Greeks are 24 points towards their demoralization level of 24.
The Carthaginians are 22 points towards their demoralization level of 24.

This was a close game.  
But what went wrong?  It would be easy to say if a couple of dice had gone the other way, but then your strategy is depending on luck.   

My main mistake was not paying attention to the presentation of the troops.  I was treating generals as included units.  On the right, this was no big deal, on the left, it lead to errors in judgement.  The left flank could have been easily won and the game results reversed.

But the seeds of the loss was in the design of the army.  The main command was solid, 6 pike and 2 Hoplites.  The pike roll forward, and the Hoplites are there to keep things off of the pike's flank.  Simple missions which can be managed on any command roll save a 1.

Defending the one flank would be the cavalry command.  2 Heavy Cavalry Impact and 4 light horse.  A good mix for the Punic era.  My opponents, without fail, however went for numbers, 4 Medium Cavalry Elite plus lights.  So on a head on head confrontation, my heavies are at a disadvantage.  Elite pretty much balances out heavy armor, and numbers balance out Impact.  So my cavalry force is forced to go on the defensive.  Something that is fine until a mistake is made, or a bad die roll, and then it is over.  

Then on the other flank was a command of 2 pike, 2 medium foot (armor), a heavy cavalry, a light cavalry and a Peltast.  This was coined as a "Swiss Army Command".  It has a little of everything to deal with any problem, but not enough of anything to force a win.  The commands main mission is to add two more pike to the main battle-line.  The rest is to keep flankers off by contesting terrain with the mediums or open areas with cavalry and skirmishers.  But this means the command starts with 3 separate units, and one of those units is somewhat unmaneuverable.  And if it fragments further, then it is just too much for a +1 commander to run.  He will have to make unpleasant choices, which happened here, and other times just let units go unmoved because of a lack of command points.  It is just a poor decision all round.  He would have been better served to have left the Cavalry home, boosting the list with another Medium and Light, or dropped the Pike (mediocre) for Hoplites, which also are more controllable.

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