Monday, November 30, 2020

A Cackle of Cataphracts

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Virtual Table via Table Top Simulator
Players: Phil Gardocki running Palmyran
               David Ray running Middle Imperial Roman
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 200 points per side.
Theme: Just passing time.
The Forces:
Palmyra, List 106
Led by Larry (Brilliant), his brother Darryl (Competent) and his other brother Darryl (also Competent)
6 Cataphracts, 4 Elite
4 Regular Archers, Bowmen
5 "Other Archers", LI, Bow
8 Equites Sagittarii, LC, Bow
2 Equites Illyricani, LC, Javelins
Breakpoint of 26

Middle Imperial Roman, List 86, Commanders unknown
7 Legionaries, Heavy Swordsmen, Impact, Armor, some elite.
2 Auxilia Lanciarii, Medium Swordsmen, Armor, Impact.
2 Auxiliary Archers, Bowmen
2 Equites, Heavy Cavalry Impact, Elite
3 Equites Illyricani, Light Cavalry, Bow
4 Light Infantry, javelin and sling
Breakpoint of 21


The Palmyrans win the initiative and will defend in the steppes.

This battle is currently in progress...

Turn 1:

The Romans are officially the attackers. But they are being cautious, The only troops advancing are their Lanciarii on their right, protected by dense brush, and their lights on their left.
The Palmyrans deployed timidly, but now move aggressively forward. Horse archers begin raking the left, while previously hidden professional archers crest the hill and darken the skies.

Turn 2:

The Romans now have assessed the intentions of the Palmyrans and recall their lights. Their legions flanks are well covered by terrain and heavy horse.
On the left and right, Palmyran archers pursue and engage. In the center, the cataphracts split. One command to pin the legions, the other to destroy the Roman heavy horse.

Turn 3:

The Romans mostly wait. Redressing their lines as needed.
On the left, Palmyran Lights withdraw, The Lanciarii have armor, and there is no good percentages just shooting at them.

The Cataphracts continue to advance. Palmyran Archers disperse an Equites Sagittarii with bow fire.

Turn 3:

The Romans have redeployed their foot bowmen to good effect. Knowing the Brush is safe, they start to redeploy their Lanciarii. Their legions now step forward to pin the Palmyran Cataphracts.
But bowmen are more vulnerable to archery, and the Palmyran Light Horse come back and trade volleys.

The Cataphracts move to within charge reach of the Roman Heavy Horse.

The score is Romans 6 of 21, to Palmyrans 2 of 26

Turn 4:

Roman horse continue to retreat. But 5 cohorts of Legionnaires advance. Missile fire continues to favor the Palmyrans.
The cataphracts pin the Roman main line, and pursue the Roman cavalry into the gap.

Turn 5:

A stand is made! The cataphracts may have favorable charges available, but they will pay for them with flank charges in return.

On the Palmyran left, a Roman bowmen cohort is destroyed, the Lanciarii return to cover the brush. On the right, Roman lights are being decimated by superior forces.

The score is Romans 8 of 21, to Palmyrans 2 of 26

3 troops of cataphracts charge. The others cannot charge the Roman Heavy Horse without entering the brush or yielding the support advantage, so instead, they advance to lance distance and stare mightily.

Palmyran lights withdraw to reorganize. On the right their bowmen have cleared the brush of all foes and starting next turn will operate out of the terrain piece. 4 bowmen can do a lot of damage to the Roman flank.

But in the center, the thunderous cataphract charge impacts the Roman main line. Winning 2 of 3 bringing the score to Romans 11 of 21, to Palmyrans 2 of 26.

At this point the game was called on time, but was regarded as the Roman position was untenable. They might kill 3 Cats, (taking the score to 8) but at a cost of a pair of legions and a pair of Heavy Cavalry, taking the score to 18. The bowmen in the woods were going to turn the flank, pelting the lights, or hitting the camp.

Monday, November 23, 2020

A Take Out of Chinese

A Headless Body Production  

Venue: An Undisclosed Basement
Event: Playing a game for the camera
Players: Phil Gardocki running Korean
               Steve Turn running Warring States Chinese
Game System:
L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side

The Forces:
Warring States Chinese (list 80)
Han Xin, Brilliant, Wu Qi Brilliant and Xiang Yu, Competent*
4 Heavy Chariots, Impact, Elite
2 Heavy Cavalry
2 Medium Cavalry, Crossbow
4 Light Horse, Bow
2 Crossbowmen
5 Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
1 Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW, Mediocre
Breakpoint of 21

Koryo Korean (list 212)

The Koreans are commanded by Kim-Lar-Re, the Competent, his brother Kim-Dar-El, the Competent, and his other brother Kim-Dar-El, also Competent.2 Guardsmen, Heavy Cavalry Impact, Elite
2 Horsemen, Heavy Cavalry Impact, Ordinary
2 Militia Horsemen, Medium Cavalry Impact, Mediocre.
6 Spearmen, 1/2 Heavy Spearmen, 1/2 Crossbow
1 Cataphract, Elite
2 Light Cavalry, Bow
2 War Wagons, Crossbow
1 Light Infantry, Bow
2 Guardsmen, Crossbow, Pavise, Elite
Breakpoint of 21  

The Board:
The Chinese win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains.  Fortune favors the inscrutable, as most of the terrain falls on the Chinese side of the board.

The Chinese right flank is anchored to a Plantation.  What secrets lurk there?
The Chinese left is anchored to a plowed hill.

Note on annotation. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary. For troops it is e for Elite, and m for Mediocre. Other abbreviations, Hvy Heavy, XB Crossbow, LB, Longbow, Jav Javelin, 2HW 2 Handed Weapons, B Bow, Kn Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise.

Kim-Lar-Re deploys on the left with all the cavalry.

Kim-Dar-El is in the center.

The other brother Kim-Dar-El is with the War Wagons, holding the flank.

My thoughts are this.  The cavalry command  does not want to face the Heavy Chariots.  And deployed in an area they were not likely to be. Let the enemy advance in the center, and try to flank with the cavalry on the left. 

The right flank can be held by the War Wagons.  That command also has a couple of Guards with Cross Bows,  I will attempt to get them in the field and set up a missile platform harassing the enemy left.

Turn 1:

One command of chariots and cavalry advance on the Korean Heavy Infantry.  The other command looks to take up position with them.  The Chinese Heavy Infantry does not move.

Their light horse approaches the Korean Guards.  Looks like the plan to take the field is a bust.

But the other part of the plan seems in play.  The lance armed cavalry takes up position to flank the chariots.

The main battle line advances and releases their bolts to good effect.

The flank of the main battle line is secured.  The Chinese horse have no chance against the War Wagons.  The Guardsmen have nothing to fear from Light Horse, and expand and prepare to advance down the road.

Turn 2:
The Chinese heavy foot advance, sans their new recruits.  This will make flanking the chariots difficult.

Especially since they decided not to play in this field and begin to retreat.

The cavalry advances.  The numbers are not too bad against Heavy Swordsmen.

Korean Foot advance and release another volley.  And score twice again.

The guardsmen advance and also score.
And what are the odds of cavalry against heavy swordsmen, 2HW?
Not as good as I would have thought.
Heavy Cavalry Impact Elite beat the Heavy Swordsmen only 40% of the time, 77% if it has support
Heavy Cavalry Impact Ordinary beat the Heavy Swordsmen only 28% of the time.
Medium Cavalry Impact Mediocre beat the Heavy Swordsmen only 13% of the time.

Turn 3:

The swordsmen advance a bit, their mounted forces racing behind them to their right flank

They also are covering the retread of their disordered chariots, at a cost.

Korean Guardsmen follow as quickly as they can the retreating lights.

This is a bit complected.   Lights split to reveal the ambush, and take a shot.  Elite lancers line up an overlap charge, while their ordinary lancers take a flank charge position.

Protected by their spearmen, the Korean archers release waves of bolts.

The Guardsmen are in the field, but the Chinese have retreated to the point where that is not relevant anymore.
Turn 4:

To avoid a coordinated charge of cavalry and foot, the Chinese attack with their undisordered swordsmen.  Totally surprising the Koreans, who fall back!

Meanwhile, the chariots are now in theater.  Charging off the lights, and protecting the flank of their foot with a ZOC.

There is too much horse on the Chinese right, so some of their mounted redivert to the left.

This looks complected, but only a little.

1) Disordered LH retreats from the plantation

2) An ordinary lancer charges a chariot, and loses badly.

3) Once engaged, the ZOC of the chariot is no longer in effect, allowing a flank charge on the Chinese Heavy Swordsmen.

Bringing up the Heavy Infantry to line up with their horse.

Guardsmen continue to put pressure on the Chinese lights.

A promising start for the Koreans, 7-2

Turn 5:
Quality begins to show.  Archery from the plantation disorders the largely untrained Korean lancers.

Elite Chariots trample another lancer.  But a Chinese Heavy Swordsmen also is destroyed.

Having been decimated by many salvos of crossbow the Chinese swordsmen charge.

Their lights brought forward to continue to screen their heavier units.

Bringing the score to a virtual tie of 8-7

Kim-Lar-Re has a too much to do, and note enough wit to do it.  He orders his elite lancers to engage the Chariots and the Chinese Heavy Horse, losing both actions. 

But his last order continues the charge of lancers down the infantry line.  One falls, another pursuit.  On the other side, yet a third is destroyed.

The Guradsmen (Crossbow, Pavise, elite), continue to put pressure on the Chinese left.  The Chinese chariotry have almost completed rallying from their earlier disorder.

Bringing the score to 10-All
Turn 6:

The Korean cavalry is all but done.  Except for a troop running down the line, it has accomplished nothing.

Despite the Korean advantage with flank support and numbers, the 2 Handed Swords of the Chinese are holding back the mediocre spear of the Koreans.

Having waited for the right moment to strike, a charge on the Guardsmen by horse troops, with chariots to follow.

The Korean army is a shooting army.  Once in melee range it's weaknesses are apparent.  For the first time, the Chinese are winning, 15-12

Kim-Lar-Re orders a general retreat of the remaining mounted forces.

Kim-Dar-El advances behind the Chinese line.  Crossbowmen barely screened by the last vestiges of Chinese light horse.

A guardsmen falls, but the War Wagons have rumbled into place again.

The Chinese advantage grows, 16-12

Turn 7:
Sensing the end is near, they Chinese Crossbowmen leave their Plantation to pursue the retreating Korean horse.

Surrounding the flank charging Korean Cavalry in time to save the last Chinese swordsmen.  Emboldened, they destroy their Korean tormentors.

I didn't catch this till later.  The charge on the Korean horse on the flank and the rear was not legal.  The Chariots crossed the ZOC of the Cataphracts to get there, and so could not have supported the charge.

And it wouldn't have mattered.  Instead of 5 to -1 the fight would have been 3 to -1 (the general would have switched to the cavalry)  And he won the dice off by +1, so still was 4 over and enough to kill the Cavalry.

A bit of a back and forth, that only a Brilliant Commander can achieve.  Instead of conforming with his cavalry, it was pulled back, providing enough space for a Furious chariot charge, with support.  The second Guardsmen falls.

Which gives the Chinese the boost they need to win the game, 21-13

Just how did the Koreans squander their advantage here.  Up by 5 at one point, only to lose by 8?  

On the right the Guardsmen, over exuberant and facing lights, left its safe area, and out ran its supports (the war wagons) to be swatted by superior mounted forces.  They got 2 points for lights, and lost 4.

In the center was a clear victory.  Killing 8 points of foot, disordering 3 mounted for 11.   But it cost them 7 to do it.  They even had an early advantage there, forcing a chariot command to retire for most of the game.  But when it came back, it was able to swat the right side command of guardsmen.  So while the focused crossbow yielded an advantage, it was not one that was exploitable.

The mounted command on the left was where the game was lost.  In an effort to support the center command, they lost 6 units.  Some to sacrificial charges, others to a shortage of command points that resulted in units staying in range when they shouldn't.

But that is the nature of this army.  Only 3 command points means you don't try anything fancy.  

On the Chinese side, you could say they pitted their heavy foot on heavy foot, and while that was happening, they gained local superiority on the other two battles for the win.  Patience and superior command control won out over exuberance.

* There are no jokes with the Chinese names, you can stop trying to phonetic them out.