Sunday, February 28, 2021

A Classical of Indians

A Headless Body Production
Venue: An Undisclosed Basement
Event: Playing a game for the camera
Players: Phil Gardocki running Classical Indians
              Tom Worden running Samurai
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Samurai (list 210)

The Samurai are commanded by Yoshitune the Strategist, and two other nameless commanders, both Ordinary.

9 Samurai, Medium Swordsmen, Bow, Elite
4 Yari, Medium Spearmen, Mediocre
4 Mounted Samurai, Heavy Cavalry, Bow, Elite
2 Followers with Bow, Bowmen, Mediocre

Breakpoint of 19

Classical Indian (list 79) Are commanded by Earasi, Brother Darasi and the Other Brother Darasi, all Ordinary and Included.
      4 Elephant, Elite
      6 1/2 Medium Swordsmen, 1/2 Bowmen
      4 Heavy Chariots, Impetuous, Elite
      3 Medium Cavalry, Mediocre
      4 Light Infantry, Bow
      2 Light Cavalry, Javelin
Breakpoint of 23
I am experimenting with armies that are maximum size by sacrificing the  command section as much as possible.  Here I have 3 included commanders, 2 on elephant, 1 driving a chariot. 

The Board and Deployment:
Yoshitune wins the initiative and elects to attack in the plains.  His deployment suggest that he is going to refuse the right flank, and throw a strong left punch.  From center line to the far left are 13 elite Samurai, the foot forces bolstered by dismounting the Samurai horse.

Earasi, also is going to throw a left punch with his oversized chariot force.  They are expected to hinge on an strong elephant force in the center.
Two small plantations flank the Japanese camp.  Two farmers fields dominate the right side of the battlefield, while a hill occupies the Indian left.

The Samurai camp is guarded by a pair of plantations and a sizable force of mediocre Yari and Bowmen.  The main Samurai starts on the center and deploys all the way...
... to their left, 13 elite shooters in all.

The Indian left has a very strong force of cavalry and chariotry, but are staring at zero opposition.

While Earasi (included, ordinary) realizes he is both out numbered and out qualitied in shooters.  6 MI and 4 LI (ordinary) vs 13 MI (elite)

The Other Brother Darasi (included, ordinary) realizes it is on his command the strongest blow will fall.

This is the projected paths.

Turn 1:

As expected, the Samurai trot across the field.

Yoshitune (strategist) has an abundance of command points, and double marches and expands his line to the edge of the board.

The first mistake of the day was actually born days ago.  The chariotry group is too big!  Especially with an ordinary commander who luckily rolled well, but still had to leave an element behind.

The Indians need time for the Chariots to get into position and pull back. 
Turn 2:

While they are still in command range, the camp defenders are ordered into the adjacent plantation.
Defending the camp from the chariots would be pointless for this group.  Mediocre vs Elite, Mediums vs Knights, which is what the chariots count as.  The odds are exactly zero percent of a mediocre spear winning.  So it would just be adding 6 points to the demoralization level of 19 for them to take a stand. 
The Samurai shooters invest the the field.

While the rest of the army wheels it's way in, but still out of bow reach.

The Chariots still race against time.

Earasi reevaluates his position.  His elephants are just fine in the field, and that is where the "hinge" point will be.

Other Brother Darasi holds his position.  The more he can delay the shooting the better.
Turn 3:
So far, the Indians have avoided being shot at.  But that cannot last.

And the pain begins.

13 volleys, 4 hits. 

By lucky positioning, only one Samurai is totally in the field and vulnerable to the chariots.  But their arrows still fly.

Sheaf after sheaf of arrows ...

Continue to darken the skies. 

At the Tree of Woe the score is tallied at 7 - 1.  With double hits, the archery is favoring the Samurai 9-1
Turn 4:
Earasi and his brothers must endure one more turn of archery before they get to charge. 

And the pain just keeps coming.

Several Indian units are dispersed by the hail storm of arrows

Adding insult to injury, Yoshitune quotes one of his favorite Haiku's, rallying the only disorder on his army.

You know where you have a plan where everyone dies?  What's that called, "A BAD PLAN!"

Arrows spent, bows put away, it is time to pit swords against chariots and Elephants.  The Samurai right barely holds on from the initial charge!

Parts of their center collapse, trampled by Earasi's personal elephant.

Other Brother Darasi advances in support, but does not engage.  As the weaker command, the longer he avoids hand to hand, the longer he lives.

For an impressive charge, the score hasn't improved over much.

Turn 5:
On the far left, the Japanese camp is actually in charge reach by Indian Cavalry.  Forcing the Japanese Yari out of their plantation to defend it.
Chariots and elephants are triumphant.  Only a nameless commanders soothing words keep the last Samurai in the field.

In the center an Indian unit is destroyed, hewed by cruel swords.

Other Brother Darasi's line, weakened by expert archery, now has his flank turned.

A hard decision is made on whether to pursue or not.

The score is 10 of 19 for the Samurai, and 15 of 23 for the Indians.  A near tie.

With a sudden abundance of command points, the Chariot command drives on to their new targets, ...

... including the camp, which falls to a light horse unit.

Indian Elephantry continues to savage the Samurai foot line.

The score 16 to 20, both armies are 3 away from demoralization.

Turn 6:
Lights do not ZOC non lights, so a Yari goes off and rescues the camp.
Still the camp contributes 4 points of demoralization to the Japanese, the Light Horse only 2 to the Indians.  An overall favorable trade for the Indians, but both sides are only 3 points away from breaking.
Other Brother Darasi's elephants are taken in the flank, his last supporting foot is also destroyed.

To "seal the deal", Samurai foot pursue into his other flank.

Taking the score to 16 to 21

Charges down the line by the chariot command.  One Yari falls, the other units hold!

Earasi's Elephantry trample another Samurai foot unit.

Other Brother Darasi is slain, his Mahout panics, driving his elephant forward, rampaging through their Samurai opponents!

Taking the score to around 21 to 23, a mutual destruction.
So what went wrong?  
The first problem was designing a command that could not be managed by it's commander.  The Chariot command had 7 units and 2 lights.  So the 7 wide front required 2 command points to move forward at all, and the commander was ordinary, and did not have command points to spare.  The 5 points could have been better spent elsewhere.
The real problem was using the chariot wing as a strong left flank attack wing for the holding attack.  It is a lesson I have to keep relearning.  Chariots, like Knights, are too slow for that sort of role.  If you opponent refuses to play, they may never get into contact.  If Tommy had just sent out one Yari to face them, the chariots would slow to normal, charge, destroy, pursue, advance and that would take 2 or 3 turns.  The game could be over by they get to any good targets.  They would be better spent in the center.  But in this game the center was dominated by the fields, not good chariot country.

The Indian right flank, which was designed to just hold the line, would have been better served by 2 war wagons vice an elite elephant.  An extra unit, +2 protection against bow, though mediocre.  They won't win, but should last longer, tying up 4 Samurai doing so.

Also, we made an error on dismounting.  We counted the dismounts as Samurai foot, when Heavy Cavalry, Bow, Elite should have counted as Medium Bowmen, Armor, Elite.  In combat, it would not have mattered much, but the behavior is different.  Bowmen cannot charge, unless it is to support a unit already in combat.  This could have changed how the final engagements would have went.


Monday, February 22, 2021

Selective Seleucids Scythe Roaming Romans

A Headless Body Production

Venue: An undisclosed basement
Event: Saturday Afternoon Across the Trans Atlantic Cable
Players: Phil Gardocki running Republican Roman
               Tommy Worden running Seleucid
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side

Title suggested by Tony Noble

The great powers have vied for control of the spice routes for decades.  Some of the battles were fought by the great names of history, but many were fought by the "also-rans", whose names were largely forgotten.

The Forces:
Republican Roman (List 53)
The Romans are commanded by Marius (not the fourth founder of Rome, or even his son, but some other Marius), Darrylious and Darrylious.  All are Ordinary and Included, one was unreliable.
10 Legionaries, Heavy Swordsmen, Armor, Impact
3 Triarii, Heavy Spearmen, Armor, 2 are Mediocre, 1 is Elite
3 Roman Horsemen, Heavy Cavalry
2 Illyrians, Light Cavalry Bow
1 Cretan, Light Infantry Bow Elite
5 Triarii, Light Infantry, Javelin, 4 elite
Breakpoint of 25

Seleucid (list 42)
Commanded by Seleucus the Strategist and two ordinary sub commanders
2 Cataphracts  
2 Elephants, Elite
2 Thorakitai,  Medium Spearmen, Armour,
1 Thracian,  Medium Swordsmen 2HW,
2 Cretans,  Light infantry, bow, Elite
3 Archers,  Light infantry bow
2 Skythians,  Light cavalry bow
1 Agyraspids,  Pikemen, Elite
2 Phalanx,  Pikemen
2 Scythed Chariots
4 Jewish Swordsmen,  Medium swordsmen, impact
1 Javelinmen,  Light infantry, javelin
1 Slingers,  Light infantry, sling
1 Archers,  Light infantry, bow

Breakpoint of 24

Both Tom and myself had been listening to Tim "MadAxeMan's" podcast articles on list building and it shows in our lists.  I almost never use "Included" generals, or less than competent, but decided maximize the army size by minimizing the command costs.  In my case I went from +12 points of command costs to -12, for a savings of 24 points.  Tom was more cautious, and had a Strategist running a huge, 16 unit command including unmaneuverable and impetuous troops, but otherwise two ordinary and one included commander.  

I was thinking I would enjoy having the lack of control when the the lines collide and all my commanders would need an extra command point to do anything.  And it was fun.

The Board

Marius consults with his priests and the auguries auspicious.  He will attack at dawn.

On the Seleucid right are 3 units of light foot, ready to invest the field and support the flank.

In front of the camp are Hebrews and 3 Taxis's of pike

Seleucid himself, mounted in his elephant tower has the left flank.  His command it full of disparate troop types.

Darrylious takes the left with all the Roman horse, supported by a Triarii

While Marius and Darrylious occupy the center and right.

I have nothing but Ordinary, Included Commanders.  I want this army to be able to move.  So almost everyone is in a block that can move on 1 command point.

Mars looks on from on high and is pleased.

Turn 1:
The Roman horse races across the field.

My goal is to pin the Hebrews and the Phalanx, and let the Legions concentrate on the rest.

Both commanders get two command points.

Enough for a double march.

The Hebrews make a loud noise, then settle in for a belly laugh at the fleeing Roman lights.

The Selecuids advance as command points allow.  As a Strategist, he rolled a 1 for command points, and so the Scythed Chariots were left behind.

It is on the left where he will throw his heaviest blow.

Another view of the gods.
Turn 2:

The Hebrews are Medium Swordsmen and look vulnerable and isolated to the Roman Heavy Cavalry.

The Roman heavy infantry line advances.

Cataphracts beat Legionnaires 1 on 1.

My thoughts here is to keep marching forward.  If the Cataphracts charge, the Legions can stand long enough to flank them.

Odds interlude:

A cataphract will beat a heavy swordsmen 71% of the time, but it takes over 4 rounds of combat on average to do so.

If the swordsmen has support, the odds go down to 34%.  This does not include the supporting unit advancing and flank charging the cataphract.

Selecuid lights advance on the outnumbered Cretan archers.  The Hebrews ZOC the Roman horse.

Pike an Elephant advance in sync.

Chariots advance, replacing the light horse.

Cataphracts charge, but whiff their die rolls.

Turn 3:

Cretans are considered Elite for a reason, out shooting their Seleucid counterparts.

Roman horsemen charge!  These are not real cavalry.  Caesar himself thought all it took to create a cavalryman was to put a footman on horse.  The Hebrews are Impact Swordsmen, and I forgot that they keep their impact before non-impact mounted.  Only luck, and armor, saved the day for the Roman horsemen. 

As it was, Darrylious (upper left, with the red die on the stand) narrowly missed being slain by an errant sword stroke.

Shock of impact begins.  A Velite and a Legion charge the Scythed Chariots.  The Velite is dispersed, while the Legion disperse their foe.

On the left, only some of the legions charged.  I was thinking going for the whole line or not and settled for just a Legion supported by a Mediocre Triarii. My reasoning is this.  The Legion had an advantage over the Spearmen they charged, albeit a small one.  But if I charge the whole line, my legions on the far left would be overlapped by the Phalanx.  So in the end I was still yielding an overlap position.  If it was going to happen anyway, and nothing else changes, the odds are going to be exactly the same but one turn later.  

There was a chance, a small one, that the spearmen would be destroyed on contact, and if so, the elephant's flank turned.  That didn't happen, but the spearmen did take a hit, and so the that turning of the flank could still happen sooner.  

Meanwhile, the Mediocre Triarii supporting them should be able to take a Chariot hit or two, and I don't care.  

That was a lot of thought on what was basically a +3 to +2 battle.

The score is a tie at 5 all.  Scythed Chariots do not count for the total.

The Roman cavalry command is in serious trouble.  And since their commander is engaged, there is little he can do about it. 

The Seleucid army surges forward.  Romans roll a stunning series of 2's and 3's, nearly breaking a commander's legion. 

But the Seleucid commander also proved fallible to the capricious dice god, and had a least a pair of 1's of his own.  

Since we both were running vastly ordinary armies, it was only fitting that most of our die rolls were in the 2-4 range.  No one really whiffed much, and no one rolled a bunch of 6's either. 

The Cataphracts break off.

Taking the score 8 to 9.
Turn 4:
So far, this is a pretty good game.
Once again, Darrylious has only 1 command point to call for help.  And that is not enough.  But he can rally himself, and does.

First legion is crushed.  But the plan allowed for it, as two Triarii stand in the way of the Phalanx flanking the main Roman line.

Both lines are now crumbling.  But the elephant on the Seleucid left is now both disordered and vulnerable.

The Legions chase the Cataphracts down, exposing their flanks.

Aries is pleased at the carnage.

At his Tree of Woe, the toll is counted. 

The Roman Cavalry get a break!

The Legions likewise get 2 breaks, traded for 1 of their own.

The Cataphracts cannot retreat, and so charge, destroying another Legion.

The Death toll mounts.  14-13.  But other than an elephant, the Seleucid dead are low cost mediums, the Romans high cost Legionnaires. 
Turn 5:

With Darrylious's win, he can now issue commands.  The Cretans retire, replaced by a pair of Scythian Light Horse.

In the center, another Elephant falls, leaving just the Thracians and their cruel Falx's to hack at the legionaries.

A Cataphract is routed.  But a Legion is flanked.

The tide seems to have turned against the Seleucid.

The Hebrews and Roman Horse trade losses.

Agyraspids (Pike, Elite, included commander) run over their Triarii (Heavy Spearmen, Armor Mediocre)  But one Triarii, though flank, still stands.

Cataphracts charge, nearly destroying another legion.

Making the score 20-17
Turn 6:

Once again, Darrylious is engaged, and dodges an arrow.

While his brother Darrylious starts to redeploy the legions on the right flank.

But he has a conundrum.  Does he go to a flank the cataphract, when the legion engaged with it has 3 hits?  In the end, prudence (or cowardice) prevails.

The Seleucids are one away from their break point.

Seleucid javelinmen run off the Scythians.

And in an unrelated note, Darrylious dodged his last arrow and is slain.

In the center, the Elite Triarii hold.  But one of the other Taxis of pike are seriously disordered and about to be flanked.

And in a nearly miraculous combat, the last Cataphract is dispersed.

Closing out a very exciting game with a 24 -21 win for the Romans.