Sunday, March 28, 2021

A Greatness of Greeks

A Headless Body Production
Venue: An Undisclosed Basement
Event: Playing a game for the camera , Early December, 2020
Players: Phil Gardocki running Classical Greek
Tom Worden running Late Imperial Roman
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
Classical Greek(list 235)
3 Ordinary Commanders, all Included with their Hoplites
18 Hoplites, Heavy Spearmen, 2 are Elite
6 Peltasts and Thracians, as Javelinmen
2 Cretans, Light Infantry, Bow, Elite
2 Slingers
Breakpoint of 28

Late Imperial Roman (List 86)
3 Ordinary Commanders, 2 Included in their respective cohorts.
8 Legionaries, Heavy Swordsmen, Impact, Armor, 2 are Elite
2 Auxilia Palatina, Medium Swordsmen, Impact, Elite
2 Cretans, Light Infantry Bow
2 Medium Artillery
2 Cataphracts, Elite
2 Equites, Heavy Cavalry, Impact
2 Equites Sagittarii, Light Cavalry, Bow
Breakpoint of 21

Since my last experiment worked so well, with a 28 to 14 loss to the Romans last week, I decided to try again.  Because a definition of insanity is to do the same thing again, and expect a different result.

When you see a word bubble "Ouch!", "Heus!", "Ωχ!", this implies a disorder hit from missiles. Letters in parenthesis represent some value change for the specific unit. For commanders it is s for strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent and o for Ordinary, u for unreliable. 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, HKn Heavy Knight, HC Heavy Cavalry, Md Medium, Sgt Sergeants, LC Light Cavalry, Chr Chariot, Cat Cataphract, Pa Pavise, LI, Light Infantry, HG Hand Gun, FKn Foot Knight, Hvy Spear, Heavy Spearmen.

"XX" implies a unit killed in that location on that turn.

I am experimenting with maximum sized armies, trimming points where ever possible. This was heavily influenced by podcasts put out by Tim Porter, the Mad AxeMan. He invited his crew to come up with practical Hoplite armies that can actually win on the table. Most stressed mediocre troops and some included commanders, and got armies out there with 18 or more Hoplites and breakpoints over 25. His podcasts can be found here!

Heavy Spearmen are the Orcs of the game. Sure they are good against cavalry, which will then just drive on by onto the flanks. And they lose to Impact, Impetuous, Armored or 2HW infantry. Just about everyone. But 18 of them? With 6 ok supporting units. With a single piece of terrain on the edge, they don't have a flank to go around. You will have to go through them. No matter where you are, they will be there. Meanwhile, they will be finding your flanks, because they will be wider than you.

So I am breaking away from my smallish, but elite armies to give it a try. This list has 18 Hoplites, 6 Javelinmen, and 4 Skirmishers for a size of 28. By another measure, 90 cohesion hits. But the commanders are included and vulnerable, and when you commit to combat you have to commit big, because you will not have command points for anything else.

Losing a commander or two, as well as the camp, is not an option with this army, but a requirement! If I lose them all, that is only 13 points out of 28! I would like to see Scipio Africanis take that kind of damage.

But Tommy is also listening to the same podcasts, and his armies, while still armoring up and elited, also have included commanders as well, in an attempt to match the numbers.

The Board:

Greece, 250 BC, Tuesday.

Weather high of 72, low of 54, chance of 30 mina hail stones.

Overhead view of the lines. The Greeks are both longer 17-15, and deeper.
On the Roman right is their cavalry.
Two Legions with identical configurations. 4 elements of legionaries, and a cohort of Auxilla
One the end of the line is a 30 mina catapult.
The Greek deployment is unimaginative. When you only have two troop types, its not hard to guess where they are positioned.
Hoplites, Hoplites, and bears, oh my!
The Peltasts are looking at empty field and some have already planing the victory celebration.

 Turn 1:

The order is given, and the long march across the field begins.
The catapults are largely ignored. They are more of an environmental nuisance. And I couldn't avoid them if I tried.
Running ordinary commanders is also a nuisance Especially if your command is 7 wide.
Another view from on high
The Roman cavalry advances onto the hill
But the foot troops hold their ground

 Turn 2:

The Hoplites shift left and form up at the bottom of the hill.
The remaining foot advances as far as possible.
The Peltasts are told to hurry
The Roman horse knows their business. One cohort runs off a Peltast, the rest take up position to charge down hill.
The catapult operators are referring to their manuals, and ordering up more ammunition. While the Roman commander orders a measurement of the distance to the front lines. Just over 4 UD's
The Roman main line continues to hold their position

Turn 3:

The Roman cavalry may have higher ground, but the Greeks have taken one of the flanks.
The remaining hoplite line continues to advance.
But due to command control problems the line is saw toothed in it's advance.

But one piece of luck for the Greeks. Artillery is a legitimate charge target for Light Infantry. The Cretans charge, and roll the spots off the dice!

The Roman cavalry charge. They have armor, elite, hill and one flank. The Hoplites have the other flank, but their commander (the element with the white die on the stand) is now engaged, so they may not be able to exploit their advantage.
The Roman foot advance, locking (ZOCing) the Hoplites in place.
The catapults are now a sunk cost, so no effort is made to recoup their loss. The winning points for this game is with the Hoplites.

During the write up I realized that one of the Cretans was in an illegal position. This actually did affect the battle somewhat later in the game, but not enough to matter.

Turn 4:

The beleaguered Hoplite commander proves to be of steady mind and has able to issue multiple orders. A cataphract charged in the flank. Another Hoplite advances on the Catapult, and has turned the Roman legion line.
The center Hoplites hold. They are waiting for the the cavalry fight to mature, in their favor obviously, before committing.
The right flank Greeks charge. They also have a flank edge. But the dice are unkind and they lose 4 out of 4 fights.
Time to visit the Tree of Woe. The score is climbing quickly this turn.
The Roman commander is showing no fear on his compromised position. His lights have flanks to charge and charge they do.
The remaining Legions charge. This time the dice are a little more favorable to the Greeks, as they lose only 3 out of 5 fights. Much better.
But the right flank Hoplites prove very fragile. In only two rounds 2 units are destroyed. And their reserves were too close to the line and are routed through.
The Score is now 17 to 8
Turn 5:
Thracians are brought forward to bolster the flank
The grind in the middle continues
On the right, their commander slain, Greek options are limited.
Another view from the sky.
The score is 22 of 28 to 12 of 21
The left flank Greek commander is flank charged. But the Roman light horse are both destroyed as well.
A legion cohort is destroyed
Bring the score to a much tighter 25 (of 28) to 17 (of 21)
Another Greek commander falls
One thing to be aware of in this game. Especially if your commanders are included. Conforming does not require command points. An elite Hoplite defeated his foe, and was able to conform on the next one in line.
An Auxila is flanked and destroyed. But so to is another Hoplite.
Taking the score to 28 to 19. A win for the Romans.

So what went wrong?

First was hubris.  Spear beats cavalry, so my spearmen challenged the Roman horse giving the cavalry the hill advantage.  The horse also had armor and frankly it was enough for the win right there.  

The second was included commanders.  I have always thought they were not worth the 3 points saved and this game proved it.  Several opportunities for flank charges were lost due to commanders in combat.  That an two javelinmen on the far right were ineffective due to a lack of command points to put them anywhere else, like attacking the Roman camp.


  1. Minor issue, but...once again you placed your Elite in the middle. They should be where you intend to fight. If you planed on contesting that hill they should be over there. Good game.

  2. Good advice. They were in the center to give the flanks a chance to be taken and start collapsing them.
    Due to impatience and a misunderstanding how long the center could hold, I went straight in, when I should have been patient.

    It is not that I didn't listen to you last week, but these games occurred months ago. I have about 8 of them written up currently and release them one a week.

    I was promoting two a week for a while, because I had more than a dozen in the queue, but have backed down from that.

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