Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Yi Old English Scrum

A Headless Body Production

Venue: Comfort Suites Downtown Carlisle
Event: Ottocon, formally known as "the Weekend"
Organizer: Walt Leach
Players: Phil Gardocki running Yi Korean
              George Deutsch, 100 Years War English
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side

The Forces:
100 Years War English. Taken from memory and subject to error.
One Brilliant and 2 Competent commanders.
8 Medium Sword, Longbow, Stakes
6 Heavy Infantry, some Polearm, some Foot Knights
3 Heavy Knights
1 Crossbowmen
5 Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW
1 Heavy Swordsmen, 2HW, Mediocre
Breakpoint of 18

Yi Korean
(list 282)The Koreans are commanded by Rarri, the Brilliant, his brother Darryr, the Competent, and his other brother Darryr, also Competent
6 Pikemen, Mediocre
4 Integrated Artillery
4 Horsemen, Heavy Cavalry Impact, Ordinary
4 Medium Cavalry, Bow
3 Light Cavalry, Bow
5 Light Infantry Bow
Breakpoint of 26

This was the first "Weekend" in a couple of years. 2019 was canceled due to the death of our patron, Otto Schmitt, and 2020 by, well, you know... Tracy Johnson had taken up the heavy task to find a new venue for the weekend and selected Comfort Suites in Carlisle, PA.

The rooms were large and clean, and a parking garage out back. Carlisle is a college town, so there are a lot of interesting eateries within walking distance. Including the "Grand Illusion" a magician themed pub, the Gingerbread Man, the Yeti and Yack II (Nepalese cuisine). And the Hamilton, a typical American diner. Owned by a Greek family, serving eggs and scrapple with excellent coffee and Smuckers strawberry jam on very plain white toast. 

There were several reasons I brought the Yi to the table. The first was it was built around Dec, 2019, just before Covid changed the world, and in the interval, v4 came out. The original army was Koyko Korean where the cavalry was mostly Impact (elite, ordinary and mediocre) and the infantry was 1/2 spear and bow.

I have judged that with the foot troops no longer getting missile support, and fighting mediocre, that that army is no longer viable.  And the cataphracts available to it are still largely a waste of points.

I remounted the foot as pike. The cavalry I kept the same, but I kept the elite marker (dice) to mark the Impact Heavy Cavalry and differentiate them from the Bow armed Medium Cavalry, which looked impacty.

But the real reason was to test the newly created, "Integral Artillery".  I have heard conversations on how many an army should have, if allowed on the MadAxMan's podcast.  

There answers varied between 1 and 2.  Some said 2 was to many.  To me, 1 is only going to give you anecdotal results.  From game to game, it is going to do either great, ok, or meh.  Nothing you want to base a strategy on.  The the argument for 2 was, well, more is more.  

I have a scientific mind for this sort of thing, so lets go large.  Yi Korean gets 4!  The only other army to get 4 is the Ming.  The front rank is Pike, Mediocre.  Which should beat spear, sword and cavalry, and at 8 points, not cost a lot.  So let the experiment be made.

And I had these Roman figures of Ballista mounted on mule cart figures that can represent mobile Hwacha's. Which is a rocket propelled arrow launcher.  I have not run these figures in more than a decade, probably not even this millennium ;)

Truth be told, I dreaded this experiment, I kinda knew how it was going to work out.  It's a one trick pony with 94 points committed to the center 6 units.

The Board:

The English win the initiative and elect to attack in the plains. The terrain choices went bad for them as their selected hill wound up in the center of the Korean line.

On the English right, massed archers supported by heavy foot.
Their center line of battle is the same.
On their left, their heavies weight. 3 Heavy Knights.
On the Korean left Darryr stops to pick some strawberries.
Whyle his older brother Rarry, masses on the hill.

Cue music, "Fool on the hill"

His other brother Darryr forms up on the coast.

Note of cavalry differentiation. The cav with the die with the 6 up is Heavy Cavalry Impact, the rest are Medium Cavalry, Bow.

Turn 1:

The English wall of battle double times across the field.
Their center keeps pace with their right.
Their left obliques left to keep the Korean lights honest
For the orientals are a squirrelly bunch. One of their advantages is in light horse. If they can get behind the English line, they can pick targets to ZOC.

IMHO, I believe that the only rule change that "Breaks" v4 is the one where LC can ZOC heavier units. Time will tell if this opinion is shared.

Rarry's forces ascent to the crest of the hill. Ranging shots are fired.
Darryr retreats his cavalry, sending the LC to play games with the English knights, and his LI to challenge the ambush marker in the gully.

Turn 2:

The English are not going to let the lights get around the flank, and send 2 heavy foot to intercept.
The rest of the English line advances to just out of bow range.
The knights advance and ZOC the Korean light horse.
The Korean light horse squeezes on by.
The Korean main line of battle advances about 1/4 UD, and fires arrows down range. The Hwachas are well ranged in, disordering 3 of 4 target units.

This is one of the few times where the word "Fire" is appropriate in an ancients game. "Loose" arrows is more appropriate. The word fire only came into vogue after the advent of gunpowder.

What is a Hwacha? Mythbusters built one a few years back. Look here.

While light horse is much faster than knights, there are ways it could be caught, especially when out numbered 3-1 and at a range of less than 1 UD. Darryr orders a recall as he turns his cavalry around.

One of the changes in v4 is that exiting a ZOC is now a variable move. But either way, its a long way back. But the LC accomplished their mission, which was to keep the knights from double moving.

Turn 3:

Using a slide and an advance, the English heavy foot still manages to ZOC the Korean light horse.

My main disadvantage in this type of game is my eyeball is just not calibrated very well. What I think is out is not really out. Also, I forgot that the slide maneuver can add some distance to the final travel, if approaching on an angle.

The English center line of battle has taken too many hits and retreats for reorganization. But their right line finds their range and disperses the Korean skirmishers.
Like on the opposite flank. a slide and a wheel ZOC's the Korean lights. But it matters naught, as the ambush was real. Mercenary crossbowmen climb out of the gully and take a shot.
Korean lights exit the ZOC of the English pole arms. Only the terrain movement penalty of -1 keeps them on the board.

Page 37, exiting a ZOC is a variable move, and a unit can leave the board this way.

Darrir's horse was in LB range and so he retreats.
Rarry splits his main line and starts servicing the English heavy knights.

Turn 4:

The English are determined to keep the Koreans bottled up.

At this point, I am giving up on the lights game. If they are charged, they will leave the board for 2 points, out of 26, towards my demoralization. But I am not going to waste any more command points on them. They are out of effective range, 12 UD, and at this point, the English are spending 3 command points per turn dealing with them.

The rest of the English right side battle begins to work over the Korean center. The Hwacha's on that side are out of range. Also, the English center rallies all their disordered troops.
The knights can see the trap laid for them and withdraw
At long last, Darrir commits his cavalry.  If the stakes come out, he'll be able to take a flank position, if not, he'll have a favorable charge.  Missiles fly, and everywhere they score.
Only a single unit of pike face the English center.  It is hoped to hold off the English long enough to defeat the wings.
In an unusual situation, Artillery on mule carts are chasing knights.  Darrir also commits his cavalry to action.


Turn 5:

The English have committed to finishing off the Korean lights.
In the center, their longbow have placed their dreaded stakes.
English heavy foot have ZOC'd the Korean pike.  Dashing any hopes of a flank and front charge on the English knights.
Time is running out, and the English knights decide to commit to charging the Korean Cavalry.
The English battle line is now flanked.
But their center mostly is content to just shoot.
As the whistle blows, the Korean lancers charge, running down a knight.  Their Medium horse charges the crossbowmen as well, disordering them.

And that was the game.  Final score was Koreans 5 of 26 vs English 5 of 18.  A unconvincing winning draw for the Koreans.

So what went wrong?

First was selecting a water feature for this match up. I had the mobility advantage, and that means keep the board as open as possible. Especially with the English only having 18 units. The light horse probably could have been more effective.

But they didn't do too bad. They tied up 3 units, 1/6 of the English army, to 2 of 26 Koreans. But also, from a meta game perspective, the English spent a lot of command points in their effort to bottle up the Korean light horse.

The catapults on the hill were very intimidating.   But the English had 8 effective shooters to the Korean's 4.  Only a lucky first volley kept the English from dominating the exchange.  

Another turn would have seen the Longbow on the English right begin to receive flank charges, and the knights would have engaged in cavalry on cavalry fight.  The knights are outnumbered, but otherwise have the quality edge, so that could go either way.


  1. Whoa! 231 views in a day. For me those are heady numbers. Thanks.

  2. People thought they were getting a rugby game without having to pay ;^)