Tuesday, January 23, 2024

A Thrasher of Thracians

A Headless Body Production

Venue: On Military Matters Book Store, Hopewell, NJ
Event: Prep for Historicon Classic Theme Event
Players: Phil Gardocki running Thracians, list 63
               Al Kaplan running Alexandrian Macedonian
Game System: L'Art de la Guerre, 15mm, 200 points per side.

The Forces:
The Thracian Hill Tribes. Led by Larianes, the Competent, his brother Carpi, the Competent, and his other brother Carpi, also Competent
19 Warriors, Medium Swordsmen, 2HW, 2 are Elite
6 Youths, Light Infantry, Javelin, Elite
4 Horsemen, Light Cavalry, Javelin

Alexandrian Macedonian.
Led By Alexander, the Brilliant, Antigones, also Brilliant, and Anonymous, the unknown.
6 Pikemen, one elite
1 Mercenary Hoplite, Heavy Spearmen
4 Companions, Heavy Cavalry, Impact, Elite
2 Greek Cavalry, Heavy Cavalry
2 Light Infantry, Javelin
4 Thracian Peltasts, Medium Swordsmen
2 Light Cavalry, Impact
2 Light Cavalry, Javelin

Display Conventions: When you see a word bubble like "Ouch!" or "Auć!" or "Jaj!", this implies a disorder 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.

Commanders are rated s for Strategist, b for Brilliant, c for Competent, o for Ordinary and u for Unreliable

Inappropriately capitalized words are used to highlight terms that are specific to the game. For example Brilliant, Competent and Ordinary have specific game values for the commanders.

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

The Board:
The Thracians win the initiative and elect to attack in the Mountains.

Alexander has his Swordsmen set up on the right.  Their flank anchored to a deep ravine.

6 Taxis of pike occupy the center.  A large contingent of cavalry on the left.

Carpi takes the Thracian left.

Larianes takes the center.  He has a couple elite warriors.  His other brother Carpi takes the right..

Carpi sends his horsemen around the ravine.

While the mass of warriors advance.

With a similar advance on the right.

One Thracian peltast is sent to guard the road.  The reserve hoplite replaces it's position in the line.

With a massive "cha-chunck", the entire pike line advances 40 paces.

The Cavalry sees a great matchup and advances at a trot.

Turn 2:
Thracian horsemen advance to have a discussion with their low land brethren.
I didn't stay on the road because there was a risk that with the road bonus, the horsemen would evade off board.
The rest of the warriors advance at a quick step.

On the right, it was hoped that some preliminary shooting would provide an advantage to the Thracian Horsemen.  But luck was fickle.

The gods eye view.

Thracian peltasts try to charge off both lights by going in an angle.  But the horsemen stand to receive instead.

The Pike advance

An Ilai of Companions charge the corner of Larianes battleline.  Caught by surprise, the warriors rout.

The other Ilais' charge Carpi's main line. 
Turn 3:
The unoccupied horsemen rides past his fellow Thracians and heads for the camp

With a great ululation, the Thracians charge.  Armed with the terrible falx, they expect to lose some, but win others.

But elite or no, or winning ties, it was not enough as each Taxis of pike steadily push the Thracians back.

While Carpi's warriors continue to crack as well.

Alexanders Thracians rout their highland brothers and piss on the bones.

The final reserves of Thracians charge.  Into their non-Falx armed brothers.  And are defeated to a unit.
Two Taxis start singing "Slip Slidin' away", as they pursue over bloody grounds.

Taxis #6 cries out, "Save one for me!"

There is no putting lipstick on this pig.

Turn 5:
Alexanders troops continue to grind the Thracians into dust.

The only positive light is the sacking of the Alexandrian camp.

Thracian blood makes the grass grow.

One Companion is destroyed, a single Ilai of about 300 traded for 10 units of warriors at about 1,000 each.

The final score was in excess of 29 to about 8.
What went wrong?  Again hubris.  The thought that massive numbers of 2 handed weapons would overcome both superior quality of troops, like pike or armored cavalry, and superior tactics.  
Don't get me wrong.  2HW is probably the best value in the game for one point.  But not enough against a consistent +1 advantage with the pike,  and only countering the armor of the cavalry.
How good is the 2HW against pike?  With just medium sword against heavy infantry pike is 14/86.  Losing on average of just 3 rounds.  Give them 2 handed weapon, and the odds go to 42/58.  A remarkable increase. But not enough to win.  
I had reserve units in each command to fill in the gaps of routed warriors, but one never got used, two got parsed off to deal with a cavalry incursion, the other was put into the line on the edge.  
Against Heavy Cavalry? Without counting impact or furious charge.  Medium Swords lose against Heavy Horse 24/76.  Add 2hw, and the numbers change to 38/62.


  1. I believe the Thracian list allows 4 Medium Spear? Probably worth putting them on a flank instead of more 2HW.

  2. You are right, up to 6. Probably a good blocking force for flanks where you expect cavalry.