Sunday, 19 October 2014

Campaign Events: 133 BC or BCE if you prefer

Major battles are like buses - nothing for years and then three come along at once. After the recent slave war in Sicily and the Indian attack on Bactria, we almost immediately have the Romans arriving for their first campaign encounter in Asia Minor.  This does not bode for the freedom to fight one another that is traditionally associated with that area.  Events are as follows:

Spring 133

  • Rome sends reinforcements to Sicily, while guerrilla warfare rages there.
  • The Ptolemies raise a new army in Alexandria, somewhat concerned about the problems their only field army has been having against the Parthians.  This second one is for capital defence, honest.
  • The Parthians, as predicted, mount a huge raid into Bactria.
  • The Pergamene bequest: Mysia, Lydia and Phrygia now belong to Rome by the terms of the will of the last Attalid king.

Summer 133

  • A Roman army arrives in Mysia from Propontis to take possession.
  • The Parthians return to Aria, laden with loot.
  • The Pergamene nobleman Aristonicus becomes the focus of resentment against the Romans and leads an army against them.
So that will be the next battle. This is a very late Pergamene army, and will be composed of some good quality heavy cavalry, a large medium phalanx, thureophoroi and peltasts, together with a supporting cast of light horse and skirmishers.  We shall see if they manage to give the legions a hard time.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Elephants Galore!

After a hiatus of some weeks (family commitments), I made it back to the club for the latest battle in the campaign as the Indians attack Bactria.
I chose and deployed the Bactrians Greeks, while Simon brought his lovely Indian army for its first outing in a while, with Gordon deploying them.  First up is the Indian right wing.  Simon reckons that since this army comes a couple of hundred years after Hydaspes, its composition should be somewhat different from the army of Porus.  Only generals have chariots, and there are some auxiliary horse archers, which you can see in the photo above.
The Indian centre right is a shallow line of foot archers, and then a chunk of elephants. Gordon is in command of the forces in the first two pictures.
Billy commands the left half of their army, which as you can see has a veritable host of pachyderms, plus other stuff.  This army sure looks glorious.
Above is the first photo of the defending Bactrians.  This is Simon's command, comprising light cavalry, some peltasts hidden in the wood, and a small unit of heavy phalangites.
Our centre: a massed medium phalanx, commanded by Graham.
My command has pretty much everything else.
A side view down the table, showing the relative deployments.
First move: Simon holds on our left.
Graham advances the phalanx.
I hold.  There's a lot of weight coming in my direction...
How the whole thing looks at this point.
On our left, Simon commits all of his troops, including the sneaky peltasts.
Graham advances the phalanx.
And I continue to do as little as possible.
The usual lengthy tableshot. Much hilarity is enjoyed by the Greek command as the Indian prince is heard grumbling about pesky hidden peltasts, a larger phalanx than expected, and enemy elephants (we have four, they have twelve). In other words, Gordon is convinced he is going to lose.
Simon's large units of javelin-armed light horse attack the smaller auxiliary horse archers on the other side, and his peltasts and phalanx line up against the lone unit of Indian elephants here.
The phalanx grins onward. Just to the right of Simon's force, Graham is about to attack two units of 24 Indian foot with three phalanxes of 32 figures.  That means the Indians are outnumbered two-to-one here.
The phalanx also has superiority against the elephants and infantry in the enemy centre.
I make some judicious attacks to spoil the enemy advance while I have temporary superiority in weight. It won't last, but I hope to hold then long enough here while Simon and Graham win the battle.
Simon's lights sweep away the enemy lights.
Remember the three leftmost phalanxes? The ones who have twice as many troops as the enemy? Well, the photo above shows the sort of thing they are up against.  And that's just one of Gordon's rolls.

 To the left, Simon continues to do well.
Those phalanxes simply disintegrate. Two down, one to go...and that one is shaken and disordered on morale. When it goes, our army will have lost half of its breakpoint.  Gordon suddenly perks up...
\the rest of the phalanx is doing better, but it won't be enough.
The final photo shows my troops just before they are all destroyed.

The Indians win, but at a cost. and they won't be able to hold the province.  Which means the Parthians will do what Parthians do best - mount a gigantic raid, stab the Greeks in the back and then run off with the spoils. At least, that's how we decided it should go, almost like a kriegspiel.

 I did notice one thing about this game and its outcome, which is that we all had a good time and nobody cared about the freaky results.  The reason for this, I think, is that although it was a campaign battle, nobody had much of an emotional investment, and that is pretty much true of the campaign as a whole.  We are effectively using it to generate battles, each of which is a free for all multi-player, all welcome. Since I generate the games almost automatically, no player runs any single state, which removes extreme competitiveness. It also explains the campaign's longevity, following on from the end of the long running Empire campaign. If individual powers are not run by a specified player, then we avoid that well known course of campaigns, player drop-out.  The whole thing is a group effort, and that insulates us against that happening.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Hastings for the Lads (plus one lass)

At the weekend I ran a reprise of the Hastings scenario for Thomas and Robert.  They ran the Normans with some help from Cate, while I as the English tried to withstand their onslaught.
The centre of the defending army, as seen from the Norman perspective. Harold and his Huscarls are right in the middle, flags waving.  Flocks of birds can be seen above them in the sky...
The entire Anglo-Saxon army, from a bird's viewpoint.
And how they look from the side, nice and safe on their ridge.  I know it should be higher, but the little metal sods won't stand up properly!
The right of the Norman army, Odo commanding.
Their centre: some mercenary foot stiffened with marines and sailors. Duke William is a the centre rear with his bodyguard.
Mercenaries and Bretons on the Norman left.
The Normans advance across the stream and begin to send units wide.  If any of the defenders come off that hill, they will be caught in a pincer movement and destroyed.
Their movement continues.  To make things fair, I used programmed rules for the English army, since I know the rules a lot better than the opposition.  However, they have to break my army in 12 turns to win.
As the Normans manoeuvre over several turns, my rightmost unit takes a hammering from accurate archery.
So does one of my centre left units, one of those that is fronted with a rank of Huscarls.  Or, rather, was, since they've all gone down to those pesky archers. However, the Normans are going to have to make an assault at one point, because we are now half way through the day.
An atmospheric shot of the Normans lurking to the right of the English army, taken at Robert's request.  Anyone who comes off that hill is going to be in serious trouble.

It is about this time that Cate takes over for a while from Thomas, and promptly shoots Harold and also one of his brothers. Elements of the Anglo-Saxons lose their cool as a result and charge downhill, only for the Normans to retire after an initial fight, drawing then onward.
A lone unit of Saxon types in the centre of the field does the same, only to be faced by two large column of enemy infantry.
A gratuitous shot of Harold on the ground - I had some of an Old Glory command set for this little vignette.  Poignant.

At this point, my army disintegrated, and the Normans took the hill, cutting through gaps in the defending line.  About a third of the army escaped, led by Harold's surviving brother.  Fortunately for the Normans, my command prohibitions meant that I had to sit on the hill and watch as they got themselves into position.  If I had free command, I would have come down en masse and hit them while they were still marching about the place.

This was the first game in my restored games room.  The deal is that I have it for one half of the year, while the Triffids get it for the growing season.  We had some really good tomatoes this year!