Friday, 24 September 2010

The Persians run out of time

Tuesday's game in the Empire campaign.  The Persians attack the Macedonians in Mesopotamia again.  This is the deployment plan.  The Persian army is in blue at the top of the map.  The Macedonians have a large ridge line to their left and a piece of rough ground to their right.  There is a small hill on the Persian part of the field, which has no real importance as the game plays out.

Gordon had already constructed the Persian army list and decides on the set up.  I command the right wing (top left as you look at it), while he takes the left wing himself.  As you can see, he goes for a hollow centre, hoping to split the phalanx and use large amounts of shooting across the army to whittle down the stronger but less numerous enemy.  I won't attempt to describe the Persian army.  Suffice it to say, both forces are composed of a large mass of cavalry of various kinds with skirmish support and a block each of Kardakes.  I have the best of the heavy horse, while Gordon takes the Takabara Light Infantry to help with the rough ground.  Skirmishers abound.

Simon had brought in the Macedonians and goes for a deployment that looks to me as though he intends a right hook:  Peltasts for the rough ground, with elite horse to their inside, followed by the Hypaspists and the phalanx.  His left is anchored on the long ridge line.  We don't know what is behind there, but a good guess is light horse and some more Peltasts, which turns out to be just about right.  His army is relatively heavy on phalangites, with few skirmishers.
My cavalry advances towards the Macedonian ridge
Most of the photographs are taken from the Macedonian side of the table, just because it turned out to be easier for me that way.
My advance again, off to my left
As my force advances, I lead with the good cavalry from the outside, with Skythians inside them, linking with my Kardakes.  I leave my Colonists and other rubbish behind until I have a better idea what might be lurking behind Simon's hill - no point in risking the fragile!
Gordon advances his lighter troops
A light wave of Persians advances towards the rough
Gordon plays it cagey to start with as well - both of us are acutely aware of Macedonian superiority both in weight and morale.
The battle develops on the Macedonian left
And on the Macedonian right
The Macedonian phalanx starts to come forward into a sort of arrowhead.  With nothing facing them in the centre, the battle will turn on whether the Persians can do enough missile damage and then pick off occasional units before the phalanx catches us.
The phalanx is getting close!
The shot above is one of the few I took from our side of the table that came out okay.  It gives a decent view of the way Gordon's force is stretching the enemy, while at the same time showing the threat posed by the phalanx.  And time is running out - we only have three hours in total at the club.
My cavalry thunders onto the ridge
I hope the photo just above shows my situation okay.  My heavy cavalry has already disposed of one unit of Peltasts quite easily between them, but the Armenians go charging off in pursuit and end up in a bit of a pickle against the other two Peltast units.  This shot is taken facing straight into the Macedonian centre from behind my extreme right - you can see how far their phalanx has advanced by this point at the top left of the picture.  The Macedonian rear table edge is off to the right of the photo.
Gordon's troops have nowhere to go!
By this point, the phalanx is entirely split, but is making serious headway into Gordon's forces.  The shot above, again taken from behind the Macedonian army, shows the phalanx crunching into Gordon's Kardakes unit.
Colonists against Prodromoi
In the meantime, I had managed to bring some Colonists forward.  My light cavalry scouts had uncovered the Prodromoi and after they took some shooting damage, I charge in with the Colonists.  The shot above of the combat is taken from right on the Macedonian base line at their left rear.
The Phalanx eats more of Gordon's troops
The game ends at this point.  I have wiped out all of the supporting cast at my side of the field for no loss, stripping the phalanx units there of all flank protection.  On his wing, Gordon has destroyed the Macedonian light troops and elite cavalry, while losing quite a few units to the phalanx.  A few more turns would have seen a belated Persian victory.  Simon did really well on his own in a battle that turned into two matches, although he probably didn't enjoy it much.  A draw is as good as a win for the defending force in these circumstances.  I think there is a problem with the Later Persian list as it stands, because it doesn't specify any compulsory massed infantry units, which means that the Persians are free to set up in a rather unconventional manner.  Darius always seemed to have infantry galore, even though it wasn't exactly all that good most of the time.

That finishes Campaign Turn 7.  Next up: the Romans try to prise the Carthaginians from Southern Italy.  Again.

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