Freezing! Armies before 0AD at Avignon 2019
Sargonid Assyrian vs Carthaginian
For a first event in France suddenly I find myself fairly high up the leaderboard... admittedly the Assyrians have not quite been firing on all cylinders what with the Medium Foot command collapsing against Galatian cavalry in fairly short order in Game 1, but even so a win is a win.
After a cheese and dried local meat (and wine... and other weird spirits) based early lunch it was then onto the second game where I would be pitched against The Baron Hubert and a Carthaginian army, in another chance to test out my extensive French speaking skills... fortunately the swimming pool was closed this late in the year though.
Del Boy Speaks French Again!
The lists for the Sargonid Assyrian and Carthaginian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Avignon can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Carthaginians have a huge variety of options, depending which of Hannibal or his predecessors campaigns the force is based around.
Either way a solid core of spearmen, some Inferior African elephants and a gallic infantry force either heavy or medium in footprint are likely to appear in a army list which can often flatter to deceive.
Looking to maximise the mobility of my army I had again taken not much terrain.
Hubertibal had narrowed the table successfully in rolling for a Waterway, which suggested that he would have Heavy Foot - who promptly appeared in the middle of an army with its almost obligatory Elephant and MF command on my right and the thin Cavalry gruel on the left.
Facing the Gauls next to the Coastline were a line of Supported Heavy Infantry, extended to the shoreline with Elite Heavy Cavalry Guardsmen who would fear the enemy elephants but relish battle against the Gallic Medium foot.
The Supported foot and lone Assyrian Javelinman were in theory a good foil to the Carthaginian elephant Corps but dancing elephants can often be tricky beasts to track down - and Hubertibal was a past master at pachyderm choreography.
Learning French With Eddie
Assyria had a definite edge on the left - the Carthaginian empire had failed utterly to develop archery as a skill and so the combo of Heavy Chariots, mixed shooty foot and the odd spare Cavalryman looked like a potent force with which to pressurize the half-hearted and undercooked small North African originated cavalry wing facing them across the table.
" Bonetti bonetti! " Elephant dancing was already taking place as the well-commanded Carthaginian mercenary infantry swept forward in a tidal wave of tattoos and oval shields to bear down on the waiting Assyrian infantry.
This in turn freed up the Pachyderm crew to redirect their big grey steed inwards as it made a bee-line for the heart of the Assyrian army.
Would the elephant find the chariots it surely was seeking, or would this prove to be an over-complicated mistake which would backfire on the men of Hubertibal?
Coming under a hail or arrows the Carthaginians cavalry realised they were in for a long distance pasting and started to peel off and fall back as the Assyrians advanced in a compact block towards a foe they were keen to take on.
The Assyrians advance smugly, confident that Carthage's plan to drop the whole Heavy Chariot thing after the end of the Early Carthaginian list would prove to be a mistake, and that perhaps Hannibal might have indeed conquered Rome had he brought some well-wallpapered wheeled battle carts over the Alps instead of asthmatic pachyuderms
What's Going on Here Then?
The Assyrians seriously outclass the Carthaginians on their right, and are pushing forward with cavalry, infantry archers and Chariots forcing the Carthaginians to give ground.
Carthage's Death Star is breaking apart - it's infantry alone are better than what Assyria has to face them on the other flank, and so the elephant is freed up to go hunting better targets.
Hyper-conscious of just how vulnerable and generally pathetic the Assyrian Mixed Shooters would prove to be should the enemy Gauls to fall upon them with righteous fury, the Supported Assyrian infantry stepped smartly forward to take the initial assault on the chin.
Hubertibals elephantry suddenly realised that they may have run out of space to sneak away and find a better opponent.
Big Dice were about to be rolled. " Bonnet de Douche! "
The whole left wing of the Assyrian army wheeled as one, as both commands coordinated carefully together to present a unified frontage of Impact Chariotry against the end of the Carthaginian line.
Enemy cavalry who had no doubt hoped to skirmish out of danger shivered as they realised they may need to be pressed into actual combat service to help defend the flanks of the Sacred Band of high quality spearmen in the middle of the Carthaginian line.
Actually, no they didn't.
Declining to hang around and be beaten in the service of their famous leaders infantry the horsemen turned tail and retired at full speed to the rear.
They now were safe, but any hope the Spearmen had of feeling like key parts of an integrated force evaporated into the ether that swirled around the by now a little fuggy former olive oil pressing plant stuffed full of pan-European wargamers.
" Conseil d'etat! " The Gallic assault on the Assyrian infantry had gone spectacularly badly, and any hope the Carthaginians had of sweeping through the waterside flank had flown the coop.
As the Carthaginian elephant accepted the inevitable and ploughed headlong into the Supported Assyrian infantry his mahout looked around and saw a Carthaginian line full of holes into which Assyrians were flooding at a rate of knots.
Assyria's chariotry were strategically in a near-perfect place, however the technicalities of achieving legal flank contacts were proving somewhat more elusive.
But anyway, from this position pretty much any target was worthwhile for the momentum-laden battle carts.
" Chateauneuf du Pape! " Ploughing forward they swept towards and into whatever Carthaginian-shaped opponent they could reach with glee and alacrity
She drove it like she stole it.
She stole it fast, and leaving
behind a multitude of casulaties
#THS : Separation Sunday
The rest of the Carthaginian cavalry force was in the kind of bad place that can only be escaped by an ignominious headlong retreat.
Even so, Assyrian archery continued to plink away at the fleeing horsemen, eroding their confidence and their cohesion step by step as the arrows flew inerringly towards their targets - the un-helmeted heads of the Carthaginians and their band of hastily assembled mercenaries who by now were surely regretting taking Hannibals coin for this battle.
By now the Gallic infantry mercenaries were pretty much all back in the box as the Assyrian infantry and cavalry combination scythed through them like, erm, a scythe through, erm, wheat I guess? (Other grain bearing fruiting grasses are available).
With the lone elephant still bogged down in the type of prolonged combat which Inferior troops fear and dread the risk of a complete wipeout of Huberiballian's pedestrian presence on the beach and associated low lying dunes was looking increasingly likely.
But the Carthaginians had yet more tricks and dice up their copious Franco-north-African sleeves!
" Bonnet de Douche! "
The Elephant fought on, and the Gauls struck back to suddenly punch a hole through Assyria's previously robust looking formation and leave the entire situation deliciously in the balance.
Far less dramatic was the ongoing process of rolling up the Carthaginian centre. The overpowered Assyrian left wing had routed or driven everything in its path
" Conseil d'etat! " The shellshocked infantry of Baron Hubertibal struggled to reassemble themselves into a vaguely coherent line to try and keep any sort of lid on the repeated waves of Assyrian attacks.
There were so many Chariots everywhere that many of the Carthaginian infantry later were to swear blind they had seen them breeding right there on the tabletop in the middle of the game.
By the seaside both armies seemed more committed to losing than winning
Almost every unit was now teetering on the edge of explosion, with pretty much everything in shot only one hit away from destruction.
Seeing a disaster about to happen, and confident he could claim a victory if it happened, the Assyrian commander drove his cavalry forwards and out of danger to watch the carnage from a safe distance
What's Going on Here Then?
The Assyrians are skittling over the Carthaginians on their right where their mounted wing started the game with a decisive advantage at deployment, but the right is a different matter.
The battle is very much one of two halves, with the loose formation Gallic mercenaries sweeping away much of Assyria's right wing. Casualties are stacking up everywhere.
" Oeuf sur la plat! "
Eventually the Elephant spoke and made sure he had the last trumpety-trump word. From what had looked like an enviable position the Assyrian left suddenly ceased to exist in a blur of Gallic swordsmanship and elephantine assault and battery.
The Carthaginian mercenaries paused for breath as the Assyrian commander considered what to do with the well positioned remnants of his shattered force
The Gallic cavalry finally ran out of table and were forced to make a stand against the rapacious Assyrian combo which had chased them almost literally to the ends of the earth.
With advantage in numbers and quality the forces of the Winged Lion Gods knew that this was a fight they should not - and could not - afford to lose.
A solid wall of chariots slammed into the hastily reconstituted Carthaginian battle line in the very centre of the field of combat.
The Gallic and Greek mercenaries were the last line of defence, but their panicked reformation had hardly been started when the Assyrians strike force arrived at speed and now the responsibility lay with the individual fighters to show bravery and hold the line.
Any failure would see a cascade of destruction rip the very heart of the proto-square, ending Carthaginias defence in a trice.
The Chariots struck with the impact of a charge which had been 2,000 miles and 400 years in the making - the hapless Gauls never stood a chance as heavily armoured wooden wheels crushed them mercilessly.
Many men fell under the hooves, others were speared by jabbing thrusts from the packd ranks of crew in each noble battle cart, all while others just rolled poor dice ad suffered extra hits from first round Furious Charge.
Either way, bad news for the forces of Hubertibal.
Carthage in 3D
By the seaside things were getting stickier than a half-sucked stick of seaside rock as the exhausted and victorious Carthaginians suddenly realised that they had not entirely removed the Assyrian Lion from this part of the table, and their squishy medium foot were still at considerable risk of being run down
" Cushti! " Assyrian Noble Cavalry hammered back into the fray, led by their commander to catch half-spent Gallic remnants unawares and in the open.
Smurf-hat wearing mercenary Javelinmen meanwhile picked pretty much the perfect moment to hit the perfect target and assaulted the lone elephant in the flank.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Assyrians left hook has now slammed into the Carthaginian centre, having rampaged through their mounted wing and sent it scattering to the four winds. The Carthaginian infantry desparately regroup to build an ad-hoc defensive line to hold out against the charging chariots.
The dissassembled Death Star has also lost momentum on the Assyrian right as the Biblical-era combination of cavalry and loose-fighting infantry starts to even the odds with a series of backs to the wall wins. Even the elephant has been caught out unsupported. Things look good for Assyria.
" Bain Marie! "
The Chariots continued their rampage - even an occasional win for the enemy was not slowing their relentless forward progress.
Unit after unit fled before the battle carts as they continued to rack up the death points and drag the Carthaginian army ever closer towards defeat.
" Tete de veau! " Separated and alone the Carthaginians only real cutting edge, their Elephant had been properly mugged and tucked up like a kipper by Assyrian Javelinmen down a Peckham back alley.
As the mighty Pachyderm expired, the Carthaginian casualty track ticked firmly and decisively into 'defeat' territory as finally, the eclectic and diverse army of Hubertibal expired.
With Carthage routed the game ended with a second successive win for the Assyrians, who drove off back to Mandela Towers at full speed in their three-wheeler chariots, secure in the knowledge that they had almost literally stolen the points from The Baron himself for the second time in a row!.
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition, or read on for the post match summaries from the Generals involved, as well as another episode of legendary expert analysis from Hannibal
Post Match Summary from the Sargonid Assyrian Commander
It's a well-known fact that 90% of all foreign invaders come from abroad, but these Carthaginians are now going back home anyway after we soundly trounced them in this battle, despite the fame of Le Baron Hannibal himself.
God knows how this knock-off French Hannibal even has the courage to walk down dark alleys wearing all that gold and finery after this defeat. When they see him coming he must look like a muggerís pension scheme
This whole thing about being able to second guess the opponents army composition and deplyment is pretty handy now I come to think about it. Hannibal did have a lot more good quality Heavy Foot in the centre than I perhaps expected, but even so knowing the mounted wing would be pretty half assed allowed me to use the mixed shooters and Chariots to drive down my left wing and then wheel in (quite literally) to roll up the enemy centre from the flank.
Bit of a proper battle plan really, this whole stack one side and overwhelm whilst holding back on other parts of the table. Clearly I am some sort of genius.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Two wins, and you love yourself even more than when you were a child. You must have spent a third of your life standing in front of mirrors. My earliest childhood recollection is of you standing in front of a mirror. Up until I was four, I thought you was twins.
But, even with that second win you managed to make heavy weather of this victory as a direct result of your obsession with fielding far too many of these not all that good Medium Swordsmen you seem to favour for some unfathomable reason. They are roadkill to enemy elephants and also Impact or Impetuous Foot can give them a rough old time.
OK, you have tools in the Assyrian armoury to neutralize the elephants but right until the last moment I thought your javelinmen would be about as useful as a pair of sunglasses on a bloke with one ear.
It was a squeaky victory, and now you have a chance to scoff some more cake and bolt down a quick Belgian beer before we start again on the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition