Freezing! Armies before 0AD at Avignon 2019
Sargonid Assyrian vs Ugaritic
With the southern French rain by now teeming down outside the idea of a biblical desert battle seemed entirely appropriate for the final session of the afternoon.
Luckily that was what was in store, as an old DBM classic of the Ugaritics (who?) trundled across the stone floor of the medieval olive pressing plant in which we were playing and slapped themselves down on the table across from the mighty Lions of Assyria
The lists for the Sargonid Assyrian and Ugaritic 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.
The Ugarits are a textbook copycat Assyrian/Babylonian/Egyptian army with lots of light chariots which work well in tight themes but start to struggle against more coherently equipped armies.
For Light Chariots to work they tend to need an open field with space to attack flanks - resembling a biblical era Mongol horse horde more than anything else
Being the Biblical era, agriculture was slowly spreading across the civilized world and in this particular battle it had managed to inch it's way about 1/3 across the table before petering out into a wide open expanse of chariot friendly plains.
As local camel-herders surveyed the scene they could see that the Ugarits had filled this space with a combination of Light and Heavy Chariots against which the Assyrian army was pretty much fully arrayed.
Neither side seemed to keen to trample the newly-planted crops filling some of Rafa's fields on the Assyrian left.
" Conseil d'etat! " With only 4 Heavy Chariots in the Ugaritic force, and having already matched them off against their own 4 Noble battle carts the Assyrian plan seemed quite simple - advance and engage the enemy with hopefully better and more resilient forces than they had.
OK, not the cleverest idea but it was well within the capabilities of the Assyrians to master and kept things nice and tidy along the way as well
Why The Assyrian Army would be a bad house guest
On this wing the Assyrians were - once again - rather light, and as the Ugaritic infantry boiled across the open fields tilled in relentless sun by the local yeoman peasantry in far more peaceful times the Assyrian Noble cavalry started to consider whether the choice of list was really as good as it had seemed to be in the first 2 games of the weekend.
" Pot pourri! " This was already shaping up to be a brutal frontal slog, with both armies seemingly happy to take on each other in face to face combat.
The densely packed ranks of the Assyrian Heavy Infantry prepared themselves mentally for the coming struggle where it already seemed clear that they would be tasked with absorbing at least part of the Ugaritic Heavy Chariot charge, a thankless task which they would have been much better suited for if they were Spearmen rather than Swordsmen
The Ugaritic general drove his men forward with determination and expectation.
A decisive clash was about to happen before many other games had even finished setting up, with the greater width of the Ugaritic army seemingly starting to lap around the two vanguard commands of Assyrian military might much faster than the Assyrians themselves had been able to engineer a similar strategic overlap on their right wing.
Assyria's finest now needed to get their skates on to avoid falling prey to overwhelming numbers of enemy chariots.
Avoiding combat against the powerful Ugarit strike force of Heavy Chariots the Assyrians pushed forward on both flanks, sending the lightly armed elements of the Ugaritic chariot force fleeing in panic as they sought to avoid combat against better and more numerous foes.
In the far distance the Assyrians Elite Guard infantry formation was also driving forward and startin to chew up enemy chariots with a potent combination of shooting and combat. " Conseil d'etat! "
With their flanks now seriously threatened the Ugaritic Chariot Strike Force had but one option - ATTACK!!
" Boeuf a la mode! " The mighty war machines of both armies rumbled into life, gaining momentum as their horses laboured to drag the massive battle carts laden with ferocious crewmen up to fighting speed ready for the decisive clash of two civilizations nobility and technology.
Ugarit Travel Video
Wheels rumbled, spears were thrown, axes swung and men and horses clattered into one another at great speed.
" Pas de Calais! " Both sides were driving their chariotry like they stole them - fast, and leaving behind a multitude of casualties as the two well-matched forces traded blows and dice all along the line.
Almost every Assyrian unit was now committed fully to battle, negating the advantage in width of the Ugarits by the expedient of fighting with everything they owned..
What's Going on Here Then?
The two armies have lined up on the sort of narrow frontage which suits the Assyrians in this matchup and slammed together as the Assyrians take the initiative and deny the Ugarians chance to use their speed and width. The Assyrians are leading where their men have advantages, and exercising extreme caution by holding back committing where things look roughly equal.
With both armies fully committed, the first breakthroughs would be vital - and in this case the Assyrians had punched through the centre of the Ugaritic line to land the first blow.
Turning like a battleship which had not been invented at the time, Assyrian chariotry wheeled painfully around and slammed home into the exposed flanks of Ugaritica's elite fighting formation, causing carnage on a truly Biblical scale to the enemy's now-blunted cutting edge
" Chateauneuf du Pape! "
The right wing was also rapidly swinging in Assyria's favour, as the lightly armoured Ugaritic chariotry had failed to find a solution to the combined-arms shoot and fight flexibility of the Assyrian infantry and cavalry formation.
The multi-capability Assyrian Kampfgruppe had dramatically punctured the enemy resolve with long range shooting, and the damage inflicted had rendered the Ugaritic mounted component fatally even before the rigors of hand to hand combat kicked in.
The roll-up in the centre, triggered initially by a lone unit of Assyrian Noble Chariotry had now become a torrent the like of which exceeded any attempt to deploy a coherent Persian-carpet-based metaphor in a vague attempt to link the tactical on-table situation to the Tigris & Euphrates derived origins of both opposing forces.
But in essence this was great for Assyria and terrible news for Ugaria
In a blink of an eye, the entire centre of the Ugarian army found itself back in the box in double-quick time, steamrollered by yet more historically inappropriate metaphors and a flank attack from all of the most powerful units in the Assyrian arsenal.
" Oeuf sur la plat! " The game was now up for the Ugarianese army, with a decisive win for Assyria in the Biblical battlespace. The day was done and it was time to retire to a local sophisticated wine bar.
Del Boy in a wine bar!
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
This time I had no idea what the opposition would be using, but a nicely arranged set of terrain meant there was just about enough open space for both my and the opponents army to line up against each other and then in the end it came down to a battle of Chariot vs Chariot, and that is my area of expertise - go, on,ask me!
Asking an Assyrian if he knows anything about chariots is like asking Mr Kipling if he knows anything about cakes, and my guys in their carts went like real hot cakes here.
The end result was then inevitable, as the opposition had no room to use their speed and swiftness in the turn, and a frontal slog did me a right pair of favours.
I remember my dear old mum on hear deathbed saying, "Del Boy, never take a light chariot to a heavy chariot fight" and, as always, my dear old mum was proved right in the end.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Whatever the subject is, your Mum had something to say about it on her deathbed. She mustíve spent her final few hours in this mortal realm doing nothing but rabbiting!
You seem to have been blessed with fortunate terrain options here, with enemies keen to narrow the frontage of the battlefied when this is what you wanted as well. Seeing such a line of chariotry prepared to try and take you on was a great gift but one you tried hard to look in the mouth by refusing to do anything at all to defend your left flank from their infantry assault.
That could have ended in a way which would have had you calling out for Marlene, never mind for your dear old mum - but like Boycey, what was out of sight was out of mind and you managed to get away with it by the skin of your sheepskin coat
Lets hope there is better fare on offer this evening than a plate of jellied eels - fingers crossed for a proper dinner before the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition