Classical & Roman Warfare at the 2017 BHGS Challenge
Sassanid Persian vs Sassanid Persian
The 4th game, and the first Sassanid opponent in an Iranian Plateau Civil War. And the battle was very much being played on the plateau, with barely any terrain troubling the battle map designer on a mostly bald table. The Emperors loyal troops were taking on the Usurpers forces with a central Death Star command, with Cataphracts on its left and the two near-identical commands of Clibanarii on either wing.
The Usurper had a different plan - he had recruited a number of Indo-Kushan allies who shored up his right wing, anchoring on the Waterway that ran down the edge of the board on that flank. The Usurpers forces had more Cataphracts and less elephants - which way would the chips fall..?
Driving forward against a screen of Light Horse bowmen the Loyalists pushed up on their left - not quite sure what they were going to do, but conscious that if it - as seemed probable - involved retreating they may as well grab as much table space to do so early doors.
In the centre, with many Cataphracts to see across the width of the table, the Death Star conducted a franchise-bending Saucer Separation, splitting into two separate components and pushing elephant-shaped pressure on multiple areas of the enemy line.
The tiny Kushan infantry command was flanked by a much deadlier block of Kushan cataphracts also led by the Ally General. The Loyalists were attempting to match this with their own mail-clad horsemen, but numbers looked on the side of the Indian here.
The shooting of the men from the Hindu Kush was fast and accurate and markers soon sprung up on the Clibanarii, and even more shockingly, the Cataphracts. These few hits already made the Loyalists challenge materially greater - an evade was coming up now for sure.
Yup - with their massive heed'ed General leading the way, the Clibanarii turned tail and fled. Their cataphracts were now on their own, and this was looking like a 'lets try and lose slowly while we win elsewhere' sort of flank to this game.
Elsewhere was The Other Flank. Here also it appeared that the Loyalists were rather outnumbered on the Cataphract front, and being bullied by the massed light horse shooting of the Usurper and his men. With half a Death Star on its way the Clibanarii decided that discretion was the better part of waiting for an advantage before charging in, and also dropped back.
By now the Double Death Star Challenge was well underway, and violent coruscating beams of pure energy flashed across the void in positively 1930's-esque interstellar combat all still based on a pre-Napoleonic naval metaphor. Each side sought to get it's elephants into the opposition cavalry and cataphracts, and each sought to neutralize the other with a steady stream of ablative crappy infantry.
The Sassanid left was a much more textbook checkerboard quilted pattern of advancing and retreating blocks of troops. As the Indians pushed onward the Clibanarii fell back, but Sassanid Cataphracts were also squeezing forwards as they sought to neutralize the numerical advantage enjoyed by the usurpers allies in heavy metal capability.
There are only so many ways to skin a cat, and even less to paint an Essex Generic Cataphract - from above there were next to no differences bar the way they were facing for the two armies finest and shiniest fighters. Despite this lack of sartorial uniqueness the Loyalists men were starting with the upper hand, even throwing a nasty great 6 against the Usupers Elephants
This combat superiority could not last forever, and soon the Usurpers men struck back, dishing out some far more exotic and expensive tokens in the process.
Pictures of Indian Troops from my Ancients Photo Directory
(Click any image to see details of the manufacturer, and a larger version of the photo)
Both sides Cataphracts continued the push and shove, rallying in places and losing ground in others. The previously evaded Clibanarii units were now getting to the moment when surely they would need to rejoin an increasingly pro-Usurper fray to try and do what a desert-dwelling warrior could to steady the Loyalist ship.
On the other flank the swirling mess of men, horses and pachyderms that had fallen into place inevitably opened up opportunities for both sides to claim an advantage - as this shot of a Loyalist Elephant hitting the flank of a somewhat Chinese-looking Usurper Embedded General clearly demonstrates.
But, hitting the flank of an enemy with an elephant is no guarantee of success, even if it does come pretty close (+2 base factor, +1 Impact, +1 hitting flank vs +0 base factor (flanked), +1 General, -1 Disordered by Elephant = 4 factor initial swing), and the lack of immediate and total victory opened the door for the Usurpers own Cataphracts to join the fray. Dailami looked on hungrily as they spotted an opportunity of their own..
The Cataphract on Cataphract additional slog on the opposite wing was slipping away from the Loyalists as sheer weight of numbers (and overlaps) started to tell.
The Dailami were far more decisive than the wounded elephant and its crew, and the grim position the Usurper commander found himself in was getting no better.
The Sassanid Empire
Inevitably he was unhorsed, and with him another unit behind as well, opening up a vast area of the table for the Loyalists to control and exploit flanks across.
With the tatters of their forces in disarray, the Usurpers left wing decided that retreat was now the only sensible, if cowardly option and they turned and fled for the fields and plantations of the outskirts of a nearby desert wadi.
The other long-forgotten Death Star was now into the flank of the Usurpers by-not victorious Cataphract force, causing havoc even as the last few Loyalist Cataphracts hung on for dear life in the face of a heavy-metal assault.
The Death Star Canteen - the Sequel
The Indians on the edge of the waterway had scared off the Loyalists men with sustained shooting, leaving them either dead on the field or dragging around many markers as they fell back.
As the Usurpers men retreated on the right, something involving a bad dice roll by the Loyalists must have happened - possibly outrageous shooting related at a guess, so maybe even involving the elephant? Who knows, but it must have been bad for the Decima Bossman Dice to be invoked and recorded so dramatically!
The tail end of Death Star combat was potentially approaching as the Usurpers men studiously avoided the last Loyalist Elephant's beady gaze. Whichever one of the many targets he took on would be in for a tough round of combat, but the one who failed to be a victim in the first round could then strike a flank attack in their next turn
Loyalists were fleeing like frightened rabbits on a seaside coach tour accidentally stumbling into a ferret farm motorcycle gang's annual Christmas Seaside Ride as they sought to avoid an ignominious and elephant-smelling death. Too weak and uncoordinated to launch any sort of meaningful counter attack, they were now under orders just to survive until the other flank could surely do the business and secure a hard fought win!
The Sassanid Cavalry
And a win meant a successful pursuit and shoot, as Usurperist Clibanarii evacuated the field as fast as they could, bouncing over the rutted fields and pastures on the very edge of the table in their unrelenting efforts to get away from the pursuing Loyalists
The Elephant had selected his target, and charged home, drawing in the services of a General to try and allow him to win quickly and cleanly. But, it was not to be - against all odds the Usurpers Cataphracts stood, and then swarmed all over the Pachyderm to kill it, and with its loss, claim the game for the challengers for the Crown of Iran!
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 Sassanid Persian Commander
How can this be so? I thought I had this game firmly in my grasp, yet the enemy somehow managed to sneak a win past my watchful gaze and wrap up all of the points?! I felt no disturbance in the force either - perhaps being a Sassanid Civil War my senses are not as helpful as when I am looking for players who are not of the Dark Side?
The enemy bringing an allied contingent also threw me off my balance and turned my light sabre a positively sickly shade of green rather than the more fetching red I prefer and love. More Cataphracts and more Elephants is definately A Good Thing for most armies, and so my lack of both of these did come rather to hurt me.
Quite how I managed to let the blighters on my right sneak away is also beyond me - they could have been the units I was looking for, and which I needed to win the game, and by rights should have been but they managed to escape as if through a wormhole in space and time, should one wish to adopt a different movie's travel paradox solution gimmick.
I am sure that the lessons learnt here will be useful in a future competition when I can also find a way to rebase my Indians and put them on table - but for now it is just the final event I need to survive and hopefully win.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You hopeless fool - how can you blame anyone other than yourself here for failing to wrap up a decisive victory? The game was won by your opponent next to the waterway, with his phenomenal Indian Kushan ally which you had no answer to - and no real answer to the Cataphracts either next to them, so why you decided that the best best was to try and leave your troops there to take both of these monstrosities on is utterly beyond me. After such a well thought out game in the previous round, it was as if your wits were exhaused and all you could do was advance and retreat in front of a better equipped enemy!
And, because I was there and watching, I know that the reason the enemy squirted away on the right flank was because you let them go through sheer incompetence. With pips to burn you forgot time and time again that Cavalry can evade, so instead of getting behind the enemy before charging them frontally you just charged, blood lust clouding your eyes, and they rolled long and were away and over the hills and fields to safety. And with them went your chance of redemption and victory.
Yoru army was designed to put the troops you had just painted on table - the opposition had planned to win a game of soldiers. It seems obvious which list would be better, and so this in the end proved to be so.
Let us hope you do not face such a well thought out opponent in the next game
Learn how Richard's list was composed in this video podcast - of listen to it in audio only via Podbean
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition