Ancients in Burton Doubles 2016
Triumverate Roman & Jewish vs 3K Chinese & Hsiung Nu
Lunch is served, as some of the worlds biggest and best pork pies arrive on a table in the Coopers next to top class beer. The proximity of a venue to both the capital of British brewing and also Melton Mobray has never been quite so significant!
The second game however goes right for the gastronomic jugular of the midlands-based catering success of the lunchtime and the prospective evening curry, and unearths a Chinese army for the Romano-Judean forces to take on. This matchup could have happened, but chronic indigestion surely would have prevented it being recorded in the annals of history?
Army stuff - Chinese armies in ADLG enjoy some of the largest numbers of 2HCW men in any army, and given the advantages of these weapon types this makes them a fearsome opponent, especially for anyone relying on spears or pikes. They also have a solid mix of Heavy and Medium foot, some of whom can add rear support (an additional permanently-attached LF bow base which adds +1 to a losing result in the first round of melee). Quite why we hadn't chosen one was a bit of a mystery...
The lists for the Triumverate Roman & Jewish and 3K Chinese & Hsiung Nu from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Burton Doubles can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
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The terrain was again somewhat bald in the middle of the table, apart from a centrally located wooded hill in the centre of our deployment area. We'd chosen to stack all of the legions on the left, and all of the Cataphracts on the right of this hill, with the 2 rough terrain commands either side of the Cataphracts. The Chinese had opted for a flank march, and given how their army was stacked to the left of our front line it seemed likely that it was also on that flank.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romano-Judean army has a solid line of Legionaries to the left of the hill, and all its Cataphract allies to the right. The Medium Foot command stiffened with an Elephant is ready to move out of the wood on the central hill if it gets the chance. The Chinese are geared to attack on their right against the Legions, and to skirmish and delay on their left. The flank march is clearly telegraphed to the left - although if it is on the right it will be a real surprise!
The battle opened up in familiar style, with light horse rushing forth to harry the enemy and keep us bottled up in our deployment area whilst Chinese soothsayers rolled the dice and prayed for the arrival of the flank march. The opposition facing our Cataphracts was pretty paltry, and sufficiently thin to even tempt the Thracian command out of the rough going - especially as one of the Chinese army's allied commands of Cataphracts was unreliable
L'Art de la Guerre hint - An allied command which rolls a 1 on its first turn will be Unreliable. It stays inert until either any enemy gets close to it, or it rolls a high enough pip dice in a subsequent turn. The CinC and "give" one of his pips to an unreliable command each turn to encourage them to join in, which is a nice little twist on the standard treatment of this issue in some earlier rulesets.
Our Legionary left had been the last command to deploy, and so with the flank march being increasingly obvious by that time the Jewish Imitation legionaries had started the game already partially refused, with just 2 sacrificial LF sent forward to try and hold back a veritable great wall of Chinese troops.
With the left playing cautiously, and the enemy Cataphracts becalmed our right wing stepped forward as one, bearing down on what no doubt would turn out to be a skirmishing cowardly runny-awayey sort of gang of horsemen facing them.
3 Kingdoms Warriors
With not a hint of cowardly running away stuff going on at all, no, not at all no sireee our left flank set of legions decided that putting more space between themselves and the enemy, and leaving less space behind them and the edge of the table would both be strategically bold and positive things to be doing and turned about to retire to the rear.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - a group of units can turn 90 or 180 degrees as part of a group move. They lose 1 or 2 MU of movement in doing so unless they are light troops.
Whilst the Chinese's ally was still steadfastly refusing to roll high enough to rejoin the battle, a rumble of distant hooves suddenly became a rumble of fairly close hooves as the flank march materialised at the precipitous edge of the world, watched both by the retreating Roman and Jewish Legions and also (it would appear) by a gamer with some very natty-looking yellow trousers.
This was an early arrival, but it had been no surprise and so the door on the Roman stable had already been swinging shut as the legions retreated. Their right wing met the back of the board the bolt slammed into place, the Yale key was turned and the portcullis descended. The Roman-Judean forces had as good a line as one might wish for with which to confront the Chinese - and plenty of time to psych themselves up for the oncoming combat as well.
The Romano-Judean legionary line turned about and was now happy.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romano-Judean army Legionaries are now anchored on both flanks ready for the arrival of the bulk of the Chinese army, who are struggling to keep their disparrate forces in a coherent line as they advance across a not insignificat distance to engage the Romans. The Chinese skirmishing force on the left is greatly overmatched and has been forced to fall back faster than it would like, conceding a lot of ground to the Romans Cataphract allies. This sweeping advance has however yet to translate into putting pressure on the Chinese right flank as the Parthians and Armenians remain wary of approaching the Hsiung-Nu cataphracts and triggering them to join the battle.
Back on the other flank the Armenians and Parthians were making steady progress and driving off the Chinese skirmishing bow horsemen who all seemed very reluctant to close to hand to hand distances with the far superior middle eastern forces.
3 Kingdoms Warriors
As the Parthians advanced, the Chinese fell short of pips to pull back all of their skirmishing horse and some of them were caught up in the rising tide of cataphractarii. This would be an early blow to the Chinese morale.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - many troop types can evade from a charge, but if there is an enemy within 1MU behind the rear of an prospective evader, the evade is cancelled. It's sort of a Buttocks of Death manoeuvre, but in this case the combat still needs to be fought as it is only the evade that is cancelled. Cancelling the evade of a LF unit however can result in it being caught and instantly killed without the need for combat
Three commands and a bit of Romano-Judeans and their allies were starting to swing round on the right hand side of the table as the Chinese retreated with their limited number of mounted skirmishers and skirmishing cavalry. The Romano-Judeans were harrying the retreating Chinese with slingshots and bowfire as they fell back, causing very tidy looking markers to appear on the shiny surface of the battlefield.
As the Parthians advanced they started to approach the still-inert allies of the Chinese. Skilful use of advanced mathematical techniques told the Parthians that the Hsien-Pi had more Cataphracts than they themselves did, and so leaving them inert was probably a good idea. Skilful use of the Wargamers Theodolite kept the distance to the legally required separation after that....
Remember the skirmishers who the Romano-Judean legions had thrown forward to delay the Chinese advance on the left? They were perfectly confident of delaying the pedestrian Chinese, but the arrival of the flank march had tipped the scales somewhat in the "I can run faster than you" stakes and soon the pair of Xyston javelinmen (now available from Donnington Miniatures) were returning to the place on the board where casualties were racked and stacked to be counted.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - the loss of any unit counts the same towards the break point of the army. So, get your skirmishers out of trouble before the real troops arrive!
The Parthians and Armenians had been pushing forwards with almost no opposition, and even at this early stage in the game they were getting close to achieving a TOUCHDOWN - and whilst there was no chess-like mechanic by which they would be promoted to Heavy Knights on reaching the back line of the table, the enemy baggage was starting to look like a viable target for acquisition and return to Ancient Judea. The Chinese had largely run out of table and must have been mulling over whether this was a good time to stick, or twist and run away..
The Chinese were teeing up a massive attack on the Romano-Judean infantry line on the left, but with the Cataphracts still inert, and now being watched by the wary Parthians the Chinese formation was not quite as wide as it wanted to be.... the opportunity to go on the offensive and take advantage of this presumably temporary advantage of numbers and overlaps proved too much for the Romans and they started to step forward to initiate the combat as soon as possible.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Romano-Judean army Legionaries are preparing to be engaged by the main force of the Chinese army who are still somewhat scattered across the table, triggering an advance by the Romans. The Chinese skirmishing force on the left has run out of ground to give and is now being chewed up by the much more numerous Roman and their Cataphract allies. The Elephant & Gladiator command has taken advantage of the extra pressure the Parthians and Armenians are putting on this flank, and are moving up to add their weight to the coming combat against the Legions, mopping up some isolated Chinese foot in the process.
The main block of Chinese heavy foot were now almost in charge range, with Medium Foot and cavalry arriving soon. The Romans were carefully maintaining an echeloned line to keep their baggage safe but given the advantage of numbers there were still more than enough Legionaries to take on the Chinese toe to toe.
3 Kingdoms Warriors
The lines clashed, and immediately the shock of fighting actual Gladiators caused great consternation at the end of the Chinese line for both sides - the Chinese Heavy Foot obliterated one of the Gladiators, but the other unit of Roman convict infantry and Thracians had simultaneously swept away the MF holding the Chinese right flank at first contact and were suddenly presented with a surprisingly numerous amount of juicy targets. The flank of the main Chinese infantry formation looked nice, as did a couple of isolated bowmen who had clearly hoped to avoid combat entirely..
On the left the noose was closing as infantry and Cataphracts circled the outnumbered and outmatched Chinese cavalry and Light Horse. The Thracians, who had been so vulnerable in the open in the last game had managed to co-ordinate with the Cataphracts far more successfully this time around and were using their greater numbers to face off the Chinese LH with some success, contributing to the sense of impending doom the Chinese mounted wing now was instilled with.
The Roman legionaries were by now firmly locked in intense combat with their Chinese counterparts - and were doing rather well at it so far following their initial unexpected reversal. Whilst one unit of Romans was now close to breaking, the tone of the engagement was far more Italian than South East Asian in flavour, and the Chinese were racking up markers like they were collecting them to make a particularly impressive bracelet at some point in the near future.
The Chinese flank marching cavalry were also now in action against the slightly less competent Judean legionaries but they too were also doing reasonably OK and holding firm as their greater width helped offset any lack of armour or competence on their part - although the involvement of the habitually dodgy Roman Medium cavalry unit in any sort of action that is proximate to the enemy was a cause for concern!
As the slugfest ground on, the Chinese started to pull back from the gladius-battering they were receiving - their non-allied cataphracts were especially effective against the less well armoured Legions - but the general pattern was still on which more closely approximated Greco-Roman Victory art than depictions of Chinese martial prowess. As both sides exchanged bases, the weight of casualties was starting to stack up in the Roman-Judeans favour.
The allied Chinese cataphracts had finally joined the fray, but with the Parthians screening them off carefully they would struggle to do too much at this stage of the game. The Romans had also been hoping to sneak in a couple of cheeky units of Chinese bowmen as some spare Thracians roamed the Chinese-free plains in the middle of the table, but to have the chance to run the bowmen down the Thracians had to order one of their number to hold up the Cataphracts for a short while - anyways, a 2:1 trade in units was still a result as the Chinese were closer to defeat already.
The Chinese left flank was going down fighting, slowly but not especially effectively and as their horsemen were removed piecemeal from the table by the Roman-Judean-Armenian Axis powers, gaps started to open up in the ragged Chinese lines. Parthian (or Armenian?) LH were rather surplus to requirements at this stage of hand to hand combat, and so a couple of lurking units spied a route to the Chinese baggage - would they be able to make the dash and have it away on their toes with a lifetime's supply of Green tea?
What's Going on Here Then?
The Legionaries are trading blows with the main force of the Chinese army, who are finding taking on the Romans best troops a challenge made even harder by the additional pressure on their left flank coming from the Gladiator command. The Chinese skirmishing force on the left continued to be eroded, and this is starting to leave gaps in their line through which Parthians and Armenians are beginning to pour, putting the Chinese baggage at risk and threatening to engulf the now-committed Hsiung Nu Cataphracts before they can rejoin the fray in a meaningful place.
The proper Romans had by now almost totally chewed up the Chinese infantry on the left and were starting to find flanks to turn with alarming ease as the Chinese wave attack crashed against the rocky shores of Roman military competence.
3 Kingdoms Warriors
Legions were everywhere in a blur of motion, and despite the exhortations of the Chinese general, the sheer weight of numbers meant that wherever you looked Roman infantry were dragging Chinese cavalry from the saddle and despatching them with short sharp thrusts of their swords through the Cataphracts chainmail armour.
Sometimes there was even time to take photos that were in focus.
The Armenian (lets call them that) LH had done the dash and grabbed the loot! Another big dent in the Chinese army break point clicked up on the meter as their much harassed LH tried to make up some of the damage.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - are in contact with enemy baggage you are locked there until you pass a test to cease looting - so, for these LH that means they could not evade away from an enemy charge.
With one baggage consumed, the Armenians made a frantic dash along the baseline seeking yet more tea and chicken gizzards in the second block of Chinese baggage.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - for the Doubles we played a rule that each players army had to have its own camp - usually there is just one on table on each side
The allied Chinese Hsien-Pi Cataphracts must have been waiting in the rain whilst they were unreliable, as their combat skills were proving decidedly rusty - the Parthians were pasting them and the addition of a Roman elephant to the mix was simply adding disorder-inducing insult to large foot on face generated injury. The Chinese were falling apart...
What's Going on Here Then?
The 2 commands of Legionaries have fought off the Chinese infantry and flank marching cavalry, and the Parthians and Armenians have also combined to overwhelm the left and then centre of the Chinese army in a series of consecutive set piece attacks against the separated commands. The Chinese army has run out of men and has fallen to defeat.
The Result is an 83-27 victory for the Romans!
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 Triumverate Roman & Jewish Commander
My troops have vindicated themselves in their self-selection of a list, and the end result is that the Westward expansion of the chinese empire has been halted on the borders of far Persia by our Legions and our vassals from the East.
But aside from the prowess of the individual troopers, this battle was an outcome that showed how it is possible to actually do a more clever deployment than just lining up and filling the table with troops.
Adding to this, a proper refusal of one flank through having the self control to not charge rashly forwards, with an additional bonus score by taking the enemy baggage and this is one of the most impressive victories achieved so far in this weekend.
Now we have confidence in our ability, and confidence in our men - nothing surely can stand in our way henceforth?
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What kind of mosquito-buggering halfwit sees anything other than cowardice and blind luck in a result such as this one? If you see good planning I fear you are only preparing yourself for dissapointment in future rather than recognising what went on in this past.
If your army had the wit and foresight to possibly emply some proper cavalry instead of too many Cataphracts, perhaps you could hav actually caught some of the enemy LH far earlier, and wrapped up a victory without having to suffer such terrible losses amongst your own Elite Legionaries?
And, remember, that this victory was achieved against less than 2/3 of the opposing army, with the flank march and the unreliable command both out of action for a long period - in which time your preparation involved running away like dogs, and then standing in a straight line. More tha mark of a sackful of jackanapes than the sign of any sort of military genius methinks
Your brain is not that of a Great Captain, but instead would struggle to outmatch a basket-cockle in a game of chance - let us see if you are less fortunate in the next game?
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition