Roman Era in Derby 2017
Patrician Roman vs African Vandal
Sunday morning, and after a very nice upscale curry and a surprisingly difficult to find couple of pints of proper cask conditioned local ales in Market Harborough it was time to face Game 4, and hopefully turn around the fortunes of the so far always-beaten Patrician army.
The opposition this morning came in the shape of the Rotherham Massive - in fact the Rotherham Massive Wall of Goths in a Vandal army all the way from North Africa. The lists for the Patrician Roman and African Vandal from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Derby can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
The terrain picking went terribly badly, with me defending and every piece I selected falling on the opposition side of the table - from where it was either moved further back or removed entirely, leaving a totally bald table over which a horde of Vandal cavalry were clearly about to assail me.
With no real way of guessing my opponents deployment on such a barren plain, I had again placed the Ostrogoths in the centre with the Decadent Legions and Foederate cavalry on their left. The at-risk Auxilia and Javelinmen were on the right, hoping if they were lucky to be able to make a dash for the fields on the opponent's side of the table.
Vandal Invasion of North Africa
But even before the expansive Premier Inn breakfast had settled the Vandals were almost upon me, with a massively left-weighted deployment and good first pips they charged across the table in a series of echeloned waves. The Ostrogoths pondered why they were so less numerous than the opposing horsemen...
The Vandals also had a micro-command on their extreme right, which had clearly been tasked with preventing the Foederate Cavalry from falling onto the flank of the advancing wall of horseflesh before it could reach the Patrician lines. The rest of the Roman army simply stood in place, as getting the three units of Foederate knights into action early -doors was already quite obviously going to be vital to the whole dammed operation.
The Auxilia had already realised that if they stayed where they were deployed they would be doomed, and so had expended a shed-load of pips in marching across the rear of the Ostrogoths. This did leave the Isaurians and Ostrogoth Bowmen a little on their own on the far right of my line, but between the ability of the Isaurians to evade, and the bowmen to, well, fire bows, my hope and expectation was to at the very least draw away some of the Vandal horsemen from the end of the Ostrogoth line - giving me a better chance of perhaps winning here even if it meant sacrificing some mercenaries in the process.
The Vandal plan was simple and they executed it with enthusiasm and alacrity - slamming into the Ostrogoths almost immediately and heedless of the approach of the Foederate Cavalry on their right. The line of Gothic and Roman bowmen had not yet been hit, and the archers furiously reloaded and fired into the wall of riders, hoping to knock them off a couple of casualties before the inevitable contact. Much would depend on how this first round of combats went between the two sets of unwashed mounted nobility.
"not well" was the answer that the Ostrogoths really had not hoped to hear. Losing 4 combats out of 6 and winning none, the only saving grace - small as it was - was that none of the Ostrogoths had taken 2 hits. Small comfort indeed.
Things were going from bad to worse across the entire frontage.
The Isaurians, no doubt in a huff about not really being included in the whole "lets run away and try and survive" plan chipped in to make it even worse, as they rolled short and were caught in the rear by the charging Vandals at the edge of the table.
Soon the Vandals were also slamming into the line of archers as well, giving almost 2 solid linear feet of rather bad looking close combats on the bald table.
Nothing was going the way of the Romans and their allies as the Vandals broke through the centre of their line and scattered a shower of 2-hit markers on the engaged remnants - only 7 more hits stood between the Ostrogothic command and total mounted destruction
After giving sacrifices to The Praetorian Guard's Sicilian roast swan stuffed with live blackbirds, the Auxilia, far from being safe from danger, now found themselves called up into the most risky place in the battlefield, taking on the Vandal Commander in the open. With 2 overlaps the Auxilia had a fighting chance, but they were rather exposed to any actual losses from the front line troops they were now dangerously close behind.
L Art de la Guerre hint - if you are 1MU or less behind a unit that is destroyed, you also take one hit as well.
With the game obviously slipping away already the Roman General threw his lot in with his embattled Auxilia, seeing the possibility of racking up some points by maybe unhorsing a vandal General as the least worst option open to him in a game which already ooked unlikely to go on much past the one hour mark.
The Vandals had barely paused for breath as they stomped the line of bowmen into the green playing surface, and were now heading pell-mell for the Patrician baggage train.
With the 3 Foederate cavalry still bogged down in their attack against the flank of the Vandal line, the massive racking up of casualties across the Ostrogoth and Auxilia suddenly reached an unrecoverable level. The Vandal invasion of the Patrician Roman empire was complete - a crushing defeat in double quick time for Rome against a historically-appropriate-feeling storm of hooves .
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 Patrician Roman Commander
After the last battle, as you know, I laid out my vision for an honorable and enduring outcome in a very tough place, a place where Roman attempts to civilize the barbarians has failed, yes, right here on the tabletop in Derby. This is the place where the enemies of Rome are trained, where you have people that are not exactly fans of the way the Empire evolved into this, it's most succesful ever, Patrician version, can I say that? And I will tell you then what we're going to do with our incredible military, they're going to make unbelievable sacrifices, and they've already made, in some cases, well, today perhaps many of them have made the ultimate sacrifice. But we're fighting for them. Our warfighters deserve the spears and pilums and shields they need, and the trust they've earned to fight and to win. Fight and to win.
And you see what's going on in here in North Africa. All of a sudden, I don't know -- who knows. But I can tell you, what I said, for the place to be oveerun by Vandals - that's not strong enough. Some people said it's too strong, it's not strong enough. But Geleric, King of the Vandals, I respect the fact that I believe he is starting to respect us. I respect that fact very much. Respect that fact. And maybe -- probably not -- but maybe something positive can come about. They won't tell you that, but maybe something positive can come about.
So, in Rome, we're taking power out of the hands of the people and putting it where it belons, in the hands of the wealthy, of patrons of the games, of families of former Emperors and great landowners, as that's the best way I know to put that power back into the hands of the people, OK? Well, technically I am a hereditary ruler, so really it's still all me, but you know that I mean when I say us. The same failed voices in Rome who opposed the Patrician movement are the same people who gave us one military disaster after another; yes, the people of our Legions and the barbarian warriors who joined our army in the hope of reversing their illegal imigration status. We don't need advice from them!
I came to Rome for you. Your dreams are my dreams. Your hopes are my hopes. And your money and wealth is what I'm fighting for each and every day. It's so important. Our agenda is the pro-Legionary agenda. We've accomplished historic amounts in a short period of time. We've signed more than 50 pieces of legislation. We have aggressively canceled job-killing regulations, and we're unleashing Roman Legions into the field faster, and with less training and less restrictive, heavy armour that ever before!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Well, I've seen some fake news in my time, but this takes the sestercii. Here your army was woefully unprepared for the opposition, failing to bring the right troops to anticipate playing on a billiard table, failing to secure the terrain you needed and then failing to deploy in a fashion which would have forced the opposition to do anything more complicated than simply charge straight forwards in a line and tranple you underfoot.
Seeing this game pan out I can fully appreciate how the once-proud and might Empire you preside over is slipping to irrelevance all around the Mediterranean. The lack of armour and quality in your Legions is inexplicable in hindsight, unless we accept that your superiority is even now slipping away.
The terrain does have a degree of luck, and I suppose in some ways you are managing with the hand you are being dealt by the troops available. But that does still leave deployment. The enemy here were sure to be charging forward and they would surely struggle to do much more than go straight. So a linear deployment, with the Auxilia sat, at least initially, in the open is hard to explain and impossible in hindsight to defend. In such a mismatch I personally would have been tempted to use the Auxilia as a flank march, as at least that would have gotten them off the table for quite some time. That also would have forced the rest of your army to set itself up hard against one of the flanks, which would in turn have driven the Goths into some turns and wheels.
The only good thing about this game was that it gave you more time to go around the trade show. I hope you spent it wisely and picked up some better troops to fight in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition