Roman Era in Derby 2017
Patrician Roman vs Parthian
It's the final game, and an opportunity to overcome an uninterrupted sequence of broken army disasters in a fellow-clubmate matchup against Dave Allens 18-22mm plastic Parthians.
In a rare moment of planning and anticipation I had gone to the unusual lengths of playing a practice game against Dave and this very same army on the Thursday before the competition - and, of course, I had won convincingly with the much greater heft and weight of my proper 25-8mm figures overcoming his 1/72nd Zvezda plastics.
The lists for the Patrician Roman and Parthian 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.
Would this work in my favour and give me the psychological edge, or would Dave manage to actually learn from the defeat and improve while I cruised on confidently into and over the edge of the abyss of 5 army breaks...?
The table had a little more terrain than last time, as in, erm, some, including a spectacularly well positioned forest plantation thingy right in the middle of the Parthian deployment zone, forcing their army into a split with the shooting skirmishy ally to my left, and the wall of Cataphracts and charging cavalry on my right.
The Parthian Shot
The Roman army was stacked also to the right, with all of the Foederate and Ostrogoth cavalry together flanked by Legions on one side, and the massed Auxilia formation running for the safety of the field on the extreme right. Both sides seemed up for the fight as the two lines of horse thundered towards each other.
After giving sacrifices to The Praetorian Guard's Barolo-stained trusty steed, the Decadent Legionaries were preparing to be shot at for much of the game but as long as it kept the enemy horse out of the flank of the Ostrogoths that would be a good exchange in my book. With the Ostrogoths and Foederate cavalry jammed so closely together there was also no role, nor use for the Ostrogoth bowmen so they had already taken advantage of some excessive pip rolls to trudge over to the left flank and support the Legions.
What about these figures then?
Assuming you are a typical wargamer, by now you may well be thinking to yourself how great 25mm ADLG actually looks on table, with just the right balance between troop density and still having space to actually do some sort of meaningful maneuvers (rather than just slamming 2 lines of troops at each other). The next stage in the addiction is to start to wonder what figures have been used and if you can cook up something similar yourself.
Well, the Romans here have been mostly made up from the Gripping Beast Plastic Roman Infantry set, which gives you a rather whopping 44 infantry for around only twenty quid. The boxes have rather too many bowmen compared to infantry on each sprue (2:3) but there are plenty of spare arms so with a sharp knife, some glue and a willingness to carve off the arrow cases and ignore some straps you can turn a few of the bowmen into javelin-hurling skirmishers or legions fairly easily.
Once assembled the GB troops do benefit from a small amount of filling to smooth over the joins between arms and torsos, but nothing too excessive - I used domestic household plaster watered down a bit and painted on to do so. The Roman uniform is fairly simple, making the paint job easy too - most of the auxilia and Legions here were sprayed matt white and that was left as the main base coat, with just the edgings of tunics, leggings and of course armour and faces being painted.
I did also say "mostly" made up of Gripping Beast troops - with only 5 bodies to choose from there still is only so much variety you can achieve and so I have added some Foundry, Footsore and Gripping Beast metal figures to give a little more variety as well.
You can see them painted up in more detail here
The rather less succesful Ostrogoths are from Footsore Miniatures, who do a set of 24 Gothic cavalry and a command base for Saga
I also have a page on this site which shows all of the Gripping Beast figures and plastic box sets on sale on eBay right now. It's accessible via this link
With their proper 28mm bulk towering over their opponents, the Ostrogoths slammed home against the Sarmatians who were assisting the Parthians this game. With almost nothing of note to occupy the rough terrain, the Isaurian Javelinmen were already in a position to harass the Sarmatians flank seven before the two lines clashed, giving the forces of Rome an early flank attack at this end of the Parthian line.
The meat of the Parthian army were their high quality Cataphracts, and the Goths were keen to make sure they kept as far away from the real action as possible while they tried to deal with the Sarmatians. Stepping smartly forward the Foederate Cavalry took on the Cataphracts leaving the Ostrogoths to outnumber and overlap their own foes.
The Decadent Legions were pushing forward with no real aim in mind other than to keep the shooting and skirmishing part of the Parthian army as far away from the flank of their own cavalry as possible. This would be a Crassus-esque thankless task, but if it bought time else where a good investment too - and with 4 hits the Romans certainly had the staying power to outlast the rest of the already brutal combat.
The enemy Sarmatians were quickly being chewed up by the tide of Ostrogothic horseflesh - but still dealing out some punishment in the process. Even so, only the bravery of the enemy allied commander was keeping them in the game.
The swirling mass of shooting cavalry on the left was starting to find gaps in the gap-tastic Roman line, as the advancing Legionaries attempts to push the horse back led to a disjointing of their formation.
Enemy horse could now shuffle and dart through to engage the unwisely over-aggressive Ostrogoth bowmen...
With huge advantages in numbers the Ostrogoths were overwhelming the end of the enemy line and even now were steaming towards the flanks of the Cataphracts as well. Auxilia and Isaurians, free of the need to help out, had begun to chase down enemy light infantry as well on the now gapingly open flank.
After drinking Roman wine that tasted as if it was made from the tears of Kenneth William's olive-oil rubbed nasal hair, the Decadent Legions pushed on and forced the enemy back out of bow range. The Ostrogothic archers were also holding their own, exposing the aggressive move of the enemy cavalry for the potentially embarrassing overreach that they clearly were engaging in.
The Ostrogoth Horse had now almost completely turned the direction of the table, and only the thinnest skin of enemy troops were holding them back... however, a bit of simple maths does clearly by now show a lot fewer 28mm mounted units than the 9 who originally started the game, and even worse the Sarmatian General was still, incredibly, alive! Attrition was beginning to take a toll on the Roman forces.
Why Parthians Should Be Rubbish
The Decadent Legions were also now starting to pick up hits and make use of a variety of casualty markers with both Green and Yellow edges. Every attempt to rally also appeared doomed to failure.
L Art de la Guerre hint - Troops can rally off one hit per turn by spending a Pip, and succeeding on a dice roll. The tariff is normally 4+, which goes up to 5+ if they are in combat, and drops to 3+ if a General is with them. The rallying attempt replaces all movement that turn - even if you fail therefore, you are stuck in place and can't then move until the next turn.
Units that are more than 4MU away from any event get a "free" (zero pips) attempt to rally. This encourages you to pull your skirmishers out of the front line once their job is done
With the Sarmatians finally destroyed, the Cataphracts felt the full force of the rather tired but still fairly numerous Gothic charge, with their sharp wire spears and lances impaling the soft and bendy plastic men from all sides. This surely would not be a lengthy end for the Cataphracts?
The Goths finished the job with some style..
The Parthian General discusses his options with his men
By now both sides were incredibly close to defeat - yet again. The Parthians were closer, and the Romans were throwing Auxilia into combat against unarmoured horsemen to try and record the one hit needed to break the enemy army - but the Parthians allies refused to yield!
And, in the end, the skirmishing Parthian Cavalry, starting the combat on 2 hits down, still managed to pull a victory out of the bag against the Auxilia, condemning the Patricians to a 5th successive army break - again by the narrowest of margins imaginable!
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
We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign Empire's capital, and in every hall of power. From this day forward, a new vision will govern our tabletop armies. From this day forward, it's going to be only Patrician Romans first, The Roman Empire first. Every decision on deployment, on terrain, on dice, on choice of figures, will be made to benefit the Roman armies and Roman soldiers. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other tribes and empires even while we are using their soldiers to increase the size of our Legions and Auxiliary cohorst. Foreign empires stealing our land will not go unchallenged, instead we will steal their land, and do it with their own men in our Foederate staffed Legions!
We have several months to write a better story before the next opportunity for a 25mm competition comes around at Roll Call next spring. Or maybe before if those chaps in the West Country organise one early next year.
I will fight for that with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let the Empire I own down. Rome will start winning again, winning like never before. We will build new roads, and aquaducts, and bridges, and colusseums and forums, and temples to the Roman Gods all across our wonderful Empire. Actually, when I say we I mean that slaves willingly broughth from the lands of people we have liberated from the tyranny of not being ruled by Rome will probably do most of the actual work. But, these monuments will be built in Rome, and across other peoples Empires too. And they will be grateful once more.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but if any of them do not accept we will invade them and crush them mercilessly, if we can. We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but woe betide anyone who decides that the glory of Rome is not an example they would willingly and freely wish to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones, and unite the civilized world against the radical Parthian terrorism, which for so long has prevented us expanding our empire further to the East. At the bedrock of our battle plans will be a total belief in the superiority of the Roman Legions, and through our belief in our own innate superiroity we will rediscover our loyalty to each other, and the keys to the palace of Victory!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
I'm finding it increasingly difficult to make any connection between what you are ranting about and the reality on the tabletop in these games you have, let's face it, now lost all of during the course of this weekend. And amongst that catalogue of satastrophic defeats this one surely has a special, unique place given that you had actually practiced this exact matchup only 3 days ago, and somehow had conspired to fashion a win - so to see it turn again to the bitter dust of desert defeat is possibly the harshest blow of all.
In some ways the game started well, with the Auxilia command at last finding some terrain on the edge of the table in which to hide from the enemy horse - and then even better to spring forth and attack their flanks. But from that auspicious start the fundamental weakness of your army, namely in the over-reliance on Average troops also lacking in Armour in a period when most if not all of your opponents had gone the opposite way, slowly came to tell.
So, from this supposedly positive beginning your cautiousness in committing Generals and your inability to get the best troops in the right places ended up turning a great initial round of combat into an overly protracted slugfest, which far from giving you the upper hand simply bought time for your opponent to work his advantage on the other flank against your defenceless Legions. And this advantage was one of your own making - simply sitting tight against the terrain and investing all of your Pips on rallying off shooting hits would have achieved far more for your battleplan than the half-hearted advance into the wilderness that you instead elected to undertake.
In the end you army has turned out to be both smaller than most of your opponents, yet also lacking in equivalent numbers of good quality troops. Too often your men have stood as mere spectators to the actions of your opponents, a feat compounded by your incredible ability to put your few bowmen in positions where they can be run down by enemy cavalry in seemingly every game of the weekend. This has been a chastening experience, and I can only thank the gods of Rome that the figures look good on the table, even for the short time that so many of them were there. If not, this would have been a bleak weekend indeed.
Perhaps you need to listen to the Madaxeman.com post-Derby Podcast to hear how some generals who actually won their games think about the weekend?
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That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?