Ancients (Roman Period) at Roll Call 2016
Mithraditic vs Late Roman
Game 4 and the Roman odyssey continued with a Middle Imperial Roman army facing Mithradates finest across the 80cm wide table...
The lists for the Mithraditic and Late Roman from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Roll_Call can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
This was a more conventional battlefield, and a more conventional opponent with a solid middle of good quality Legionaries, and auxilia on one flank and cavalry on the other. The wooded area on my left was an obvious place for the Roman Auxilia to go, and I was keen to match them with what I hoped would be a longer line of my own rough terrain troops, pulling the Romans to the left and leaving a gap or two for my forces to exploit. The Scythed Chariot again sat in reserve, threatening and Roman Auxilia who might dare to emerge from the woods
The Galatians were ready and waiting in the centre, staring intently at the line of red shields in the distance as their general urged them on
Deployment had seen my Thracian and Theurophori command extend further to the flank than the more expensive (and capable) Romans, so the opportunity was there to put pressure on the end of the Roman line from the very start.
On the other flank the Khurasan Alan noble cavalry were ready to do some impacting on the rather less competent Romans facing them.
Mithradates ordered his rough terrain troops forwards, drifting each move a base to the left to further outflank the Romans - their advance was temporarily slowed by an ambush marker in the woods before them
L'Art de la Guerre hint -ambush markers stop marches, even if they are fake, so if you are the defender you may as well chuck them out there if you have the opportunity. It's another of those things in these rules that initially seems a bit cheesy, but in terms of overall game balance works really well to give a small additional benefit to the defender, who is otherwise arguably at a bit of a disadvantage having to deploy first and move second.
The Roman cavalry force was pretty thin, and as the Mithradatic mounted wing raced forwards the Romans were yet to clear the large field that they had been forced to deploy in.
With a long overlap the Mithradatic army was keen to push forwards as soon as possible on the left, and their LI bowmen started shooting at the Auxilia almost immediately. The far left of the Mithradatic line was made up of the 2 units of Javelinmen - not the most capable units frontally against Auxilia, but perfectly good to swing round a flank, do a bit of shooting and then charge home against a hopefully-engaged enemy
And swing round they did as the LF pulled out of the eyeball-staring distance gap between the two lines of proper combat troops. The next pip roll for the Romans would be critical with the Javelinmen ready to fall on their flank!
The Roman cavalry were being similarly overlapped by the Mithadatic LH, but in terms of mainline combat troops the Romans arguably held a slight edge with their Cataphracts outgunning the Alans in sustained combat. Initial impact would be vital..
The Roman auxilia were forced to pile into an overlapping pair of Javelinmen in order to try and protect their flank - coming in with a marker (using a different colour coding system to my troops) they managed to gain the upper hand and damage the Javelinmen at impact. In their attempts to not be outflanked though the Auxilia had stepped out of the woods and were now exposed to the Scythed Chariot too...
With the pikemen following in close behind the Pontic mounted win struck first in a thunderous charge against the Romans who had only just cleared the terrain! This battle was hotting up very quickly indeed...
The Alans were doing well, but the Superior Greek cavalry fared less welll - removed at impact by the Roman lancers! That had left a large hole on the flank of the Mithradatic horse, and an even larger hole in their plans on this flank.
The Legions, helping out their Auxilia, now took the fight to the Mithradatic foot, charging home with great initial success against the Thracians - but elsewhere casualties were starting to add up on the Roman line with 2 units carrying 2 hits each. There would be gaps in both lines very soon
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With their cavalry struggling the Greeks committed the Pike Phalanx into combat to shore up the line and force an advantage
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Pike want to be receiving a charge by mounted really - charging in is a bit dicey, as Pike don't get a +1 for "impact", but the mounted troops can (if they have "Impact" or "Impetuous" capability)
With the Pikes in, the battle started to turn quickly in favour of Mithradates - the Alans trampled the remaining Romans and steamed forward
The Thracians has not stood up long to the assault of a full-fat Legion and were now hanging on by their fingernails as the Romans marched forwards unscathed and still raring for action. In the distance the badly-damaged and overlapped lone Auxiliary unit was more than holding it's own against the Javelinmen, killing a unit even as it teetered near elimination itself
With their own flanks now threatened the Theurophoroi charged home along with the Scythed Chariot - which immediately rolled over its opposition and destroyed them at contact! If only the Javelinman on the far flank could hit the Auxilia one more time and remove them from play the Roman line would be quickly rolled up... but despite being the recipient of the javelins and more javelins of outrageous fortune, the Auxilia refused to die!
And their resilience seemed to be contagious, as the rest of the Roman army found renewed reserves of strength from somewhere deep inside themselves, and smote mightily at the Mithraditic Theurophori, causing 2 hits on both units ! The Greek flank was now hanging by a thread...
The Javelinmen kept pouring javelins into the Auxilia, but they raised their shields and resisted stoutly - and now, with no frontal opponents to worry about, the Legions were able to detach units and add them to the fight as well ! Things were looking very bleak for the Greeks
With so much excitement taking place on the flanks, the centre has almost been forgotten... but not by the Alans, who were sweeping into the rear of the line of Legionaries having run down the last of the Cataphracts a few moments earlier.
The Romans were pretending to make like Egyptians on the far right, with two units of bowmen hiding in a field and trying desperately to draw a shooting bead on the fast-moving Skythian LH, who themselves were trying their best to shoot the Romans down without getting into their arc of fire.
Walking like an Egyptian
Having despatched one unit of javelin-chucking hairy layabouts, the newly refreshed and irritatingly now also rallied Roman Auxilia turned their attention towards the final remaining unit of Pontic warriors. This looked to be a dispiritingly uneven fight from what had started off as a great situation
The fast-moving Sarmatian cavalry were sweeping in from the right wing and rapidly overtaking their own rather disjointed pikemen as their impetuosity and weak willed general combined to engender a rash and over-keen charge. The Romans were rocked back on their heels by the force of the Impact, taking multiple hits and skirting with evaporation...
But, two overlaps is two overlaps, and that easily trumps a -1 for being non-intact. The Sarmatians were pulled of their horses and despatched at gladius point, leaving the Pontic army in some disarray
With both sides teetering on the brink of disaster and total defeat the Pontic general was forced to resort to extremely unlikely last-straws to grasp, throwing his psiloi into shooting range against the armoured Auxilia. But it was not to be - the Auxilia stood and elsewhere on the field of play the Mithradatic forces lost the final point to slip to total defeat...
The Result is a crushing defeat.
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 Mithraditic Commander
This was so close to being a famous victory, and one where my forces all came so close to living up to their full potential. The Thracians and Javelinmen did the right thing in pulling my opponents army apart, detaching the supports from the Legions and almost threatening the flanks of the whole army from the start.
My Horsemen also performed bravely, winning a great victory and then still having just about enough coherence to join in and influence the rest of the battle. And the Pikemen, they drifted away from the enemy Legions and contributed significantly to the victory of the Horse…
Yet still, in the final evaluation, the resilience of the enemy troops, and some inopportune dice rolling especially on the part of the flanking Javelinmen who threw away their great initial position meant that we fell just short of recording a luxurious victory, which surely would have been followed by a noble Triumphal March through the downtown streets of Rome!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
What I see here is a disaster - to get so close and then fail to push the ball over the line is not down to fate, it is down to not committing the best troops to the task in hand, and not making sure that your exhausted forces were properly rested and husbanded before being committed into the fray once more
This farrago I see here is not Tactics! This is not Generalship! All you do is run back and forth with a stupid expression, jittery as a rat in a roasting pot whilst your opponent stays coherent, keeps formation, and uses his generals in a sensible manner to bolster the parts of the table where they are most needed whilst executing a simple plan, mindful of the strengths of his own men.
I can see why the Romans respect their leadership - and I can see why your men despise yours. I hope this will improve by the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition