Biblical & Early Classical in Warfare 2016
Spring & Autumn Chinese vs Assyrian & Sargonid
Game three - 3 in one day - and this time a small and tough Sargonid army, very much one of the classics of the period.
The lists for the Spring & Autumn Chinese and Assyrian & Sargonid from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Warfare can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
I had managed to deploy my new cloth as well for the first time in the weekend, which was an added bonus on a table which was fairly spartanly populated with terrain, making there no obvious place for the Warband to go. The width of the Chinese army meant it overlapped the Sargonids by some margin on both flanks, but it also meant that the main Chinese chariot force appeared to be facing not much more than thin air, leaving presumably a points and quality imbalance in favour of Sargon on the rest of the table.
The Assyrians started by targeting the squishy centre of the Chinese lines, as their chariots made a bee-line for the rather hesitant warband, whilst fast moving cavalry clattered across the uneven fields to screen off the right wing of the Chinese force.
In Our Time - Radio 4
The warband were worse than useless, and so with a great roll of pips their general turned them about and proceeded to try and march them out behind the rest of the Chinese army who were forced to step smartly up to meet the Sargonid chariot threat head on.
The Assyrian cavalry were skilled at bowmanship and clearly had a plan to skirmish the Chinese heavy chariotry to death by a thousand arrow cuts. Lacking in any cavalry of their own, quite what the Chinese response would be was already up for debate as the game immediately threatened to drift away from the Orientals
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Cavalry can evade from an enemy charge - they roll the usual D6 for variable movement, but with Chariots charging 3 MU and Cavalry having a move of 4 MU and a 2MU shooting range, they should be able to stay fairly safe unless they mess up.
With both sides keen to engage with their chariots, the first wave of combat was perhaps surprisingly infantry on infantry, as the Big Green Machine ploughed into the Assyrian mixed formations at some speed.
A good commander is benevolent and unconcerned with fame.
Skirmishing be dammed! Having hit the full suite of chariots for a marker apiece the Assyrians decided that with overlaps and quality on their side they could now go toe to toe (or hoof to rim?) with the Chinese and hope to come out on top.
Not quite....the sheer power of the initial Chariot charge saw the end of the Assyrian line blown away in a fierce attack. The odds were now swinging wildly, and no-one could be sure of the outcome from here on in.
The centre of the table was becoming very cluttered as both sides poured men and material into the vital pivot point of the whole battle. The Big Green machine were slowly gaining the upper hand in fierce hand to hand fighting against the Assyrian warriors, but the greater numbers and quality of Assyrian chariotry was threatening to punch a hole through the heart of the Chinese battle formation
Pictures of Assyrian Troops from my Ancients Photo Directory
(Click any image to see details of the manufacturer, and a larger version of the photo)
Nothing was working as it should for the Chinese, as the Big Green machine suffered a coherent series of reverses - no dramatic collapses, just a string of opposed dice rolls that the Assyrians seemed capable of winning by the narrowest of margins almost every combat!
The Chinese chariots however were starting to gain the upper hand - but this was not as it seemed - the Sargonids were not beaten, they were just breaking off from combat and would return again to fight as a sort of second wave of Chariot-irritating skirmishing and shooting Assyrian cavalry. If the Assyrian horsemen could not beat the chariots in combat, they could play the attrition game for ever and that may yet still prove the Chariots undoing.
The art of using troops is this: ……If double his strength, divide him;
Everyone was on far too many markers for comfort, and driving off the skirmishing and breaking-off cavalry only provided temporary respite and no opportunity to rally.
The Big Green Machine continued to trip and stumble at every opportunity, failing time and time again to achieve any sort of meaningful breakthrough against supposedly vulnerable opposition all whilst the markers continued to pile up behind them...
Almost every base on the table on the Chinese side owned its own marker - not a great situation to be in where if that were literally true the game and the army would be technically already at break point and so China would already have lost....
Suddenly the breakthrough which had been threatened for so long actually happened - and the Assyrians poured forwards through the many, many gaps that opened up in the Chinese lines as the Big Green Machine's troops turned and fled piecemeal
He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
Desperate to shore up the crumbling battle line, the Chinese committed the in-reserve warband to the fray - but they were a long way back and so not all of them were able to make it into combat as the Assyrians raced to mop up the isolated pockets of Big Green Machine infantry in their totality
The Chariots were chasing shadows and wind, all the while eking ever closer to their own destruction with both surviving units now on 2 hits down out of 3...
The rest of the formation had been outmanoeuvred and overrun
He who wishes to fight must first count the cost. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be dampened.
As the Assyrian chariotry finally broke through the centre, the last hurrah of the warband proved to be exactly that, as the cumulative total of losses on the Chinese side reached critical point - Assyria had triumphed!
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 Spring & Autumn Chinese Commander
At all times we seek do our best to avoid unnecessary sacrifices. Our cadres must show concern for every soldier, and all people in the revolutionary ranks must care for each other, must love and help each other. But that should not extend to the enemy, who in this game we appear to have helped by failing to beat them on all opportunities.
If there was anyone in our ranks who had done some useful work in this game before they died, be they soldier or cook, we need to have a funeral ceremony and a memorial meeting in their honor - for the number of such meetings will be few.
We have had a very successful second game, and a reasonably decent first outing this morning. But this is not about two games, here we have done three things. And the third thing is to come up against an enemy who knew how to use skirmishing and breaking off shooting cavalry to good effect against our force of Chariotry who felt that they were much better and so had little if any imagination in their deployment and movement.
Here we decided on the line of our Army, to boldly to mobilize the masses and expand the people's forces so that, under the leadership of our Party, they would defeat the Babylonian aggressors, liberate the whole people and build a new democratic China. But unfortunately the Babylonians refused to read the script and had a plan that turned out to be better than ours.
Our aim in propagating the line of the Emperor is to build up the confidence of the whole Army and the entire people in the certain triumph of the revolution in the two games remaining tomorrow. We need a good night's sleep and to reflect on this defeat, and to learn the lesson that sometimes rolling forward is not enough.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
This ridiculous defeat was well anticipated and even more richly deserved. Your lack of imagination was matched only by your lack of planning, lack of originality and lack of forethought in what was a game in which you started with a bad plan and continued to execute it relentlessly even when it rapidly became apparent that it was not going to work.
Everything here, from your deployment to your lack of redeployment failed you in an entirely predictable way. Linear may be a great form of writing for the ancient world, but it is not the only tactic available when you are moving such a complex and multi-faceted and multi-capable army as this great Chinese beast you are pushing around at the moment.
At least the disappointed readers of this densely populated website will have the advantage of seeing a well executed cavalry skirmish and shoot action undertaken against your Chariotry, proving once and for all in a way which you will surely never be capable of that the game balance between the horse and the cart is finely created in a way which rewards both skill and the eventual historical superiority of the more advanced technologies of mounted archery.
At least now after 3 games in one day you have a chance to rest and take on some thinking time overnight. The defeat also pushes you back down the table and into the pond so perhaps you will float to the surface again in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition