Biblical & Early Classical in Warfare 2016
Spring & Autumn Chinese vs Omani Gulf States
The fourth game was one of the most civilized starts of all time - with only 2 games on Sunday, the kickoff had been pushed back to 10am - allowing just enough time to navigate the water obstacle and get into the show before kickoff.
The opposition came in the shape of The Don
This would be a testing matchup, pitching the power and fury of the Chinese chariotry against the numbers and odd smells of the Omanis and their camelry. The lists for the Spring & Autumn Chinese and Omani Gulf States 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.
Camels are, at first glance, highly effective in ADLG, as they (in common with elephants) give a negative modifier to every non-camel mounted unit they are in edge or corner contact with. However, wherever they appear in a list they are invariably classed as Medium, meaning that they have no armour and are very vulnerable to shooting. Most "proper" cavalry that are designed for combat are Heavy, so the '-1' modifier is largely cancelled out by the 'saving factor' for any troops who lose a combat but have better armour than their opponents
The Omanis were men with a plen. Sorry, a plan. And that plan involved anchoring one of their flanks with a river, anchoring the other with a village and deploying deep and narrow in 2 separate blocks. So, a defensive plen then. Sorry, plan than. Plan then.. .
That was all a bit complicated for the Chinese, who were looking to run the warband through the rough terrain next to the river, drive all of the CinCs Chariotry down the bowling alley in the middle of the board, and try and contest and hopefully take the village with the Big Green Machine
The Green Machine swept forward imperiously, the normally skittish Medium Foot halberdiers and spearmen much less concerned about the possibility of a Camelry attack given that the Arabs plan was clearly to use the camels to fight the Chariotry. The two units of bowmen hung backand opened up on the camels from some distance.
The camels were packed with archers themselves though, and soon their relentless shooting was knocking holes in the Chinese plan - the first round saw 5 hits out of 6 shots!
The art of using troops is this: ……When five times his strength, attack him;
The Chinese had worked out what to do about this - they simply pretended it didn't exsit and charged into the camels relying on their better base factor, impact bonuses, armour and better morale status to carry the day against a wound and a camel smell negative
Rather reluctant to get too close to the Elite, but otherwise identical infantry facing them, the Southern Warriors Clans had still made it as far as the field in the middle of the board - this was not really ideal, but if they did not move up the flanks of the chariotry advance would be exposed to the Elite Arabian warriors. So, reluctantly they crept forward and this strategic field was where the two forces elected to clash in what soon turned into a rather one-sided and expected good result for the Elites.
The clever plan of the Omanis - sit back and relay on me to attack like a loon - was apparently working well, as the pseudo-ambushing command in the village slowly turned and prepared to lurch out into the flank of the Big Green Machine's chariotry and Elite Halberdiers who were furiously seeking to hack their way through the Omani bowmen and get out the other side before the hammer blow came from the village.
Whilst the Elite Arabian swordsmen had enjoyed a brilliant initial run of success, hard fighting proved less of a strength for them, as both Szechuan warriors and their accompanying Chinese regular forces started to slowly claw their way back into the game - weight of numbers, overlaps, the Arab general being busy with other units and some good old fashioned good dice saw the Chinese gradually wrestle back initiative - and certainly keep the Omanis bottled up in the field and not running amok behind the Chariotry!
The Chinese chariots were now involved in something quite unusual for them - a protracted close quarters slogging match against the slowly-eroding line of Camelry. With a second wave of reinforcements positioned handily behind, the narrow yet tough Chariotry command ground slowly forwards, with the CinC using his influence to rally off cohesion hit markers all the while.
And, occasionally a victory ! Each time the chariots broke through the front line of the Omani army they found themselves with no Omani reserves to face them off. The choice was tough - make a run for the baggage and the 4 VPs it represented to stay and help the other chariots and the Big Green Machine a little longer to win their melees?
Chinese War Movies
The Sezchuanian infantry seemed to need no help however - fighting like demonic dragon warriors they continued to confound the odds against the still-reeling Omani elite forces as the battle raged in the field.
The Omani's however had stepped successfully out of the village and slammed into the flank of the still-bogged-down chariotry and halberdiers who were making ridiculously hard work of beating up bowmen. The time left for a quick decisive win was fast running out...
The Szechuan foot continued - now they were into the second string, second wave of Arabian warriors making their heroics all the more straightforward!
Only one camel was now left facing the Chinese chariotry - after it surely fell the route to the baggage and the flanks of the camels still currently involved in a Mexican (Chinese-Arabian) standoff against the Big Green Machine would all be options on the tabletop for the wheelie bin crew.
The Halberdiers polished off the bowmen, but too late to save themselves from being hit by the pursuing enemy infantry.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - because the Omanis have contacted the halberdiers in a "pursuit" move (stepping forward into combat after killing the chariot) this does not count as a "charge" on the Halberdiers. They are free to turn and fight as if this was a continuing combat from a previous turn.
The Szechuan infantry were now close to eliminating the entire first wave of the Elite Omani swordsmen - a fabulous result and a great trade of unit for unit in favour of China.
The levee broke, and the Chinese chariotry revved their engines and flooded forward across the now-uncontested open plains into the rear of the Omani army. Baggage would surely be heading back soon to China across the Indian ocean, and with it - perhaps - the victory points for a win?
The Omanis were now well clear of the village and had swept away the Halberdiers in short order. But, with chariots running amok on the other flank, would they get there in time to make any sort of difference to the game?
The village people went impetuous in their haste to help out the camels, but it was all too little too late, and as they burst through their own camels into the Big Green Machine infantry the roll-up on the other flank achieved critical mass at exactly the same time the Omani baggage was captured. The Omanis had been tipped into 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 Spring & Autumn Chinese Commander
We have had a very successful Sunday morning battle. We have done three things. First, we have decided on the line of our attack, which is boldly to mobilize the masses of Chariotry onto a narrow frontage, and send them forward in several waves against the dastardly camels. and to expand the people's forces on both flanks so that, under the leadership of our Party, they will defeat the Omani aggressors, liberate the whole people and build a new democratic China.
Our aim in doing this has been to propagate the line of the congress that there are more subtle tactics to be undertaken that we first thought having never used the army before yesterday. This has built up the confidence of the whole Party and the entire people in the certain triumph of the revolution.
We did also arouse the political consciousness of the Southern Warband so that they willingly and rather fortuitously fought together with us for victory. We should praise the whole populace for the sacrifice of the men on the right from the Big Green Machine who held our flanks with the conviction that China belongs not to the reactionaries but to the Chinese people.
The Chinese Communist Party of the Spring & Autumn Periods has long made up its mind to work together for victory. We must persevere and work unceasingly to continue this good run of form, and if we concentrate then we too, will touch God's heart. Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can't these opponents be cleared away?"
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
This appears to be a good win, but I am not sure in retrospect whether your concentration of forces down the centre of the board, attacking with Chariotry in 2 waves was actually a plan that relied on an assumption of attrition and a clever use of reserves, or in fact you simply failing to deploy terrain in a fashion which would give you enough room to do your normal rubbish of just sticking all 5 chariots in a line and wading forwards.
The luck of the Szechuan infantry in beating a better quality force was also a key component of the game, and although they did have greater numbers and hence some overlaps and a handful of halberdiers as well this can hardly be regarded as a repeatable tactic on which future success can be built.
On the other flank, the vast numbers of enemy hiding in the village were within moments of delivering a crippling blow to your centre when the battle was won for China, and whether this is just good timing or blind luck in terms of your opponents deployment being a tad off colour it is hard to say even with the benefit of hindsight.
Really here this game remains hard to read. On the face of it you bunched up and waded forwards on a narrow frontage, but there are many potentially subtle - or more likely simply fortunate - incidents in which the sequence and timing of your attacks could be interpreted as demonstrating a growing appreciation for the relative rates of attrition of both yours and your enemies forces, which someone as clever as you accidentally appear to have been could argue is what this game is all about. Let's see if the skill shines through again in the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition