Field of Glory Wargaming at Britcon 2009 - Sunny Manchester 2009
Oh my Lord! I am Campione de Tutti Europa! And now I have to take the same army, and maybe face some of the same opponents to the crucible of intense all-action wargaming which is Britcon.
The army stayed the same, exactly the same. Just in case you forgot the logic behind the choice was:
- I had just finished painting a new army up
- Apparently it was quite good - in the hands of better players than me
- I could make 800 AP with an IC fill the table almost, with near-bullet-proof troops. So hopefully I would have an answer to those pesky LH armies that had previously plagued me this time around.
This time the army had practiced though, and were learning how to fight together as a smooth functioning machine. After all, at the end of the day an army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team. This individuality stuff is a bunch of bullshit.
For Britcon I went up to Manchester very early indeed, to help with setup. Rather than bore you with the details of moving tables, you can be bored with some stuff I wrote for the wargamer.com website about it.
So, eventually, after a practice game using Santa Hooey Doodahs Friday night came around and I found myself facing the very same Principate Roman army that had inspired me to buy my own chaps the year before. This time the army was slightly different and the list is available here
Pictures of Romans from my Ancients Photo Directory
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The astonishing Principate Roman army was even bigger than mine, with loads of small blocks of legionaries massed on their right flank, and cavalry and skirmishers screening the left. My legions had also been able to concentrate on my left - a legion on legion Civil War looked set to start.
The game started as my Romans swiftly moved to cut off an attempt by the Principate to sneak some LH round our flank. Our LH were also in attendance, but the weight of numbers was with us..
In the middle the Principate legions advanced steadfastly and colourfully behind their mixed shields, although it is absurd to believe that soldiers who cannot be made to wear the proper uniform can be induced to move forward in battle.
A ploughed field dominated the middle of the table and my men, stretched thinly across the park found it was looking dangerously like a weak spot in our lines as the enemy massed auxilia there - but their auxilia were only protected, and ours were armoured - and one of our legions too stepped into the disordering terrain to help plug the gap.
Caesar himself was involved in leading forward his center, and constantly helped in redressing the lines as he knew that officers who fail to perform their duty by correcting small violations and in enforcing proper conduct are incapable of leading
The Principate horse were doing their damnedest in an ostentatious manner, yet despite their great paint job were cut off by the quick thinking slingers and auxilia.
As the legions expanded further into the ploughed area, Caesar detached some of his auxilia and they started to close the jaws of the trap on the Principate auxilia and bowmen. The Principate auxilia may have been exhibiting courage - or it may just have been fear holding on a minute longer...?
The general plan was to charge forward as fast as possible and trust that better quality and better armour would carry the day for the Dominate Legions against their slightly earlier cousins - trusting that a plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week. Then again, the sole superior legion in the middle of the Principate line looked like it would be first into the fight.
As the Dominate auxilia moved forward under the steely gaze of Caesar in the center, the Principate light horse had little option but to fall back - they had the only sort of discipline - perfect discipline.
Likewise on the far wing, the Principate light horse were in danger of becoming trapped. But then again, they were light horse, so that was probably impossible... however the Auxilia had been here before and they knew that they needed to overcome the tug of people against them as they reached for high goals.
And as this was happening, the other flank saw a lone unit of auxilia maneuvering - without a general - dangerously close to enemy shooters as it tried to soak up another legionary unit. They were taking a calculated risk - which is quite different to being rash.
With an almighty clash the two sets of Romans fixed bayonets to the ends of their pila and charged in, obeying the maxim that few men are killed by the bayonet, many are scared by it. Bayonets were being fixed as this particular fire fight started.
The initial clashes were brutal, but the Dominates were gradually gaining the upper hand as they chipped away at the Principate legions causing base losses and cohesion degradation. Both sides were attacking - after all, no-one ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack, attack and more attack...
Soon the thinned out legion was advancing across the field too, and the Principate salient was starting to look like a problem about to happen, as unprotected archers found themselves in the front lines. They were about to start the journey that says success is how far you bounce when you hit the bottom...
Elsewhere, the Dominates had started to get the better of herding FoG, sorry, Fog, and had the Principate horse archers on the run. The horse archers were finding out that untutored courage was no good in the face of educated armour and light spears.
As the hacking in the middle continued relentlessly, Generals from both sides were being sucked into combat like it was a big black hole. After all, no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.
The Principate cavalry, now rather exposed as their colleagues had deserted them had been hoping to evade from the onrushing Dominate auxilia and bowmen, but Caesars men had waited their time and watched patiently as another unit of Auxilia had maneuvered into position behind the Principate cavalry's flank. Their archers supported them as well, as they all knew that infantry must move forward to close with the enemy, and they must shoot in order to move. To halt under fire and not fire back is suicide. Caesar was there, as officers must set the example.
Swinging back to the left, the auxilia had been tempted out of the cover of a ploughed field as they sought to drive off some skirmishing infantry, and once exposed had become a target for one of the many small legions of the enemy forces. It was sort of an even fight... provided we survived the Impact phase where the legions were a lot better. If they survived they would not be the type of men who would be mourned - more men who their comrades would thank the Gods had lived..
The same could be said of the prolonged slog in the middle, as the Average Principate legions refused to buckle under the blows of the Superior Dominates. Here there was only one tactical principle which is never subject to change. It was to use the means at hand to inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the enemy in the minimum amount of time.
The jaws of the trap spring shut in the center, and the Dominates start to plough the Principate auxilia into the ruts of the field with an flank charge into the auxilia in column as they pursued some bowmen who had been rash enough to try and fight - and they had not taken long to learn that this was a bad idea indeed! This battle was an orgy of disorder!
Finally, deciding the being caught in the flank was not a good idea, the Principate Compulsory cavalry opted to close ranks and charge against the Dominate infantry - a mix of legions and auxilia faced them. Caesar was by now getting impatient at the slow pace of progress, and had told his men that he didn't want to get "....any messages saying that "we are holding our position." We're not holding anything. Let the Principate do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the ass. "
Despite managing to bounce off the resilient Romans, it was only a matter of time before the fast-moving auxilia mugged them again, and soon it was Curtains for the Cavalry as the auxilia went through them like s**t through a goose!
As this unfurled, the central field was starting to look like a graveyard for Principate Romans as the beleaguered auxilia unit fought off attacks from 2 sides. The Dominate legion fed more bases into the melee ... Wars may be fought by weapons, but they are won by men.
Soon the entire middle of the Principate's line collapsed and at the same time a hole appeared in their wall of legionaries and a Dominate block piled through it in pursuit - but unfortunately in so doing they had exposed their flanks to yet another legionary block, proving that if you tell people where to go, but not how to get there you will often get amazing results.
Punching a hole in the enemy line was starting to look like a really bad idea - but at least they had pursued far enough away to not cause any waver tests on their friends if they broke. They were soldiers, so they fought where they were told... if they could win where they fought it would be even better,
See - just as I said, no waver tests !
Moving swiftly back to the Cornfield, Dominate auxilia were rolling up what few units remained, as weight of numbers and better armour hit them from all sides. The only risk was a lack of gasoline for their tanks (eh..?)
As Romans fled for the hills, the Dominate auxilia streamed after them in full pursuit. They had taken the Cornfield with just 3 units!
But even as their center collapsed, the right wing of the Principate army continued its unlikely resistance to greater numbers of superior quality troops, and the Dom Rom legions were forced to dig deep to stay in the game...war, just like lovin', calls for a lot of shovin' ...
As the routing legion streamed back through my lines, another legion also decided it was time to rout and my entire left flank teetered on the brink of collapse.... all until the timely re-arrival of the 4th legion, fresh from abandoning pursuit into the Cornfield, turned up to add its overlap weight of dice against the last Principate unit still standing. The 2 extra hits they added to the combat finally tipped the balance, and the Principate army finally broke and fled! A resounding victory for the (slightly later Late) Romans, 21-4!
Anyway, either way you cut it, The Romans won!
Post Match Summary
As Caesar, we are happy to announce that the standards established in Italy have now been extended throughout the unruly Northern reaches of the far flung outposts of the Empire to this damp rain-soaked hell-hole that is known as Manchestium. It has been said that the publicity I have been getting recently for using a "swarm", a good deal of which is untrue and the rest of it ill considered has done me more harm than good, so the best bits from my personal perspective are that the Legions did stacks of fighting, and that the opposition had considerably more units than I did, both of which should go some way to helping my spin doctors convince the world that this particular incarnation of the Dom Roms isn't really one of those cheesy swarm armies, which would play well to the gallery I hope and help my next re-election (oh, sorry I forgot, we don't do that anymore, do we?).
The slight downside to that theory was that the Legions actually came off quite badly in a matchup against even numbers of slightly lower quality troops, and it was the better armour of the Auxila (especially in the middle of the park) which provided the decisive edge to make our advantage count and allow us to rack up enough unit casualties to win the game outright. Still, we were outnumbered most everywhere and still managed to bull our way through with better quality so maybe on balance the theory still holds up.
Either way, we won and although in this case it also has the unfortunate by-product that some other Romans actually lost, I amd quite happy with that in the circumstances. Hoorah!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Well, this is starting to get quite serious really. That's 7 games on the bounce, and only 1 defeat. The score looks quite decent, but lets face it, you did make heavy weather of this one though.
How many times have I found myself sitting here, weeping into my beard as you yet again continue to exercise the same strategy of throwing your very best troops against the place where you expect the enemies best troops to be - and then finding that you get embroiled in a desperate struggle in which the creme of your army (well, the legions anyway - the whole lot just skulked around when I tried to take them down so they all seem like lily livered cowards from where I sit) ends up coming off 2nd best and the rest of your chaps struggle to beat up on an enemy half-focused on getting away?
The secret of good generalship is to refuse combat where you might lose, and only enter into battle where you have a decisive advantage. Or, as Patton may have put it when he got to Salerno several millennia after I did, Don't fight a battle if you don't gain anything by winning it. Now, fortunately the enemy Swarm was so huge that its quality was pretty patchy - and for the Romans its not the sheer number of units that makes them work, its the combination of "armoured" PLUS maneuverability PLUS sheer number of units - and your opponent here missed out on the first, and probably most important one on that list.
You also managed to have enough time to catch - a rare event - 2 units of light horse, and then swing the winning auxilia over to deal with some cavalry, who if they had pressed the attack earlier might have stood a better chance. However, a few skirmishers on the left facing off the enemy legions instead of all your capital troops in a 3 hour slogging match and you could have won quicker, and easier.
Lets see how the next game goes then ?
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