Roman Era L'Art de la Guerre
Hunnic vs Sassanid Persian
It was the week before Christmas, and all was quiet in the house. Nothing was stirring, not even... actually - what's that noise...?
Can I hear the rumble of hooves in the distance..?
Could it be....?
Well... actually it's not Santa's reindeer in a rather historically dubious northern barbarian army including a single unit of reindeer-mounted Laplander scouts - instead it is a full box of crackers-worth of dozens of Bow-armed Heavy (and Medium) Cavalry galloping across the Indo-European plain in a fabulous conflict of Ancient Empires fighting for dominance of the tattered remnants of the edges of the Roman Empire.
Yes, Michael Buble can be put back in his box, this is the real spirit of Christmas - it's the Sassanids, marking another outing for the mostly Legio Heroica cavalry who would be taking on Atilla's Huns in a friendly one-off game of ADLG!!!
Adam was in London and we had time to fit in a game of ADLG - he had brought his Huns, and so I decided this was a good chance to get the Sassanids out for the first time at 200 points, having used them at 300 points previously at the BHGS Challenge earlier this year.
Drawing up a 200 AP list was harder than it should have been, as that extra 100 points of optional troops had added in cataphracts and a pair of elephants to make a hard-hitting and quite wide army that still had a decent Asarvan HC Bow force as well. At 200 points having even a couple of Death Stars would eat away a lot of points and leave the army quite small, and knowing tha the opposition were Huns also made me highly conscious of the risk of being outflanked in the same way the Ancient British had been able to do earlier that month. The resulting army list had a feel of compromise about it even as it set up on table...
The lists for the Huns and Sassanid Persians from this game can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Attila The Hun's comments
So Mr Madaxeman has asked me to contribute some thoughts on our recent game. An honour indeed. And also a right to comment that is not available to most of his opponents and should therefore be taken up.
As history no longer is written by the winners, it is instead written by those with their own war gaming website and a flair for social media. Who may take the opportunity to magnify their success and minimise their losses by deploying self depreciating humour, or not.
A game of ALDG then - which I had not played for almost a year against Mr Mad 'I can take a dog army like Ancient British and lead it to glory in a competition' Axeman. Nice and easy then.
I needed a plan that was simple enough to implement even with my low ADLG experience and skill level. We had agreed a match of Huns v Sassanaininanids.
The table had ended up as bald as a real pine christmas tree left to stand until Easter. Whether this was a good thing or not for the Sassanid army was difficult to decide - it was almost if the nagging feeling of misplaced compromise endemic in their army list selection had infeected their choice of terrain as well
The alternative would have been to simply assume the Huns would be bigger than the 19-unit Sassanid army and put out a host of terrain in an attempt to narrow the table - usually the last thing a cavalry army would want to do. The third choice would be to just throw out some stuff that the Elephants and Dailami could use and hope it landed in the middle. As it was, the final outcome was a bit of all three, and was successful at none of them.
Atilla had picked next to nothing, with a textbook gentle hill and road combination - being a Strategist he had also managed to move all of the fields to the rear edges of the table leaving an almost full-width and empty board.
Legio Heroica Clibanarii
The Sassanids had put their larger Cavalry command on the more "closed" flank, anticipating that the Huns might mass their forces there, the Death Star sat in the middle (of course) so it could break left or right as the situation demanded. The smaller command with the Cataphracts was on the right.
Atilla had matched this Christmas gift from the Sassanids with the Herul and Gepids in his aggressive Charging Cavalry command teed up against the Cataphracts, leaving a micro command of 2 Hunnic Medium Cavalry units and some Light Horse facing off against the main Sassanid Asarvan force on the opposite flank. This certainly gave the more numerous Huns the better deal out of the matchups. Unless of course you were the Micro-command, who now found themselves facing off against 6 Asarvan.
For the men with lightbulb hats, the game would now be all about turning the table 90 degrees as quickly as possible - if the Sassanids could force a quick and decisive victory on the left with the massed Asarvan the Death Star woudl be free to move across to support the Cataphracts and stop the Heruls and Gepids from overrunning them - but the Heruls and Gepids were already intent on charging forward and so the Sassanids themselves were at risk of being overrun on their right by the rapid Hunnic advance.
The Sassanids needed to force the pace on the left where they had a significant advantage in Cavalry numbers, and charged forward as fast as Santa on his way home after his one night's work each year.
The Asarvan stepped up smartly, and started exchanging shots at close range with the less-armoured but generally better quality Hunnic horsemen, putting pressure on the enemy and attempting to draw them into a fight or flight situation as the Heavy Cavalry Sassanids bullied the Medium Cavalry Huns.
On the Sassanid right the Huns had a solid line of mounted warriors, with the Impetuous Herus and Gepids on the end of their line supported by a solid wall of Elite bow-armed Medium Cavalry facing off the Cataphracts.
The Sassanids were badly outnumbered here, but the Death Star formation of Dailami and Elephant was a potent threat that the Huns had to be mindful of at all times.
It's ability to drift one base sideways in each advance would mean it could be involved in the combat in fairly short order, allowing it to have a decisive influence on the battle as the elephants crushed the opposing cavalry under their huge and strangely festive feet
Rules hint - You know this already, but a unit can drift 1 base width to the side in any advance of at least 1 MU
"Send the Death Star to Alderan !
Attila The Hun's comments
So the plan was
For deployment - the small command went on the flank where the enemy baggage was - as it seems an almost subconscious thing for people to put baggage behind an area where they are going to have lots of troops.
Nutters on the other flank as I know Madaxeman likes his Nellie / Medium foot combo and you can't risk sticking them out on a flank in case they don't have a target - redeployment would be a bitch.
Lots of Cav command in the middle to deal with, well, whatever needed dealing with.
In Hunnic folklore, Santa always dips the presents destined for naughty children in a large pile of horse manure before delivering them
On the left both sides shooting was proving unerringly accurate - a great day for fans of the Donnington Miniatures Dead Guy markers was unfolding as seemingly every arrow was hitting it's mark.
The Huns, having gone for the necessary 6 LH to gain an extra +1 in initiative, had more LH than the Sassanids, and were making good use of it by sidling around the flanks of the rather small 19 unit Sassanid army to put shooting pressure on their might lighter Lighht Horse contingent.
Everyone was carrying injuries, which sort of made the battle even in a strange way.
The Heruls were keen to get into combat - leaving the rest of the army behind they piled forward into the faces of the handful of Asarvan on the Sassanid right flank.
The sheer number of Hunnic cavalry on this flank was intimidating, and was causing the Death Star some consternation - in a dilemma redolent of the choice between the Green Triangle or the Purple Round One left at the bottom of a box of Quality Street on Boxing Day, they debated whether they should join in on the combat which had just started to their left, or push forward into the Hunnic force to their right?
Joining in the combat would help the plan of breaking quickly through the Huns on the left and turning the table, but that would leave the Cataphracts desparately exposed on both flanks - the sole Asarvan which had been stripped off from the far right to plug the gap between the Cataphracts and the Death Star would struggle if it were left unsupported.
The Melodramatic Huns
Taking advantage of the gap between the Huns micro command and their centre, units of Asarvan had suddenly managed to race behind several formations of Huns and prevent them from evading away!
The Sassanids were now in a position to use their better armour in combat and try and grind down the Hunnic horse - as well as having potential rear charges well teed up for subsequent turns!
L'Art de le Guerre hint - Better armour only matters if you lose a combat. It mitigates a difference of -1 in the final combat result, so turns a narrow loss into a draw and can also turn a 2-step loss into a single step loss.
Seeing a potential opportunity to sweep away much of the Huns right flank (and centre) in a fashion not seen since Auntie Margaret ate all of the mince pies whilst the rest of the family were asleep in front of Dr Who, the dithering Death Star decided to drift left and join in the attack - the Asarvan preventing the enemy from evading away was also a huge incentive!
This attack should devastate the enemy in short order, with Elite troops in combat, with overlaps and the elephant factor also handing an additional -1 to one of the Hunnic Cavalry units too.
A quick win here and the Sassanids could look to reinforce the rather more dicey Cataphract flank before it had time to sucumb to the tide of Heruls and Gepids maybe?
"Look, I know the lightbulb hat is almost certainly totally historically inaccurate and it looks utterly ludicrous, but even so, one of us has to wear it or we just look like a load of generic Middle Eastern dudes, not Sassanids..."
The Heruls and Gepids meanwhile were largely committed to a frontal attack, as some of their number were pinned by the Ararvan allowing the Cataphracts to also pin the main body of Hunnic shooters. The Sassanid LH was aiding the shooting of the Asarvan, hoping to knock some hits off the Heruls before they crashed into the Sassanid horse - and also ready to join in as a flank attack once battle was (inevitably) joined in the near future.
L'Art de le Guerre hint - Impetuous Herul HC vs Sassanid Asarvan will be 2:1 in favour of the Heruls in the first turn, althought the Sassanids are Elite, so get to add +1 to a roll of 1-3... so, all in all the edge is slightly with the Heruls.
But if the Sassanids can inflict a shooting hit the odds swing in their favour. One hit on the Heruls makes the initial combat 1:1, with the Elite "+1" giving the Sassanids a slight edge. The Heruls would also be starting one hit closer to destruction. So, the pre-combat shooting round is kinda important!
This however was the turn the Herul command decided to pull out a huge command roll - this allowed them to not only push their (still shrugging off the Sassaniod shooting..) Heruls forward into combat, but also to peel off a unit of Impetuous Cavalry from the far end of the line, turn them round and drive them towards the over-confidently unprotected flank of the Sassanid Cataphracts, ready to crack them open like a Brazil nut!
The Heruls would slam into the flank of the Sassanid embedded commander and his unit in their next turn, leaving the Persiand little time to try and force a their way out of the hole they had allowed themselves to be pushed into...
Sassanid Armour & Weapons
The battle on the opposite side of the table was also not going well - the overly-clever idea to swing a unit round the back of the enemy line had backfired, as the Huns had simply reversed one of their Cavalry units and charged into the flank of the Asarvan who had prevented their evade in the prevoius turn. In more ideal circumstances the Asarvan shoudl really have been pinning the Huns from the rear, but they had doofed up... too many mince pies and mulled wine perhaps..?
However, all mistakes can be rectified with great dice. The Asarvan who were charged in the flank wheeled out a stunning 6:1 to beat their attackers, and the other Hunnic unit was destroyed in combat - this (admittedly small) part of the Hunnic army was now staring destruction in the face!
But when the Dice Gods favour you in one part of the table, they take away that favour elsewhere. Like in the centre, where the combined efforts of the Death Star and a host of overlaps were doing little to put any sort of dent in the pair of Hunnic units who were now holding up the centre of the Sassanid army.
What should surely have been a quick win was now turning into a slow drawn out slog - and to add insult to injury, the Sassanids and Dailami were actually taking, well, injuries...
This was certainly not helping with the plan (if you could call it that) of winning big and quickly in the centre and then supporting the right flank..!
Taking advantage of the earlier 6:1, the left flank of the Sassanid army was now crushing the Hunnic Micro-command on their right - but this small piece of violence was, like festive favourite John McLean beating up a lone terrorist on the 25th floor of Nakatomi Plaza, a long way from the rest of the action and any victory here would be difficult to exploit before attrition surely did for either of these two small armies elsewhere...
The very earth continued to shake with the force of the clashes between the two lines of horsemen and infantry in the centre - but nothing was falling over as the Huns resolutley dug deep to keep the Sassanid army at bay.
With the flank charge of the Heruls now imminent, the Sassanids had a difficult decision - attempt a rather complex and possibly unsuccesful defensive reshuffle to respond to the lone unit - or just go for it, gambling on quick victories against both the Heruls engaging the Asarvan and also with the Cataphracts against the lightly armoured enemy horse and just bull their way through the front and out of the back of the enemt lines before the Heruls flank change could have much effect
Let's face it, that's not even a serious question, is it? The gamble was on....
The Cataphracts charged forward in a rumble of steel and hooves and the rest of the Persian army redoubled it's efforts to force a win, conscious that the clock was fast running out on them with the flank attack looming. The fighting was intense, but only one unit of Huns fell beneath the assault - this looked tricky
The Heruls slammed home, causing an immediate cohesion loss on the embedded General. The pre-game throwaway comment of "He's embedded in a Elite Cataphract unit, so he should be fine..." was looking rather like a somewhat obvious hostage to fortune ...
The commander failed even to survive the first round of combat, allowing the rampaging Heruls to continue in their Pac-Man-esque assault on the line of fully-clad horsemen, knocking over units and attrition points for fun in their advance.
The second Cataphract unit was made of sterner suff, and shrugged off the flank attack with contempt, crushing their frontal opponent at the same time
Elsewhere the Heruls were overrunning the rest of the Asarvan on that same flank, while in the centre the Sassanid attack was utterly bogged down and failng to make much headway.
The game was slipping away from the Persians with every dice roll..
With the Heruls overrunning the right hand wing of the Sassanid army, and the Hunnic centre still steadfastly refusing to collapse under the hammer blows of Dailami, Elephants and Asarvan the battle slipped away from the Persians - a defeat which leaves Greater Iran at the mercy of the Hunnic hordes!
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 Sassanid Commander
Well, it appears that even this near to Chrstmas I have failed to persuade the normally fairly evil Attila The Hun to fully give himself to the Dark Side. It would have been a clever way to win this battle, but I fear that my thoughts betrayed me, especially those throughts that were involved in trying to shoehorn a 300 point army into a 200 point pot. My feelings for those missing 100 points and an extra General are strong. Especially for that General who was, erm, ... your sister. Your twin sister.
I must be more careful not to choke on my aspirations, and instead work out how to make a proper army at 200 points, not a shortened version of a 200 point one.
But even so, the force was strong in those Hunnic cavalry today, especially in the centre where only 2 units stood between me and total galactic domination. And they stood there for ages and ages, It was actualy quite unfair.
Honestly, I expected The Death Star to do more. A lot more. But that goes to show I guess, one should not be too proud of this technological terror we have constructed. The ability to destroy a planet with an Elephant and 2 Medium Impact foot Swordsmen is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Post Match Summary from the Hunnic Commander
I took the choice to push up the delaying command to fight in a as wide as possible forward position as although this would mean they would die quicker it also meant that their opponents would be further away from pressing the flanks and rear of my other troops.
My central command supported them with 2 HC Bw Elite - hoping they would be good enough to not go down to quickly. The first couple of turns after they were committed they only had to fight Medium Swordsmen in the open which really helped them survive.
Everyone else piled into the other flank. This was helped by the fact that the Sassanids pushed forward all along the line. The Death Star rumbled forward to support the main attack, so the cataphracts had to advance just as quickly to protect their flank, which meant their flank would be open unless supported by the shooty cav on the flank. This turned them from 'lets mess around the enemy impetuous cav for as long as we can' troops into 'we seem to be fully committed to a stand up fight in the area of the battlefield where we are badly outnumbered' troops.
So both armies lost on the flank where they were weakest - the exact details of how do not really matter - it was always going to happen. The difference was that although both armies delaying command was to small to have a chance in a fight, the Sassanids command was big enough to really hurt when it went down - especially with the embedded general, allowing the Huns to sneak off with a win before they had to worry about having an open flank.
I would like to claim that this was a victory down to my tactical brilliance. However I fear I can claim a performance of no more than 'vaguely competent'and I was more handed the victory by mistakes made that Madaxeman has himself outlined. But a win is always a happy thing which I will gladly take.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
That sounds like a lot of mumbo-jumbo. But the main probem was that whilst you had an excess of mumbo, your Jumbo achieved precisely bugger all in this battle. The most potent force on the table to disrupt the opposition and it failed to even get into combat with anyone at all. Shameful.
You have pointed out your own concerns with list building, but let me rub your face in them a little more. Your best General was with the Elephant command, who did not much more han lurch forward and engage in meaningless combat. That command should either have had some Asarvan attached to it - most probably from the command on your left - or had a much less expensive General. 2 more Asarvan would have allowed you to deply it late in the deployment sequence and reinforce whichever flank was under most pressure - instead you were stuck with 6 Asarvan facing off against just 2, and with your weaker right flank overrun before you had any chance to support it. You also made the textbook mistake of deplying all of your forces as far forwards as possible. Against a mounted opponent moving first who will try and pin you back, this is unforgivable - but, seemingly inevitable also.
The way you handled the right flank was also atrocious. No falling back, no skirmishing, nothing - just a straight up sit and wait to be overrun, with flank advantages handed to your opponents like sweets being stolen from the lower branches of a Christmas tree by a hungry and unwatched labrador. This was not really a tactic, more an abrogation of the opportunity to even pretend to have tactics. Standing and being run over by more numerous forces is not fun - ask your opponents from the previous event you toook part in! If only you had held back with the Cataphracts and the Asarvan on the right, and just faffed about for a couple of turns (which would have been easy enough even for you) and tasked this side of the table with protecting the flank of the deathstar, you would surely have won
Here you failed on all of the classics. A badly constructed list, neither fish nor foul and trying to cram in all of the toys in a way which would have challenged even Santas copious sack. A deployment which depended on luck and the enemy matching your plan, exacerbated by the weaknesses of your list. And a lack of rigor and a decidedly half-hearted approach to implementing whatever piss-poor semblance of a plan you actually had - if you wish to refuse your right flank and push on the left, simply leaving the right flank static after making a move or two forwards does not really cut it.
Your incompetence has returned. I cannot say I am at all surprised
That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?