Freezing! Armies before 0AD at Avignon 2019
Sargonid Assyrian vs Galatian
Travelling the continent to play toy soldiers and eat great meals with your mates is all well and good, but occasionally - and sadly - sometimes it proves necessary to actually do some work to underwrite the costs of all of this malarkey... and that had been the case for much of the back half of 2019 in Madaxeman Towers. No ADLG events since the 1/72nd scale whupping at The BIG Abona Festival back in June... and it was now November!
In a packed schedule tonight, even a thorough browsing of the UK calendar had failed to cough up any events which coincided with a free weekend, either at home or in CLWC's adopted second competitive home of the tapas-friendly Spain. In such times a curious mind turns to other opportunities, and with a quick browsing of the French part of the ADLG forum and the realisation that Mrs Madaxeman would be away on one specific weekend in November a last-minute plan suddenly fell into place... Avignon!
Sur le pont d'Avignon
Air Miles subsidized the international logistics, Avis loyalty points chipped in with a gallic roller-skate-sized ground transport option and a bit of list-bashing from a baseline used in Greece earlier this year very quickly tossed a very small but freshly painted Assyrian army into the world's smallest tin in order to achieve a hand-luggage-only travel plan involving the smallest rucksack in my collection.
And, as if by magic, on a cold November Friday afternoon there I was, heading yet again to LHR T5 to jump onto a flight to Marseilles as the gateway to historic Avignon (well, the posh suburb up the hill) for a date with dice, destiny and ADLG!
Crossing the Pont d'Avignon just as the golden evening light started to fade I arrived in the growing gloom to a historic hostelry in the small hilltop historic village hosting the event somewhat disorientated from the jarring change of pace, architecture and linguistics.
But all were good - and with an al fresco beer or two and some southern French tapas to accompany the Belgian-strength tipple also consumed I prepared myself for the next morning.
Del Boy Speaks French!
The theme of the event was "Sub Zero" - armies valid prior to 0AD - giving a wide and eclectic mix of entries all of which were presumably battle tested and evolved from within the French meta, something which I had rarely dived into before now. The event was also held in a historic olive oil pressing plant next to a farmhouse/hotel with it's own swimming pool, again not features that you will find in many Travelodge or Premier Inns in the UK it's fair to say,
However, despite the unusual aspects of the venue at least my first opponent looked to be rather more predictable - a Galatian army. Having used the list myself earlier this year with some success I was of the opinion that there was pretty much only one way to cook up a list, and as the enemy dropped their troops onto the table it appeared that my opponent pretty much agreed.
Galatians: The army has a CV of only 2, and with Impetuous Heavy Foot as its mainstay that pushes you pretty much to a Brilliant/Ordinary/Ordinary mix of generals with the Brilliant CinC commanding almost all of the Heavy Infantry in a big block
The cavalry are decent in that they can almost all be Elite, which is necessary as you only get a handful of Heavies in an otherwise all Medium set of probably half a dozen or so in your second command led by an Ordinary general
For the 3rd command the lack of variety (and rough terrain troops) in the main list makes the apparently toothless Paonian Javelinmen ally more worthwhile, which also brings you a couple of LH to gain an extra scouting point.
The lists for the Sargonid Assyrian and Galatian from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Avignon can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
I had tried to minimise the terrain to give the Assyrian chariots a clean run at the enemy infantry (or cavalry, or anything really - frankly they had cool wallpaper on their cab sides and they simply didn't care).
Although a plantation in the middle of the enemy line suggested strongly that the block of HF would be in the centre with perhaps Cavalry refusing the enemy left, in the real world my opponent knew the terrain rules better than I did and had stretched his foot from the left flank through the terrain, then extending with the Cavalry and finally the Paonians
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Its really bad for HF to get caught and be fighting in Rough or Difficult terrain, but they can move through Rough terrain at an unimpeded speed. This has the benefit that dropping terrain into the enemy deployment zone isn't quite as bad as in some other rulesets as its still entirely possible to get your troops out of it before the enemy close on you.
" Tete de veau! " Whilst the enemy deployment was a little unexpected it did not really change my plans all that much - the Assyrian Chariots if anything were keener to fight the Galatian horsemen than their stodgy and potentially resilient infantry.
With Supported swordsmen next to them to thicken the line the whole formation rumbled forward towards the enemy at pace.
An Assyrian cavalry force, which had expected to be wrestling with hordes of Galatian Cavalry now found itself with a relatively straightforward-seeming task of bottling up a line of slow-footed enemy infantry.
The Assyrian mounted component raced ahead, carefully placing themselves into a range such that if the Galatians themselves steamed forward at full tilt the Assyrians might manage a bit of quick horse-archery in the opponents turn.
The Galatians probably didn't give a toss either way - they were intent on advancing and fighting.
The Assyrian chariot component picked up pace in a headlong feat of straight-line acceleration and lack of subtlety which surely would not be matched until the Australian car making industry got into gear in the mid 1970's, or indeed when Reliant conjured their magical three-wheeler van out of the darkest recesses of 1970's British automotive design.
The Galatians however were not having any of this ridiculous "sit and wait to be slapped in the face by a brick" nonsense and promptly turned about and using the obligatory linear road started to redeploy away from the onrushing threat out behind the Paonians onto the flank.
" Mange Tout! " As the enemy mounted turned about a wall of hopefully competent Assyrian infantry stepped smartly into the limelight.
A mix of Elite Medium Swordsmen and Mixed Bw/Sword infantry supported by a handful of Cavalry were now bearing down on and closing down the Galatian horsemen's options even as the Assyrian Chariots drifted leftwards to try and get back into the front line of combat as well.
The Assyrians unleashed a deadly fusillade of arrows as their organiser-supplied dice clearly expressed solidarity with the visiting gamer from the land of "Le Rosbif" by striking hits on most of the screening line of enemy skirmishers.
The Galatian's horsemen may have to commit themselves sooner than they surely had ever hoped.
What's Going on Here Then?
The main thrust of the Galatian army is pinned back, but as their cavalry extend their line the Assyrians drive forward towards it with a dangerous mix of Cavalry, Bowmen and Chariots.
The Assyrian plan is to overwhelm this flank and avoid fighting the Galatian infantry for as long as possible.
On the opposite flank the solid wall of ferocious infantry were now emerging blinking from the cluttered and uneven ground which carpeted the space between the apple trees and vineyards of the Assyrian-planted Plantation.
" Bonjour Trieste! " As the self-exposing men moved forwards their Commander issued orders to form up into two separate rabbles.
One would be sent forward to chase the Assyrian cavalry and another asked to minimise the damage to the overall army structure that would no doubt be attempted by Chariots in the not too distant future
L'Art de la Guerre hint - The Assyrian infantry here are actually pretty decent against the Galatians. As Swordsmen, they will cancel the Galatian 'Impetuous Impact' factor if they stand to receive a charge, and with Rear Support as well they can afford to lose the first round combat by 1 and still drawn.
Surviving the first round is key, as that's when a Galatian victory will score an extra hit through "Furious Charge". So, in the right context having Rear Support is actually useful!
Assyria's Panzers had been refuelled, re-armed and stocked up with ammunition by a well drilled team of Japanese schoolgirls and now commenced their attack. They rolled across the open plain, sending Paonian Javelinmen scurrying for safety as they evaded from the lumbering charges of the potent cutting edge of the middle eastern army.
The rather undergunned and low-enumerated Galatian cavalry suddenly realised that in avoiding frontal confrontation they may now need to deal with a flank attack from the Chariots, as the Assyrian infantry remained content to snipe at range.
As the Galatians inched forward the Assyrians were free to plan their attack - and with the enemy splitting their linear formation suddenly flanks were looking like they may end up on offer as well as a glory-busting frontal assault option.
" Plume de ma tante! " The Galatians were spreading their limited mounted component seriously thinly as they tried to cover all of the options.
What's Going on Here Then?
The Galatian infantry have become broken up in their eagerness to get into combat and now the Assyrians are finally prepared to take some of them on. With Chariots now becomg free after running into the Paonians the Assyrians have assembled a strong force to assult the enemy foot.
The Assyrians are also still just about managing to bottle up the majority of the Galatian infantry by the coast, and are getting stuck into the Galatian cavalry on the opposite wing.
As if triggered by an inaudible pre-arranged signal (which might have been me cracking open a ridiculously early first beer?) the two lines of infantry in the very centre of the table lurched forward and clashed in brutal high stakes combat!
The Galatians had freely conceded some flanks in the first round of melee but their sheer numbers meant that there were far more meat and two veg-exposing hombres roaming freely across the tabletop than the small but bijou Assyrian force could ever hope to keep tabs on (never mind keeping their trousers on!).
" Sacre Bleu! " The Assyrians suddenly realised they kinda needed to win quickly or they may be overrun by naked pedestrians coming up from the rear at high speed.
On the opposite side of the table the Galatian horsemen also responded to the clicks and hisses of the opening beer of the day by launching a dramatic attack.
Here the overlap situation was evenly distributed, and with the Assyrians dropping Heavy Cavalry into the fray against the Galatians Mediums the odds of a quick victory looked unlikely.
And so it proved.
With the Galatian horsemen locked in prolonged combat against the resisting Assyrians the rest of the biblical host were free to swing round and seek to close the stable door on the remaining scattered components of both of the Galatian army's non-foot-warrior command structures.
Faced with the greater mobility of the Assyrian force, multiplied by their far superior command and control the Galatians were now starting to fray in the middle in the face of rapier-like Assyrian assaults.
The precision attacks tied down the Galatians, preventing them simply evading away and instead forcing them to face the rigors of combat against the long-dead empire's finest fighters.
The Supported Assyrian infantry had dug in and neutralized the Galatians fearsome initial attack, and were now gradually grinding down their somewhat underdressed foes turn by turn, as panic started to set in amongst the scantily-clad barbarian hordes.
Once their Commander in his chariot blasted away the Galatians' mounted reserve the Assyrian infantry would all be free to finish the job and roll up this block of opposition.
And when they were gone the path to the enemy camp would lie wide open as well, ready and waiting to be looted. These were high stakes indeed!
The downside of concentrating the heavyweight units of the Assyrian army against a single nugget of enemy troops was that the 3 cavalry on the screening flank were never really going to be able to hold up a horde of almost a dozen maniacally screaming pants-free opponents.
Suddenly enemy were appearing and waving their implements and weaponry at the rear of the Assyrian pedestrians even as they finally finished their job of carving apart the enemy centre. " You plonker! "
The Galatian foot had in fact now gone full firework display mental on their flank, hyper-aware that they were tough enough to stand up to the handful of Assyrian cavalry even fighting piecemeal.
Gaps and flanks were not all that attractive with some many enemy units around, as no-one could afford to be locked in place for any amount of time and so the Assyrian cavalry resorted to shooting at whatever sets of buttocks they could find.
Instead, their aim was simply to add a few more hits to the enemy dead pile without risk to themselves.
The Galatian Cavalry Commander had found that being backed into a corner was the best way to bring out the best in his men, and even as the noose tightened on them they punched back even harder.
The Assyrian noose was hanging by a thread as units swirled around in a free-flowing open-source unstructured melee dataset in which the only real winner was the casualty pile at the side of the table. Time was running out and neither side had anywhere to go with it.
The Gauls decided that enough was enough, and with a tremendous effort their dice improved and the Assyrian mixed formation collapsed in tatters. Shooting and Elite were clearly no match for Man against Horse on this flank of this battle.
Galatians in Greece
On the opposite flank the shooting continued apace as mounted archery peppered whatever it could reach.
With a completely collapsed centre, and attritional losses adding up even where they had the upper hand the Galatian army was now starting to suffer the death by a thousand cuts and one gopping great wide-open 3-wheeler Robin Reliant-made-Chariot-inflicted wound
" Fromage Frais! "
The hole punched in the centre of the Galatian army had however caused them far more trouble than the additive casualties alone.
Into the undefended space had gaily skipped the Assyrians own undergarment-disdaining slingers who had taken full advantage of the opportunity. Racing forwards they fell upon the exceedingly well painted enemy encampment to cause 4 more hits and tip the Galatians to defeat.
A first win for Assyria on French soil!
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 Sargonid Assyrian Commander
Did you know, 500 years ago this was a green and peaceful area? The old Earl of Peckham had a castle where the Kwik-Fit exhaust centre now stands. But now it is a scene of biblical Assyrian victory, which is completely luvely jubbly ain't it?
Knowing the opponents likely army composition does really help, but it took a work of genius by me earlier this year to pick that army out, use it and remember roughly what was in it for this part of the plan to work - so thats proper preparartion and planning right there innit?
Now we've won by driving down the flank where the enemy's undercooked mounted wing was bound to be we can go and take over their empire. Iíve always wanted to go to Galatia. Where is it?
Bonnet de Douche! Things are going to go well this weekend I think, I can feel it in my Peckham Spring Water!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
You lucky dog, for the first time that I can remember you appear to have done some sort of research to anticipate what the opposition might actually do, and how their army might be put together - but even when doing this basic stuff, it was not down to planning but instead down to bald-faced luck !
But having guessed your opponents army, and guessed their deployment you still conspired with your own incompetence to leave your left flank underpowered and as a result it was overwhelmed in short order. And the less said about that attempt to try and bottle up part of the enemy army with your cavalry wing the better really - how can you let a slow moving pedestrian enemy run rings round you to such a degree that they end up charging into the flank and rear of your own infantry centre?
If I'm reviewing this game I struggle to come to any conclusion other than that your chariots were poured into the middle of the enemy army and were lucky to meet something they could beat. But the mere fact the game was won by a butt-naked pair of guys who's skills involve throwing stones pretty much sums it all up perfectly.
Iíve got this horrible feeling. If there is such a thing as reincarnation, knowing my luck, Iíll come back as you. But until then lets wade through to the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition