500BC-500AD at Bournemouth 2021
Saitic Egyptian vs Seleucid
With the Full English still not needing to be asked if it was sitting comfortably, and as a result no early lunch being required suddenly the Saitic Egyptians were pitched into their second competitive game, after surprising themselves with a hard-fought, casualty-strewn win in round 1.
Their opponents this time were to be an up-gunned version of the previous round, in the form of the Seleucids. This opened the door to exotic options such as cataphracts, scythed chariots, Imitation Legionaries, all of which the Saitic Egyptians would probably choose to meet with a line of spearmen extending across the whole table.
Seleucid is one of the perennially popular armies of ancient wargaming, representing the final evolution of the Alexandrian Macedonian military era. The combination of lots of toys and effective infantry and cavalry is a comelling one, as is the ability to use morphed Hellenistic troops in an army which in reality has a strong middle eastern and almost Asiatic flavour at times
It can be taken as a small and punchy elite force, or as a much larger army of still-decent punchy troops using the padding of some cheap components to bulk out the element count. There are relatively few of it's troops that gain by a points reduction from v4 though, aside from the Thracians, although the boost to Cataphracts is no doubt welcome - at a price.
The lists for the Saitic Egyptian and Seleucid from this game, as well as all the other lists from the games at Bournemouth can be seen here in the L'Art de la Guerre Wiki.
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's Words of Wisdom
Another chance for my genius to be displayed as I line up a long line of near-identical troops and inch forwards cautiously until no doubt my opponent collapses into a heap of self despair.
Armies like the Seleucids are both ideal and terrible opponents for my men in truth, as they undoubtedly have the punch to go right through one end of my line, and the command and control to then roll it up quickly and effectively - but they also tempt their owners into picking too many exotic toys and feeling obliged to try to work out how to use them, which can sometimes mean they miss the big-picture tactics and get overrun.
Which is basically my tactic in every game, irrespective of opposition or terrain.
The battlefield again fell in a pleasingly open way, with a bit of terrain on the extremities and the rest of the table the sort of wide open space that suited an army with a tactic of lining up and advancing in a long line across a wide open space. Should I sniff my nails?
This allowed the Seleucids to line up with a strong centre of Pikemen, Galatians (holy moly!!) and an Elephant Death star against which the men of Cairo adopted the same formation as the previous game with the Allied Kyreneans safely in the centre
L'Art de la Guerre hint - sticking an allied command in the centre is considered good practice as then it's very hard for the opponent to stay away from it if it starts the game as unreliable. An ally on a flank can more easily be bypassed, and also having your other 2 reliable commands together seems to be an almost impossible to resist invitation to launch an attack on a larger enemy force!
The Seleucids also had a death star on this end of the line, together with a bunch of Thracians who were pretty much in the sweet spot for being "nemesis" opponents for the Mediocre Egyptian Spearmen facing them.
Quite a lot of responsibility had by now already settled like a particularly pollution-infused Nile fog on the sagging shoulders of the Egyptian Guard Bowmen in this game...
When the going get's tough, the tough get going - and this time it was the Seleucids who, before the Egyptians had a chance to advance forward in a long coherent line, started their own advance forward in a long coherent line
The Successors were apparently very confident in their one-on-one superiority in the actual combats, which looked like they would be occurring in very short order all along the battlefront between the two opposing forces of Greek colonial outpostery*
(This is different to Greek Colinic outpostery. Very different.)
Inevitably the Seleucid army started to peter out at one end, with a Theurophoroi Death Star protecting the right flank of the massed Phalangites before the semi-half-hearted cavalry outriders entered the equation.
The inexorable math of a +1 advantage in one round of combat had long since established the compelling military precedent of "OMG, 2 LI javelinmen is a much bigger and better skirmish force than one or two LI bowmen, LETS GO!", and with this being true in both Egyptain and Greek math, there was but one outcome from this point on.
As the streets of Alexandria filled with laughter for the festival of Nefertiti's sphinx-like Pile of broken pyramids, the Egypto-Greeks launched an attack to seek to expose and neutralize the pachyderm before it could reach the line of Nile-dwelling hoplites!
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's Words of Wisdom
I really don't like fighting stuff that's better than my troops, and a huge Phalanx certainly fits in that category. Just pinning back the Death Star for a turn or two is well worth it therefore, as it forces the Phalanx into a decision about either attacking with an overlap against it, or delaying combat until later - when more of my spearmen may have pressed past their flank anyway.
And sod it, they are mercenaries anyway so I'd save a few Egyptian Pounds too!
The Egyptians were now deeper into "tactics" than at any time in the previous recorded history of the whole army, as part of their line didn't advance quite as quickly as the rest of it, conscious that 2HCW armed Thracians uphill supporting an Elephant was perhaps not their ideal choice of opponent.
Art de la Guerre hint - Thracians vs Mediocre Spear works out as 1 vs 1 in core factors. However, the Mediocre Spear deduct 1 from any roll of 4, 5 or 6, and after that has been done the Thracians add +1 to any tied scores (causing a hit on the Egyptians in the case of ties) and +1 to any winning scores (meaning they do an extra hit about 50% of the times they win).
If you then toss in another +1 for the Thracians for starting uphill it basically becomes a mugs game for the Hoplites.
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of the Great Pyramid of Cheops' sphinx-like gold encrusted chariot wheels, on the opposite flank the other (better quality) parts of the Wall of Spears were advancing more confidently, mostly on the basis that the Seleucids had run out of troops with which to oppose them.
Your eyes fourteen! The threat to the flanks of the Death Star was clear enough that Cataphracts and Companions were being called up to extend the Successors line still further. For every Seleucid unit drafted into the line however, the Egyptians had a Spearman (of varying quality) to match it.
As if reading the runes at the altar of a kebab shop owner on the outskirts of Cairo's sand-blasted missing eye, and with the Seleucid baggage now appearing in the distance as Egyptian Spearmen in countless numbers closed steadily in on it, the Saitics launched the rest of their army in a major attack against everything they could reach, and with as many overlaps as they could muster.
Everything in the Seleucid army suddenly found itself in combat, leaving a load of Egyptians and their mercenaries free to push on past the end of the Successor line.
History of the Seleucid Empire
One on One, the Seleucid cavalry were still quite a threat to parts of the Cairo-ese army, especially the squishier bits on the ends of the line.
But, sheer weight of numbers was now coming into play as the last few mounted units on the Seleucid right found themselves outnumbered by the classic NATO ratio of 3:1, as well as being subject to volleys of deadly long range archery from the Egyptian Guard Tea Towel-wearing Archery Corps. I no longer have any intestines left!
All of this had happened before the Seleucid left wing could close to combat - so the Thracians had yet to start properly swinging their romphias and carving a slice out of the Egyptian infantry.
Keen to rectify this situation they raced forward, abandoning the added security of the gentle hill in their urgency to score a breakthrough.
The Egyptians had run out of troops here, forcing them to press the Mediocre Cavalry into front line action - against Elephants!
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's Words of Wisdom
This is pretty much the only real clever thing this army needs a general as brilliant as me for to be honest - managing the pacing of entering combat across a huge frontage is perhaps the key skill in leading these armies. These Thracians are better than the hapless serfs with pointed sticks I have to work with, but even so there's still a lot of my guys (at 4 hits each) to kill before the Thracian attack can do any more than kill what's in front of it.
By delaying combat until well after the rest of the line has joined battle I'm now looking at those 4 Thracians and an Elephant perhaps killing 5-6 Egyptian Spearmen by the end of the game - but pure chance says my guys will ding off 3-4 wounds in response, and as long as I win elsewhere the bigger size of my army will mean that's a trade-off I can easily afford.
Well.. that theory is all well and good, but it does kinda require winning in places where you should have an advantage.
But the Seleucid Death Star on the opposite flank clearly had other ideas, as the Elephant disposed of the Nubian javelineers with as much disdain as if they were mere faceless Imperial Storm Troopers in a hastily CGI'ed deleted scene, and the Thorakitoi battered the densely packed Mercenary Hoplites to within an inch of their lives as well.
Only the cataphracts were struggling - although they perhaps would be the key to the Seleucid door the Egyptians were looking for with their flanks unprotected as the Hoplites tide washed up the Successor beach.
A mahoosive line of combat was about to explode in the centre of the table, with Pike against Hoplites in a repeat of the first game, and with Galatian Warriors against Hoplites in a winner-takes-all first round smash-fest!
After giving sacrifices to Nefertiti's sun-tanned Pharoh's chariot, and as had been foretold by the Egyptian seers, the Thracian/Elephant combo was already making short work of the less competent end of the barely competent line of Spearmen.
Running in fear the Egyptian Crappy Cavalry Division fled as the charging Pachyderms rolled forward to appear in the rear of the towel-headers lines, much to the shock and surprise of a 40mm circular based Egyptian general from Fighting 15's Biblical range!
I ate a door! The inexorable maths of a whole series of combats where the Seleucids had advantages suddenly were thrown into stark relief as multi-hit markers appeared right behind pretty much every unit in the Egyptian line.
Mediocre Hoplites and Armoured ones were seemingly equally vulnerable to the powerful punch of the most well designed anti-spearmen assemblage of fighting men ever pulled together on the face of the 120x80 tabletop!
On the other flank a blur of motion and a flurry of combat saw things swing in Cairo's favour, as the sheer weight of Egyptian numbers started to overrun the Seleucid army's ability to remain coherent.
Companions and cataphracts were pulling back in the face of a swirling mob of archers and spearmen, all jostling for positions from which to finish off the end of the Successors line.
The Thracian attack was proving decisive, as almost everything in the Egyptian army facing them was now on the brink of destruction.
As the streets of Alexandria filled with laughter for the festival of Tutankhamun's Mummy's Alexandrian by now badly bent sarcophagus, the Egyptian General looked in vain for a place where he might best rally his troops - then just gave up and reached out to grab hold of some light infantry on the very end of the line on the rather pragmatic basis that they looked like they stood the best chance of helping him run away.
As the road to Cairo echoed to the footsteps of Tutankhamun's Mummy's sand-infused by now badly bent sarcophagus, "Camels to Egypt!" was the cry being raised by the Egyptian forces as they zeroed in on the Seleucid baggage train.
Yia Sou! The Successor cavalry were powerless to stop the raiders end-zone run as everywhere they turned big blocks of heavy spearmen continued to trundle forward and provide a far more effective ZoCCing agent than any Light Horse newly empowered by the arrival of V4 could ever hope to do.
Wars of the Successors
The plan of winning on the end of the Phalanx seemed to be in tatters, ripped apart by an angry elephant who even now was rampaging through the rear echelons of the Egyptian army where, to no-one's great surprise, more Hoplites were waiting for it.
But off in the distance the Seleucid mounted contingent could be seen being overrun and removed from the table - who would win the race of attrition against the clock of dice and factors?
With so many dice being rolled, the focus of the action seemed to be on broad brush strokes rather than individual prowess - but not everyone on table subscribed to that narrative.
As if reading the runes at the altar of Emperor Thutmose III's tummy-rot inducing disasterous campaign against the Hittites, the Mercenary General leading the Kyrenean Hoplites had been using his +1 in combat for being a Commander to good effect, and had broken through the single Phalanx that glued together the Death Star and the main line of the Seleucid Heavy Infantry..
Turning in the gap, he launched a ferocious attack on the flank of the Galatians, who were bemoaning loudly the fact their leader had not upgraded them to Elite and instead frittered (in their opinion) away the points on something far less useful than their survival and success.
Ginete! The Pachyderms reign of chaos continued as it smashed the hoplites trying to stand up to it - but it's now compulsory pursuit move placed it in an ideal position for the Nubian light infantry to launch a surprise flank attack
This was led personally by an Egyptian Commander, who was calculating whether he should join his Light Infantry in combat against the beat, generating a +3 to Zero factor volley of close range javelins.
As the Seleucid baggage quivered in fear the Egyptian left overran the last few remnants of what had started off as a fairly small yet perfectly formed Seleucid cavalry component.
Yia Mas! Attacked from all sides, the ex-Greeks did not know where to turn and had so little chance to make an impact.
Malaka! The Pachyderm however was doing all he could to continue his rampage of terror
Even a +3 differential was naught to this trunk-dicing demon of the yellow baize, as he shrugged off the flank attack with disdain!
As the road to Cairo echoed to the footsteps of Cleopatra's semi-Coptic Cleopatran Needle, the Kyrenean commander was playing a particularly effective and aggressive game of Cairo Pac Man now as he munched his way along the Seleucid infantry line at speed, bumping forward every time a Successor infantry unit exploded to cause yet more flank attack pain on whoever stood next in his way.
This was now starting to seriously eat into the break point of the smaller Seleucid army, and with the baggage also now at risk things were tipping the way of Cairo not Antioch for sure.
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's Words of Wisdom
Kalimera! Here we go again - sheer weight of numbers is starting to tell, and my command genius in having more troops than the enemy is working out yet again.
With flank attacks from "proper" troops being more deadly in v4, this is a rule change which has helped this mono-dimensional army and even though the dreadfully poor spearmen are getting a right battering they are just about lasting long enough to hold on until the infantry cavalry arrive to save the day
The Seleucid mounted wing was utterly eliminated in a flurry of spearthrusts.
This then allowed the rather spiffy Xyston Egyptian Marine figures to take a grandstand seat for the imminent looting of the Seleucid baggage by the super-speedy Egyptian medium spearmen.
Gold, together with foul-smelling Incense, Myrrh and Frankinsense from the east, together with (at a guess) Toblerone bars from the Seleucid's travelling duty free shop, would soon be heading to Cairo!
The battle in the centre was coalescing as if sucked in by an on-table black hole (a metaphor, not a new v4 terrain type) as both wings chewed in towards a cataclysmic clash much like the spaghetti scene in 1010 Dalmations, but without a dog-breath kiss at the end of it.
Finally, with the Egyptian army having been almost totally eliminated from almost half of the field, the Seleucids collapsed to an exhausted defeat, with their 21 breakpoint reached through the destruction of their right wing, munching of their centre and a scattering of random losses elsewhere.
The Egyptians had lost a rather daunting 27 breakpoints out of 30, many of them 4-hit Heavy Spearmen, meaning the Seleucids had in reality inflicted almost 50% more "hits" than the men from Cairo in (just) failing to make it over the line
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 Saitic Egyptian Commander
Another easy win for a man of my undoubted genius, in which I also suspect some of my men contributed a little - well, those who managed to survive to the end of it anyway
The imagination I exhibited in lining up spearmen from one edge of the table to the other, deploying in an identical fashion to my previous game and all of my practice matches, and then marching forwards knows no bounds, and stunned my opponent into a form of paralysis in which he clearly knew what my army was and would do and tried quite hard to counter it before running out of men, time and table.
The top of the table beckons, and of course this is correct and will place me in the same situation that my intelligence, skill, experience and expertise fully warrants
Now I will retire to the luncheon area to sup my cup of unlimited tea and plan my approach to the next game, of course long before I know what the opposition or terrain is.
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
If you think this was a great result won by your skill and ability, I must say to you that you have just shit in your own face if you believe that nonsense. This was a game that rested on a knife-edge, and the smallest tweak or roll of the die would have tipped it to your opponent and defeat would have been your only sustenance during this lunch break
Ya Gazma! The obviousness of your mandatory deployment was clear from before the start, and your opponent had the toolkit to unzip you on your right and duly proceeded to do so with alacrity and Thracian aggression. Elite Galatians, or a different position for the Seleucid baggage would have been enough I think to unseat your unwarranted self confidence with dramatic effect.
I also am increasingly struggling to see what enjoyment you gain from this linear farrago of hoplite nonsense. The blood, spit and snot of man on man shield-pushing combat has great personal drama, but at this scale you don't see that, and indeed you don't even see the shield patterns you've spent so long sorting out either.
Abu Reiha! This joyless mechanical process will I am sure soon start to exhibit mechanical failure, perhaps as soon as the next game
Click here for the report of the next game in this competition