500BC-500AD at Bournemouth 2021
Saitic Egyptian vs Classical Indian
With the lunch-busting breakfast still sitting comfortably it was time to begin the final chapter in the Graeco-Egyptian adventurette by the sea, in this second full tournament weekend of the post-Lockdown era.
With a Graeco-Indian army already despatched earlier in the weekend, a last round pairing with a Classical Indian seemed like a good opportunity to claw a way back up the leaderboard and head off "up North" from Bournemouth on a high - and the prospect of taking bold steps to confront elephants in a do or die series of combats was even more enticing.
The Indian army that faced me however looked set to confound those expectations in every way possible.
Indians. Lots of shooting, not much actual combat power aside from the Elephants of course, and an always-difficult choice around loads of chariots or none at all. That would be the standard approach to pulling together a Classical Indian army, but this one was rather different.
With no elephants at all, and a couple of Brand New Rules War Wagons that could attack the enemy it was a shooting beast that loved the rough terrain.
The lists for the Saitic Egyptian and Classical Indian 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.
The table was mostly swept clean of terrain, with the large, painful exception of a maximum sized hill festooned with fields and terraces dominating the very centre of the playing surface like a husband-to-be dressed as a Tellytubby dominates his stag party of blokes with the same t-shirt at a Bournemouth sea front disco.
The Indians had a couple of ambushes out, no elephants and a line of chariots edging the waterway which the Egypto-Greeks faced off with spears. Of course.
TWith not much of the enemy army on display, but enough to take on and hopefully defeat the balance of the Indian force, the hoplite wall lurched forward in a solid mass next to the waterway.
The huge rough hill had for the first ever time prompted a change in deployment strategy as well, with all of the rough terrain troops concentrated against the hill, and the Kyreneans facing off against the Indian chariots by the seaside.
The Indians shoved forward their two weird wagons of war in an optimistic fashion, leaving them pointy-end on facing towards the advancing wall of spearmen.
As the streets of Alexandria filled with laughter for the festival of Mo Salah's sand-infused Pile of broken pyramids, the bemused Hoplites flicked through the rulebook only to discover in a rather horrified fashion that they could not claim normal overlaps against the narrow ends of the mechanical contraptions.
Behind the hill - Indians! Faarsands of 'em Sir!
This was at the same time no surprise but a source of some disappointment to the crappy spearmen who lined the bottom of the gentle incline, and who knew now that their afternoon would be one of being pin-cushioned to death by enemy archery while the rest of the army hopefully did the business down by the water's edge.
Traditional Indian Archery
Amazingly, a second ambush then emerged from the far reaches of distant Tabledge-istan, with yet more shooters emerging in large numbers from a tiny plantation on the extreme left flank of the Egyptian army.
The fairly obviously telegraphed plan to send one spare Mediocre medium cavalryman round the back of the hill to menace the Indian baggage now looked like a plan to lose 2 break points as a crap horseman wound up dead under a hail of arrows
Rather than getting snowed under by massed archery, the Hoplites lining the edge of the field-covered hill started to shuffle inconspicuously left and right, seeking to shove themselves into areas of the battlefield where they might yet play a positive role.
The Indians just inched forward and opened fire, secure in the knowledge that Heavy Spearmen would not be going uphill in rough terrain against them anytime soon.
The Crappy Cavalry Regiment had somehow managed to extricate themselves (at enormous pip cost) from the clutches of the extreme ambush, and now in their injured state they had retured behind a semi-proper contingent of Egyptian archers and somewhat sub-standard Mediocre Spearmen.
This would first be a shootout and then a punch-up in short order to determine who held control of the Saitic left flank.
Back in the middle, the Indian mixed shooters had unsportingly worked out that they would get a right pasting from the wall of armoured spearmen protected by a skin of light infantry who were rapidly closing in on them, and instead of accepting death with open arms had turned around and fallen back towards the protection of the patch of uneven going on their base edge.
The Indian chariots also followed suit, leaving the Kyreneans somewhat bereft of possible opponents (and relevance, and utility).
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of a kebab shop owner on the outskirts of Cairo's sun-tanned Great Pyramid of Cheops, in the centre the hoplite wall was still working out how to get to grips with the casually discarded war wagons, which were scattered across the table like discarded knickers in a car park round the back of the nearest Aldi to the Bournemouth Pier Nightclub.
It seems like it would be an equally tricky and somewhat unpleasant task to remove both from their respective locations.
Greek - Egyptian Contacts in Antiquity
The Shoot-out on the wing was not going well for Cairo, with weight of numbers just in favour of the Indians resulting in hit markers sprouting along the line of Elite and Mediocre Egyptian bow at speed.
The Indians shot forward using their greater numbers to wrongfoot the pedestrian Egyptians, and with a lot of spearmen to juggle at the bottom of the hill as well, the Saitic commander was starting to have too much to do.
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's' Words of Wisdom
This seems very unfair, in that my opponent here has refused to cooperate with my incredibly brilliant plan to defeat him by deploying my troops in a line that almost covers the table and advancing into contact until he admits defeat.
The cunning use of terrain, ambushes, using the full width of the table, and refusing to fight where he might have a material disadvantage against all of my troops seems totally against the spirit of me being a genius and everyone else being not as good as me.
This is most disappointing. I may have to go away and start my own competition with only opponents who are prepared to play ball with my genius tactics
The wagons were still proving incredibly hard to drag down, with the Indian commander rallying off the odd hit that the Hoplites sporadically managed to achieve.
Nonetheless the Saitic army pressed on, initially looking to bypass the battle carts but then turning into their flank as soon as they noticed that the Indian mixed sword and shooter units they had hoped to crush had actually retreated into the uneven fields at the very back of the table, placing them effectively in a situation where they were almost immune to the ministrations of the men with pointy sticks.
L'Art de la Guerre hint - Rough terrain of any type is a nightmare for Heavy Spears, giving them a -2 in combat against all opponents. That's why a one dimensional army of heavy spears is sometimes a bit shit.
The Egyptian left wing was coming apart faster than a perfect bound rulebook placed spine down in a puddle of warm camels milk for 2 whole days, with men falling like dominoes (probably with heiroglyphics instead of spots though to be fair).
The Crappy Cavalry Regiment realised that they had no chance of contributing positively to the clearly bad outcome that was coming, so they just ran away like hopeless cowards.
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of the Sphinx's pyramidal-shaped by now badly bent sarcophagus, the Greeko-Caironese infantry had by now lapped round the hill, and were looking like they might possibly be able to mob the hill-placed Indians with a bit of judicious application of their 2 Medium Spear units and some spearmen to add flank support to neutralise the uphill advantage the Indians would surely enjoy.
The only big wooden fly in the ointment was the overly resilient war wagon, which continued to thwart every effort of the Hoplites and Egyptians to clear it out of the way.
But, exciting things were happening now elsewhere involving wheeled battle carts of an altogether more dynamic nature!
The Indian chariot force, long lurking at the back edge of the table, suddenly ground into action and clattered forward to hurl themselves at the Kyrenean Spearmen!
Finally a combat with potential to be exciting for both sides (or, more accurately, exciting because the Kyreneans thought this one was winnable)
The Egyptian left flank was now gone, with Guard bowmen, spearmen and supporting archers all wiped out.
This left a pack of voracious mixed archers and swordsmen rampaging along the back of the line of Mediocre Spearmen who the King of Cairo had tasked with standing at the bottom of the hill and preventing the Indians rushing down from it into the open.
Even the Column of Cleopatra looked like it was now at risk of capture by enemy infantry advancing apace.
The wagon at the foot of the hill finally, finally succumbed to the tender ministrations of dozens of half naked dudes with long pointy sticks, collapsing like a poorly executed Jenga move and in the process clattering all of the assaulting Greeks as well.
The back end of the Indian fortress on the hill was now exposed, in theory... but the exertions involved in reducing the wagon to matchwood had exhausted most of Egypts rough terrain force, with both of the Medium Spearmen teetering on numerous casualties.
The Indians also had used the time bought for them by the wagon to reorganise, and were now presenting a formidable line of men to anyone thinking of making a bold rush up the hill
The second wagon was still hanging on bravely - well as bravely as an inanimate object could do I guess.
In any case, the Indian infantry were now securely ensconced in terrain, and were munching their mothers samosas and bhajis with glee in between taking often-lethal pot-shots at the frustrated spearmen facing them down from outside the terrain.
VasouvalakiThe Saitic left flank was basically non-existent by now, with massed archery, superior numbers and effective use of favourable terrain all being executed flawlessly by the Indian contingent.
The Egyptian army was now starting to look nervously at its total of casualties, as losing pretty close on 1/3 of the army was not a good place to start if your end goal was not to lose over half of it.
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's' Words of Wisdom
Shame on you, my erstwhile opponent! How can I win if you don't just line up to try and match my line of troops who are mostly better than yours across a wide frontage?
What sort of monster brings such a plan to a battle with one such as me? Even my backstop fallback of having a massive attritional value in my army such that we can go toe to toe with anyone else and still either trade hits until they expire, or end up with spare Egyptian and Greek dudes on the flanks of the enemy where they run out of men seems not to be working here as the enemy pings me to death with massed archery fire from secure well defended and prepared positions.
I cannot see how my tactics can forge a victory from this situation, which is most disturbing as it can only mean that there is a glitch in reality somewhere which is causing this imminent debacle - or possibly a fault in the rules which seem to reward tactics other than those developed and executed by me and me alone. Whatever it is, it's not down to me, clearly.
Kalimera! The only bright spot was the continuing erosion of India's Chariot wing, but even this was a bitter pill for the Kyreneans to swallow.
They were Greeks, skilled in mathematics and geometry, and they could clearly see that the maths said that the loss of these few Charioteers would do almost nothing of meaning to move the Indian army any closer to being beatable in the current on-table alignment of figurines.
Guess what? The second Wagon was still hanging on, clinging to the surface of the table like a mobile version of a police covert camera recording of Pinnochio exposing himself through a hole in a neighbours fence.
The hoplites of all hues facing the wooden erection were at a loss to see how they could deliver enough violence to the construction to push it over the edge of defeat, and even then they knew in their hearts that there would be nowhere else to go to do any more damage to the well-entrenched Indian army after that
Urging themselves forward with thoughts of the Sphinx's sun-tanned disasterous campaign against the Hittites, the wall of Hoplites was now staring down the Indian mixed formations, muttering loudly under their shwarma-infused breath about the inherent unsportingness of refusing to come out and fight at a disadvantage when your primary modus operandi was to stand in terrain and shoot, and then shoot some more.
The Indians, one senses, didn't really give a monkeys gnad about this unfairness of life being experienced in close-up by the spearmen immediately before them, and instead of coming out to play they simply continued to unleash volleys of arrows to which the Egyptian army could only reply with raised shields, rallying cries of it'c commanders, and some puny counter-fire from the Royal Guard archers, all of which had pretty much the same very limited effect on the outcome
Malaka! What had once started out as an on table flank march disguised as an ambush had now turned out to be an Indian masterstorke, as the block of forest-obscured infantry started to finish off the job of wiping the Egyptian left flank from the playing sirface, leaving nary a trace
Indian archers on the hill had already been wreaking a terrible toll on the transfixed spearmen of mixed quality, and the addition of a bang of geezers coming up behind them simply added the final nail in the Egyptian Spearmen's sarcophagae.
This was a desert of success for the men from the Nile
Yia Mas! As the Chariots finally succumbed, the Kyreneans considered whether they could change themselves into better troops if they managed to get to the back row of squares on the board - as there was no longer anything else left for them to fight in their beach-side parade
Ahmed Vasouvalaki's' Words of Wisdom
This is a dreadful turn of events. These Armoured Kyrenean Hoplites are my best troops, and I cannot see any reason why any fair-minded opponent would not try and match up against them with something really important yet not quite as good as my guys, and then make sure that if hsi dudes lost then the Kyreneans ennded up in a great position to exploit their breakthrough
This idea of just feeding my best troops some units you can afford to lose slowly while concentrating on the weaker parts of my almost perfectly designed and deplyed army is something I cannot for a moment fathom. Why would anyone want to try and do something like this - it could even end up beating me, which I am sure no-one wants to ever see happen!
An underwhelming sense of ennui flooded over the army of hoplites, with even a long overdue victory against the Priapic Pinocchio Wagon lifting their spirits they were still deep in the doldrums of knowing that victory was now quite a long way beyond their abilities, and defeat was just around the corner advancing at pace with a baseball bat and some recently purchased kevlar body armour
It seemed that removing the wagon had somehow become the sole focus of the entire army - and by the time that was achieved the game had just moved on by quite a distance
With the whole army teetering on the brink of defeat, it was time to implement the most desperate of plans - see if any more hits could be recorded on the enemy by any feat of extreme luck and bravery before the whole lot slipped to a loss.
Relying on the odd overlap, the presence of the Kyrenean General, the Mediocrity of the Indians in comat and some defensive armour tech the line of Hoplites waded unsteadily into the field at the back of the Indian deployment area to try and rack up a few more points to make the inevitable loss slightly acceptable.
You know things are very bad when a 2-hit-carrying Mediocre Cavalryman decides that their best move is to charge against enemy Genera-led infantry!
And on that bombshell, the Graeco-Egyptian army slumped to a second defeat of the day.
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
I am utterly outraged by the shameful use of terrain, tactics, planning - nay, even a proper "game plan" - exhibited by my opponent in this game. When it was added to a clear desire to try and get the best out of his own troops and to negate the advantages that my guys would have had in a straight across-the-board line up stand-up fight, well....what on earth was going on ?
My clear conclusion is that there are no lessons to be learnt from this battle other than the clear and obvious one - I must work much harder to try and find opponents who are willing and able to let me grind them underfoot using my singular genius, and sole form of deployment, unique tactics and monodimensional army list design
Yes indeed, this is a lesson to all of my opponents - if you wish to lose to someone as spectacularly innovative and brilliant as me, it's easy as I only have one quite brilliant plan in every battle. As you know what I will do, all you need to do to play your part in my victory is to approach the game in a way which plays to my army's strengths, and then you will be easily rolled over, and everyone will be happy again.
If however you try to win, prepare, use terrain well, and make sure that you are set up in a way which makes it hard for my guys to fight you at an advantage, then the deeply unfortunate outcome of me losing and you winning will transpire, and no-one will be happy about that!
Hannibal's Post Match Analysis
Telhas Teeze, you idiotic fool. This game really showcased the dramatic limitations both of your army design, and then in turn the tactical constipation that it forces upon any general seeking to use such a monochromatic force. Which came first is the only question - the single tactic, the simplistic army list or the hapless fool who sought to marry these two toxic elements into one deeply unappealing whole.
El’an Abook ! Even with that though, the first 3 games did demonstrate that there is some joy to be had in the very simple, big picture tactics - surprising the enemy, dazzling them with a conundrum that they have never before faced, enveloping the opposition on both wings whilst holding a stubborn defensive position in the centre. In each game it was these strategies and stratagems which allowed your army to gain the upper hand, not anything to do with your own control of these men, or indeed any clever rules-based trickery either
Chooing to approach this weekend with a plan based almost entirely on attrition was in many ways choosing to zag when everyone else was attempting to zig, so some credit is owed there. However, the Saitic list allowed more rough terrain troops than you took, and it was your choice not to use them - so when you ran up against armies using that terrain against you it is ultimately your fault and your failed decision-making which has cost you dear.
Perhaps the biggest casualty however is the credibility of at least two those three muppets on the podcast where the idea of a wall of spearmen being effective was first born. You for trying to make a success of a pigs ear mediocre list, and Dave from the Podcast for falling for it !
Anyways, I'm now off to go and listen to the podcast which started this whole Saitic Egyptian nonsense in the first place
That's the end - so why not go back to the Match Reports Index and read some more reports?